book reviews and more…

Big Magic – Review

Book: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Year: 2015
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

“He became a poet the way other men become monks: as a devotional practice, as an act of love, and as a lifelong commitment to the search for grace and transcendence.”

Liz Gilbert (as she calls herself on Facebook) tells us a story about a woman named Winifred. At the age of 90, Winifred was an acknowledged expert in the history of Mesopotamia. She had traveled to the Middle East, learned the cuneiform script, and was sought out for answers on Mesopotamia. Winifred was also some sort of a bohemian legend with her red hair, drapes of beads around her neck, and friends from all walks of life, including Liz herself. Winifred started studying the history of ancient Mesopotamia at the age of 80 and reportedly “it changed her life”. Do you want to know Winifred? Be her friend? I know I do. Continue reading “Big Magic – Review”

Nineteen Eighty-Four – Review

Book: Nineteen Eighty-Four
Author: George Orwell
Year: 1949
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

“War is peace”
“Freedom is slavery”
“Ignorance is strength”

I want to first get the regret out of my system.

I co-run a book review blog for the past few years and Nineteen Eighty-Four hasn’t been reviewed yet. I almost fell out of my chair when I realized it the other day. I made the phone call immediately to confirm and was left aghast.

How this was possible, I still don’t understand. I mean it’s Orwell we’re speaking about. To make matters even more astounding we’ve reviewed his semi-autobiographical Down & Out in Paris & London years ago, while Nineteen Eighty-Four hasn’t seen the light yet. Continue reading “Nineteen Eighty-Four – Review”

The Red Tent – Review

Book: The Red Tent
Author: Anita Diamant
Year: 1997
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Maybe it was a sign that she died with an undivided heart,
and wished the same for you.

At an extended family function, a couple of years ago, one of the women, after a superficial acquaintance, gave me a sour dressing down on the conspicuous absence of my hijab. It startled me given that I had never met her during my growing up years, and here I was, in this elaborate, well-fitted kurta feeling extremely hot and looking reasonably nice. Ever since, if I meet her, I make it a point to ensure that my head is not covered. Continue reading “The Red Tent – Review”

In an Antique Land – Review

Book: In an Antique Land
Author: Amitav Ghosh
Year: 1992
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The slave of MS H.6 first stepped upon the stage of modern history in 1942.
His was a brief debut, in the obscurest of theatres,
and he was scarcely out of the wings before he was gone again –
more a prompter’s whisper than a recognisable
face in the cast.

Thus begins the book which is aptly described as a ‘subversive history in the guise of a traveller’s tale.

Amitav Ghosh, a student of Anthropology, armed with intent of writing a dissertation, comes across a slave mentioned in letter of a Jewish businessman from the 12th century. The slave is not mentioned by name, only by a catalogue number, MS H.6 in a letter written by a merchant called Khalaf ibn Ishaq intended for a friend bearing the name Abraham Ben Yiju. The man, Ben Yiju, was at the time, living in Mangalore.  Continue reading “In an Antique Land – Review”

The Count of Monte Cristo – Review

Book: The Count of Monte Cristo
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Year: 1844
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Sinbad the Sailor. Lord Wilmore. Abbé Faria. The Count of Monte Cristo. Yeah, they’re all the same. 

I had read this book around 4 years ago.

I found it inside my eldest’s desk, sitting atop Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock and Dumas’ name clicked as someone who I heard about (hadn’t heard of Pope) so I simply picked it up. It was a pretty thick book, and I had no reason to suspect that it’s a lie and finished it in a week’s time.

Just last year I happened to come across the ebook version and upon inspecting it I saw that it’s a mammoth of a book running into more than a 1000 pages!

Unknowingly, I had read an abridged copy and truly believed it to be one of the best revenge drama ever written. After cursing myself for not making sure about what I read before I read things, I decided to finish a book that I should’ve finished 4 years ago.

Moral wounds have this peculiarity –
they may be hidden,
but they never close; always painful,
always ready to bleed when touched,
they remain fresh and open in the heart.

The Counte of Monte Cristo is one of my all time favourites among the many revenge dramas I’ve read. Honesty, Love, Passion, Perseverance and Revenge along with good old Prison Break!  Continue reading “The Count of Monte Cristo – Review”

Siddhartha – Review

Book: Siddhartha
Author: Hermann Hesse
Year: 1922
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

“What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find.” 

The biggest mistake people make immediately when they pick this book is to believe that it’s on Gautama Buddha. The mistake is legitimate; after all, even Buddha was named Siddhartha and any reader who isn’t aware of Hesse’s powerful book would naturally believe it to be so.

That said, the book does have a lot to do with Buddha. Siddhartha, our protagonist is also, very much like Buddha, a being in search of Salvation. The two even cross paths halfway through the book, and Buddha does play a strong hand in the basic structure of the novel.

Siddhartha is a Brahmin who is looking for a deeper meaning to life. Atman, or the Soul. Despite the procedural and regularity of his daily practices Siddhartha does not experience the Emptiness inside of him. He decides that the life of daily ablutions and meditation is not the path that he would like to go on. He decides to join the the group of wandering ascetics, The Samanas  much against the wishes of his father. Govinda, his friend and follower joins him on the path that they believe will lead them to become empty of thirst, desire, dreams, pleasures and sorrow – to let the Self die!

“We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.”

One fine day, the two friends hear that The Enlightened One, who calls himself Buddha has shown himself and has gathered a large following. Govinda and Siddhartha take permission from the elder Samana and leave for further learning. They meet Buddha and accept the elegance and far reaching philosophy of his teachings, but Siddhartha has doubts about its path. Govinda decides to part ways with Siddhartha when the latter respectfully disagrees that teachings from another being, no matter how great, can quench the thirst of his  life’s mission.

Continue reading “Siddhartha – Review”

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – Review

Book: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Author: Anne Lamott
Year: 1994
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.”

Anne Lamott_2Anne Lamott is an American novelist and non-fiction writer. Her parents, by her own admission, “read every chance they got” and she and her siblings were brought up on a healthy diet of books, reason, and a life of creativity. In her memoir Bird by Bird, she talks about the various stages of writing and publishing a book. The book is divided into five parts: Continue reading “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – Review”

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