Tag Archives: Books

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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387 Short Stories: Day 79 to Day 84 : Updated till the 3rd of March 2014

These were the stories read from Day 79 to Day 84 and I have loved and enjoyed each and every one of them.

Day 79: The Red Convertible by Louise Erdrich. Taken from the collection: The Red Convertible: Collected and New Stories: 1978-2008

Day 80: Hinterlands by William Gibson. Taken from the collection: Burning Chrome

Day 81: Mary and Martha by Sarah Orne Jewett. Taken from the collection: A White Heron and Other Stories

Day 82: Summer Novella by Stefan Zweig. Taken from the collection: Kaleidoscope and Other Stories

Day 83: The Land of Go by Lynne Barrett

Day 84: A Drowning Incident by Cormac McCarthy

Book Review: The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin Title: The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
ISBN: 9781408704615
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 243
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

There comes a time in everyone’s life when a book truly speaks to them. It talks and you cannot do anything but listen and wonder what happened to all those dreams and hopes that were once present. Books do that. They have the power to communicate. They also have the power to heal a broken soul, no matter how broken or damaged. I think for me, books have always been that. An antidote to everything that is wrong with the world and everything that can be made right, with just the turn of the page.

So when I knew that my next read was going to be about books and reading, I could not contain my joy. I love books about books and reading that centre on the theme of a reader or two. It fills my heart with immense warmth. This is exactly what happened as I read, “The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevin.

The book is a story of a bookstore owner and how his life transforms completely, through reading and the people he meets in the course of his life, or rather those who enter his life involuntarily and change it completely. The bookstore is called Island Books and is on a small town called Alice in Staten Island. A.J. Fikry’s wife died recently in a car accident and he does not know what to do with his life. Books and his store are the only things that keep him going.

On the other hand, there is Amelia, a book representative who is leading a very lonely life and has a big heart. She too loves her books and reads with a passion. Needless to say, her life intersects that of A.J. and things take a dramatic turn. Amidst all this, there is a two-year old baby Maya, who is left at the bookstore’s doorstep one fine day and A.J. has no clue what to do with her.

In all of this, A.J’s first edition of Poe is stolen and he is immensely heartbroken about it. There is no way he can get it back, try as he might. It just vanished in thin air.

If the plot does not compel you enough to go out and read this book, then maybe my experience while reading it should, or so I hope. The book made me laugh. The book made me cry. Books that do that to you have a power which cannot be defined. Zevin’s writing is marvellous. She takes the emotion – lays it bare and then gives it her own touch of empathy and unique voice. There are times when I had to keep the book down, take a breath, or perhaps not choke with emotion and get back to it.

A.J. Fikry is one character who will not be forgotten by readers who read this gem of a book. Zevin has created characters that are loveable and what binds them is their love of books and the written word. I could not stop reading this book. In fact, I also remember telling a friend before watching a movie on Saturday night that I would rather be home, finishing this book and this is exactly what I did once the movie got over. I rushed home and finished this book, only to find myself crying at the end of it and fully aware that I would reread this magical book and cry and laugh all over again.