Tag Archives: reading

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!

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!

Atom Bomb Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

The cream on my coffee gathered at the top began fading as I was too immersed in reading. The noisy conversations in Hindi, the bright headlights of the cars in contrast with the silent night sky, all paled in comparison to the mysteries hidden in the black and white pages of the book in my hand. As I turned another page waiting in anticipation I heard a clank of crocery followed by a disgusting slurp, I looked up irritate at the interruption. A silver-haired man was sitting in the wrought-iron chair opposite mine, drinking from my cup and looking grim like Gordon Ramsay.

“That was mine”, I said with a hint of defiance.

“You weren’t drinking it”, he said arguing like a five year old child. He took another gurgling slurp and the entire cafe turned at us in resentment. I dig back into my book to avoid their angry gazes, picked up my bag and got up.

“Where are you going?”, the man asked with surprise, “You have to pay for it!”

I looked t him first in astonishment, then amusement and then pure hatred.

“You drank it, you should pay for it!”, I tried to keep my voice low.

“Ah but you see”, he put a hand in his pocket and pulled out air, “I don’t have any money”.

I raised an eyebrow and stepped forward, the stranger got up and immediately pulled my wrist. I turned around shocked at his behaviour (a man in his late 50s grabbing my wrist!) and threw a punch at his face. It hit him a little below his left eye and he wailed in pain. I began taking faster steps towards the exit hoping to outsmart this drunkard but a waiter stopped me.

“Ma’m you haven’t paid the bill”, he reminded me with a curious expression.

“Oh you see I ordered the  coffee but I didn’t drink it. That man over there”, I pointed to the idiot still nursing his face, “He drank it. So ask him to pay the bill”.

I innocently smiled at the waiter and he turned thrice to look at my table.

“Ma’m”, he asked in a hushed voice, “What man?”

I turned slowly to look at the stranger, he was now walking towards me with a grin. I looked at him first in surprise and then in terror. I looked back at the waiter but he still was looking at my face with a puzzled expression and looking back and forth at the table.

“He can’t see me”, the stranger explained calmly. He pulled open his black coat and picked out a metal instrument that looked like a fat futuristic pen. He pressed something on it and a green light emanated from a circular bulb at its top.

“TARDIS Transparency”, he beamed with pride and kept it inside.

I shook my head aggressively like I was having a bad dream, pushed a hundred rupees in the waiters hand and almost flew out of the cafe. The stranger ran behind me into the street-lights lit night and easily kept up with my running with his long legs. I looked at him with shock and then looked away and looked at him again. For some mystical reason, something inexplicable radiated out of him. Knowledge, wisdom, a promise of adventure? What was it? I couldn’t understand but I couldn’t look away either.

“What’s your name?”, he asked smiling.

I shook my head, he might seem friendly and look harmless but he had somehow manage to be invisible.

“If they couldn’t see you”, I asked keeping my speed and distance but unable to contain my curiosity, “Why did everyone look at you when you slurped loudly?”

His laughter was the song I had longed to hear my entire life. He laughed like a child who knew nothing and was curious but also like a grandfather who was up to mischief.

“They weren’t looking at me”, he said pulling my hand making me turn into a lane, “They were looking at you talking to yourself”.

I looked at him in embarrassment and then utter confusion, he softly smiled at me and there was a quiet understanding in his face. He looked calm but he was just as terrified as I was and that terrified me even more.

“It’s my turn to ask a question now”, he said looking straight into my eyes, “What is your name?”

He looked at me with fierce determination and an anticipation, as if the fate of the universe hung in balance of my answer. I gulped and replied truthfully. He let out a strange cry of relief and was almost about to hug me when he stopped.

“I’ve been looking for you everywhere!”, he said vivaciously.

“W-why?” I asked hoping I wasn’t a serial killer’s next target.

He put his hand firmly into mine, his palm was so much bigger than mine and much lighter in complexion. He also had many wrinkles on his hand and face but someone still, supernaturally, he looked incredibly handsome. He might have silver-hair and an arrogantly pointed nose but he had a firm jawline and kind sky-blue eyes.

“Only you can stop this, do you understand?”, he asked loudly.

I suddenly realized that he was saying something important while I was busy admiring his looks. I looked at him in despair with questions written all over my face. He signed.

“I’ll explain on the way”, he said and quickly turned me into a small by-lane, “We have to go NOW!”

“Go where?”, I asked holding his hand tighter in the blinding darkness.

I couldn’t see him but his hand in mine became tighter, his fingers gripped my tiny ones firmer. He waited for a while, as if giving me some time to become mentally prepared- for danger, for disaster, maybe death. The noise of the traffic horns had completely faded and the only thing I could hear was his silent whisper in my ear that reverberated in the brick walls of the by-lane.

“Hiroshima!”

A second after I breathed the word in the by-lane glowed in golden light. I shielded my eyes from the sudden brightness and between my trembling fingers I saw a small police box in bright blue glowing in the tiny, deserted, dark by-lane. I took my hand off my face and pulled the other out of the  stranger’s lingering palm.

“Who are you?” I asked.

I stared at the box as if looking at the rising sun and turned around to look at the stranger smiling arrogantly.

“I’m the Doctor!”

Writing Inspiration from The Daily Post

 

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:

IMG_20140905_190132

 

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.

IMG_20140905_190335

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.

IMG_20140905_190441

 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?

IMG_20140905_190735

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.

IMG_20140905_190540

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!

 

 

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.

10 Fantastic Books I found at a Summer Sale

Last week I got my first paycheck from my internship (Hurrah!) and what better way to spend it than on books. My stipend is not much so I went to this huge book sale at one corner of my city which sells books by weight. This summer you could buy 1 kilogram of books for only Rs. 60 (i.e. only $1)! So naturally I went crazy and bought 8 kilograms of books carried them for 1 hour. Everyone in the train was staring at me as if I was carrying a dead body. So here I 10 best books I found at this sale.

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1) Room by Emma Donoghue– I only found out about Donoghue in 2013 when her sensual courtroom thriller ‘The Sealed Letter‘ became a hit. It was a historical courtroom drama based on a true case in Victorian London about the homosexual affair of a married woman- my perfect match! After some research I found out that Donoghue is a revolutionary writer and her works from the LGBT genre are reknowed. So immediately I  picked up ‘Room’ when I saw it and now I can’t wait to read it.

2)Guernica by David Boling– When I first saw it, something sparked in my head. I could not remember what ‘Guernica’ was but I knew it was something big and important. That is the only reason why I picked up this book by an author I had never read before.

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3)Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence– Countless people have told me to read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and countless times I have told them that I wont waste my time on a Twilight fanfiction. I am not against erotica, I am only against bad erotica. Today’s erotica authors misunderstand the meanings of intercourse and literature. Sex is a part of the story, the story is not a part of the sex. So I picked up this ground-breaking book which was scandalous when it was published and even today remains one of the most sensual books ever written. (I was also looking for Lolita but couldn’t find it)

4)The Scarlett Letter by Nathniel Hawthorne– One of the many things that bothers me about the Indian education system is that we don’t get to read a lot of interesting books. In Britain, children participate in Shakespeare plays when they turn 4, in USA children read 1984 by George Orwell in high School. But in India the only books teenagers read are Twilight and it severely bothers me. I got attracted to this book after watching ‘Easy A’ and I finally found it.

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5) The Red Queen by Phillipa Gregory– My first book by Gregory was ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ and since then I tried to read every book she has ever written. I have seen ‘The White Queen’ show on BBC and I loved it. So when I found this book which is the second book of a 4 book series on which the show is based- I leaped with joy.

6)The Bad Queen by Carolyn Meyer– I haven’t read any of Meyer’s books before but when I saw this book I picked it up because of the cover art. When I read the back page, I found out that it is based on the life of Marie Antoinette and I quickly bought it. Antoinette is a historical figure I haven’t explored yet, I only know her story superficially. Hopefully with this book, I’ll get a deeper insight.

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7) The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood– I wanted to buy ‘The Blind Assasin’ by Atwood which won the Pulitzer price but I looked at its size and turned away (I know, I know I’m a wuss). Instead I picked up this book which is about the life of Penelope, the wife of Odyessus who goes with Achilles to capture the city of Troy.

8) Pompeii: The Living City by Alex Butterworth and Ray Lawrence-I never buy non-fiction books because I fall asleep halfway through them but I bought this one because a) ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ is one of my favourite Doctor Who episodes and b) ‘Pompeii’ by Bastille is an amazing song.

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9) Cold Mountain by Jonathan Frazier– I first heard about Jonathan Frazier in one of Oprah’s episodes (stop laughing) and I wanted to read one of his works for a long time. Also this book has Jude Law on the cover.

10) Atonement by Ian McEwan– I have seen this movie and let me tell you this, it is mind-blowing. One of my favourite World War II movies ever made.

I also bought many other books such as – Alexander: The Child of a Dream by Valerio Massimo Manfredi, The Seige by Helen Dunmore, Winter in Madrid by C J Samson, Before I sleep by SJ Watson, Confessions of Katherine Howard by Suzanna Dunn,Hamlet, Othello King Lear, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Romeo & Juliet and Julius Caesar all by William Shakespeare and finally Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult.

Me and my friend fangirling!
Me and my friend fangirling!

P.S. I FOUND SHAKESPEARE MANGA! I kid you not, I actually found a series of comic books each based on a different Shakespeare play. The text was Shakespeare with no changes, only that it was a proper comic book and it was freaking genius.

Have you gone to any summer sales yet? Which books did you pick up? Which book is in your summer reading list? Let me know!