Thursday, September 13, 2018

2420 : Reading list 2018 : #18: The year of magical thinking by Joan Didion

If I have to choose one book that made me stop and think about my life (in recent times), it has to be The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.

Absolutely gut wrenching exploration of grief, of death, of old age and of mortality. Dealing with a spouse and a child's mortality is more than I have ever meditated upon.

I was overwhelmed by the language, the sincerity and the insightful observations.

Definitely one to read many times over during my living years.

Brings my total 2018 #read pages to 5035 pages.

2419 : Reading list 2018 : #16 & #17: Han Kang's The White Book

Image from thebookseller

Read this book twice. Its a small read, but in no sense light. Its poetic, its intense, its an exploration of grief and its unassumingly personal. Its her grief metamorphosing into ours. 

I just loved it. Its 128 pages of the most intense read I have had in recent times. I loved it so much that I had to read it twice.

Go for it. Definitely another one of those 11/10 books.

Brings 2018 total pages to 4818.

2418 : The two-faced Tusker

Today is Ganesh Chaturthi, the festival of the elephant headed God. One whose fame comes from resolving conflicts and leading mankind to happier zones. He is the pragmatic God who focuses on food, others "troubles" and knowledge.

So picture this.

Two days ago, someone I faintly know, decided to trample me. Why? Because he could. It was like a chess game where I was two rooks and the queen down. Did he have to? No. He could have chosen to let me go. Not a leaf in the world would have twirled, and yet he chose to add entropy just because he was in a position from where he could.

Today morning, I saw him pray with sincerity (or appeared so) to the "common" Ganesh idol. Of course, I was amused.

It was not all that weird that he was (possibly) dichotomous in my eyes. It was disappointing that he will never ever see himself as dichotomous.

The most dangerous emotion in this world is indignation. It reinforces the ego, and adds nothing to the world.  

Sunday, September 09, 2018

2417 : Reading list 2018 : #15 : Samantha Harvey's The Wilderness

Loss is usually personal, an individual experience. But there are losses which can be a community or a shared experience. Like loss of youth (all of us experience that), or death (we all approach death).

Samantha Harvey explores the second kind of loss in all her books and hence all her books are magical (at least to me).

They are meditative classics. They reveal to me, sides and shades that I have blacked myself to.

The wilderness is her debut book that deals with a protagonist and his un-reliable memory but unlike the sense of an ending, her exploration of the un-reliable comes from the inevitability of entropy.

Read, and be enthralled.

This was my third read of the book (I bought it when it debuted :-))

336 pages take my reading total of 2018 to 4690 pages.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

2416 : Reading list of 2018 : #14 : The Children Act by Ian McEwan

My first real Ian McEwan book. I had tried reading him earlier. This one is nuanced, and quite engrosses you. The premise is a strong real life metaphor dealing with belief and children.

While I liked the book - I struggled to rate it beyond 7/10. I would recommend you read it, if you are into light easy reads. And of course, if you like to pulled into light philosophical debates.

Not bad, worth a read.

At 224 pages bring my 2018 reading total to 4624 pages.

2415 : Reading list of 2018 : #13 : Chromosome 6 by Robin Cook

This book is dated and it shows. Whats great is that this book in 1997 gave folks a glimpse of 2017-18.
Unfortunately I read this in 2018 :-(

All about gene editing and CRISPR. Challenge is the book is written less as a book and more as a screenplay.

It could be a page turning thriller, but is at best a light read. I would rate it 5/10 or even lesser. some real science instead.

484 pages later, and no more wiser, I finished about 4400 pages for the year (wow!! a round number).

2414 : Reading list of 2018 : #12 : The days of abandonment by Elena Ferrante

She is possibly one of the authors who contributed to Jhumpa Lahiri going all Italian (including stopping to write in English, and learn Italian enough to write books in that language). Now if that is true, you don't need to plug Elena Ferrante.

Definitely wants me to go Italian. Her work is sheer, raw and scathing - all at the same medley of furies.

This year I read this book for the second time (last year was the first).

I came back more haunted, more wizened and more meditative on loss.

Absolute read. 10/10 again. This is a masterpiece.

192 pages brings my 2018 reading total to 3916 pages.

2413 : Reading list of 2018 : #11 : Dear Thief by Samantha Harvey

A most lyrical exploration of loss. This is (again!!) a book that I shall come back to read many many times in my life span. 

Its tragic, its intimate, and its immersive. Its an exploration of not just loss, but possibly revenge, possibly anger and definitely betrayal.

There is something vulnerable about being let down. There is something lyrical in weaving a narrative around it.

Personally - I have never believed in marriage, or anything that can be held like an edifice. An edifice's only purpose is to eventually crumble....then why build it? Of course, the perverse argumentative soul in you will say....every life has to die, then why live? You now what...thats a great question too :-).

Read this book. Meditate on it, will possibly show you how dishonest each of us, even in front of the mirror.

Rated 10/10

Another 256 pages of this evocative magic, brings this years total to 3724 pages.

2412 : Reading list of 2018 : #10 : A line made by walking by Sara Baume

Stunning!! Thats the only word which comes to my mind. Probably deeply stunning. A strange read in the voice of someone who is crashing and depressed. 

The writing is divine. I fell in love with the book in the first few pages. A difficult read again (at times) again. But go for will remain with you till you die !!

There is a fragile beauty in this construction. Savor it, more importantly tend to it.

320 pages of writing that I will read many more times in my life. One for the collection.

I would rate this 10/10. I could change nothing here.

Total reading for 2018 is now at 3468.

2411 : Reading list of 2018 : #9 : The Changeling by Kenzaburo Oe

My first book from Kenzaburo Oe. He is a legend in a local sort of way (in Japan). Is a Nobel Laureate, no lesser. 

I found this book haunting, and yet very difficult to keep pace with. Especially in the middle it just lost me at times. 

Like possibly all Japanese books (this is immensely visual and immersive).

An eerie book. Worth a read. Absolutely. Am glad I read it.

Overall - I would rate this 8/10 - and thats just because maybe the translator lost me at some places.

A 468 page tome this is, so stick to it - it does take time to complete.

My overall 2018 read is now at 3148 pages.

2410 : Reading list of 2018 : #8 : Revenge of the non-vegetarian by Upamanyu Chaterjee

(Images from

A strange book by Upamanyu Chaterjee. Has none of that "potty humor" that is both hilarious and juvenile at the same time, but more importantly was his signature.

And yet, he retains his ability to notice and verbalize the everyday in some of the poignant ways. I have read all of his book (except Mammaries of the welfare state), and he is scathing and almost "goose bumpish" in his ability to be poignant about the everyday (Read the Last Burden if you must!!)

70 odd pages of a story that pulls you in - into a world from the 50s. 

Completely gripping, but not his best or the best I have read in recent times.

I will rate it 7/10.

Brings my 2018 reading total to 2680.

Take a bow, Mr. Chaterjee, I do wish I could write like you. I really do !!