Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 12

A book you used to love, but don't anymore:

The Fountainhead. Only proves how ridiculously strange I used to be as a teenager, that at one point of time this book caused a mini gushfest. Now I cringe when I realize that the book, effectively, glorified rape and that I, effectively, had a crush on the megalomaniac prick of a Howard Roarke. Also, the descriptions of the buildings? Erm, I will take my old fashioned Victorian mansions over the bizarre glass structures any day. Thank you.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 11

A book you hated:

Adam Bede. I just don't get it why people fuss over George Eliot. I just don't. I read the book once when I was around ten, and I read it again after it was part of the 'fallen women in the 20th century novel' optional in first year. And oh God, where do I even begin? Mysogyny. Argh. Too much mysogyny. Argh. Triumph of meek, wholesome, bland girl over interesting, rebellious one. Argh. An intensely uninteresting hero who does exactly what you expect him to do. Argh. Page after page after page of boredom as the author goes on and on about I don't even remember what. Argh. A truly predictable plotline. Biggest argh of all.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 10

Favourite classic book:

Because "Stand up Scout. Your father is passing..." still causes goosebumps. Because of (sigh) Atticus Finch. And because of the following lines:

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 9

A book you thought you wouldn't like, but ended up loving:

I generally find it difficult to read non-fiction for long stretches of time. It's probably my short attention span and ostrich like ability to shut out the entire world, but essays and articles have always weighed heavily upon my reader's soul. Therefore, I approached George Orwell's Essays with a certain amount of hesitation. I was pretty sure that I would glance through the pages and move on to other books in a while. I didn't. I loved it. My favourite essay, predictably, is the one on Charles Dickens, but I have numerous other favourites too. Orwell is one author who always manages to get under my skin and this book wasn't an exception. It mindfucked me in all the right places and threatened to come at me with a sledgehammer if I didn't sit down. And THINK. About things. It's a pity that they just don't make authors like this anymore.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 8

An overrated book:

Oh boy. I find almost every other book to be overrated. I nitpick too much. I think too much. In this case, therefore, I'll write down the name of the last overrated book I read.

Eat, Pray, Love. Enthused by my love for Julia Roberts and because several of my colleagues recommended this book highly, I bought it. I read most of it sitting in the women's waiting room of the Lucknow railway station and the resultant reaction was a resounding meh. It was such a typically American view of the world around and I have been so thoroughly exposed to the American worldview through popular culture, that the book had absolutely nothing new to offer. Of course, there were other problems, but the book doesn't even rile me enough for them to be written down. Meh.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 7

An underrated book:

This gave me a bit of trouble as whenever I like something, I am so tremendously enthusiastic about it that (at least in my mind) it ceases to be underrated. But if I HAVE to choose, it'll probably be Moyna-Shalikh by Leela Majumdar.
Till date, Leela Majumdar remains one of my favourite authors. People tend to box her neatly in the children's author category, but I refuse to accept it. For example, every time I read Tong Ling, I find something new to think about and it took me a long time to figure out the underlying theme of intense loneliness that runs through the book. However, as I was saying, back to Moyna-Shalikh. It remains a particular favourite because as a child I have fantasized about running away from home at least twenty thousand times. I still do, in fact. Whenever people discuss Leela Majumdar, they get a nostalgic glint in their eyes and gush about Holde Pakhir Palok or Podi Pishir Bormibaksho and such like, which makes me even fonder of Moyna Shalikh. Yes, I've always had a soft spot for overlooked geniuses. I think everyone should read the book. Preferably on a hot summer afternoon when they have nothing else to do. The language is beautiful. The plot is happy-making. The descriptions of the hills are breathtaking. And the only comparable thing I can think of is cool watermelon on summer days - it soothes the mind so. Also, it has my favourite kind of central characters - two little girls!

p.s. I always thought that I had read far too many English books and not enough Bengali ones. But this tag makes me realize that perhaps those few Bengali books made a far greater impact on me than the numerous English ones. Rokter taan and all that I suppose. Also, the only Leela Majumdar book covers I can find online are (predictably) Holde Pakhir Palok and Podipishir Bormi Baksho. So (instead of the customary book cover), here's a picture of the author herself to make everyone happy.

p.p.s. I went through my last posts and GOOD LORD! THE SPELLING MISTAKES AND GRAMMATICAL ERRORS! The posts show that I wrote them in a hurry. I shall nitpick and edit them, I'll have to wait for the weekend to do that. Ah well.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 6

A book that makes me sad:

Maybe it's because of the film, which has irrevocably altered my perception of the story. Maybe it's because even when I was young, my heart used to break over and over again for the fiesty Durga. I remember reading the scene where Apu goes to school for the first time and I kept wondering why Durga didn't accompany him too. And my heart broke a little more. I actually bawl for Durga every time I read the last chapter when Apu finally gets to board the train. Stupid, bloody train! Why couldn't the girl have boarded you just once? Gah.

p.s. Also? I hate this cover! I used to own the most wonderful edition of the book where all the illustrations were by Ray. But of course, they had to go change it to some hideous green thing instead!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 5

A book that makes you happy, i.e., a book you reach for when you are all alone in an unknown city, i.e., the literary equivalent of ghee-bhaat-dim seddho, i.e., total awesomeness.

Sharadindu Chhotogolpo Somogro. Because Bhollu Sardar. Because Pragjyotish. Because Haasi-Kanna. Because Kanu Kohe Rai. Because rarely does happiness come so neatly packed in a few pages.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 4

Favourite book of your favourite series:

The third one. No competition. For Sirius Black, if for nothing else. (Yes I am predictable like that.)

p.s. From the size of this post, can you tell that the weekend has effectively ended?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day 3

Last night was a good one. For a brief twenty four hours, this arid desert like city had an identity crisis and transformed itself to a magical one. And while the storm was raging outside, and the rain was pouring down, we stepped out to watch a late night movie and jumped over sundry puddles, held on to our umbrellas with all our might and generally behaved like twelve year olds from Calcutta. And by God, it was worth it!
So when I came back from the movie and tried to settle down for the night while the wind was howling outside, the familiar weather made me reach for a familiar book. And because I would like to get back to it this morning, let's answer today's question and be done with it.

Your favourite series:

Was it just me, or were our school days dotted with ONLY books which came as part of a larger series? Enid Blyton is, of course, one prolific author in this regard. From Noddy to the Faraway Tree to the Famous Five and the Secret Seven, I loved them all and devoured them all and there was always the next book (with the same characters) to look forward to. Then there was, there has to be, the omnipresent tall man from Bishop Lefroy Road. I remember starting on Shonku when I was eight or nine and being inordinately delighted when my mother kept on producing books which featured my favourite bald scientist.
And even today, the reader's mind in me is always drawn to bigger series even today. (For example, recently I read all of the Percy Jackson books online.) Which brings me to today's answer. Frankly, when I read the question, the first name which popped into my head was this Bengali detective. The man I would've married if not for the small glitch of him being a fictional character. The man who taught me that kickass detectives could be home grown and even dhoti clad niriho bhodroloks can be rockstars inside.
However, the problem with this series is that, even though it is probably very close to my heart, I didn't grow up with it. I discovered the stories when I was twelve and went through all of them in about a week. And so, instinctively my mind turned to my favourite bespectacled teenage hero, and I knew I was home.
I've written about these books before. I've written about the hunger with which I waited for each new installment. I've written about how I begged, borrowed and stole, but made sure that I read them within a week of publication. I've written about how the impending movie version(which is the last of series) fills me with a sense of doom because that would mean that a perfect part of my childhood would permanently end. Riding through the roller coaster that my life is, I've always ALWAYS come back to this series. And even today, when heartbreak happens I curl myself into a little ball and reach for one of these books. Because, at the end of the day, magic is a powerful word. A powerful world.

Accio Harry Potter! And everything seems to be all right. :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 2

This is where things get trickier. Propped up by an unlikely surge of adrenaline and the prospect of a perfect weekend looming ahead, protidin blog korbo likhe toh dilam. Kintu tahole ranna ta korbe ke, ar plumber ke phone kore pester korbe ke, ar Business Communication er boi ta thik somoye production editorial ke transmit korbe ke, ar majhrattirer interesting phone calls guloi ba attend korbe ke?

Jai howk. Because there is currently an electrician banging away at my bedroom wall while trying to install an AC, as well as a maid banging around pots and pans in the kitchen (and because both of them are emanating plaintive cries of 'didiiiii' at an interval of five minutes and because both my roommates have currently deserted this Saturday morning), I'll try and make this post as short as possible.

A book you've read more than three times:

My entire childhood was spent reading obsessively. Which meant that when new books were unavailable, I read and re-read the old ones till their pages fell apart and their covers came off and they literally cried for mercy. Books I've read more than three times range from strange Sidney Sheldon novels (specific parts of which were re-read during teenage years for anatomical...err...knowledge) to large the big fat Madhyamik text books (which were re-read under duress and peer pressure. Jeebon Mukherjee's history book, anyone?) Taking all of this into account, I'm interpreting this post to be about a book which I've read at least thirty times. A book I can quote in my sleep. A book I turn to for familiarity in a strange land. A book which goes with me wherever I go. A book which touches a chord every time. A book which defines my childhood. A book I've probably read three thousand times, and more. A book by a man who, if he hadn't died in his thirties, would've probably gone on to win the Nobel.

...ei chheleta bnachle pore tobe,
buddhi jore e sansare ekta kichhu hobe...

Hethay nishedh nai re dada,
Nai re badhon, nai re badha,
Hethay rongin akash tole,
Swopon dola haway dole,
Surer neshar jhorna chhote,
Akash kusum apni fote...


Friday, May 20, 2011


I don't update this thing half as much as I should. That is ironical, because on an average day I have around five different half-written blog posts floating around inside my head. Since currently I have the attention span of a two year old on crack, and good, coherent writing has stopped happening ages ago, I thought I would do this book meme which has been going around. This would mean that I get to write at least a couple of sentences each day. Given the current circumstances, where my mind is constantly full of grocery lists and deadlines, two sentences are basically worth their weight in gold. Or rum. Whichever people prefer.

Anyways, before I digress and go on to talk about the comedy circus that my life is, let us answer today's question and put an end to this mindless banter.

Day 1

Best book(s) you read last year:

Last year was a year which shoved me down and pulled me up, kicked me away and pushed me back so many times that by the end of 2010, I was a little motion sick and had difficulty remembering if I was standing on my head or on my two feet. Needless to say, reading suffered quite a bit. I read a lot when I first moved to Delhi and moved to the PG and knew no one and was confined to one room. Then, as my workload and social circle grew, so did the pile of half-read and unread tomes in the cupboard. I started reading The Outsider (Yes, it took me this long. Yes I'm suitably ashamed.) but the book got misplaced when we changed houses last year. Therefore, alas, I've not finished the book. (Yes, I'm suitably ashamed again.)I've a sneaky suspicion that had I finished it, it would've been my favourite book by far.
Keeping all of this in mind, I think Jaya by Devdutt Patnaik was the best book I read last year. I've always been fascinated by the Mahabharata and I read Shashi Tharoor's The Great Indian Novel right before I read this book. The latter was an interesting take on the epic, but the former just blew me away. The illustrations, the pithy notes at the end of each section, the anthropological observations - everything was just about right. It is rare that all the elements of a book come together in perfect harmony. But when it does, what an unadulterated delight it is.

Monday, May 02, 2011


Prem, preeti, kamona, basona, chumu, ityadi.