As always, being away from my own routine has given me uninterrupted time to read, read, read. One of the things I miss most about living in Goa, is the amount of reading I got done in the rain. I don’t know if it’s the sheer inability to step out as much, or the fact that grey skies, completely limpid environment and everything just begging you to sit down with a book (and not get up till you’re done) that makes it so, but this is such great weather to get a good bit of reading done.
I’ve been very lucky, and feeling so grateful that despite not living here we’ve somehow found home here at D and U’s. I’m so filled with gratitude when I think of how many times their doors have been open to us, whether we travel for work or even just when I felt like I wanted a break, I wanted to be in Goa, and I could just take the liberty to go. There is a sense of ease in having this kind of comfort, reaffirmed by how I can fully decompress, read, write, chat, gossip, laugh, cook, drink, eat, colour our hair, get tattoos — and everything in between. Somehow, even with all the non stop yakking that D and I manage, the little bit of cooking (and constant preoccupation about what to eat next) we did, I managed to finish these books this past week.
All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
I am aghast at how much great YA of this specific genre there is out there, that I have entirely missed. AND OMG I AM SO GLAD TO HAVE FINALLY FOUND A ROAD IN!
AAAAAAAA-AAA! This book made me breathless and so full of emotion, choked up, exhilarated, overly joyful and heartbroken in equal measure, much like Eleanor & Park and I’ll Give You the Sun did. The latter more than the former, which was also the book I enjoyed the most, this year.
This is the kind of book I wish I had read when I was an angsty teenager trapped in my head, getting in my own way. It’s about being a teenager, mental illness, feeling lonely, peer pressure, finding love, finding friendship all at once. And it gripped me and ripped my heart right open. After years and years, a book has kept me up at night, fighting sleep just so I can finish it and not put it down.
This is the story of Theodore Finch and Violet Markey, 17 years old and dealing with a lot of the issues 17-year-olds have to deal with. Except Finch has a mental condition that makes him routinely suicidal, and Violet is silently grieving over her dead sister that she has probably never really, openly grieved. The books with the two meeting atop a bell-tower, contemplating finishing their lives off. But of course they don’t jump because the book commences, and suddenly you’re wondering who saved who.
So it’s chockfull of love, loss, grief, passion, hormones, hopelessness, new-life-ness. It feels like so much, and yet somehow it filled me up with so much joy in reading how they find and hold on to each other in a world where everybody else is looking t them like they’re freaks. Violet becomes Finch’s reason to live, and Finch becomes Violet’s reason to find life anew.
It’s an exhilarating trip and it left me with a knot in my throat the entire time, especially with it’s build up toward the end which totally devastated me in a happy way and left me feeling so happy and heartbroken. How is that even possible, you might wonder. You’ll have to read this to know how. This was such a good book, and I was in just the right headspace for it.
PS: it’s going to be a movie sooooon. Cannot wait!
Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way through Great Books, Cara Nicoletti
I’ve been on a bit of a roll reading food memoirs, since this summer when The Language of Baklava rekindled my interest in them. So I picked up Voracious which had such a good blurb and premise — A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way through Great Books, it said. Books and food and surprising connections. But it was a book that over-promised and under-sold.
The book is structured in chapters which are single essays titled the book/work of literature that inspired the food behind it. Through anecdotes from her own sometimes interesting and fascinating life (she is the grand-daughter of a butcher and spent a lot of her time growing up, in her grandfathers meat shop, for example), and gleaning from parts of these books she loved, Nicoletti brings her favourite food to life. But she only succeeded 50% of the time. The book had it’s high points, and I did enjoy reading some essays, but most were insipid and didn’t tug at my heart or my belly like a good food memoir can. Every chapter also ends in a recipe for said food/dish. Perhaps it was also the format that didn’t work for me. It felt too staccato and blog-post-ish, without a thread tying it together, which makes me lose interest fairly quickly, in the absence of any other aspect of interest.
Two years ago: Day 232: Manifesting a dream