Books and love

I just sent in a story and am feeling very accomplished and happy with myself. Now I shall do nothing for the next couple of days. What a hectic and stressful life I lead!

Serendipitiously, I got a book I had been dying to read delivered today via Flipkart. Is there anything more satisfying than getting new books? Whenever I get a new book I have to write my name, date and where I got it from on the first page. Growing up, I saw my father always doing the same and I guess I picked up the habit from him.

Even now when I open any of his books to read I find his name, date and place where he bought the book from neatly printed. I remember reading ‘Pride and Prejudice’ when I was 16 years old, it was a red leatherbound book with gold etching and was part of a set my father had bought from a bookstore in Parasia. I don’t know if he has read all the books he bought but we, his children, have pulled them out, read them and not treated them with as much care as we should have.

Now that I am older I have become more gentle and careful with books. I love looking at my shelves of books, most read, some waiting to be read. I cannot leave a bookstore without buying at least one book. I told my husband if we ever become very rich and have tons of money, he should be prepared that I will probably spend it all away on books.

I spend a lot of time alone but I never have feel lonely because my books provide me with all the company I need. How could I not love them, when they give me so much?

Just Read

Over the past couple of days I read two books; Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings and Akhil Sharma’s Family Life. I enjoyed both for different reasons, though both books left me wanting more.

The Interestings follows the lives of 6 individuals who meet at an artsy summer camp in the 70s. They grow up, some remain friends, some of them are successful, some not so successful, they marry and have families of their own and try to find their way in the city of New York. I could connect with the angst, feeling lost, not feeling fulfilled and wanting more. There was some amount of whininess, but I could look past it, who among us isn’t whiney? But the cliches and stereotypes the characters fell into intermittently annoyed me.

Family Life is based on the author’s own life and is about his parents, brother and him living the immigrants life in America. But then there is an accident and his brother is declared brain-dead and everything changes. The book shows how the family evolves and  tries to cope. It is heartbreaking, sad and dark. It is also brutally honest. I just felt that the last line of the book left everything unsettled, I guess I like to find closure at the end of a book.But considering what the family went through, or more like going through still, the ending made sense. I don’t know.

I am wondering what to read next. I started the Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee, but wasnt able to get into it. Maybe I should give it another shot.

Classic?

[Update] Enjoyed the book. Identified with it, was hooked.

I probably should have read this years ago, but better late than never. J D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is a favourite of many people I know. There are also a few who really didn’t get the point of the book and why it is considered a classic.  So far I think I fall in the latter group. Though I still have a way to go before I finish the book, so I might change my mind by the end. Let’s see. Considering how angsty I am even at the age of 30 I probably should identify with the protaganist. On the other hand familiarity breeds contempt and all that. I’m rambling. I’ll get back to my book now. 

Oscars, books, family and more

I am recovering from a rather bad bout of the flu. I caught it during the last two days of my trip to Bangalore to meet the fam-bam. I still managed to enjoy my time at home. Ate too much and lazed way too much.

It was lovely spending time with the mother and grandparents; and the uncle and his fiancee were in town as well. The siblings came down from Madras and we regressed into being kids. There were times of tension– too many of us in too small a space and we eventually did start to get on each other’s nerves. But, overall, a good trip. Now that I am back, I miss the grandparents the most, sad to see them grow old. The grandfather looks rather shrunken and he burnt his hand making tea while I was there. He is still chatty and funny and coming up with brilliant new business ideas, so that is something to be thankful for. The grandmother was running herself ragged cooking and working, but wouldn’t allow anyone to help. I am really grateful to be able to spend time with them. I have learnt that we can never get enough time with the people we love and never learn everything there is to them. And I am a person who likes to know everything!

I seem to have passed the flu to my family. My parting gift to them. I am generous like that. Mine is nearly done with, just have a hacking cough that sounds worse than it is. The upside to being ill was I couldn’t sleep and was awake at the crack of dawn to watch the Oscars live. The red carpet outfits were rather meh, nothing stood out in a good way. The dresses were either a snooze, too embellished or accessorised terribly (I am talking to you Scarlett Johansson). Neil Patrick Harris’s hosting skills was bordering on boring, thought the whole John Travolta -Idina Menzel bit was rather funny. Also, the Oscars as usual played it safe and it was easy to predict the winners. However, it was nice to see that ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ took home some awards.

I am meant to be working on a story (another story, not the one I mentioned in my previous post). Too many quotes and information to go through. So instead, I am listening to the soundtrack of ‘We Bought a Zoo’, Cameron Crowe movies have the best music. I also love the soundtrack for ‘Almost Famous’. I just finished re-reading ‘Wolf Hall’ while I was in Bangalore and I am now moving on to  ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ for the second time. Watching the TV series made me want to read the books again. I am reminded how brilliant Hilary Mantel is, the writing is superb and she manages to bring the characters to life so deftly.

Wow, this is quite a long post and I shall leave it at this. Rather abrupt I know, but I am hungry and think will go see what leftovers in the fridge I can turn into my lunch.

Wolf Hall – TV series

I finished watching the first two episodes of ‘Wolf Hall’. I was filled with some trepidation when I heard the series was being made, because for the most part, tv and movie adaptations of beloved books never live up to the original text, in my experience. Either the casting is off, too many scenes from the book are left out or the emotions and atmosphere in the book just doesn’t translate on screen. But, as I watched Hilary Mantel’s  ‘Wolf Hall’ and the sequel ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ brought to life on screen, I was quite transfixed.

Mark Rylance makes a terrific Thomas Cromwell. He is restrained and mysterious, but still conveys vulnerability by the way he sits and sorrow or determination with his eyes. Damien Lewis makes a decent Henry VIII but Rylance steals the show, as he should. So far, the characters seem to have been cast well. While the first episode was a tad too slow for me, the second episode picked up the pace and was far more gripping.

I read online that many viewers had complaints about the dim lighting in the scenes where candlelight has been used. I thought it was atmospheric and portrayed the mood of the scene rather well. No complaints from me! I am looking forward to the rest of the series. I am also hoping that the last installment of the trilogy will be out soon: maybe to coincide with the end of the tv series? Fingers crossed!

Reading

Just finished reading ‘Mukiwa’ by Peter Godwin. I love reading memoirs, especially ones about dysfunctional families. This memoir wasn’t about a dysfunctional family, per say, it was about growing up in erstwhile Rhodesia, in the last days before it became Zimbabwe. It made me smile,
it made me sad and  horrified me at certain points. Peter Godwin, was a journalist, so the writing has a journalistic bend to it and made for an interesting read. I bought the sequel, ‘When the Crocodile Eats the Sun’, but will read something else before I start on it.

The ‘something else’ I plan to read is ‘Sovereign’ by C.J. Sansom. This is the third novel in the Matthew Shardlake series. The historical mystery series, follows the exploits of Mathew Shardlake, a hunchback lawyer, in England during the reign of King Henry VIII ( a period I love reading about). I haven’t read any of the previous books in the series but I am hoping it doesn’t make a difference.

I have also been reading a lot of Paul Theroux. Travel literature is another genre I enjoy reading. I liked ‘ The Great Railway Bazaar’ and loved ‘The Last Train to Zona Verde’, didn’t enjoy ‘ The Kingdom by the Sea’ as much. I still have ‘Riding the Iron Rooster’ and ‘ The Elephanta Suite’ ( this one is fiction and consists of three novellas) sitting on my bookshelf.

I recently bought tons of second hand books from Blossoms in Bangalore and the husband bought me a couple of books for our anniversary. The bookshelves are creaking with the weight of books, but the sight of filled shelves makes me a very happy lady. Knowing I have so many lovely books to read gives me something to look forward to.