23 December 2009

BiblioBlah! The year that was...

My reading in the last year diversified a bit from my usual comfort zone of fiction, known authors and famous books. I also had a prejudice against English books by authors for whom English is a second language (including Indian ones). It always felt like reading a translation (which I am still not comfortable with), but this year I did read a few in that category as well. Changed our minds didn't we? In terms of number of books its been a pathetic year and there are so many I don’t remember either.  They are probably not worth writing about then! So here is what I do remember...

My family and other animals by Gerald Durrell made it to the list of my all-time favorites and changed the way I look at animals, insects and plants forever. And the quaint island of Corfu made it to the list of places I want to see in this lifetime. I have always wished for a crazy family just like the author's, unfortunately my family is way too sane and sober but for minor lapses here and there. Loved it. Totally.

Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of those books I was telling you about. The author is Nigerian but her comfort with English language makes it an engaging read in the first half  where we get familiar with the main characters and the many hues of life in Africa during the 60-70s. The second half plunges us into civil war and reveals the true nature of the characters we have just become accustomed to. The fall of the supposedly radical and rebellious is contrasted by the quiet strength of those who claim no such greatness. And though we are given ample warning right from the beginning of the book, it still doesn't make us ready to face the ugliness of war and poverty. Nothing will. Nothing should.

On the lighter side, the book still had traces of what Stephen Leacock calls 'foreign fiction'; a sample from the great Russian Novel (translated!): "Drink, little brother," he would say to Yob, and Yob would answer, "Little Uncle, I drink your health," and he would go down the road again, stamping his feet with the cold. What was that about?

Its probably callous of me to jump from a sensitive book to this but we had to move on, right? Moving on, the above lines are from Leacock's work aptly named 'Further Foolishness' - talking about which, I now know that if I were to pick one genre of books as my favorite, it has to be humour bordering on satire. This collection of stories and essays is available for free download or online reading (click on the title to read on) and is just right for those times when I want to read something mindlessly and laugh out loud.

Other mindless reading includes the Death Series by J.D.Robb (a romance writer's mystery avatar) which is just on the verge of getting repetitive simply because we are at 35+ stories and no one can possibly keep the interest alive for that long. But some of the stories in her first 20 or so are real entertainers. (I wrote about the protagonist here long time back if you are interested.) Great potential for being made into something like '24'

And finally there are these books that I started reading but didn't quite make it to the end for reasons I can't figure out. The World is Flat by Thomas Fried(?)man (which is probably dated now), Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang, Made in America by Sam Walton, Mein Kampf: Adolf Hitler, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl  and gasp! The Harry Potter series (yes I ought to die for this cardinal sin)!!!  I intend to finish them though. I owe that to every book I start. I also owe that to the many books I have bought / borrowed and left orphaned in my shelf.  So here is hoping that 2010 is the year when I live up to the book-lovers' code of conduct which says... 'READ!'


  1. Amen!
    When you come down to it, most codes are simple and short:

    I will add a couple of my own:

  2. @suki: Yes! How about sharing your experience with books last year too?
    @arth: Come on! Join the party :-)

  3. Thank you for the post ! . I am glad to learn from you guys . Look forward for interpretations ,hope more knowledge will shared on non fiction too.
    Thank you ,just made to read this article

    Keep going!

  4. @ Veer: Thank you! the site u have mentioned and links from it were quite interesting. As for non-fiction I can promise you there is at least one coming up that could be of interest to you - about the father of micro finance and his fight against poverty!