Category Archives: Books

The Fault in our stars

The  fault in our stars

I don’t remember on whose recommendation I ordered this book. But whoever (if a person) or whatever (a website/ newspaper/ blog) it was, I thank them for this lovely suggestion. This 313 page story by John Green has all possible emotions one can think of – love, pain, humour, empathy, sympathy, anger, tragedy, helplessness and what not.

<Spoiler Alert – The review below gives the plot away>

The book is about Hazel Grace, a terminal cancer patient on an experimental drug who doesn’t know for how long would she be around, and about Augustus Waters, a cancer survivor in the sense that he has had no evidence of cancer detected in a long time after his treatment, yet.

They meet at a support group that neither of them seem too inclined to attend and bond over a fiction book to which both of them can relate. What follows is beautiful romance between the young couple joined together not by a disease but inspite of it. Their conversations seem so real and touching, their reactions so very natural. It is impossible not to root for their beautiful love story and wish with all your heart for a happy ending. But that is not what the author has in mind. When Hazel has been trying to avoid being a ‘Grenade’ which can explode anytime and leave all around her who care and love her hurt, it is Augustus who turns into one but not before fulfilling Hazel’s wish of wanting to meet the author of her favourite book on a foreign land on a trip which leads to the discovery of their love for each other. And I for one could never have thought such a beautiful story being told against such a background, of ‘eulogies’ like ‘love letters’ and of ‘okays’ as ‘always’.

The emotions portrayed in the book have a quality about them, of demanding to be felt, much like the pain that the protagonists talk about in the book. You can almost sense the worry of the parents, their wanting their child to have a normal life, the hesitation of the patients to get too involved with friends and family, the pain on being diagnosed, the excitement of a dream coming true and the helplessness and futility of the disease that takes all away.

There are some beautiful one liners in the book, and some poignant quotations, which remain with the reader for a long time even after the chapter has been finished, so to speak.

Highly Recommended!

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Dying for a Living

Dying for a Living – A Jesse Sullivan Novel

Author: Kory M Shrum

Dying for a Living

The title intrigued me. Though I had never heard of the author before, it seemed an interesting topic, both literally and metaphorically. And so, I started to read. The book had me hooked from page one.

Dying for a Living is a sort of science fiction thriller, which talks about Necronites and AMPs, people who can get up from being dead with no more than a minor loss of their brain so to say, and people who can sense and perceive things to be, based on magnetic fields, sort of like psychics.

The protagonist is Jesse Sullivan, a typical teenage girl, but for the fact that she dies for a living, quite literally. She is a Government approved death replacement agent, that is, she dies instead of other people for a fee in consideration. Other than being a Necronite or a zombie as she likes to call herself, she is a normal girl with normal issues and characteristics – rebellious attitude, romance, family, money and so on.

On her nth death replacement, things begin to go wrong, with a “mortal” attack on her. There are many suspects and motives – The Church, The Government, Colleagues, Personal Vendetta, Morality and Ethics being a few. How she figures this out, with numerous things from her past resurfacing and future allowing a few glimpses, with help of friends she didn’t know she could count on, makes for a fast paced thrilling read and ends at a cliffhanger.

All in all, its a good thriller, recommended for a curious and open mind!

The Wreck

Author: Rabindranath Tagore

Price: Rs. 195/-

The Wreck

Being a Tagore Book, I expected “The Wreck”, translation of his creation “Naukadubi” to be an extremely complex book full of similies and metaphors and complex words and characters difficult to comprehend in general. I know pre conceived notions aren’t good to have but that’s what you get when you are picking up a book by a Nobel Prize winner in literature! So it is with these feelings that I started turning the pages of “The Wreck”. However, what I came across was a 350 odd page dramatic yet simple narrative, enlightening in its own sense.

The book is divided into 62 short chapters, very fast paced, so much so, that you keep turning the pages without realising that you have reached the very end.

The story revolves around four characters – Ramesh Babu, Hemnalini, Kamala and Dr. Nalinaksha. Fate works in mysterious ways and causes a mix up in the possible combinations in which these four people could be made into couples. One by one they all come to know the truth which is both sad and good. Sad because when the first one came to know partial truth, he could have told the others and saved all including himself a lot of trouble, to some extent. Good because it is ultimately this truth which comes to their rescue, to some extent.

In a very subtle manner, Tagore has interspersed the story with the difference of caste and creed prevalent at the time. What strikes the reader (or at least a reader like me) apart from the ingenious plot and brilliant writing is the beautiful relationship of Hemnalini with her father, Annada Babu. In times of today in a country like ours it comes as wonderful surprise to know of a father daughter relationship so beautifully open and deeply meaningful.

All in all, highly recommended but for the last page, because it reads, when you don’t want it to – “The End.”

Nine Lives – A Book Review

Author: William Darlymple

Price: Rs. 399

Nine Lives

I had been wanting to read a William Dalrymple book for a long time. But the thickness of his travelogues combined with the miniscule font always kept me away. Until, I came across “Nine Lives”. And I am so glad that I did.

Nine Lives is a simple, lucid, unbiased, non judgemental and rich account of a variety of arcane religious cum spiritual practices told through the lives of people practising these, whom the author met in the course of his travels. It is a refreshingly different narrative in the sense that it presents the bare facts but not in the dry manner so as to put off the reader and not unnecessarily embellished so as to render them unbelievable or questionable.

The stories chosen are unique, strange and engrossing, giving the reader a peek into the varied traditions and rituals still being practised in the India rapidly striding towards modernisation resisting the urge and pressure of uprooting them to give way for a newer, “modern” world.

Not being from the nation which he writes about gives Dalrymple an opportunity to stand back, detached from the bias towards or against any one creed, and ask, observe and write from the perspective of a curious bystander. The touch of personalisation through brief but relevant accounts of how the author came to know the people whose stories he writes and how he furthered these aquaintances to allow them to share their secrets with him, give the much appreciated connection between these seemingly unrelated stories.

What stands out in the book is the uniqueness and heterogeneity of the characters and their lives, very much relatable to the ancient and diverse India that all of us have read and thought of, however, it is squeezed in temporally and spatially to an unbelievable existence of here and now, a sort of mirage, only much more real and much more mythical. This is the mirage the reader is led into, to wander, right from the introduction by Dalrymple, of a Sadhu who is a manager by education and of Tapan Goswami, a feeder of skulls and a father of two ophthalmologists practising in New Jersey.

The Nine Lives are those of a Jain Nun, a Theyyam Dancer, a Devdasi, a Bhopa, a Sufi Saint, a Tibetan Monk, an Idol Maker, a Tantrik Couple and a Baul. I read these stories with keen interest and astonishment and despite trying hard, I am unable to chose any one favorite. I highly recommend this book for you to make your own decision about the same. Happy Reading!!

Love in the Time of Cholera – A Book Review

Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Price: Rs. 399

Love in the Time of CholeraSometimes, you come across a story which is hopelessly romantic; which talks of the love despite class and age and family and health. A story which holds you close, to experience the raggedness of breath and trembling of hands, arising out of passion or pity, one cannot fathom. And then you know, that Love, truly, has no bounds. It can’t be explained, experienced or justified in any one particular way.

Such a story is “Love in the Time of Cholera”; spanning 53 years, 7 months, 11 days and nights. It keeps pulling you inside, to discover the beauty and pain of its being. The story of a young boy and girl, trying to weave their emotions in a coherent whole through surreptitious glances and clandestine letters. The story of their not yet existing but nevertheless blossoming love affair being discovered and the story of trying to separate their destinies. The story of wait, agony, lust, want, passion manifesting so differently in the two parties so as to leave each other as well as the readers confounded. The story of domesticity. The story of a couple. The story of domestic squabbles. The story of love. The story of Love in the Time of Cholera.

And when all these stories, all these threads, hanging around out of so many different places come together to tie the knot so vehemently desired by so many, you know, that the writer has suffered tirelessly to make it happen this particular way.

Definitely Recommended. Especially for hopeless romantics!