Category Archives: Authors I Love

Amphigorey Too by Edward Gorey

Amphigorey Too by Edward Gorey Title: Amphigorey Too
Author: Edward Gorey
Publisher: Perigee Books
ISBN: 978-0399504204
Genre: Graphic Novels, Literary, Humour
Pages: 256
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Amphigorey Too is a wonderfully strange book. It is a collection of 20 tales which have been previously published and this book is an anthology. In fact Edward Gorey’s stories are so short and so many of them that there are four omnibuses to encapsulate all of them.

These 20 tales are dark and completely out of the ordinary. They will take you by surprise and while they seem to be meant for children, they most certainly are not. Gorey’s style is always dark and witty. I guess having a signature way of writing always helps an author in the sense that readers can then associate easily and know what they are in for after reading the first couple of stories or books.

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I had not heard of Edward Gorey, till my friend at Book Sense spoke highly of him and I knew I had to read him. My favourite tale in the book is “The Gilded Bat” which is about a prima ballerina and her life between performance, rehearsal and boredom. There are children in these tales who die at the drop of a hat and before you know it even adults are killed and meet their end quite grotesquely sometimes. But you must also read “Amphigorey Too” for the illustrations. They are brilliantly done and in tune with the wry humour.

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The stories are sarcastic, dead pan, whimsical, bold, gory and above all also quite emotional if read deeper. Some of it is nonsense. Some of it is not. All I can say is that this is a read for a perfect rainy Sunday.

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The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers

The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers Title: The Way Back Home
Author: Oliver Jeffers
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
ISBN: 9780007182329
Genre: Children’s Books
Pages: 32
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Reading an Oliver Jeffers book is a treat, for both children and adults. I love them. His stories comfort me. The illustrations make me happy and mostly if any sort of art form can do that, then it is meant for you.

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A boy like any other boy finds an airplane and decides to fly. He flies higher and higher and higher till he is space and runs out of fuel. What happens then? He lands on the moon and it is dark and lonely on the moon and he cannot think of a way of getting back home.

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In all of this he meets another one who is lost on the moon just like him – it turns out to be a Young Martian. The Martian is apprehensive of the boy initially and so is the boy of the Martian.

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The story unfolds as they trust each other and eventually find a way back home.

The book is a children’s book – that’s for sure, but at the same time, it is quite an insight into us when faced with a stranger. It is about our fears and how perhaps as a child it is easier to accept everyone than as an adult.

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“The Way Back Home” is a book which will be cherished by all. It is simple and it makes you think about the world we live in which is full of racism, xenophobia, and fear. I write this review while listening to “Imagine” by John Lennon and I hope that the world is different for generations to come. For now, we will read books like these by Oliver Jeffers.

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You Can Never Find a Rickshaw when it Monsoons by Mo Willems

You Can Never Find a Rickshaw when it Monsoons by Mo Willems Title: You Can Never Find a Rickshaw when it Monsoons
Author: Mo Willems
Publisher: Hyperion Books
ISBN: 9780786837472
Genre: Humour, Travel, Graphic,
Pages: 393
Source: Borrowed from a Friend
Rating: 5/5

I cannot bring myself to read funny books. That is somehow not me and neither has it struck a deal with me in the past couple of years, despite trying so hard. And then a friend told me of this book called “You Can Never Find a Rickshaw when it Monsoons” by Mo Willems and it was the kind of book that made me laugh out loud so much so that I had to borrow it from (which again is mostly against my grain of never borrowing, never lending) her and I loved the book!

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I had heard of Mo Willems earlier as a children’s writer but this was the book that was published before his children’s books became famous. “You Can Never Find a Rickshaw when it Monsoons” is a travel-diary in the form of graphics and doodles and cartoons that the author experienced as he travelled almost around the world. The book has funny and unique experiences that he went through while travelling to several places and meeting different kind of people.

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The book is a delight in the sense that it is satirical, humorous and at the most laugh-out-loud as well. I absolutely loved the doodles and that’s how you can see Mr. Willems grow from being a cartoonist to an illustrator when it comes to his children’s books. The book is a travel diary in the form of cartoons, each for one day of the year and that is what makes it so different and quirky, given the illustrations. I strongly urge you to read this over the weekend.

You Can Never Find a Rickshaw when it Monsoons - Image 3

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The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc

The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc Title: The Lion and the Bird
Author: Marianne Dubuc
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
ISBN: 978-1592701513
Genre: Children’s Books
Pages: 64
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

There are very few books that come along and change your life. You do not know in what way, but after reading them you are not the same and you can feel it so strongly that it takes your breath away. This happened to me when I read the most astonishing and enchanting picture book I have in a very long time. French Canadian graphic designer and illustrator Marianne Dubuc gives us this little piece of joy and ecstasy called, “The Lion and the Bird”. I had a problem procuring my copy since it is not easily available in India, but when I did receive it, I knew that I would love and cherish it forever.

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As the title suggests, the book is about a lion and a bird. That is what it is. A lion finds a wounded bird one autumn day and his life changes in so many ways. He takes the bird in, heals it, and throughout autumn and winter the bird stays with the lion. They build a beautiful friendship and bond, which must come to an end because the bird will soon heal and fly and the lion will be left alone, as he was before the bird came into his life.

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“The Lion and the Bird” is an ode to childhood and in so many ways an ode to adulthood as well. We all need to learn so many lessons as we go along – that of empathy, of being selfless sometimes, of understanding another’s sorrow and pain, and what life is truly about.

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Marianne’s illustrations and use of space are breathtaking. The loneliness of the lion is depicted tenderly as he shrinks after the bird’s departure. The use of space is marvelously done and with great minimalistic effort.

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This book is so appropriate for both adults and children. The eloquent pictures and story (almost wordless) go hand in hand and the words just become unnecessary. This is this beautiful rhythm to the book and though it is short, it just stays with you forever.

Alligators all Around by Maurice Sendak

Alligators All Around by Maurice Sendak Title: Alligators All Around : An Alphabet
Author: Maurice Sendak
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780064432542
Genre: Children’s Book
Pages: 26
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

“Alligators all around” by Maurice Sendak is a book that will make you smile and make you feel so good about the world around you. It is a book that makes you see things differently. The book is an alphabet book but all about alligators and their day-to-day life. It is most charming and you cannot help but swoon over the family of alligators and their quirks.

“Alligators all around” is an alphabet book that teaches a lot. It is all about what alligators do and they are adorable if I might say so. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeously done and have the humour intact about them. Sendak presents the alphabet most differently and in a unique manner. I absolutely loved it. You can read it in 10 minutes but it is not about reading it, as much as it is about paying attention to the illustrations.

Maurice Sendak is a well-known children’s writer but I don’t think he wrote for children. Maybe this one, but not the others for sure. I think there was something else at play, which was targeted at adults than children. All said and done, “Alligators all around” will appeal to both children and adults and is a book to keep.

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The First Bad Man by Miranda July

The First Bad Man by Miranda July Title: The First Bad Man
Author: Miranda July
Publisher: Canongate Books
ISBN: 978-1782115076
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

I was half-way in the book, “The First Bad Man” by Miranda July and wanted to give it up. I did not want to read anymore. The book sort of did not speak to me nor did it interest me. Till I gave it time and turned the pages and suddenly I was taken in with it. There were times I laughed out loud and times when I cried and all of this happened in the second-half of the book. I am only too glad that I read it and not gave it up. Sometimes most books deserve a second chance I guess.

“The First Bad Man” by Miranda July is a book of almost everything, mostly parenthood and I will of course not tell you how or why. It is a book about loneliness, coping with life and dreams and disappointments and it is written in the style that is not sentimental or overwhelming, but actually funny in most places (the second-half, I mean). Cheryl Glickman is a character that brings comfort and at the same time some readers might hate her guts. The book is about her inner dialogue, about her connection with psychic babies (and this is just the beginning) and about her relationships and life. Also Cheryl has always wanted a child and never got on. She is alone and vulnerable to say the least.

Cheryl is obsessed with her co-worker Philip, she has a lump in her throat and she believes that there are many lifetimes which people can remember in this one. Amidst all this, Cheryl’s bosses ask her if their twenty-one year daughter Clee can move into her house and Cheryl’s life changes drastically from then on. This in short is the plot of the book.

The writing is quirky, it is weird, it will shock you (I was shocked in most places), it might even offend you, but it is worth it. Almost every single page (of the second-half at least). Miranda July’s first novel is satisfactory in so many ways. The characters are well-rounded and mostly have to do what they have to. There is no looking back or stepping out, whatever the circumstances. The writing is frank, emotional at times and sometimes extremely uncomfortable, but it will keep you thinking about the world we live in and what surrounds us.

“The First Bad Man” for some cannot be read in one sitting. For others, it can be. It is a book that needs to be savored and reread I think. All said and done, do not give up on it as I was going to. You will love the book. Turn the pages. Be patient with it.

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A Reading Diary : A Year of Favourite Books by Alberto Manguel

A Reading Year - A Year of Favourite Books by Alberto Manguel Title: A Reading Diary: A Year of Favourite Books
Author: Alberto Manguel
Publisher: Canongate
ISBN: 978-1841958217
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoirs, Books, Reading
Pages: 272
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

We all must keep a reading diary. Something that chronicles what we read and its impact on our lives or what lives we lead and its impact on what we read. Basically, the idea is to make notes, and not on a laptop or any other electronic device, but handwritten notes, which are so important in today’s time and age.

“A Reading Diary” by Alberto Manguel is one such book. It is about the twelve books that Alberto read or rather reread in a year. Those are his favourite books or at least some of his favourites. He makes the reader sees ways in which time can be spent with a book and good quality time. He makes us see how the mind wanders with one reference made in the book to several made or recollected from memory in other books. That to me is pure genius when it comes to his writing.

There are lists as well in the book – random and some not quite random. There are snatches from Manguel’s life which is a treat to someone who is an ardent fan like me. He speaks of his favourite books and with great passion he tells the reader what he likes and perhaps even does not like about them.

There are so many possibilities in this one for the reader. To take a chance and read all the twelve books listed by him and more that you would come across. He treats his favourite books with great care and could talk endlessly about them and to me that is the beauty of this book. He attaches memory to books, which most readers, should do. He takes memories and conjures them to something magical in front of readers.

“A Reading Diary” is highly recommended by me to most book lovers and people who know the value of life and reading and its true integration.

List of Books read by Manguel:

1. The Invention of Morel (Adolfo Bioy Casares)
2. The Island of Dr. Moreau (Wells)
3. Kim (Kipling)
4. Memoirs From Beyond the Grave (Chateaubriand)
5. The Sign of Four (Doyle)
6. Elective Affinities (Goethe)
7. The Wind in the Willows(Graham)
8. Don Quixote (Cervantes)
9. The Tartar Steppe (Dino Buzzati)
10. The Pillow Book (Sei Shonagon)
11. Surfacing (Margaret Atwood)
12. The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas (Joaquim Maria Machado De Assis)

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