Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

                     'The Secret' is a book that I picked up from the Best Sellers rack in the book store. Having heard many reviews of this book including an exclusive show in Oprah Winfrey show dedicated to it, I was curious to read this much acclaimed book.
                      The book is based on a simple law termed 'The Law of Attraction' , the law that determines our destiny and draws things towards us. The primary concept of this book is that each individual is the author of his destiny and thinking positive powerful thoughts enables him to achieve his goal. At various points there are quotes from famous doctors, scientists , social workers ,etc discussing how they happened to transform their lives following 'The Secret'.
                      A lot of content of the book is based on the 'Ask , Believe, Receive' mantra. When you ask for something and whole heartedly believe that it will happen , you will reap the rewards. The first thought that came to my mind when I finished this book was that , a book published in the 20th century carries the same message present in the Indian vedas written eons ago . So great and priceless is our Indian Vedas and upanishads that 'The Secret' by merely picking gists of it has become a best seller.
                        Overall a good read and narrated in a very positive tone. Also the glossy pages with comforting text will make your reading interesting .  A nice read for anyone looking for some optimism and hope in life :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

                          History has never ceased to amaze me and personally it was one of my favourite subjects back in school . I would almost always dreamily move into war zones , battle fields and court scenes in my imagination . My reverie during history classes would transport me to the Maurya kingdom , the Mughal grandoise or our very own modest Chera , Chola Pandya dynasties.  However I always had an inclination towards the Mughal dynasty and like any one else Akbar's reign fascinated me .
                        The Twentieth wife by Indu Sundaresan is a historical fiction set in the backdrop of the Mughal Empite. The book's protagonist is Meherun-nisa popularly known to the world as Noor Jahan.The story revolves around the undying love and passion that both Nur jahan and Jehangir had for each other from their adolescent days. However it took them more than fifteen years to sanctify it into a wedding. It depicts Nur jahan to be a strong willed woman , well learned and as a woman who could run the show with an iron fist. She proved to be a filial daughter , a dutiful wife , a nurturing mother and a soulmate to the Emperor. Though history glorifies kings and their conquests , very little is spoken about the women behind them running the show. This book could be  an eye opener to people who thought that women were subdued characters in the yester years.
                             This book gives us good insights into the Mughal way of life. The Mughal harem in particular is described in great detail . The harem comprised of the Emperor's wives, slaves , eunuchs and his concubines all pining to spend time with him . The one who would bear a son (heir) would be considered lucky.
                           Primarily set in Lahore, Agra and Kabul this book is definitely an interesting read. It transports you to a  time of pomp , grandeur and valour. A time about which we have read from mere text books. A book worth reading for anyone who likes history ...else you can just read it as a wistful romantic novel

Monday, May 31, 2010

                      The much acclaimed book - 'The God of Small Things' won the booker prize in 1997 and ever since Indian women authors have shared a special respect in the literary circles. I wonder why I had postponed this book so long since books by Indian women  always captivate me - be it Chitra Banerji or Jhumpa Lahiri or the most recent Indu Sundaresan .
                        The story is based around the life of dizygotic twins Estha and Rahel and the town of Ayemenen in Kerala forms the backdrop for the tale. The book entirely has a Kerala touch to it right from the pleasantaries used to the communist activists rampant there to the way grandparents are addressed as Mamachi and Pappachi. The story is told from the view point of the 7 year old twins and what is gripping is that it is filld with flash backs and forwards that sometimes you will have to context switch your mind to tune it from past to present to future.
                         The book left me with mixed feelings. Arundhati's writing style is indeed mind blowing . Her knack of drawing humour even in the saddest of situations makes it a good read. However the book was a tad too sad for me. It kind of left me thinking that there are people whose life is filled with hopelessness . There is no situation in the book where the family (the twins and their mom) see any form of happiness. Abandoned by a drunk dad ,admonished by their aunt (Baby Kochamma),being blamed for the death of their cousin ,Sophie all left me thinking that there is no light at the end of the tunnel for these characters.
                     A good read as it gives you a lot of insights into the Kerala culture . Also worth reading for the innocence dripping in the book since the  incidents are narrated from a 7 year old's perspective. Overall a mixed bag of emotions with sadness ruling it .

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

                The book begins with one of literature's most popular opening lines 'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again' and this immediately transports us to the microcosm that Manderley turns out to be.
                 Rebecca is one of the most reknowned  British novels and a BBC poll even awarded it the 'Britain's Best Read' title. This novel is a tale of love , murder suspense interwoven with a fairy tale-ish touch and the captivating Manderley estate serving as a background as the story unfurls.
               The nameless narrator is faced with an impromptu proposal from Maxim de Winter who is the master of Manderley. Being young and literally homeless the young , naive girl agrees to be his bride. Little does she realise what she has in store when she reaches Manderley. Rebecca , Max's ex wife died in a sailing accident about a year back. Soon the narrator realises that the entire household is haunted by the late Rebecca 's memory.  She finds it impossible to put herself in rebecca's shoes and take charge of the household. The rest of the story is about how  a mystery unfurls regarding Rebecca's death and how to de Winters tackle it.
                An important character in the novel is Mrs Danvers, the efficient house keeper. She was Rebecca's maid from her child hood and she loathed the new bride as she could not imagine anyone taking her beloved Rebecca's place. She is cold to the new bride and even urges her to commit suicide saying she is out of Max's league.
               Overall the book turned out to be an entertaining read. Gripping at some points and very vividly descriptive at other instances.The book has also been made into an Alfred Hitchcock movie which won two academy awards. This book will be my entry for OT 2010 (country - England since Daphne was an English born writer)

Monday, May 10, 2010

                      I was looking to read something different from my usual monotonous reading routine and what could be more interesting than a Sherlock Holmes novel!!! So I picked up 'A Study in Scarlet' which surprisingly is the first book written featuring Sherlock Holmes.
                      The book gives a background about Dr Watson's life and how he got acquainted with the famous Holmes. They move in together to the unforgettable 221B Baker Street (which now of course has become a house hold name) and Holmes never ceases to ammuse Watson with his observation skills.
                     The plot of the book then moves on to a murder mystery where the murderer does not kill for money but for revenge. Holmes deduces the traits of the suspect by sheer observation and analytical ability much to the surprise of Watson (the famous 'Elementary my dear Watson' dialogue however is missing in this book :)) . Holmes earns Watson's adulation in the very beginning and soon even Watson begins to involve himself in the sleuthing bit.
                       Any other details about the story would be a give away as it is a typical Sherlock book. A refreshing read and it brought back a lot of memories of school days where summer vacations were spent reading Sherlock Holmes' adventures.
P.S. This is also my entry for the OT 2010 ( Sir Arthur is Scottish hence I will post this under Scotland reviews)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

                  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society(TGLPPPS) is as distinct and entertaining as its name suggests. I was initially wary of picking it up  since the plot is set against World War II and I felt that it could have an unsettling effect on me if gory incidents were mentioned. However this book proved me all wrong ...the novelty of this book lies in the fact that World War incidents are interwoven with tales of camaraderie,love and books :)
                 TGLPPPS is an impromptu society that gets formed when a bunch of Guernsey residents are spotted on the road past curfew time by the Germans. The addition of potato peel pie to the name has an interesting background to it - in the absence of flour and other ingredients needed for the pie during war time,potato peel was used as a substitute. This was served during the literary meetings and hence appended to the society's name.
                 This book is written in an epistolary manner and through each letter you will see the characters come  to life. The beauty of this book lies in the fact that the content of a letter would help you paint vivid images of the person writing it. Juliet Ashton the protagonist of this book is a character whom you will completely fall in love with as you read on. She is 30 something, single, a confused writer wondering about the plot of her next story. A few letters from Guernsey sets her mind ticking and soon she lands there to meet friends whom she was only met through letters.
                 Throughout the book there are references to works of Charles Lamb , Bronte sisters , Jane Austen , Oscar Wilde and what not. It is a treat for any literary loving person as they discuss Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice.
                 Juliet Ashton would often mention that though she had not met the people in Guernsey she felt she was a part of them. I got the same feeling about all of them . I could imagine living in Guernsey with Isola and Dawnsey and Kit and Eben. (the characters in the book)As I was reading the book , I felt closer to some of the characters , fell in love with some , adored a few ...felt like I was living next door with them. This is one of the very few books in recent times that has made me feel this way. A truly heart warming read.
               TGLPPPS is a must read for any one who loves a dash of literature thrown in with World War details. It is a book that is a complete page turner as you would want to get closer to the characters.It is a book that would make you feel like a part of you was in it. An awesome read and one of the best books I ve read in a while.
P.S. This is my first entry for Orbis Terrarum 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Personally I am quite fond of Dan Brown's works and his books never cease to amaze me. I picked up 'The Lost Symbol' hoping it would be an engrossing read and it didn't let me down one bit.

'The Lost Symbol"'s primary hero is still Robert Langdon who deciphers cryptic symbols and archaic transcripts like its a child's play. However that is just a meager part of the main plot. The plot revolves around the FreeMasonry brother-in and how they hold the key to the Ancient Mysteries of the world. It might sound convoluted in the beginning but as you read and grasp the philosophy highlighted in the book it leaves you dumbfounded.The plot is set in Washinton D.C and the description of the places are very vivid.

Peter Solomon,a free mason entrusts a talisman in the hands of Robert Langdon. However little does he realise that a person out there wants to take possession of it and decipher it at any cost. To obtain the talisman , Malakh takes Peter under custody. He also tries to destroy Peter's sister, Katherine's work. Katherine conducts experiments and research on Noetic science which if proved succesful could change the way the world thinks. The rest of the story is about how Robert and Katherine save Peter and also end up deciphering the Ancient Mysteries.
This book however is a little different from Dan's previous books. Apart from the mystery involved , there is so much of philosophy that is explained . What appealed to me the most, were the references to hindu and Indian philosphy. He talks about how are ancient scriptures are so rich with information that science draws its inspiration from the Vedas. To quote an example he says that Heinsenberg's uncertainity principle which we all have come across in Physics , drew its origin in the Upanishads . Dan stresses that the concept of dualism is the one introduced by Lord Krishna. He gives instances of the various practices followed and their significance and original meaning.

The final few chapters are extremely interesting and his perception of God and humans is mind blowing. It gives you a completely new perspective of life. However I dont want to go on more about it as it would be a spoiler to anyone who hasn't yet read the book.This book is a fascinating read and I would recommend it to anyone who likes philosophy and mystery rolled into a unique book.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Man,Woman and child by Erich Segal

It is truly coincidental that the day I picked up this book to read was the same day that Erich Segal was declared deal. I have always liked his books and my personal favourite was 'Doctors'. I was so drawn by the characters in that book that i started drawing analogies of the those characters to my classmates.

The book 'Man , Woman and Child' is a story which we would have come across in numerous Bollywood movies. It is basically about infidelity in marriage and it goes a step further when an illegitimate kid born of the affair.

The Beckwiths are a perfect family until Sheila Beckwith gets to know about her husband's affair in France. To complicate matters , he has a child out of wedlock and the mom of the child is dead. The rest of the story is about how the wife and children come to terms with this delicate situation.

The story briefly touches upon the lives of the various characters but none of them leave a lasting impression on you. It is a simple read with a shallow story and a kind of predictable ending. It definitely does not live up to the author's renowned books like 'Doctors' and 'The Class'.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I am winding up the Orbis Terrarum challenge of 2009 with this final book by an author from Guyana. Though technically is is already 2010 and past my deadline to post the review , I say 'Better late than never'
This book is an autobiography of Braithwaite where he narrates the various testing times he had to go through to find a place in the hearts of his students. Edward is a coloured person who takes up a job as a teacher in a school in London. He is faced with copious amounts of racial discrimination and is subject to ill treatment.
The crux of the story is about how he brings about a change in a batch of unruly students who are disrespectful, crude and unkempt. He rectifies their behaviour , enforces them to address each other with courtesy and even makes them dress up more tidily. The story is about how students behave when you treat them like young adults and explain things to them without being dogmatic and dominating .
The book is a very simple read and the story is very heart warming. It kind of makes you look back on school life and reminisce on a few teacher(s) who made a difference to your life. Pick it up if you are looking for a light book with a touch of sensitivity .


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