Dec 16, 2014

Shelfie - A selfie on my bookshelf - part 2

This post is a continuation to the part 1 of this thread initiated by Penguin India's #BookADayIndia event in the social media. This is a compilation of the answers to the questions posed by Penguin in the second half of this December.

Dec 16 : Your favourite Jane Austen character? It is Jane Austen's birthday. 

How absurd will I sound if I said I have not read any Jane Austen book so far? Nevertheless, on her birthday, prompted by Penguin, I looked her up on Google and found some of her quotes very interesting. Here is the one that I liked the most. Maybe I should read Jane Austen to understand some of the interesting women that I never quite understood well enough in my life.

Dec 17 : A book that made you hungry? 

My Business Law lecturer gifted this book to me during my MBA. I never knew that this book would change my life at that point of time. This book planted the idea of entrepreneurship in my mind and made me hungry. When the first opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it and today my life is defined by that single move I made. Think of the butterfly effect!

Dec 18 : Favourite autobiography ? 

I have only read two autobiographies so far - Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam's and Sachin Tendulkar's. Sachin's autobiography will be my pick because reading Sachin's autobiography was also like visualizing my own autobiography. I was able to relive the moments of watching all the matches and the innings that Sachin narrated in the book. Only now, I became a little bit more wiser by knowing what was in the master's mind at that point of time too.

Dec 19 : A book to read when homesick ? 

'Thaayaar Sannadhi' by Sugaa. (Tamil) I am a simple small-town boy from Tirunelveli in South Tamil Nadu. If you know Tirunelveli, then I am from Ambasamudram. If you know Ambasamudram too, then I am from Vickramasingapuram. If you know Vickramasingapuram too, bloody hell, you might as well have seen me spending summer vacations eating Adhirasam all day there. This particular book strongly made me feel the flavour of Tirunelveli with its intricate dialect and amazing familiarity with the town. Tirunelveli is a way of life! This book made me visit my place mentally. 

Dec 20 : Favourite fairy-tale character ? 

I have not read much of fairy tales. Only 'Snow white and the seven dwarfs', that which I received as the first prize in an elocution competition in primary school. Otherwise, this is the first character that comes to my mind when I think of fairy tales. Really enjoyed watching this movie. Feel-good :-)

Dec 21 : A book to gift around Christmas ?

Let me turn the tables here. This is a book that I have added to my wishlist. The blurb appealed a lot to me and I want to read this book. Who is going to turn Santa to me? (Link to buy the book) If you are still serious, drop me a comment. I will give logistics details ;-)

Dec 22 : A book that makes you cry ? 

 The last time I had tears in my eyes while reading a book was when I finished 'Ayesha'- an extremely short Tamil novel about a curious young school girl. The book raised several questions on how we treat children in our schools and how childhood is seen by our society. Try reading this book if possible. Not more than 60 pages but I guarantee that it won't let you sleep for at least a week.

Dec 23 : Best book you ever received as a gift ? 

Surprisingly, as I think of an answer to this question, I just realize that I have received only just a handful of books as gifts. All my reading has either been bought or borrowed. Not gifted enough, perhaps (pun intended) :-) Nevertheless, there is one book that came in recently which holds a special place because of the circumstances. Strangely, I am yet to even read the book. But still, the moment I received this book as a gift is simply unforgettable. 

Dec 24 : Favourite family read ? 

My father is an avid reader and is an inspiration for me to turn to reading from a very young age. We have vastly different tastes in reading but still we discuss books that each other reads and prescribe books to each other. Very rarely do we both read the same book with interest. One such book that we both read with equal interest and curiosity was also one of the oldest tales mankind has ever known. 
A version of The Mahabharatha in Tamil.

Dec 25 : Favourite Christmas book ? 

Again, I will rephrase this question as the favourite Christmas story. This is the first story that comes to my mind. 'The Gift of Magi' - O. Henry. A masterpiece. I am a great fan of O. Henry.

Dec 26 : A book on your shelf which you haven't read yet ?

'Introduction to psychoanalysis' - Sigmund Freud. My long term dream is to complete this book. I have made two attempts so far and have crossed more than half the book. I have made notes in the book all along like a text book so that whenever I restart, I can get a quick preview of what has been completed so far. Very fascinating thoughts! May be sooner I will complete this book.

Dec 27 : A book you couldn't put down ? 

'Ponniyin Selvan' (in Tamil) - 2000 odd pages. 3 days!

Dec 28 : An author you discovered this year? 

Made quite a few new additions to this list this year. Got to know some authors even better. Mostly in Tamil but also in English. One particular author draws a special mention because of his strong influence in my reading habit. He is the only author whom I wanted to dive deep into this year. Jeyamohan! One of my blog posts about a book of his was shared by him on his website. Proud moment.

Dec 29 : Your best read of 2014 ? 

Quite a few contentions for this prize. But one book stands tall amidst the rest because of a peculiar sync with my real life as I was reading the book. More than the book itself, some books become very very special because of the time in which you read them in your life. This timing almost seems like destiny in hindsight. As I was reading this book, I could relate the central character of this book to a dear friend in real life. The book helped me understand the friend better and vice versa. Couldn't have asked for a better timing.

Dec 30 : Happy birthday Rudyard Kipling! Your favourite Rudyard Kipling character?

Well, it was Jane Austen in the first half of this month. Rudyard Kipling now. Again, how absurd would I look if I said I have not read Kipling before? Again, I googled for famous Kipling quotes and fond this one which connected with me quite well. The same belief that I have most times too.

Dec 31 : Most awaited book of 2015? 

'Kanavu Pattarai' (Tamil) - a collection of short stories on many inspiring children who are living now in north Madras and are studying in schools run by the Chennai Corporation. They all attended a residential camp called 'Kanavu Pattarai', run by an NGO (Nalandaway Foundation) sometime in 2013 or 2014. One facilitator of the camps was so moved by the stories of these children and the camps that he began to document them for all world to read. He definitely believes that in their stories lies a key for adults to understand the world of children. He strives to show the different hues of child personalities that fascinated him. He hopes that this book will tell the importance of self-esteem in shaping a child's personality. He wishes that the adults who read the book pick up a trick or two about how to treat the society's children. He is working hard to bring this book out in 2015 through a good publisher. He is yours truly!


Dec 15, 2014

Shelfie - A selfie on my bookshelf - part 1

This December, I came across an interesting social media trend initiated by Penguin India. That is the #BookADayIndia Event. The questions posed for each day are so intriguing and prompting me to look back into all the pages that I have read so far to find the answer. As an account of this month-long voyage, I register this blog with all answers compiled into one post. Of course, I started a bit late. So there was some catch up to do. Here we go. Part 1 of this post compiles all my answers in the first half of this December.

Dec 1 : Ideal december read ?

I am not a seasonal reader. My reading patterns vary hugely. One month I will be reading about the famines in the last century. The next month I may be reading about a bird that tries to fly higher than its species. Generally, I don't plan my reading. I chance upon books. And absorb all experiences that books give me. This december, I chanced upon two interesting Tamil books. One is a translation (originally written in Malayalam). Both are fiction but of completely different genres. One book is about a middle-aged Malayali woman's life and the other is a fascinating story of many stories told by three story-tellers who go on a long journey in a single story :-)

Dec 2 : Most beautiful cover ?

This is the first cover that came to my mind when I searched my memory for an answer. Undoubtedly the best cover from all books that I have read.

Dec 3 : A book you identify with ? 

Several. In multiple dimensions. But I choose this book above all because in addition to me, a friend of mine had also pointed out that I resembled the Jonathan Livingston Seagull from this book to him. In fact, I came to know about this book only through this remark and read it smitten by a curiosity. I would be grateful to him forever for introducing me to this book. The seagull remains an inspiration to me till date.

Dec 4 : A book character you'd like to meet?

Henry Maxwell, a busy broker in one of O. Henry's short stories 'The Romance of a Busy Broker'. His absent-mindedness and the twist in the story have made him a very interesting character. In reality, I will be curious to see such an absent minded man. Some well-read Tamil movie maker had already created a character inspired by him in a Tamil movie. If you watch the Tamil comedy channels often, you might have seen Janagaraj acting as the absent minded guy with an unbeatable BGM.

Dec 5 : Wisest book you've ever read?

Usually, I do not re-read books. This is the only book that I have read twice so far. 'The Alchemist' - the book that inspired me to chase my dreams, that helped me to understand the grand design and that which helped me to connect with nature. I have a yearning to travel to a desert to experience the journey in this book.

Dec 6 : A book you keep going back to ?

Like I said, I do not typically read books again after the first read. But there is one author I keep going back to again and again. And each time I go to him with a question, he points me in the direction of the answer and challenges me to find the answer myself. Paulo Coelho!

Dec 7 : Your perfect winter read ?

Ah, I am not a season-specific reader. In fact, I don't even recollect a book where the winter played a major part in the setting. One distinct scene I remember from Paulo Coelho's Zahir where the hero has to face the cold desert all alone as a challenge. His master instructs him to let the chill enter into him and feel it and let his body embrace the chillness. He does so. Once his body and mind embrace the freezing chillness, he does not shiver any more. Whenever I have been in harsh winter conditions, this scene comes to my mind and I try to embrace the chill. Here is one such picture of me trying to embrace the chillness in Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim at an altitude of around 18,000 ft. 

Dec 8 : First book you ever remember reading ? 

Tom Sawyer. Pocket sized book. With big sized fonts. Read it when I was in 3rd grade or 4th grade. I felt good when I completed reading the book. It was the feeling of completing the first novel! I still remember the fence paint bluff that Tom Sawyer pulled on his friends. Clever fellow :-)

Dec 9 : A book that gives you the chills ?

If 'The Alchemist' is the book that showed me the best of sunshines, there is one book which almost made me a pessimist. The book was so powerful and dark that I felt like I could murder someone and walk away without being caught and more importantly, not feeling guilty at all. Arvind Adiga. 'The White Tiger'. 

Dec 10 : Favourite mythological tale ? 

I was reminded of this tale last saturday on watching the famous Adelaide Test match. This is the story of Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna, who bravely fought the war and impressed everybody in the senior ranks with his skill and aggression. Unfortunately, he would not settle for a draw and wanted an outright win even at the cost of a defeat. So he walked into the Chakra vyugam knowing that is tough to break out of it. He was pumped up to try and find his way out of the trap. He lost his partners one by one but still fought valiantly and gave shivers to the opposition before falling by the sword. If Abhimanyu had watched that match, he would have said 'Virat played like me'!

Dec 11 : A book that makes you want to write ? 

Almost every book that I read inspires me to write something. Sometimes I write about my experience reading the book. Sometimes I get a spark from some random sentence in a book and build on that lead to write some original piece of imagination. Sigmund Freud to Paulo Coelho - many books have inspired me to write. My blogs (both in Tamil and English) have a section dedicated to posts inspired by books. 

Dec 12 : A book character you want to marry ?

Poonguzhali. Ponniyin Selvan. What a woman! I fell in love with her even as I was reading the book. Such wit and charm. Such courage. Such individuality. Such sincerity and such emotional stability. Poonguzhali, will you marry me?

Dec 13 : A book that you have pretended to have read ? 

Joseph Murphy's 'The Power of your subconscious mind'. My dad gifted this book to me to read. I am never a fan of self-help but started this book for my dad. Of course I found the book interesting and I am still practising some learnings I took from the book with a significant impact in my life. But after the first 60 odd pages, the book went on a redundancy mode (like most self-help books) and hence I did not bother to finish the book. But whenever someone brings up this book, I have shamelessly claimed that I have read the book. 

Dec 14 : Your curl-up read? 

401 காதல் கவிதைகள் - குறுந்தொகை - ஓர் எளிய அறிமுகம் - சுஜாதா (தமிழ்) - For about 40 odd days, I read this book at the rate of 10 poems each day. Sangam literature and love! Truly loved that feeling. Love remains the same even after all these centuries. Sujatha's simple and easy adaptations to the book made the read even more interesting.

Dec 15 : Your favourite book series ?

There are a few contentions to this answer. Harry Potter. Ponniyin Selvan. Shiva Trilogy. All excellent series but Harry Potter makes it to this list because of it's magic. Yes, pun intended! Shiva Trilogy failed expectations in the climax. Otherwise, it was one brilliant piece. Ponniyin Selvan is a flawless series with people discussing about certain open ended portions in the book even now. That is the writer's power. But Potter scores above all because of the distinct connect that Hogwarts gave to me. In fact, I have even written a post explaining how reading the Harry Potter series helped me personally in my entrepreneurial life


(To be continued)

Images sourced from Google images.