Total Number of Books I Own
Plenty. I do not have a count as both my father and myself buy books separately and the collection just keeps growing.
The Last Book I Bought
Last Sunday – Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons
Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone
The Last Book I Read
Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons it turned out to be a perfect read for the Qatar trip. A thrilling, page-turner, A&D is a step ahead of Da Vinci Code in execution and has one of the most spectacular climaxes! I would love to see a film version of the book, especially the sweeping and lush flourish of the denouement.
Five Books That Mean a Lot To Me
(Not exactly novels, will write more on authors that mean a lot to me; and I will change it to six of them)
All Jeffery Archer novels – of all the popular fiction writers, Archer has been my one constant source of inspiration for story telling and description. He is the only author whom I have read completely, including his Prison Diaries. It is very difficult to choose a favorite out of his collection. I started off with Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less, which was incidentally his first published novel also. I still recall reading the book in class XIIth keeping it camouflaged beneath the sultry course books. Even today , when he almost does a Manmohan Desai like trick of children separating at birth due to the idiosyncrasies of overzealous nannies (Sons of Fortune), he is the best in his class he carries the same pizzazz and chutzpah of Desai, knowing exactly how much masala to put in, without overdoing it or spoiling the taste palate!
A Passage to India by E M Forster it was in my Eng. Hons. Course in the final year. I was simply bowled by the style and structure impeccable and symmetrical: Mosque, Caves and Temple. Also, symbolising three main seasons of India winter, summer and monsoons. After the unbearable heat of the scorching summer where Adela Quested makes the heinous allegation against Dr. Aziz, the rains arrive to quell the burns; simultaneously, the rains are also equated with Janamasthmi, the birth of the Lord, a cleansing of sins. I quoted “centuries of carnal embracement” in a couple of posts back from this book. Another favorite was “the secret understanding of the heart” .
As a confession, a lot of my scene ending is borrowed from Forster, esp in Meera. In APOI, he ended a lot of chapters with a note akin to a background music wafting to its dying crescendo. An example :
Pretty dear said Mrs. Moore to the wasp. He did not wake, but her voice floated out, to swell the night’s uneasiness.
One can almost feel the camera panning out towards the night, with the strains of an orchestra fading away in the background.
Agatha Christie novels – Though I have a small fondness for the Hercule Poirot series, I do enjoy her other works too, esp Miss Marple. I have read plenty of them, of which The Murder on the Orient Express stands tall. Also, N or M was brilliant in its execution.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte another course book that left a deep impact. I have a strong leaning towards prose, hence I concentrated more on the novels than plays and poems during these three years. WH is about the the high-volatile but ill-fated love affair of Catherine Earnshaw with the dark and brooding Heathcliffe set against Victorian London. Due to their differing backgrounds they are unable to marry. While Catherine is betrothed to the wimpish Linton, Heathcliffe (on a rebound, more revengeful) marries Isabella.
Again, structure of the book is amazing. In this the second part of the novel re-writes the first part but to a more logical conclusion. Here, Catherine s daughter falls in love with Heathcliffe and Isabella s son! It s a revisit of the romance that could not flower to its full at the dull-fated mansion Wuthering Heights.
For those who have seen Lamhe, would realise that the script structuring of the film is nearly same as this classic; in that too, the second part is a revisit and re-write of the first half.
Enid Blyton - She had to make this list; after all, my initiation to reading was through her only. In my school in Greece, every week we had a full class devoted to reading and then doing a book analysis of the same. There, library class did not become an euphemism to bunking/canteen sessions ( It is sad that the same is not true in Indian schools; I am quite pained to see my nephews devoid of the pleasure of reading, even though they go to the best public school of Delhi).
At that time, I was introduced to the delightful world of Enid Blyton. I spent a lot of time with Noddy, the Famous Five and Secret Seven the lemonades, the cookies, the hangout at the garage, the passwords to enter it, are all part of my initial book-reading memories.
To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee – It was a gift from Ms. Chaphekar, my English teacher in class Xth and teacher-coordinator for school magazine during my tenure as the school editor. She couldn t have chosen a better book to give; seen from the eyes of a youngster, the turbulent racist times have been vividly captured. A point to note is that the way the rape is described and handled; our Hindi films can take major lessons from it.
Roots by Alex Hailey : A novel spanning seven generations, this is the journey of an African-American who traces the roots from the wild jungles of Africa to the slave trade to the modern day. Poignant is one word that comes to the mind, and it left me shaken. For those who have not read it, my strong suggestion to buy it immediately. Though thick, it is an easy read. The novel traces various human emotions, but the major one is the triumph through tribulations. A masterpiece, indeed.
Papillon by Henri Charriere : This was a book gifted by my brother in law to my sister during their courtship period, post-engagement. At that time, I read it but was probably too young to understand it. Perhaps, I shouldn t have done so too. It left some nightmares. The true-life story of the escape from the French prison colony of Guyana, has lots of tense and terse moments; it is at once a thriller and a compassionate human account. Some of the scenes where in Cherriere hides money stacked in an iron rod, shoved up his anus to avoid detection still send shivers down my spine. I am not sure, but I think he tries to escape at least seven times from the tough prisons there.
The Hardy Boys Series and The Nancy Drew Series – Though the latter was considered more girlish I have read quite a lot of them. The Hardy Boys were almost my role idols during adolescence. Their adventures and trails, often through many exotic places, are enthralling.
John Grisham – Another writer in the Archer mould, his novels have enough pace and grit to make reading a pleasure; they also have lots of sordid details about American lawyers that are often brushed hurriedly beneath the carpet of propiety. No small wonder his novels are often converted into films for he writes in a script-writing manner! Barring his last two works, I have read all of his novels.
Sidney Sheldon Anyone who is a fan of pulp fiction cannot afford to miss the original and grand master of storytelling. As a fan, I have been hugely disappointed by his recent works, but his earlier bulk of work are amazing. My favorites include If Tomorrow Comes, The Other Side of Midnight, The Memories of Midnight, The Bloodline and Doomsday Conspiracy.
Sheepishly, I have to confess that my reading habits are highly erratic now; and yes, being a bit old fashioned, I have missed out on some of the newer writers like Rowling and Coelho. Perhaps, like my choice of films and songs and singers, I am stuck in an old-groove!
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