Category Archives: Books

Literature Awards 2014 Nominees

With only a day to go for the next year, it is time I look back on all the black and white adventures within fat books I went on and contemplate their affect on my subconscious. I can claim that this is definitely the year I read the best books (quantitatively and qualitatively), I submerged myself into a variety of genres I hadn’t tried before- some I couldn’t resurface from (Indian mythology) and others I am vary of trying again (non-fiction and short stories). My bookshelf is overflowing, my mindset has broadened and my faith in literature has restored. I had a rough year personally (I’m not going into details) and these book, all of them, at some point provided me with the solace I craved.

Half the books I read this year (other half in a library)
Half the books I read this year (other half in a library)

So I decided to give them the recognition and gratitude they deserve and organised the first ‘Pink Is The Wildest Colour Literature Awards 2014’. I will be shortlisting various books I’ve read this year (irrespective of which year they were published) and select winners (which will be announced at midnight on 31st December). Before we go into full ‘competition mode’ I wish to clarify like an aged Grandmother that I love all of these books. But these awards are necessary because all books are awesome, but some books are more awesome than others (sorry Orwell) hence the nominees are:

1) Best Narrator:

The nominees in this category are not only fantastic characters themselves, but it is their narration that propels the story forward. Both part dramas, part mysteries- the narrators themselves are just as interesting as the plot itself.

'Room' by Emma Donoghue and 'The curious incident of the dog in the night time' by Mark Haddon
‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue and ‘The curious incident of the dog in the night time’ by Mark Haddon
  • Jack from ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue

Donoghue’s decision, of using an innocent 5 year old boy to narrate the story of a brutal kidnapping, repeated rape and ultimate arrest was a risk- but it was this decision that made her international bestseller ‘Room’ a worldwide phenomenon. It is through Jack’s 5 year old innocent eyes that we see a story of his Ma who is kept imprisoned inside a small room. But it is Jacks loving and sympathetic view of his Mother, who is trying to raise a son in the most cruel circumstances, and the unique relationship that the two share-that makes ‘Room’ memorable.

  • Christopher John Francis Boone from ‘The Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time’ by Mark Haddon

Christopher a 15 year old autistic mastermind, who is a mathematics whiz but a terrible conversationalist narrates the story of how a dog’s murder led him to truth of his mother’s disappearance. This novel puts us not only in the claustrophobic mindset of a mentally challenged protagonist but also offers a sympathetic view on how challenging it is to raise a child with special needs.

2) Favourite book on Indian Mythology:

Unlike all other Indians my age, I did not sleep every night listening to my Grandmother telling me stories of Lord Vishnu’s Dashavataars, neither did my parents feel the need to educate me on my culture. So I set out to do so myself, reading as much as I could on ancient Indian history and how it’s social vibrations can still be felt thousands of year later. I found myself drowning deeper and deeper into this ocean of folktales, every version different than the other and it is this modern literature based on ancient legends that has made me proud of my ethnicity.

'Asura: Tale of the Vanquishe' by Anand Neelakantan, 'Palace of Illusions' by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and 'Ajaya: Roll of the Dice' by Anand Neelakantan.
‘Asura: Tale of the Vanquishe’ by Anand Neelakantan, ‘Palace of Illusions’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and ‘Ajaya: Roll of the Dice’ by Anand Neelakantan.
  • ‘The Oath of the Vayuputras’ by Amish Tripathi

I think it has been my several personal meetings with Tripathi at numerous literature festivals that has made me respect his take on Indian mythology even more. His version of Lord Shiva’s life, which portrays him as an ordinary man who did extraordinary feats (now over thousands of years of diluted facts they are called ‘miracles and he a ‘God’) is by far the most believable portrayal of an Indian God. The plot explains all the ‘miracles’ he did in his life with a convincing logic and gives other characters in the story-line a clever arc, but it is the charismatic personality of the Neelakantha that keeps you glued to the ‘Shiva Trilogy’.

  • ‘Asura: Tale of the Vanquished’ by Anand Neelakantan

When I first heard that Neelakantan  was going to narrate Ramayana from the perspective of its infamous villian Ravana, I thought it was the oldest trick in the book. But this book exceeded my expectations, it portrays it’s plot and characters without an air of divinity around them. Just like Tripathi, Neelakantan also portrays Gods as ordinary men who did legendary feats. Looking at India’s beloved Lord Ram from the perspective of his nemesis will make you ask some severe questions about India’s culture and age-old beliefs. But it is the story of two warriors told from the perspective of a civilian Bhadra that gives this version of Ramayana a new twist.

  • ‘Palace of Illusions’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Finally a fiery narrator worthy of telling the tale of brothers out for each other’s blood, Divakaruni’s book tells the story of Princess Draupadi- the universally hated central character who instigated the Kurukshetra war that destroyed millions. We Indians know Draupadi as a short-tempered, vengeful egoist who drove her husbands to killing their own family. But in ‘Palace of Ilusions’ we see her as she truly is, a pawn in the hands of destiny, meant to behave the way in which her saviour Lord Krishna commands. For the first time we see how the mighty Pandavas treated their own wife like mute property, how the internal politics between her and her mother-in-law made her merely an object though she had a powerful position, how her faith in Krishna led her to choose a man he wanted her to marry rather than a man she loved and how in spite of getting her revenge, she only died with regret in her heart and Krishna’s name on her lips. For the first time, we pity Draupadi. It is her feisty temperament and misplaced sense of justice that drives the plot forward, but it is her silent longing for the tragic hero Karna that will make you weep.

  • ‘Ajaya: Roll of the Dice’ by Anand Neelakantan

History is written by victors and hence for thousands of years Indians have praised the Pandavas for their righteousness while regarded the Kauravas as power-hungry corrupts. But Neelakantan’s book narrates the legendary epic from the silenced voices of those who lost- Suyodhana (who fought for the throne which he thought rightfully belonged to him), Karna (who fought for Suyodhana who treated him like an equal when the entire world insulted him for his low caste), Eklavya (a poor low-caste victim of manipulative politics) and Jara (a civilian beggar who bears the brunt of the war no matter who wins). The book presents its main characters as humans who did both good and bad deeds and ultimately did not deserve their cruel fate. But who can win against Lord Krishna?

Favourite Dystopian Novel

'1984' by George Orwell, 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood and 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell.
‘1984’ by George Orwell, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood and ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell.
  • ‘1984’ by George Orwell.

A literary classic? A dangerous warning? An inevitable prophecy? What is this book? I was tired of reading unbelievable accounts of teenagers single-handedly overthrowing totalitarian regimes (looking at you Hunger Games!) so I began reading this highly recommended foretelling. The depiction of a dictatorial government masked with communism is dreadfully accurate, the emphasis on the political ideals of Oceania being a star attraction of the book. My favourite aspect of this novel is that the protagonist rebels against the oppressive government but does not succeed. A bunch of unorganized militants do not stand a chance against billions of worth of Government set-up (Take a hint Suzanne Collins and those who wrote Divergent and The Maze Runner).

  • ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood.

The most terrifying part of this novel that tells about our protagonist living under a misogynistic regime that only uses women for reproduction, is that the Government is actually convinced that it is a ‘feminist’ regime. By keeping women veiled, constantly surrounded, they think they are protecting these women when actually they are imprisoning and oppressing them. This will open your eyes to how incriminating misplaced feminist ideals can be and how toxic it is to live in a circumstance which forces women to make a particular choice against their wishes.

  • ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell.

Read over a 2 hour long train journey, this political satire about how animals drive out their owner and take over the farm, hoping to abolish inequality but only get sucked into the corrupted tentacles of power is hilarious and horrifying at the same time.

Best Historical Fiction

'Confessions of Katherine Howard' by Suzanna Dunn, 'The Red Queen' by Phillipa Gregory, 'The Penelopiad' by Margaret Atwood and 'The SealedLetter' by Emma Donoghue.
‘Confessions of Katherine Howard’ by Suzanna Dunn, ‘The Red Queen’ by Phillipa Gregory, ‘The Penelopiad’ by Margaret Atwood and ‘The SealedLetter’ by Emma Donoghue.
  • ‘Confessions of Katherine Howard’ by Suzanna Dunn

Based on the life of Queen Katherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII, Dunn follows her protagonist from her scandalous early teenage at Lady Norfolk’s household to her beheading for adultery. It is a spicy tale of royal court drama, misunderstood love, uncontrollable passion and above all, politics.

  • ‘The Red Queen’ by Phillipa Gregory

Gregory tells the story of Margaret Beaufort, a Plantaganet who established the House of Tudors by putting Henry VII on the throne of England. Beaufort is a mesmerizing character, highly religious but committing heinous crimes which she is convinced are for righteous reasons. It is her clever stratagizing, manipulative mind and dirty politics that makes her one of the most feared women in history.

  • ‘The Penelopiad’ by Margaret Atwood

Atwood tells the story of Penelope, wife of Odysseus who waited for him to return from the Battle of Troy for 20 years. It tells us how faithful she remained while Odysseus was courting nymphs at distant islands, how lovingly she raised her son while Odysseus was busy making more and how in spite of her unwavering loyalty she ended up in Tartarus.

  • ‘The Sealed Letter’ by Emma Donoghue

Based on a true case of divorce that horrified London, Donoghue traces the paths of two friends- one who works relentlessly for the rights of women, other who misuses these rights to have affairs outside her marriage. This is the true story of Emily ‘Fido’ Faithfull a women’s rights activist and publisher, who supported her best friend during her sensational divorce, a friend who often forced her to confess horrible things that never happened so the result could be in her favour. Why was Fido trusting her so blindly, was this simply friendship, or something more?

Favourite Marital Mystery

My incessant hatred of the concept of marriage has made this genre the most exciting one for me.

'The Sealed Letter' by Emma Donoghue, 'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn and 'Before I Go To Sleep' by S J Watson.
‘The Sealed Letter’ by Emma Donoghue, ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn and ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ by S J Watson.
  • ‘The Sealed Letter’ by Emma Donoghue.
  • ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn

The most talked about book of the year, ‘Gone Girl’ tells the story of Amy Dunne who gets kidnapped from her house on her fifth anniversary. The police, law enforcers and the public immediately target her husband Nick Dunne but halfway through the book the tale takes an ugly twist. This book explore’s the psychological effects of matrimony- the meaning of loyalty, pride, betrayal and above all justice.

  • ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ by S J Watson.

Our middle aged protagonist is married to a man she loves, but due to an accident she is suffering from short term memory loss. She can form new memories during the day, but when she sleeps at night her brain erases those neurons. She lives her life the way her husband tells her but a stranger tells her that he is hiding something, she then finds her diary that warns her not to trust her husband. More and more secrets are revealed as the story follows her in her quest to find out her identity.

Favourite Book Of The Year:

In this category I have specifically put the books that have not been nominated in the above categories.

The Best Ones
The Best Ones
  • ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ by Arthur Golden.

A mesmerizing book that transports you to the richly cultured Gion, Kyoto- Golden tells us the story of a Japanese dancer right from the poverty and family tragedy that forced her into the world of courtesans to finding love in the most difficult circumstances. The most powerful aspect of the book is that the characters, the settings, the culture begins taking shape around you, pulling you into world of endless mysteries and unforgettable magic.

  • ‘No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency’ by Alexander McCall Smith.

Smith tells the story of Mma Ramotswe, the first resident of Botswana to own a detective agency and follows her as she deals with the troubles of loneliness while solving crimes. Smith’s narration transforms Africa’s barren land into an exotic place filled with unexplored thrills.

  • ‘Guernica’ by Dave Boling

I had never heard of this book before I randomly picked it at a local book sale but it is a fascinating read. It tells the story of three generations of a family, as the paths of several characters intertwine, the fates play their parts in bringing them closer and separating them- in the backdrop of war.

  • ‘Salem Falls’ by Jodi Picoult

The only book to have the honour of having a review posted at Pink is the Wildest Colour, read the full review here.

  • ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ by D H Lawrence.

At a time when all my friends were shamelessly addicted to that shit of a book Fifty Shades of Grey, I picked out this classic erotic drama. The story of a woman,who bored by her marriage seeks affection in another man was infamous when it was published in 1940s and is equally titillating today .

  • ‘The Lovely Bones’ by Alice Seabold.

No book has ever made me cry and feel apologetic to my parents more than this one, the story of a 13 year old’s rape and murder will make you paranoid about the young children around you.

So now that the nominations are out, who are you rooting for? Which books did you read this year? Why don’t you do so similar awards at your blog and tell us your favourites? What do you think of our nominees? Tell us in the comments below!

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Decoding the real ‘Cool Girl’

When I was preparing for my semester exams last month I came across a point that said ‘Media studies helps us question, criticize and analyze subjects instead of taking them at face value’. This is definitely what we have been taught (but most students don’t really care enough to apply it in real life) to do about all the things that interest the world. We have studied soviet-era journalism, nazi propoganda and even present-day publicity- the most important thing that I learned was that 90% of what you see is fabricated. Just like in The Hunger Games when the team behind each tribute design how every one of them will be showcased, based on the kind of emotions they want to evoke in the audience, that is exactly what PR agencies do in reality as well. According to me, the biggest PR miracle of our generation is convincing the ordinary audience that Jennifer Lawrence is ‘just like us’.

I believe you!

I have been suspicious of this beautiful, funny, smart, talented and ‘down-to-earth’ girl from the very beginning. I never jumped onto the ‘Jennifer Lawrence is my bff’ bandwagon, I happen to be a rather cautious person naturally. First we will discuss her as a person, then talk about the way the public has perceived her (spoiler: it’s shady). Lawrence earned her first Oscar nomination for ‘Winter’s Bone’, she was equally talented at that time. But the first time when people noticed her ‘quirky’ personality was when she starred as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. Lawrence’s nonchalance, borderline unprofessionalism and utter disrespect for personal hygiene was quickly accepted by people.

You’re not funny, you’re dumb.

Every other actress in Hollywood works out every day of the week, maintains a healthy lifestyle and follows a strict diet. That is the only way you can have an ‘attractive’ body. Jennifer definitely has an attractive body but she always pretends like all she eats is cheese-burgers. She has claimed previously that she would punch anyone who enjoys exercising. But if she eats junk food all day and never hits the gym, how does she have a body perfect enough to put on the cover of Vogue? You see, she doesn’t! She goes to the gym and eats healthy just like every other actress but pretends to not be so uptight to seem like every other girl. That’s the trick!

You’re allowed to say that only because you’re hot.

She recently stated in an interview for US Weekly, “I would just rather have somebody that has the same taste in reality TV, I do love my Real Housewives. New York Housewives — and Beverly Hills, New Jersey, and Atlanta Housewives. I mean, I love them all, but Miami — oh, my God! Miami is really special.” With a heavy schedule there is no way she gets time to watch all the above shows, but she claims to anyway- because every other woman in America does. About her personal life she added, “[I want someone who] isn’t afraid to fart in front of me [rather] than to have big, passionate love.I’d rather have just a peaceful time. [Those relationships] are deeper because you can be your true self with somebody, and somebody can be their true self with you.” So you are only being yourself if you stuff a hot-dog in your mouth while reciting ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Apparently if a lady enjoys eating gluten-free food and does that in front of her husband, she is not being herself?

*white girl voice* OMG she’s just like us!

Does ‘being yourself’ mean being the worst, most annoying, degrading version of yourself? If you want to be a better person for someone, if you want to improve yourself, does that not count as ‘being yourself’? Does wearing sweatpants and discussing butt plugs contribute as honesty? Does talking about intestinal problems on national television make you cool? The truthful and dejecting answer is yes- you see it isn’t very complicated. Lawrence’s PR guys have made her a dream girl- they have built the exact opposite of the ‘innocent, decent, girly girl’ trope that the media used to prefer.

So down to earth

Lawrence pretends to be like any ordinary girl but she isn’t- her personality is simply a performance. Now you may argue that she doesn’t seem fake but she has an Academy Award at home for ‘Best Actress’ so duh! Men want her, women want to be her- but she’s not really her. She is playing this person who everyone wants and no one can see it. She is ‘flawless’ because she is like most of today’s lazy women, so if you are not like the majority then you are ‘flawed’. This ‘evading the mainstream’ practice has become so mainstream, not doing it makes you ‘uncool’.

And work out in the gym for 5 hours, but you won’t mention that!

This ‘cool girl’ has become the old ‘girly girl’- it is equally suffocating, demanding, challenging and demeaning to women who have different tastes. Since Lawrence heads this army of fake cool girls, anyone who likes doing yoga will be attacked. But at the same time, if you accept your body even if it is not up to the mark, you are criticized for being arrogant. Or if you choose to crib about your body being undesirable, the same people criticize you for being insecure. Also if you ditch exercise altogether, they will call  you fat. This ‘cool girl’ trope is demanding all the women to fit in a mould built with utmost strictness. This ‘cool girl’ persona is forcing women to behave in a certain way so they can convince the world that they are a ‘cool girl’. The problem is not Jennifer Lawrence, the problem is our gullibility.

That’s something all of us can relate to isn’t it?

We women (even those who call ourselves “feminists”) have extremely misogynistic standards- we love it when a 5’7 inches blonde blue-eyed beauty says that she loves McDonalds. Why wouldn’t she say it? She’s fucking gorgeous! But if someone oversized like Melissa McCarthney says something similar, we would only criticize them for being unattractive. You see, you are only a cool girl if you eat junk AND maintain a size zero. Whenever women hail Lawrence as a hero, it baffles me because

a) she is abso-fucking-lutely gorgeous, so even she ate the entire Trojan army alive she will still look gorgeous

b) women who want to be ‘cool’ like her are NOT, so they will have to spend equal amount of time in Subway to eat carbs (so they can brag about ‘not giving a shit’) and in the gym to actually lose the calories (because secretly they do give a shit)

Soooo relatable!

You see here is the problem- another unrealistic standard that women have to reach to be accepted. That itself is misogyny- the belief that a woman has to be a certain way to qualify as a woman is gross. If we like Emma Watson, we want to be classy. If we like Kate Moss, we want to be skinny. If we like Christina Hendricks, we want to be curvy. Why can’t we ever be just us? Just because Gwyneth Paltrow eats kale, doesn’t mean we all have to start writing books about the importance of kale. Just because Kim Kardashian wears a particular brand, doesn’t mean we have to sport the same logo. Just because men find ‘cool girls’ attractive, doesn’t mean we have to be one!

Everyone loves her because she is weird AND hot. If she was just weird, no one would care!

We don’t have to live our lives trying to live up to the standards that other people built for us. We are all mature, capable, intelligent human beings who can decide their own good. We are all able of taking responsibility, making decisions and pulling strings of our lives. So why should we let a celebrity tell us, who we can or cannot be? Why do we give a piece of paper (fashion magazines) the power to make us feel insecure about our bodies? Have we really become so obssesed with being someone else that we have completely forgotten the unique, beautiful, complicated and flawed creature we truly are?

P.S: This is not hate propoganda, this is ‘open-your-bloody-eyes-and-see-the-nasty-truth’ propoganda.

Why feminists should watch Gone Girl

Art is not supposed to reassure our beliefs, it is supposed to make us reconsider them. So David Fincher’s latest thriller ‘Gone Girl’ has got feminists all over the world spiteful and aggressive. I haven’t read the book by Gillian Flynn on which it is based yet but I’ve been staying in constant touch with the backlash on the internet. I already know certain things thanks to the extensive discussions and my proximity with Tumblr- Amy and whatshisname are married, Amy gets kidnapped, police frame whatshisname, in the end he discovers that Amy is alive and killing it! But plot of the movie is not the point! The point is how it has affected modern society- clearly based on the above description Amy is a psycho and so all the “feminists” (I put that in double quotes because I identify as one myself but I disagree with them at this point) assumed that Amy is a representation of all the 3 billion women on the planet. This is absurd and ridiculous and fantastic at the same time. Because for the first time we actually have a woman who is worthy of being called a ‘villian’ and we also have women who are so appalled by it.

Here’s Amy looking like a completely ordinary student

These “feminists” are under the impression that no woman in the world can ever do anything wrong- that the possibility of having a fictional character who is so frustrated that she fakes her kidnapping is zero. They assume that every woman is happily married, happily sacrificed her career, happily making pancakes for her children, happily prioritizing her family’s needs over her own, happily compromising her dreams for her loved ones sake. I agree that a lot (almost all) women do it- some are genuinely happy but some aren’t and Any Dunne is one of them. Why do feminists think that any female character should only be portrayed in a positive manner? Why should she be either an innocent school-girl like Lolita? Why should she be a desirable outcast like Hester Prynne? Why should she be an independent professional like Bridget Jones? Why should she be an immoral whore like Anna Karenina?

*looks suspiciously at Jennifer Lawrence*

The answer is- because men find it attractive. “Feminists” have fought constant battles against being objectified, being stereotyped, being pushed into a category. Yet we divide ourselves into ‘Nerdy girl’, ‘Sporty girl’, ‘Girly girl’ or ‘Cool girl’ depending on which one we think men would find most attractive. I think this is where the flaw lies- the belief that we can only be one of those girls. Why can’t a girl have pink nail-paint on her hands while hitting a home run? Why should we assume that a girl who wears mascara cannot solve an algebra equation? Why should we have to choose between being ‘hot’ or ‘smart’ when we can be both!

Gillian Flynn’s writing is so straight-forward-no-cupcakes-no-unicorns, it’s definitely for the faint of heart!

Coming back to ‘Gone Girl’ Gillian Flynn has given us a remarkable character in Amy Dunne mainly because she is dark- dark, and twisted, and fucking unforgettable. We have had villians before but they were all driven by one thing- money, power or sex. We have never had complicated female villians such as Hannibal Lecter. There are so many male anti-heroes who are rapists, serial killers, criminals, con-artists, assasins in literature and our society accepts them immediately. The problem is not with society, the problem lies in us. Men know that one fictional character who eats babies doesn’t represent every man on Earth, so why can’t women be equally reasonable?

Isn’t that something all women have felt?

The argument is not if Amy is ‘good’ or ‘bad’- she has framed her own husband for murder, she is definitely bad. But this is where our own morals come in and the lines between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ get blurry. My theory is that those who have heavily criticized Amy, can relate to her the most. They can see their bottled anger, their dissatisfaction with marriage, their shattered dreams, their hidden insecurities reflecting on a woman who is externally perfect. They can see their own evils manifesting into a blonde, blue-eyed, beauty who anyone would kill to be with. Amy’s internal struggle is who they are and Amy’s exterior is who they are struggling to be. They hate her because they hate themselves. For the first time a female author has given us a female character that reflects the dark side of our sex and I think we should be supportive.

Author Gillian Flynn

Modern women have defined feminism to suit their convenience- today being a feminist means listening to ‘Beyonce’ and watching ‘Girls’.But the core of feminism remains that women are equal to men and that is why we should all be proud of Fincher and Flynn. We all have our own explanations of feminism and we are all entitled to it- but here we have something new, something fresh, something that can change the way women are seen. Flynn has given us a story that has got so many people taking, friends are sitting down over a beer and discussing gender roles, essayists are compiling words to squeeze in their thoughts over the portrayal of Amy. People after so long, have come to realize that women, too, can be complicated. That is the biggest achievement for David Fincher, not awards or earnings, but the satisfaction of making a generation aware that outside their feminine utopia where every woman is designed like a sims character- there is something powerful and dangerous.

See how it looks like he is literary manufacturing her the way he wants?

I think feminists should not be offended, defensive and hateful because a) basic human decency b) we have been complaining about not having better female characters in movies and now that we have one, we are saying she’s not up to mark c) my biggest reason why feminists should watch ‘Gone Girl’ is because Amy is not attractive. Okay she is gorgeous but men don’t fantasize about her the way they fantasize about Black Widow and I think that is a remarkably feminist component. So we can have sassy female villians as long as she wear high heels? We can have kick-ass superheroes as long as they wear skin-tight suits? We can have “strong female character” as long as they are played by curvy Scarlett Johannson? Nah, give us a woman who fucking makes men piss in their pants. Give us a woman is really is a nightmare and doesn’t just use is as a song lyric (#BurnTaylorSwift). Give us a woman who is can do anything to get what she wants (even fake her own death). Don’t give us a villian who fits in the men’s frame work if how a sexy villian should be, give us a villian who is genuinely dangerous.

Finally seeing it on Saturday!

We always complain about not having ‘strong’ female characters- immediately criticizing Bella Swan for being a mary sue. Now we have a ‘strong’ character in Amy, so watch if she is borderline psychotic? She is three-dimensional, well-rounded, described in painstalking details and chillingly realistic. Keep cribbing all you like but out of all the female characters in literature- Amy is easily the strongest.

10 Fave Tumblr Posts on Les Miserables

My obssession for Les Mis has risen from the deep ocean like a Kraken. I had seen the movie in 2013 and I honestly thought it deserved the Academy Awards for Best Motion Picture than boring Argo. This was the first time I saw a serious musical and I thought Tom Hooper had really presented film-lovers with something to cherish for years. I had seen Argo around the same time and two days later I forgot about it. Les Mis is the kind of movie that stays with you, for days, for months, even your entire lifetime. Every time I hear ‘Do you hear the people sing?’ it send chills down my spine. Now, almost 2 years later, I’m still crying over the fate of Le Amis d’ABC.

The worst is that I cannot even talk about how passionate I am because no one in my family or friend-circle have even heard about Les Mis. I don’t live under a rock, I just live with a bunch of idiots. But when no one understands, Tumblr understands. On this website I found people who are still dedicatedly following Les Mis and often discussing it with each other. Out of all the heartwarming posts I’ve seen on Tumblr these are my faves:

This post makes me sob every time I read it and I read it at least once a day. I cry for the 22 year old young boys who sacrificed their lives for equality in 1832. But I also cry for all the children of today who are forced by circumstances to pick up a weapon. The Barricade Boys didn’t mean for the revolution to become so bloody, but once it started they didn’t want to stop either. Yet, at the end of the day they were just little boys fighting for what they thought was right, and it was. They didn’t know how to fight, they didn’t know how to hold a gun. But one thing they knew was that they were ready to die for what they believed in. And yet, they were just children.

Yes this scene really kills me, I mean the Barricade Boys are capable of killing, but they are also human beings. Seeing the blood of their childhood friends splattered on the floor, hearing the loud gunshot aiming straight for their heads, smelling the fear among the bravest of the boys must have crippled them. Anyone would be scared, anyone would be horrified. But they didn’t abandon the fight, they knew they were going to die. But they also knew that freedom was worth it.

I think by this point you can guess that my favourite part of Les Mis was the revolution and it was also I think the most ‘miserable’. The worst part was that the Barricade Boys were fighting for the freedom of the people and when the Barricade Boys were dying it was the same people who abandoned them. They died, everyone dies. But they died alone, believing that they failed.

Now I want to talk about the movie itself, what a magical piece of art it was. (Still can’t believe Argo won, fucking hell!) The music is mind-blowing, the cast is singing live (brownie-points for that), the sets are spectacular, the scenes are realistic, the poverty in Paris was hauntingly captured and Tom Hooper’s film will always be one of my favourite. There are several scenes in the movie that stole my breath away- Fantine’s ‘I dreamed a dreamed’, Valjean’s ‘Suddenly’, especially ‘Do you hear the people sing?’. But I cried the most during the finale and these weren’t sad tears, these were happy tears. To see all the people who died unfairly standing on the barricade proudly and singing of a better tomorrow was just too much to control.

It is needless to say that the one character who left a permanent mark on me was Enjolras. I have been a huge fan of Broadway star Aaron Tveit (he was stunning in ‘Rent’, ‘Wicked’ and my personal favourite musical ever ‘Next to Normal’) and I was looking forward to seeing his Enjolras. After seeing the 10th and 25th anniversary concerts of Les Mis on Youtube and countless other Enjolras’s on the web, I was a bit apprehensive it he would be able to pull it off or not. Again it is needless to say, but my baby killed it!

My favourite thing about Tumblr is that it pays so much attention to detail. I remember being up in the morning at 5 am to watch the Oscars because that is the time it is aired in my country. I remember my whole family was asleep because they couldn’t care less. I remember being completely mesmerised by the cast’s performance, especially Aaron’s. But the flags at the end really gave me goosebumps.

Another character who really scared me for life was this little bastard. Gavroche is barely 9 or 10 years old but he is singing about how fair death truly is. It comes for everyone, the rich as well as the poor. Poverty forces people to grow up so fast doesn’t it?

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As a parting present these are some of my favourite passages from the Brick. Enjoy (I mean, sob with me):

The wording is so thrilling, you can actually picturize the entire scenario right before you eyes.

This part. I mean, it’s not I need a heart or anything Hugo. In what is easily the most romantic scene in the book—don’t talk to me about Marius and Cosette, okay—Grantaire appears as Enjolras is cornered by soldiers and about to die. Although he probably could have escaped death—the soldiers had passed him by—he approaches Enjolras and asks if Enjolras will permit him to stand at his side for the first and last time to die with him. Enjolras finally accepts him, and they go down together. Now that I’ve made you cry uncontrollably here’s some funny ones.

Aww why hasn’t anyone recorded this?

Frozen and Les Mis, my two favourite things.

This one is my absolute favourite. I know this post is long but the book itself is 1500 pages, what exactly were you expecting. Sometimes I think I’m really silly for obssessing over fictional scenarios and characters but then I realize, Hugo witnessed the barricades of 1832. The names changed, but what he wrote in that book is what he saw. An Enjolras watched broken hearted as his friends fell, a Combeferre stood and gave a great speech, a Marius saved the barricade, an Eponine died in the arms of someone she loved, and a Grantaire fell standing next to his hero. They might seem characters to me, but that night in 1832 they lived.

The Bookshelf Of A Young Girl

“There’s a movie of that too!”, a stranger on the train said watching me read ‘Memoirs Of A Geisha’ today.

“I know”, I said trying to hide my irritation at being interrupted.

I was 10 years old when one of my closest aunt’s gave me a pocket edition of ‘David Copperfield’ with pictures on every second-page. It was tattered, yellow with the front cover torn and the back cover illegible. I read the book simply to follow the link of the pictures and before I even knew my mom asked ‘Are you going to read that book 10 times or what?’ This was the first book I ever read and from then onwards there was no looking back. After that I read Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone and needless to say it changed my life. This way every important moment in my life was marked by a book.

I feel you Tyrion!

I had my feminist ‘awakening’ at 14 while reading Maya Angelou’s ‘Still I Rise’ late at night in bed. Today I just started another blog on WordPress that is ‘feminist as fuck’.I realized that I belonged in New York City (a place I had never been to mind you!) after reading ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald and I have every intention of going there for my higher education. Most of the books I read were written by British authors and I often dream of watching a Shakespeare performance at the Globe Theatre or drinking in the same pub as J.M.Barie.

*EYE ROLL*

Over the years my bookshelf has grown but it is not as big as I want it to be. I guess that is the problem with me, I always want more. I buy books I have always wanted to read every month but due to college and life (and people, ugh!) I never get to finish them at the same speed. I have never actually read any non-fiction and I don’t intend to but there are certain books like ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ by Friedrich Nietzsche and ‘The Communist Manifesto’ by Karl Marx which I wouldn’t mind paging through. But my shelf is proudly bursting with fiction- Phillipa Gregory, Dan Brown, Paulo Coelho, Amish Tripathi, Jodi Picoult and Emma Donaghue have majority of the books there.

Those cheekbones but

I mostly refrain from picking up books by Indian writers because well, I’m Indian. The stories and events they write about are the conditions I’m facing everyday and I personally read books to escape reality not relive it. There is also a fair amount of John Green and Suzanne Collins there (the young adult best-sellers) but I balance it out with classics like ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ by D.H. Lawrence and ‘The Scarlet Letter’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne. There are also a couple of children’s books like ‘The Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time’ by Mark Haddon and ‘Journey to the river-sea’. The only kind of genre I haven’t yet delved into are comic books (superhero and others). As my unhealthy habit continues  now that my exams are over I will rush to the next book sales so if you have any recommendations for me (classics and contemporary, children’s books, young-adult and adult of all genres except, honestly anything except ’50 Shades Of Grey’) please leave them in the comments section and I’ll let you know when I buy them!

The Last Of Tolkein

“There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”

This week in rather important to me- the final posters for ‘The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies’ is out, Scotland will most probably gain independence and also I’m getting a drastic haircut on Thursday. I was only 6 years old when the alternate universe of J.R.R Tolkein’s limitless and detailed imagination along with Peter Jackson’s faithfulness to the original material and brilliant execution left me breathless. I didn’t understand much back then, neither the deep philosophical  underlines in the text nor the lessons in morality. The only thing I saw a little boy destroying forces far beyond his control and for a little, naive girl that was enough. After the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy I never expected Jackson to pick up another book by Tolkein (and in most cases I always complain about sequels because they do not involve taking any risk) but I was glad because I wanted more of Middle-Earth. Their values, customs, mythologies, beliefs and most of all dragons. Now I’m facing the fact that this could be the last ‘Tolkein thing’ ever produced and I’m in a slight state of sadness. Nevertheless the posters fucking mind-blowing so feast your eyes and bow to the might of imagination and dreams!

The Girl Who Read Too Much

I have an exam tomorrow so I blew off half my pocket-money (yes I’m 19 and I still get pocket money) on a book sale today. Although it was generously and annoyingly sprinkled with Danielle Steele (her ‘A Good Woman’ was fantastic) and James Patterson (I haven’t read any of his yet) I somehow with my keen sense of sight and eye for detail managed to find a few precious finds. Some of the books I wanted to buy were torn, soiled or bent at strange places and yet, like some divine miracle I picked up 11 books I can’t wait to read. So here are my september finds:

1) The Vigrin’s Lover by Phillipa Gregory:

IMG_20140905_185921If you have been reading my blog for a while, you must be well aware that I have an unhealthy obssession with Tudor History. Whether it is reading Suzanna Dunn, watching ‘The White Queen’ or researching about the history of the Tower of London- I’m passionate about it all. So obviously any book spree has to start with a book about this scandalous dynasty. Previously I have read Gregory’s ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’, ‘The Other Queen’, ‘The Constant Princess’ and ‘The Boleyn Inheritance’ and all of them have been marvellous. So I can’t wait to read this one (desperately waiting for my exams to end).

2) Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult and

3) The Pact by Jodi Picoult:

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I was reluctant about reading Picoult because I had heard that she writes about family dramas and I already have enough of that. But then one fine morning I began reading ‘Salem Falls’ and my life changed forever. Yes, she writes about family dramas but not the ones that you read and forget. Her books make characters pop out like one of those children’s books and even after you finish reading the book, they still linger in your thoughts.

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4) The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall:

I have heard songs about the beauty, wit, humour and suspence in this book. Countless recommendations and frustrating searches later I finally found it today. I am already impressed at the vibrant and colourful art (what? I’m a kid at heart) and the story is something unique.

5) The Almost Moon by Alice Seabold:

Two years ago I read ‘The Lovely Bones’ and I had never felt so grateful to have a supportive family and loving friends. I cried and cried and cried till I didn’t have any tears left. She is a gifted author she really is. I was still reluctant but then I turned to the first page and the first sentence read ‘When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily’. I immediately put it in my basket and heaved a small prayer.

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 6) The Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier:

I had seen the painting years ago and I always wanted to know the story behind it. Today, the stars in the sky aligned and I found this beautiful classic hidden beneath heaps of obscure Mills and Boons reads. History, romance, scandal and an eloquent author- the perfect recipe.

7) The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night by Mark Haddon:

I feel infinite respect for authors that choose protagonists who are not straight, white or males. We already have so many redundant plot-lines and recurring characters so coming across something different is refreshing. The lead character in this novel is an autistic, 15 year old who is attempting to solve a crime. Riveting isn’t it?

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8) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood:

I had read ‘The Penelopiad’ and heard praises of ‘The Blind Assasin’ but so far Atwood is one of my favourite feminist writers. I have read some of her short stories and they are so quietly brilliant and thoughtful I genuinely can’t wait to read this.

9) Memoirs Of A Geisha by Arthur Golden:

When I was 11 I saw a heartwarming, gut-wrenching movie about a japanese prostitute which gave me sleepless nights for weeks. It made me question the purpose of our sex- Are we really made to be exploited by greedy men? Is our beauty only for their entertainment, their attention? Will my destiny be decided by a stranger who will become my ‘husband’? 8 years later, I found the book it was based on and let us see how many more existential questions it arises in my brain.

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10) Asura- Tale of The Vanquished by Anand Neelakanthan:

In the recent years Indian literature has transformed from regional works meant for elite, educated audience to best-sellers written to appeal readers of all generations. After reading The Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi and The Krishna Key by Ashish Sanghi, my faith in Hindu mythology is restored. Asura- Ramayana written from Ravana’s perspective, is a new break-through in Indian publishing scenario and I have high hopes from this read.

11) The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue:
What should I say about Donoghue? Her works in the LGBTQA genre have opened my eyes to an entire universe where there are no boundaries, no rules, no consciousness. After I read ‘Room’ (which is mind-bogglingly brilliant and I just can’t, I just uff…) I want to read every word she has written.

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Now that I have my exam tomorrow and another last paper on 9th, I can’t wait to dig into my treasure of used books and discover new tales to dream of. Now let me go back to my hopelessly boring studies and then I’ll dive into a deep literary slumber. Wake me up when September ends!

 

 

A Far Cry From Boring

I have been fascinated by Stephen Hawking since I read ‘A Brief History Of Time’ which was a genius piece of complicated physics I didn’t understand. But in spite of my failure to understand difficult concepts (which results into me describing everything as simply ‘wibly wobly timey wimey’) I have always looked at scientists with admiration. Hawking is an interesting figure because he is creating history right now and I have the privilege of witnessing it. I have seen the BBC documentary ‘Hawking’ (in which Benedict Cumberbatch plays him brilliantly) and I only found him more endearing. Here’s is an interview of him with John Oliver (who is hilarious and brings out the dark humour in tragic realities) in which he displays his impeccable comic timing. Wish all my science teachers were like this!

Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult- Book Review

“A filament of sensation sizzled between them, like a thin strip of kerosene that, for the love of a match, would turn into a wall of fire”

'Salem Falls' by Jodi Picoult
‘Salem Falls’ by Jodi Picoult

“I don’t post book reviews”, I told myself as I posted this book review. I usually refrain from writing book reviews because after Harry Potter  series by J.K.Rowling and The Tudors series by Phillipa Gregory I haven’t read a single book that kept me enthralled in every page, until I picked up ‘Salem Falls’ in March at a summer sale (the tagline ‘It only takes a lie to set a town ablaze’ attracted me) . I had heard praises for Jodi Picoult very often and did superficial research on her works. She mainly wrote about families, towns, couples facing tragic situations- not my cup of tea. I am a magic-realism or detailed-fantasy or thriller-that-makes-me-pee-my-pants kind of reader, my bookshelf has no place for silly family feud. But man, oh man, how wrong I was!

Happy Realization
Happy Realization

‘Salem Falls’ is about a high-school history teacher called Jack St. Bride- he is only 31, a 4-time football championship coach, a doctorate in History and incredibly handsome. Unfortunately he is also falsely accused of aggravated sexual assault- twice. The story follows Jack’s story with a sense of sensitivity and protectiveness- the same emotions that it ignites in the reader about the character. The first instance when he gets accused is a classic example of how a one sided crush turns into a misunderstanding turns into a rumour that destroys Jack’s life and then ultimately turns into a jail sentence. The author painfully depicts how in the process Jack loses his job, his friends, his reputation but most importantly, his pride

So frustrating!
So frustrating

 

 

After being released from jail (this is where the book starts, the first story is in flashback) he heads to the closest town Salem Falls. He restarts his life as a dishwasher in Addie Peabody’s diner, becomes her Father’s roommate, becomes her boyfriend until one day they find out the truth. Every one in the town ostracizes him, his customers treat him like a monster just waiting to be unleashed. Their rumours keep on growing and growing and ultimately innocent Jack becomes the hatred of the town. But a quartet of four teenage girls- who are simply looking for a way to create trouble (teenage girls are like that I can assure you, I am one) start looking at him as their target. It does not take long until one of them accuses him of raping her and the town goes berzerk.

Damnit!
Damnit!

 

The story then follows how Jack’s attorney try to prove Jack’s innocence, how Addie tries to dig up Jack’s past, how her own past catches up to her and how Jack, gradually loses hope. After completing this book (which was a few minutes ago) I felt a sense of relief- the feeling that the characters got what they deserved, that for once justice (not necessarily legal) prevailed. It is not a book like the ‘The Fault in our stars’ that stabs you with a silver dagger and twists it while it’s still stuck in your beating heart. It is a book that slowly, carefully, grows like a cancer in your brains asking you, What is justice? What is truth? Is anyone ever innocent? It creeps into your veins, runs through your blood and day by day makes you stop believing that life is fair. To find out any more, read the book.

This is for you Picoult, awesome job!
This is for you Picoult, awesome job!

The language is not challenging, the characters are not difficult to understand- I kept on reading until my eyes were sore and my neck hurt. I have to say there was not a single moment in this book when I yawned- right from Jack’s university days when he first feels protective about another girl to the his time in jail when his trivia knowledge saves his ass (literally), every single story was beautifully mapped, stunning executed and made you feel more and more sympathetic about a man who was being punished for a crime he didn’t commit. It is a powerful mixture of how we lie to convince ourself that we are loved and then that lie destroys someone’s life. Right from Catherine Marsh- the soccer team captain whose one-sided love gets Jack convicted, to her over-protective Reverend Father, right from Addie Peabody- an intelligent and creative girl who gets stuck in Salem Falls because of one death after another to Jack St. Bride- a man who is about to spend 20 years in jail simply because he didn’t love an arrogant and stubborn teenage bitch, every single (minor and major) character leaves a mark on you.

Don't worry, be happy!
Don’t worry, be happy!

A heartbreaking love story, a suspenseful courtroom drama, a high-paced thriller- ‘Salem Falls’ by Jodi Picoult gets full marks from me (and I never give anyone full marks). Definitely read it and let me know what you think about it! Now if you excuse me I have to read every single word Jodi Picoult has ever written.

A Tale of Two Geniuses

Imagine two of your favourite characters from TV shows having a warm cup of tea with you. Visualize feeling their physical presence in your living room and their eyes on you (or each other) as you pour tea from your kettle shakily. If I could have this fantasy become reality I would have trouble choosing which two people to invite. I would love to invite the smoldering Damon Salvatore and talk about his hedonistic approach to life. But I suspect he’s not much of a talker but a do-er (no pun intended). I would be thrilled to invite Sheldon Cooper but I believe he will only find me too stupid to have the honour of his company. I would genuinely love to have Barney Stinson over and ask him about his ‘The Bro Code’. But I think I would have the most entertaining tea party if I invite BBC’s Sherlock Holmes and NBC’s Hannibal Lecter.

promise

I would simply invite them and pretend I don’t exist so I don’t interrupt their conversation. Can you imagine though? Hannibal, a psychopath and cannibalistic serial killer interacting with Sherlock Holmes, the sharpest detective in history of literature. Sherlock would read him in seconds with just a look and tell Hannibal everything that no one else (even Will) could have conjectured. They would talk freely about crimes and Hannibal would go into horrifying details about how he carries out his murders and Sherlock would be utterly fascinated by his intelligence. I can totally imagine John Watson being nerve-wracking disturbed if he was in Sherlock’s place, uncomfortable while interacting with a monster. They would talk about crimes too but Hannibal would be superficial and John, judgmental.

no its not okay

On the other hand if Sherlock has a conversation over tea with Will Graham he could provide some insight into what is reality and fantasy which could be interesting. But it will stop there. But between Sherlock and Hannibal, the conversation will flow naturally like two lovers meeting after a very long time. Hannibal would describe his crimes but Sherlock would insist that he should explain the intricacies. Hannibal in turn would test him and ask him to guess which (off course) Sherlock correctly would. Sherlock would be utterly fascinated by how, for so long, Hannibal managed to hide his heinous crimes from the police and he would politely reply, “Because it’s not Scotland Yard”.

not my division

I can imagine both being completely, utterly and inappropriately admiring each other. Sherlock would appreciate that finally he found a serial killer whom he cannot easily deduce and Hannibal would be grateful that he had found an intellectual match. These men would be enemies off course, but the rare sort who respect their opponent. If Sherlock and John ever got a case of one of Hannibal’s victims, John will approach him with hatred and disgust (like any normal person). But Sherlock will feel charm and ecstasy (like fan girls). Not because he likes Hannibal or anything, simply because he is a pure genius. Criminal but genius. Much like Moriarty, even better.