The Way Things Were by Aatish Taseer [Book Review]

The way things wereTitle : The Way Things Were

Author : Aatish Taseer

ISBN : 9781447272724

Publisher : Picador

Genre : Contemporary

Pages : 560

Source : Self

Rating : 4 stars

 

 

 

A story transcending the contemporaneous notion of time. A story of past to discover and understand who you are while going through the present, facing its dystopic ugliness. A story of a family of elites, of mixed race royals to the political luminaries. A semantic journey through Sanskrit, Greek and Latin, idiosyncratically connected to the 1984 and 1992 riots.
A vivid portrait of love, marriage, parenting and divorce with the chronicles of Independent India running in parallel.

Skanda’s father, Toby has died and it falls to Skanda to accompany his body back to India for the funeral rites. This visit throws him back into time- the time of political and religious turmoil in India and how it affected the lives of Skanda, his mother, father and other family members.
This book is not an easy read, it is an eclectic mixture of philosophy, history and language while the narrator keeps shifting to and fro and time and mediates about the various events in the past that changed the course of history as well as his own personal life.This was my first book by Aatish Taseer and I developed immense liking for the author. The way he sets the tone of his writing is peculiar, though a bit obscure.

Buy a copy for yourself from Amazon here.

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The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell [Book Review]

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.jpgTitle : The Tipping Point

Author : Malcolm Gladwell

ISBN : 9780316346627

Publisher : Little, Brown Book Group

Genre : Nonfiction

Pages : 301

Source : Self

Rating : 5 stars

 

“The Tipping Point” is that threshold after which the ideas tip, the plan gives exponential results, a happening becomes a social epidemic, a mere word of mouth goes viral, that small change which makes humongous difference. The Tipping Point can be a small change that you make in your advertising plan, a few people who have the intrinsic ability to influence other millions of people or just an idea whose time has come.

It was my first book by Gladwell and now I know why he is so famous. He uses three theories to explain why epidemics (social and business ones) happen- Law of the Few, Power of the context and The Stickiness Factor.

Each theory has been profoundly described with extremely interesting case studies. Contrary to the popular belief, this book is not only for business and management related people. Everyone must have in our lives have thought of some ideas, made some plans to achieve something or seen some product going viral. Gladwell theories explain that how simple, petite and unimaginable things can create a huge difference and bring about a phenomenal change. I am pretty much sure that anyone and everyone can relate to this book and can read without any boredom or feeling of irrelevance.

Manto: Selected Stories by Sadat Hasan Manto [Book Review]

Manto by Sadat.jpgTitle : Manto: Selected Stories

Author : Sadat Hasan Manto

ISBN : 9788184000498

Publisher : Random House

Genre : Short Stories

Pages : 130

Source : Self

Rating : 4 stars

 

 

For those who don’t know, Saadat Hasan “Manto”, who wrote originally in Urdu, is considered as the greatest short story writer of the Indian subcontinent and he retains this position today even after 100 years of his birth.

The translation for this group of stories is done by the contemporary author Aatish Taseer who starts with a detailed introduction explaining what led him to start this work of translation.

The book has some famous stories (such as ‘Toba Tek Singh’) while others are less known (such as ‘For Freedom’s that I liked the most).

Most of the stories are set at Bombay (where Saadat lived before leaving for Pakistan) and describes the era of Independence struggle, Hindu Muslim riots and spread of communalism, Partition and its aftermath and India-Pakistan War.

Though as it is true for every translated work, you can easily make out that the essence has been lost but Taseer has done a phenomenal job in some stories like For Freedom and My Name is Radha.

Manto was a bold and upfront writer and never shied away from portraying sex, passion and infidelity with a slight touch of eroticism and no wonder he was tried for 5 times for obscenity in his works.

The stories are short (10-30 pages) and will give you a fair amount of insight about the daily life and struggle of our countrymen during one of the most phenomenal yet tragic time in the Indian History.
Highly recommended. Buy a copy for yourself at Amazon yourself

The Winds of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju [Book Review]

The Winds of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju.jpgTitle : The Winds of Hastinapur

Author : Sharath Komarraju

ISBN : 9789351160878

Publisher : HarperCollins India

Genre : Mythology

Pages : 320

Source : Self

Rating : 4 stars

 

 

There have been hundreds of folklores, interpretations and retellings of the mother of all stories ‘Mahabharata’.

‘Winds of Hastinapur’ by Sharath Komarraju begins at the point when Ganga was sent to earth to grant ‘moksh’ to the cursed vasus, granting them freedom from the cycle of birth and death. But what was it like for the river maiden to kill her seven sons, make the eighth one the most powerful warrior only to give him away to his father once he reached adolescence? With this book Sharath Kommarraju inducts magic in the tale of Ganga, taking the readers in the surreal world of Meru, its crystal lake and its inhabitants.
This is also the story of Satyavati aka Matsyagandhi, who, due to her overambitiousness and short sightedness ploughed the seeds of the greatest battle ever fought.

Mahabharat is known for its powerful female characters like Draupadi, Kunti and Gandhari with sharp minds, witty political mindset and alluring beauty. If you want to go a bit back and plunge in the lives of those not-so-focussed female characters of Ganga and Satyavati, you shouldn’t miss this book.
A beautiful magical retelling full of vividness and ample indepth potrayal of the thoughts, ambitions and desires of the two ladies combined with a gripping plot makes it a good read.

Buy a copy for yourself from Amazon here

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel [Book Review]

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquirel.jpgTitle : Like Water for Chocolate

Author : Laura Esquivel

ISBN : 9780552995870

Publisher : Random House

Genre : Magical Realism

Pages : 224

Source : Self

Rating : 5 stars

 

 

Did I just find another Elif Shafak? Oh yes, In have! This book has everything that I wanted at this point of time- It’s a light read, mystical, hilarious but still a fairy-tale in a form of soap opera romance!

And yes, do not read this book with an empty stomach as it can make you hungry!!! Yes, because each chapter starts with a recipe (traditional Mexican recipe) which is described so profoundly and delicately(one of them was Quails in Rose Petal Sauce) that it is sure to leave you drooling.

This is the story of Tita, the youngest daughter of the family with a soft heart and amazing culinary skills who is not allowed to marry the man of her dreams because of a weird family tradition. The story traces her entire life history along with that of her family members and it is a smooth read with recipes, home remedies, romance, passion, love, lust, rebellion and Feminism.

Listed in “Top 26 books to read from around the world”, you must not miss this!

Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It by Elizabeth Gilbert [Book Review]

Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It.jpgTitle : Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It

Author : Elizabeth Gilbert

ISBN : 9780399576775

Publisher : Bloomsbury India

Genre : Short stories

Pages : 240

Source : Publisher

Rating : 5 stars

 

 

 

 

‘Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It’ is a compilation of short stories of people from vastly different backgrounds, whose lives have been transformed by Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir ‘Eat Pray Love’. An expression of gratitude to the author, who became a friend to them, gave them hope and courage to stand up and take action.
The book starts with a beautiful introduction by the author herself, where she mentions how ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ is less about Eating or Praying or Loving and more about realizing that your life doesn’t have to look like this anymore and that you deserve nothing but the best. What follows is a collection of extraordinary stories of ordinary people, whose lives have been greatly transformed by her book, ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’

The stories are uplifting, inspiring and very well-written. While some stories were similar to Liz’s (Elizabeth Gilbert), focusing on divorce and decision of not having children, many differ drastically. There are stories about abuse, mental or physical illnesses, sexuality, sickness or mourning, which goes on to prove how all sufferings are interconnected and how someone’s story can change/transform lives of other people, even though their lives or suffering is entirely different.

The book also goes on to show that there are all kinds of suffering but no suffering is greater or lesser compared other suffering and that we have a choice, a choice to either continue suffering or stand up and do something about it, that nobody deserves to live miserably and everyone has a right to live a happy and fulfilling life.

While some stories were inspired by Liz’s journey as a whole, some were inspired by parts of it. While some have shared their own version of Eat, Pray and Love, some have written about how certain quotes or words of Liz have helped them derive inspiration.

All in all, this is a kind of book which one can reach out to when he/she is feeling the lows. The stories are incredibly powerful and inspiring and will make you look and reflect at your own life and challenge yourself on your path.

If you enjoyed reading ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ you will enjoy this one too! It’s a Must read.

Some inspiring quotes from the book:

“The entire story of creation is a story of ongoing change. And the moment you wake up to that story, you realize that you, too, are allowed to change and are allowed to assert agency over the direction you go next. This realization is the beginning of the end of despair. This is what we call resurrection – and it’s available at any moment, to anyone.”

“I learned to forgive myself for being scared and imperfect, for making mistakes. I stopped allowing myself to use those mistakes as an excuse to not try new things. Instead, I have to be brave. I have to try. That’s what Eat Pray Love makes me do.”

“The one thing I’ve learned for sure is this: the more I search, the more I evolve. I intend to keep exploring.”

Buy a copy from Amazon here

 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote [Book Review]

Breakfast at Tiffany's Trumen Capote.jpegTitle : Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Author : Truman Capote

ISBN : 9780679745655

Publisher : Vintage Books

Genre : Short stories, Contemporary

Pages : 142

Source : Self

Rating : 4 stars

 

 

 

Holly Golightly is glamorous, fashionable and quirky. She is a party-freak with her apartment always buzzing with life, glamour, millionaires, high profiles and gangsters. She has been a child bride (Sorry for the spoiler here) and has eloped and now living on her own terms, taking life one day at a time. Golightly has a complex character- she is cruel but she loves madly, she seems as if she doesn’t care but she is generous, compassionate and a good friend. But this carefree attitude and nonchalance take its toll on her when she gets involved in a major crime unintentionally and her life changes. This is the story of Golightly, her dreams for Tiffant, her hopes even in the most challenging circumstances and her lifestyle which raises many eyebrows, narrated by her friend and her neighbor.

Audry Hepburn has already done a phenomenal job playing the character in the movie and though I haven’t seen the movie I can only wonder how amazingly and effortlessly she must have played this role.

This edition also contains three other short stories :-

1. House of Flowers- Ottilie is illiterate and an orphan. But she is happy because she has friends- Baby and Rosita, they go out together, have wine and enjoy their good time. But Ottilie’s life changes when she is lured in love by a rural rusty masculine man Royal Bonaparte and she decides to marry him even after being reprimanded by her friends. Though Royal lover her, her life changes after marriage. Royal’s grandmother is a senile, evil lady who keeps scolding her and whose idea of humor is pinching her hard on her skin while she is not alert. To make things work, she is even around to haunt her and keep a watch on her after she dies. Baby and Rosita find this suffering unacceptable and they offer Ottilie a chance to escape. Now Ottilie has to decide which road to take- love or freedom

2. A Diamond Guitar- Mr. Schaeffer is an old man serving his 99 years term in prison for killing a man. His prosaic life welcomes a new change when a 18 year old latino Tico Feo joins the prison. He is moody, liar but he plays a diamond studded guitar which he has brought with him to the prison. Schaeffer loves him (non platonic) and soon they become close friends. But Tico Feo has plans, plans to escape!

3. A christmas Memory- Two cousins live together- one is seven year old and her ‘buddy’ as she calls her cousin is sixty something. They are lonely, living on the edge but are happy. This is the story of their camaraderie, their plans for Christmas as they have to turn their pockets inside out to bake the cakes which they send to all their acquaintances including the American President.

All in all, these 4 stories were a welcome recluse from all the serious fiction/non fiction I have been reading lately. Strongly recommended.

Buy a copy from Amazon here