Reading List July 2017

I am a bit late this month to post the reading list. I have had a good run last month with the books. Having been able to finish the 3 I had set my sights on and add a few more. You may have seen the updated reading list for June.

This month I have set my self the usual target of 3 books.

1. STEPHEN KING’S IT- This is a highly acclaimed horror genre title. After The Shining this is probably the most talked about book by King. The fact that a new movie is releasing this year made it a good time to read. I will confess I am not a big King fan. The initial fear factor is wearing thin as I progress into the middle part of the story. The story keeps shuttling between narrators and that is putting a bit of strain on my ability to read smoothly. I keep having to go back and re read chapters. Let’s see how it goes.

2. The Closing by Ken Oder comes highly recommended by Bookbub site and Pinterest books to read . This is a legal genre, my reading of the genre is unfortunately limited to Grisham, and I am a fan. But it’s still early days to pronounce a verdict on Oder’s ability to hold my attention.

3. Paula Hawkins’ The Girl,on the Train remained a bestseller from its 2015 release till 2016. It is now adapted for a movie. There is a lot of hype about the book, and I had been waiting for the price to go down as happens with most paperbacks. Turns out in 2 years it hasn’t reduced Re.1. So I finally bought it. The story again has the numerous narrator issue, which means the reading is not smooth. The protagonist and all female characters mouth sad and redundant cliches about how women think or react. Some of it is actually cringeworthy, specially where these women show so much self doubt that borders on paranoia. They are quick to dismiss their gut feel or plunge head first into following their heart instead of weighing in reason or logic. They are obssessd about fitting into the societal expectation of being a good wife and good mother. It may be a thriller but it is a sad commentary on how women view their own Gender. I am particularly disatissfied with the deneoumount because it is lethargic and lazy. There is no closer. There is no reality check. The protagonists are insipid in their reaction. Overall, it’s a badly written fiction. But that doesn’t surprise me because even E L James was a bestseller with her horrid Christian Gray series.

4. 

 

Deadly Impulse by Carolyn Arnold is a police detective series. The Detective Madison solves a 3 murder mystery which is not a serial killers handy work. Recommended for light reading. 

5. 

Carolyn Arnold’s-Ties that bind, is a prequel to the Detective Madison Knight series and in this she solves the serial killings of three apparently unrelated victims. A bit melodramatic at the end but good enough for a relaxed reading on a rainy afternoon. 

6. 

Three seconds to rush by Danielle Stewart is a mystery drama, about reconciliation of  2 childhood soulmates in the midst of mystery related to a crime. The solution of the puzzle is slightly loosely written but the emotions in the book are touching. So much so that sometimes it feels like reading a romance. It was enjoyable. Definitely worth a read. 

Image sources for all covers Google Image search.

Image 3- Copyright belongs to Me.

Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings

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An Epic is a long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the past history of a nation.

The book Lord of the Rings is an EPIC by JRR Tolkein, it was first published in 1954. The Lord of the Rings is a book I have treasured. I have gone back to it many times and read parts of it. The book creates a magical ‘other’ world. It is a fantasy world that touches you and transports you there. It consists of three separate books , The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. After reading it for the first time,  I found it to be a tale of friendship, love and heroism. Over the years I have come to realize that this book became the benchmark for all fantasy fiction/ film to come. Tolkien’s descriptive narrative beautifully depicts Middle-earth and the journey that the Fellowship undertakes will remain with them for the rest of their lives.

I believe this is the best fantasy book of all time. This is the gospel of the genre of Fantasy Fiction. I know Harry Potter fans will jump up against this claim. But know this that the influence of The Lord of the Rings is so universal that everybody from George Lucas to Led Zeppelin has appropriated it for one purpose or another. Not just revolutionary because it was groundbreaking, The Lord of the Rings is timeless. I was introduced to Tolkien before I read his epic, through his work as a distinguished linguist and Oxford scholar of dead languages. Perhaps that is why his epic has a new language in it including a script for it.

During my reading of the epic, I found a couple of themes which were recurring in the 3 parts. The theme of Power which corrupts and becomes and addiction, the one of Fate and triumph of free will , the theme of loss and farewell and of course, courage in the face of insurmountable odds. These make this story so universal and timeless and therefore a classic. In fact, I think the reason LOTR is such a huge influence on contemporary fantasy fiction and popular culture is because of these themes which are timeless and they touch the reader.

The book went onto being adapted into a major motion picture having three parts and it was a feast for the eyes. This is one adaptation where I can say I have not been disappointed with the outcome. I have re watched the entire series many times. There have been occasions when after watching one part I have gone back to reading the book simply because a tiny details which had escaped me in my several viewing had caught my eye. I have often been asked whether reading the book is important in order to understand the movies better. My view on this has been that LOTR the movies is complete in itself and does justice to bring the ‘story’ that Tolkein had written. But, if you want to discover more about this fantasy world that the author had created, reading the book will always leave you in awe of the epic task he had undertaken to bring forth the story.

While talking about LOTR many would bring up the comparison with George R R Martin, another visionary whose epic Game of Thrones has caught on with popular culture. But it is too soon to say whether Martin’s GOT goes onto become what LOTR is, a classic. LOTR has survived more than 60 years and generations have read it finding a fantasy land in it yet finding strains of human struggles and turmoil tugging at their heart while they were invested in the characters of the book. Whether GOT goes on to survive the fanfare partly because it’s TV version is more popular than the book and the fact that Martin has yet to publish his next book ( already delayed), makes me wonder whether this will survive and go on to become a classic. But the comparison aside, I would re-read LOTR any day of the week over any of the GOT books same goes for watching the movie over the TV series.

THE END.

Sources: Wikipedia, Google ( Image).

NINETY NINE

11486.jpgAlice Walker‘s world acclaimed novel The Color Purple was published in 1982, it went onto win the Pulitzer Award in 1983. The novel takes place in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the 1930s. It addressed numerous issues including their low position in American social culture. The novel has some explicit content, particularly in terms of violence. The book has been targeted by censorship because of its explicit content.

But let me come back to why this book is one of my top ten favorite of all time. I stumbled upon this book thanks to my friend, her sister had a heavenly collection of fiction, and I borrowed from her. This book was recommended to me and after reading it, I was left moved. The novel is about the intense connection that is created between the women in the story.

The Color Purple was not an easy book to read, it is not written like most novels. The novel consists of a series of letters, none of which are dated, and in order to have a time frame for the novel. But the Walker leaves clues for the reader and if we read carefully we can figure out the timeline for the story. Roughly, the novel has a time span of about forty years. The other difficulty in reading this novel is the language Walker uses. Some of the letters are not written in standard English, it has a dialect which is closer to folk language. It is awkward to read it initially.

The novel is as I said, about relationships among these strong women, five of them actually, and they have a lot of courage. They refuse to be beaten into submission. The story is really about those two things, Courage and Strength and how Love sustains the women through trying times. The connection established between the reader and the protagonist is based on understanding suffering and the need for compassion.

As a side note to this I had watched a student production of The Color Purple adapted into play when I was in college and honestly too horrified by it. It had hurt my senses. But reading the book at a later age it was a revelation, because the book required more compassion and understanding which I didn’t have at the earlier age.

I always wanted to understand why this book was named the way it was, and why the color purple is significant. Logic dictates it should be Black but it is not. I think the reason it’s the color purple and not any other is because in nature the color purple is rarer than the colors and we see it we do stop and look at in awe and wonder. Perhaps just like the color purple in nature, we may want to also look at out life, and take a minute to enjoy the rare moments of wonder, joy, happiness. May be in the bigger scheme of things the rare moments are like signs from a higher power to remind us that we are loved.

THE END.

Sources: Wikipedia, Google ( Image), Sparknotes

NINETY EIGHT

hitchhikers

Continuing with my attempt to finish reviewing my top ten favorite books, I come to the book which I have read only once. I never went back to this book for a very silly reason. Let me come back to the reason later in this post. I will begin with a very short background to this book, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Many reader may not be aware that the novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is an adaptation of the first four parts of Douglas Adams‘ radio series of the same name. The novel was first published in London on 12 October 1979. Confused? The Trilogy series which actually consists of 5 books ( got you there, yes, I know Trilogy means three books!!), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979), The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980), Life, the Universe and Everything (1982), So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (1984) and Mostly Harmless (1992). So, basically the entire Guide is a collection of five books. That’s easy to wrap your head around. Oh no wait, Irish author Eoin Colfer penned a sixth book, entitled And Another Thing, it was published in October 2009, on the 30th anniversary of the publication of the original novel. See, how the surprises never end.

Now to the book and the lasting impression it had left with me. Hitchhiker’s is considered as a cult classic, it is a comedy science fiction. It is not Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke, these are the two other science fiction writers I swear by, hence Adams’ intergalactic flight of imagination was a revelation, the characters were almost out of a comic book. What is so attractive about this world is not just the characters but the story, the story which is set in a galaxy far far away but is essentially a human story, a search for answers. Of course at the very end the reader does get an answer. I don’t want to spoil it for the readers who haven’t read this one. This brings me to the reason I never went back to the book. Once you reach that last page of the book the spell is broken. Once the spell was broken I couldn’t bring myself back to re-reading that book because I knew what was at the end of the book.It is a beautiful world, don’t get me wrong, it is also poignant with both the human emotions of sadness and joy, the joy of friendship and the loss of home. There is a philosophical strain running all through the book that is what attracts me to the book. Before you think that this book is too serious, it isn’t, I can assure you it is a fun read and it will make you think and it is a great read.

The book has been adapted into a movie in 2005 and less said the better about it. For me very few book adaptations work, but that is another blog post.

THE END.

Sources: Wikipedia, Image ( Google)

EIGHTY

They hailed it as a box office success and almost at once everyone forgot that the star of the movie had stood trial for manslaughter and had been acquitted with a slap on the wrist after a decade of heel dragging by the Indian judiciary system. Yes I am referring to Bajrangi Bhaijan. My initial reaction had been to avoid watching it at all costs as a protest. However I finally had to watch it just to see why were people losing their minds and opening up their tear ducts to this stellar performance by an actor who can barely act.
So there I was sitting in front of the screen with a not so open mind. I was instantly amazed at the sad attempt to manipulate the audience with the deaf and dumb cute girl who strangely hasn’t been taught to read and write. Even strange is the introduction of Sallu Bhai as a Selfie taking ( why on earth do we need a silly song sequence) RSS cadet. Was it to make him seem like the strong Hindutva driven man and hence his complete 360 degree turn into a soft and mushy humanitarian just because the girl got duped and taken to a brothel? Oh the Sallu bhai in his perfect tear jerk avatar as the saviour , the brother,  the man.
I could not make head or tale of the reason why there was a back story and a love interest for Sallu bhai. Does Sallu bhai need a heroine? What was the need to cast a Kareena in that role? This could have yet another big break from some starry eyes Aishwarya look a like. But we got Kareena instead to increase the star value of the movie.  And her choice of movies of late have left me questioning her ability to really compete with the likes of Deepika who can definitely choose better. So they add a heroine who has about 5 scenes in total because bollywood masala movie needs a hero and heroine it cannot do with only a good guy and cute little girl story. The character of the heroine despite being a teacher seems completely bedazzled why thr wonderful mediocrity and stupidity of the man. He who must make some money and rent a house that is the pre condition set by the girl’s father to be allowed to marry. What utter nonsense is that. Is this even practical?

Of course bhai meets the cute little girl and all senses go out the window instead of taking her to a police station  he gives her shelter next comes the revelation that she is Pakistani and the sudden change in fortunes. The movie bow moves to bhai’s attempt to get into Pakistan without a Visa. Absolutely mindlessness follows after this. Add a Nawazuddin in a funny role, a few police men chasing them around. By this time you know as viewer that the denouement is merely delayed and the last drop of tear need to be extracted from you. Hence there is the much awaited reunion followed by an intense anti climax where you almost believe that the movie will redeem itself by showcasing the conclusion of this foolhardy yet heroic mission with a sacrifice. But no Sallu Bhai has never had the courage to breathe his last. I am not a movie buff correct me if I am wrong. Many stars have taken the plunge some early in their career some later to die a sudden death or one which is heroic. But no how can it be a Sallu bhai movie if the director doesn’t pull out all stops. So the Indian and thr Pakistanis gather at an unknown border and watch the release and crossover of Bhai and Lo behold his fiance and family are in attendance almost immediately  ( no planning required) and so does the girl and her parents . Makes me wonder that if the girl’s home was this near to the border of India why on earth di everyone travel. Days and weeks to reach the remote mountains! Anyway logic was never the strong point of the movie. What bewilders  me is at this opportune moment then dumb girl finds her voice just like that, right that moment,  without any medical intervention.
It is a terrible truth that we make bad movies but the fact that everyone is taken in by such movies makes it worse. The fact that everywhere I go I hear people who I consider to be above average intelligence wax eloquent about the powerhouse performance of Sallu and the innocent naturalness of the girl, it makes me sad. I would like to say it gags me to see people being manipulated to easily.
I have nothing against the hold actor. Bravo to her for putting up the ridiculous performance. She was a good instrument in the hand of the director.  But what about Salman Khan. This is same man who has murdered another man yet we all forgot about it and bought tickets for the show and made him even more money. Why are we so pathetic? Why can’t we be furious why doesn’t a mob burn his effigy or rip his posters or boycott his movies? Because he is a movie star because we don’t care because it want someone important who does because how does it matter so many years later because not watching this movie will not punish him.
Will not watching the movie at least leave you with some morality and principle?
May be I am the fool in all of this.

THE END.