Sunday, September 30, 2012

21 Before 21

I like to think of myself as an avid reader. I almost always have a book in my bag and there is nothing that makes me happier than spending long hours in a bookshop or library. For me, there is something mystical, something magical that lies within the pages of books. A form of escape from the numerous worries of the world? Maybe. But more than an escape, they are also an avenue to reach out, explore, discover things for oneself. Curiosity, a sense of wonder, amazement- that would define books for me. However, I have realized that I'm not reading as much as I would like to, and to say that it is because of a lack of time would be a poor excuse. If only I used the time I spend in worrying and complaining, or even random facebook stalking (ahem, ahem) on reading instead! So, I decided to take things on track and promised myself to read more- I decided to come up with a list of 21 books and see whether I can finish reading them by the time I turn 21. I do hope I will be able to catch hold of these books, but anyway my goal is simply to finish 21 books, and these are the books I would like to read by then. Here's the list:

1) Autobiography of a Yogi
I have read this book in parts, but I really don't think one can claim to have read it unless it's read in its entirety. At one point in time, this was the world's most translated book, and from the few chapters I have read, it has immensely powerful lessons in spirituality.
2) Does He Know A Mother's Heart?
In this book, Arun Shourie discusses the one question that haunts many: 'If there really is a kind, compassionate, all-knowing God, how can there be extreme suffering in this world?' The book also describes his own experience as the father of a child, diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
3) The Great Indian Novel
Shashi Tharoor, in this book, uses the Mahabharata to explain the story of India's Independence, and its journey following the first few years of freedom. According to Tharoor's website, the title of the book itself refers to the Mahabharata- Maha, meaning great, and Bharata being an ancient name for the land beyond the Indus.
4) City of Djinns
I am a big fan of William Dalrymple. I loved reading The Age of Kali, Nine Lives, and more recently, From the Holy Mountain. Naturally, this book should be on my list! City of Djinns tells the rich history of the city of Delhi, beginning with the Moghul dynasty.
5) Fantastic Mr Dahl
The biography of one of my most favorite, favorite writers, Roald Dahl! The title of the book is in reference to one of Dahl's most popular books for children, Fantastic Mr Fox. :D
6) Reading Lolita in Tehran
The book narrates Azar Nafisi's journey as a professor at the University of Tehran, and her forming a 'secret' book club consisting of seven of her female students in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. Till now, I have never been able to get hold of this book for some reason or the other! :/
7) Once Upon a Time in The Soviet Union
This book, by Dominique Lapierre, describes his journey across the roads of erstwhile USSR. At a time when it was difficult (almost impossible) for foreigners to get free travel passes in the Soviet Union, Lapierre and his photographer colleague, document what it must have been like to live behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.
8) City of Joy
Another book by Dominique Lapierre. This is the incredibly inspiring story of his journey in the slums of Calcutta, and why it truly is a city of joy. (I've read an excerpt of this book in another book called A Thousand Suns and I found it so humbling!)
9) Chanakya's Chant
I just cannot understand how I missed this book. I stumbled across it a few days ago, and the plot sounds ingenious to me! Ashwin Singhi, in this book, tells us two parallel stories- one of Chanakaya, the 'cold, calculating and cruel' strategist, creator of the Science of Wealth, who succeeds in making Chandragupta the emperor of the Mauryan kingdom, and the other of a modern day Chanakya, born 2500 years later.
10) The Miracle
The book by Irving Wallace, is a fictional take on miracle cures that many people believe can be performed by the Virgin Mary at Lourdes. This is another book that I have been hunting for ages but to no avail. :/
11) The Immortals of Meluha
12) The Secret of the Nagas
I have been wanting to read the first two books of the Shiva Trilogy for AGES. And I'm yet to get hold of them.
13) Infinite Vision: How Aravind Became the World's Greatest Business Case for Compassion
I stumbled across this book while reading a few course related case studies. Intrigued by the description of the book, I went on to read an excerpt and I found it really inspiring. The book tells us the story of the Aravind Eye Hospital Group in India, and the incredible journey of its founder, Dr Govindappa Venkataswamy, who is popularly known as Dr V.
14) Life of Pi
15) To Kill a Mockingbird
These two books have been on my shelf for a very long time, but I have somehow not got around to reading them yet.
16) The Emerald Route
This book by the master of Malgudi, RK Narayan, is an account of his travels in the lush, green regions of Karnataka. But to simply describe it that way would be gross injustice to both the writer, and the book. Sample this book review: http://thatandthisinmumbai.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/the-emerald-route/
Again, this is another book that has long eluded me. :/
17) The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cellphone
18) Pax Indica
I really don't think anyone else can talk about India or 'Indianness' better than Shashi Tharoor. I've read India: From Midnight to the Millennium which describes in detail India's journey till today. (One of my favorite chapters in the book talks about 'Scheduled Caste, Unscheduled Change' and perfectly explains the caste cauldron that India is drowning in.) These two are Tharoor's more recent books on India, Pax Indica being released just a couple of months ago.
19) Ruby of Cochin
I cannot remember how I came across the book. I only remember reading an excerpt and hunting for the book ever since, but again to no avail. The book, by Ruby Daniel, tells the story of the Cochin Jews.
20) Lament of Mohini
Again, I stumbled across this book a few days ago. I am currently reading Anita Nair's The Better Man, and was curious to find other recent works of fiction by contemporary Indian writers. This book, by Shreekumar Verma, tells the story of a royal Kerala household, spanning five generations. The reviews seemed very interesting to me!
21) Is Paris Burning?
I came across this book while reading A Thousand Suns, where Dominique Lapierre describes his partnership with Larry Collins and how the duo began writing books together. Is Paris Burning? was their first book as a team, and the title is a reference to the question asked by Adolf Hitler to his general on the eve of the Liberation of Paris. Lapierre and Collins later interviewed the general, Deitrich von Choltitz, who refused to follow the Fuhrer's orders to burn Paris.

2 comments:

  1. Nice list! I just finished reading Life of Pi. I don't know what to call it. Awesomely bizarre. Have you read Mystic's Musings? Try it if not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope to read Life of Pi soon, Sumitra. It's been on my shelf too long now. I've heard a lot about Sadhguru's Mystic's Musings! Sadly, I haven't been able to get a copy yet. Hopefully, next time I visit Dhyanalinga, I will be able to get it. Thanks for reading, as always! :)

      Delete

Sunday, September 30, 2012

21 Before 21

I like to think of myself as an avid reader. I almost always have a book in my bag and there is nothing that makes me happier than spending long hours in a bookshop or library. For me, there is something mystical, something magical that lies within the pages of books. A form of escape from the numerous worries of the world? Maybe. But more than an escape, they are also an avenue to reach out, explore, discover things for oneself. Curiosity, a sense of wonder, amazement- that would define books for me. However, I have realized that I'm not reading as much as I would like to, and to say that it is because of a lack of time would be a poor excuse. If only I used the time I spend in worrying and complaining, or even random facebook stalking (ahem, ahem) on reading instead! So, I decided to take things on track and promised myself to read more- I decided to come up with a list of 21 books and see whether I can finish reading them by the time I turn 21. I do hope I will be able to catch hold of these books, but anyway my goal is simply to finish 21 books, and these are the books I would like to read by then. Here's the list:

1) Autobiography of a Yogi
I have read this book in parts, but I really don't think one can claim to have read it unless it's read in its entirety. At one point in time, this was the world's most translated book, and from the few chapters I have read, it has immensely powerful lessons in spirituality.
2) Does He Know A Mother's Heart?
In this book, Arun Shourie discusses the one question that haunts many: 'If there really is a kind, compassionate, all-knowing God, how can there be extreme suffering in this world?' The book also describes his own experience as the father of a child, diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
3) The Great Indian Novel
Shashi Tharoor, in this book, uses the Mahabharata to explain the story of India's Independence, and its journey following the first few years of freedom. According to Tharoor's website, the title of the book itself refers to the Mahabharata- Maha, meaning great, and Bharata being an ancient name for the land beyond the Indus.
4) City of Djinns
I am a big fan of William Dalrymple. I loved reading The Age of Kali, Nine Lives, and more recently, From the Holy Mountain. Naturally, this book should be on my list! City of Djinns tells the rich history of the city of Delhi, beginning with the Moghul dynasty.
5) Fantastic Mr Dahl
The biography of one of my most favorite, favorite writers, Roald Dahl! The title of the book is in reference to one of Dahl's most popular books for children, Fantastic Mr Fox. :D
6) Reading Lolita in Tehran
The book narrates Azar Nafisi's journey as a professor at the University of Tehran, and her forming a 'secret' book club consisting of seven of her female students in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. Till now, I have never been able to get hold of this book for some reason or the other! :/
7) Once Upon a Time in The Soviet Union
This book, by Dominique Lapierre, describes his journey across the roads of erstwhile USSR. At a time when it was difficult (almost impossible) for foreigners to get free travel passes in the Soviet Union, Lapierre and his photographer colleague, document what it must have been like to live behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.
8) City of Joy
Another book by Dominique Lapierre. This is the incredibly inspiring story of his journey in the slums of Calcutta, and why it truly is a city of joy. (I've read an excerpt of this book in another book called A Thousand Suns and I found it so humbling!)
9) Chanakya's Chant
I just cannot understand how I missed this book. I stumbled across it a few days ago, and the plot sounds ingenious to me! Ashwin Singhi, in this book, tells us two parallel stories- one of Chanakaya, the 'cold, calculating and cruel' strategist, creator of the Science of Wealth, who succeeds in making Chandragupta the emperor of the Mauryan kingdom, and the other of a modern day Chanakya, born 2500 years later.
10) The Miracle
The book by Irving Wallace, is a fictional take on miracle cures that many people believe can be performed by the Virgin Mary at Lourdes. This is another book that I have been hunting for ages but to no avail. :/
11) The Immortals of Meluha
12) The Secret of the Nagas
I have been wanting to read the first two books of the Shiva Trilogy for AGES. And I'm yet to get hold of them.
13) Infinite Vision: How Aravind Became the World's Greatest Business Case for Compassion
I stumbled across this book while reading a few course related case studies. Intrigued by the description of the book, I went on to read an excerpt and I found it really inspiring. The book tells us the story of the Aravind Eye Hospital Group in India, and the incredible journey of its founder, Dr Govindappa Venkataswamy, who is popularly known as Dr V.
14) Life of Pi
15) To Kill a Mockingbird
These two books have been on my shelf for a very long time, but I have somehow not got around to reading them yet.
16) The Emerald Route
This book by the master of Malgudi, RK Narayan, is an account of his travels in the lush, green regions of Karnataka. But to simply describe it that way would be gross injustice to both the writer, and the book. Sample this book review: http://thatandthisinmumbai.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/the-emerald-route/
Again, this is another book that has long eluded me. :/
17) The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cellphone
18) Pax Indica
I really don't think anyone else can talk about India or 'Indianness' better than Shashi Tharoor. I've read India: From Midnight to the Millennium which describes in detail India's journey till today. (One of my favorite chapters in the book talks about 'Scheduled Caste, Unscheduled Change' and perfectly explains the caste cauldron that India is drowning in.) These two are Tharoor's more recent books on India, Pax Indica being released just a couple of months ago.
19) Ruby of Cochin
I cannot remember how I came across the book. I only remember reading an excerpt and hunting for the book ever since, but again to no avail. The book, by Ruby Daniel, tells the story of the Cochin Jews.
20) Lament of Mohini
Again, I stumbled across this book a few days ago. I am currently reading Anita Nair's The Better Man, and was curious to find other recent works of fiction by contemporary Indian writers. This book, by Shreekumar Verma, tells the story of a royal Kerala household, spanning five generations. The reviews seemed very interesting to me!
21) Is Paris Burning?
I came across this book while reading A Thousand Suns, where Dominique Lapierre describes his partnership with Larry Collins and how the duo began writing books together. Is Paris Burning? was their first book as a team, and the title is a reference to the question asked by Adolf Hitler to his general on the eve of the Liberation of Paris. Lapierre and Collins later interviewed the general, Deitrich von Choltitz, who refused to follow the Fuhrer's orders to burn Paris.

2 comments:

  1. Nice list! I just finished reading Life of Pi. I don't know what to call it. Awesomely bizarre. Have you read Mystic's Musings? Try it if not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope to read Life of Pi soon, Sumitra. It's been on my shelf too long now. I've heard a lot about Sadhguru's Mystic's Musings! Sadly, I haven't been able to get a copy yet. Hopefully, next time I visit Dhyanalinga, I will be able to get it. Thanks for reading, as always! :)

      Delete