Reading Books is Similar to Human Relationships

Recently, I was reading a book. Raakshas by Piyush Jha to be precise. It’s a thriller and is a story of India’s No. 1 serial killer. It’s about how and what made him a cold blooded, savage murderer and a serial killer at that. The story started with a bang and I was hooked to it from the word go. I read more than half of this book at one go and then I suddenly closed it.

No, I was neither bored nor tired. I had all the time in the world to read the book and yet I stopped reading it. The thing was that the book was taking me to new heights of reading pleasure and I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to prolong this excitement and happiness. 

And when I did pick it up again after a lot of delaying tactics and finished reading it, I felt as if I was having a heartbreak. I was sad that the story could not go on and on and that it had come to an end. It was like I was mourning the end of good book. Has this ever happened to you?

Have you realized that reading a book is like entering into a relationship with a book. And it’s similar to the relationships we have with people around us.

Here are the four different types of relationships I have had with books which are similar to human relationships.

You Had Me At ‘Hello’ : You see the cover of the book and you know that it will click with you. You read the blurb and the flirting begins and as you start reading the first few chapters, meet the characters, you are in midst of a whirlwind romance and with each turning page you fall in love deeply, in the most all-consuming way. I had this love at first sight with Zoya Factor by Anuja Chauhan, Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon, Marley & Me by John Grogan….

And The Spark Fades : The story in the book starts with a bang. There’s excitement and thrill with turning of each page, each chapter. And when you are moving on to build a deeper connect with the story, something goes awry and it’s all downhill from there. The relationship changes from intense to bland and that magical spark just fizzles away. You feel so deflated and exhausted and a bit cheated too, for you invested your time in reading this book and it leaves you unfulfilled. I have a long list of books that fall in this category.

The Accidental Relationship : It was just a coincidence that you picked that book. It’s not the genre that you read or not an author you have read before and it is just by chance you find yourself leafing through this book. And the next thing you know is that you are enjoying reading it and can’t stop yourself from reading it at every available opportunity. I had this relationship with a non-fiction book which is not my favorite genre of books. I picked up F?@k Knows by Shailendra Singh on a whim and I simply loved reading it.

The Slow To Warm-Up : You have this book in your hand and you start reading it. It does not excite or enthrall you much, but you keep reading it. And that’s because you are not a quitter or the book came with high recommendations or you are just stuck with that book. And then suddenly you are sucked deep into it and how! The book becomes simply unputdownable and  it stays with you for a long time. This happened when I started reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling. I picked it up because everyone was reading it and felt that the wizards and kids were not my scene. But after the first few chapters, well… there was no looking back.

Like human relationships, the relationships with books are good as well as bad, but whatever it is, it’s a learning and growing experience as a reader! What say you?

With which books you have had these kind of relationships?

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.

Love is Vodka – A Shot Ain’t Enough

Title : Love is Vodka – A Shot Ain’t EnoughLove is Vodka
Author : Amit Shankar
Publisher : Vitasta Publishing Pvt Ltd
ISBN : 978-81-925354-4-9
Number of Pages : 203
Price [INR] : 195
Genre: Fiction

Being a love child; Moon is anything but a conventional teen. With a leading TV news anchor as her mother, an aspiring entrepreneur as her boy friend, the word LOVE baffles her. The whole idea of having one partner and love being eternal intrigues her. 

Life turns upside down when she falls for her mother’s boyfriend. Destiny further complicates things by blessing her with a mega modelling assignment and turning her famous overnight. A war between her head & heart exposes her to various hues of love. 

Will she decipher the true meaning of love? Embark on an exhilarating rendezvous with Moon and discover love like never before.

Review : I started reading this book last evening and finished reading it in about 3+ hours. This speaks a lot about the book. Love is Vodka – A Shot ain’t Enough is a nice breezy read.

The story is based on the premise that love is about expression of the soul, freedom and a joyous state of mind. It cannot be confined to the norms of the society, loyalty, morality etc. Moon, the protagonist, keeps falling in and out of love with men of different personalities. Every time she felt that her love for the man would last a lifetime. Alas, it doesn’t happen that way because life is a bitch. Finally, she realizes that it is all about loving your own self, figuring out the person inside you.

Analogy between Vodka and Love is interesting. To get the right kick one needs to have a few shots of Vodka. Similarly after some trials and errors, Moon comes a long way from being that self-obsessed, insecure girl, to learn much about herself. And in the process she discovers herself and learns that once she started to truly love herself  and focused on her own inner peace and happiness, true love came looking for her.

What is truly remarkable about this book is that being a male, the author has expressed a woman’s feelings and emotions, her needs, her insecurities, her thoughts in such an amazing way.

While reading Love is Vodka – A Shot ain’t Enough, there wasn’t a dull  moment as this book was easy to get into, had likeable characters and was a very fast read!. Also, it has a that perfect ending which leaves the reader thoroughly satisfied and smiling.

Having read this book, I will surely check out the author’s earlier two books too.

Rating : 4/5

“This review is a part of the Readers Cosmos Book Review Program. To get free books visit “thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com”

Toke : Jugal Mody

Title : TokeToke
Author : Jugal Mody
Publisher : Harper Collins
ISBN : 978-93-5029-340-9
Number of Pages : 216
Price [INR] : 160
Genre: FictionFrom the blurb of the book : So Lord Vishnu showed up one morning when I was really stoned and asked me to save the world from turning undead. How did I save the world? I didn’t  We did. And while saving the world, I got to forcefully kiss the girl of my dreams. Many times. My best friends got to smoke a lot of good shit. A lot more than they would have otherwise smoked in that much time. They also got to crash an airplane outside Santacruz airport and kill a lot of poor people. But don’t worry, they were not people when they died. We were joined on our quest by two Japanese girls who can kill people with their pinkies, one of whom forcefully kissed Danny. Yes, there was a lot of non-consensual kissing in this adventure. With tongue.

Hi. I’m Nikhil. This is my story. And I swear I have a t-shirt to prove it.

Toke is the story of Nikhil, a lazy IT professional who is stuck in a boring job, has a boss who harasses him, and a colleague who loves to add misery in his already miserable life. His parents, like any Indian parent are disappointed with him. One day, when things at work goes from bad to worse, he finds solace in the company of 2 friends Danny and Aman  who smoke pot, order pizzas every day, watch movies and play video games. Together they smoke pot and Nikhil is stoned enough to see Lord Vishnu who gives him the responsibility of saving the world turning into zombies who in turn try to convert others by putting maggots in their food.

Toke is an adventure trip of Nikhil and his friends to save the world from the maggots. Now, this is an offbeat and an unusual story which has a lot of humor and witty one-liners that make you smile.

While the blurb of the book raised the expectations and the initial few chapters kept the interest level high, but after a while it failed to hold my interest. This is one book which took me ages to finish though the number of pages were just 216. I believe, the story line just dragged from one ‘happy place’ of the character to the other. I kept waiting for the crazy roller-coaster adventure trip to end and was looking for something sane or to the conclusive end of the mission of saving the world… And the trip finally ended on page number 212 and with that the story ended too! The end seemed like abrupt and hastily written.

The writing is fresh and crisp laced with wit and humor and colorful language. Read the book to find out how Nikhil and his friends saved the world.

Rating :  3/5

The review is part of IndiBlogger / HarperCollins Book Review initiative.

Shoes of the Dead

Title : Shoes of the DeadShoes of the Dead
Author : Kota Neelima
Publisher : Rupa Publications India Pvt Ltd
ISBN : 978-81-291-2396-1
Number of Pages : 274
Price [INR] : 495
Genre: Political Fiction

Crushed by successive crop failures and the burden of debt, Sudhakar Bhadra kills himself. The powerful district committee of Mityala routinely dismisses the suicide and refuses compensation to his widow. Gangiri, his brother, makes it his life’s mission to bring justice to the dead by influencing the committee to validate similar farmer suicides.

Keyur Kashinath of the Democratic Party – first-time member of Parliament from Mityala, and son of Vaishnav Kashinath, the party’s general secretary – is the heir to his father’s power in Delhi politics. He faces his first crisis every suicide in his constituency certified by the committee as debt-related is a blot on the party’s image, and his competence. The brilliant farmer battles his inheritance of despair, the arrogant politician fights for the power he has received as legacy. Their two worlds collide in a conflict that pushes both to the limits of morality from where there is no turning back. At stake is the truth about ‘inherited’ democratic power. And at the end, there can only be one winner. Passionate and startlingly insightful, Shoes of the Dead is a chilling parable of modern-day India.

The stories of the farmers committing suicide in Maharashtra due to failed crops and debts keep making headlines in the newspapers. Apart from some names and statistics one is never privy of what compelled the farmer to take such a drastic step of ending his life. Shoes of the Dead, is an insightful story about the life of a farmer who is hit by poor rains, failed crops, the unpaid debts,the mortgaging of every asset in hope of a better crop, the daily harassment and the humiliation from the moneylenders, his exploitation… his truth.

Shoes of the Dead, also brings to light the appalling nexus between the political leaders in Delhi and the district suicide committee. For the sake of the vote banks and the power of the power, denying compensation to the widows is beneficial for the political system. The book showcases the power of the pen and the ethics of journalism that can bring about a big change.

Though the subject of this book is a serious one and raises some very unpleasant questions about the unfair practices prevalent in our country, Shoes of the Dead is an interesting and a pleasant read.

What I liked about this book is also its very good characterization. The detailed description of the characters gave a better understanding of the characters’ personalities and complexities thus making the characters vivid, alive and believable. This strong characterization, thus made the story more interesting. The book moves with a smooth pace and is without much drama, still it manages to keep you glued to the book.

With simple language and crisp narration, Shoes of the Dead is the truth behind the news headlines that shock and perturb us regularly.

Rating : 4/5   

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program  for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

When Stranger Meet…

Title : When Strangers Meet…When Stranger Meets…
Author : K Hari Kumar
Publisher : Srishti Publishers & Distributors
ISBN : 978-93-80349-93-0
Number of Pages : 206
Price [INR] : 100
Genre: FictionFrom the blurb of the book… What happens when Jai is stranded at the metro station with an irritating stranger called Iyer & a mysterious Pathan? How will the tale from Iyer’s past affect Jai’s future? And why does the mysterious Pathan keep staring at Jai? What happens inside that small room of the metro station? Nobody believes Jai when he claims that He was there!. People think he is crazy, but is he?The story revolves around Pathan, Jai & Iyer, and their tryst with each other’s destiny. A light-hearted drama with a heavy tint of suspense that captures father-son relationships from the viewpoints of three different strata of society. Action,Comedy, Romance, Drama, Suspense…
A typical Bollywood fiction…

A touching tale about choosing between the paths of our dreams and their expectations.

Review : I started reading this book last night and finished it today. Speaks a lot about the book. The questions on the cover, intrigued me to read this book and find the answers.

When Strangers Meet is a nice, simple, heart warming story with a refreshing approach. It explores the dynamics of father-son relationship. The three characters Jai, Iyer and Pathan are from different backgrounds, social strata and age groups. They meet by chance at the rest room of a metro station and life changes for all of them. The maximum focus is on Iyer’s story which is that part of the book that I liked the most. His story is narrated well and is pretty riveting and interesting. Pathan’s character and his story was least talked about. In fact the book would had been just fine without him too,

Jai is portrayed as a unruly and troubled teenager who abhors Mathematics and wants to pursue animation while his father who is a Mathematics Professor, wants him to be an Engineer. Because of this the father-son share love/hate relationship. The hurling of the abuses by the father and the son saying ‘shut-up’ to his father is not easy to digest and leaves a bad taste.

The book lacks editing. There are a lot of painfully obvious spelling and grammar mistakes. In fact at places, the dialogues are forced and sound artificial.

The climax takes you by surprise and leaves with that happy feeling.

For some quick interesting and gripping reading (you may have to ignore the poor editing though), go for When Strangers Meet…

Rating : 2.5/5

Ten Shades of Life

Title : Ten Shades of Life
Edited By: Nethra A
Publisher : Mahaveer Publishers
ISBN : 9789350880418
Number of Pages : 240
Price [INR] : 139
Genre: FictionTen Shades of Life

Fablery is a platform for aspiring writers to get published and reach out to the bigger audience. Fablery organised a contest last year and ten award winning short stories from the ten different genres have been presented in Ten Shades of Life. From a nail-biting thriller to a ghost story, a romance to an ingenious fantasy, an adventurous science-fiction to remarkable experiences of salaried men, stories of heroes and philosophies of life – it attends to the preferences of all readers.

It was a delight to see the stories of some familiar bloggers.

My favorite story from this collection is Roshan Radhakrishnan’s Action/Adventure Harry’s Bluff. It is fast paced story of a hired assassin who becomes the victim himself. This story surely keeps you on the edge of the seat. The characterization is good and the best was the way the story unfolds – truly international.

I liked Karthik’s , A Nootropic Egress which is Science-Fiction. Crisply and skilfully narrated, this is a very imaginative story of a whiz-kid who communicates with the aliens. I liked the names of the aliens in this story. The story is high on creativity and keeps you engrossed till the very end.

Deepa Duraisamy’s Suspense Thriller, Where Did You Go? has all the ingredients requisite for this genre. A story of a child being kidnapped from a temple and the how the police goes about with the investigation, this is a story with a novel plot.  Also it is contemporary and compels you to keep turning page after page. I felt the ending was a bit abrupt, though. I wish it didn’t end too soon or so suddenly.

Reshmy Pillai’s The Secret of Ahiraah makes for a riveting read. It is a historical story set in the 16th century India during the times of Rajput kings. The details of the life and people of that era, the guarded secret and the secret passageways in the temple and fort, spies and mysterious happenings are fascinating and engrossing.

The Incarnadines is a Fantasy/Mythology from Miss Cheyenne Mitchell. The concept of the Incarnadines is something new and it was intriguing to read about their beliefs and rituals. The storyline is promising but could have been better.

A Good Day to Die by Rahul Biswas is very interesting and impressive ‘Occupational’ story. It is about the lives of firemen, hence the genre is called occupational. The twist in the end makes you sit up and gives you a delightful reading experience.

Barren Harvest by Vinaya Swapnil Bhagat is categorised as Philosophical. I could not understand the rationale of classifying it in this genre though. It is a sci-fi fiction which is set in future after the apocalypse, when humanoids rule over and control the humans. The story line is intriguing as you ponder about the future of the human race in the times to come.

Something Like That by Shankar Raman A falls in the Humor category. It is a story line set in a bank office. The story has a few humorous moments but does not come up to the expectations one has from a humorous story.

Red and Gold, a Romance by Monica Pant is set in the 18th century Awadh. The story line is predictable with the two love birds are from different religions… This story did not impress me much.

Weekend in The Country by Bruce Memblatt is a Horror story. This is a dull story of 2 friends who go camping and see some bones and ghosts. The creepiness or the jitters that one gets on reading a horror story are grossly missing.

Overall, Ten Shades of Life, with its ten different stories made for a very entertaining and interesting read.

Rating : 4/5

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.

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