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, reading

5 Fantastic Apps for Reading

Before I plunge into the list of apps I use for reading, I’d like to share some happy news first: my story Pearls Mean Tears is published in Penny Shorts! It is one of the few stories I’ve managed to get reprinted. Do pop over and take a look!

The other day, while I was reading stories on Penny Shorts and other literary journals online on my iPhone, a friend leaned over my shoulder and seeing me with my nose buried in the virtual text, demanded to know which apps I used to read. I then realized I had more than one, and in subsequent interactions, I came to know many people wanted options for reading.

Note that all the below are free to download, but may feature in-app purchases.

Kindle

The default app for reading these days is the Kindle. I have no use for a separate Kindle device but the app for the smartphone is invaluable. Don’t ask me how many books sit on my digital TBR pile – it would shame even Amazon itself!

The monthly Kindle deals that roll around at the beginning of each month offer books at throwaway prices!

Blinkist: Big Ideas in small packages

This little app started four years ago and has hit a million users already! It condenses entire nonfiction books into bite-sized “blinks” that can be finished in 20-30 minutes. And if you like the book you can always buy and read the whole thing! But I found this perfect for me – I love reading nonfiction but had stayed away from it due to lack of time. I can finish one book on Blinkist per day easily, and I’m won over enough to sign up for the premium subscription!

They’re currently offering a deal that offers 4 months off!

Juggernaut

An Indian digital-only publisher of books in a variety of genres – romance, thrillers, short stories etc. I downloaded the app with the intention of submitting work to them, though I haven’t yet got around to doing that. Meanwhile the app has me hooked with enticing new releases every week!

Their short stories cost Rs. 10 onwards while books cost Rs. 30 onwards.

Magzter

Whenever I stood at the checkout counter of my local grocery superstore, I gazed longingly at the magazines and wondered when I’d get time to curl up with one at home. Thanks to Magzter I now have the next best thing – a digital version of the magazines! I found the price quite reasonable as well, mainly because I snagged an annual deal.

Price: Annual subscription for Rs. 990 that offers access to 4000+ magazines.

Feedly

I subscribe to a humongous number of blogs, some general interest but others in niche areas of writing and technology. Someday I will have to cull this list, but until then I use Feedly to catch up on all the blogs I follow.

This app and its services are completely free. I haven’t paid anything to use it as yet.

 

What are your favourite apps for reading?

 

Book Reviews, My Writing, Writing

Re-kindling my love for Reading

Since I last posted, I’ve enjoyed two writing successes:

  1. My story The Facebook Identity placed in Words with Jam’s Genre Spoof contest.
  2. My vignette ‘Singapore City’ was chosen for the Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2014 collection.

 

These two successes have proved bright lights on a path littered with rejection notes!

 

Over the last five years, the publishing landscape has changed dramatically with the advent of the smartphone and e-readers like the Kindle. Whenever Nathan Bransford ran his poll, I’d silently vote for the option ‘you can pry my paper books out of my cold dead hands’. Between the library and online retailers offering huge discounts, I didn’t think I’d ever move away from print books.

 

This year, however, I’ve done most of my reading on my smartphone using the Kindle App. I can’t be thankful enough for this device that has lit up my lunch and snack breaks in office!

 

Some amazing e-books I’ve read this year:

 

Lost for Words by Edward St. Aubyn

I’d read quite a few reviews of this book which aroused my curiosity. It is a satire centered on the Elysian Literary Prize, based apparently on the Man Booker prize. Critics disliked it, but I found it extremely funny, and though I hadn’t read any books by this author earlier, I’ve added the Patrick Melrose novels to my TBR list.

 

The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini

Many years ago I’d seen the movie based on this book, and found it quite touching. I came across it while browsing titles on the Kindle Store and purchased it immediately.

This is a beautiful novel, with simple but lyrical prose that touches the heart.

 

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom by Amy Chua

They say if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. If that wasn’t the case then I might have written a separate blog post on this book alone.

The way Amy Chua obsesses about her parenting style, it sounds as if her children have discovered a solution to world peace or invented a viable alternative source of fuel.

Reading this book, I discovered that I’m almost a ‘Western parent’, one who gives their children freedom of choice and doesn’t force the kids to do something they don’t want to. Of course, some tenets of Asian-style parenting are common and ingrained in me –being respectful of parents, aiming for first place in studies etc. But forcing a ten-year-old to practice the piano for three hours straight without a bathroom break? No thank you. I’m happy to forego such madness, even if it means I or my child won’t ever perform at Carnegie Hall.

 

14 Stories that Inspired Satyajit Ray by Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

Satyajit Ray, who received an Academy Honorary Award in 1992 while on his deathbed, made many films from short stories and novels, but he imbued each film with his own touch even without straying too far from the original storyline. This book contains 14 of the stories that inspired the great director’s movies, and though I’d read many of them before, it was a delight to return to them again.

 

Also, do take a look at these helpful blog posts I came across recently:

A list of reasons for writers to be thankful

If you’re writing short stories, polish them and send to Short Story Competitions 2015

How to write 1000 words a day every day

 

 

Any interesting books/articles you’ve read recently?

Humour, My Writing

To Kindle or not to Kindle

A great start to the year – my story “Singapore City” has been published in Vine Leaves Literary Journal. Hop over and check it out!

On to the feature presentation:

Two years ago, I bought an iPod Touch. Why, you may ask, did I abandon all manner of Apple iPhones and stoop to the Touch instead? Well, I’ve owned my share of expensive cell phones, and the experience alerted me to the realization that Smartphones and I are not heading for a Happily Ever After. I don’t possess the maturity levels required to nurture a smartphone as much as it needs me to.                           

So I went ahead and splurged on the 16 GB iPod Touch. From the minute I brought it home in its carefully wrapped pristine white packaging, I surrendered all rights to my toddler. The speed with which she navigated the device amazed me. She swooped in on the phone and started using it as her own.

I considered buying a Kindle. From all that I’ve heard and seen, the Kindle is an ideal device for the voracious reader. Kindle boasts e-ink technology that is easy on the eyes and most closely resembles reading a print book. One can read it in the sunlight as well, similar to how you read a print book.

Though I didn’t buy a Kindle eventually, I settled on reading ebooks using the Kindle app on the iPod Touch. I’ve done almost half my reading last year on the Touch, which is a great surprise for one who thought you’d have to pry the print books from her cold dead hands.

Apart from the ebooks, I am a member of two libraries which combine to quench my thirst for books. The first is British Council, where I’ve been a member for almost a decade (minus the two years I lived in Singapore). The second is Just Books, which set up shop here a couple of years ago. Now I wonder how I ever lived without them. They stock every type of book, down to the latest Indian bestsellers and Nigella Lawson/Jamie Oliver cookbooks. What more could a girl want? I even read The Casual Vacancy by borrowing it from Just Books. Considering its price and bulk, I might not have purchased or read it otherwise, however brilliant it turned out to be.

Thanks to Just Books and British Library, I am slowly but surely building up to my pre-baby average of 2 books per week. Last year I read 43 books, which improved on the previous year’s total of 33. This year I hope to read 50 books by the time 31st December rolls around.

Do you read more print books or prefer to flip virtual pages on an e-reader?