Category Archives: Book Reviews

Never judge a book by its cover. Nor by one’s review. My personal reviews over books may vary from those of yours. Feel free to share your views. Keep calm and read on!

Only Love Is Real- Book Review

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Written by the renown psychiatrist and past life therapist Dr Brian Weiss, ‘Only Love Is Real( The Story of Soulmates Reunited )’ is a unique book based on the real life case studies of his clients undergoing regression therapy. Having read enough of fictional love stories, and having observed enough of dysfunctional relationships among my friends and relatives, I would be understating my impression of this book if I didn’t mention that I was completely blown away by it. For those who have stopped believing in love merely because the people around you make you feel that its all plastic these days, buckle up your seat-belts for you are about to go on a ride that can potentially change your life. It will clear your head and give you a definition of love that isn’t usually shown in movies, or written in those typical pink cover love story paperbacks. If you don’t want to be among those who jump into relationships, only to be hurt and bruised by its end, do some research and step into clear waters. Remember how you rummage through dozens of online stores and apps before buying a product? Comparing the user ratings, going through the potential pros and cons, investing too much time in understanding them before placing the order and agreeing to get them into your house and life. Then why are we not researching about the one important thing in life that impacts us so intensely? Love isn’t a non-existent or unreal concept. In fact only love is real. Get your hands on this book and you will know what I’m talking about. And in case you trust my personal take on it, read on and I’ll brief you.

Dr Weiss subjects some of his clients to regression therapy and the results are astonishing. While being in a hypnotic state they are brought back to their past lifetimes and are questioned about their experiences. However surreal it may sound, it has been well researched and proved over time. Reincarnation is real. We are all caught in the cycle of life, and we keep coming back in different life forms until we have learned the lessons meant for us. Quoting Carl Jung below :

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However cliche it may sound, ‘soulmates’ exist. Needless to say that the modern world is well on the verge of forgetting all about the concept of soulmates, I’m so glad that people like Dr Weiss also exist, who have dedicated their lives to help us understand and hold on to our roots. Our soulmates have traveled with us through lifetimes that we no longer consciously remember. But they have been there with us for so long in the past, that we carry a part of them with us in every lifetime. Our soul recognizes them. They recognize our soul. And this beautiful connection exists, even though we meet that person in our lifetime or not. They may be your partner, mother, father, brother, sister, teacher, friend or someone you are not even related to in any way. The only thing you would be sure of is that there would be a special connection between you and your soulmate. And when you see the one, you will know. And you will trust your instincts. Well, I would love to hear from you people about your take on this. Do you believe in soulmates?

This story is about two clients of Dr Weiss, Elizabeth and Pedro whose shared lifetimes and experiences unfold separately at his clinic. And this, which comes forth as nothing short of a miracle, actually takes the favorable course on its own. Initially strangers, Elizabeth and Pedro recognize a special connection between them even before being informed by the doctor. They are happily married now and are eternally thankful to Dr. Weiss.

To be frank, I thought it would be easy for me to communicate all about this book and all that I feel. But it’s really disheartening to say that I’m failing. And failing miserably at it. Perhaps I don’t want to corrupt the readers of the profound experience I had while reading this fascinating story of love.

The best thing I found in this book is that it is based on real people. I see most fictional characters as real, and I believe their stories too. But when it comes to real people talking about their personal experiences, I won’t shy away from admitting that their joys make me smile somewhat more, their grief makes me cry harder and somehow theirs touch me deeper than the emotions of fictional characters. I trust their experiences and lessons, for they are as human as me. We may be strangers but we all have the capability to uplift each others lives in unimaginable ways. Everyone of us learns something from each of our experiences. A book, movie, heartbreak, an act of kindness, abuse, failure, success, birth or death of a special person; there are countless lessons that come to us each day. We all are surrounded by profound stories like this. What matters is whether or not our eyes and ears are open. What matters is whether we are willing to watch, listen and understand. Take charge, read more about love and emotions, sort your thoughts and lead a more fulfilling life. Because with wisdom comes clarity and a great deal of confidence.  Life is too short to let go of the reigns. So, hold tight and enjoy the fierce ride while the wind pats you on the back.

Happy reading 🙂

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As a Man Thinketh – Book review

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picture credits- Amazon.in

We encounter countless situations in life that compel us to go back to the basics and re-remind ourselves of the strategies we once devised before stepping into the outer world. And since self-help books come as saviors for many of us when life tries to weigh us down, I decided to review some of my favorites. And this one by James Allen, being one of my firsts in self-help, has always remained close to my heart.

Being a book of meager volume, it can be easily carried and read as many times as one feels like. Read it over and over, until the words get absorbed by your heart and mind in a way that it keeps popping up whenever you feel negativity trespassing your aura.

What I absolutely loved in this book is the concept of comparing our mind with a garden. As James Allen speaks, “Man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed-seeds will fall therein, and will produce their kind.” If you cultivate positive thoughts, it will have a positive impact on your mind and body. And if you allow negative thoughts to linger, they will make both your mind and body sick. So, it all comes down to your choice of thoughts. Either allow happy and positive thoughts to take over your life or be dragged around by negative thoughts like a beast with no self-control.

It would hardly take an hour or so, but would have a profound impact on your life. So, grab a hot cup of coffee, read it, grasp its essence and write me back about your personal impression. I’m pretty sure you can squeeze out one quality hour from your busy schedule and invest it on feeding your soul. Also, I’ll be more than happy if you recommend some of your favorites among your personal self-help collection. Let’s help each other lead happier lives with healthier souls. Looking forward to hearing from you. 🙂

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone-Book Review

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“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” – Laini Taylor

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The synopsis was all I had, to judge the book with. I was unaware of the crazy hype it has received over the years. Owing to that, I could have easily passed it over assuming it another cliche love story. But, I’m glad I gave it a chance. Or else I would have missed the opportunity of stepping into this fantastic magical world created by Laini Taylor.

I’m still gloating over the drunken bliss and and don’t you judge me for spilling too much beans for you to digest. I’m probably going to rant all I want, until I somewhat hush my inner demons now going gaga over the awesomeness of the story and its characters. Want to save the fun? Skip the review, and grab the book at Amazon.

Daughter of smoke and bone is a young fantasy novel and is the first book of the trilogy. Following it are ‘Days of Blood and Starlight’ and ‘Dreams of Gods and Monsters’.

If you are the kind of reader who craves for magic, monsters, fantasy, action and are fine with little drizzles of romance, it is just the book for you. It rarely happens that we dive so deep into a book that we forget our own existence and walk down that fictional land under the skin of our favorite character. Good news is it is the kind that will make you live the story in a dangerously realistic way. For me it was like slipping into their world and running with the characters as if I had known them for ages. I was drowning in emotions. Fear, pain, remorse, hatred, love, vengeance, power, bliss. A brilliantly choreographed chaos of events. I experienced a whole different world in it. And of course a good taste of life and death.

Before I brief you with the characters and the plot, I am taking an attempt at describing Taylor’s breathtakingly beautiful writing style. There were moments I gasped, put the book down, closed my eyes and said the words out loud. Simple, short and crisp dialogues exchanged between the two lovers. But good lord what intensity. She as a writer has succeeded in doing justice to her wildly brilliant imagination by giving them a body so poetic and perfect. This book is nothing but a work of art.

I have a strangely strong fascination for monsters. And that is one reason why this book swept me off my feet. I’m sure every other reader would love these characters as much as I did. And in case you are that fussy reader who calls magic ‘abnormal’ and monsters ‘gross’ you may go back to your sunshine books. Forget about The Chronicles of Narnia and the Harry Potter series; this is one of its kind.

The first few chapters hit me hard and I instantly knew it was an original and uniquely bewitching story. And as they say first impression lasts long, that’s precisely what happened here I guess. The first impression that it gave me was so damn appealing and strong that there was no slowing down or turning back. It took me on a roller coaster ride, which needless to say was mind boggling. Fast, reckless, magical, unpredictable, and oh so brilliant in all aspects.

There are numerous instances that prove that Taylor has let her imagination run far and high, tapping into ideas that are absolutely top-notch. Imagination has gotten into numerous minute details of this story. And being wrapped up with the right choice of words they have come out with flying colors. It’s a compelling work of adult fantasy that would grip your heart and mind in a tight clasp and take you on a ride to remember.

Beware of spoilers.

It is a mysterious story that revolves around a 17 year old girl Karou . At first she appears like a normal teen, who studies art at Prague, has a close friend Zuzana and a stalking ex-boyfriend Kazimir. But later, as the story progresses and her secret errands come to light we get to know that she is different, being raised by four Chimaeras. Her art is mostly inspired by the monster-like creatures she has known for real. Now for the question who are Chimaeras, they are a community we are not familiar with. Having some of their physical characteristics like animals and birds, and some like humans, they are residents of a completely different world, which even if not ours feels just as real.

The head of her so called Chimaera family, Brimstone is a fatherly figure for Karou and is the earliest memory of her childhood. He is a sorcerer of sorts and occasionally sends her on teeth-collecting errands to far off places round the world through magic portals. And what do they do with those jars of teeth? That’s for you to unfold. On one such errand fate takes a turn and things go terribly wrong. But right after that, Karou’s curiosity gets the better of her and she steps into the forbidden land of the Chimaeras. She is taken aback by the things she discovers and feels betrayed by Brimstone for keeping her in the dark. But much to her dismay, she does not get an explanation. The portals are burnt by Angels to hinder the work of the devils or Chimaeras. And in the age old war between the devils and angels, naive Karou becomes the victim and gets stranded in the world of humans.

The story gets another high with the entry of the sinfully gorgeous and impossibly perfect Angel Akiva into Karou’s life. Then on, the flight of fantasy gets quite serious and all humor is left at bay. Behind his longing and mutual attraction for Karou lies a story untold. A story so painfully beautiful, you’ll probably curse me if I lay it bare with my emotionless summary. Its a story of love and war. Will the age old war between the Seraphims and the Chimaeras destroy the love of Karou and Akiva? Or will they be able to keep their love unscathed?

I’m off to grab the second one in the series. Read the book and enjoy the magical journey. Thank me later nerds 😉

Man’s search for meaning

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Written by Victor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning is “a classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust”. I still can’t believe that I laid my hands on such a remarkable and fantastic work. It is the kind of book that possesses the power to turn one’s life around. It would pick your broken pieces and give you the psychological tools to get the pieces back in place and redeem your life all at once. I feel like I read it in one breath. And now that it’s over I feel like I’m earnestly and almost thirstily breathing an air better than the one before I beheld the book. One filled with freshness and hope. It would make you appreciate your life and be thankful for the problems you have encountered, however brutal they once felt like. I highly recommend it to all the readers and non-readers as well. Good news for non-readers is that it is a quick read and would leave a chip on the back of your head, that would give a direction to your life.

Countless works have been produced in order to help us find the purpose of our lives and lead a life of meaning and example. But, only a few such as this have had the power to reach deep into one’s soul and impacting us in ways we had been promised. It is a book of modest volume and can be easily read in one sitting. However the impression it would leave on you would undoubtedly last a lifetime. Life is a one time opportunity, yet many of us give up when the times are tough. This book would, in many ways, make your problems seem too trivial to put your life at halt for. It would introduce  your own strengths to you. Trust me when I say that it is one of it’s kind in survival literature.

Victor E. Frankl was a professor at Vienna Medical School where he taught neurology and psychiatry until his death in 1997. He remains a much revered hero of many. And the book having sold more than 12 million copies, speaks for itself. It more or less, reminded me of Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl. What is common to both is their way of getting the readers emotionally involved and leaving us with the feeling that we have personally experienced some of their grief and hence we understand what they are speaking of. Along with the numerous accounts of the horrors faced by the author, there also are lessons of life spoken with such passion and positiveness in the face of unimaginable adversities, that leave the reader with nothing but respect and admiration for the survivor. One of the biggest lessons here is to deal with every situation with the best of your faculties, for we can’t control the situations but our attitudes. In Frankl’s words “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Spoilers ahead.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part comprises of an autobiographical story where Frankl gives accounts of his depressing and painful life at different Nazi concentration camps during World War II, including at Auschwitz. While the prisoners were treated like animals with no identity, many of them couldn’t stand the physical and emotional torture. Yet there were many, who kept the virtues of humanity flaming within and denied to become what was expected of them. They chose to stick to their lives as respectable humans with empathy and zeal. Frankl has presented many such instances where he empathizes with others and happily puts in little possible efforts from his side so as to help his fellow inmates. In the second part of the book he introduces to the readers the concept of Logotherapy and then onward we are introduced to numerous other technical terms and application of the therapy in different spheres of life.

Having a Psychologist in the family, I have come across some beautiful and astounding techniques of Psychotherapy. So, perhaps that was the reason I saw Logotherapy in a clearer light and absolutely loved the vivid descriptions of real life implications. However, it is absolutely fine if you don’t want to bother yourself with the statistics, therapeutic descriptions or findings included in the later part of the book.

If I am asked to give out my favorite parts, I would end up writing down the whole book here. For each page had something brilliant to offer. Laced with helplessness was a shimmer of hope, which kept Frankl going. At a point of time, a thought transfixed him. That love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. And he concluded that “The salvation of man is through love and in love.” While his life was falling apart he created his wife’s image in his mind with much acuteness and clung to it as if his life depended upon it. It was a beautiful and touching part.

There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge that there is meaning in one’s life. There is much wisdom in the words of Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Another part that left me awed was the story of Death in Teheran, and the way the Author compared it to the ill fate that his inmates faced later.

A rich and mighty Persian once walked in his garden with one of his servants. The servant cried that he had just encountered Death, who had threatened him. He begged his master to give him his fastest horse so that he could make haste and flee to Teheran, which he could reach that same evening. The master consented and the servant galloped off on the horse. On returning to his house the master himself met Death, and questioned him, “Why did you terrify and threaten my servant?” “I did not threaten him; I only showed surprise in still finding him here when I planned to meet him tonight in Teheran,” said Death.

While going through the photographs which had been taken at a different camp, the author stumbled across the images of partially charred bodies of his friends who had then thought that they were traveling to freedom, the night they were loaded into a truck and taken to another camp. But actually were locked in huts and set on fire. Frankl reflected upon the fact that how fickle human decisions can bring major impacts upon the destiny. How fate had toyed with him and the remaining prisoners who got to live.

In the whole story, there are umpteen accounts of death. Somewhere, someone is dying every once in a while. And yet, the essence of LIFE has been so well propagated through it. In the later part of the book where Logotherapy has been discussed, many other aspects have been brought to light. The meaning of life, love and suffering could not have been explained any better, in such short an excerpt.

And ah, what profound ending.

“So, let us be alert-alert in a twofold sense:

Since Auschwitz we know what man is capable of.

And since Hiroshima we know what is at stake.”

INFERNO- The Journey Through Hell

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If you are a fan of Classics but not strong enough to ignore the new arrivals altogether, I think it is wise to set some ground rules so that your mind is spared the homicidal battles within. After finishing a new favorite, go back to an old one. Alternate your precious time equally between the two. Life is too short to miss out on all the great works that have been produced. You may thank me later nerds 😉

A week back, with the release of the movie starring Tom Hanks and Irrfan Khan I was taken aback by the fact that I had not read the book Inferno by Dan Brown. Needless to say that in readers community it is considered a deplorable crime to watch the movie first, keeping the book to be attended later. But then mixed feelings of regret and relief donned on me when I found Dante’s Inferno in the book shelf at home. Without any further adieu I hopped on the bed with a mug of hot chocolate and wrapped in my cozy blanket started devouring this epic work by Dante Alighieri written in the 14th Century. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighiery, ‘INFERNO’ – A verse translation by Allen Mandelbaum. If you are a lover of poetry, you can’t ignore a work of such rare perfection. It is a book of modest volume, but I suggest that you read it for as long as you can. Absorb each dialogue with sincere admiration and a hawk’s eye. That is where the fun lies. Devour the fine details with the best of your faculties.

The Divine Comedy is an epic poem that was presumably written in the period 1308-1320. While Dante was in exile he wrote three volumes of it, Inferno, Purgutario and Paradiso. Inferno is the narration of the journey that Dante undertakes down the hell. Guided by the Roman poet Virgil, he fearlessly embarks through numerous circles of hell, 9 to be exact. Each circle represents a sin, and the damned souls are trapped there for eternity. The three beasts he encounters represent three kinds of sinners, the self-indulgent, the malicious and the violent. The circles or sins are of lust, anger, gluttony, avarice, violence, fraud, treachery, those who ignored the existence of Christ and those who confused others about the idea of Christ. As Dante passes each circle he meets people known to him as well as strangers. The dialogues they exchange are insightful I must say.  Each sin that has been described is exceptionally realistic and is explained to Dante either by Virgil or the sinners themselves.

The beauty of this book is that it is a dual language edition and comes with explanatory notes at the back. Don’t go on if you are not getting the plot. Read once, twice, thrice, as many times as you feel like. Take it slow and read with patience. If you feel like you are not just ready, drop it for a while. This is not another easy going novel you can take with you to read by the beach while your friends are howling around. It is the kind that you read in the silent confines of your room. Give it time and exclusive attention. Give it love, and it will reflect the same.

I’m screaming it loud and clear. VISUALIZE everything you read. Every single dialogue. That is one rule you have to strictly stick by.

Come, have a good look at hell.

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And yeah, don’t get all serious while reading it. I personally couldn’t help smirking every now and then. It is a blend of both horror and humor, so of course both are meant to be felt. There are times you will have a sinking feeling for yourself, but then you may have some fun imagining people you don’t like, damned to hell. Dante is brilliantly imaginative in devising ways for torturing his enemies. You may have your own opinions during the journey, which may make you question the perfection of Dante’s work, but it is absolutely fine. The uneasiness and restlessness that comes with it is absolutely worth it. This book is outrageously diplomatic, philosophical and political at the same time. Dante has sent to hell real people. Daring, eh? One thing that took me by surprise is finding his beloved teacher Brunetto Latini in hell, convicted of sodomy( canto XV ). Seems like God( as per Dante’s assumptions) wasn’t that open minded regarding sex during the 14th century. Homosexuality? Nu-uh.

Dante doesn’t cease to amaze the reader, despite the aforementioned scene or a couple others that may make us raise brows. But come on, it was written 7 centuries back. We can be sensible enough to ignore the difference in mindsets and enjoy the book as a literary blessing for once, right?

In case it makes you feel any better, in canto XX the fortune tellers were damned(*chuckles* which serves them so damn right) and were condemned to walk with their heads turned backwards, restricting them from knowing what lies ahead, since this is precisely what they had done all their life, creating fear of the unknown in the minds of people.

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It is the kind of book that gives you a bad hangover. The kind that nerds would kill to experience. Can’t wait to lay my hands on the other two volumes. Take my word for it folks, at one point in life you will be ready for this book. And when you are, it will be one hell of a read.

And The Mountains Echoed

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If you have read ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ it is probably easy to convince you of the power and wisdom this book beholds by merely saying that Hosseini has maintained his standards. 

I was in high school when I read The Kite Runner for the very first time, and even though it is exceptionally brilliant it somehow tore me from within. Those disturbing scenes used to play in my mind over and over again whether I wanted them to or not. Hosseini has a knack for flawless story-telling and also magically climbing under the skin of the readers, gripping their heart in a tight fist and refusing to let go. A Thousand Splendid Suns speaks volumes about the plight of Afghanistan women. Despite of all those tears I shed leafing through the prior two works of Hosseini, I don’t mind re-reading them for the sake of reliving that pain. It’s that kind of pain which makes you feel human. The later will take you on an equally strong whirlwind of emotions.
And The Mountains Echoed is another heart wrenching tale by the author, which holds in one story the life of many. This book has given voice to a father, mother, stepmother, daughter, son, chauffeur, a war victim, brother, friend and more. Keep your eyes wide open to absorb the details. And the heart open to the emotions it will be flooded with. Countless emotions. Of family and friendship. Love and betrayal. Humanity and power. Vengeance and forgiveness.
SPOILERS AHEAD:
It is a story that spans through generations and underlines the fact that each and every choice we make resonates throughout our lives and those of every other person we become associated with.

Pari and Abdullah are the first two characters that fate plays an ugly game with. I sincerely mouthed a prayer when they were separated. God forbid any such thing happens to so little and naïve a girl, living with the feeling of an uncertain hollowness throughout her life only to find that she is related to a person by blood when the clock of life is ticking away. Time can be a cruel thing, isn’t it? When the moment you have been waiting for finally arrives, it teases you with a glimpse and fades away in no time, intensifying the pain borne through years.
The few yet heartwarming references of their childhood are enough to moisten  the eyes of the reader. Having lost their mother, and father forever busy making ends meet, they had none but each other. However their elders decided to make their life take another course. Two little people made of blood and flesh being treated as puppets. The girl eventually forgetting and moving on. Abdullah preserving all those precious few memories through years on end, waking up each day with the hope to be reunited with his little sister, Pari.

“I found a sad little fairy
Beneath the shade of a paper tree.
I know a sad little fairy
Who was blown away by the wind one night.”



The mentions of the magic that Urdu poetry carries draws me closer to the Afghan culture. I crave to know more of the place to which Rumi belongs. The place that has witnessed millions of survival stories. Of betrayal, death, hatred, violence, loss and with a few drizzles of life, love, beauty and hope. The stories that will make your heart clench and your mind numb.
I’m leaving it for the readers to explore about Mr Suleiman Wahdati, Mrs Nila Wahdati and Nabi. Each of these characters has lived life with their voice stifled and feelings unspoken. Life is nothing but a fair game. Everyone gets their share of rewards and punishments.
Zoom out from Afghanistan and zoom in at Tinos,Greece. Thalia and her mother Madaline come to visit Markos Varvaris and his mother Odelia( Odie) and what follows is a newly defined life for each of them. Each of these characters have their own story to tell. I loved the scene where Thalia teaches Markos how to build a camera and Morkos starts seeing her in another light. Preserving the picture he first clicked from the camera throughout his life clearly reflects his love for Thalia. Their relationship proves that we don’t become brother and sister by birth, but by accepting each others flaws with earnest. And blood does not make you family, your devotion and loyalty does.

This book is a crisscross of stories. Read it with patience and empathy. And yeah, better keep the tissues handy.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

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picture credits- thewrap.com

Missing those carefree days of childhood? Missing those endless adventures and the inimitable fun? Well, you are just one decision away from reliving those moments. Whether or not you care, that overshadowed kid within you has secretly treasured all those priceless memories, hoping that some day you may want to go through those dusty files. Believe me my friend, there is no better time than NOW. Move out of the confines of those concrete walls of your office, and start walking down that memory lane. Go to a nearby kids park, get rid of your shoes, loosen your tie and just sit somewhere you can hear those innocent giggles and laughter. Hear those happy kids. Watch them run and fall and laugh. Far away from the humdrum of the world of adults, let the peace you feel around the kids seep in.

Well now that you might be wandering  about the title of this post, I better get to  the point about what exactly made me all nostalgic and reminisce my childhood days. I was visiting my sister’s place and she had these 7 books stacked together, resting peacefully on her table. We are often told not to judge a book by it’s cover but I won’t deny that I have a thing for colorful children’s books. When I asked her about them she told me that she bought them to gift to one of our cousins. And hence I was even more inclined to drink in their contents before it was time to part.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney has won millions of young and old hearts worldwide and after just 3 years of its publishing, it was recorded that it had 20 million online readers and had an average of 70,000 readers per day.

Having the similar habit myself, I could well relate to Greg. Unlike the present generation kids whose favorite play things are tablets and play stations, we the kids of 90’s were given drawing kits having crayons, sketch-pens, markers, color pencils, water-color tubes, glitters and so on. To create one’s own cartoon characters and getting them to talk through comic strips was a craze back then. As I leafed through the pages of these amazingly innocent and playful books, all my own childhood memories came flooding back.

Childhood is undoubtedly the best phase of one’s life. There is no such thing as pretending, manipulating, stressing out and faking smiles. Childhood friendships have a complete different meaning. Greg and Rowley fight at times, but patch up in quite funny yet touchy ways. I loved the way Greg has illustrated the life of every kid in general with the help of pictures that will make you laugh until your stomach hurts. It would definitely make you appreciate and applaud not just the creativity of the author but also the creativity that is undoubtedly every child’s forte.

Feel like going back in time and have some real fun? Well here you go:-

  1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
  3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw
  4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
  5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth
  6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever
  7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel
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ppicture credits- fbhdcover.com

Remember, you are never too old to pick a children’s book. Go ahead. Happy reading 🙂

 

 

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Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird

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picture coutesy-http://strg.stageagent.com/

There couldn’t have been a more apt title to this book of rare excellence. Halfway through the book even I was pondering that how does a mockingbird fit into the story, but then when I discovered the meaning as I was leafing through the last part, I was flooded by that overwhelming sensation. No wonder it is a popular classic. I want you to experience that same rush, so I’m going to do you the favor of not discussing the title any more.

When something touches me as deeply as this one did, I fail to contain myself and rant about it until someone stops me. And the good thing with blogging is that, this baby doesn’t ever ask me to shut up. So here I go on spilling out whatever I feel my readers should know. You may question my taste for tragedies or feel-good books, but trust me when I tell you that it’s a novel of substance. You just HAVE to read this. Since its original publication in 1960, it has continued to play its charm on millions of readers worldwide. It has been translated to more than 40 languages, sold more than 30 million copies, has been turned into a successful movie, voted as the best novel of 20th century across the United States of America and has won the Pulitzer award.

Right after I was done with the book I looked up Harper Lee to find more of her works and was both astonished and devastated by the fact that it is the only one. But who cares that it is the only one, when it is enough to hook you up every single time you read it. I read it two times back to back and both times I fell in love with it in completely different ways. I hate it when such great books are stolen of their originality by the movie makers but I sure as hell don’t want this one to face any injustice. The movie better be detailed and step up to my expectations. It’s a novel that holds a great significance even today. Racism is a curse that continues to prevail in various corners of the Globe. And we are in need of more people like Atticus who don’t judge people by their color and believe in fighting for the black and the white equally. Justice needs to be done to people facing atrocities in different walks of life merely because of the labels they are born with. Color being the worst of those absurd labels.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead.

It is not just racism that has been the primary theme of this book. Parenting, children’s psychology, humanity in general has been the focus of Lee. Full of beautifully woven characters, this is a very realistic story which no doubt has been lived by many. Atticus is an honorable man of about 50, single father, lawyer and most importantly a honest human who defies the norms set by the society and struggles to impart to his children the importance of being a good human being. Just that. Untampered. Impartial. Human beings.

The scene is based in the Maycomb County, a part of the silent Southern region. “A tired old town” as the author speaks of it.

The narrator is Scout, a girl about nine years old, whom I found as the most fascinating character portrayed in the book. Constantly being in the shadow of her brother Jem (4 years her senior) her features are not much “lady-like”. I couldn’t help laughing and relating to the same words that were thrown my way by random relatives when I was a kid. Don’t sit like that, don’t dress like that, don’t eat like that, don’t talk like that, don’t laugh like that. God, I don’t even remember so many don’ts.

Dill is a friend of Jem, and for Scout he is apparently the love of her life. Having a very active imagination these three kids never cease to amaze the readers. Their funny endeavors, which they carry out indeed very seriously, often land them into troubles that they did not expect.  The Radley place is the object of their constant attention. And me being fortunate enough as a kid who had a very active imagination ( what Jem was to Scout, my sister was to me) I too had a certain curiosity and fear associated to a huge rotting building in the neighborhood, which I came to find later that was no haunted house. In fact was occupied by normal human beings and most surprisingly one of my sister’s classmates. I was happy to be finally going to that place to play, but I never stopped imagining ghosts lurking in the place. Boo Radley (whose actual name is Arthur Radley) is the ghost for these kids. Having never seen the man out of the confines of his house ever since their birth, the children had a good enough reason to let their imagination run wild and decide for themselves the looks and nature of the Radley under question. When asked by Dill, “Jem gave a reasonable description of Boo. Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were blood stained-if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time.” What do you say to that? Overly active imagination. Isn’t it?  Miss Rachel Haverford, Miss Maudie, Mrs. Dubose, Aunt Alexandra(who came to live with Jem, Scout and Atticus at a temporary arrangement while he was on a case), even their cook Calpurnia kept pointing it out to them to help them grow into a sophisticated gentle man and lady.

Another short term but significant character is uncle Jack. After having a conversation with Scout he faced a huge turmoil and went to Atticus to share his fear.

“I shall never marry, Atticus.”

“Why?”

“I might have children.”

Atticus said, “You have a lot to learn, Jack.”

“I know. Your daughter gave me my first lesson this afternoon. She said I didn’t understand children much and told me why. Atticus, she told me how I should have treated her-oh dear, I’m so sorry I romped on her.”

It was a very touching scene for me. A girl of nine, who was parented by a man who had shown her ever since her birth that her views mattered, made a grown up man realize that he was wrong. She believed that she had a say; she had the right to put forth her opinion as an individual at such tender age. And a thousand applauds to Atticus who raised her in that way. While in reality most of the parents don’t allow their children to make decisions for themselves, they suffer as those children grow into adults unsure about life, and incompetent in the outer world.

Even though Lee has addressed to a very serious issue in the book, she has done no bargain with the other issues of relative importance that she has touched upon. Laced with a very plausible sense of humor, the book has done justice to the issue in question.

Having discussed the appetizers and desserts, let us get back to discussing the main course. However badly I want to rant all about what happens, there won’t be left anything for you to discover. So, I’ll just portray the character that the book’s purpose was to do justice to. And story of his life is left for you to uncover. Tom Robinson is a Negro and the accused whose defendant is Atticus. Fighting for Tom is no child’s play for Atticus especially when the whole society condemns him for it. Just like a forest fire news of the case travels at a reckless speed and every soul in the community starts judging the people involved.

In the words of Atticus, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” And that is precisely what he did. People started calling out to him as “negro-lover” and did not give him the support he was entitled to. And yet, he fought for Tom with the best of his faculties. He saw him as a person, not as a black person. He is a character to learn a lot from. It is easy to ignore the hardships of others but you know what, it is not right. And to have a taste of what true happiness is, one must do what is right. This timeless classic teaches a lot. It is for you to get under the skin of each of the characters and walk through the story wearing their shoes. It is the kind of book that would want to read and re-read until you can be sure that it has changed you. It would be a worthwhile experience. Happy reading J

 

 

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Anne of Green Gables

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Picture credits- propros.com

“Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

“I’ll warrant you’ll make plenty in it,” said Marilla. “I never saw your beat for making mistakes, Anne.”

 

It’s a book which has the ability to pique interest of readers from diverse age groups. Be it a school going child or a senile person counting his last days. Once you read it the child in you will surface back and will make sure that the light in which you see things is filled with positive energy and hope.

I’m glad that I picked this children’s book right before I’m about to step into the corporate world. After I finished reading it I promised Anne that I’ll apply her childish yet insightful thoughts wherever I go and whatever I do. Keeping the child in you alive seems quite a daunting task in today’s world. Now that everyone is running as fast as they can to get a medal of recognition in the rat race. However if you live your life like Anne did nothing is gonna stop you from leading a life of success and fulfillment. No matter how busy you become in your career you always have the option to pause for a moment to appreciate the wonders of nature, to play a little, to let your imagination run wild, to make some mistakes (and learn from them), to laugh at yourself, to serve your parents, to thank the almighty for your beautiful life and so on. I promise, it is not at all a waste of time. It is an investment which you have to do to make sure the child in you stays alive, let alone healthy.

Anne is an orphan who is mistakenly adopted by a small family of two. An elder brother and sister, Marilla and Mathew Cuthbert of green gables. And having fallen in love with the striking beauty of Green gables at the very first sight Anne starts winning their affection and in no time secures a place for her in their hearts. Entertaining them with her charming yet endless chatter and exasperating them with her mistakes. A child with overflowing emotions and wild imagination, Anne lives her childhood in a remarkably active way. She is an epitome of high spirits and is an unflinching optimist.  As she grows she also learns about empathy, forgiveness, sacrifice, competition, obsessing after her ambitions and working in accordance with it.

I could very well relate to Anne for my endless urge to make new mistakes. Her accidentally dyeing her hair green, being punished at school for beating a fellow classmate Gilbert Blythe, her shouting upon an elderly woman Mrs Rachel lynde, baking cake with liniment instead of vanilla essence. Her habit of giving queer names to people, things, places, anything and everything. And her more serious mistakes like falling from a height (it was a silly bet btw…But then we always learn from our mistakes 😉 )and getting bedridden for quite some time, almost drowning in the river while playing with the story club’s members. This girl definitely was having the time of her life.

Her friendship with Diana, her aversion towards Gilbert, her devotion towards Marilla and Mathew, her appreciation for the newly appointed mayor and her teacher Mr and Mrs Allan, she definitely was a person true at heart. But then, aren’t all children true? Yeah they are. I wish we never grew up.

Calling herself Lady Cordellia Fitzgerald was the thing that made me laugh the hardest. This girl sure was funny beyond limits, in a cute and innocent way. This book has events happening in every single leaf. Very enchanting, humorous and Anne-like. Beautifully narrated, well plotted, and worth rereading. I just can’t wait to read its sequels.

 

An evergreen book. Happy reading 🙂

Tess of d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

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I feel ashamed to call myself a lover of classics, having wasted so many years of my life not reading the bewitching tragedies by Hardy. This one is a very evocative and powerful narration of a very sensitive story. However I am not obliged to say that this book got Hardy another fan. Viewing this book in the light of a literature enthusiast, I adore Hardy for “the way” he has portrayed the scenes, and not for “what” he has portrayed.

Nah, however skillfully written it may be, but the story line could have definitely been improved. For a person who prefers tragedies over feel-good novels, Hardy has compelled me to question my love for this genre. Do I have the heart to read more of his works and pretend that I adore him for his powerful yet heart wrenching works? Ummm, I don’t know. Perhaps that’s the thing about classics. You can never enjoy these unless you don’t give a brake to the feminist and idealist inside you.

Far from the madding crowd was Hardy’s first that I read. And I won’t exactly call it my favorite but I was definitely impressed by the subject matter, which was no doubt deep and insightful. Speaking of Tess of d’Urbervilles all I could appreciate is the justice done to the genre. A high tragedy indeed. Even though I am highly disappointed with this gloomy and depressing novel, I would still recommend it to readers who are trying to explore all possible genres. However I am good enough to warn you not to expect even the scantiest rays of sunshine here. All you can expect is knowing about two bastards( I don’t swear this easily. But couldn’t help it this time). Alec d’Urberville (the demon) and Angel Clare(he was no angel btw) and a helpless girl Tess whom the author tortures throughout the story by inflicting pain upon her in the worst ways possible. Hardy has mercilessly destroyed anything and everything that could have possibly made Tess’s life any easier, let alone tolerable. Even though I did not shed a single drop of tear while reading it, I failed miserably in controlling my raging anger. I was frustrated by the prolonged suffering of Tess. No matter what I would still applaud Hardy for daring to create a character such as Tess. Ever since I’ve read her I can’t stop thinking about her. I’ve been reading other books at a reckless speed merely to get my mind off Tess, yet to no avail. I feel like someone (Hardy) has hammered the details of Tess’s life on my (now throbbing)mind. I will never forgive any of the characters in the story for their cruel impact on my naïve emotions. I had not intended to write a review, but now that I have started I feel powerless against the urge of my pen to go on ranting all that I feel and had bottled inside for the fear of cursing or swearing too much.

The idea I had of British women of 19th century was somewhat different than that presented in Hardy’s. Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Northanger Abbey, and even Wuthering Heights have presented women of somewhat strong character. Even though they had their own turmoil, none was as helpless as Tess.  However she is not the one entirely to be blamed. Circumstances were the cause. Circumstances that were never in her favor.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Tess Durbeyfield is a lovely girl born into an underprivileged family in Victorian England. Even though their family is not well provided she still seems content and merry(only in the first few pages of the book) until the quirk of fate decidedly turns her life to hell. Being beautiful both inside and out, she couldn’t help igniting flames of passion in the eyes of Alec d’Urberville to whom she had approached due to the pressure from her family to establish a connection with the aristocrat in the quest for lineage. The young man is a wolf, even whose ancient name is followed by a question mark. Call their encounter the incident that marked the doom. Just because of the one mistake she made of seeking out help from the d’Urbervilles, Tess is propelled by fate from there on to lead a life of prolonged misery. The course of events that followed sucked out all the innocence and confidence from the 16 year old child, who was naïve to such monsters walking in masks of reputed men. She had gone to the so called d’Urbervilles with a hope to save herself and her family, yet she came back ravaged and ruined. Ruined of her innocence and the belief in humanity. While she herself was a child she gave birth to one who was conceived cunningly by the man of no morals. The bitterness I had acquired by this point did not even allow me to sympathize when the baby died. I sighed. And then I hated myself. Hardy definitely knows how to play with the minds of his readers.

When Tess finally decided to move on and found work as a milkmaid at a happy place some 40 miles away from her home, I took the risk of expecting some happy turns to the story. But alas! Her beau Angel who claimed to be neck deep in her love turned out a hypocrite. On their wedding night both of them decided to confess about their past mistakes. And although Tess forgave him for the drunken nights of debauchery he had committed, the self-righteous and judgmental bastard Clare calls her sins too high to be forgiven. Tess is deserted callously. Even though she survived a few more years with the hope of reuniting with her hypocrite husband I feel that she was more dead than alive. Lived more in hell than on earth. Having taken up cruel manual labor unfitting for her fragile self, she intended to repay for the sins endowed upon her by her ill fate. With every passing day she was breaking down a little more. With herself as well as her family falling apart, and the wolf Alec( who had turned into religion and preaching in these years) who couldn’t keep his monstrous instincts away and kept urging her to come back to him, Tess finally succumbed to the situation and became Alec’s mistress. And lo, it is now that Clare decides to come back to her. Really, it took you so long dumb head to realize your hypocrisy and stupidity? Anyways, now that I was seriously expecting a turn of events I was left dumbstruck when the unexpected happened. Having received Clare at her door she felt nothing but helpless. If she had to reunite with her love, she had to do something. And she did. But I don’t blame Tess for I could empathize with the person whose life was mercilessly snatched from her. Never having got the chance to decide for her own life, I could very well understand the fact that her anger got the better off her and she stabbed Alec( who was mocking her then btw) right at the heart( I hope he died a slow and painful death). She finally lived the life she had always desired. In the arms of her lover. Even if it was for a short period of time. Until she was caught by the police and was hanged till death. Justice served.

And with Tess a part of me died too.

My heart goes out to that unfortunate girl and all those girls in India and worldwide who lose the right to live the life of their desire and dreams, because of such masked wolves who pounce on them fearlessly. Not just the rapists but I endlessly despise the cruel society that tags the victims and ruin their reputation by calling them impure and snatch away their right to live. And there are millions of Tess’s scattered round the world, living this tragedy for real.