reading

What I’ve Been Reading #WorldBooksDay

On the fabulous occasion of World Book Day I thought I’d share the names of the books I’m reading which is coincidentally the post I was working on next anyway!

I usually read 2 or 3 books at a time, two on Kindle and one print book. Usually I go for a mix of fiction and nonfiction. I try not to read fiction in the same genre that I’m writing, but anything by the master is always welcome.

The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty by Kavita Kane

I recently finished reading this book, my first by this author. Though I knew a lot of the story beforehand I enjoyed reading it and I plan to add more books of hers to my ever-burgeoning TBR pile.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Several readers in the readers group I’m a part of recommend this book. I picked it up and though I’m only a quarter of the way through, so far I find it a fascinating look at how our species came about.

The Four-hour Workweek by Tim Ferris

I had been curious about this one for some time and finally ordered the print version. I am not a great fan of self-help books in my adulthood, having consumed tons of them during adolescence. I’ve made good progress on this one and I’m halfway through now. It has thrown up some good ideas which I intend to try out in the near future.

Men without Women by Haruki Murukami

I needed a break from all the nonfiction I was reading so I chose this and of course I don’t regret it. His stories are inexplicably simple and well-written and thought-provoking at the same time.

What have you been reading lately?

Image by Gellinger on Pixabay

reading

Marie Kondo and the 30-Book Challenge

The internet has been abuzz with Marie Kondo and her Tidying up, and especially the part most relevant to writers and book lovers all over the world has them in a tizzy.

Her philosophy of ‘spark joy’, i.e. pick up an item (in our case we will consider a book) and if it doesn’t spark joy, then dispose of it.

The suggestion to throw away books that we will cherish forever even if they don’t tantalize us in the moment is what caused the controversy. Twitter, the blogosphere and a number of thinkpieces have erupted on it, essentially outraged at the seemingly sensible advice.

She clarified later that you don’t really need to toss your books, you can also donate the ones you don’t want to keep anymore.

Over on Writers Digest, Robert Lee Brewer has issued the “30-book challenge” in response to Marie Kondo’s tidying up advice.

I already declutter as much as possible and have, several times a month, stood facing my bookshelf with a critical eye, trying but failing to home in on titles I don’t mind disposing. I don’t ever throw away my books – I don’t know any reader who would do that – but I donate them to the library near my house who always accept the bounty gratefully.

Even if I tried to keep only 30 books and give away the rest, I don’t know how I would go about it.

Here’s just a tiny snippet of the books that sit on my shelf:

Harry Potter – 7 books

Artemis Fowl – 7

Agatha Christie – 14

Georgette Heyer – 12

Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series – 9 books

Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street Series – 9 books

Alexander McCall Smith’s Corduroy Mansions Series – 3 books

Jasper Fforde – 3 books

As you can see, that totals to way more than 30 (64 if you’re counting), and this is apart from the all standalone books I’ve acquired, and the nonfiction titles I cherish like Houdini’s biography, Eat Pray Love, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, and even Capote for that matter. This also doesn’t take into account the 100-odd books lying on my Kindle, some read, some (ahem!) unread.

So, 30 books? Make that 300 and I’d still be wringing my hands about how many you’re making me throw away. Make it 3000 and then maybe I could consider the matter.

What’s your take on Marie Kondo’s “30 books” advice?

Book Reviews, Writing

Starting with Goodbye

If you write creative nonfiction, you must head over to Lisa Romeo’s corner of the web right now. I’m pleased to share that her memoir Starting with Goodbye was launched on 1st May! 

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Lisa works as an editor, teacher, and freelance book manuscript editor. Her work is listed in Best American Essays 2016, and she has been nominated for additional BAE and Pushcart Prize awards. She also serves as an editor for two literary journals.  

I enlisted her help with my creative nonfiction and I highly recommend it. If you ever feel stuck and need guidance, sign up for her services! 

You can order her book here, and watch a beautiful book trailer here!

 

My Writing

My story up on Juggernaut

I recently posted about my story The Demons of November up on Juggernaut. It has garnered good ratings so far.

Here’s the opener:

The Demons of November

The rooftop of our tenements affords us a direct view to Bansilal’s farmhouse just opposite. The ugly purple curtains framing his picture windows are drawn apart in that artistic style as if he’s hosting a play in his living room. Soni trains the binoculars at the window – the bania is entertaining guests. His maid must have served them exactly two biscuits and a cup of tea. He wouldn’t part with any more than that from his pantry.

Soni demands to know – is he really chatting with friends, or executing one of his “transactions”?

We each take a turn with the binoculars, but none of us can spot cash changing hands. It might be a personal visit, but with Bansilal one never knows.

The new government had marched in one day armed with bulldozers and razed the slums, leaving us homeless. They promised us new tenements, but no timeline. Shakti Uncle witnessed our plight, and eased his conscience by handing us the keys to his flat before he headed for the Gulf for a company posting. Then the water turned bad and Pinki fell ill with amoebic dysentery, and we had to hustle to buy her medicines. A week to the day of her recovery, Jivan Uncle tumbled down the stairs and fractured his leg in a freak accident.

The tenements came much later.

We light up a cigarette and pass it around. This is taking more time than we’d planned for.

The guests leave. Minutes pass, then the maid opens the door. A man enters and slumps down on the divan facing Bansilal. His bald pate shines under the chandelier lights in the bania’s house. He runs a hand over his head.

Jivan Uncle stubs out the cigarette and touches my shoulder. “That’s our cue, Amar. Let’s go.”

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Security guards fall in two categories – the ones you can pull aside and slip a little more cash than they’re used to, and the other burly kind who’re gunning for a fight. The latter can knock down most opponents with a glare of their bloodshot eyes and a punch with a well-rounded fist. Bansilal’s guards hold steadfastly loyal to him – I don’t understand why – but it means Soni and I need to use our hands and knees. It doesn’t faze us. We dispatch them easily.

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If you liked what you read and want to know what happens next, click through to the Juggernaut site/app and grab the rest of it! It’s free for your reading pleasure! Please do leave an honest review and rating and let me know what you thought of it!

Book Reviews

What I’m Reading

Every so often, I list out the books I’ve managed to eke out precious time to read. The time constraints imposed by a day job and a baby means I have less time to read than ever before, so my annual totals are nothing to write home about. I have dipped from an average of 3 books a week to perhaps 1 or 2 a month.

Despite that, however, I recently read and enjoyed five rather popular and well-reviewed novels.

 

The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang

I recently joined a readers group on Facebook that has fuelled my reading like nothing else has before! This one was recommended by one of the members there who had posted the link to it as it is available online. This is an amazing science-fiction novella, though the title might scare away potential readers who might mistakenly believe it is a software engineering textbook. The story revolves around “digients” – digital pets who are trained to grow and gain intelligence, and how their human owners strive to maintain them.

 

The Circle by Dave Eggers

Here’s a book that I wanted to read before watching the movie. I had read so much about it but finally I caved in and read it. A young girl called May joins a Google-type company, and while initially she’s lost at sea, she eventually gets sucked into its vortex. Reviews online have criticized it for adding nothing new to the conversation about tech companies like Google becoming an overarching monopoly, which I agree, but I enjoyed reading it nevertheless and totally recommend it.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The TV show is making waves on Hulu but I haven’t started on it yet. This is another one that I wanted to read first before watching the show, and I’m glad I did. It’s dark, foreboding, but page-turning, more quiet and literary than a thrilling adventure. For some reason it brought to my mind Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, though they have nothing in common apart from both being dystopian novels. Read it at leisure, and wait for the drama to slowly unfold.

 

Carrie by Stephen King

I have to shamefully admit here that I have NEVER read a Stephen King book other than On Writing because he writes primarily horror! I am very squeamish and even violent or gory thrillers give me sleepless nights. But I caught the movie version of Carrie and generally knew the story, enough to know that it was well-within my tolerance limits. So this became the first Stephen King novel I have read. And I, of course, loved it. I am glad to have read it and will be seeking out more of the same, non-gory stuff that he’s written. This one is not gory (in my opinion, YMMY), and recommended for all who are on the fence like me about Stephen King.

 

 

Unbroken by Nadhika Nambi

I came across this on my Juggernaut app and simply started reading without any context or background, knowing only that it was YA. A few pages in, it dawned on me that the protagonist Akriti is in a wheelchair, which is probably what fuels her acerbic chain of thoughts.

I have to say – it was an engrossing read. The author writes sensitively from the POV of the teenager, who is suffering twice the regular teen angst thanks to her situation. My only gripe with this book is that the character of the brother is a bit of a Mary Sue – almost too good to be true, but nevertheless, this is a great read for young and old alike!

 

Note: All links above are Amazon affiliate links.

 

Have you read any good books lately?

Book Reviews, My Writing

Jane Austen in India!

I had blogged earlier about the inclusion of my essay ‘Jane Austen Lives in India’ in the anthology Cocktails with Miss Austen.

Here’s a tantalizing glimpse of the print books!Jane.jpg

The book is out in the world since November. It had a great launch day and even made it to number one in Amazon UK’s hot new releases in its category. Just above Philip Pullman at no. 2 and Umberto Eco at no. 3 – so we have some famous company!

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What’s more – we’ve even bagged our first 4-star review! I was thrilled to find it mentions my essay specifically, as well as two other brilliant ones!

These “conversations on the world’s most beloved author,” as the book’s subtitle has it, are charmingly informative: Pride and Prejudice serialized on TV in India and a rapt teenager and her mother both, in their own way, musing about the man the teenager — Gargi Mehra, one of the collection’s seventeen contributors — should marry. Another piece with a fine meditation on the subject of complicated lives by the Australian writer Imogen Armstrong Orr, who has learned from Jane Austen that “. . . the quietness of the lives lived in her pages highlights the passion of the women who live them.” When I tired of reminiscence and craved some straight lit crit I found it in several essays, my favorite being one combining the two, mingling criticism with anecdote. Elizabeth Davis’ “Jane on the Brain” is an occasionally hilarious account of the author leading a class of young American students around England as well as around their much loved Jane Austen.

The subject is so close to my heart that the essay was relatively easier to write. The words flowed when I was writing and all I had to do was edit it for clarity and structure in my subsequent drafts.

The book is a treat for Jane Austen fans, and it would make a great Christmas/ New Year gift! It is available for only $0.99 on the Kindle store right now. Do pop over and take a look! Please leave a review if you read the book and like it!

I’ll be sitting curled up with my own copy meanwhile!

ReadingBook

My Writing

Cocktails with Miss Austen

Personal FB Cover COCKTAILS WITH MISS AUSTEN

As I mentioned earlier, an essay of mine will feature in an anthology about Jane Austen by Ben Bulben Books, which is schedule for release in November this year. 

The book will be titled Cocktails with Miss Austen, and includes essays by several authors. Take a sneak peek at the book below!