I haven’t been reading too much at all. Just snatches here and there and that has never helped too much as far as guzzling and devouring books goes. I like sinking in and letting the book take over temporarily. Totally counter-productive to wanting to actually finish many books, I realise. But its a habit I need to get out of, and learn to make the most of small snatches of time, seeing as how it’s all I am likely to have. But here are some long pending thoughts on books I’ve read over the recent (okay, more like 5 months now) past. I want to note it all down before I forget.
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Tom Robbins
This book marked the first book I enjoyed reading on the Kindle. And I’m blaming it all on the sheer awesomeness of the book itself. If I hadn’t gotten distracted by some other shit that was going on in life, I might have not put it down at all. The book is about a zany, eccentric, totally mad adventure undertaken by the protagonist — Sissy Hanshaw, the utterly unabashed, fearless cowgirl — which very quickly turns into a coming of age (but not in the least bit condescending sense that coming of age books can be) journey that brings together mad adventure, a riot of colourful and OTT characters, some brilliant nuggets of wisdom, philosophy and feminism. It’s a trip in rebellion of all kinds, which I thought was nicely portrayed by the wonderfully unusual way in which it is written. It took me a few chapters to get used to the absurdist and almost surreal style of writing, but once you’re in the groove of it, it just flows smoothly and you wont know how many pages you’ve turned. Sissy is not your average protagonist. She is wonderfully innocent, in a way that makes you feel for her. That she embraces an abnormality and runs with it, going on this wild journey that honestly seems like such fun, you’re rooting for her in no time at all! Ultimately, the book is about loving yourself and making it the way you deem fit, despite the seeming disadvantages and “defects”you might possess — which has been the underlying theme for most of the books, films and everything else I’ve loved of late.
High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
If you’ve been a music junkie for as long as you can remember, you will enjoy this book. Ostensibly, High Fidelity is a love story — you get that pretty quick — but it is also a story about the weird ways in which men and women work. The patterns of behaviour, the things that make us tick, the way we end up feeling and making each other feel — you’ve likely been through the whole gamut of emotions. If you’ve ever loved and lost, had a bad end to a relationship, pined over and made sense of those feelings, you will get this book. If your relationships and life in general are closely linked to the music of your generation, you will love the book, like I did. It’s a love story, and yet its not becuase the simple and straightforward love-plot is beautifully strewn with the minutiae of Rob’s (the record-shop-owning, just-been-dumped protagonist) relationship issues. The way he approaches love, with the expected obsession, his inability to commit, his fears and apprehensions, and the impossible to ignore softer side beneath the roughly scraped exterior. And there’s a lot of music, mostly old-school rock, the classics from the 70s and 80s so if you’re into it, like I am, then you’ll love it even more.
A Pleasant Kind of Heavy, Aranyani
A motley collection of short stories in Indian erotica, this book was a surprising discovery. Why? Because, Indian erotica isn’t something I’ve come across before. More so, this kind of everyday erotica, that is so plain, simple and real, was a refreshing change from the titillating angle most erotica aims for. It is supposedly scandalous, scandalous enough for the author to take on a pseudonym, but what it is is just refreshingly simple. In fact, the writing was so normal, the words so plain, that the situations drawn up while far from normal, prompted a reaction of almost-nonchalance on my part. It was nice to be able to breeze through the book without feeling squeamish or being scandalised with wide-eyed wonder. Have to admit though, after the first couple of stories I felt like I had seen it all and had to get myself to pick the book up again and finish it. Its a short and breezy read, with every story set in a distinctly different setting, time, place, country, even. By the end you feel like you’ve been through the whole spectrum of possible sexual liaison between the covers of this quick read. The stories are at times bold, at times languid and easy, at times elegant and beautiful and its a skill to be able to traverse all these different themes in such a short space. If you’re in the mood for something different, something sensuous and see where it takes you, you might want to pick this one up.
The Sood Family Cookbook, Aparna Jain
I’ve eyed this book for so long, but nothing really compelled me to buy it. I’m wary of hoarding cookbooks, unless I can thumb through them and know it will definitely be an impetus to make most, if not all, of the contents within its pages. I borrowed it from A a while ago and have been slowly but surely devouring it. Its an out-and-out cookbook, a super compilation of the Sood Family favourites — giving a wide variety of everything from traditional Pahaadi khana to quick breakfasts, glamorous but easy to whip-up desserts, kitchen staples, continental concoctions and everything in between. The little tidbits that precede every recipe give you a fun insight into where the recipe came about and why its made its way into the family favourites, and some recipes even have extras in the form of substitutes, nuggets of information and kitchen secrets. Its a delightful cookbook that had me bookmarking pretty much 80% of it, before I realised I really must return A’s copy and get me my own! Homely, easy, non-fussy, beautifully illustrated and downright simple to follow — its definitely my kind of cookbook.
On my immediate must-read list (totally random order) are the following:
Korma, Kheer and Kismet, Pamela Timms
Cooked, Michael Pollan
Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain (this is a re-read because its been so long, and I recently read his blog and fell in love all over again. Here’s a man who can cook, host many a flamboyant food show, AND write!)
Wild, Cheryl Strayed
Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris (also a re-read because I loved the book, and I feel like I need an upper to get me going again)
So, what have you been reading?