So Far, So Good!

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.

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Author: The Girl in Blue Jeans

Eh, seriously, what would you know from here that you wouldn't from the blog. Go back. Read!

44 thoughts on “So Far, So Good!”

  1. His first book, ‘Not a penny more, not a penny less’? My gosh, I couldn’t believe I read that and then there was the utter disbelief that someone’s writing career could take off from that.
    Mmm..I have to admit it, I’m a book snob. I’ll leave the rest unsaid 🙂

  2. 😀 But it did! And I am guessing because there are many more like me out there, ready to pick up whatever he puts forth!
    I read the same book, I think when I was in school, and somehow, just loved the way bad people came to a fall, and good people won it all! Twists and turns and a simple happy ending. My funda.

  3. The lack of the greyscape kind-off put me off. But then again, I really shouldn’t be talking with my almost masochistic Rushdie obsession- who’s at the other end of the spectrum with his multihued worlds and complexities in abundance.

  4. Hey goody! I just started my first Rushdie.
    I forever avoided him, assuming he had to be the more philosophical kinds, but what I have read so far of this book, it’s been good! But still, it’s too early to comment 🙂

  5. Which one are you reading by Rushdie?
    Heh. You shouldn’t get me started on Rushdie. The other day when I was out for dinner with a couple of friends, this one guy asked me about Midnight’s Children and I think it started off a gush fest so much so that at one point, one friend rolled her eyes and said, ‘Why do you ask this woman these questions?’ 😀

  6. I’d say Midnight’s Children for its sheer breathtaking brilliance. From when I was rooting for Rushdie elsewhere on the blogosphere:
    Once you’re a seasoned Rushdie fanboy/girl, tread into ‘Shalimar the Clown’ territory. I’d vote for ‘Midnight’s Children’ (What a master craftsman of worlds Rushdie is in MC! When reading MC, I would rush through it, run out of breath, go back and read it reverently like it were the scriptures) or ‘The Ground beneath her feet’. Since we are also looking at books that are ‘so much easier to understand’, ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’ perhaps? That book should have you at the first page- Khattam Shud . If you’re looking at Rushdie to explain his take at magical realism, there is always the origin of species a la Rushdie ‘Imaginary Homelands’.
    From ages ago when I was asked to explain my Rushdie/Marquez/Morrison fascination: It amazes me even more to think that someone could in the crevices of their mind create something so bizarre, something so unreal and surreal that it can literally take your breath away. I stop and wonder in awe at the minutest details rendered so beautifully in prose, the comfort with which two distant-almost unconnected,disconnected-bits come and snuggle together like the yin finally finding its yang, the simplicity with which the story coils into itself, The complexities on which the worlds they create- thrive and yet, how effortlessly they manage to lend it that touch of magic, blowing your mind away just like that. so effortlessly. If there ever would have been a physical effect tantamount to all of that, the flipping of the pages would have hurled me against a wall only to watch the new Genesis unravel itself

  7. Ok, good to know your progress…I’d never heard of Ameen Merchant, have noted the book/author. Thanks for the reco.
    As for Archer…I’m with you…Loved his Kane & Abel..no matter how many times I read it..
    And yes, despite it being chick-lit (or because it’s chick-lit!?) loved the “Shopaholic” by Kinsella…giggled throughout!!
    Keep it coming…

  8. Yay, another Archer fan 🙂
    This apparently is Ameen Merchant’s first book. And Kane & Abel features as my all time favorite book! So double yay!
    Try ‘Can you keep a secret’ by Kinsella, even funnier that one!

  9. I read Silent Raga by Ameen Merchant and loved it! I could not believe that this guy is not a tam-brahm!!! Howw does he know so much about them? MSS and sandyavandanam and rahukalam etc.!!
    I agree that Janaki is a brave and unforgetable character. I also liked the quiet Mallika and her thoughts about her family and surroundings. I am going to gift this to all my friends for Deepavali!

  10. Very true, there must have been intensive research done by him for having undeerstood quoted such minor details with such accuracy! Funnily, on retrospect, Mallika’s character , though not given as much stage, somehow reflects as the stronger one. Beautiful book this one 🙂

  11. By God! I’m so ashamed now…u’ve been reading so many books all this time and I’m struggling with just one book!!
    *walks away in shame*

  12. 🙂
    I was worse, i was buying books and storing them, and not picking up any, due to sheer laziness, imagine! Plus all the glossy magazines, and interesting blogs started making up for all my reading. Very conscious effort has led to this! I am sure once you get into the rhythm, nothing will stop ya!

  13. ‘Green Mile’? The movie with Tom Hanks is based on that? I am slightly scared of Stephen King ya, he is gory no? The only book I read by him was ‘Fire Starter’ I think!

  14. Reco noted, it better not be gory! Thing is, I am a bit worried about your definition of gory, you being someone who squashes lizards behind doors, clicks a pic of the remains, and puts it on the journal too! *Shudder*

  15. Join the club!
    A girl after my own heart,you are!
    I have so many books waiting to be read.I have somehow lost that zeal to read.I could never put down a book until I finished reading it but now I take forever to finish 😦
    Currently reading Catch-22..
    -ilovelucy
    PS : I hated Thousand Splendid Suns.Way too depressing and dark for my liking.

  16. Re: Join the club!
    I know, kinda shameful!
    Haven’t read Catch-22, been good so far?
    About Thousand Splendid Suns, it is definitely depressing and dark, and somehow, inspite of the so called ‘hopeful’, ‘optimistic’ ending, things never seemed to get right in it. But I liked the way it was written, and also , it made me think a lot about the plight of women who actually led such lives.

  17. Reading List
    Hi Divya,
    I like your reading list!Jeffry Archer is a good author and Kane and Abel is really a good read, but have not read any other by him. Sophie Kinsella is so so for me. Have you read the novel Remember Me?
    I have it, but have not started yet. From the list, I have read Silent Raga by Ameen Merchant. Very good writing and story. I hope they can make a movie or TV series of it, it will be a hit I think. Emotion packed and very real in the way he describes tam-brahm life. I cannot believe he is not tamil but can write about tamils with so much knowledge!
    Love your blog!!
    Shalini Lakshman

  18. Re: Reading List
    Hey! 🙂 Thanks a lot!
    You really need to try out more Archer books, though Kane and Abel is by far my favorite. Silent Raga is indeed awesome isn’t it? You’re right, it shouldn’t be long before its made into a movie!

  19. Umm you can trust me on this. No gore. Seriously. 😀
    And btw saw someone else’s comment. Catch 22 rocks. classic.

  20. progress
    Hi,
    ***Anyways, any progress is good progress.
    Arrey, that’s why, we call it PROGRESS nah:D
    New design looks better.
    Ameen Merchant, yeah he is superb! Most importantly, his “saga” isnt “silent” anymore.
    Cheers!
    Roy

  21. The White Tiger- Aravind Adiga
    Thats an awesome achievement. Reading has always been your passion and yes I guess now you can actually quote ‘reading’ as a hobby and actually more than a hobby..!
    Well you have read quite a variety but just a small suggestion from my side when I see everyone suggesting…I dont know have you read “White Tiger” by Arvind Adiga. Its been nominated for booker and a satire on Indian Society. The way story is told is very conversational and matter of factly. I am sure you would enjoy the dark humor of it…atleast I did.

  22. Re: The White Tiger- Aravind Adiga
    Ah, now that sounds interesting! 🙂
    First off to read the review, and then will pick it up. Thanks! What else have you read recently?

  23. very interesting
    well, i bounced upon ur blog wen trying to beat my damn boring n damn sleepy day at work..didn’t realise i got glued to ur blog for couple of days now…(i hav never been so… jst left only 2 more posts to be read from ur blog..).. i liked d way u putforth things.. simple words said in simple way… rather than those bloggers who use big big big jargons n hi-fi fundoos etc…
    do u write poems by any chance???
    keep blogging n vl sure keep following ur posts 🙂 ..

  24. very interesting – continued…
    Try out this book… havn’t read it though… i jst saw a sneak preview of it in rediff.com (Was gud)…. d author is meenakshi (indian very much).. sorry forgot d book name… book was released much recently (in sep first week or so)..
    i knw.. it sounds absurd.. it’s like telling a person to find a black road on d night of no-moon day….:)

  25. Re: very interesting – continued…
    bingo!!!!! you are right… vl def check her blog.. i knew her only as a author.. didn’t knw abt her blog.. howz d book written by rushdie??? did u get a chance to read it?

  26. Re: very interesting – continued…
    Well, not good progress, I think the jinx I mentioned above worked, and I haven’t read anything for a while now!

  27. Re: very interesting – continued…
    Ah! Great to have a link, I do read Tanglish btw.
    Am very much in India, only I use remote desktops for work, and this should actually show NY time, surprising that it is showing random time 🙂

  28. Re: very interesting – continued…
    oh ok..guess u r in hyd as i read it from one of ur posts… . vl b expecting some comments about my posts from u…. u r a seasoned one n as my blog name goes, im jst a beginner.. so any critics / suggestions s very much appreciated…

  29. 3 More nationalities ??
    Colombian
    – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Love in the time of Cholera, One Hundred years of solitude)
    Peruvian
    – Mario Vargas Llosa (Aunt Julia and the scriptwriter, Conversation in the Cathedral)
    Japanese
    – Haruki Murakami (Kafka on the shore, After dark – not ‘recommending’ them, just mentioning it so that u can also try/experience the same and see if its your cup of tea.. I loved the former, despised the latter)

  30. Re: very interesting – continued…
    I did check out your link, The tanglish was a bit tough for me, but the rest, I could identify with! Expect comments soon 🙂

  31. Re: 3 More nationalities ??
    Danke! That’s a nice set.
    I have heard of Kafka, and heard good reviews too, so that would be my first pick!

  32. I checked this blog by accident and saw the discussion about Ameen Merchant’s novel, Silent Raga. I just finished reading it last week and am not able to believe that it is written by a male author! Beautiful characters plus so much knowledge of south india and caranatic music. It was the best novel I read this year. Now my husband is reading it! Thank you for the discussion.
    Kavitha S.

  33. Hey! I am glad you liked it 🙂
    That must have been the first good thing my blog did, recommend a book which was eventually liked! Haven’t caught hold of anything as interesting yet again, but then I shouldn’t compare.

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