Sunday, June 5, 2005

Worst Books Ever/ The Most Overrated Books/ Purple Paragraphs

Books seem to be the flavor of the week. Books have been classified and blogged about under quite a bit in the last few days:
The Book Tag Meme.
A varitaion on the book-tag introduced by Uma Mahadevan of Indianwriting: Books You Couldn't Finish Reading.

And now Uma Mahadevan picks up from a New York, weekly literary series, Lit Lite, and asks people to post: The Worst Books Ever/ The Most Overrated, Purple Paragraph, and Grossest Character Ever Created.

Well, here are my two bits:

Worst Books Ever/Most Overrated:

1. The Inscrutable Americans by Anurag Mathur. Fell for the hype, bought the book. One of my friends wanted to borrow it, gave it to him and said magnanimously "You can keep it (He looked at me in suspicion, for I never give away books)."
I don't think he has still forgiven me for the dirty trick I played on him.

2. The Alchemist by Paulo Cohelo. I don't know why so many people like the book or swear by Paulo Cohelo (thankfully I had picked up only a pirated copy). With great magnanimity I gave it to the same friend above. A week later he told me that he had abandoned it in a local train.

3. The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. Thankfully I had borrowed this one. Definitely one of the most overrated books along with Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things.

4. Who Moved my Cheese by Spencer Johnson. The boss at my previous job (a management type) waxed eloquent about it. Then harangued me enough about reading only stories (fiction) and not any book that will "improve" me. Borrowed it from him, returned it the next day and when he invited me to comment on the book, said something like "Mice spread plague."
About two months later I quit that job.

And I guess, you can add most (if not all) of Richard Bach's tripe to this. Has anyone read One?

Purple Paragraph:
This one is from a marathi novel on Karna called Mrityunjay. If I remember right, the author is Shivaji Sawant. The book is considered "required" reading for any Mahrashtrian. It is entirely in purple prose and long descriptions -- a soap opera in the form of a book. I remember this one passage where Karna is riding his chariot through a forest. The author describes the trees that Karna sees around him. There are about 45 (I think the actual number is 47) trees listed with some description of each. I thought I had picked up a botany text by mistake. Needless to say, I didn't finish the book.

Grossest Character Ever Created:
Scratched my brains quite a bit but couldn't recollect one. Should read more. Will update if I remember.

As an Aside:
I wonder what all the above authors must be feeling about this entire exercise.
  • Do they hate us for panning them?
  • Do they fantasize following us into some dark alley and cutting us into small pieces?
  • Do they decide to give up writing all together?
  • Do they say "Well, they are talking about me. Shouldn't be bad for the sales."
Update: Read all the nominations here: Heavy Heavy Trashing.


Anonymous said...

absolutely agree about'the alchemist'- seems to me the world is full of people with imaginary problems who are just waiting for any gyan that any rookie will spout... and people look at you strangel if you say you thought the book was nothing to talk of...

Banwari Lal Sharma said...


I agree with you on everything except for Mrutyunjaya. It seems you read book in very hurry or you are always set for criticism which is not the right attitude for appreciating anything. Try reading this book with positive thoughts in mind and I'm pretty sure, you will not only finish it but also love it! :-)

Amey said...

Mrityunjaya? Really?

What you described as purple paragraph can also be taken as a lyrical description... And do you really want to tell me that you missed the treat based on one paragraph?

Anonymous said...

You peoples if you don't like Mrityunjaya then either you dont know anything about reading or you are giving very vague comments without reading this book.

Anonymous said...

thankfully somebody still left in the world to call a spade a spade. The Alchemist is the greatest mystery of mankind--a spectacularly mediocre and boring book masquerading as something profound. And then there's "Who Moved my You Know What." Who wrote that piece of crap? And why? And why are people reading it? Are they hypnotized? Possibly all rabid? The Inscrutable Americans. Total waste of hundred and whatever rupees. The Interpreter of Boredom, by Ms. Lahiri. I only differ on Arundhati, but these days she's starting to become repetitive as well...