Category Archives: Life and other stupidities

Things Fall Apart | Book Review

This is a book review of the Book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

The language is strikingly simple and engaging. It sucks you into the story immediately. This is the kind of writing that I take to and enjoy the most. It’s the kind of writing I aspire to. Always, always write like Hemingway. Or as I shall now say, always always write like Achebe. Big emotions don’t need big words.

It’s the first book of a trilogy and I am aching to read the next two books. (The only thing stopping me from buying them immediately is the staggering number of books I’ve already bought and not read yet.) Yet, it works perfectly well as a standalone, which I really appreciate because of my exasperation with authors using cliffhangers to get readers to read the next book. And using them poorly, to boot. A cliffhanger can’t just be stopping a story mid-scene. It’s a cheap gimmick in a consumerist era. It’s so much more delightful and authorly to cause your readers to care deeply for your characters so rhat they want to know what happens to them. The impending fate of someone you care for is cliffhanger enough, in my opinion.

Chinua Achebe made me pity, love and root for his characters, even the misogynistic, patriarchal, violent protagonist, Okonkwo, which is an achievement in itself. Harper Lee said that to understand a person, you have to step into their and walk around in it. Achebe forced me to step into Okonkwo’s skin and sprint a few miles in it, until I ached with his hopes, dreamed his dreams, and felt his helpless anger. Who hasn’t felt futile rage of helplessness against people in power against whom we have no recourse? Whose eyes haven’t stung with rage at  the grave injustices we suffer at the hands of the privileged people? Okonkwo makes you relive each of those moments.

Lastly, I want to talk to you guys about a question that’s relevant to me as a book reviewer. Right after I read this book, I read the Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma. Things Fall Apart is referred to in that one. One of the characters states that the book is about the lack of unity being the downfall of the tribe which really struck me because I simply didn’t get that message from this book at all because I thought the book is about culture imperialism and the pain of becoming obsolete regardless of if you’re united. Now I can’t stop thinking of the magic of layered and nuanced books.What do they teach their readers really? Do readers see books in their own image? Whose opinion is even relevant? Is everything in literature subjective? What do you guys think?

Have you read this book, or any other book by Achebe? What did you think? Are there any other African authors I should read? Let me know in the comments!

Hoot.

-Sin

Advertisements

Monday Morning Commute Thoughts

I’m currently reading The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed. It’s the story of three Somali women who lived during the Somali civil war. It’s a beautifully written book and it prompted me to talk to you about the cathartic experience that is a good book. 

The weather is beautiful and even the fact that it’s Monday and I have a long day ahead of me does not take away from the joy that good prose gives me. 

As I grow older, I realise that being a writer isn’t just a childhood dream but a real, honest longing that I can’t overcome. As this longing increases in intensity, I notice the music that the written word produces more and more each day. 

Gone are the days when I sped through books, desperate to know what happens next. Now, after coming across a particularly delightful line, I set my book down and stare at the ceiling for a while, marvelling. I wonder what humans have done to deserve the delight that is language  And I thank my lucky stars for the family and the time I was born into. I hug the book to my chest. And I smile. As long as the words I’ve read dance on my tongue and in my mind, I stay smiling. 

I may take an extra day or an extra week to finish my book at this rate. And that’s okay. As long as there exist words that send me into ecstacies, everything will always be okay. 

“Kawsar closes her eyes in embarrassment, the kisses making her skin sing” That’s the latest line from the book that I’m delighting in. In case any one is wondering. But there are several brilliant lines in the book. Read it. 
Do you prefer plot-heavy stories or language-heavy stories? What kind of language are you more comfortable navigating; flowery or simple? Have you read this book or any of Nadifa Mohamed’s other books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Two Careers?!

Hello Everyone!

Long hiatus I took there. Did any of you miss me? Do you of you still remember me?! Juuuust checking!

Anyway, my unplanned hiatus is part of what I want to talk to you about.

I love my new job. My boss seems to like my work, and I’m getting a lot of responsibility, and as someone who thrives under pressure, I couldn’t be happier. I’m like an old, seasoned member of the workforce already. I groan as I leave the house each morning, I count down the minutes to weekends, I love holidays, but I wouldn’t stop working if you paid me to do it. I sometimes think about work when I’m not at work(Which is a revelatory experience after my previous job where I would go out of the way to avoid thinking about work the minute I stepped into the parking lot of the office premises)  I carry a lot of work home too. I fall asleep insanely early each night. But I’m happy.

So what’s the problem, you ask? Well, I have no time to write. Some days, I have no time to think about what I even WANT to write. So I didn’t write. I did write in my journal semi-regularly about things that are on my mind but I didn’t blog. I couldn’t blog. I’ve been reading Cloud Atlas since the end of January and I still have a hundred pages left to read!

I frequently feel wistful that this aspect of my life is just falling by the wayside. I know that I want to keep reading, blogging, finish my novel, write several other novels perhaps, but I don’t want to give up on my legal career to do it.

So that brings me to the question that’s been on my mind for a few weeks now: In the way society functions for adults right now, is it even possible to be interested in two things? Is it possible to love two diverse career paths, one artistic, one not as artistic, and still do both without dying of exhaustion and sleep-deprivation?

I know of authors who worked day jobs and wrote at the same time, but those were usually very “9 to 5”, in a manner of speaking. Do you guys know of anybody who’s written and had a career? Is it even possible? Am I just not organised enough? Do writing prompts help? Should I follow one dream to the exclusion of all others? Will I fail at both jobs at this rate? What do you guys think?

One thing I want to attempt doing is setting aside a fixed time in the morning to write. But I feel so fried mentally that it’s somewhat impossible to think creatively. Give me tips, guys.

All this aside, let’s get back to the broader question at hand: We may not have strict professional guilds anymore but are our schedules alone working to ensure that one never pursues more than one passion as an adult? (Even if that passion is just making money) Can we be artists, musicians, writers without hungry eyes and a bleeding heart? Is every person who doesn’t work 60 hours a week (At either profession) doomed to fail? Is that healthy?

What do you think, everyone? Let me know in the comments! Just thinking aloud here, and you’re welcome to do the same, even if you think I’m wrong.

 

Why I Love Terry Pratchett

Yes, I finished reading another one of Terry Pratchett’s books recently, his first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic. Just some info in case any of you is new to the Discworld: Most of his Discworld books can be read in any order since they’re all set in the Discworld universe but deal with different sets of people. Some of the books are little mini – series, though.

When Terry Pratchett died last year, I was actually kind of glad that I got on the Terry-Pratchett-reading train so late because it meant that I still have so many of his books left to read and that thought makes me so happy.  It is tempting to read all of his books at once but I do have an accusing (and ever-growing) pile of other unread books staring at me that I just can’t deny. Besides, I don’t want to run out of Terry Pratchett books too early because I’m painfully aware of the fact that I live in a world where Terry Pratchett isn’t producing new content any more and if I finish all the books he’s written,  there will be no more…

After I finished reading the Colour of Magic, and after I predictably loved it, I decided to be more original than posting another rave review and analyse what it is about his books that make them so appealing and bloody hilarious.

I thought about it for a few days, and I finally figured it out. Terry Pratchett does not have heroes. Terry Pratchett does not even have anti-heroes. Terry Pratchett does not have angsty brooding “bad” boys and girls. Not one. All of Terry Pratchett’s characters are weird and flawed and not very self-aware. Like real people. And no, they don’t have lovable little quirks. They have quirks. Annoying ones.  And yet… and this is is the magical part, and yet, I want to squeal and hug the crap out of most of them. I can already see a lot of his characters grimacing and wincing but I tell myself that they secretly like to be hugged.

Besides, his storyline is humorous and original, there’s magic flying about all over the place, and there’s a colossal turtle. What’s not to love? He makes a gentle, good-natured jest out of everything. Nobody and nothing is spared. It’s how I want to live my life, you guys. I want to be happy and I want not to take anything too seriously. If anything, that’s what you learn from these books, guys. You learn to chill. And there’s no better way to chill than to read one of his books. Which is… convenient as hell, when you think about it.

Well, there you go; my two cents about why I love Terry Pratchett so much, why I named one of the most important persons in my life, my dog, after him, and why I sometimes miss him even though I never actually knew him. If you haven’t read him, read him. Trust me. Eat healthy, wear sunscreen and read Terry Pratchett. These are the three pieces of advice I would give everybody. And I often forget the first two myself, being the hypocrite that I am, but I will never, ever forget the third.

Have you guys ever read any Pratchett? What do you think of his books? Which is your favourite book by him? Let me know in the comments!

I’ve run out of clever (“Clever”) ways to tell people to go look at my social media, by the way, so I’m just going to dump the links here and let you guys go crazy.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/owlishwriter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8681585-sindhu
Twitter: @sindrao22
Email: owlishreader@gmail.com
Instagram: owlishphotographer

Cheers!

Hoot

Sin

 

 

Book Review (and mini rant) |Girl Online

This is a book review of Girl Online by Zoe Sugg, but it’s mostly a rambling account of what I thought about during and after my reading of the book.

Have you guys ever bought a book with the thought, at the back of your mind, that this is a book you’re going to love to hate? Have you felt like a fool for buying it as you bought it, but also excited at all the fun you’re going to have as you bash it? This isn’t something I do often, being short on money, and being an impulsive obsessive book-buyer, but I did do it on Saturday: I bought Girl Online by Zoe Sugg because it was on a major discount after the second book in the series came out.

Well, I am generally partial to books that are written as journals, letters, emails, blogs, etc. and books about writers, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. This factor also contributed to my decision to buy and read this book.

I also am still young enough to be able to channel the painfully awkward, tortured teenager I was, and remember how much I would have loved a book like this one about generic, awkward teenaged girl back then. With each passing year, the thought processes in such books seem more cringe-worthy and vapid, but I’m consciously trying to avoid being that way because my thoughts were frequently dismissed when I was a teenager whose spotty face seemed like the end of the world and I don’t want to do the same.

Besides, I have this rule that I’ll never knock a book until I’ve read it, no matter how ridiculous the premise sounds or how many bad reviews it gets. For instance, I read all three of the Fifty Shades books by E.L. James and took great pleasure in despising it from a place of knowledge and experience. I was able to, on more than one occasion, give elaborate discourses on why the books are problematic. Can there really be a greater pleasure? I think not.

I actually read this book in a few hours because it’s quick moving and the language isn’t complicated. I will get to the review but first some background:

I have been righteously sulking since she announced that she was writing a book and has gotten a book deal, grumbling that she doesn’t have any talent as a writer, and that some people have all the luck, etc. This is regardless of the fact that I haven’t had the discipline to finish even a first draft of a novel.

I also felt righteously smug when it emerged that she had used a ghost writer in the writing of the book even though the ideas and the story were hers. “What else would you expect?” I thought, smirking. I then righteously ignored the pang of shame I felt about my smugness when I heard that she had had to take a hiatus from the internet because all of the negativity triggered off her anxiety.

I have seen a few of her videos and I thought (in spite of myself) that she’s adorable. However, the sort of consumerist attitude she propagates makes me uncomfortable on a very primal level. I felt alarmed when I see the amount of makeup she slathers on her face to get a ‘natural look’. It doesn’t please me to imagine young girls following her example, and ruining their body images, not to mention their skin. I felt so happy when I saw beautyvloggers like CloudyApples talk about how it can be so tempting to tweak one’s appearance and hide one’s flaws but it isn’t healthy to do that, physically, mentally, and financially.

Unfortunately, this is a hypocritical view because I do use some makeup every single day. I’ve worn kajal on my eyes nearly every day since I was 17 but I have now started wearing lipstick as well to work. And face cream and face mousse. It makes me more confident, somehow. I don’t know… I guess what I’m trying to say is that when I try to be empathetic and understanding instead of automatically judgmental, her behaviour makes sense.

People are too impatient to be empathetic, however. It’s like everyone has been desperate to have a voice and be heard all their lives, and the internet has given them this opportunity, to be exploited from the comfort of their own beds in their pajamas. What could be better? Why would anyone choose to exercise restraint which is already forced on us in every other facet of our lives. We can be snide, disrespectful, downright nasty and not even be caught. And we can say them to anyone with even a smidgeon of an online presence.

I have heard people say things about celebrities that they would think a million times before saying to someone’s face all my life. We were comfortable in the fact that the recipient would never hear us, and even if they did, they wouldn’t care, because we are like gnats to them; just as important with just as much of a voice. This culture has carried forward into the age of the internet however, and people think it’s ok to put these harsh thoughts on to VERY public forums without any concern for if the recipient even has any feelings. In fact, a lot of people seem to believe that people waive their rights to be hurt or to have feelings (among other things) when they become famous.

That’s what Zoe’s book is about, primarily. It is about an insecure teenager with anxiety disorder who comes to terms with the lack of boundaries on the internet. The storyline was fairly juvenile, and the characterisation was two-dimensional. Despite that, I liked this book for the message. I liked that it spoke about the continuing stigma attached with psychological disorders. I liked that it spoke about the trauma attached with cyber-bullying. I liked that it spoke about the right to privacy that -gasp- celebrities too are entitled to. I liked that it spoke about a new kind of celebrity who’s emerging because of blogs and youtube, the bloggers and vloggers who are even less equipped to deal with their sudden rise to fame. I thought that the token gay friend who is now in every contemporary young adult novel was fairly cliché, and yet, some of the things he said to Penny, the main character, about relationships are hauntingly similar to something a gay friend of mine said to me.

More than anything else, it was a fast-paced, happy fuzzy book, which never end of becoming favourites of mine, but which I do read every so often when I’m overwhelmed by life or even by the heavy books I usually tend to read. It left me with a smile on my face. It isn’t a fantastic book, and it certainly “literary” in terms of story, characterisation or quality of language, but I can’t help but appreciate what Zoe has tried to do in the book.

Well, there you go. I am eating crow right now. I sincerely contemplated ripping this book apart for the sake of it, because it bothered me that I enjoyed it, and it is a book that can be picked on quite easily. But I’ve decided to be honest and tell you guys that it’s a book, the sum of whose parts is greater than the parts themselves, at the end of the day. I don’t know if it’s a book I’d recommend, because it isn’t a very revelatory book in terms of the themes it explores but it was a thought-provoking reading experience because Zoe Sugg went through the things the protagonists in this book go through and I feel like I was a part of the problem. We nerds, geeks and outcasts do so love to indiscriminately hate on the “beautiful” people, don’t we? Maybe because we think they deserve it, or because we think they wouldn’t care anyway… I don’t know. But you know. Um. Catharsis. Don’t hate on someone because they enjoy the things you think are lame, shallow and mainstream.

Well… There are my two cents about cyber bullying and about this pleasant surprise of a book.
Did any of you guys read this book? What did you think? What do you think about cyber bullying and celebrity bashing? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading and reaching the end of yet another abysmally long Sindhu-rant. You can now go back to having the nice day you were having before had a lapse in judgment and opened my post. :p
That’s all for today!
Hoot
–Sin

Posting Schedule

I’m proud to report that things are falling into place at work, and so it’s time to get this blog back into shape. To that end, I’ve decided that I’m going to post twice a week.

I will post once on Monday and once on either Thursday or Friday, depending on how busy the week is. I read a lot in November, so I have a lot of book reviews to write. There’s also going to be a lot of other content. So yes! Yay!

Erm. That’s all for today. xD

Here are my social media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/owlishwriter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8681585-sindhu
Twitter: @sindrao22
Email: owlishreader@gmail.com
Instagram: owlishphotographer

Hoot.

-Sin

Life Updates

Hey guys.

You always know that when I post one of these, I haven’t written much else in a while and it is for a not so great reason. Gah, just once I’d like to post a life update because I eloped using the money I got for a book advance and decided not to use the internet on my two week vacation in Turkey. Sadly, it is not to be. So brace yourself.

I’m able to write today after a bit of a blog writing block because I feel like my life is finally coming together in the last month of the year. And also because I’m making myself write before I fall off the wagon completely. 😛

November was not a good month. I had a lot of crap going on in my life. I don’t want to get into it. It suffices to say that I felt sad. (Wow, I’m such a good and descriptive writer.) Miserable. Terrified.

I ended out skipping out on NaNoWriMo after the 10th or so day. Everybody told me not to give up, but I was too sorry for myself and in ultra-sulk mode to listen. I feel like a fool  now. I have not given up on my story though. Certainly emphatically not. In a future post, I’ll explain what it’s about.

I read a lot though; 9 books.The good news ends there. I only reviewed one. I feel really guilty about that because because there were a couple of books in there by Indian authors that I adored. I want more people to read them. I’ll try to review them soon.

This month, I’ve started a new job. I am going to try and figure things out, and then I’ll be able to start writing more again once I fall into a routine. Not just on my blog, but in life also. Expect well-meaning resolutions about the same at the start of the new year. This is the year I’ll listen most likely, because I’m having a quarter-life crisis about my writing, and I’m kind of desperately determined to make it work instead of allowing adulthood take over my life.

The most important update is the book I’m reading right now:White Teeth by Zadie Smith. 🙂 It’s hilarious and I hug it sometimes before I put it away after my lunch break.

I’ll be back to regular posting soon. I’ll even decide on a schedule since my life is more or less structured now.

What has been up with you guys? What are you reading? How do you keep writing even when you just want to sleep and watch bad TV? Because that’s what I did. TV and naps. And crying. And a lot more bad TV. Tips from people who deal with lives more maturely  than me are appreciated. 😀 COMMENTS AND MOAR COMMENTS PLEASE. 😀

Here are my social media links. I’ve been especially active on Instagram, especially with posting pictures of the apple of my eye, Terry. ❤ If you’re a dog-lover or a book-lover, my Instagram is a great destination. ^_^

zFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/owlishwriter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8681585-sindhu
Twitter: @sindrao22
Email: owlishreader@gmail.com
Instagram: owlishphotographer

Hoot.

Sin.