Category Archives: Books

Another Chance

Author: Ahmed Faiyaz
Publisher: Grey Oak
Price: 195/-

Soon after his first book Love Life and All the Jazz, Ahmed has come up with his second book Another Chance. Coming from the same author within a span of a year two books is an achievement but more than that Another Chance is a reflection of the maturity in writing which has been gained by the author since his first book. Where Love, Life and All that Jazz was a perky story about four youngsters; Another Chance is a matured tale of a conflicts in a life of a beautiful women and the complications in her life due to the choices she made in her life.

Another Chance is dark but touching tale of a woman, Ruheen, who by the standards of the society has everything desirable; looks that could kill, couple of guys ready to die or kill for her, good amount of money. The book is a reflection of a choices made by the protagonist Ruheen and the turns her life takes amidst two passionate lovers, a psycho husband and a lot more. The book is a tale of modern love and the conflicts associated with it. The book is a step forward from the era of boy goes to college or work meets a girl and falls in love. The book progresses to high-light the conflicts faced by the modern day love stories; conflicts like troubled marriages and relationships after divorce, miscarriages, break-ups, and work-life balance issues.

The book though is an intriguing story which is hard to put down and scores better when the treatment is considered, although the characters are very strong and extreme which might not hit the chord with the readers. Especially the more conventional or orthodox might find the situations and the plot too over the board. However, the story is a modernistic and urbane tale a portion of it a lot of the generation today might be able to relate it.

Summary: Overall a nice book, fast paced a bit dark but still catchy and gripping.  It would be a nice and catchy book to pick while on travel.

Rating: 3/5

Ps. You can read more about the book here and but the book at Flipkart , Indiaplaza or Landmark.

A Book Tag Again

Ritu did this tag and I happily picked up from there and posted it on my blog.

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES. Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read an excerpt. Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses!

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6. The Bible

7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14. Complete Works of Shakespeare

15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk

18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20. Middlemarch – George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

26. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

27. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

28. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

29. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

30. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

31. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

32. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

33. Emma -Jane Austen

34. Persuasion – Jane Austen

35. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis

36. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

37. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

38. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

39. Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne

40. Animal Farm – George Orwell

41. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

42. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

43. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

44. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

45. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

46. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

47. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

48. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

49. Atonement – Ian McEwan

50. Life of Pi – Yann Martel

51. Dune – Frank Herbert

52. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

53. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

54. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

55. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

56. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

57. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

58. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

59. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez ( I am wanting to read this since I have seen this book in the movie Serendipity but it keeps slipping off some how )

60. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

61. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

62. The Secret History – Donna Tartt

63. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

64. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

65. On The Road – Jack Kerouac

66. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

67. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

68. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

69. Moby Dick – Herman Melville

70. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

71. Dracula – Bram Stoker

72. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

73. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

74. Ulysses – James Joyce

75. The Inferno – Dante

76. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

77. Germinal – Emile Zola

78. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

79. Possession – AS Byatt

80. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

81. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

82. The Color Purple – Alice Walker

83. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

84. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

85. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

86. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

87. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

88. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

89. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

90. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

91. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

92. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

93. Watership Down – Richard Adams

94. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

95. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

96. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

97. Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Score 27/100

Now that my score is lower than Ritu’s I don’t owe an explanation like she had to; but then it only shows how much more is left for me to read. I think life is unfair; one life so little time and so much to read.

We Can Pull It Off

Author: Suresh Taneja
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing
Price: 200/-

After reading multiple Indian authors who have written with books on relationships, campuses, love stories deceit. We Can Pull It Off is different, it has been a long time since an Indian author has come up with a light but an issue based book. We Can Pull It Off is based in 2030 with a view that India has become a super power; and one of the most prosperous nation of the world. The book starts with the Indian ambassador helping the US government with an aid of 100 bn USD.

Then the story charts back how the transformation of this scale happened within a span of 20 years. The story charts back to close friends of the ambassador in their early teens that were pivotal in addressing the mammoth problem of corruption through their movement. The catch of the book are two brilliant ideas using which the protagonists address the problem of corruption. I am sure every Indian has at one time or the other wondered, is there a solution to the problem of corruption which has infected the entire country like cancer. The place where book scores, and scores big time is the innovative ideas through which the protagonists solve the problem. It leaves the reader with two things, a thought if it is really possible and a distant ray of hope.

The pace of the story is fast, and most of the story runs in the flashback with very little references to the present of 2030 every now and then. The storyline is issue based and it never loses the core focus on the central issue during the course of the book. The book has managed to capture snippets of a social revolution and aftermaths very well though in order to maintain the flow there have been instances where the protagonists acted like superman.

The place where book fails is the characterization, the book has too many characters and too less characterization. The audience miss the emotional connect with the protagonists of the story because there isn’t too much to know about them in the book. The author has used a grouping technique where he refers a group of characters as G4, G3, G6; I believe this was done to indicate the idea that the movement was a group thing not giving any individual character a limelight, but then it takes away a lot more connect from the audience when the individual characters are concerned. If one is very particular about literary elements, characterization and narratives than this might not be the right book to read.

Summary: A nice book, a must read for people who have wondered is there a solution to the problem of corruption for a possible and probable solution. A fresh breather by an Indian Author optimistic, hopeful, a break from college romances, which will hook you to the idea.

Rating: 3/5

The Finkler Question

Author: Howard Jacobson
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Price: 499/-

The Finkler Question

The Finkler Question

I picked up this book only after it won the Man Booker Prize for 2010. Supposedly Jacobson is the first humor writer to win the coveted prize. The plot is setup in modern London with the protagonist Julian Treslove and his two friends Sam Finkler and Libor Sevick. Libor used to be the teacher of Sam & Julian; while both Libor and Sam were widowers Julian was yet to find love of his life and marriage and wife.

Julian was working for Radio 3 of BBC, where he resigned after being absolutely disillusioned. The lines like “Would anyone notice if my programmes weren’t aired?’ he wrote in his letter of resignation. He received no reply” simply crack one up. Julian despite being a non Jew he found his company in, Libor and Sam, two Jews mourning the death of their wives.

The life of Julian was changed after the day he was a part of an anti-semite attack as he was mistaken for being a Jew. The story traverse through the life of the three friends with the grief of the two and loneliness of three; the book goes deep down in the philosophy and debate of Jews and Anti-Semites. The story captures the feelings of Jews and a person stuck amidst number of Jews around him regarding multiple things related to usual Jew customs, Israel –Palestine dispute, Anti-Semite culture too well.

The pace of the story is very slow, but the narrative makes up for the lack of it, though the book is not the usual comedy with raunchy one-liners but a subtle background with an over all them with the tragedy imbibed with the protagonists. The characters are very carefully and well built over the progress of story and a perfect portrayal of emotions.

The only place where the book lacks is the Jew angle, for people who are not aware of the Jewish culture and terminology. A lot of parts of the book where the author goes into details of the Zionism it would be difficult to understand and leaves the reader baffled. Also due to the slow pace of the book it requires concentration while reading, if one is not enjoying the subtle humor then the book appears to be drab.

Summary: A good read, with subtle humor; a treat for the literary admirers to read with near perfect characterization and impeccable narrative.

Rating: 3.5/5

Being The Bookie

Monika tagged me on this tag of books and supposedly there are two versions of it. Now that my love for books is evident to everyone; I couldn’t have ignored this tag so here I do the tag answering everything Monika has done

  1. Favorite childhood book? Oliver Twist, It was a part of my curriculum and I so loved it that I read it so many times during the year.
  2. What are you reading right now? The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
  3. Bad book habit? – I like to finish books in a single sitting if possible. A lot of times if I pick a fast paced book I would keep reading it until I am finished forgetting everything else in the world. I read like 19hrs straight before I finished of Shantaram.
  4. Do you have an e-reader? – Nope and I don’t think I will buy one, though I have a kindle app on my phone but I like my books the traditional way.
  5. Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once? I like reading a book at a time, too many books simultaneously cause distractions and loss of concentration enjoying the fine points of the book.
  6. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog? I have started reading a lot more and yes most of the book lovers I know are through blogging.
  7. Least favorite book you read this year (so far)? The complete prose by Woody Allen, the book had some really great pieces of text but then given all the great things I have heard and read about Woody Allen the complete text was a disappointment.
  8. Favorite book you’ve read this year? The Difficulty of Being Good: The Subtle Art of Dharma by Gurucharan Das
  9. How often do you read out of your comfort zone? I don’t have a comfort zone when it comes to books, I pick up anything and everything around me to read.
  10. What is your reading comfort zone? I don’t have a comfort zone, but I enjoy reading Non fiction, biographies, and Indian books.
  11. Can you read on the bus? Yes
  12. Favorite place to read? I love reading in coffee shops, there have been times when I used to simply visit a Costa Coffee and sit there reading books for entire day.
  13. What is your policy on book lending? I lend books to people on who I can trust they would treat the book with the same love and care I keep my books and would return them on time.
  14. Do you ever dog-ear books? Nope.
  15. Do you ever write in the margins of your books? No only in some textbooks.
  16. Not even with text books? I used to in some textbooks.
  17. What is your favorite language to read in? English and Hindi
  18. What makes you love a book? Plot, Pace, Characters, Message, and Narrative
  19. What will inspire you to recommend a book? If I like it I would recommend it.
  20. Favorite genre? Biographies & Philosophy
  21. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?) – Science fiction
  22. Favorite biography? Tough Choices- Carly Fiorina
  23. Have you ever read a self-help book? I have read some of Robin Sharma’s books but then not very fond of self help.
  24. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)? Difficulty of Being Good: The Subtle Art of Dharma
  25. Favorite reading snack? I generally don’t eat while reading but still biscuits are allowed sometimes to munch while reading
  26. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience –Dork, expected far better from Sidin given his social media campaign and blogs.
  27. How often do you agree with critics about a book? Professional critics I hardly read but a lot of like minded blog pals are ones I rely on for reviews
  28. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews? I don’t publish a review if it is very negative.
  29. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose? Farsi/Urdu, may be Spanish
  30. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read? Thus Spake Zarathustra, I have read it  twice already and I don’t think I got it more than 10% of it.
  31. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin? None
  32. Favorite Poet? Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Rabindra Nath Tagore.
  33. Favorite fictional character? Harry Potter
  34. Favorite fictional villain? Lord Voldemort
  35. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation? Indian Authors
  36. The longest I’ve gone without reading – 7or 8 Years, this was between the time I was born and I got into the habit of regular reading.
  37. Name a book that you could/would not finish– The Republic by Plato (I don’t think I am ready for it yet)
  38. What distracts you easily when you’re reading? Wife
  39. Favorite film adaptation of a novel? Godfather, 3 Idiots, Harry Potter, The Day of Jackal, Devil Wears Prada
  40. Most disappointing film adaptation? Da Vinci Code, Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge etc. It is a long list .
  41. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time? The day I will buy the complete set of Amar Chitra Katha around 10k
  42. How often do you skim a book before reading it? Never
  43. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through? I complete a book which I have started; I would leave it if it is very boring or incomprehensible.
  44. Do you like to keep your books organized? Yes
  45. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them? I keep the books and I dream to make a huge library in my house.
  46. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding? Not really.
  47. Name a book that made you angry – Den of Thieves, It’s a Pulitzer prize winner which takes us through the insider trading scandal which shook the wall street. After reading about that account and the things which have happened in the Sub-Prime crisis seriously ticked me off against the crimes committed by the Armani clad wall street bankers.
  48. A book you didn’t expect to like but did? Almost Single by Advait Kala, Sea Swept by Nora Roberts (This was gifted to me by a very dear friend just to find how does a guy like me find reading chicklets)
  49. A book that you expected to like but didn’t? Dork, Running From Safety by Richard Bach
  50. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading? Calvin and Hobbes Dilbert, Sidney Sheldon, Jeffery Archer, John Grisham, and Indian Auhtors

And that brings us to the end of the original tag and now starts modified version

Books I love or “the ones I can read again and again and again and…..”

  • One: This is one book I have read multiple times and I believe the philosophy in it affected and shaped my life to quite an extent during my younger years. A brilliant piece of philosophy and an awesome book to read.
  • Shantaram : A riveting story, awesome one liners and the perfect setup of the old Bombay.  Is mein sab kuch hai, action hai, drama hai, romance hai, underworld hai, terrorism hai, comedy hai aur hum jaise Indians ko kya chahiye?
  • Five Point Someone : A lot of people criticize my love for this book but then every time I read it I am transported back to my engineering college days. I can so relate to the characters, setup, the mentality and a lot of other things in the book; It is very difficult for me not to love the book every time I read it.
  • Gitanjali: My love for English poetry forces me to read a lot of them and this masterpiece by our own Nobel laureate is simply a masterpiece. Brilliant philosophy, equally good poetries and better lessons in life from the great man himself; I don’t have a choice to take out the book and read couple of poetries every now and then,
  • Malgudi Days: Anyone who has read this book would know why you can simply read it again and again.
  • Q & A: this is a brilliant piece of fiction by an Indian Author. It is perfect story which would have all elements and will make you fall in love with the characters.

And as Mon said there are many many many more books I love but I think I will stop here for two reasons – I have spent way too much time on this post and its way too long and also I should leave some for you my dear book loving friends

Books I love to hate:

  • Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things” one of the books I had to struggle hard to finish but the booker awarded to it makes it very difficult to ignore.

Books that left me underwhelmed:

  • Catch 22- I don’t know why but I absolutely got bored of the book. It was too slow and boring for my taste.

Well for tagging other people, if you love books and you are reading this consider yourself tagged.

Beauty And The Bloggers

So all of you must be knowing from my last post, that I am being published as a co-author of the book Urban Shots. The beautiful lady on the cover is Kanaz who is an established model and actress. Kanaz has features in multiple advertisements and movies like Pathshala and Wake Up Sid.

So when Me and Kunal (One of my Co-Author from urban Shots) came to know that she has agreed to be on the cover of our book, we jumped on an opportunity to have some conversations with her. You can read some snippets of our conversations with here here.

Another Milestone: Urban Shots

I know a lot of you have been wondering where I have disappeared since past few days with exceptionally low number of posts. Well the time has arrived for me to come out in the open and please guilty of my crime of ignoring the blog; but in defense of yours truly, I was busy with something special.

Urban Shots

Urban Shots

Yes, one of my stories is getting featured in this anthology of short stories. The book has a bouquet of  29 short stories written by 13 12 brilliant authors + 1 lost blogger (that would be me).

So friends now you can start preparing your tomatoes and potatoes along with some love in my direction for my first professional publication as an author. More details to follow soon.

Bala Takes The Plunge

Author: Melvin Durai
Publisher: Hachette India

Price: 195/-

Bala takes the plunge is a story of the great American dream of the Indian middle class. How we as a society measure the success of our children by their capability to get into engineering/medical and the secure the most coveted US Visa to perform desk jobs while earning in dollars.

The protagonist Bala is another scapegoat of this great American dream by his civil engineer father. His ambition of being a movie director and cast his all time favorite super star Rajnikanth in a movie was sold for a engineering degree from a college in Chennai from where he moved to USA. The entire journey from being an aspiring director to a qualified engineer to a US resident and a director of a different kind (director of manufacturing in a fitness equipment company) is filled with funny incidents and quips ranging from the lines in US consulate to the status Corel dinner sets in Indian homes.

The second phase of the book, which is longest one, unfolds in US where the focus shifts from a struggling engineer to a well settled lonely professional desperate for a female company. The story revolves around Bala living in constant fear of being dominated again to marry to someone of his parents’ choice. The funny journey of Bala seeking companionship in sales girls of the grocery stores, matrimonial sites and finally in his pet dog which he named America.

The story finally converges towards it end when he comes back to India on insistence of his parents to see fair and lovely (pun intended) girls chosen by his parents. There his life takes some dramatic turns and he finds the love and probably a greater purpose in life.

The strength of the book lies in the humorous narrative done by Melvin, who has exploited the common incidents which happen in life a funny take. The tragedy and desperation of the protagonist Bala is the chief source of comedy which continues to tickle every time he fails to find love in his life. An area where Melvin could have improved the book is the pace of the narrative or the story; when the first part of the books are fast paced and riveting making a good build up while the second part loses the pace and grasp on the reader who has the pace in line with the build up.

Also there are multiple references to Rajnikath and his dialogues from various movies, which might add a distinct flavor to the book for someone who understands and follows Rajnikanth and Tamil.

Summary: A nice read to enjoy on a journey or a flight. If you are a Rajnikanth Fan and know Tamil movies it’s the icing on the cake..

Rating: 2.5/5