Tag Archives: Books

365 Stories: Day 13: Cockcrow by Guy de Maupassant

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The story read on the 13th of January 2017 was “Cockcrow” by Maupassant. I remember reading him in school and enjoying his stories a lot. Sadly, I did not like this one. It was a love triangle and while the description was marvellous, the ending left me high and dry and not satisfied at all. I mean, I wish there was more to this tale.

Artful by Ali Smith

artful-by-ali-smith Title: Artful
Author: Ali Smith
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
ISBN: 9780241145418
Genre: Literary Fiction, Non-Fiction
Pages: 240
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

The more I read interesting and different forms of the novel, the more I am convinced that the book cannot die. It shouldn’t and it will not. Reading will never go out of style, and Ali Smith is one of those authors that keep proving this time and again. I started reading her when I was about twenty four or so and haven’t stopped since then. All her books are quirky and have this mischief sense about them. This is what attracts me most to her books and her writing. If a writer can make me want to read his or her books without stopping, then that writer has done me in.

“Artful” is unlike anything which Smith has written before. It is based on four lectures given by Ali Smith at Oxford University. “Artful” is all about books and the love of reading and what reading can do to readers. The essays are on four themes: Time, Edge, Offer and Reflection. The lectures were then delivered in the format – as if someone had discovered essays on art and fiction written by a former lover who haunts you. So partly, the book seems to read like a novel and at times like a work of non-fiction, which is a very unique way to write or compile a book. Might I also add that beside the lectures, this is a story of love and loss, of heartache and trying to cope. You will for sure know as you go along in the book.

The narrative and form of the book will instantly get to the reader, such is its power. I had to read the book in parts – could not finish it in one sitting because come to think of it, because of the structure, it is a difficult read in parts. One has to get used to the way it is written and only then can the reader be at ease. What attracted me the most to this book was that it was about art and more so about the love of books and fiction.

“Artful” while is a challenging book; it also lets you explore your imagination and ideas. It sort of blends your ideas with the books’ thoughts and that is something which I haven’t come across in many books. At the same time, it is quite a challenging book to read, if as a reader you are up to the challenge. Smith’s literary references are all over the place and it takes a reader some time to make sense of it, however once that happens, it is breezy read. I would recommend it to you, only if you are interested in books and fiction and art being talked about in another book.

Nine Island by Jane Alison

nine-island-by-jane-alison Title: Nine Island
Author: Jane Alison
Publisher: Catapult Books
ISBN: 978-1936787128
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 244
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

Nine Island is the kind of book that will sink in way after you have read it. It makes most sense sometimes and no sense at all, the other times. Jane Alison’s writing is lucid at so many points and so vague at the other points. You get my drift, don’t you? It is a dream-like book. I was astounded when it began the way it did and there were also times I was bored out of my mind. Having said that, I reread a couple of passages of the book once I was done with it and let me tell you: They sparkled and spoke in a new voice to me.

What is the book about?

I don’t know how to tell you what the book is about – it is a lot of things actually – a love story, a rumination on Ovid and his tales, about solitude and the bonds we forge as we grow older and circumstances change and mostly, it is about taking second chances and giving yourself the luxury to make your mistakes and fall in love, all over again.

At the heart of the book is J (It is an autobiographical novel by the way), who lives alone past a certain age and yearns for love and companionship. She is trying to decide whether or not to withdraw from romantic love after returning from a reunion with an old flame, Sir Gold. The visit to Sir Gold results in nothing and thus the decision to be made. J lives in Miami and throughout the book ponders over love, Ovid (she is translating his magical stories) and about her ailing mother.

Now, what took me by the horns where this book is concerned is the force of Alison’s writing. The form of writing is free-flowing and that is what allows you to conveniently sink into it. The book is candid and doesn’t mince words about emotions and what J is going through. The first-person narrative works wonders for a book like this. All in all, Nine Island is a book that will make you reassess your relationship and speak with you in ways you didn’t imagine.

The Three Questions: Written and Illustrated by Jon J. Muth

the-three-questions-by-jon-j-muth Title: The Three Questions
Written and Illustrated by Jon J. Muth
Adapted from a story by Leo Tolstoy
Publisher: Scholastic Books
ISBN: 978-0439199964
Genre: Picture Book, Short Story
Pages: 32
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

This was the next book in the Story Cure challenge. The Three Questions is mentioned as a book for grown-ups in the book and rightly so. For anyone who has ever questioned life and its workings, this picture book is definitely for you.

“The Three Questions” is a book written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth and based on the same story by Leo Tolstoy. At the heart of the story, there is a boy named Nikolai who just wants answers to three questions: When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? He sets out to seek the answers from Leo, the Turtle, after having received no assistance from Sonya the Heron, Gogol the Monkey and Pushkin the Dog.

The answers of course are but obvious but I cannot reveal them in this review. Also, notice how the names of the creatures and Nikolai himself are modeled either after literary characters or historic ones. I loved that while reading this picture book. And yes, rightly so it is a book for grown-ups because it is only we who are constantly seeking answers and never learn to stay still.

P.S: I’ve also read the short story by Tolstoy but hands down I prefer this version by Muth.

A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

a-child-of-books-by-oliver-jeffers Title: A Child of Books
Authors: Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
Publisher: Walker Books
ISBN: 978-1406358315
Genre: Children’s Books, Picture Books
Pages: 40
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

Books will always remain the most inexpensive way to get access to other worlds. They always have been and always will be. I was very lucky that my parents introduced me to books when I was only five years old. I haven’t looked back since. Books and I have a relationship that will never die or fade. I am glad that I am sure of this.

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So when I saw ‘A Child of Books’ slated for release, I knew I had to get my hands on it and read it – not just once but again and again and again. It is not a children’s book – it looks and reads like one but I don’t think it is a children’s book. If anything, it is for adults who have forgotten what it’s like to be a child. I am also biased to Oliver Jeffers’ books – to me, he cannot come out with a bad book. That is something which isn’t possible.

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This book is simple – it is a picture book – with words and sentences that are so profound that it will make you sit back and contemplate about whether your child is reading enough or not. It is a love letter to reading and how it does really save us. A girl is besotted by books and reading and helps a tiny boy to take the proverbial plunge to this world of words and emotions.

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The book is about their journey – through magical lands, fairies and castles and places where anything can happen and those places are only found in books. I think this is the most fitting tribute to books, literature and the books that are so quirkily placed within this book. ‘A Child of Books’ should be read by anyone and everyone who loves books and reading. It is that essential.

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