Wednesday, 25 April 2018

A Man called Ove: Fredrik Backman

After having read all good things about this book, and seeing the Bookstagrammers rave about its wit, it was my turn to read it. Sometimes, it’s the hype that makes a reader and a reviewer think differently. I wonder whether one must stay away from getting to know too much about a book to form an unbiased thought, but in the #bookstagram world that’s hardly possible.

You will not like Ove. He will not appeal to you. You might think – ‘Oh What a grumpy man! Does he ever smile?’ Well, Perception is a strange thing. It might change when you least expect it to. Ove is grumpy, taciturn and a staunch person but he will make you realise it. A first meet or a first look of a person says too less of what they are like in real world. Ove was no different. He found satisfaction in very different things, like brewing a perfect coffee and similarly some minute things would irritate him as well, like people not following simple sign boards about not driving their vehicle in the residential area. He thought these were such simple things which require no brain storming and must come naturally.

At a considerably young age, Ove loses his father. The one who taught him all that he knew and all the life principles which Ove must follow diligently. His father’s loss left him alone and he was now to figure out his life. He never knew, following his father’s teachings would take him out of his job or prove him to be a dumb person. He slowly starts building his life and his house. But, at almost every stage he faces an obstacle which leaves him shattered, until he finds Her.

“Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.” 

Fredrik Backman, A Man called Ove

She brought the colours in his life and music in his ears. All that Ove thought was unnecessary, Sonja made him do it. Ove never understood why people visited café’s and he never liked going to one. Sonja made it a point to spend some time every Sunday in a café, looking at people, drawing an amusing feeling of just being there. And Ove would always accompany. Such was Sonja!

The book comes around as a warm read, with characters and events perfectly placed. While we see Ove as reserved, grumpy and no-nonsense-talk kind of a person, we see Sonja as the complete opposite- lively, social and full of life. The one thing common though is both of theirs will power. Mostly Sonja’s! For Ove drew his from Sonja’s. Her strength and zeal to live is contagious, something which even the drastic accident couldn’t take away from her. The other characters which come as you move ahead are equally pleasing. Parvaneh, who dominates Ove like his own, and loves him like his own. It’s like a small family with Patrick, Parvaneh, and their kids, Rune, Anita, Jimmy and Adrian. Lovely and funny characters which provide more cordiality to the story.

I loved how the book has been presented. A current story and a flashback with Ove’s life memories. It transports you flawlessly without losing the sync. I have a special admiration for the books written in this manner. The wit comes naturally in all situations, and later this humour feels synonymous to Ove too. The change in Ove’s demeanour is visible exponentially in the book, warming up to people around him. By the time you reach the end, you feel- Ove can love too, only he expresses it in his own lovely way.
Why should one read it?

It is a warm and hearty book with humor that will make you chuckle, with the feeling of love expressed quite differently and a pleasurableness all over. You will not like Ove Instantly, but he will captivate you and you will love him when you finish the book. It’s just adorable.

The Book is lovely in it’s “Ove” way. Thumbs up read!

Like the review? Order you copy here- A Man called Ove

Thursday, 12 April 2018

The Forty Rules of Love- Elif Shafak

I take book recommendations very seriously, and when they are from the avid readers who I follow, it’s a set rule that I have to get those books. The forty rules of Love by Elif Shafak was one such reference which came in from a book club that I am a part of. And, the decision to pick it up for Femme March fest was just brilliant. Pat on my back! To read an author whose work makes you think deeply and love more freely is a book worth cherishing.

The Forty rules of love is a mystic story of love, with more than one narratives and showcasing a character driven point of view about a man, Shams who is a Sufi is so much filled with love that emotions like hatred, jealousy and anger cannot even wander near him. He has so much knowledge about love and life that he is full with it and now needs a companion to share it with and transfer his share of wisdom. On his quest to find his companion he meets different people who see him with judged eyes, question his being and challenge his Sufi insight. He also meets people who he has been noble to, and they have seen nothing of him but kindness and compassion. But, when he does find his confidante, animosity against him is in full throttle for his better half is no one but Rumi, the great. Though at that time he wasn’t a poet but a philosopher and a preacher. He preached so well that people from all walks of life use to come to hear him in the mosque of Konya, the city where Shams meets Rumi. Aware that how all this going to end, Shams allows himself to completely immerse himself in his present life which only revolves around Rumi.

Shams is one of those literary characters who are bound to be favourites. His portrayal is compassionate, fair and fearless. He will not bat an eyelid before saying the truth, no matter if it shows him as a brusque individual; his satirical nature to people who term themselves learned of love and God but in reality know nothing except the surficial truth made up by themselves; his unbiased love towards a leper, a prostitute and a drunkard is all the same. And above all, he lives by his forty rules of love which he talks about intermittently in the book. Shams’ rules are like jewels for life. They are easy to remember, to implement and to take notice of in our day to day life.

The writing is a sublime combination of two world’s put adroitly; the world which we live in and the world which was Rumi’s. It is admirable and pristine, just what you need to set the tone of the book right. It flawlessly transports you in two eras – we read about Ella’s love lost situation and then a point of view from one of the characters which is totally in sync with Ella’s thoughts. The book flows in a smooth way nowhere giving a feeling of lost touch or loopholes. The characters are perfectly placed and the POV’s of all of them make sense and elaborate more on Shams’ character and his philosophy, each character reciting one of the forty rules which they adhere to. The rules have not been written with respect to a time in history, in fact they are timeless classics and penned down in a very customary way. I mention this because a lot of readers may feel that because it talks about Sufism and love of God and self at a mystic level, the inscription would be heavy and seem historical. However, that is what is so impressive about the writing. It is relatable to an extent of being understood and relished. It impacted me so much that I dreamt of Shams while reading the book and after finishing contemplated his rules in my mind various times. I do it even today when I weigh a state of my life in my mind.

Why should one read it?
One should pick this up because not only does it give up so much on Sufi culture but it reminds us of the love we have forgotten in the hustle and bustle of life, it talks about the God we sometimes fear and sometimes curse for its only love that will get us closer to him, it speaks volumes about what you sow, so shall you reap and so let’s just reap kindness and affection. Once in a while, picking up something to read that calms your mind and soul simultaneously questioning a lot of things around is not a bad idea at all. And, when the book is written so dreamily, you are definitely in for a treat.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

My #FemmeMarch Journey:

When the month of March is here, we know what is around the corner, Women’s day. It celebrates womenfolk in each and every form. And so, the bookstagram wave was all set to celebrate womanhood in the female writers who have given us impeccable books to read and rejoice. #FemmeMarch was originally started by Resh Susan, very famously known as @thebooksatchel and taking it forward this time with the hashtag #femmemarchfest was Aritri Chatterji aka @theliquidsunset. I really appreciate them for coming up with this initiative because not only does it make us bow to some amazing writers and their work but somehow it also liberates a woman reading a woman.
Readathon for #femmemarch was a very pleased experience for me. In this last one year I stepped in to a role of mother from wife, as overwhelming as it was, it was also emotionally challenging with a lot of changes taking place in and around. I would not be able to read as much as I liked, but ironically when I did were the moments of peace and self-care for me, feeling satisfied for whatever little time I could sneak in to read my books. Therefore, after a year I took Femme March as a challenge to test myself with reading under set targets and Time. It was all about getting back to my original reading speed, increasing the amount of reading the number of pages in one sitting etcetera. And very thankfully I can say, that I delivered what I thought I wanted to deliver. I made a comeback with an improvised version of myself, which was very redeeming.

My picks for Femme March fest:
I chose three completely different themed books. Although, now when I look back I think I could have squeezed in one more. The writing of these authors were so varied, completely different from one another but totally impressive. Penning down the mini reviews for the books below:

Ordeal By Innocence – Agatha Christie
There isn’t no book lover who is not a Christie fan. We have read her as children and we love reading her now. She is an all-time favourite and there is no bad time to pick up a Christie book. It’s evergreen.
Book review: Just as her books always speak, a great mystery with good characters and plot building. This was no different. The story kick starts with a pace but slumps down in the middle making too many repetitions about the case. It feels like going around in loops and arriving nowhere definite. Just when the second murder takes place, it becomes really easy to spot the murderer. It is very predictable and that somehow snatches away the wow moment from the thriller. I missed Poirot! And it made me wonder had the book been different if it had Monsieur Poirot in it to solve the mystery. There is no other like him in Agatha Christie’s novels.
Verdict: Not a very wow Agatha Christie book. There are better ones to pick up.

      The Heart Goes last- Margaret Atwood
She is famously known for her writing with her differently abled humour. And, boy was that true! I was floored by the plot which takes time to grow up on you. But once it does, you find yourself connecting the dots yourself and anticipating the next move in the book, only it really isn’t easy to guess what’s going to happen next. It was my first book by the author and right now if I show you my Amazon cart, you will find a couple of her books added in the list. Yes, I would want to read her again.
Book review: It is a very complex story set under a near-future dystopian theme with characters pleasing as well as questioning. In fact, in the earlier part of the book you will find yourself quizzical about a lot of things which really make sense once you dig deeper in the book. That shows, it is a very well framed plot and presented astoundingly well to sustain readers interest at every level. The book is about survival of Charmaine and Stan, a test of their love and relationship. Will they come out clean after so much of turmoil in their lives is what we see when the book ends. It is dark, but it is comic too, disturbing at times and very intriguing. I enjoyed Margaret Atwood’s writing, flawless and so much in sync with her story. The heart goes last was nothing I had read before. The newness of reading something so intricately futuristic was enthralling for me.
Verdict: Pick it up only if you think you are ready to put your imagination to use, and can absorb any level of shady culture in terms of relationships, survival and reading. If I made it sound too serious may be saying that Atwood’s stark humour will save it from becoming a totally dark novel after all will be of some help.

     The Forty Rules of Love – Elif Shafak
I have to start by saying it’s the best thing I read in last few months, except after The subtle art of not giving a f*ck. Elif shafak writes beautifully transporting you to a time of Rumi’s and brings you back to an era which is ours. But aren’t they the same because Rumi is still with us in his classic poems? Yes, except the definition of Love in our era needs a little refining, which only Shams’ Forty rules of love can do; bring back the love we think we have lost.
Book review: Because it was my most favourite, there is a detailed book review here- The Forty Rules of Love 
Verdict: Must Read!

Come next Femme March, and I am ready with the word Go and my list of books! :)

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