George by Alex Gino

George by Alex Gino Title: George
Author: Alex Gino
Publisher: Scholastic Press
ISBN: 978-0545812542
Genre: Teens, Young Adult
Pages: 208
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

When the publisher gave me a copy of “George” by Alex Gino to read, I knew it very then that I would love it to bits and I did. “George” is a story that could be taking place around us and we would not even know of it. I think a lot has been written about the L and G of the LGBT community, but not enough on the transgender and transsexual bit (there is also a difference between the two by the way), so “George” came as a refreshing surprise when I picked it up.

George is a boy and she knows she is a girl. She can feel it deep down and all she wants is to be a girl and do the things that girls do. She hates it when people refer to her as a boy and try and expect her to do all the things that boys do. All she wants is to be Charlotte in the school play Charlotte’s web and she cannot because people see her as a boy. Even her teach won’t understand her dilemma. Neither will her brother Scott and Mom. But she has her best friend Kelly who believes in her and will do anything so she can play Charlotte.

In the midst of bullies, her situation and the need to be who she is, “George” finally comes into her own at the end of the book. How? Well that is for you to read and find out.

I absolutely loved this book. I have never read anything like this – about a transgender teen and I think it is so needed in our times more than ever. People need to be made aware and know what is going on before they judge severely or jump to any conclusions.

The tone of the book is emotional and sometimes funny but mostly it will leave you with a warm tingling feeling in your heart which is the idea anyway. Initially you might have a problem shifting between genders in your head, but when it is clear, you will breeze through that. The writing is quick and simple and easily readable and relatable at that – when it comes to coming of age.

I also would strongly urge all parents to read this book, because it would probably help them know their child better and respect differences in them, if any. I also think that it is time someone in India wrote about this – from a child, a teenager and an adult’s perspective. It is so needed given how ignorant we are when it comes to this sphere of the gender. It is more so about gender politics than actually being empathetic to their needs.

There were times when I felt the book was being rushed but I guess that’s how the author combo (yeah Alex and Gino are two people) wanted it that way. All said and done, I immensely enjoyed the journey of a ten-year old about being who he always knew he was – a girl. I was hooting for “George” till the very end and hoping that this is just the beginning for her.

Affiliate Link:

Amazon:

George (Scholastic Press Novels)

Flipkart:

George

In other words by Jhumpa Lahiri

In Other Title: In Other Words
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Translated by: Ann Goldstein
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton, Penguin India
ISBN: 9780670088898
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Learning a new language is not easy. At least in my experience it hasn’t been easy. I tried and struggled with French and could only get this far. After that, either I gave up on the language or the language gave up on me (I don’t even think that’s possible though). I wish I had continued with it for a while and mastered it perhaps. However, that was not meant to be.

Language is a tricky thing to learn. Some say there is a certain age to it. Some say you have to speak it with someone who is fluent, every single day and immerse yourself in it. Jhumpa Lahiri’s new book “In Other Words” is all about how she learned Italian because she wanted to, moved to Rome to learn it more and finally wrote a book in Italian (the translated version by Ann Goldstein is what I have read).

This book to me was more about life than language. It was about a writer’s struggle to not only conquer the language but also at a deeper level come to terms with identity, cultural and emotional barriers and what makes a person complete.

“In other words” is more than just a memoir even – it is going to the depths of what a writer thinks, imagines, and struggles with, dreams about and how it all comes together when she writes. The writing is simple and even though it is translated from Italian, it doesn’t lose its essence. That to me is the indication of some spectacular writing right there – when it doesn’t take away anything from the original in the translated form.

The book is meticulously crafted – giving the readers a view to the writer’s innermost fears, the insecurity of writing in another language and to reveal her new linguistic identity, so to speak. Her stay in Rome was almost a self-exile as she traded her English for Italian – almost a new life. As readers, what comes to us most of the time is the dulled down version, without any of the writer’s angst, however this is not that version. It is raw and stark and right there – demanding your time and attention.

The book is about a writer’s journey and what comes along the way – sometimes even in the name of experimentation and what shape it takes at the end of it all. Jhumpa Lahiri’s struggle with the language and the need to overcome it are so strong that you find yourself almost cheering for her, knowing that she managed to write the book in Italian after all.

“In Other Words” is the kind of book that will also make you question your own creative beliefs and think of the roads not taken. Jhumpa Lahiri’s graceful writing – in its most simple form will evoke a lot of emotions inside the reader – fear, love, frustration, anger, the desire to accomplish something, to push your boundaries and to perhaps experience something new and different in what you do.

Definitely a book not to be missed out on this February.

Affiliate Link:

Flipkart:

In Other Words (English)

Amazon:

In Other Words

The Printed Noise Contest – Win cool notebooks!

Hi folks!

So here you go!

Up for grabs!

Lucky

Odd

Shady

To win these awesome notebooks (all our notebooks, even the last one – the image is that of an iPhone cover but it will be a notebook), all you need to do is this:

1. Follow @printednoise on twitter and like them on FB: https://www.facebook.com/PrintedNoise/
2. Answer this question and email the answer to vivek.tejuja@gmail.com

Question: What will you write in this notebook, if you won one of them?

3. Contest is open till the 8th of February 2016.
4. Win these awesome notebooks!

Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki Title: Skim
Words by: Mariko Tamaki
Pictures by: Jillian Tamaki
Publisher: Groundwood Books
ISBN: 9780888997531
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 143
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

I had heard a lot about “Skim” before purchasing it. It is all about teenage angst, but I also think it is meant for everyone who wants to find a place of their own in this world and also about what path you want to choose, when there are so many in front of you.

“Skim” is Kimberly Keiko Cameron – who isn’t slim, is also a Wiccan Goth (well she does want to be it) and goes to a private girls’ school, where keeping up and meanness is in vogue. It all begins with Katie Matthews’ boyfriend dumps her and then kills himself. This starts a chain reaction of events at school forcing Skim to think about things she doesn’t want to and also in the process she falls in love and doesn’t know what to do anymore.

“Skim” as a book works on so many levels – adolescence, crushes, love – gay or not, forming cliques and what happens when you’re not a part of them, first love, and more than anything else – a way to find yourself is explored beautifully in this slim graphic novel.

It is the kind of book that can and should be given to every teenager as a rite of passage so it can help them come into their own. It is a book about being young and more than anything else it is about actualization to some extent. Please do not judge it by the cover. The illustrations are beyond words beautiful and it is all in black and white, which makes it even more special.

I am glad I read this book this year and more importantly this month. February as cliché as it may sound is about love (well all months are) and one must read some books all about love – twisted or not.

Affiliate Link:

Amazon:

Skim

Flipkart:

Skim

Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark

Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark Title: Plumdog
Author: Emma Chichester Clark
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
ISBN: 978-0224098403
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 160
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

If you haven’t had a dog, or had a dog or still have a dog or in general love dogs, then “Plumdog” is the book for you. “Plumdog” happened to me on a Sunday at Wayword and Wise as I was browsing their shelves and chanced upon this little gem.

Plumdog - Image 1

I wasn’t aware then that Emma had a blog about her dog Plum that she updated quite regularly if not daily, neither was I aware that it was about the daily ongoing of life as seen through her dog Plum. And might I add that this book is a graphic novel, which is beautifully illustrated by Emma and that’s why it is even more special.

XY2775_Plumdog_UK_066.pdf

Now you know what “Plumdog” is about. I have said what I had to in the earlier paragraph. Having said that, why should you read this book? I will not even get there, because honestly, I believe that everyone should read it. Animals are way more precious than human beings and more importantly dogs. They love with no conditions. They give selflessly. Their loyalty is fierce and they know how to be there for you. Plum loves playing catching the twig, diving into rivers, treats (but of course) and spending time on her parents’ bed and of course also being all snooty when approached by the boys.

Plumdog - Image 3

“Plumdog” is all of that rolled into one about how dogs are and what they might think, which is a treat (I said that already but I cannot help but gush over it). Plumdog is a gift to be given to all who you know who love dogs and also who love pets in general. It will warm your soul and heart like no other book.

And add to that, it is also a blog on: http://www.emmachichesterclark.co.uk/blog.php Read it.

Affiliate Link:

Amazon:

Plumdog

Flipkart:

Plumdog

5 picture books and graphic novels read in January 2016

Whenever I read picture books or graphic novels there is warmth that travels through the entire being and reaches the heart. It is the most satisfying feeling for which I have no words. I really don’t. Picture books make me feel hopeful again. Every single time and it is as easy as that – pick up a picture book with words or without words and see the magic unfold. You’d be surprised. So over the past couple of days, these are some of the picture books and graphic novels I have read and thoroughly enjoyed them.

V is for Vulnerable by Seth Godin:

This is a must-read for all grownups. It is the alphabet for grownups who are too scared to take chances. It is about life-situations and how we get when faced by them and what it really means to live life outside the comfort zone.

V is for Vulnerable

Seth Godin is brutally honest and says it the way he sees it and it is a book that I cannot stop recommending it to everyone. The illustrations by Hugh Macleod are something else. A must read.

V is for Vulnerable - Image 1

Once upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers:

Another brilliant book of the alphabet, once again seen differently by the brilliant Oliver Jeffers. These are short stories (at times interconnected) for every letter, so you get 26 short stories in all.

Once upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

Why did I like this book? It is quirky, it is funny and more than anything else it leaves a smile on your face. The stories are also dark which I think is alright, because it is okay to be read by children as well. It is more in the vein of Lemony Snicket and a treat for all ages.

Madame Eiffel by Alice Briere-Haquet & CSIL

There is no way that you will not enjoy this book. Everyone will. Everyone who reads it will and that is just my guarantee on this one.

Madame Eiffel

It is a love story of how the Eiffel tower was made. I don’t know if it is a true story or not but it is something you must read just for the illustrations and the story. I read it thrice and I know I will read it some more times.

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

A graphic novel of epic proportions, I would say. Why? Because it is all about early earth – mmythological, a love story and more so a story of finding your roots and your missing self.

An Encyclopedia of Early Earth

This is a must graphic novel read in my opinion. The kind you will not regret at all.


All Quiet in Vikaspuri by Sarnath Banerjee

The pioneer of the graphic novel in India is back after a hiatus of four years and it is worth it every single day and minute that he was away. “All Quiet in Vikaspuri” is a treat for the mind and the eyes.

All Quiet in Vikaspuri by Sarnath Banerjee

It is almost the near-future. There are water wars in Delhi and a man is sent to find the mythical Saraswati. There is so much more happening in this graphic novel that it deserves its own review, which I will post soon.For now this is it.

The Thirteenth Day: A Story of the Kurukshetra War by Aditya Iyengar

The Thirteenth Day by Aditya Iyengar Title: The Thirteenth Day: A Story of the Kurukshetra War
Author: Aditya Iyengar
Publisher: Rupa Publications
ISBN: 978-8129134752
Genre: Fiction, Myths
Pages: 260
Source: Author
Rating: 4/5

I have always maintained that mythology must not be tampered with. I am sort of wary of the idea of retellings (so-called) and drifting away from the original or the real deal. It somehow scares me to read something like that. Having said that, I was quite taken by surprise by a book that had a retelling (of sorts) and somehow also stuck close to the original plot (had no choice given it was the Mahabharata).

Aditya Iyengar’s “The Thirteenth Day” is about the thirteenth day (well of course) but it a part of the war that is known only on the surface to most. It is the day when Yudhisthira, Radheya and Abhimanyu collide on the battlefield and what is the past and present to that day. It is about Abhimanyu majorly and how the story moves ahead using the “chakravyuh” as the core metaphor (at least that is what I interpreted from it).

There have been a lot of retellings of the Mahabharata – there is no dearth of stories out there on the epic. Then why must you read this book?

The book is no frills. It is simple, clear and tells a story that is riveting and keeps you hooked. What else do you need from a book?

The narration is in first person, which I am most comfortable with and might I add that it is most difficult to write a book in first person. The danger of losing the plot or the readers’ interest is quite high. However, Aditya never manages to do any of that at any point.

The thing with retelling or writing a story from the Mahabharata is that your research has to be five folds over and nitpicked. If that is not then, then you have already set yourself up for failure. But this book doesn’t do that. The research is thorough – so much so the minor characters also stand out and sometimes have their own stories to tell. There is also the element of surrealism (in some places) and it doesn’t at any point become an impediment but only helps the story move ahead. There are a lot of layers and sub-layers to Mahabharata. One cannot write about it and not be swayed to include some of them, which is what also happens in this narrative and that works for the book at every page.

The reason I am not talking much about the plot is that I would really want more people to read this book and experience it for themselves. A read that I would urge you to pick up because it is a fresh voice and tells the old tale with that voice harnessed all along.

Affiliate Link:

The Thirteenth Day : A Story of the Kurukshetra War (English)

The Thirteenth Day: A Story of the Kurukshetra War