Sunday, 17 July 2011

Finally, I am done with the 30 Day Book Challenge, and not a moment too soon - because it was really turning out to be a challenge towards the end! For the simple reason that when I read a book, I don't over-analyse it - I simply enjoy it and let the words wash over me. So having to classify and categorise books for this tag was a strangely difficult experience. 
However, it made me realise how incredibly lucky I am to have been part of a generation that still read decent stuff. This is not to generalise in any way, I do know a lot of children who read, but for the most part, this vampire-obsession really gets to me. I grew up on a diet of Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie (as did a lot of my other friends), most of today's children seem to grow up on a diet of violent Japanese cartoons and Edward Cullen. And it's not just choice in literature but the whole attitude to life that is different with children I see. When did the world change?
Sometimes I just feel incredibly OLD. I think time is passing us all by and every second is fleeting by, every second we grow closer to the end of our lives, that Big Bang in our own existence- except that we will not explode, but rather implode into ourselves, into the lives we have led. 
And every minute that passes, I am reminded that there is such a lot to do - why, this is just the first month of the last year of university, and already I am swimming in lists of books to read, reference books to look up, essays to go through. And while my cat snoozes away peacefully with her head on my laptop keypad (making it difficult for me to type without moving her head a little, but I wouldn't do that, oh no, she's sleeping so peacefully), I find myself a little weary of life, of growing up and its various responsibilities. But then again, that is life in itself - it must be lived, lived well and lived responsibly (although I know lots of people who defy this convention).
And while a best friend worries about jumping off metaphorical cliffs and how, with the onset of age, we are becoming alarmingly unadventurous, and I tell her that life, now, is more about just being and living than anything else, I realise that somewhere, somehow, we have grown up and shed the adolescent angst, and are learning to deal with life itself as an adventure. No need to prove anything, no need to be 'cool', to 'fit in'. There is no need to jump off any cliff, we have already jumped off it. The question now is, do we go crashing down into the abyss, or do we learn to fly?

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Day 30: My Favourite Book Of All Time

Needless to say, this was the toughest part of the tag. Any bookworm would have trouble answering this, because for one thing, it's next to impossible to have just one favourite, and the second thing - what defines the "favourite book of all time"? Is it merely good writing? Is it its ability to stay fresh and appealing every time you come back to it? Is it good illustration? Or is it depth beyond the words, a heavier meaning that you need to analyse and realise the beauty of?
It was incredibly tough choosing Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, but in the end, it seems to match all of those conditions. And much more, besides. 
I glossed over much-beloved books like Frankenstein, Love In The Time Of Cholera, The Irresistible Inheritance Of Wilberforce, and the more recent favourite The Buddha Of Suburbia
I've read these books countless times, as a child when I read them merely as stories, as an English Literature student when I analysed them, and as an ordinary adult who enjoyed the beauty of the writing and the illustrations, and the hidden jokes and deeper meaning. 
It will always be my "favourite book of all time".

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Day 29: A Book Everyone Hated But I Liked

We'd had this on the syllabus for the Victorian Literature course in PGI, and most of my classmates didn't read it, choosing to do Dickens' Bleak House instead, and the few that did read it, didn't like it. I didn't love this book but I liked it, and did think it was very intelligently written.
The Odd Women was striking among all the Victorian literature I've read, because it's one of the earliest books to discuss feminist ideals, and has very far-reaching thoughts on marriage and relationships. If you take into account the fact that it was written in 1893, it's amazing that a lot of what the book talks about is extremely relevant even today. 
For those who can get through the rather slow pace and the typical Victorian style, this book is a good read.

Day 28: Favourite Title

I had been strongly tempted to answer "Alexander McCall Smith" for this part of the tag, but The Soliloquist has beaten me to it. 
While Smith does still remain a contender, I think the two most favourite (and intriguing) titles I have come across are from two extremely famous plays - Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee and A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. When I'd heard of them, my curiosity was aroused and I just had to read them. In particular, the curiosity about Williams' play was piqued by the fact that I'd once read an Archie comic, in which Veronica Lodge said, "Why would anyone name a streetcar, that too 'Desire'?"
I'm very pleased that we're going to study them this semester - they're both brilliant plays and it's a rewarding experience to read them. :)

Friday, 8 July 2011

Day 27: The Most Surprising Plot Twist Or Ending

Roald Dahl is the unsurpassed master of plot twists. If you've read stories like "Skin", "Lamb To The Slaughter", "The Way Up To Heaven", "Mrs. Bixby And The Colonel's Coat", or even the very common "The Umbrella Man", you know what I'm talking about. Of course, My Uncle Oswald is simply fabulous as well - coarse yet so humourous the vulgarity is forgivable! (Simply a must-read, this one.)
Most recently, I loved the plot twist in Jeffrey Archer's Only Time Will Tell
I couldn't decide on a particular story or book to put in here, there are just so many contenders, thanks to Mr. Dahl! So sue me for cheating. :|

Day 26: A Book That Changed My Opinion About Something

I've held off from this part of the tag for some days now (as you can well see) because for the longest time, I couldn't think of an answer. I have read some wonderful books, yes, but nothing that changed my opinion of anything as such. Some time back, it just struck me that a suitable answer for this would be Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.
Before reading this, I was a little iffy about picking it up in the first place - the very idea of a grown man embarking on an affair with a young barely teenage girl repulsed me. I thought to myself that maybe I was better off not reading this - it was sure to be absolutely disgusting. However, a few years later, I did read it and I liked it - Nabokov's writing is very poetic and the book, although disturbing, is not icky in the sense that you expect a book concerning a paedophilic relationship to be. For all those who can stomach it, Lolita is a wonderful read - something that changed my opinion of it once I'd finished with the last page.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Day 25: A Character Who I Can Relate To The Most

I haven't really identified with any character from the fictional world, but since I promised myself I wouldn't skip any part of this this tag, here goes: if I absolutely had to answer, it would be Darrell Rivers, from Enid Blyton's school series Malory Towers.
When I was growing up, I could draw quite a lot of parallels between Darrell's character and myself, especially the unpredictable, hot temper! I grew up with Darrell, and she got me through some pretty difficult times.

P.S.-Probably not a very convincing answer, but the only one I could give.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Day 24: A Book That I Wish More People Would’ve Read

A lot of people have read this, I know (especially thanks to the Children's Literature course last semester), but for the large part, many people remain unaware of this little treasure of Sue Townsend's. 
I first read this when I was about 13 years old, and since then, have returned to it many times, to find the humour just as fresh and intoxicating as it always was. This book has the right mix of hilarity, pathos, and drama, it's a gem that I recommend very highly - and it's the only book (apart from Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster) which can make me laugh out loud!

Day 23: A Book I Wanted To Read For A Long Time But Still Haven’t

There are LOTS of books that I have wanted to read for a long time, but still haven't gotten around to. This is especially true for a person like me - who buys books obsessively without ever thinking when I shall find time to read them! 
And while my shelves pile up with books that lie untouched for months on end (except for the occasional cleaning - I'm very particular that way!), I'm not sure why I choose this book over others (perhaps more-deserving candidates like Sophie's Choice, The Book Thief or even Point Counter Point.) 
Maybe because I fell in love with Marquez's writing right afte Love In The Time Of Cholera and therefore felt the need to explore further, and maybe because this book's title is just so intriguing, making you want to delve deeper... I shall really have to get down to this one soon!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Day 22: Favourite Book I Own

I have issues with this part of the tag - how can I have a favourite book I own? Shouldn't mostly ALL the books I own be favourites - simply because they all belong to me? And otherwise why would I have bought them in the first place?
But glossing over that, because I do have to fill in this part, I suppose my answer would be Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. It was the first Christie I read, on my father's recommendation - I was about 12-13 years old at the time, and I still remember his words: "You're too young for Christie's other novels, but this one would be great to start you off."
And it genuinely scared me. Part-mystery, part-thriller, and part-horror (yes, almost!), I spent an uncomfortably sleepless night. Brilliantly written, keeps you on the edge, and the ending is a slap in the face for first-time readers. 
Even now, when I read the book, I still get tingles down my spine, that's how good the book is!

P.S.- I'm not exactly sure why I would count this as the favourite book I own. Probably because after this, I went on to read many more Christie novels, yet I still count this as a favourite, and also probably because of the emotional connection to my father.

Day 21: Favourite Book From My Childhood

The Sesame Street book Nobody Cares About Me just has to be the favourite book from my childhood. Yes, I loved Noddy and I loved Amelia Jane even more, but this, which was incidentally one of the earliest books I read, has a special place in my heart. In it, Big Bird, jealous of all the attention that Ernie gets after falling sick, pretends to be sick himself, only to actually fall very ill and realise it's not at all fun.
There's a moral in there, but forget that - I loved this book for its very vivid illustrations, its lovable characters, and Big Bird himself - who was just so darn cute!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Day 20: Favourite Romance Book

Does Love In The Time Of Cholera count as a romance? It's certainly a love-story. The definition of a 'romance' is still a little dicey to me, especially after having studied Walter Scott's The Heart of Midlothian last semester, but it would be this work by Marquez. This is a book everyone should read - it's simple, sweet, bittersweet in parts, melancholic, poetic, almost magical in its appeal, and at the centre is a poignant love story that draws you in, not because it's just a love story, but because it's a very unconventional one that has the power to move you.

Day 19: Favourite Book Turned Into A Movie

I'm generally not a big fan of movie adaptations of books, that being said - A Clockwork Orange would probably be my favourite book turned into a movie - because both book and movie have immensely strong points. However, I have already mentioned ACO for this tag, so I shall go with another answer - the Harry Potter series. 
Personally, I like the books much more, and the first 4-5 movies, I thought, were absolutely disastrous. Actors who resembled their literary counterparts - check. Special effects - check. Wonderful sets - check. Acting - terrible! And that's why.
It's only the last book - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which seems to have been adapted well. I rather liked the Part I movie, which I saw last year, and am now waiting for Part II this summer. The HP7 movie seems to have what the preceding movies didn't - good acting and that certain touch of finesse.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Day 18: A Book That Disappointed Me

Coming after Haroun and the Sea of Stories, I had high expectations from this one. Sadly, I was disappointed. Perhaps it would be unfair to compare it with its predecessor (which I count among my favourite books), but Luka was almost un-readable. Boring, monotonous and almost lethargic in pace- I was massively disappointed with Rushdie's latest offering.