My Preferences… Book-wise

After writing and posting every day (well almost), last month, I decided to take it a bit easy in May. Only 2 posts in 10 days is a testimony of the fact that I took it a bit too easy. Today, when I was keen to write something, a cycle of a blank page followed by keying in of a few sentences which were erased soon by the backspace key followed by a blank page stared back at me. It seems that the grey cells have gone for an extended vacation. For such dull and uninspiring days, Memes work best for me. I came across this fun and interesting Book Preference Meme, here. So, here I go with my preferences… book-wise!

  • Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror?

I read all these genres. But if I were to pick one from these three, then it would be Horror.

  • Hardback or Trade paperback or Mass market paperback?

Trade paperback are easy to carry and read. Though Hardbacks look great in my library cupboard.

  • Amazon or Brick and Mortar?

Amazon without a doubt!

  • Barnes & Noble or Borders?

Barnes & Noble. Have bought books and CDs for Aaryan from this giant. Borders has closed down now and they never had a store in India!

  • Bookmark or Dog-ear?

Always a bookmark. Hate Dog-ears!

  • Asimov’s Science Fiction or Fantasy & Science Fiction?

I haven’t read Asimov, so Fantasy and Science fiction it will be for me.

  • Alphabetize by author, Alphabetize by title, or Random?

Random

  • Keep, Throw away or Sell?

Keep. Will never be able to throw away a book. And never sold a book too.

  • Keep dust-jacket or Toss it?

Keep. They look great!

  • Read with dust-jacket or Remove it?

Remove it while reading!

  • Short story or Novel?

Both, depending on the mood and time.

  • Stop reading when tired or at Chapter breaks?

For a not so great book, I stop whenever the words stop registering. But with interesting books, I always stop reading when the chapter ends.

  • “It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time?”

It was a dark and stormy night… comes with a lot of interesting possibilities.

  • Buy or Borrow?

Buy, always! Since I don’t lend my books, so I don’t borrow either.

  • Buying choice: Book Reviews, Recommendation or Browse?

Usually book reviews from fellow blogger friends.

  • Collection (short stories by the same author) or Anthology (short stories by different authors)?

Collection, as you are familiar with the author’s writing style. In an Anthology, there could be some black sheep but then you get to read some amazing new authors/stories too.

  • Tidy ending or Cliffhanger?

It doesn’t matter as long as the book is well written.

  • Morning reading, Afternoon reading or Night-time reading?

Anytime is a good time to read books.

  • Standalone or Series?

I prefer standalone books. I don’t mind series though, but then I prefer to read the series in quick succession without much time gap interval.

  • Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?

Nobody? Now that’s a bit far-fetched!

  • Favorite genre series?

Harry Potter series. That reminds me that I must pick this series once again and read all at one go. I also liked Clifton Chronicles by Jeffery Archer, though I have read just 2 from this series.

  • Currently Reading?

The Wedding Trousseau and Other Short Stories By Ankita Sharma and Story of Tublu by Jahid Akhtar. Both the books are written by fellow bloggers.

What are some of your preferences book-wise?

Bedtime Rituals

Sleep is very important to a child’s well being, that’s what my mom believed in. I remember, it was mandatory for us, as kids to sleep in the afternoons after coming back home from school and likewise we had a fixed time to sleep at night too. She believed that when we have had a good rest, we were more alert and in a better mood (read less cranky and irritable for her to handle the three of us) and of course it was good for our overall physical and mental development as well. She learnt from experience that a sleep deprived child cries at everything and nothing makes her happy. The child is not able to cope with life around her when she is tired and this in turn makes her and even those around her miserable.

So, a good bed routine is important and crucial because no child will ever come and say, “I am tired and I want to sleep!”

When Aaryan came in our lives, fortunately my mom was with me. Her experience of bringing up three kids coupled with my acquired knowledge from baby books and internet, we teamed together to bring up the apple of our eyes!

When Aaryan was as young as 6 weeks old, we started with our bedtime rituals for him. By that time, I had some experience as a young mom and knew how to handle my child too.

Swaddling and Aaryan

Swaddled Aaryan with his Dad

When he was a toddler, a massage followed by a nice warm bath and feed would put him to sleep for long hours during the day. And in the evenings, after freshening him up and taking care of his food needs, we’d again put him to sleep. Aaryan was born in Mumbai. His Maharashtrian massage maid after giving him his daily bath would tie him up in a cloth so that movement of his limbs were restricted. She said that this process, which internet told me is called Swaddling, settled and soothed the child and helped him to sleep longer with fewer awakenings. This was a boon for us. We practised this till Aaryan was old and strong enough to wriggle out of it on his own and/or would not let us swaddle him at all.

As he grew older, we changed the sleeping schedule but the naps in the afternoon and a fixed sleeping time at night were a constant.

After coming from play school/school, he’d have his lunch and sleep for an hour and a half. A quiet and a dark room helped him to sleep faster. When he was very tired, he’d sleep immediately, if not, indulging him in a chat about his day at school for a few minutes and/or sharing a story would put him to sleep soon.

The evening bedtime routines were a bit elaborate though. It started with a bath /wash after the evening outdoor play followed by dinner and then half an hour of Cartoon Network.

By 8 pm, he would be sent to brush his teeth and change into night wear. He would then pick up a book which he’d want me to read to him. I would then read him stories from a large collection of books that I was buying since he was a toddler. Usually, he’d sleep before one story got over but there were days, which were many actually, when he’d say, ‘one more story’ and that could go on up to 4-6 stories! Sometimes, he’d tell me his version of stories which were very imaginative. I remember once he asked me “Why don’t you sing me a lullaby. Hitesh’s mom sings him one every night”. I was taken aback. I didn’t knew a single lullaby. But then internet came to my rescue once again. I practiced one the whole day and sang one for him later in the evening. My then 4 year old son, sweetly stopped me and asked me to read out a story. That was the first and probably the last lullaby that I ever sang to my child!

I have realized that setting bedtime rituals for a child is very important. It adds to the consistency and predictability in a child’s life which is so very crucial. And also because a good night sleep,  in fact is as important as nutrition.  It helps him to grow well and boost his memory, cognitive skills along with creativity and energy level. Also a well rested child is always a happy child!!

So, what bedtime rituals do you follow with your children?

This post is written for Indiblogger and Pampers

Why I Read

Books are a uniquely portable magic. ― Stephen King

I am sure there isn’t anyone who can refute King’s thought. Reading a book is  truly a magical experience. The books have the amazing ability to transport us in a different land, time, culture, evoking different feelings of sadness, joy, anger, anticipation – it just all depends on what we are reading.

To me, reading books is truly a rewarding and a unique experience. Here are some of the reasons as to why I read…

  • I like the entertainment value a book provides. Simply love the suspense of watching a good plot unfold. The adventure trips to places I may never get to go, the pleasure of meeting so many characters– good as well as bad and the many lives I get to live when reading, is simply amazing.
  • It helps to forget the troubles of the day. Like last night, I was stressed about something. It was not in my control and couldn’t do anything about it, other than worrying that is. I decided to pick up a book. I started reading it and within minutes, I was smiling as I turned pages one after the other. In fact, this morning, the first thought I had was, will Alafia get a man of her dreams!
  • Books are the goldmines to discover information. How else would I have known about trials and tribulations of a person with person with deteriorating kidney function or how the frauds are committed in the financial world, or the life of an army wife, or legal jargon or mythology or life in Afghanistan… Books are a fab way to benefit from the author’s research.
  • Books have helped me to learn and grow as a person. There are so many books that have inspired and encouraged me, shared a new perspective, helped to understand people and problems better.

I had aimed to read 50 books last year and ended up reading 71 books. This year, I plan to read 100 books. And I am planning to read diverse genres, old and new, classics and the ones spanning eras. I am aiming to re-read the books which I have read when I was in school and college. Books by Enid Blyton, Jane Austen, Emile Bronte, Charles Dickens, Harry Potter series,  are ranking high on my list. I am also keen to read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid which is a hit with kids now-a-days.

There are a lot of 2015 Reading Challenges doing the rounds on the internet. These 2 caught my interest.

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I am sure that I will be able to tick off most of the book types from these two lists easily, but some would be challenging. For instance, finding a book written by an author with your same initials, or reading a translated novel or a book your mom loves (My mom reads newspapers and magazines and solves Sudoku puzzles). But what’s life without challenges!

What are your reasons for reading and what are you reading currently?

Linking this to Write Tribe Pro Blogger Challenge

‘Smart’ Things I do with My Smartphone

cooltext468162920Ten ‘Smart’ Things I do with My Smartphone

Destination Infinity suggested that I write a post on things one can do with a Smartphone, other than making and receiving calls. So, here I am with the smart things I do with my Smartphone. Now, let me warn you that the definition of smartness may vary from person to person. So, my ‘smart’ may be your juvenile and vice versa, but we are not getting into that!SP

Usually, we use our Smartphones for making and receiving calls, messaging (SMS/WhatsApp/ChatOn/We Chat etc), emails, browsing the internet, listening to music, watching videos, calculating 2+2 (yes, I need it for that too), as an alarm clock etc. In this post I am not talking about these regular features but rather some smart things (smart as per my standards!) that I do with my Smartphone.

  1. Read ebooks : This I explored recently. Though I had the Kindle app on my phone from the very beginning, but I used it to only download free ebooks from Amazon.com. These were the books which I never read. Recently, I had to read and review Sirens Spell Danger which is available only on Kindle app, so I had no choice but to use this app. And I was hooked. I loved the experience of reading this book on my phone. Am currently reading Unsettled and another one is in the queue too.
  2. Blog : When I am traveling, I use my Smartphone to blog. I have downloaded the WordPress app. This mobile app is simple and easy to use and lets me write new posts, upload photos, edit pages, and manage comments on the blog too.
  3. Check my Must Read Blogs : I use Bloglovin’ to read my favorite blogs on my laptop and use its mobile app on phone. This app I use, predominantly, when I am traveling.
  4. Twitter and Facebook : I love reading tweets whenever I get a few free minutes. It is my daily dose of news and entertainment. For me, Twitter is synonymous with my Smartphone. In fact, I rarely use my laptop for Twitter. I use my phone for Facebook as well.
  5. Scan on the Go : MD Scan Lite is a mobile document scanner, which I use frequently. I find this app vflat-icons-future-of-ios-design-smart-phone-appsery handy and is an extremely useful tool as it gives me the power to scan any type of document (bills/official letters/ pan card etc), transform it into PDF format and share it via Bluetooth, email, anywhere, anytime.
  6. Store and Use : Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. I have uploaded some important documents in my Dropbox which I can access and edit anywhere on my Smartphone. For a meeting, where I am not carrying my laptop, before leaving, I upload the document or PPT on the Dropbox and I can use it from the phone whenever needed.
  7. Memo : My companion to make lists, jot down thoughts, write something when paper and pen are not available.
  8. Chat: I used Skype for video and voice calls. But I have uninstalled this app now as it requires at least 27MB of free memory space. And it makes the phone system slow. So whenever I need to Skype, I use my laptop.
  9. Play Games : There are very interesting games for android Smartphones. I keep 2 games at the most on my Smartphone at a given time. I download the game, play till I get bored of it and then uninstall it and look for another new game…
  10. Time Pass : Depending upon the time availability, need and mood, I download, use and then delete various apps like Horoscopes, Newspapers, Weather, Truecaller, Indian Rail, Talking Tom, Zomato, BookMyShow, Quikr, Instagram, Flipkart etc etc.

A friend’s Smartphone stopped acting smart pretty soon. He went to the service centre and the guy there told him, “Sir, you have converted your phone into a computer”. He had loads of apps and movies and songs on his Smartphone. I love my Smartphone and want it to remain smart for a long long time, so I am crazy about its health. So, I do explore the interesting apps but I am quick to say adios to them too. I delete the unwanted, unnecessary apps as they usually slow down the functioning of the Smartphone and in doing so the phone battery thanks me too!

So, what are your other smart uses for your Smartphone?

Linking it to January 2014 Ultimate Blog Challenge and NaBloPoMo

To read posts by fellow friends and UBC and NaBloPoMo participants, click here Jairam, Kajal, Kathy, Michelle, Nabanita, Richa, Suzy Que, Sheethal. Yes, we can do we with some more cheering and support. :)

Images Courtesy : Google Images

Help! Help!!

cooltext1108140704Help! Help!!

Somebody please help!

They have been kidnapped!!

I tried my best to prevent this abduction.

Alas! I failed miserably.

The odds are that I may never see my friends again. This nearly breaks my heart.

God willing, if they do come back in my life again, they’d never be the same. Seeing them all torn and mutilated, tears me apart.

I am told that I must not act so possessive.

But I can’t help when these are the friends who gave wings to my mind and flight to my imagination, my best counsellors… teachers…

Please return them back.

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I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 8th – 14th December 2013. The Theme for today is Books.

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Sharing the Joy of Reading

I came to know about Pratham Books when I participated in the IndiBlogger contest in July this year. Pratham Books is a non-profit trust that publishes high quality books for children at affordable prices and in multiple Indian languages. Pratham Books’  dream, to see “A book in every child’s hand”, resonates with me.

When I read about Pratham Books’ Champions program where volunteers are encouraged to conduct reading sessions, I knew I had to be a part of this initiative. The idea was to take 1 book, 1 story to as many children possible on a single day throughout the country. For this initiative, more than 600+ Champions registered to conduct 1000+ storytelling sessions to celebrate International Literacy Day.

I registered for this program and soon I received mails sharing the guidelines and suggestions along with ebooks, and a courier containing the books and a banner.

I met the Principal of Indo Bharat International School, which is located near my home. I shared the program’s concept and design with her and she readily agreed.

With a spring in my step, I reached the school to share the story of Paplu, the Giant, with the kids. I was greeted by equally excited some 60 children from class Nursery to Class III.

I narrated the story of ‘Paplu, the Giant’ (written by Ramendra Kumar and illustrated by Zainab Tambawalla), in Hindi. It is a delightful story about a little giant who did not like to fight with anyone!

The children listened to the story with rapt attention and were a perfect audience. I loved the way they responded in a chorus and in a sing song manner to every question of mine. Their enthusiastic ‘Good Morning Ma’am’ made my day.

To see, if they were following the story, I asked them questions and they had all the answers.

There is a magic verse in the story, “Main tumhe uchalu, main tumhe pakar loon, bhoolna na tum mera jadoo” (I’ll throw you up, I’ll catch you quick. Don’t forget my magic trick). I made the kids repeat this verse and they simply loved saying it aloud. This little one raised his hand and said, “I would like to repeat the magic words on my own”. His recitation received a big applause from all the students and the teachers.

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The pictures below share the rest of the story…

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Story telling in action…

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Looks like the teachers enjoyed the story too…

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Showing them Paplu’s new dress.

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Listening with rapt attention.

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With the teachers at the end of the session.

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Reading aloud to friends.

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We love reading too!

This story telling session is a step towards sharing the joy of reading. Story sharing is a key activity and a crucial component of a child’s development into a mature reader. We should strive  to encourage children to read because they ‘want’ to, not because they ‘have’ to, thus creating the beginning of a life-long love of books. And as parents and teachers we have a big role in helping them fall in love with the world of books.

Thank you Pratham Books, I am glad to be a part of this journey of spreading the joy of reading!

My post is shared at http://champions.prathambooks.org/, here

UBC Day 29 : A Book in Every Child’s Hand

I love reading books. One of the reasons why I love reading books is because I started early, and the credit goes to my mother for initiating this habit. I think, the reason we all love reading is because reading a book is a magical experience. The books have the amazing ability to transport us in a different land, time, culture, evoking different feelings of sadness, joy, anger, anticipation – it just all depends on what we are reading. To me, reading books is truly a rewarding and a unique experience. And that is why, my favourite gift for any child is always a book.

While we and our kids enjoy the fascinating world of books and learn a lot from it, but what about the millions of other kids?? Research reveals that 1 in 3 school-going children cannot read fluently. Children who are unable to read are unable to learn, as they can’t understand what is being taught to them. And that contributes to the high dropout rates in schools.

The statistics I read are startling.  In UK, every child has access to more than 6 books.

While in India, there are more than 300 million children in India. Every year, roughly 25,000 books are made available for children. The books are published majorly in the English and Hindi languages, so that means there is about 1 book for 20 children.                                                                                   UK                                     Indiaimage

When I heard Rohini Nilekani, Founder Chairperson of Pratham Books, the first thought that struck me, ‘Aha! I can be a part of this movement.’

Pratham Books strives to give the children of our country a chance to explore the world of story books.

  • While children are being taught the basic skill of reading. They have very little to practice what was taught to them. Pratham Books believe that every child has the right to enjoy good books.
  • And they also believe that the children should have stories set in surroundings familiar to them and in a language close to their culture.
  • Making books accessible to every child at a very low price is the vision of this not-for-profit publisher.

The dedicated team at Pratham Books have partnered and collaborated with innovative measures to make the books available to children in rural areas. They have explored the options of selling books through the Unilever sales team, the solar lanterns sales guys, railways stations and post offices. The Govt of Bihar helped made these books available in some 72000 schools.

Till date, Pratham Books has published over 215 titles in English and 10 other Indian languages. That’s over 1500 books, most of which are priced below Rs 25. We have printed over 8.5 million books, over 10 million story cards and have a readership of nearly 25 million.

Their vision is to reach 200 million children in India, and a hope to someday put ‘a book in every child’s hand‘.

Pratham Books licenses its content under Creative Commons licenses. These are licenses that allow you and everyone else to use their content under the terms of each respective license. This license lets you distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon their work, even commercially, as long as you credit Pratham Books, the donor/funder of the book, and the original author, illustrator and translator, where applicable, for the original creation.

Somerset Maugham said that “to acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life”. Such can be the gift of reading and it simply starts with a book in every child’s hand.

‘A book in every child’s hand’

Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012.

May Photo A Day : Day 21 : I Care About This…

BOOKS!!

If I say that I have a great liking for books, well that’s putting it mildly!

I was an early reader. I believe, I got this love for reading from my mother. No, she was not into reading novels, but she read the entire newspaper daily and 2-3 magazines that we used to subscribe to, every month. It was the school library where I discovered the magical world of books. The books at this place, like a time machine, transported me to far away places and dropped me in the lives of various characters and enchanting stories. With time, the love and passion for reading books has just increased.

Mark Twain had said, “Books! I dunno if I ever told you this, but books are the greatest gift one person can give another”. And I wholeheartedly agree with him. My first choice of gift for a child is a book. Have bought cloth books for toddlers too. It gives me immense pleasure to see a child immersed in the world of books.

I tried to inculcate the habit of reading in Aaryan from a very young age. I read stories to him, I listened to him, as he read and then sat with him as we both read our respective books.
I feel kind of sad to see that Aaryan has not inherited the love for reading books from me. He reads them but is yet to fall in love with them. I hope that day comes soon.

While I am very keen to give books as gifts, I hate sharing my books with anybody.
Reasons are many…

  • Once you lend the books, they rarely come back in the same condition… a tear here or a dog ear there, the worn or shabby look as the book is kept face-down on its open pages and the most outrageous and obnoxious part is underlining of interesting / important part with a pen!!
  • You may never get them back. Have lost so many good books that way!
  • You may have to put in a lot of efforts to get them back…repeated calls…SMSs…subtle hints… These efforts could continue for months altogether.

My books have moved from a small cupboard to a big cupboard. Very soon, I may need another abode for my lovelies.

Book lovers will understand me, and they will know too that part of the pleasure of a library lies in its very existence. – Jan Morris
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This post is a part of May Photo A Day.

It’s Raining Books…

A few days back, we had this book fair in Jaipur. Managed to find time to visit my favourite jaunt and came out with these books…
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So, with this my personal collection of books by Mary Higgins Clark has reached 17! I Absolutely love her mysteries and suspense thrillers.

It’s been ages, since I read Danielle Steel. Remember reading her during college days. And haven’t read, Nora Roberts till date, so picked 2 of her books. Have read P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern which was a bit sloppy for me, nevertheless liked the plot of “If you could see me now”, and thus it ended in the shopping bag too.

Then recently, I got a gift voucher from Snapdeal and I used it to buy books again.
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These I handpicked based on the book-reviews from fellow bloggers on their blogs. I remember reading the review of The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards on Smita’s Blog. While Origins of Love and Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai received a rating of 9/10  on Reema’s Blog.

I have read The Zoya Factor from Anuja Chauhan and it was absolutely hilarious and a delightful read, so, expecting the same in Battle for Bittora too. Have read some 100 pages and it is living up to the expectations.

Jeffery Archer is one of my fav author so his new books are in must read category!

And of course, wanted to check out all about the famous and controversial classic, Lolita.

The books from Snapdeal are not as comprehensive as Flipkart and also the quality of books is not all that great! The Battle for Bittora and Origin of Love had dirty pages and frayed edges. When I complained about the same at Snapdeal, it was suggested that I courier the said books back but not by DTDC Couriers and then the same would had been replaced. It was too much of a hassle, so I decided to ignore the dirty look of my books and simply focussed on the content!

Also don’t like this plastering of stickers on the cover page by Snapdeal. Just spoils the look of the book. I know, it must be a policy needed for a smooth functioning at their end considering they have a big range of products, but it can be pasted elsewhere and in a neat manner!

Anyways, putting all these mild irritants aside, I have a lot of reading to do!! And I am lovin’ it!

Thursday Challenge–Books

It’s Books, this Thursday. 

I was planning to show off the books I bought last week at the National Book Fair, Jaipur. And today’s Thursday Challenge on Books (Very Old Books, Library, Electronic Books, Piles of Books…) is a perfect example of hitting 2 birds with one stone.

The National Book Fair had a VAST array of books from various Publishers, Whole sellers and even Retailers. The best aspect was that almost all the books were available on discounted prices.

The books that I picked up were hardcover fiction from my favourite authors.

Ken Follet’s Whiteout, The Third Twin and Code to Zero. DSC_0134
Mary Higgins Clark is one of my favourite author, so, I picked up 6 of her books. One of the book is a 3-in-1!! So, a triple treat for me!
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It’s been a loong long time, since I read Jackie Collins, so 2 books of hers were a part of my book pile!
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And recently, I explored the world of Dean Koontz, so I grabbed his 4 suspense thrillers too.
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The bestest feeling I have after the shopping spree at this book fair is that my collection of Mary Higgins Clark has now reached to 13 + 2!! Yaaayyy!!
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And guess how much did I spend last week on these 15 books??

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