Monday, 9 January, 2012

Books I read in 2011 -Part One

Ever since I've started earning, I've become very impulsive and free in my book buying. Earlier when my parents were paying for it, I would buy a book only when I had already read it and liked it and wanted it for my collection, or it was highly recommended by sources I trusted or was another book by an author I liked. I didn't stray from my comfort zone. But now I buy all, though I am not reading all. One downside to this book buying spree is that for the first time in my life I'm reading multiple books together. My concurrent reading list has seven books on it, all in varying stages of being read. I still haven't decided if its a good thing. This is the reason last year I read twenty full books but five half books. 

1. Rabbit, run - by John Updike. 
When Updike died in 2009 it was in the news and a columnist/blogger for HT (Hindustan times) wrote a very flattering article which made me want to read some of his work. I looked him up online and decided to start with the first of the rabbit series. Its the story of a High school basketball star who's stuck in a marriage with an alcoholic wife. And as the tittle suggests, he runs. Its overall a sad tale, of how he never lives to fulfill the promise of his teenage years, how he finds out his god like coach is after all human. I admired the writing. There were quite a few phrases in the narrative which put little daily exercises of mundane existence into beautiful language, in a way I had not seen before. All in all, I don't regret reading it but wouldn't have regretted not reading it.

2. Rabbit Redux - by John Updike
Well after the first one I kind of wanted to finish the series just to earn that badge. Its set in the experimental sixties with many drug induced haze scenes. Rabbit is bringing up his son on his own and takes in a young teenage girl only slightly older than his son. This one was more pessimistic about life and I liked it lesser than the first one. This one put a stop to my relationship with Updike. 

3.Marley and me - by John Grogan 
It was a feel good book, that laid bare the truth about all the energy and love and time and resources that go into having a dog. Its like having a baby, nothing less. It made me realize that I would only get a dog when I am old enough to die before it does because otherwise I wouldn't survive the pain of its death. I am sure dog owners / lovers would appreciate and love this book alot more.

4. The English patient - by Michael Ondaatje
I loved the sheer poetry of the prose. If the writing is so beautiful, I can forgive anything-plot, characters, ending, anything. It was music. Its the story of a nurse who stays behind to help a wounded man recover after the second world war. It is also has the story of the man and his love. Sample this:

"Meanwhile, with the help of an anecdote, I fell in love. Words, Caravaggio, they have a power"

Highly recommended for the way its written. I'll get to other books by the author as and when I get time.

5. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
Another book picked up from the Nytimes bestsellers list. I immediately liked the title. The opposite of perfectionists and its not actually a word. Its the story of a group of people connected with a newspaper which is shutting shop due to dwindling circulation - an obsessive reader, the editor, the publisher. The characters and the concept sounded interesting but the book didn't develop that way. The story of the old woman who obsessively reads every inch of the paper and has reached only 1994, is endearing. Not an essential read though.

Watch this space for Part Two.

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