Saturday, 17 February 2018

The Kindle Story:

A long time back I promised to share my experience with the kindle which I had then, just bought. Browsing through my old posts on Instagram, I got reminded of it. And, here I am with a quick share of my thoughts on this gadget.

A lot of times I have been asked by friends and acquaintances (for which I am grateful) that whether we should buy a kindle or not? Well, let me just start by saying that nothing, and no gadget can compare to the feeling of holding a book, the smell of a new book or the rusty smell of an oldie; these are feelings which transport us to a different world but let’s keep this feeling aside for a while. Kindle is a very portable, easy to use device, light enough to be carried anywhere, can be held with just one hand while you want to have your tea simultaneously and great for people who travel a lot; as carrying a stack is not always feasible and not very logical too. It is also great for new mommies who want to catch up on their reading and be by the sleeping baby’s side. Saying all that, a lot of people would think - all this can be done on the kindle app as well on our iPads. Well, of course why not. The benefits by which kindle wins here is its feather light weight and the non-glare screen with brightness adjustment (starts with kindle paperwhite), having said that we know that we can’t avoid the glare on our iPad's or tablets, may be just set it to minimum.

Should you buy the kindle then? No not necessary. Owning a kindle is a personal choice but more than that it depends on the frequency of your reading. There is no point in putting money to buy the gadget if your reading frequency is once in two months or only on vacations. For such, the kindle app comes handy on the iPad/tablets and the occasional reader wouldn’t mind the glare. With this I have answered the aforementioned question in the previous paragraph. Blabbering a little more about kindle I would like to say it makes shopping on amazon for the books really easy, which is again not the case with the app. You can find your next read, buy it and start reading it within minutes without having to reach for your laptop or your phone for amazon app to make the purchases.

I shifted to being a hard core paper reader to kindle app on iPad and finally over to the Kindle. And, therefore I can say that I am happy I took the shift because my experience with reading on kindle has been amazing. There have been times when I have extended my bedtime reading hours until late at night by my sleeping baby but not compromising on leaving my book when it reached an interesting turn. It also makes reading easy while handling your toddler, when you are in too much hurry to bookmark your page. It fits in my bag, is user friendly and sometimes I get cheap prices for kindle books. Wouldn’t you now say, that it’s a stealer! And so, I love them both, my hardcovers and my kindle.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Subtle art of not giving a F*ck, - Mark Manson

Let me begin by stating that I am not one of those who reaches out for self-help or motivational books easily, even if the reviews say it is a must read. The cover of this book says it is not a self-help guide, I beg to differ here. This is exactly the self-help book which is the need of the hour in today’s world and for today’s generation; they (we) wouldn’t understand it any other way! So, yes I did fall for this book when saw it first after all it’s such an intriguing name, you wouldn’t miss it while you are on a stroll in the bookstore.

Many times in life we are lost and we consider giving undue importance to a lot of things which don’t deserve the attention. And when we do realize that fact, it is late to go back in time and fix it. Mark Manson very cleverly breaks the shackles of being positive all the time, being entitled to certain things and people, realizing the true values which should lead your life, choosing your problems, the road to happiness, not fearing anything and giving a limited amount of f*cks which are required for a hassle free life. I resonated with all the aforementioned, because let’s just say I have contradicted much of all that Mark Manson says, most of my life. In due time, a lot of situations taught me to give lesser importance to things and people which break your peace of mind, and for everything else, this book played its part well in imparting me the wisdom I ought to have.

Clearly, there is a lot of difference between the clichéd self-help books which ask us to be positive all the time and optimism is the way ahead, giving us values and highs which make our minds bleed with the thought of how to attain it. But, this? No, not this one! It shows a more practical and coherent approach to handle life as such with mere values and problem segregation. Of course, one should stay positive in life but sometimes it is more important to honestly admit the misdoings. “If your life sucks, admit that it sucks”- says Mark. There is no point beating around the bush and searching for a high here. Accepting that your life sucks right now will only make you wonder what your next step should be towards improving it. Doing Something. Doing anything, will kick start it and give you different problems to worry about, may be better ones. Choosing which problem to ponder over is the key here. This analogy by the author impressed me a great deal.

The writing is satirical, honest and witty. The short stories in the book from the lives of some famous people and the anecdotes from Mark’s life are illuminating and thought-provoking. These short stories keep the reader engrossed until the end. The presentation of the book is very interesting because the blogger author chooses to touch base certain points which in my wild imagination I couldn’t have foreseen. For example, until recently I never knew rejection is important as well, being brutally honest can do wonders for your relationship and how superficial is the happiness when you connect them to money, attention and other materialistic things and how negative experiences can prove to be positive. The examples in the book are well put and co-relate with the values Mark is trying to prove. The subtleties which are support to make this art subtle are anything but subtle. They are attention-grabbing, debatable and convincing. If a self-help book can be written in such a fascinating manner, with so many funny instances and stark honesty, I think I might become a regular reader for this genre. It is zero percent boring and 100% enlightening. You might place yourself at every chapter and say - “I have been through that” Or “That’s so true” Or “This has happened to me”. Just like I did.

One of my favourite paragraphs from the book:

Bukowski once wrote, “We’re all going to die, all of us. What a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by life’s trivialities; we are eaten up by nothing.”

Many might not pick this up thinking we know the art of giving lesser number of f*cks, how to prioritize our life, and our important list of values to adhere by; very well, but I just want to say to them- Read this book for how it’s written, for its analogies and its wit and just experience the fun. You might find something which you didn’t know before.

Must Read!

Friday, 9 February 2018

Uncommon Type- Tom Hanks

I would start by saying, Tom Hanks is one of my favourites, and when I got to know that he has penned down a book, I was really looking forward to reading it. But, not everyone is ‘Jack of all trades’, are they?

Uncommon type is a collection of seventeen short stories, some having the typewriter play a characteristic part in them, highlighting the age when typewriters were used rigorously. The thing about short stories is if they are unable to convince the reader in that short frame it probably runs out the chance of being a good short story. Just like Lynn Abbey says, ‘For me, writing a short story is much, much harder than writing a novel.’ So, looks like Tom Hanks took a hard job in his hands experimenting his first with short stories.

With short stories, there are always favourites and the ones that do not impress you at all. I have a list of seven such stories which made reading the book a good experience. The book starts with this one and instantly makes the reader love Tom Hanks’ writing- Three Exhausting Weeks. It is a simpleton story of two friends getting together because they think they are in love and what unfolds later is a series of events which lead them to think otherwise. It is strewn with wit all over and the writing comes out as matured impressing the reader immediately. The second story, The Christmas Eve is a little family and war story which chokes you for a moment. Reading about the character of Virgil Beuell made me realise that it is only will power through which you can overcome life’s odd obstacles. And, somehow the only people who understand our pain are we ourselves, no matter what good friends we have. What Virgil lost in the war with his best friend who he called Bud, by his side didn’t matter to Bud after years too. It is an emotional moment when this realisation dawns on Virgil.

The others which make you full with a bit of emotions are Welcome to Mars and A Special weekend. It portrays the bond which children have or make with their parents, and how it feels when it is broken by a mistrust or when they have to say goodbye to the happy moments spent with them. While these awaken a bout of emotions, A month on the Greene street is a light and simple story with the message- Do not judge a book by its cover. With a happy ending and new friendships, it lightens the reading atmosphere and the sadness caused by Welcome to Mars. Moving on from emotions to some determination is Go See Costas. It demonstrates how Assan, transports himself from places and ends up in New York to experience a completely fast paced life. His confidence, will power and the zeal to survive after bearing so much doesn’t wither an ounce in this new city. With his sharp mind and dogmatic behaviour he finally ends up working for Costas. How? Read it to know it. J And lastly, Steve Wong is perfect. It is an enjoyable read, a story of four friends which reoccur from the first story, Three exhausting weeks. It lays emphasis on the fact that how when something is done without any love towards it you start feeling shallow and meaningless. If something that you loved doing becomes a business and play for someone else, it only creates a hollowness in your heart.  Apart from these, I couldn’t connect much with others and felt they are missing out on something.

The writing though is matured and the flair continues until end. But, with short stories, the reader loses interest half way if they don’t see anything interesting coming forth, no matter how beautifully it is crafted. Many stories in the book suffered the same loss- reader’s interest. Tom Hanks’ acting convinces us of his talent and as fans, we love seeing him on the screen, but writing? Not so much I guess; may be his second ought to be a more convincing novella to satiate a reader’s thirst.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

The Bear and the Nightingale - Katherine Arden

My encounter with the Fantasy genre, after having read some parts of Harry Potter, got refreshed with 'The Night Circus' by Erin Morgenstern; and it made me fall in love with it. Sailing through other genres in time, fantasy took a back seat and I rekindled its charm when I started reading ‘The Bear and the Nightingale’.

To talk about the story would be to put myself in a fix and commit a crime of not being able to elaborate it perfectly, but I’d still try. The story is set in Russia, with winters so cold that even the horses trembled when the wind blew; people prayed for the winter to be small and tolerable listening to the stories Dunya told them sitting by the hearth, where the family huddled on cold nights. And the folks didn’t mind hearing the stories again and again- the story of the winter king, the story of the Frost. This is where Vasilisa Petrovna is born, youngest in the family of a wealthy boyar in North of Russia (Rus as they call it in the book) who is heir to old magic and only her mother who died giving birth to her knew about this lineage which passed on from her grandmother to Vasya alone.

Vasya, free spirited, often referred to as a wild sprite and a wild maiden, is a girl who could see and made friends with the spirits of the hearth, stable and lake; she spoke to the horses and understood them like no other. As she grew, so did the secrets unfold, one by one; the events which take place make Vasya realise about the power embedded in her and what she is capable of and how she must act to save her family from something terrible that is coming for her and her dear ones from the woods, more dreadful than the winter king himself. The portrayal of Vasilisa Petrovna is just fantastic- wild, feisty, rule-breaker, truthful and noble. Her satire spares no one. She fears no one. Her heart overwhelms with love for her dear one’s and she’s ready to face all odds for them, such is her courage and resolution.

'Frost-demons have no interest in mortal girls wed to mortal men. In the stories, they only come for the wild maiden.'

And 'He' did come for the wild one.

For me, what worked out in the book was the perfect collaboration between the plot, narration, characters and the page turner events giving me Goosebumps and a shiver down my spine when I read the book late at nights. At no point does the plot feel slump or the book feels slackening from what it has to offer. The weaving of the story is dexterous as it can be, which I feel is the most important aspect in this kind of genre; keeping you hooked and gaping till the end simultaneously challenging the imagination at every step.

The writing is creative, and goes hand in hand with your mind's eye. It clubs everything together- be it the colloquial Rus lingos, the vivid explanation of a cold winter night, the spine chilling waking sequence of the upyr or the comforting description of the woods Vasya experiences. It makes the reading a smooth ride.

To say it is a must read would be an understatement I feel. It made me fall in love with fantasy all over again and I am thinking I might pick up more of these this year and satiate my imagination. Meanwhile, all I am thinking right now is what its sequel would be like, which is coming soon!

Goa- A new revelation. All credits to this dainty place- Literati Bookshop Café   The ceiling-high bookshelves I was in Goa last m...