Book Review– The House that BJ Built

THIS IS NOT A SPOILER FREE REVIEW

As you guys may have deduced from my pointed silence, I am suffering from abject writer’s block. It may be time for that to end now, however. As you know, there no better inspiration that irritation and I’ve read a book today that’s irritated me for many reasons. 

The book is The House that BJ Built by Anuja Chauhan. 

First, a bit of background: After downloading the Kindle app on my phone, I’ve taken to randomly buying inexpensive (and sometimes slightly expensive) books that catch my fancy when I’m bored on my commutes. These are books that are usually easy to read page-turners.Potboilers, so to speak. (Although I did read The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood recently, which is a dystopic novel. I liked it at the time, although, on second thought, some of it irritated me as well. But that’s a topic for another day) The reason I do this despite having a long suffering, neglected and marvellously well-written Wolf Hall in my bag is that it’s usually 8pm by the time I leave office, by which time it’s too dark to read a regular book. 

A friend of mine told me Anuja Chauhan’s books are quite fun, so I decided to go for it. Needless to say, I may never talk to her again. (Kidding. Mostly)

Anyway, back to The House that BJ Built: 

This book started decently enough. I went into it expecting a light-hearted romantic comedy, nothing too heavy and it seemed to deliver. As I read on, though, it mostly only irritated me. 

I’ve decided to make bullet points on the most facepalm moments in the book.

SPOILER ALERT

  • The author uses the word “pugnacious” too often
  • The book treats issues of domestic violence too lightly and seriously trivialises it. What else do you expect from lower-class Muslims, right? Completely normal. And fixable by a vasectomy without the consent of the abusive husband
  • The male protagonist thinks it’s ok to kiss one woman while in a relationship with another so long as you don’t have sex with the woman you’re in a relationship with after having kissed the new woman.
  • The female protagonist not only agrees with the above, but also is touched that he didn’t have sex after having kissed her
  • Why the fuck are step-cousins romancing each other?! I get that y’all aren’t related by blood, but eesh. 
  • The Thakur girls repeatedly mock their sister for shaving her head and not having her upper lip waxed. Sure, she turns out to be “evil” at the end of the book but maybe she wouldn’t have hated your guts if you hadn’t mocked her appearance or her bodily autonomy. Just a thought.
  • Why the fuck are north-easterners referred to as chinks and other derogatory terms so often?! Is it supposed to be a wry social commentary or something, because it doesn’t seem that way at all. 
  • There’s a money hungry Muslim who’s supposedly standing up for the rights of two north-easterners (who are actually from Bhutan!) and it so happens that he was actually being an opportunistic asshole. Therefore, as the characters conclude, these Muslims are all like this only. Extreme facepalm
  • The representation of the judicial system made me want to weep. They discovered that a will was fake and they didn’t even have to tell the judge. The case, along with the interim order not to alienate, authomatically ceased to exist and they could sell the property. 
  • SELLING IMMOVABLE PROPERTY IS NOT THAT SIMPLE
  • Trademark infringement is fine so long as you have big eyes, curly black hair, and a big butt and big boobs while infringing the trademarks. 
  • The female protagonist is referred to as “brat” and does not mind it despite being a 26 year old entrepreneur. Other characters are also referred to as “brat”, mostly girls and women of various ages. They all accept it as a matter of course.
  • When a character calls out the male protagonist for making a sexist item song, he says that he has 4 aunts who would ostracize him if he made a sexist song and therefore it isn’t sexist.
  • The mother of a seemingly talented female actor yells at her daughter for not stealing the male protagonist from his girlfriend in the way that the female protagonist was able to. 
  • Everyone and his neighbour is concerned that the youngest Thakur girl is unmarried even though she seems successful and fulfilled
  • One of the characters talks about “the cheerleader effect”, which is from the sitcom How I Met your Mother, without any attribution whatsoever. But eh. We already know how the author feels about intellectual property. 
  • The only likable character, BJ, the grandfather, dies early on in the book. 
  • Seriously, what kind of name is BJ? You know about “cheerleader effect” but you don’t know what BJ is??!

    So… That was a painful book to read. I wouldn’t recommend it. But at least it made me blog again. So yay… I think. 

    If you’ve read this book, tell me what you thought of it? Feel free to tell me if you disagree. Have you read other books by the same author? How did you like them? Let me know in the comments

    Hoot.

    –Sin

    The Weight of Expectation on a Tiny Book

    I’ve renewed my blog domain for another year, which is optimistic considering how little I actually post these days. I chose to take it as a promise to myself to post more often and write more often and give myself more time in general. Cheers to that. 🙂

    Having read and enjoyed The Orchard of Lost Souls, I’ve decided to read more books set in Africa and written by African authors. I have a couple more books matching that description which I’ve bought during my ridiculous book hauls. 

    Today I’m going to start reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. It’s a short book, clocking in at about 150 pages. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this author on Book tube and I had that in mind when I bought the book a little less than a year ago.

    These days, I’m making a conscious effort to buy books and authors that I’ve heard nothing about just so that I can come to my own conclusions about them without my opinions being coloured by others’ opinions and the weight of my own expectations.I made this move after I realised that I was only reading books that others have read and that it was severely limiting me. That’s not to say that I’m not reading well-known or “mainstream”; I still am, but my reading experience is very different when I already know about the book or the author. 

    When I pick up a book that I’ve heard good things about, I get in to it having made up my mind to love it. If I don’t love it, I experience feelings of guilt and i justify the perceived problems with the book because of my determination to love it. If I happen to review the book, my criticism is riddled with apologies. A decent or good book which isn’t as amazing as people have said it is remains forever sullied in my memory as the book that wasn’t good enough. Any book that I’ve heard is good both has to try harder and less to impress me because of a battle between my faith in certain reviewers and my objectivity. 

    This is why I’m nervous to begin reading this book and am writing this post instead to know what you guys think about this problem and how you deal with it. What do you think? Have you read this book? What did you think of it? (Because after everything I just said, I still am a sucker for affirmation that I’ve made the right choice in devoting my limited time to a book.) Which is a book that you expected to love but hated? Which is a book that you were told you’d hate but really enjoyed (or loved)? Which is the last book you picked up without knowing a thing about it which you ended up adoring? 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.

     

    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