Thursday, June 2, 2005

Tagging Books

I picked up this meme from Yazad Jal's AnarCapLib. This is the first time I am continuing a meme for I found it interesting. It's about books and Yazad (while tagging the cartel) has generously said "All are welcome" to reply to his post. So here goes.

Total Number of Books I Own: Haven't counted. But I reckon between 500-600. There's one small cupboard packed with them at my parent's place. And two closets that my dad got a carpenter to make in some loft space so that he wouldn't have to pick up a book before he sat down. I have another two loft closets and a cabinet at my brother's place where I am staying at the moment.

Last Book I Bought: Actually the last one I booked (pre-ordered), about two days back. Harry potter and the Half Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling. And before you ask: Yes, I am a Potter fan. No, I am not ashamed of it.

Last Book I Read: Eragon by Christopher Paolini. A fantasy tale, the first part of the Inheritance Trilogy. Paolini wrote it when he was 15 and is surprisingly well written for someone so young. I guess every now and then Paolini must be feeling, If only I could go back and rewrite it now, it would be so much better. But a part of the charm of the book lies in the fact that it was written by a teenager. Is highly influenced and shaped by Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Series, and to some extent by Harry Potter. A good read, particularly if you are fond of SF & F.

Five Books That Mean a Lot to Me:
Where do I start? And which ones to leave out?
Here's a list. Most of my friends know that I prefer fiction to non-fiction but I do have my favorites. This only lists some of my favorite fiction.

The Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh
Personally I think this is the best novel in Indian Writing in English to have come in the past 20 years or so. Very lyrical, a great narrative technique and characters that stay with you even after years of reading the book.

The Crow Road by Iain Banks
For some reason it reminds me of The Shadow Lines, probably because the narrators and the narrative technique are so similar. I consider Crow Road to be an even better work than Bank's cult classic The Wasp Factory. A great novel that interweaves stories across two families and two generations. Iain Banks is a master in describing the setting of his stories -- In The Crow Road you can see and feel the rain drenched Ireland. And like The Shadow Lines, great characterization.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
If only Rushdie had stuck to writing children's fables and essays. I feel this is Rushdie's best effort, better than Midnight's Children. The beauty of Haroun and the Sea of Stories lies in that it transcends the Kids' story genre effortlessly. An adult can read it as an allegory and at the same time marvel at its rich imagination. And it is amazing that a novelist under the threat of Fatwa for his writings can come up with something that so optimistic and so defiant. Something that much affirms the power of stories and story telling.

The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
A fading Empire, The Encyclopedia Galactica, Psychohistory and the plan of one man to establish a new galactic empire in a 1000 years. Science Fiction at its best.

Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger / Cocoon by Bhalchandra Nemade (translated from Kosala originally in Marathi)
Yeah! I know I have to specify only one but both the books are very similar. Their protagonists could be clones of each other. And like The Catcher in the Rye, Cocoon too ends with the narrator saying that he is not going to tell more of his story. Two novels that handle the theme of alienation superbly. Cocoon is also excellently recreates the atmosphere of Pune and its academia.

Tag five people and have them do this on their blogs:
Hmm... this is a bit difficult. I know and would like quite a few of the people I know to respond to this one. But they don't (actually are too lazy to blog) blog. Hopefully they'll respond to this or parts of this meme in the comments.

Here are five bloggers (either colleagues or ex-colleagues) who I would like to tag:
In Confidence (Click to read: Book Tag: You're it!)
Mothers Corner
VeBlogs (click to read: Tagging Books)
narcosynthesis (click to read: Tagging Books)
Cogitations, Reflections and Pericopes (click to read: Got Tagged!)

Like Yazad, I would like to say "All are welcome." This tag is not limited to the five bloggers listed here. Other bloggers and non-bloggers are welcome too.

Update 1:
Amit Varma who was tagged by Yazad has posted his response here.
And another update here.

And some more book tags I liked:
Duck of Destiny - Samit Basu
Jabberwock - Jai Arjun Singh
Kitabkhana - Hurree Babu
indianwriting - Uma Mahadevan-Dasgupta

Update 2: The meme that hit the Indian blogosphere has now spawned. Some of the tagged "victims" have come up with interesting variations (or additional headings/questions). Uma of Indianwriting suggested "the one book you couldn't finish reading?/the most unreadable thing you've read?" She had tagged Anand of Locana who added it to his meme.

Books You Couldn't Finish Reading/Most Unreadable Thing You've Read:
Here are mine.

Update 3: Worst Books Ever/ The Most Overrated Books/ Purple Paragraphs


Nandita said...

Read this!

Anonymous said...

hi Mandy
u are one helluva guy making me work I will get u for this one day
Books I own
Have not counted what with many many friends like apna mandar borrowing them (The 500-600 collection of books he boasts of must have at least 50-60 of yours truly)
Last Book I brought
The Negotiator
Frederick Forsyth
No the Samuel L Jackson/Kevin Spacey movie is not based on this
It is a thriller in true Forsyth tradition extensively well researched and pacy as usual.
Last Book I read
The last book I read during my court vacations (15 days u softies hahaha,)was Cricket Crossfire The autobiography ofKieth Miller Read it it reflects the personality of one of the games free spirits
the anectodes are the highlights, in one memorable incident Ray Lindwall told Len Hutton who had come to chat with him to "Buzz off, we see enough of each other on the field as it is".
Five Books that mean a lot to me
Well this is trickier at least for me (For I follow Mr. Keatings advice don't accept what the author thinks, think for yourself(Robin Williams Dead Poets Society))but still here goes
1 To Kill A Mocking Bird
Harper Lee
A must for any idealistic lawyer which is what I like to think of myself, but seriously the book without preaching tries to teach us to teach that all humans are equal.Noble thoughts and good intentions are ably put forward to us with dignity and grace.
2 Roses in December
M C Chagla
The autobiography of the first Indian Chief Justice of the Mumbai High Court. A must read not just for students, lawyers, administrators but for every one else. M C Chagla captures all in one memorable chapter where the struggle against the emergency is discussed( one of independent India's finest hours)
3 Beyond the Boundary
C L R James
Forget Neville Cardus, John Arlot and everybody else. This my friends is probably the greatest book that has been written on the subject of cricket,
"What do they know of Cricket,
who cricket only know"?
Read it. Available with the Kanga Library and yours truly (And no u will not get it from yours truly)
4 Karyarat(Marathi- Anil Avchat)
I don't know if I can post Marathi books on this, but this is a must read and if anyone has a translation even better, This book is about people with causes (yes I can hear the groans but hear me out) publicity shy people who are just interested in working
It literally means work in progress. Dr Avcaht writes extremely objectively and without any prejudices. He simply states the facts as succintly as possible and with a minimum of fuss, So we are introduced to the concept of rurbanization (Arun Deshpande), the activities of DrAbahy andRani Bang of Search in Gadchiroli, and many more, (Available with all leading bookstores and yours truly if anyone wnats to borrow it)
5 The Godfather
Mario Puzo
No Comments.
I do not know mandy if u allow screenplays but if u do here are five that are a must
1 Dead Poets Society
2 The Godfather I and II
3 An Affair to Remember
4 Casablanca

mandar talvekar said...

You have "Beyond the Boundary" and you kept it a secret from me! And I know you since you were kid with a snotty nose.
Keep that book ready, I am collecting it from you today.

Anonymous said...

I’m it! And here’s what I have to say. . .

Total Number of Books I Own: I don’t really know and haven’t bothered to keep count. I follow the “Wear the old coat and buy a new book” funda (Ok not really, I do, on occasion, buy new clothes—but you get what I mean).

Last Book I Bought: I pre-ordered the latest Potter (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) by J. K. Rowling. Just like Mandar, I’m a huge Potter fan and not ashamed to admit it. Bleh to the people who diss the series!

Last Book I Read: The Public Confessions of a Middle-Aged Woman, by Sue Townsend. It’s a collection of short pieces of humorous and insightful observations on the minutiae of daily life. A cool bedtime read, simply because you can dip in and out of the book as and when you like. That’s the book I just finished reading last night.

Five Favorites: (Not in order of preference)
I really find it difficult to choose five books of maybe a hundred or so that I like. How to choose? Should I make a list the books that I can read over and over again, or should I list those that I may have read only once, but the memories of which stay on forever? So many books such a tiny list. However, I have tried! Here goes. . .

1. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee—This book is my all time favorite. It’s a great teacher and an incredible exploration of the moral nature of human beings.

2. Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie—This is definitely all the stuff a classic is made of. I love how Rushdie creates this complete make-believe world with its unique characters . . .how can I ever forget Khattam-Shud! The story is such that it appeals to people all generations. Another thing I love about this book is that at different points in your life you take away different things from this book. I mean, I can read this book a million times over and still learn something new every time I read it.

3. Sophie’s World, Jostein Gaarder—This book is a journey through all western philosophies as interpreted through the eyes of young Sophie and her mysterious teacher. The simplicity in which the philosophies are presented is what makes this book so appealing. It really makes philosophy so accessible. It a thoroughly enjoyable read.

4. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams—Truly one of THE BEST science fiction novels I have read (I’m not exactly a sci-fi expert—but I still think it’s the best). You can’t stop at reading the first part of the series it’s almost addictive. It’s a non-stop whackfest all the way!

5. Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain)—Mark Twain once said, "Although my book is intended mainly for the entertainment of boys and girls, I hope it will not be shunned by men and women on that account, for part of my plan has been to try pleasantly to remind adults of what they once were themselves, and of how they felt and thought and talked, and what queer enterprises they sometimes engaged in," I believe he succeeded!

mandar talvekar said...

good list, RO.
Liked the inclusion of Tom Sawyer.
Somehow it reminds me of summer holidays, raw mangoes, and a time without any deadlines or responsibilities. Great book.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mandy,

I am reading The Crow Road by Iain Banks right now.
The last book I enjoyed reading as much was The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass. Have you read it? If you haven't I am ready to lend it to you.
It's impossible for me to select a handful as "my favourite books".
And there are still so many books which I have bought but didn't get the tiem to read. Plus, there are yet others which I plan to buy :)).

But here are SOME of my all time favourites:
(I have sorted them according to authors)

1. John Steinbeck
a) Grapes of Wrath
b)East of Eden

2. Somerset Maugham
a) Of Human Bondage
b) Razor's Edge
c) Liza of Lambeth
d) Merry-go-round

3. Leo Tolstoy
a) Resurrection
b) War and Peace
c) Short stories (Kreutzer Sonata, Death of ivan Illych and Father Sergius)
c) Anna Karenina

4. Charles Dickens
a) Great Expectations
b) David Copperfield
c) Oliver Twist

5. Alexandre Dumas
a) The Count oF Monte Cristo

6. Gunter Grass
a) Tin Drum

7. Ayn Rand
a) Fountainhead
b) Atlas Shrugged

8. Joseph Heller
a) Catch 22

9. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

10. Agatha Christie
a) Towards Zero
b) Moving Finger
c) Death on the River Nile

11. Hawkins
a) A Brief History of Time

12. Tony Morrison
a) Beloved

Sorry the list is unending but these are some I could think of at one go. However, these exclude the rich Bengali Literature whcih includes works of Tagore, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Satyajit Ray, to nmae justa few and the translated Vernacular literature, namely Munshi Premchand, Marathi and Tamil literatures....

I also liked a few (very few) Sydney Sheldon novels.

Oooops I forgot about the Enid Blyton Series, Tintin, Phantom, Asterix, etc.

Thanks Mandy, because now I feel like shutting down the comp, go home and start reading The Crow Road......

mandar talvekar said...

finally you got the time to post your list.
And yes, I would like all the books you can lend me. . . but how do you plan to get them from Kolkata to Mumbai?

Anonymous said...

My memory of book details is very poor, and i don't have
"favourites" but here goes...

Very Stray Books i have enjoyed reading -

1. Butter Chicken in Ludhiana - Pankaj Mishra
2. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthus Golden
3. The Hundred Secret Senses - Amy Tan
4. Blink - Malcolm Gladwell
5. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
6. 'most all P. G. Wodehouse
7. 'most all Mark Twain
8. The Tao of Pooh - Benjamin Hoff
9. The Tao of Physics - Fritjof Capra
10. The Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger

Books i enjoyed coz i made tremendous effort at it -

1. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
2. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
3. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams