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I loved it and you will too: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I know, I am late to the party and most people must have already read the book. But the rebel in me, kept me away for this long. God forbid, I like the book and then have to join the bandwagon. Sigh, the troubles of a non-conformist. I am trying to change those ways, but that is a different story.

For now back to The Help, a book about, well, the help and their lives. It is the story of the maids in Jackson, Mississippi from their point of view, the good and the bad. And oh! There is bad, but no story is one-dimensional and thank god there are enough nice white people out in those pages.

The feature that stands out in this book are the characters. All of them are multi-faceted, full characters; the antagonists also have their own troubles and stories. You understand, it wasn’t easy for the whites to be openly liberal and nice; there was just too much peer pressure, their social lives were at stake.  I actually felt bad for Miss Hilly the main ‘bitch’, antagonist or villain just didn’t seem right in her context, towards the end of the book and that in itself is a triumph. The coloured characters as they have been called in the book, leapt out of the pages with their smart conversations, troubles at home and at work or in the neighbourhood, their unity, friendship, love and loyalty towards the kids they looked after.

This book taught me that there are no good and bad people, everyone is stuck in a cage of their own making and that is pitiful. While some characters had the courage to break that cage and see the bigger picture, some didn’t, that’s life, it doesn’t make them the worst people to walk this earth.

It taught me as a writer, that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses and a book can focus on all of it. Well-rounded, beautiful, staying back with the reader kind of characters are written like this.

It also taught me that little kids do not see separation, segregation and bias. They love you, if you love them and that’s that. Doesn’t matter who you are, and I wish to retain that quality, love simply because I can.

And the most touching thing it taught me was, “You is smart, you is kind, you is important.” Each of us is and we must spread this message amongst each other and the young people we interact with, it would save us a whole lot of damage and heartbreak, because it is the truest sentence I have read in a very long time.

So, get on it, buy the book, borrow it from the library, read it. And then watch the film too. It’s as awesome.

the-help-stockett

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I loved it and you will too: The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

This is the first book that comes to my mind when I think about recent reads that have moved me and made me recommend it to everyone I met.

I first came across Gaiman’s work when I read his calendar of short stories– a twitter project in collaboration with Blackberry. It wasn’t a horoscope or anything, but I remember quickly scrolling down to my birth month, with excitement to what it had in store for me, to meet the story that belonged to me. I was delighted and this was how I tumbled into the world of Gaiman, one month at a time. I loved what he had given my month and in a way me.

Ocean came out in the middle of the year and the internet was abuzz with anticipation. The excitement was palpable. It reminded me of the time when people would eagerly await the next Harry Potter book, some with bated breath and others smug with pride about having pre-ordered the next literary phenomenon.

I got the book early on, but didn’t manage to read it at the time, it was borrowed a couple of times before I got to it, each reader urged me to gobble it up as soon as possible.

One morning after I finished my daily ablutions – trying to write and failing, thinking about my future, thinking about the state of the world and humanity, sipping on my cup of chai, I looked at my copy of the book and it called out to me. Encouraging me to pick it up and get to know the people in the book, who were waiting for me.

That morning I fell into the ocean and learned how to swim there, feeling wave after wave of excitement, fright, companionship, awe and enchantment rock me, only to be reluctantly spat out in the evening when my work was done, I knew the story. I now had to introduce it to others. It was part of the magic of the ocean, it needed to shared for it remain alive, for the magic to be real and tangible more people needed to know about it and take a dip in that ocean.

The best part about the book is the story feels as much mine as it does of the author. I think I left a part of me in that copy of the book and a part of the book lodged itself in me somewhere.

The story is part fantasy, part philosophy and all heart. Gaiman has said in many interviews that he started writing the book as a way to tell his wife, Amanda Palmer, about his childhood and himself, most of which was spent lost in book, just like the protagonist. That is another reason that makes this book special, all of us look for the author in the novels we read and here is a book that gives you a glimpse into the mind and background of this fascinating man. I have stalked him shamelessly on social media and was delighted to meet a young intern at my previous job who did the same. It soon became our weekly ritual to stalk Gaiman and his partner Palmer. But, here was something that revealed a lot more about him and I cherish it for that reason. There is no point talking about the technique and structure because he is a master of the art and each of his books a master class in writing, storytelling and thinking.

Pick this one up because you will be the better for it and there will be more people who will know about the magical ocean, we will all have a common secret world.

It will be amazing.

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I loved it and you will too

This is going to be a series of book recommendations and observations, I don’t believe in book reviews or critiques. I respect the effort behind the story, whether I enjoyed it or not is secondary. There are no stars to be awarded as a piece of art cannot be judged on a scale of one to five.

I am going to write about books that have moved me and left an indelible mark on me. I have loved and enjoyed these gems, some might be obvious picks, but I can’t leave them out for that reason. I wanted to write about books for a long time, but haven’t managed to do it, I hope I succeed now. So, here goes. I hope you enjoy the articles and the books as well. Any suggestions are more than welcome and if you want to send in your recommendations too, do let me know.

ReadingClub

Thanks,

Y

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A night at a bar and Murakami

wallpaper

Last night, I stood at a crowded bar sipping on a drink of old monk mixed with hot water and staring into a void. To others, it seemed like I was just lost and looking a bit dazed, but in my head I was travelling into the world of Murakami, into his books and the jazz bars of Japan. In one instant everything began to fade, all I saw was the random design of the wall paper, the people the noise; nothing mattered. I was miles away in a fictional world, created by this author in many of his books. It is a common trope in the stories of Murakami, that the protagonists are sitting at a bar alone and sipping on their poison of choice, the ambience is always dull and dim and it is the background music is some jazz or ambient music. In that moment at the bar, I was a protagonist in any of his stories, I looked at lamp that seemed to be the window into this other world.

This is one of the reasons why I love reading and books, because they permeate into your consciousness and alter your reality, when you least expect it. They enrich your reality and give you an alternate world to live and inhabit; the door to that world, lies in the book and the recesses of our mind.

I’m a big fan of Murakami and his writings because of the mood he creates, the setting that seeks you in and guides you into the world of the character and then takes you on a ride in your own mind, he breaks boundaries, introduces the concept of parallel universes and alternate realities. If I were to believe that, then for a little time on a random Friday evening at a bar in Mumbai, I was also at a bar in Japan listening to some music and staring at a random wallpaper.

Murakami novels blog

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Of new ideas and great quotes

This blog is basically about my inspirations and words that move me. Reading is a passion, but I have stayed away from chronicling my views on books or any other ideas, but it is the beginning of a new year and thus the start of something new. Here I hope to review books, sometimes just post music clips, quote my favourite authors and basically just do what I feeling doing, share what I love. I don’t believe in rating anything, so there will be no rating on this blog, just my views on the reading material. I’m going to start with just some quotes by authors I discovered in the last year.

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“If one wanted to depict the whole thing graphically, every episode, with its climax, would require a three-dimensional, or, rather, no model: every experience is unrepeatable. What makes lovemaking and reading resemble each other most is that within both of them times and spaces open, different from measurable time and space.”
― Italo CalvinoIf on a Winter’s Night a Traveler

“People believe, thought Shadow. It’s what people do. They believe, and then they do not take responsibility for their beliefs; they conjure things, and do not trust the conjuration. People populate the darkness; with ghost, with gods, with electrons, with tales. People imagine, and people believe; and it is that rock solid belief, that makes things happen.”
― Neil GaimanAmerican Gods

“I need you, the reader, to imagine us, for we don’t really exist if you don’t.”
― Vladimir NabokovLolita

“It would evidently take more than a political regime, more than dire poverty to stop a woman from wanting to be well-dressed: it was a desire as old as the world, as old as the desire for children.”
― Sijie DaiBalzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”
― Albert CamusThe Stranger

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
― John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars

These are quotes from some of the books that I read last year, these nuggets had my mind whirling.