Tag Archives: Books

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo Title: Because of Winn-Dixie
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Publisher: Walker Books
ISBN: 9780744578294
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Pages: 181
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

There are a lot of authors who write about animals and humans, but I doubt if any of them write as well as Kate DiCamillo does on the topic. I was first introduced to her when I read, “Flora and Ulysses” and since then I have not turned back. Kate DiCamillo’s stories are heart-warming and each of them features an animal and then the love between humans and animals is most visible.

“Because of Winn-Dixie” is a book about a girl and her chance meeting with a dog that changes everything in her life and in the new town she and her father move to. Ten-year old Opal learns 10 things about her long gone mother from her preacher father. That happens because of Winn-Dixie, the dog she finds at a departmental store and things are then never the same.

I love DiCamillo’s writing. There is of course the simplicity, which is needed for a children’s book but her books are also accessible to adults, when it comes to emotions and feelings. This book made me want to watch the movie. DiCamillo packs so much in less than two hundred pages and with every turn of the page, you either smile or choke up or both. If you want to start reading children’s books, I strongly recommend you read Kate DiCamillo.

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387 Short Stories : Day 293 : New and Second-Hand by Altaf Tyrewala

Engglishhh by Altaf Tyrewala

Today started with missing home, which I do almost every single day. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of Bombay. Not a day goes by when I do think about the sea. And not to forget all the places where I shopped for books and soaked myself in those places.

Today’s story, “New and Second-Hand” by Altaf Tyrewala just brought back those memories – of school and college, when I would scrounge the streets for great literature and not to forget the very famous store, “New and Second-Hand Book Store” at Dhobi Talao (after which this story is named and dedicated to) which shut in 2011.

“New and Second-Hand” is a story of decline of a bookstore. It is the decline of literature and it is most vividly and bitingly told by Tyrewala. The language hits the spot. He speaks of a time gone by and that which is slowly declining. For me, growing up and being a Bombay boy meant to a large extent books being sold on pavements and those shops that one went to every weekend. The story is of a bookstore owner and how he knows that it is all going to end, given the times he lives in. He is bitter, lonely and loves books (contrary to what he says). He wants a companion and has given up on finding one. He lives in despair in Bombay, waiting for the bookstore to be sold.

The story is brilliantly told and I urge all of you to read it. It is a beautiful ode to the city and the times that were. I could not help but cry.

My favourite parts from the story:

“Reading used to be a step away from renunciation. Now it is another excuse to pick up unattractive lovers.”

“Such are the incidental joys of browsing. It takes a particular sort of personality to delight in the unexpected find, to take relish in stumbling upon something while seeking something else. I am sad to report that such a personality, receptive to serendipity, is now on the wane.”

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Love among the Bookshelves by Ruskin Bond

Love among the Bookshelves by Ruskin Bond Title: Love among the Bookshelves
Author: Ruskin Bond
Publisher: Penguin Books, Viking
ISBN: 9780670087341
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 200
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3/5

I was eagerly waiting to read this book. And to some extent this book disappointed me. I thought there would be more about books and reading and the experiences of Mr. Bond with his books, but it somehow was not that.

“Love among the Bookshelves” is a well-thought of book and it does talk about Mr. Bond’s adventures in reading, but somehow for me, it fell short in most places. I love books about books and reading. This one just did not do it for me.

The book started off well with Ruskin’s experiences when it came to reading and how it all began, but from there on it was a downhill reading experience for me. Maybe it was the excerpts of every of his favourite writer, or maybe it was the fact that not enough time was spent on reading experiences, per se, but the book did not click with me.

On the other hand, Bond’s style of writing is still the same – simple and sweet and direct to a very large extent, which is what even made me turn the pages. I did not give up. Ruskin Bond’s writing can never make you leave the book mid-way, but like I said, this time, one of his books did not do it for me. I did enjoy the part when he was in London and the books he discovered there.

The recommended reading list at the end of the book is alright. It has some good books in it. All said and done, I would recommend, “Love among the Bookshelves” to ardent Bond fans who must read every book of his.

Reading Places and Times

Reading is a form of joy that none other. It can provide pleasure in so many ways that one cannot even imagine at times. With reading, memories are created. Hoards of them and sometimes way too many to remember. This post is one such attempt to chronicle memory related to books, the places they have been read at and positions that one has been comfortable reading them in. All readers would be able to relate to this one, because sometimes sense of time and place is so important to reading, that you cannot forget it in a lifetime.

I remember childhood most vividly. When reading was a luxury, away from studies. Away from the books that one did not have to look at till the next year or till the next term. When my parents would want me to sleep early and I was hiding under the covers with a book and a torch (done that as well). That is probably the first memory that is stuck with books.

Memories related and connected to books have always been special. Be it sitting alone in my room (which I had to share with one sibling) at fourteen when my nose was stuck in David Copperfield (at those times I wished I was an orphan, just to live that life) and my mind was elsewhere by then. Wuthering Heights was read for the first time at Worli Sea Face by sitting on a bench and listening to the sea murmur at intervals. There would have been no perfect setting for such a book. Maybe it was the sea and its memory that added to the charm of the book and to the reason of it being one of my favourite books of all-time.

Books have to be read in a special place and we all have them. It could be the corner of your room or it could be that special spot in the library. The point is that sometimes we can only read there. The place that brings us that required comfort with the book that is loved. I can never read without lying down on my stomach and the sufficient light that has to fall on the book, from a particular angle. That is much needed. The type of food one is used to eating with the book you read is also essential to the reader. Food goes best with reading. My reading food has to be a packet of chips with Diet Coke and of course care is taken before turning the page – a napkin on the side and the Coke can kept far away from the book.

I also remember the time I was at loggerheads with my family and spent hours in my college library reading. The British Library spot right next to the DVD section is most fondly remembered. Virginia Woolf was discovered in that phase – the existentialism narrative and linear thought flow was also discovered in the aisles of the library. Those memories don’t let go and shouldn’t as well.

The journeys undertaken have always been with books. Be it a train journey, on which I cannot sleep and a book is sufficient, as the train whizzes by and the reading process between sips of tea, purchased at a small station at two in the morning. A long flight journey. A bookstore in a foreign land and a café where everyone knows you and is ok with the fact that you order one Latte and read there for hours. The comfort of knowing that helps uninhibited reading.

Reading is as personal and solitary hobby that it can be. It breeds in solitude. It requires that space to allow flights of fancy. Reading does that to you. It creates memories, hundreds of them – of favourite books, of loved writers, of books re-read all the time, of spaces and places, of foods eaten and enjoyed and ultimately love for them, that carries on irrespective.

Read Everywhere

Read

Read while waiting for a friend.
If the friend does not show up, even better. You have more time to read.

Read on a date.
If the person is boring, then you are saved by a book.
If the person is not boring, he or she will understand your need to read.

Read on a coffee break at work.
Ignore the world of office gossip and immerse yourself in the world of words.

Read while waiting for the bus or the train.
Read so much that you get lost and the bus and the train just pass by.

Read like there is no tomorrow. Like perhaps you will not live to read another day.
And if someone asks you why, tell them to leave you alone.

Read when you are tired.
You will for sure be refreshed.

Read at a restaurant.
It is better than checking out random people and looking at a couple fighting at another table.

Read when you want to be comforted.
A book will be with you for a longer period than you imagined.

Read while vacuuming.
Read as you give instructions to someone to do the housework as you get lost and the help just giggles, knowing that nothing can be done about you.

Read while walking. Get lost in the pages.
Do walk on the pavement though. You do not want to get run over.

Read on the bench. Read till the lights come on in the park.
Read till the watchman tells you that it is time to leave.

Read at the end of the day.
Read when you wake up.
Read in-between the day.
Because, perhaps, there is no set time to read.

Read like your life depends on it.
Read like you have all the time in the world.

Read knowing that other people may not approve it.
Read knowing that you do not care about what people think.

At the end of it, for me, it is all about reading.
Reading everywhere, without a care.

S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst Title: S.
Authors: J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
Publisher: Canongate Books
ISBN: 9780857864772
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Literary, Bibliophilia
Pages: 472
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

S. is an unusual book. Being the die-hard LOST fan that I am, I knew that if J.J. Abrams has co-authored a book (with Doug Dorst) I will for sure love it. It was a given. Sometimes may be you go with the instinct, only to realize that you were right all along. There are also some books, whose synopsis is enough for you to make you know that you have to read this book anyhow and S. happened to be one of them.

S. is a book within a book. It is love for marginalia. It is also bibliophile love. It is love towards authors and their lives and at the same time it is the crazy love for finding out more about an author. S. is all of that and more rolled into one crazy ride of a book.

The book is titled, “Ship of Theseus” by V.M. Straka and you wonder what just happened. Isn’t it meant to be written by Dorst and Abrams? But do not panic. This is the way the book is written. V.M. Straka is a prolific writer and Ship of Theseus is meant to be his last work. While being intellectual, Straka is also a loner. No one has ever seen him. No one knows him either besides his translator and perhaps publisher.

ship-of-theseus-3-Sample

And then there are two readers, Jennifer and Eric, who have never met and communicate only through marginalia in the library book, “Ship of Theseus” speculating about the author, the story of the book, and in all of this, they unravel a lot more about themselves.

Then not to forget is the story of “Ship of Theseus” by Straka, which is the book you will also be reading, about a man lost at sea – who has lost his memory and is with monstrous sailors he does not know and cannot recall. Technically then, there are three stories running parallel and that can either drive you crazy as a reader or keep you wanting more.

The book is brilliantly designed. Ship of Theseus feels and smells like an old library book. There is a sticker on the spine categorizing the book. There are correspondences tumbling out of the book – letters, postcards, maps drawn on coffee house tissue papers, a puzzle, some more postcards and letters that do the rounds, back and forth between Straka and others, and also between Jennifer and Eric.

To begin with, the book might seem difficult to get into, but once you start, you will be hooked to it. The marginalia and reading the text together does take time, but for me that was the only way to do it. I had to read them in tandem, to understand the entire story and context. To me, the book was a rollercoaster ride, with Jen writing in the margin and Eric responding to those. The simple things add to the effect – the different coloured pens used, the writing, the underlining of lines, all of it make you think and relate to what you do as a reader. “S.” is one of those books that need not be begged to be read. An intelligent reader will read it anyway and give it its due.

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A Passion for Books : Edited by Harold Rabinowitz and Rob Kaplan

A Passion for Books Title: A Passion for Books: A Book Lover’s Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Love and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books
Edited by: Harold Rabinowitz and Rob Kaplan
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
ISBN: 9780812931136
Genre: Non-Fiction, Bibliophile, Books, Reading
Pages: 384
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Books about books and more books about books. That is almost four times that I have used books in a sentence and it only feels less. The joy of reading yet another book about books, collectors, book lovers, book stores and more only feels more exhilarating as an experience. As though, nothing compares to it or everything is pale in comparison. There are so many stories booklovers share – from where they bought a particular book to what they loved or did not love at all. It is almost an ocean ready to unravel its mysteries and what lies within. The treasury of books, a different world which readers inhabit and do not ever want to come out of.

“A Passion for Books” is a treat for book lovers. It is a compilation of essays of various authors, edited by Harold Rabinowitz and Rob Kaplan. The editing has been done to the tee with the right amount of precision needed for a book like this. The book can be read from anywhere and that to me is definitely one of the plus points of this book. Right from a second-hand bookshop experience, to the top 100 books of the century to Pillow books and what makes them that, everything is here.

One cannot forget the contributors – from John Updike to Umberto Eco to Milton to Anna Quindlen – all of these and more talk of their book passions and why books are so important to them. More so, the introduction is by Ray Bradbury, which is a bonus in so many ways. I can go back to rereading this book anytime. The beauty, like I said, lies in starting from any page and perhaps only reading an essay or two and yet it feels so fulfilling. Full marks to the editors for compiling this wondrous book of book love and essays on reading. Also, don’t miss out on the book quotes at the end of every chapter. They also add to the charm.

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