Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WWW Wednesday #7 (19th March 2014)

Please note that henceforth I shall be doing my WWW Wednesday meme posts on Natasha'z Words and not in Points To Ponder. You can view my earlier WWW Wednesday posts here.
WWW Wednesday is a weekly reading event hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. To play along, you just have to answer the following three (3) questions…
  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?
My answers to the above questions are:

What are you currently reading? I am still reading "The Sound of Paper" by Julia Cameron. The book is a  collection of short  essays on writing. Actually I started reading "A Thousand Splendid Suns" in between and this one got stalled for sometime.
What did you recently finish reading? I have just finished reading is 'A Splendid Thousand Suns' by Khaled Hosseini. The review of the same is Read Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns.
What do you think you'll read next? I am going to read "Look Again" by  Lisa Scottoline.

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own WWW Wednesdays post, or share your answers in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Read Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Paperback, 419 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Bloomsbury (first published May 22nd 2006)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Blurb: Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move people to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with startling heroism.
I am already A Khaled Hosseini fan and this book too did not let me down. The plot of this book, like the author's other two books, is based in Afghanistan. The storyline spans over a period of 30 years, and it takes the reader through what Afghanistan was and what it has become. 

The story is of Mariam and Laila. Mariam, whose life is defined by the illegitimacy of her birth, finally finds a legitimate meaning to it. Laila's, with dreams of young love and aspirations, is shattered by her country's violence, and becomes an adult overnight. Both of their lives and fates are intertwined, but with their strength of their endurance.
"She remembered Nana saying once that each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. That all the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below. As a reminder of how people like us suffer, she'd said."
"Learn this now and learn this well. Like a compass facing north, a man's accusing finger always finds a woman. Always." 
This story is obviously about the struggles and strength of women.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Read Review: Turning Points: A Journey Through Challenges

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blurb: Turning Points takes up the incredible Kalam story from where Wings of Fire left off. It brings together details from his career and presidency that are not generally known as he speaks out for the first time on certain points of controversy. It offers insight not only into an extraordinary personality but also a vision of how a country with a great heritage can become great in accomplishment, skills and abilities through effort, perseverance and confidence. It is a continuing saga, above all, of a journey, individual and collective, that will take India to 2020 and beyond as a developed nation.

I am a huge fan of this fan and in love with his vision and thoughts. If our political leaders adopt and inculcate even 10% of his ideas and suggestions, India would become a better and happier nation.

Read Review: To Sir With Love

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb: He shamed them, wrestled with them, enlightened them, and - ultimately - learned to live them. Mr. Braithwaite, the new teacher, had first to fight the class bully. Then he taught defiant, hard-bitten delinquents to call him "Sir," and to address the girls who had grown up beside them in the gutter as "Miss".

He taught them to wash their faces and to read Shakespeare. When he took all forty six to museums and to the opera, riots we predicted. But instead of a catastrophe, a miracle happened. A dedicated teacher had turned hate into love, teenage rebelliousness into self-respect, contempt into into consideration for others. A man's own integrity - his concern and love for others - had won through.

The modern classic about a dedicated teacher in a tough London school who slowly and painfully breaks down the barriers of racial prejudice. It is the story of a man's own integrity winning through against the odds.

The book is the author's experience of the first seven/eight months of teaching at an East London school. the writing is to the point and crisp. The book talks about respecting each person as an individual and that if you want respect, you need to give respect first.

Read Review: Small Remedies

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb: Shashi Deshpande's latest novel explores the lives of two women, one obsessed with music and the other a passionate believer in Communism, who break away from their families to seek fulfilment in public life. Savitribai Indorekar, born into an orthodox Hindu family, elopes with her Muslim lover and accompanist, Ghulaam Saab, to pursue a career in music. Gentle, strong-willed Leela, on the other hand, gives her life to the Party, and to working with the factory workers of Bombay.

Fifty years after these events have been set in motion, Madhu, Leela's niece, travels to Bhavanipur, Savitribai's home in her last years, to write a biography of Bai. Caught in her own despair over the loss of her only son, Aditya, Madhu tries to make sense of the lives of Bai and those around her, and in doing so, seeks to find a way out of her own grief.

This book is very different from books I have read..the writing style, the way the characters relate, the plot, etc. It's not really a happy book. It is quite intense. The writing style is like giving the reader pieces of a jig jaw puzzle, and you can see the picture bit by bit. Loved the book in a melancholic way.

View all my reviews

Read Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view .. until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." Tomboy Scout Finch comes of age in a small Alabama town during a crisis in 1935. She admires her father Atticus, how he deals with issues of racism, injustice, intolerance and bigotry, his courage and his love.

This might be novel of childhood, but it surely is a book for adults alike. it's a book of values, principles, truth, human nature, prejudice, family and childhood. Loved it.

Read Review: And The Mountains Echoed

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blurb: Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations.

In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most.

Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.

I loved this book. Such intricate yet engaging storytelling. Single story which is revealed in several stories of fhe characters. The book is not a single narration. It is narrated in third person as well as in first person of different characters. Although it is about the brother Abdullah and his kid sister Pari who are separated in childhood, the novel is the stories of certain characters who play some role as well as important roles in their lives and their comnection is revealed across the novel. I found the story of Parwana, the children's stepmother, very intriguing.Nabi,Nila and Suleiman's relations were complicated yet simple. Idris and Timur gave glimpses of basic but different human natures.The backdrop is Afghanistan but the story travels across Europe, USA, Greece and Pakistan as well. I devoured the book with relish. But I wished Abdullah and Pari were reunited much earlier. I think I loved the storytelling more than the story itself.

View all my reviews

Read Review: The Palace of Illusions

The Palace of IllusionsThe Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blurb: A reimagining of the world-famous Indian epic, the Mahabharat—told from the point of view of an amazing woman.

Relevant to today’s war-torn world, The Palace of Illusions takes us back to a time that is half history, half myth, and wholly magical. Narrated by Panchaali, the wife of the legendary Pandavas brothers in the Mahabharat, the novel gives us a new interpretation of this ancient tale.

The novel traces the princess Panchaali's life, beginning with her birth in fire and following her spirited balancing act as a woman with five husbands who have been cheated out of their father’s kingdom. Panchaali is swept into their quest to reclaim their birthright, remaining at their side through years of exile and a terrible civil war involving all the important kings of India. Meanwhile, we never lose sight of her strategic duels with her mother-in-law, her complicated friendship with the enigmatic Krishna, or her secret attraction to the mysterious man who is her husbands' most dangerous enemy. Panchaali is a fiery female redefining for us a world of warriors, gods, and the ever-manipulating hands of fate.

I simply loved this book. Although I wanted to know the end, I did not want the book to end. It is the Mahabharata that almost all Indians know about, but narrated by Panchaali. May be being a woman, I was able to relate to the protagonist in depth, her charisma, her enigma, her dilemma. To me this book was a love story which was not meant to be achieved in life but in death. Panchali stayed on with me for many days after I finished her story.

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Read Review: The Kite Runner

The Kite RunnerThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blurb: The Kite Runner of Khaled Hosseini's deeply moving fiction debut is an illiterate Afghan boy with an uncanny instinct for predicting exactly where a downed kite will land.

Growing up in the city of Kabul in the early 1970s, Hassan was narrator Amir's closest friend even though the loyal 11-year-old with "a face like a Chinese doll" was the son of Amir's father's servant and a member of Afghanistan's despised Hazara minority.

But in 1975, on the day of Kabul's annual kite-fighting tournament, something unspeakable happened between the two boys.

"For you, a thousand times over"

I lovvvvvveeeed this book!! I had watched the movie few years back but was yet to read the book. I loved the movie too but it did not touch me the way the book did. Of course it never does, right!

I loved Hassan and hated Amir for hurting him. And I would love to know if Sohrab finally opens himself up to Amir and Soraya. The story is not really a happy one. But it is one which will touch your heart and demand a space in your thoughts for a long time. It is about love, trust, jealousy, friendship, brotherhood, courage and cowardice.It is about how these emotions experienced in childhood can carve out your entire life, how childhood can make who you are.

And yes, the author is an excellent storyteller. He is truly gifted. I love the way he can make you feel the emotions of the characters through his simple words.

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Read Review: How I Braved Anu Aunty & Co-Founded A Million Dollar Company

How I Braved Anu Aunty & Co-Founded A Million Dollar CompanyHow I Braved Anu Aunty & Co-Founded A Million Dollar Company by Varun Agarwal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fun one. If you are an all-time lover of serious books, then this is not for you. This is a story of a regular indian kid who has to strive under the Anu aunties (mother's friends). Any Indian kid can easily connect to some part or the other of this tale. If you want a break after a in-depth book, you can definitely try this one.

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Read Review: Midnight's Children

Paperback, New Edition, 647 pages
Published 1995 by Vintage (first published 1980) 
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb: Saleem Sinai was born at midnight, the midnight of India's independence, and found himself mysteriously 'handcuffed to history' by the coincidence. He is one of 1,001 children born at the midnight hour, each of them endowed with an extraordinary talent - and whose privilege and curse it is to be both master and victims of their times. Through Saleem's gifts - inner ear and wildly sensitive sense of smell - we are drawn into a fascinating family saga set against the vast, colourful background of the India of the 20th century.
This book has drained me many characters and all tied up by the author. Historical facts and incidents beautifully and tactfully infused with the characters and vice versa. Will I read this book again? I seriously don't know..but at least not for a decade! However I do salute the author..for his imagination, control, accuaracy and remarkable narration. It is as if actually someone is telling you a story and the same time reminiscing his own memories, confusing you and creating chaos in your mind.

Read Review: The Gita and The Quran

Title: The Gita and The Quran
Author: Pandit Sunderlal
Paperback, 151 pages
Published December 1st 2005 by Pilgrims Publishing 
Blurb: This book has an unusual goal, one that offers to mediate between apparently opposing viewpoints. It makes a strongly defined attempt to unite the two ideas. It tries to clarify amazing degree of common ground, and the factors that bring the two concepts together.
I could not find out when this book was originally written but it is likely to be in the early 1950s. At the initiative of "Institute of Indo-Middle East Cultural Studies" (An association of scholars formed in 1955 in Hyderabad), Syed Asadullah translated the work of Pandit Sunderlal. And I must say both of them have done a wonderful job.  The foreword to this honest book was written way back in 1957, 10 years after our nation attained independence.
I have read both the Gita and the Quran, and their comparisons in the book has only reaffirmed my belief in the one supreme being. I feel amazed and at the same time disheartened that mankind do not use their own brains and heart when it comes to religion.
The book has been divided into 7 chapters:
  1. All religions are at the base but one
  2. The Gita
  3. The religion of the Gita
  4. The essence of the Gita
  5. The Quran
  6. The Quran and its teachings 
  7. Essence of the Quran 
The author has beautifully elaborated the main teachings of both the Holy books and shown how parallel the teachings are. Both faiths show the way to the one Almighty, the formless and endless being, the ultimate Creator. Both faiths teach belief, righteousness,  truth, mercy, gratitude and the right ways of leading lives.
I personally loved this book. I feel it is a beautiful and a wonderful effort to unite people who fight in the name of religion. I hope every Indian read this book.