book reviews and more…

Dept. of Speculation – Review

Book: Dept. of Speculation
Author: Jenny Offill
Year: 2014
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

That one was so beautiful I used to watch him sleep. If I had to sum up what he did to me, I’d say it was this: he made me sing along to all the bad songs on the radio. Both when he loved me and when he didn’t.

Quite possibly the only book I will ever dog-ear. All of it.

The book I will read four times a year.

The book I will keep on my bookshelf, on my phone, on my Kindle, on my office desk.

The book I will write notes about to my husband, who is yet to come. Continue reading “Dept. of Speculation – Review”


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”

A Tale for the Time Being – Review

Book: A Tale for the Time Being
Author: Ruth Ozeki
Year: 2003
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A monk told Joshu, “I have just entered this monastery. I beg you to teach me.” Joshu asked, “Have you eaten your rice porridge?” The monk replied, “I have.”
“Then,” said Joshu, “Go and wash your bowl.”
At that moment the monk was enlightened.

I wish I could say that this book is hard work. It is not. It’s not as hard as getting one’s head around the Zen story here. It’s not as hard as the references to Schrödinger’s cat. It’s not as hard as being mercilessly bullied. It’s rather simple. And yet, all the difference.

A Tale for the Time Being starts with the diary entry of a teenager Nao, by which, I must admit, I was completely turned off. I didn’t want to read a book in which a Japanese schoolgirl is using purple ink to write about her life. It seems exactly the kind of thing I would do when a teenager, only that I didn’t. And we all know how such teenager diaries go – they’re about soppy stories, addled boys, parent drama – the works. However, my pre-conceived notions were put to death by some great Goodreads reviews, and I plodded on. Nao’s diary is full of the many things that abound a teenager’s life such as school and friends (or no friends in her case), the intense bullying at her Japanese school, the struggle for identity, parents and every fascinating thing that makes a teenager look at the world more closely. All of this, until you realise that Nao wrote her diary with the intention of throwing it out into the sea in her Hello Kitty lunchbox as a pre-event to her suicide. Continue reading “A Tale for the Time Being – 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”

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