Tag Archives: life

Dear Me: A Letter To My Sixteen Year Old Self : Edited by Joseph Galliano

Dear Me - Edited by Joseph Galliano Title: Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self
Author: Edited by Joseph Galliano
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Limited
ISBN: 9781847377661
Genre: Non-Fiction, Letters
Pages: 128
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

“If you wrote a letter to your sixteen-year-old self, what would it say?”

That is the premise of the book, “Dear Me” – Edited by Joseph Galliano. What would you tell your sixteen year old self anyway? What would you stop him or her from doing, which you know will be futile anyway, because he or she will not listen to the older you? The book is of famous people – of celebrities writing to their younger self, dispensing advice, providing nuggets of wisdom and trying to go back in time and perhaps contemplate on how life was.

The book is a revelation of sorts and at other times, I was tempted enough to pick up the notepad and write a letter to my sixteen-year-old self. There were letters that stood out – the ones by Elton John, Emma Thompson, James Woods, Jodi Picoult, and so many more. There are 75 letters in all, written by celebrities from various fields – from actors to comedians to novelists, they all are written depicting youth and what is called growing-up.

These letters touch on issues that are still prevalent – from gay rights to racism to being felt left out – the letters provide a sense of warmth and at the same time you empathize with at least a few of them, because you have gone through the same.

“Dear Me” is a bitter-sweet journey through life, sometimes scarily a reflection of your own. It is a book of letters, of contemplation, of thoughts and ideas. Joseph Galliano has done a wonderful job of editing this book and somehow compels you to write a letter to your sixteen-year-old self, sharing your fears and maybe consoling him or her – to let them know that it will all be alright, after all.

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Book Review: Delicacy by David Foenkinos

Delicacy by David Foenkinos Title: Delicacy
Author: David Foenkinos
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781408827574
Genre: Literary Fiction, Romance, Humour
Pages: 250
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Once in a while, you chance upon a book, that you just have lying on your shelf and intend reading someday. However, that someday takes a while and when you do read it; you begin to realize that you wasted a lot of time, waiting for that someday. “Delicacy” by David Foenkinos had that impact on me. I kept wondering, why had I missed out on this when I first bought it? Why did I wait for two years to read this book? And all it took me was a six hour bus ride to finish it and come out of the reverie with a big fat grin on my face.

“Delicacy” by David Foenkinos is a charming little book. It is full of joy, happiness; comic moments and at the same time, there is sadness as well. Natalie is a woman who has it all. A great lover, who in turn becomes her husband. A successful job. A life which is fulfilled – more or less and there is nothing she could need or want. Till her life falls apart in one minute, or rather on a fateful Sunday, when the love of her life gets run over by a car and nothing makes sense anymore. And then just like that, life changes again and Natalie sees herself falling for the most unusual man ever. The setting I must mention is the city of romance, the capital of love, Paris. Paris is almost another character in the book – all pervasive and right there, sometimes mocking and sometimes encouraging love, the way it should be.

What I loved about the book was the way it is written but of course. The chapters are short (which I love) and there is no melodrama. It is as real as it could be. There is office romance. There is life going on as usual after the loss of a loved one. There is also the knowing that life may not be the same, but it will change for the better, if you want it to. The other guy – Markus is clumsy and doesn’t know how a woman like Natalie could love him. He may not be her knight in shining armour and yet Foenkinos writing makes him one.

The book speaks of social norms and breaks all of them in one single long sweep. I am not one for romantic books and yet Delicacy is romantic and not so, if you know what I mean. There is a lot of soul to the book. There were times I found myself weeping and with the next turn of the page, I was smiling.

“Delicacy” is maybe one of those rare books that truly come to you when you really want to read something like this. You cannot read it when you wish to. You perhaps have to wait it out, like I did. There will always be such books and the good part is that there will always be patient readers, waiting to be enthralled.

You can watch the trailer of the move here starring Audrey Tautou, one of my favourites. This should also lead you to read this wonderful book.

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Book Review : Ismat : Her Life, Her Times : Edited by Sukrita Paul Kumar & Sadique

Ismat - Her Life Her Times Title: Ismat : Her Life, Her Times
Author: Sukrita Paul Kumar & Sadique
Publisher: Katha Books
ISBN: 9788185586977
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Biography
Pages: 300
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

When an author has had a kind of life which no one can match up to, that is when books such as these are needed. I think to a very large extent, only a few authors can rise to this rank from the plentiful in the literary sea, existing as of now. I have always felt this rare closeness to Ismat Aapa and I do not know why. I think to a very large extent (and I am only guessing here) is the marginalized context – of both of us that I am able to relate to her, the way I do. The bold texture of her life, the choices made against the grain of the norm and more than anything else, to fight for the cause of her work, is something worth admiring, perhaps a hundred thousand times over. Where else can one see this passion today? I may be getting ahead of myself here, but that is only because I love her so.

“Ismat: Her Life, Her Times” is a wonderfully constructed book. There is a lot in this book and I can recommend it to any Chughtai lover. Both, Sukrita and Sadique have managed to almost write a canvas of her work and the woman that she was. She is one woman who had so much to say and she always said it with a bite, with humour and emphasizing on the fact of breaking all barriers and boundaries. This book encapsulates her life the way she lived it – from a writer to her advent in the Indian Film Industry to her lens and the way she viewed everything with it.

What is even more enchanting is the range of contributors – who have written about her and are collated in this book – from Faiz Ahmad Faiz to Manto to Krishan Chander and Qurratulain Hyder, commenting on Ismat – the person and the writer.

“Ismat: Her Life Her Times” is a dedication to a writer beyond words. It is her life, through pictures, through letters, through her work and the personality she was. The book could be seen as a starter, as a guide to all her works (her vast body of work that is), and to encourage readers to go and read more of her books, her stories and if possible watch the movies she wrote for and acted in.

To me this book embodies the woman beautifully. Of course not as beautifully as Kaghazeen Hain Pairan, but it does bring to fore mostly everything about her. A book not to be missed out on. A book which takes the writer beyond everything else and gives her the due and credit she has always deserved.

Here is a forty seven long interview of hers, if you are interested and by the way you should be:

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Book Review: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate Title: The One and Only Ivan
Author: Katherine Applegate
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780007455331
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 252
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Off-late I had stopped reading Young Adult novels or anything close to in that genre or even children’s books for that matter. I did not find anything new in them. They were either set in magical worlds or in this world with fantastical creatures. Till I ended up reading, “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate.

The book is for young adult and is based on a true story of a gorilla named Ivan. For me, the book did a lot. Perhaps books that you need do come into your life only at that time. There is no other way to this so-called selection – when books find you and want to be read by you.

“The One and Only Ivan” is about Ivan – a gorilla who has lived in a cage for almost twenty seven years of his life. He has had Bob – a dog for company and Stella – an aging elephant. Ivan is a silverback gorilla – the kind who has to protect his tribe and family and here he is in a circus mall on the highway on Exit 8. He is a gorilla who paints – finger paints at that and those paintings sell. He watches television in his cage. There is nothing else to do anyway.

Ivan is close to George the cleaner and his daughter Julia. Mack is the owner of this theme based mall. He is the man in-charge. Life goes on as usual. Till one day, Ruby, a young elephant makes an entry. Circumstances lead to Ivan making a promise – that of saving Ruby’s life. Of setting her free, of not making her become another addition to the mall, which becomes the mission of his life. That is when the story takes off.

The reader learns about how Ivan came to be here and about his life. There is Ruby’s life thrown in and so is Stella’s. I liked the story because it rang true. It is based on a true story. There are characters which are thrown in for effect, but the story is that of Ivan’s. Towards the end, I felt that Applegate was rushing with the story; however, given the plot and the structure, I let that pass. To me, “The One and Only Ivan” was a book which is sweet, full of life, hope, a great and unique friendship and above all about freedom, which we sometimes take too much for granted and need to learn its value. A read for times when you have given up on all hope.

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Book Review: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

Title: The End of Your Life Book Club
Author: Will Schwalbe
Publisher: Knopf
ISBN: 978-0307594037
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoirs, Memories
Pages: 352
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I had wanted to read, “The End of Your Life Book Club” the first time I read about it, which was in April 2012 or somewhere closer to that month. I love reading books about books and more so when a selection is made and discussed, just as the title suggests – a book club. For me, it was more than that. It was the story that made me want to grab this one and start and I did when I got the first chance. I have just finished reading this book and I am overwhelmed beyond words. So maybe this review will be a short one, just because I want whichever reader to pick up this book, to be able to enjoy it without any pre-conceived notion of anyone else’s opinion about it.

“The End of Your Life Book Club” is about a mother and a son (the author and his mother), whose love for books is never-ending. They discuss books and talk about books throughout the journey that the author describes brilliantly in this work. Will’s mom has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and the journey of the book club starts at the doctor’s office and the waiting room as they wait for the chemo appointments and discuss books that they are reading at the same time. The book is a tribute to his mother and books and life and its magnanimity.

What struck me was the way this book is written. It is about Mary Ann Schwalbe and her family, with books playing a major role between her and her second born, Will Schwalbe. The book is simple and yet chronicles a family’s life, a mother’s love and more than that, the woman that she was – compassionate, generous, kind, loving and a reader. I had to pen down this review because I want more people to read this book – it is about books for sure and it is also about connections – about telling your loved ones that you love them and are proud of them, no matter what.

The writing is thread-bare and comes from the heart. It must have been very difficult for Mr. Schwalbe to pen this book, considering how personal it is, and yet at the same time, I am only too glad that he decided to write this book and share his mother’s life with readers around the world. Of how building a library in Kabul was the most important task for her (given her associations with non-profit organizations) to the daily planning of dinners and birthday parties. Mary Ann Schwalbe is a woman I think every reader would want to have known and this book is a perfect way of doing that. To know what she read and why and more so what sort of a woman she was – determined to help others and live her life to the fullest no matter what, not even deterring in the face of a disease.

“The End of Your Life Book Club” comes from an emotional place. There were times I choked and nearly cried and was so happy to have been reading this book. I know for a fact that I will reread this one and also read all the books that Will and Mary read throughout the course of the book. It is a book about reading and how it can save you at most times. It is about love and what family means to you. It is about life. I cannot recommend it enough.

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