Wednesday, November 26

The Art of Reading

I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book - Groucho Marx

Me and Groucho don’t converge on our sentiments to the T (hell, I really like
watching TV!) But I sure think reading is one of the best things a man can do if his life is to be identified as complete... As I always say, a man with a book is never lonely.

(I don’t know how I can contradict myself so openly when I say I love books and yet I call myself “lonely” princess. But that’s just me – an avid exponent of the break-the-rules-and-put-logic-to-shame family!!!)

A bookworm since times immemorial, I worship my books and am forever seeking to add
new ones to my collection. My Shelfari widget on this page will give you a peek into my real bookshelf at home (yeah the same one that my mum ransacked during Diwali and dusted as if it was the asylum of all nasty vermin on earth).

I must thank my mentor on this note, the person who introduced and invited me to the magnificent world of books – Mr. Subhash Rathi, better known as
Abba (thanks to my brother’s childhood lisp). If it weren’t for him, I doubt I’d have been such a paperback aficionado. Thanks, Abba! Owe you one...

When I was younger, Abba used to suggest books to me, stories that he thought I’d enjoy. As time flew and he got busier with other responsibilities and hobbies, I stuck to this pastime religiously. Now, it’s often me in the recommender’s role. And it’s such a great feeling! Almost like a guru-dakshina! He seems to share my choice of books, and he’s now glued to the
Palace of Illusions (POI) that I couldn’t stop raving about when we last met.

Some of my fav reads and recommendations for you? Grab a pen!
Prisoner of Birth by Jef Arch – a very recent bestseller, about revenge and relationships
- Godfather – THE classic of the century, made into a film in both Bollywood and Hollywood, but can a movie EVER beat or do justice to the book?
- The Omen – a mighty good movie if you can’t sit patiently through this excellent thriller
Palace of Illusions – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni at her best with this tale of the Mahabharata from a woman’s perspective
- The Secret Garden – one of my childhood reads, so simple yet profound and touching

Five is a good number for starters, and I could tell you more if you have the passion and perseverance. I often try to enlist people close to me in the readers’ guild. My latest success has been
Mr. Sibi Venugopal (you can see him as a follower on this page, and he appears frequently in the comment section). Thanks buddy, way to go!! Keep it up!!

Back to Abba and me... The other day, I had a bet with him about the POI. I pride myself on my memory, (and that too, when it’s about the name of my favorite favorite author, there’s just no giving up!). He said the name is Chitra Lekha Banerjee Divakaruni and I kept reiterating vehemently that there’s no Lekha in her name. I’m SO sure he’s lost! Not only did I check her other books that I possess, but also her website. (I’m bemused as to how he’s still fervently arguing that he’s correct... Maybe just a bait to meet me coz we don’t get to meet too often since both of us have demanding schedules.)

So, the point is, we were at loggerheads on this issue at a family dinner, and someone happened to ask what we were talking about. When we related this, I heard a smirk. Apparently, Mr. Anand Rathi (better known on this page as my bro), found it exceedingly comical that we were disputing over a writer’s name.

(Are you waiting for my comments on his impudence and idiocy? All I can say is, he’ll never know the obsession that resides within us booklovers about the habit of reading, our books and the people connected to them – whether living or fictitious. It’s God’s wish that the power of words and irresistible pull of sentences be denied to him. And I can only pity such a mortal.)

Reading is sucha pleasure, one that I can’t wholly describe in this post that doesn’t illustrate my facial expressions and hand gestures. I can spend hours reading, engrossed in the plot and characters as if I was breathing the same air as them, feeling their emotions and experiencing their lives. I’m sure you, as dedicated readers of my blog, feel the same as you read. Be it a blog or a hardback, a short story or an epic, a comedy or a biography, whatever the language, whoever the author. Reading is our coke, our grass, our ecstasy. It is the blood in our veins and the smile on our lips. Leave us alone, and we’ll be fine in the company of a good book... The images on TV can never equal what our imagination can dream and capture...

My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter - Thomas Helm

dread ending a book that I’ve enjoyed reading. And once the plot strikes a chord with me, I tumble into endless sessions of relishing every word and page. A hypnotic spell that often spells an early finish to most of my books. And hence, I need to ensure I keep a hold on myself as I begin a new one! Re-reading is pleasant, but it can’t give you the high that a completely mysterious, fresh climax offers.

So, if you really want to live life king/queen-size and you are fed up with the fast-food culture, then Dr. Anuja’s prescription reads : Regular and devoted reading.

You’ll see how a single person can lead several magical lives simultaneously, and how inconceivably larger than life, life actually is!!

On that note, leme tell u, I've completed around 300 pages of
Mahabharata, that is around 1/3rd of the book and the major section of the Adi Parva (the first and the biggest of the 18 parvas or sections of Vyasa's epic).

Happy reading!


Sibi said...

Hey princess(not at al lonely),thanks for putting this hait in me.I used to hate reading or precisly studies.I jus read 5 point someone,the only book.
But then u told me bat 'THE POB'.N i jus loved reading it.M really into reading now,its jus tat i take more than 2 months to finish something which u finish in 2 weeks:-)But realy thanks a ton.Godfather was jus unputdownble.I need mo Stuff man,camon.
Agree with u compltly on this'a man wid a book is never lonely'.
C ya..Byee..

Princess said...

Thanks Sibi, not only for ur comment, but also for reading. Its a big win for me that u'v listened to me and started this habit. More than any material gift, this is the best way I could'v given u sumthin to cherish for life!

Keep it up!


B said...

If U like reading u must read 'The Inheritance of Loss' by Kiran Desai and another book that I liked recently was 'The Secret'

BTW if u are in the mood for some comedy u can try 'The Inscrutable Americans ' by Anurag mathur

Princess said...

Hi Beryl,

I have read the Inscrutable Americans, and it's indeed a winner! I heard the Secret was a really boring book, and the reviews have been pretty bad almost everywhere. The Inheritance of Loss, I would like to try that. Hows Breaking Dawn? Any idea?

Vedang said...

hey! I came here from blog catalog (mainly coz you're from pune and I know someone named Shilpa Rathi. Any relation?). I couldn't resist commenting here.

Not only am I a HUGE bookworm, I am a bit of a Mahabharat fanatic. It is my mostest favoritest story.

I was really disappointed with Palace of Illusions. It is.. plain bad. The beauty of the Mahabharat is that it can be told differently from each point of view. I could read it from Duryodhan's point of view, and think he was the most deserving person in the epic (read Duryodhana by Kaka Vidhate). Or I could read it from Karna's point of view and think of him as the greatest man ever, which, incidentally, i do (read Mrityunjaya by Shivaji Sawant). Or I could read it from Krishna's point of view (Yugandhar by Shivaji Sawant) and realise that he was as human as he was godly. Or i could.. you get the gist. Each character is justified in the choices he made and in the way he behaved. And no character is all-knowing, all perceiving.

This is the mistake CBD makes. POI moves in such a know-it-all way! Draupadi was a firebrand! She was no Sita. She was every bit as biased, haughty, and human as Duryodhan. Yet the book portrays her as all-knowing.

And what a mockery CBD made of Karna! His golden glow (when he died) flew to Draupadi??!!?? Not only is this not in the original version anywhere, it undermines the fact that Karna was extremely devoted to his first wife Vrushali and valued her above everything else.

I was so angry when I finished that book, I couldn't find words for my rage. Today, so many days later, I've finally been able to vent (and only because i'm much calmer now).

I hope you enjoy the Mahabharat by Ramesh Menon, it is a much better book. Even so, it isn't very interesting because it is not from any one character's point of view. As you read it, try to think of how each character would perceive the situation.

I'm sorry, because I now realise I've been ranting on your page. Infact you've actually given me material for my next blog post. The views here are my own, I'm sure you loved POI for your own reasons. I only hope that you will continue reading as much Mahabharat material as possible!


Vedang said...

P.S you might want to read this:
It is a more balanced, and much better written review of Palace of Illusions

Princess said...

Hi Vedang,

Nope, dunno any Shilpa Rathi. But that ain't surprising. Half the community is made up of Rathis and Mundadas :-)

I understand how you feel, I am a huge CBD fan, and POI was my first encounter with the Mahabharata, so it will always have a special place in my heart and bookshelf. Besides, a woman's point of view is not as objective and sensible (!) as a man's, so Draupadi's version of her emotions and expressions made a dent with me.

I will however take note of what you've said, though I don't think I'd like Duryodhana whatsoever! Karna and Bheema are my fav characters, and I'm not too fond of Arjuna (courtesy Karna and Ekalavya).

Thanks so much for sharing your views. Your rants are most welcome!


Vedang said...

see? this was another point I had against POI. It portrays Duryodhan as one dimensional, which he was not. I admit that from Draupadi's point of view, he was always cruel. But the author does not make it sound like it is Drauadi's point of view!

I don't know if you visited my blog, but you should read this post:
Read these stories, they are very very well written.

Also, for a brilliant account of the Mahabharat from the point of view of the women, read "The Stone Women and Other Stories" by Shashi Deshpande.

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