Category Archives: Wrap-ups

2016: The Year in Review

I never thought I’d talk much about my life on this blog, but now that I’ve done it once, the floodgates have opened. So here’s more. 

This is a year in review type of post that I’ve seen floating around lately. This has been an eventful year for me, and a not-too-terrible one either (excepting my growing conviction that a post-apocalyptic future is imminent). So I thought I’d tell you guys about it.

So yes. The headlines. Do comment if you have any questions. 🙂 

This wasn’t too fabulous of a year literary-wise. I didn’t get much writing done, my blogging was sporadic, and I didn’t read much at all towards the end of the year buuuut:

I did meet my new favourite book of all time

It beats out Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott by a tiny margin. I also love Patti Smith’s music, so that’s doubly exciting. 

I gave up on my dystopic novel 

Not gonna lie, guys, it started to resemble reality too much and I realised that by the time my last ass is done with it, it may have to be published as very dull non-fiction. 

I started a new novel 

It’s fantasy and I’m not even close to being done with the first draft but at least the idea and beginning and loose outline are there. 

 I graduated

Technically, I graduated in 2015 but my convocation was in February, 2016.  I got to go back to Calcutta, the city in which I attained adulthood, and the city which I will never complely get over. I got to meet my friends again, some of them after ages. And I’ve come to accept that it may have been the last time I see some of them. 

I cut my hair short.

I had longish vaguely irritating hair for about 5 years that I got massively bored of.

So I cut it off:

I completed a year at my job

This isn’t my first job on graduating, but I think of it as my first one. It reaffirmed my love for the law, and now I know that even if I choose to be a novelist, I can never give up on law completely.

I realised that I have far fewer friends than I’d imagined 

Having very little time to myself made me prioritise an insane amount. And it made others prioritise over me too. It was enlightening. Hurtful, but enlightening. 

 My boyfriend and I got engaged 

Yes! I am now freshly minus one boyfriend and plus one fiancé. 

He bought me an amethyst, which is my favourite stone and surprised me with it. (Purple 4 lyf) We were both exhausted from travel and dirty and sleepy that day, but it’s still one of my favourite photos of us.

We started dating at 18 nearly 7 years ago. This was us then:

I turned 24

This has always been a nightmare age for me, the age of adulthood, because my parents had me when I was 24. It hasn’t been too bad so far though, even though I’ve done my fair share of adulting and growing up. 

I have the entire series of Fantastic Beasts movies to get through before I have to grow up completely. (How good was the first one?!) Cheers to that. 

So that’s been my year, a year of many firsts, of adulting, of complicated conversations and difficult decisions, of joys, of nights spent crying, of trying not to cry in court, of becoming an early to bed early to rise kinda gal, and of becoming a different person. 

How has your 2016 been? Did you do anything exciting at all this year? Let me know in the comments.

Advertisements

Life without Moderation– Tales of a Deranged Reader

I finally finished reading The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing! It took me a little over three weeks, which must be something of a record for me by itself. When combined with the fact that I had a major book hangover after reading East of Eden, it meant that my reading in February REALLY suffered. I read two books and about a 100 pages of The Golden Notebook.

However, in March, I met Jeffrey Archer at a signing and bought his latest Clifton Chronicles book, Mightier than the Sword. I really didn’t enjoy the 4th installment to this series but I faithfully bought the newest installment. I also bought ANOTHER copy of Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less and got it signed because it’s my favourite book by him. I’ve always wondered, is it an insult or a compliment to a prolific author if their first book remains your favourite? What do you guys think?

Anyway, after getting Mightier than the Sword that day, I broke my rule about not reading any other books until I finished The Golden Notebook and read it. Jeffrey Archer books have never taken me long to read, and I finsihed it off that day. I must say, this is probably my favourite book in the series after the first one. Looks like the man is making a comeback! I’m glad. He was perfectly adorable at his book signing, being all blustering and British. I really do like his books, even though they aren’t “literary” or whatever.

Well, this book, which had a bit of a writing and freedom of speech and expression type theme, seemed to really inspire me to read a lot really fast. REALLY fast. The very next day, I managed to read the remaining 300 odd pages I still had left of The Golden Notebook, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book too, making the long read pretty worth it, to be honest.

Over the next week, (I finished the Golden Notebook on a Sunday.) I have absurdly read 4 more books, which is twice what I read all of February!

Granted, all of the books were only around 350 to 400 pages long, and two of them were romance novels, but I am still quite alarmed at myself. I really really enjoyed two of the four books I read, and one of them, Vanessa and her Sister, by Priya Parmar, is officially one of my favourite books of all time.

I can just feel a happy buzzing in my head as I think of the Bloomsbury Group and their goings-on which are captured so well in this book, and it just hit me that, as difficult as it is to make up characters from scratch, it is far more difficult to write a novel about persons who existed. This book is very much a novel, and it is written mainly in the form of Vanessa Bell’s (the titular protagonist) journal entries mixed with assorted communication between the Boomsbury Group. I loved the atmosphere of intellectual stimulation and sexual liberation that pervaded throughout the book. I so badly wanted to be one of them and to attend just one dinner at the Stephen household and just LISTEN.

In a way, the friendships between the people reminded me of my friendships in college, where I met more people like me, than I have met in my entire life. I adore our conversations and our time here, and the fact that I will be losing all of that in less than a month made the book all the more poignant and more enjoyable to me.

I also loved the beautiful way in which the complicated relationships in this book are depicted. (No spoilers.) I just… well done, Ms. Parmar!  I cannot wait to read her debut novel, and anything else she may ever write, as I told her on Instagram. She actually responded to me, by the way, which was the nicest thing ever!

This book also made me realise that I really need to read E.M Forster, who is one of the people spoken of in this book. In fact, the book opens right after he has his first novel published. He’s returned a neat number of books, which I can now make my way through, so I am very excited about that. Also, I’ve never read any Virginia Woolf either, alarmingly enough. So, if any of you has recommendations to make about either author, and where I may begin with them, I would be very grateful. 

I also really like J, by Howard Jacobson, which was longlisted for the Booker in 2014. I really liked his book, The Finkler Question, which is why I didn’t hesitate to pick this one up, regardless of the fact that it has terrible reviews on Goodreads, and a low rating too. The other reason I decided to get it is that it’s a dystopian novel, which is my favourite genre.

I really loved this book, which is a love story between two very likable characters, in a dystopian world. In this world, something catastrophic has happened which the government is attempting to cover up, while also doing damage control so that such an incident may not recur. This event is referred to as What Happened If it Happened, and is not directly alluded to throughout the book, and even at the end, it is only hinted at. Throughout the book, there was an air of mystery and of menace which really had me hooked. I loved how there were no draconian measures to enforce the rules, but instead they use economic and social sanctions, which are far more effective.

It’s not the best book, and I was quite disappointed with What Happened (If it happened) because it was quite predictable and I don’t know why but the book was so well-written that I wanted it to be…less obvious? I don’t know… What Happened is not really essential to the characters or the world really, and something else could have happened and still led to the same post-apocalyptic world being created. I really love this one line in the book, in fact, where a character says that the violent behaviour of persons, a sign of the times, is not a indication of a looming apocalypse, because they are living in a world where the apocalypse has already occurred. That sent shivers down my spine. (Which is an achievement in Calcutta summer. Just saying.) I really loved the book overall, and I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. So yes.

It has been a good reading week, but an insane one. Next in the pipeline is I am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak, which I am so very excited for. I have exams beginning next week, so wish me luck for them, guys! I’ll try to read less and study more. Promise. I will at least try. Stay tuned to hear of my success rate. 😛 -laughs maniacally and shamelessly and flies away into the moonlight-

Also, have you guys been dreaming of being able to chill with me on social media? Hold on to your hats, because you can! –gasping and applause- Here are the links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/owlishwriter

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8681585-sindhu

Twitter: @sindrao22 

Email: owlishreader@gmail.com

Instagram: owlishreader

Knock yourselves out, my lovelies! I’d love to hear from you. ❤

Ok, too much love is happening. Must. Control. Self.

That is all (For now. Muahahaha)

Hoot.

Sin

January Wrap-up

I read a fair bit more in January than I had expected, what with interviews and being sick and having a ton of extra classes. I turned to books for comfort. 🙂 I read a decent mix of light hearted books and literary fiction.

These are the books I read:

1. The Secret History by Donna Tartt – This book for a disappointment because everyone built it up so much and I found it dull, pretentious and predictable, especially the second half. Interestingly, I found it improbable at the same time. How an author managed to be predictable and improbable at the same time is beyond me, but it happened. Anyway, here is the full review I wrote of it. I felt really blah that it was the first book I read in the year, by the way, because I thought it was a bad omen and showed the trend the rest of the year would take. I’m not often superstitious but apparently reading brings out this side of me.

2. Chocolat by Joanne Harris – This was a charming, pleasant little book and it was the perfect, quick read to cheer me up. I read it in a few hours. I heard there are sequels but I am not risking reading them because I know they won’t be as good. (Speaking of which, Ready Player One, which I worship, is getting a sequel and I am actually sick with fear.) I will read other books by Joanne Harris though, by and by. I reviewed Chocolat as well and you can find the review here.

3. On Beauty by Zadie Smith – I loved this book so much. I read most of it on the plane and I basically inhaled it. No jokes. I didn’t even clean my room after getting back to college (after a month and a half!) and I didn’t bother unpacking or anything. I just kept on reading until I finished the book.I ate while reading and I actually left a small food stain on one of the pages which left me miserable but not miserable enough to actually put the book down for long enough to finish eating, apparently. I was exhausted because I’d woken up at 5 am for my flight but I could not sleep until I was done. I loved the vivid characterisation, and I loved the plot. Everything, basically. Zadie Smith is a genius only! I have a new love for the whole genre/writing tool of hysterical realism now and I can’t wait to read more of it. Here’s the full review I wrote of it.

4. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan – This is the book that won the Booker Prize this year, and I had wanted to read it for ages because I love historical fiction. This was a deeply disturbing work, owing to its subject-matter, the lives of Prisoners of War in Burma during the Second World War. The main character is deeply flawed and psychologically disturbed and it made for frightening reading. I read it for almost a week because i had to keep putting it down. I had nightmares after reading this book.I’m prone to very vivid nightmares as such, for which I am grateful because I feel like each one of them will give me material for books, but these were just too bleak. However, it’s a sensitive, honest and moving portrayal of the experience of being a POW and the lasting impact it has on one’s life. It’s a book worth reading for sure.I will post a more detailed review of it once I am able to articulate the depth of emotion I felt while reading this book.

5. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke – This is a fantasy novel set in the 1800’s about two magicians who set out to revive magic in England. I love this book so much. It is easily on my list of rereadable all time favourites. It’s a gigantic book, coming in at a little over a 1000 pages and i flew through it in less than 3 days because it’s everything a delicious, meaty novel needs to be. It has adventure, intrigue, humour, romance, and it’s all woven together seamlessly. It had moments where I put the book down and gasped. The ending was perfect.and devastating. The book never seemed to drag on or get boring even though it’s so long. I adore it. It’s one of those books that made me glad for deciding to read fantasy novels again. There will be a full review up soon.

6. 10 Things I Love about You by Julia Quinn – This isn’t the type of book I read a LOT of, but I do occasionally enjoy picking up a fluffy romance novel and enjoying the warm fuzzies I get from it, especially when I’m feeling lonely or if I’ve fought with someone. I didn’t adore this book, and the writing was corny and childish in parts, but I really enjoyed reading it overall. I really loved the male protagonist, Sebastian because he’s a writer, so there was that. 😀 I don’t think I will review this one simply because there isn’t a lot to be said about it. It was sweet enough. I gave it three stars. 🙂 It was a good end to the month.

I haven’t decided which books to read it February. I haven’t even started any books yet this month because I haven’t been in the mood much. I am leaning towards The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. I’ll keep you folks updated. 😀 January was overall an amazing month, and not just for reading.

I got a job! Yessss! It’s in the field that I want, it’s in the city that I want, and I’m suddenly a lot less nervous to leave college and a lot more excited to start work. So things are pretty great right now. 😀

I thought a lot about whether to say this on my blog, but I figured people would wonder why my writing suddenly has a lot more “wonderful”s and whatnot in it and think I hit my head or something. (Because my three readers spend all of their spare time thinking about me, boviously.) God forbid that should happen!

I will stop being lazy about reviewing and keep up my promise. Really. Just you wait.

Hoot,

Sin.

November Wrap-Up

I am back from Shillong! I had a lot of fun. I do want to write about Shillong, Cherrapunjee and Kaziranga since they’re relatively unexplored in terms of tourism and they’re quite wonderful and they deserve some tourist love. But I need to un-lazify, catch up on sleep, and download my photos and sort through them, and actually write that post. Which will be LONG. So that’ll take a while…

 Classes have begun. This is my final semester in college. I am trying to cope with preparing to be an adult. I’m scared… I don’t want to fall out of the groove of writing, though. On the contrary, reading and writing are the straws I am grasping at to remain sane through the anticipation of the massive changes my life will go through after 5 years in the college, which is now home to me. I’m dreading moving back with my parents even though I missed them a lot. I just want more time. 5 years seemed never-ending to me in the first year, but they flew by. This is the place where i grew up to be honest because I was very much a child when I was 17. I still am in many ways, of course, However, this was my first home as an adult. I got my first tattoo here. I pierced my eyebrow here. (And promptly took it off when my dad paid a surprise visit to Calcutta. Oops.) I lived my life autonomously for the first time here. It’s painful to leave. I’ll be writing about this a lot. Brace yourselves.

Of course, as always, the first parts of my post have nothing to do with the topic of the post. I will now get to the actual point. It only took me 300 words. -roll eyes-

This post is actually my November Wrap Up. This is where I do mini-reviews of all the books I read, especially those I’m not planning long reviews of.

I read 7 books in November which is pretty good because it was exam month: (They’re listed in the order I read them in.)

1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs — I read this book in one sitting because it was one of those quick reading Young Adult books. I liked it but I didn’t love it. I haven’t found it in me to pick up the sequel yet, even though I am in possession of it presently. I liked the conception of the books because the stories were made from vintage photographs that the author found in jumble sales and such, A lot of the photos are included in the book, and that made for interesting reading. It’s a very short book, with an interesting enough premise but lackadaisical execution, as is the case with a lot of young adult books. Overall, I did enjoy it. So yeah.

2. The Princess Bride by William Goldman — I had read this book once after borrowing it from a friend of mine. She’d insisted I return it asap because she couldn’t bear to be apart from it for long, since it was one of her favourite books. She also owns a vintage edition since the book was more or less out of print at that time so she was terrified of losing it. I sped through the book and I discovered when I thought about it that I couldn’t remember most of the story at all except that I’d loved it. I bought my own copy off of Flipkart which is some sort of anniversary reprint so I may rediscover the book. And yet again, I LOVED IT. I laughed out loud in parts. The annotations made my William Goldman were chuckle-worthy as was the original story, and I loved every single character. I also want to watch the movie now.

3. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides — This is another book that I loved. I cannot wait to get my mitts on the Virgin Suicides which is the one book of his that I haven’t read yet. I wrote a full review of this book already so here is the link to that.

4. Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett — This is my third Terry Pratchett after Good Omens, which he’s written with Neil Gaiman, and Equal Rites, which is a Discworld novel and is on my list of all-time favourite books. And it was mind-blowingly hilarious. I read it in one day, two days before my first exam when I was sick and nervous and miserable. I just took the day off and read and read and read. And it was so worth it! Discworld novels are a bunch of novels set in the Discworld universe, and they’re all companion novels with small series as well. There are a lot of them, and from what I’ve heard, they’re all rib-ticklingly funny and clever. It breaks my heart that he has Alzheimer’s. I had done a book review on Good Omens on my old blog and I think I’ll post it some time in the next week.

5. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri — This is Jhumpa Lahiri’s second novel after the Namesake, which was a book that I absolutely loved. I need to read her short story compilation next, even though I usually don’t like short stories. I’ve decided to read more short stories, though to broaden my horizons. I really liked this book, even though I didn’t like it as much as the Namesake. Her writing style annoyed me at the beginning because it seemed very narrative instead of pictorial, which is not the way I like my books. However, the story was interesting and the character development was exemplary, so I got over that soon enough. It was a good book, overall. And I quite liked how it ended. I identified with the main character, Subhash, which was a bit scary because I don’t want my life to be that way, I guess, but I am now open to the possibility.

6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern — This was a magical book. It was all about the atmosphere and the imagery and I was just sucked in. I only read it in the night because I was in Shillong, reading it on my Kindle after long exhausting days that started at 5am, but I still read for at least an hour or two everyday.I finished it in 3 days. I may do a review about it, but if I don’t, I have to observe that I loved the characters and the story. I gave it 4 stars because I was a bit confused about timelines because of the way the story was structured. I can’t wait for her next novel.

7. The Giver by Lois Lowry — I only heard about this book recently which is shameful because I’m a fan of classic Dystopia, and because this is something of a cult classic, as I gathered. I really, really enjoyed it. It’s a quartet and I’m going to read the other three within the year. I think I’ll post a full review of this book, or maybe of the Quartet. I wasn’t able to give it a full five stars because it was a little too simplistic I think. I’ll explain what I mean in a longer review. Character development was close to non-existent in this book, which is common in classic dystopian books, I think, because the characters are all just tools for the bigger picture, the message. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but that’s the way it is.

So there you go! My surprisingly long list of books for a month where I expected to be reading very little. I would have rather been doing NaNoWriMo of course, but that didn’t happen this year. Fingers crossed for next year. Tell me what you thought about the books I mentioned if you liked any of them, and also give me book recommendations if you can think of any based on the books I have read, both in this list and in my Goodreads. On that note, add me on Goodreads and talk to me there or on Twitter, about books or about other things, because my second favourite thing to do after reading is talking. You can find links to those things here.

Hoot

Sin.