Saturday, May 15, 2010

Notable books read during the long long vacation

As it states here, i had read quite a few books in my long long vacation of 70 days. So finally, let us get cracking on them!

Harry Potter by J K Rowling: I am referring to the last book in the series. Yes, yes I admit I have read all the previous books, and it was because of that sole reason, I finally read this one, mainly to bring a culmination to that than any genuine interest. I would say it ended on very expected lines. The author could ventured out of the safe zone and been more radical, after all the sales or popularity wasn't in question irrespective of whatever she might have written!

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman: Brilliant read. Wholly recommend, and all such plaudits. It is absolutely hilarious, a bit satirical, quite a bit farcical and entertaining throughout. While the general comic level is maintained throughout, many a time, the reader will laugh out loud, and laugh again. The fun comes from the ingenuity of the writing, the plot and the absurdity of it. The plot is too twisted for me to talk about here. What I would say is, just start reading it with a blank mind :P.

The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh: I was recommended this author and this book a long time, and the wait was worth it. Not often does one come across a first-class India-based science-fiction novel. The multiple time-lines in which the narration takes place adds charm without confusion. The characterisation is really nice and every word in the whole book seems perfectly in its place. A very smooth read indeed.

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett: The first time I tried to read this book was when I was 12 or 13 years old. And failed miserably to understand anything. Actually, that was also the time I had a brief and unsuccessful affair with 'Brief History of Time' by Stephen Hawkings (of course, I did read it and also understand most of it later, much later :P). Anyway, coming back to Godot, I re-tried to read it this time and realised it wasn't straightforward at all. It is quite open to interpretation. It is also so short, almost like a short story! I think the story is a good metaphor for inertia and stagnation in life :P. And yeah, the mystery remains, who is Godot :P.

The Confessions of an Economic Hit-Man by John Perkins: How did I end up reading a non-fictional book? Well, I found it in the house, the description was captivating, and the topic, very interesting! It is about something we suspected all the while. How the big companies and governments of big 'aid-giving' countries like US make highly exaggeration predictions, convince the poor governments to take loans as aid and then arm-twist them to extract their resources and garner their support in the international arena. The author was involved in one such organisation that convinces the governments to take aid with fantastic predictions on what the aid will do, for 20 years. Initially, the book is engrossing, but starts getting a bit repetitive later on. As with all such books, it could have been shorter and more to the point :P. However, the experiences of the author in various countries ranging from Indonesia to Ecuador made the reading worth it.

The Writing of a Novel by Irving Wallace: You want to start writing a novel? How about reading a book on how one particular famous novel was written, by the author of the novel itself! Yeah, so Irving Wallace narrates on how he wrote his novel, "The Prize", which is a story set against the Nobel prize background. He takes a chronological approach, starting from how he got the idea for the novel 20 years prior to writing, how it was lying at the back of his mind, when he actually started working on it, how he did the relevant research, the actual writing process, getting stuck, moving on, followed by the editing and revising. He even talks about the response, the critical reviews, the sales and the movie deal! And the appendix of the book contains a brief summary of the novel itself. A true insight into the workings of popular novel-writing.

Cat O nine lives by Jeffery Archer: The only short story collection of this author that I hadn't managed to read until then. Though not as ingenious as 'Twist in the tale' or '12 Red Herrings', the charm of these stories lies in the fact that they are all true (except a couple). These were stories that Archer collected from his prison mates while he was in prison. The book shows how, often, reality is stranger than fiction :).

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai: I didn't think I would ever read this book. It had been gifted to me many years ago and I felt it was yet another of those Indian-immigrants-to-western-world's child's lost identity and stuff. Something like "Namesake". But it wasn't! Mostly based in Kalimpong, the descriptions help you live in those misty surroundings and see the story for yourself. The plot contains a few subplots, but all nicely linked together. It is mainly about a teenage girl living with her grand-father and their cook, their few neighbours, the cook's son who is an illegal immigrant in US and the girl's tutor who is caught up between love, rebellion and poverty. No, no, it is not as serious as I make it out to be. The plot is also based around Bengalis caught up in the Gorkha-land rebellions in those times.

Identity by Milan Kundera: I wanted to pick up another Milan Kundera book (after "The Unbearable lightness of being" and "Immortality"), and chose this one because the back-cover description did not reveal much and it was the cheapest [yeah, my book selection ethics are pathetic]. Once again, the writing went into depth about the characters, their emotions, their illusions and their actions. What I particularly like about his stories is the way he highlights the prevailing irrationality of human behaviour. Another books that provides some insight into the mystery that is the human mind. What is different about this book, is there are no deviating narrations or subplots and more importantly, the climax is quite ambiguous.

Reading right now, that is since the past month or more :P- Snow by Orhan Pamuk.


HalleY said...

I thought you were working in UK for that company ? ... buzz to know what i meant by "that" :P or you call work vacation ?? .. :P

thread said...


Pepper said...

Landed here by chance. Most books by Amitav Ghosh are a treat!

Nice blog

mythalez said...

@halley, the long long vacation happened before i joined the job .. but anyway, all my jobs are partly vacation :P

@paccha, next is aaaaa :P

@pepper, yeah .. truly said ... and hearty welcome by mythalez!!