I have been reading quite a lot these days. In fact, I think I am pretty close to what would probably put me back into the league of those ‘who-quote-reading-as-a-hobby’. Good for me.
I have to accept that I made a more conscious effort to pick books, and more importantly read the books I picked, once I blogged about the Orbit Terrarum Challenge. Remember? Only, I don’t think I stuck to my original list by far. And two, I never blogged about it. Anyways, any progress is good progress, and here’s my list of achievements so far. Along with short-short commentaries which I am hoping count as reviews! J
Girls of Riyadh – Rajaa Alsaena
The first book I picked, and which thankfully features in the challenge list as well. A light read this one, has the chick-lit element in it, which makes it easier to absorb. The story of four friends from the elite class of Riyadh, it does deal with the impact of the society, religion etc on them, but in a subtle way. It is more a personal take on their dreams, their questfor love, their aspirations; their lives in general. The narration is interesting, and is in the form of anonymous mails to a group id, and the author identifies herself as a friend of the four protagonists.
A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khalid Hosseini
Another book from the Challenge! This one was awesome, something I expected from the author of The Kite Runner. Definitely depressing, with its set of highs and lows, I love the way the author defines each character. Both the protagonists, Mariam and Laila come to life as you read through the book. Unputdownable (I really think there should be a word like this!), this one, I read in one go during our 5 hour wait for a connecting flight in the middle of the night.
Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I think it is an automatic thing; I somehow always reach out and pick books which have an element of depression, always a tad higher than regular tolerance levels. The book revolves around the Nigerian Civil war, and though I am not a big fan of war stories, this one is more about the effect of the war on the lives of the central characters. But where there is war, there are casualties, sorrows, some very graphic descriptions, and inevitably, depression. But once again, beautiful characterization, and amazing emphasis on detail.
Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
When it is about an author I have read before, I always have higher expectations from the next book I read by him/her. The same held true here, irrespective of the fact that this in fact is the first book by her. But it met expectations quite well. The story is the narrated from the point of view of a 15 year old Nigerian girl Kambili, whose father is a philanthropic for the society, but is more of a cruel religious fanatic when it comes to his own family. The element of personal touch is evident, and the sense of empathy it evokes for the protagonist is unavoidable.
Prisoner of Birth – Jeffery Archer
Who doesn’t like Archer? Huh? If you don’t, well I would rather not comment or react, because whatever it is, or whoever you are, I can promise you I won’t sound polite. My love for Archer titles is unconditional. He is the only author whose books I have picked up without checking the review at the back, simply because he never disappoints! Agreed, some concepts may sound repeated, and you might actually confuse between two stories some time later (I know I have), but he will not bore you. He promised you thrill, and he delivers. Like with this one. The uncanny resemblance to The Count of Monte Cristo , or that the protagonist mentions that he would follow the classic while seeking revenge, does nothing to put you off. You still read it, and at the end, you’re smiling, just like you were when you finished other titles by him.
The Silent Raaga – Ameen Merchant
Yes! Finally an Indian author, whose book I didn’t want to take breaks while reading! Janaki Venkatakrishnan is going to be one of my favorite characters for a long time I think. I don’t know if it was the simplicity of the story, or the fact that it revolved around a Tam-Brahm Iyer family (very staunch and all, nevertheless), or the way it was put forth that appealed to me most, but it did. Strongly recommended this one.
Undomestic Goddess/ Remember me/ Confessions of a Shopaholic/ Can you keep a Secret – Sophie Kinsella
The ‘by’ sign in the above line refers to ‘and’ and not ‘or’ as it may suggest. How can it be ‘or’? Anyways. Why in the same line you ask? Because I really doubt I will have 6 lines to write about each of the titles. Oh, they weren’t bad or boring or anything like that. You really think I would go ahead and read so many of them? But then they were all of the same genre. 100% chick-lit, funny, full of mush, and very very happy. They kept me sane, these titles above, and gave me the much needed breaks when I was busy obsessing about how wars destroyed humanity, or how oppression of women was abominable, or how religious fanaticism was unacceptable. All the titles revolved around regular women, leading regular lives, facing regular problems, and then overcoming all of them, and of course also landing up with the nicest guys in the end. Like I said, happy stories.
That makes it one Indian author, one Nigerian author, one Afghani author, one Arabian author, and two English authors. And 10 titles by them. And just 3 of them are from the old list! Whoa! That means that if I intend to stick to the challenge I still have 4 titles/authors of different countries to go. Hmmph! I am not too keen on half of what I listed there now, so I have to make a new list. And fast!
Other than that, I haven’t mentioned The Japanese Wife by Kunal Basu, because I am yet to read the two remaining short stories. Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies was picked, attempted and then given up on. I couldn’t read beyond 10 pages. Detail is good, but this much detail, well, puts me to sleep. Have just started upon Rushdie’s Enchantress of Florence, my first Rushdie book (not counting Haroun and the sea of stories which I read so long ago, I have no clue what it was about). And he isn’t even going to help add to the challenge list. Sigh. And yet another Sophie Kinsella title. Strictly for reading during the breaks I take from reading. Not bad huh? *Pat on my own back*. And so that’s that, I am hoping this post doesn’t jinx the rhythm though. Good luck to me!
P.S. Is Frederick Forsythe an American? I really hope he is, I plan to read ‘The Afghan” by him, and he will add to my tally too then.
P.P.S. No he is not! I just checked. Another English author, what is this? He has to wait I am telling you. If we go month wise I am running one month late, I should have been 6 authors down by now. Damn! Suggestions are welcome! Just remember the ‘Only Fiction, no philosophy’ mantra. Danke.