Archives

The Bone Clocks| Book Review

This is my review of the book The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.

I don’t know what it is about books that have the word”Bone”in them. I always feel attracted to them. I don’t always enjoy them, but I always feel like reading them. Huh. Well, you’re welcome for the random insight into the twisted mind of the Sindhu. Now to the review:

This is my second David Mitchell book after Cloud Atlas, and I loved both even though they’re completely different books except that they both mess with your head. In a good way, of course. What even is the point of reading a book that doesn’t mess with your head at least a little? Am I right?

This book is a combination of all things good, in my opinion. It has all my favourite genres. Fantasy, bordering on science fiction; dystopic, futurisic elements; a family saga spanning generations; in one beautifully written, sophisticated brick. I read a major chunk of it over one delightfully undisturbed weekend. I adored this weekend, but it also broke my heart a little because it wasn’t that long ago that this is how I spent nearly all my weekends. Growing up is hard and painful. I’m grateful for books like this that let me in and give me a metaphorical window seat in a cottage in a meadow to have for as long as the book has pages.

The book starts with Holly Sykes, a fifteen-year old, who decides to run away from home because her mum doesn’t like her boyfriend. Simple enough, but then …it goes batshit crazy. Her running away changes the course of events completely for her whole family. My reaction through most of this book was, “What in the name of god is going on?” But when the plot finally resolved itself, oh, it was so completely delightful, I could have wept. I don’t want to give away much more of the story, though, because everything is a spoiler.

Some David Mitchell specialities that I’ve noticed in both of his books are: jumping through time in his narrative, skipping years, going into the past and the future with ease; changing perspectives from character to character flawlessly; and combining fantasy with social commentary so that you forget you’re reading fantasy until it whacks you in the face. Both of his books have fantastical elements but it’s more pronounced in the Bone Clocks.

I also really enjoyed the character development in this book. I am always enchanted by characters whom I root for despite their (sometimes) despicable flaws. I am convinced that I can never create a likable, relatable character, and that it takes skill that I simply don’t possess.

(I don’t know that you can take my word for the likability of a character, though, to be honest. I remember when I studied Julius Caesar in high school, and my professor told me that Shakespearan characters in his tragedies always had a ‘fatal flaw’ for which they needed to be punished, regardless of how virtuous they otherwise were. The way I view people and the world is somewhat different. I like most people when I first meet them. I do realise that there are bad things about them but nearly everyone I meet has that one redeeming, human quality that makes me want to hug them. Something that makes me go “aww”. People are…cute. They’re all grey and imperfect and worthy of love. I realise that this is naïve, and believe me when I say that liking people doesn’t lead me to trust them or count on them, so I’ll probably not get screwed over. So, worry not. The fact remains though, that it only takes one vulnerability to make me love a person.)

Yes. The princess of digression is back!

But, back to the Bone Clocks. Would I recommend it to other people? Hell yes. I feel like there’s something in here for everyone. And it’s a promisingly fat book, which is a huge plus. Give it a try, guys! Five stars from me.

That’s all for today!

Hoot.

Sin

Here are my social media links. I post cool things sometimes:

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

Advertisements

Patti Smith Tells Me What to Read

When I was a kid, before the usage of the internet was popular, I bought my books exclusively by browsing through the bookstore and picking up what looked interesting. I didn’t always buy and read books belonging to series in the right order, allowing my imagination to fill in the bits that didn’t quite make sense. But the overleaf or the last page of the book would contain the names of the other books in those series and I would keep an eye out for them. When I finally found and read the prequels of the books that I had read first, it was a cathartic experience. I’ll never regret reading my books in this strange way. But it did mean that I ended up getting stuck reading a certain author or publisher a lot.

The only reason my reading didn’t stagnate is because I tended to gravitate towards books about people that read a lot and write a lot and want to be writers or are writers, as a kid. (Whom am I kidding? I still gravitate towards such books)
In these books, there would be those treasured times when these fictional people that I felt I could relate to so much, read real books by real authors. And then I would get extremely excited and go hunt down those books. I found one of my all-time favourite children’s books, A Little Princess, this way. New books! New worlds! So magical.

To date, I adore reading books about obsessive readers and writers; about people who didn’t drop their reading habits, blaming adulthood for their default. And I adore books about writing and the writing process even more. My all-time favourite book (Spoiler alert: It may be toppled soon by a new book) Bird by Bird is about writing. And nothing– NOTHING– can beat the joy of getting book recommendations from such books even in the age of Goodreads and Booktube.

One such book that I had been reading for a while now is M Train by Patti Smith. It’s her second memoir, and it released in 2015. I took some time to get my hands on it because of Amazon’s idiocy, and it took me some more time to make myself read it because of the enormous number of unread books I have. I decided to start it over after reading about a third of it because I wanted to annotate it. After all of these obstacles keeping us apart, I finally finished reading it last morning. She reads like me, but more so; getting obsessed with authors, with stories, with the lives of the fictional people in those stories, etc. And she has made me fall in love with her and with all of the things she loves. She thinks of writing as prayer, the way I do. I feel like she just gets me.  I got so many book recommendations, so many author recommendations from her, that I felt cross-eyed. I wonder how many books I’ll own and have read by the time I’m her age.

In one part of the book, she speaks about how much she loves Mikhail Bulgakov, and I’ve had one of his books on my shelf for absolute ages and I bought another one recently. So… I’ve decided that it’s time to give this Russian writer a chance, even though I have a rubbish record of finishing Russian books. I haven’t finished anything by Tolstoy, I didn’t finish Doctor Zhivago, or anything by Gogol till date. I just think that the Russians have a style of writing that involves a hell of a lot of backstory and digression, and I’m unused to that style. Maybe once I’m accustomed to it, I’ll actually be able to read the other authors too: Especially Pasternak, because  Doctor Zhivago has such an interesting premise, which is right up my alley and I really, really want to be able to finish it.

So get tuned for two Bulgakov books in a row, and stay tuned because it’ll take me forever at the speed I’m reading these days.

What do you guys think of Patti Smith’s books? Her music? Do you like Bulgakov? Do you read any Russian literature? Tell me in the comments!

Here are my customary 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

Keeping reading, guys!

Cheers.

Hoot,

Sin

Going Beyond Storytelling– Reviewing the Cairo Trilogy

I have been reading the Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz. I’ve made my way through the first two books, Palace Walk and the Palace of Desire, and I’m going to read the third one, Sugar Street, as soon as I finish M Train, the book I’m currently reading. The Trilogy is a family saga. Family sagas are one of my favourite genres, because of the alluring promise of a thick book that the genre carries with it.

I have mixed feelings about this trilogy.

I really enjoyed the first book, and got invested in the characters and their lives. That’s always an indicator of talent in my eyes. I like authors who wring my heart and occasionally rip it to shreds, and that can only be done if I feel some amount of fondness for the characters.

However, and this is a pretty massive problem, I found the prose waxed entirely too self-indulgent, too rambling and too self-righteous, when the author narrated the internal monologues of any of the characters. I could still bear it in the first book, but in the second book, it got unbearable. In the second book, Kamal, the youngest son in the family (I suspected that the author based on himself and my suspicions were confirmed as true by the ever-reliable interweb.) grows up and attends college. And I must say that he thinks entirely too much! And the author dedicates his pen to the transcription of his every thought, regardless of its importance to the story. Thought for thought’s sake is great, and god knows I think a hell of a lot, but I maintain that they remain in philosophic books and journals. And yes, I do have an enjoyment for journals, which makes my distaste for this rambling writing style seem contradictory, but it isn’t. You see, journals are in the first person. These books are not. And when a person makes the stylistic choice of writing in the third person perspective, it’s a stylistic choice and the content should be altered accordingly. Else, things get dull. Very dull. Skim-read-till-plot-happens dull.

And that brings me to a connected thought that’s bothering me. Well, this story starts out in Cairo in the beginning of the 20th Century. The men in the story are terribly misogynistic. Their actions are appalling and their thoughts are more so. And the third person narration of these thoughts makes me highly uncomfortable because the author has not volunteered his opinion of them, making me constantly wonder if he’s in agreement with them.

This made me think about an author’s role in a story that’s written in the third person. In my opinion, when an author writes in the third person, he’s becoming a part of the story, an omniscient third party who is present throughout and whom the reader is counting on. Of course, an author can just narrate the happenings faithfully and get away with it if the story is arresting, and if he/she keeps the monologues to a minimum, but not otherwise. I believe that this should especially be the case in novels classified as literature, since literature seems to attribute a… responsibility, for want of a better word, to a book that mere narration does not fulfil.

I’m still eager to read the third book because the second one ended on a cliffhanger. Cliffhangers are both brilliant and evil. Besides, I’m still extremely invested in the characters, who are well-rounded and flawed and interesting.

So, I guess I’ll post a follow up review of the trilogy (a complete one) once I finish it.

In the meantime, tell me what do you think. Is anyone else out there an aspiring writer who thinks as much as I do about writing tools and styles and the responsibility of writers of literature? Has any of you ever read these books? What did you think of them? What do you think an author’s role is in a story? What does literature mean to you?  Do any of you enjoy reading long monologues in novels? If you do, what is it about them that appeals to you? Let me know in the comments.

Hoot.

–Sin

Here are my social media links if you want to check them out:

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

My Top 10 Reads of 2015

Hello everyone!

It turns out that another year has come to an end. This was a tornado of a year and I’m still trying to find the scattered bits of my life and start living properly again. Of course, it wasn’t all bad; there were some lovely bits, and some of the loveliest bits were the books that I read.

It was a fabulous reading year for me and I liked nearly every book I read and some of them have become lifetime favourites that I think about nearly every week. These are the books that I would blindly recommend to everyone.

After a great deal of thought, here are my top 10 books out of the 55 I read this year (In no particular order)

  1. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  2. Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
  3. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
  4. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  5. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
  6. The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
  7. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
  8. The Firebird by Saikat Majumdar
  9. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  10. We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

A lot of women and coloured authors on this list, which makes me happy. Did you guys read diversely too this year?

I have a few more books that I adored nearly as much but these are the ones that made the final cut. Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What books would you recommend to a person who’s enjoyed these books? What are your favourite 2015 reads? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

Here are my social media links for the stalkers out there. (You know you’re out there! :P)

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

That’s all for today, guys.

Hoot.

-Sin

Currently Reading

Hello all!

Happy Holidays! 🙂

I’m off to Mumbai tomorrow on holiday with my college friends. I’ll be back by Monday though, so you can still expect my Monday post.

I may only have been working for 3 weeks but they all need vacations and of course, I’m going too. It’ll like a little slice of college life, which I need right now. Breaking news, guys: Adulthood is painful.

Anyway, I’m reading one of the most heartbreaking books I’ve read this year; I have no trouble understanding why it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize last year. I’ve put it down now so that I may have a good cry about it. And write this post.

The book I’m reading is We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. I don’t want to give away a thing about this book because the surprise element of the book blew me away and made the reading experience so much better. I want you guys to have that too. Just know that it’s a book about family and sibling relations.

I adore this book so far. The book is in first person and I like the voice of the narrator, Rosemary. I like the writing style, which is simple yet evocative. I like the fact that the book moves seamlessly between Rosemary’s college life to her childhood that she reminisces about in college. However, the book is actually set in 2012 where an adult Rosemary is reminiscing about her college self reminiscing about and reliving her somewhat traumatic childhood. The book moves smoothly between these three timelines without any confusion or complication, which I appreciate.

I think my review of this book will contain spoilers, which is something I do only when I’m exploding to talk about what I’ve read. So you may want to avoid it if you haven’t read this book by then

I love this book A LOT but I need to read it slowly to avoid repeats of the loud sobbing I just broke into before I closed the book and started writing this post.

What are you all reading? Perhaps you’ve been wise enough to pick up something more cheery and festive, yes? Or are any of you masochistic readers like me? Have any of you read We are All Completely Beside Ourselves? What are your thoughts about it? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

If you want to follow me on social media, you’re welcome to do so. 😀 Feed the Sindhu her social media love.

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

That’s all for today, guys!

Hoot.

-Sin

Firebird | Book Review

This is a book review of Firebird, by Saikat Majumdar. I was looking at my Goodreads Year in Review and Goodreads tells me this book is the least read one out of all the books I’ve read this year, coming in at 15 other Goodreads readers. That made me unhappy because I LOVE this book. It was chillingly beautiful, well-written and gripping. So I’m going to review it in the hope that at least a few of the people who read this blog (If any. :P) may get interested in reading this greviously underrated book.
image

This book is set in 1980’s Calcutta. Stories set in Calcutta have a special place in my heart since it’s the place in which I’ve spent a majority of my adulthood. The atmosphere in this book is perfect and evocative.

It is the story of a boy named Ori, whose mother is a theatre actor. She’s married into a middle-class Bengali family to a man who was once passionate about her art and about her, but the marriage has since degenerated. The entire genteel Bengali community equates the theatre to prostitution and disapproves of it, especially of Ori’s mother acting as the wife or lover to other men, and the gossip and talk has turned Ori’s father’s head to an extent where he is now depressed and addicted to alcohol and sleeping pills.

At the beginning of the book, we see Ori proud of his mother’s talent and interested in going on stage himself. As time goes by, the persistent and pernicious talk about his mother continues and Ori’s perception of it also becomes more acute as he reaches adoloscence. His already teetering life becomes more unstable, and so does he…

The story is about Ori’s relationship with his parents, aunt, grandmother and cousins and the ways in which they relate to and conflict with each other. It paints an excellent portrait of middle-class values and gives us brilliant insight into Ori’s psychology, while telling a brilliant story too.

I really do recommend this mind-boggling and fast-paced book. Give it some love, guys. I’ve never read a book that deserves it more but that has received it less.

Here are my customary 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

 

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