Tag Archives: Books

Book Haul!

Confession: I buy a lot of books! A lot more than I read these days, which makes me sad. I don’t usually do book hauls, because I don’t know if they work in blog posts as well as they do in videos.

However, I am particularly excited about this book haul because one of my favourite second hand bookstores in Bangalore, Bookworm, expanded. EXPANDED. In this day and age, when people are debating whether the time of independent bookstores and physical books is over, the owner bought a 5000 sq ft location and opened a brand new bookstore, moving from the tiny-ish basement location. I still adored the tiny basement location, of course, but this is something else!

I went at the beginning of this month and it was so beautiful, so spacious and just such a lovely atmosphere, that I simply HAD to buy a buttload of books, regardless of how many unread ones are already chilling at home. Judge me all you like, but I was helping the independent book-selling industry! What did you do with your effin’ day, huh, Judgment-face?

Anyway, here are the books that I bought, some second-hand, some shiny and new, but all discounted. Because I’m a loyal customer. And because I buy way too many books. 😛 IMG_20160410_180207710There. Books I’ve been dying to read, books I’d never heard of before, authors I’ve been dying to read… all in one beautiful picture. This picture sort of represents my reading style. A bit of fantasy, a bit of science fiction, a lot of literary fiction, a tiny smidgeon of non-fiction, a lot of humour, some Indian writing… but one thing is completely off, as I just realised: No women! I read a lot of women as a rule, consciously to be more diverse, but I also migrate towards women writers sub-consciously because I like their writing styles and the themes they write about. I’m surprised at myself.

Huh. Who knew that book hauls lead to so much introspection?

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Have you wanted to read any of them? Let me know in the comments!

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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

Literary Would You Rather

I’m stealing and answering the questions published by 101 Books. He’s done 6 of these and I’m randomly doing the third one because I like the number three.

So… Let’s begin!

Would you rather have to read backwards or read upside down?

Upside-down seems easier, although it would slow me down. I’ve tried to read upside-down in the past with reasonable success, so I’ll go with that.

Would you rather be a man named Evelyn Waugh or a woman named George Eliot (both famous authors)?

I know for a fact that George Eliot chose to call herself that. Her actual name is Mary Ann Evans. This is something I learned in primary school when we studied an extract from The Mill on the Floss.

Evelyn Waugh, however, was given the name Evelyn. It was one of his middle names, to be fair, and he chose to call himself Evelyn as well, but I still feel like George Eliot had more choice in the matter. For some reason.

Also. Girls called George! Famous Five! Big, big fan. I wanted to be a guy for a few years because of feisty, curly-haired George.

So, I’d definitely want to be a woman author called George Eliot. 😛

Would you rather have to live through Stephen King’s The Shining or James Dickey’s Deliverance?

<SPOILER ALERT>

If I do want to be menaced and have murder attempted on me, I’d rather these things not be done to me by my dad. Also, I’d rather not have the supernatural involved.

So… Deliverance would be my answer.

However, I haven’t actually read Deliverance, but I have read The Shining, so maybe my answer will change once I read both books. Who knows?

Would you rather permanently be two-feet tall and completely literate, or normal size and permanently illiterate?

Two feet and completely literate. Hands down.

Would you rather read Infinite Jest or get hit in the head with Infinite Jest 10 times (it’s 1,100 pages and more than 480,000 words)?

I’d rather read it. In fact, I own it and intend to read it eventually. 😛

Would you rather have Scarlett O’Hara as your wife or as your mother?

Dear God. I abhor Scarlett. ABHOR her. I know she isn’t meant to be likable and she’s a strong woman, blah blah blah, but the idea of being related to her just brought back all thoughts of how much I hate her.

I don’t know how awful it would be to have her as a mother, because my mother is a wonderful person and an even better mother, but I do think marriages are for life and that’s easily 30 to 40 years of my life as opposed to the 18 or 20 with my mother. Hard cold logic. Very helpful. Always.

(That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in divorce because marriage is a sacrament, or anything like that. It just means that I’d like any marriage I get into to be for the long haul, and I think that divorce is a hassle. Plus, if I married Scarlett O’ Hara, I would judge myself big time.)

God, what horrible questions! Hahaha. They were fun to answer, though. You should try too. Here are the answers that 101 Books gave to his own questions. Enjoy! 😀

That’s all for today,

Hoot.

Sin

Here are my social media links. You know the drill:

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

The Instagram Tag

I found this tag on BluChickenNinja’s blog and it seemed like fun so I’ve decided to do it too. 😀

Here are the questions, and my responses:

1. What’s your Instagram name?

My Instagram handle is owlishphotographer. My name is ‘Sindhu Rao and Terry the GSD’  because I share my account with Terry, my puppy. ^_^

2. How many people do you follow?

I follow 261 people. 😀

3. How many followers do you have?

I have 143 followers. I’ll be honest, I was thrilled when I crossed the 100 followers mark. 😛

4. What are your favorite hashtags?

#bookstagram #dogsofinstagram #bookporn and most recently #guyinthebackisjudging

5. What is your favorite genre of pictures?

Books, dogs, stationery, funky jewellery, are at the top of the list. I also like to follow cartoonists and illustrators.

6. How often do you post?

A few times a week. At least once a week since I got my dog. 😛

7. How often do you check Instagram?

Everyday. I’m a social media addict. It’s a  problem.

8. What’s your favorite filter?

I like Clarendon, Gingham and Lo-fi. xD

9. iPhone only, purist or rebel?

I use my phone to take pictures even though I have a point and shoot camera. This is because my camera is never handy. I don’t have an iPhone though, I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which is a huge phone with an excellent camera. I’ve had to have it serviced though, because I dropped it and broke the display. I’m using my dad’s old phone which doesn’t have as good of a camera, but it’s nice enough if the lighting is good.

Go ahead and do this tag if you want to. 🙂 I’m too lazy to actually tag people.

Also, you can go ahead and stalk my Instagram and whatever other social media I have if you want to:

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

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks | Book Review

This is a book review of the first non-fiction book I read this month, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

Now, you may all be wondering who Henrietta Lacks is.

In brief, she was an African-American woman who had cervical cancer and who died in 1951 from the cancer. Samples of her malignant cells was obtained from her body by the doctors at the hospital where she was receiving treatment for the cancer. After her death as well, more cell samples were taken from her body from the tumours.

These were given to a tissue culturist who had been attempting to create cell cultures for research in his lab. He released that these cells were very fast-growing and also that they didn’t seem to die, whereas every other cell he’d experimented on died briefly after being removed from the body.

These cells were called HeLa and then went on to become the most widely used cells in cancer research, polio research, and a variety of other things, and these cells continue to live to this day.

However, the fact that these cells belonged to a woman named Henrietta Lacks was not known at all till the 1970’s or 1980’s, nor was anything known about her history, life or family.

The author of this book decided to undertake the writing of this book because she heard about Henrietta Lacks and HeLa in a biology class. Her interest was piqued but she was unable to find any further information about Henrietta Lacks in any textbook or library. She felt like Henrietta Lacks deserved recognition and her story deserved to be told, and therefore, began the project.

I studied about Henrietta Lacks in law school in the context of patenting medication invented using her cells, but I was somewhat fuzzy about the details of how her cells came to be in the possession of the doctors, why her family was quite so outraged by it, what her rights even are with relation to her body parts, and whether those rights are alienable.

I chose this book over the pile of other unread non-fiction I own because it has a lot to do with what I discussed about ownership of one’s body and usage of one’s body in medical research or for medical purposes, and such topics in my book review of Never Let Me Go. I felt like it would be a continuation of the same theme and maybe help to answer some of the ethical questions that I have. Maybe. So I gave it a shot.

This book was meticulously researched, especially considering that Skloot had to start from very nearly from scratch. Her hard work really came through in her description of her research process, but it was clear that those bits weren’t there simply to explain her work, but rather to explain how confused and traumatised Henrietta Lacks’s family was by what was happening with her cells.

I really liked how Skloot mixed the more human, for lack of a better word, parts of the story with the legal parts. It didn’t feel like a heavy read at all, but I understood a lot of heavy concepts a lot better by the end of it all. It was apparent that she’d formed a real bond with Lack’s family, and that really touched me.

I also understood, in large measure, the bewilderment felt by common people at the technicalities of the medical industry, which also applies to the legal industry I think. I almost cried when I was reading those parts.

The book answered most of my legal and factual questions, but it did not clear up my ethical dilemmas at all. In fact, I have more questions than ever. I’m very grateful for that because it makes me want to help to resolve the many legal grey areas of medical research and human experimentation.

This book is a good, educational and still enjoyable read that I think everyone should read. The things it speaks about should be general knowledge.

Plus, there wasn’t a slow moment in the book. I loved reading every bit of it. It flows smoothly and engages the reader throughout. Overall, it’s an auspicious start to non-fiction reads month I think. Read it!

Hoot,
Sin
Go and check out my social media places 😀 It’ll make me happy:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/owlishwriter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8681585-sindhu
Twitter: @sindrao22
Email: owlishreader@gmail.com
Instagram: owlishphotographer

Never Let Me Go | Book Review

I am feeling sooo much more upbeat today than I did yesterday! 🙂
As I said, I started reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I also finished reading it. 😀 Reading block is over! It’s clearly all about finding the right book! We are back in business, baby!
This book interested me because it’s dystopian, of course, but also because it’s about experimentation on human beings and about eugenics, which are both topics that I’ve read about with disturbed fascination for a long time. I wrote a paper about it, too, in my last semester of college, though I don’t think I did justice to the topic.
Ethics of experimentation on living things has become hazier and greyer since cloning and genetic engineering came into the picture. I strained my mind trying to understand the boundaries of permitted experimentation since I read about the Harvard Onco Mouse, which was genetically engineered to be more susceptible to cancer, in order to facilitate cancer research, of course.
Now, off the top of your minds, tell me. Is that right or wrong?
Is it ok to harm mice thus because of the greater good? Why is it ok? Is it because mice are lesser life forms? Or is it acceptable because this particular mouse wouldn’t even exist if not for the people who created it in the lab, thereby giving them ownership of sorts over it?
Can you really own a living being just because you created it in a lab? Can you really use a living being for the sole purpose of benefitting others, to their detriment, if you created it with that specific purpose in mind?
Ishiguro’s book made me ponder these questions anew and it did not get less disturbing or heart-breaking.
I really liked the protagonist of this book, Kathy. I liked that the book was in first person. I liked that is was a nostalgic reminiscence about a past gone by, but with inputs from hindsight. I liked the meandering, rambling style of narration, not just because that’s how my head works, but also because this is how everybody reminisces about the past I think. I like that her memories showed everyone in her life honestly and nakedly, almost unforgivingly accurately, and yet her love and compassion for them shone through.
The matter of fact way in which these characters accepted their due in life was so chilling, so frightening, but so real.
And there was a love story. Of course there was. There is no better way to make your reader relate to your characters than to have them love; love, deeply and hard, because everybody has once in their life at least. And everyone knows that love can leave the “unkindest cuts of them all”.
I’m unsure, but I think it was the way Kathy addresses people like herself throughout the book as the receivers of her internal ruminations that made me feel the same emotions of contentment, hope, fear, helpless rage, resignation, exasperation, empathy, and a spectrum of other feelings that the characters were feeling.
The intensity of these feelings also altered according to whether I was reading about Kathy’s childhood, youth or adulthood.
Invoking this level of internal debate as well as emotion is a very hard thing to do, and it is admirable that Ishiguro is able to do so.
When I was reviewing The Giver, I talked about how certain authors of dystopian novels use their characters as pawns for their ‘message’ and how annoying that is in a novel. Ishiguro has done the exact opposite of this in this book.
This is an excellent book. I think everybody should read it, and in today’s scientific climate, I think it may end up proving more relevant than one can ever imagine.
I gave it a full five stars. 🙂
I hear there’s a movie too? Is that worth watching?
Those of you who’ve read the book, what did you think of it?
Can any of you recommend more dystopian books along these lines, where the book doesn’t end in the overthrow or the reform of the dystopian society? I know it sounds like a ridiculous request, but that isn’t the point of a book in this genre, I think. A lot of the YA dystopian books are along those lines, and it’s kind of put me off after a point, honestly.
Well, I could be wrong. What do you think it the point of writing a dystopian book?

Go ahead and stalk me or hit me up on my social media. I like talking to people. (As long as it’s only on the internet and
my shyness can’t become apparent
)

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
P.S: I just added the term ‘The Greater Good’ as a tag to this post and it made me chuckle to think of how it’s gotten such sinister significance after Harry Potter. And then I realised that these words should have exactly that significance because the greater good is always determined by the stronger group of people, and it quite crushes minorities. It makes sentient beings into sacrificeable statistics.
So… kudos to Rowling for giving these words this new connotation.
P.P.S: I know that this disapproval of the concept has probably existed for longer but I’m only saying JK has made it widespread by associating these words with something objectively bad in the minds of an entire generation.
Well, that was a little random!
Errr. Heheh. Cheers!
Off I go!

Brace Yourselves: The Month of all the Non-Fiction!

Anyone who’s read my blog for a while, or let’s face it, even for a brief time, knows that I’m very much a fiction girl. I read a hell of a lot of fiction, I aspire to write fiction, and I talk non-stop about fiction.
Until a few years ago, I read close to no non-fiction, and I didn’t want to, either.
Today though, my interest in non-fiction has increased. I’ve read quite a few non-fiction books, and I’ve enjoyed them thoroughly. I’ve bought and have been gifted quite a number of non-fiction books, too. Most of these books are memoirs, but a few are not.
The thing is, though, that I am impatient and have the attention span of a sparrow, and I keep jumping from book to book when the going gets slow with the book I happen to be reading. And non-fiction is frequently a slower read, making me migrate towards fiction almost unconsciously.
With the view of fixing this, I am naming October non-fiction month. I won’t read a word of fiction all this month. I did this last year too, and it worked well, so maybe it will this year too. 🙂
I have technically already broken this rule because I finished Never Let Me Go today, Oct 1st, but there is still a lot of time left for the day to end, so provided I start reading some non-fiction today, I think we can overlook this minor transgression.

(And yes, there will be a review of Never Let Me Go, and all of you raising you eyebrows and skepically saying “Uh-huh” can eat humble pie BECAUSE I HAVE ALREADY WRITTEN IT. Yes, that’s right! I have written a review and I have scheduled it for later in the week. HA!)
Wish me luck with this reading challenge, guys!
Have you ever participated in a similar challenge? How did it go? Do you want to try this challenge with me? Let me know in the comments. 😀

I will keep you all updated on how it goes!

Here is how you can find me on social media, by the way, if you haven’t had enough of me already:

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