Tag Archives: Non-fiction

Unexpected Book Recommendations and How I Deal With Them 

(Spoiler alert: I deal with them poorly.)

How have I never heard of Diana Wynne Jones?!

Some context: I am reading A View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman. I am at the part of the book where he talks (has written?) about people he’s known.

I’ve just read the one about Diana Wynne Jones.(I have also flipped to the next page and seen that the next essay is about Terry Pratchett and I’m itching to read it. But first; this post.) I read the first few lines and then I said, “Who the fuck is Diana Wynne Jones?” I almost said it out loud, which was problematic, because I was in court at the time.

Then I googled her.

Apparently,  she is wildly popular, and has written a large number of books in the fantasy genre (which I adore).  She’s been compared to J.K Rowling (whom I adore) and to Gaiman himself (whom I have stopped adoring and started worshipping.). Neil Gaiman seems to delight in her writing, and it seems to be right up my alley. But I have never heard of her!! I’m in shock, if that wasn’t already evident.

But eh. Better late than never, right? Neil Gaiman said that he read her books in his twenties and it felt like coming home. I am in my early twenties. It seems to me to be a clear sign.

So… I went ahead and bought one of her books off Amazon and will be getting on to the task of remedying my ignorance as soon it is delivered.

Yes, it breaks my oath to not buy more books until my birthday.

No, I have no shame.

No, this isn’t even the first book I’ve bought since I started reading this book. I also bought Coralline on my Kindle earlier today. Heh. Whoops.

(Should I simply stop reading non-fiction, guys? It seems to be a downward spiral of more book-buying every time. Don’t answer that.)

I think that I’ll do daily posts about The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel after I start reading it.

I AM VERY EXCITED.

Now I’m off to read about Terry Pratchett!

Have you guys read Diana Wynne Jones? What do you think of her? What do you think of A View from the Cheap Seats? Do you like Neil Gaiman? Do you think I’m insane for buying so many books? Let me know in the comments!

That’s all for now, guys!

Hoot

–Sin

 

 

 

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Currently Reading — A View from the Cheap Seats

I am sitting in court and reading The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman while waiting. God bless the day I decided to install the Kindle application on my phone

I came across a delightful idea in one of his essays which I wanted to share with you guys. In the days when I was at college, I would have run to a friend’s room and gone into ecstacies. Now that I’m an adult, I am forced to attempt coherence in my excitement

(It occurs to me that the worst thing about adulthood is not the waking up early or the responsibility but the loneliness. What do you think? But I digress.)

Neil Gaiman has a brilliantly put opinion on the differing roles of a creator and an academic. 

It is the job of the creator to explode. It is the task of the academic to walk around the bomb site, gathering up the shrapnel, to figure out what kind of an explosion it was , who was killed, how much damage it was meant to do and how close it came to actually achieving that.

I agree with him completely. What do you guys think? Do you think you’re better suited to being a creator or an academic? Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments! 

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!

Currently Reading (Taking Weird Decisions)

Hello everyone! What are you all reading right now?
I am currently in the middle of M Train by Patti Smith. It’s a memoir, which is my favourite genre of non-fiction. It’s her second memoir after Just Kids.
I found so many quotable and lovable quotes in it that I panicked about
forgetting them. Therefore, I have decided to recommence my reading of the book and write and underline and whatever else in it since I’m never going to give this book away anyway. Yes, I know. It’s ridiculous when I already hardly get time to read but I must. I feel like I’ll really miss out on something if I don’t.
Plus, I’m seriously considering buying a hard copy of Just Kids and rereading that because I feel like the Kindle edition may not have done justice to it.
In other words, I may have lost my mind. I have reconciled myself to it though. M Train, here I come! (Again)
Has any book given you this feeling before? Do you write in books or do you abhor the practice? Have you read either Just Kids or M Train? What did you think? What do you think of Patti Smith’s music? Is her latest album any good? Let me know in the comments!

Non – fiction Month Failures

I read fiction, guys.

I lost my grandfather, my only living grandparent, to a losing battle with Parkinson’s on the 21st of this month.

On the 22nd, I gave in and picked up a novel and read a chunk of it. I never ended up finishing it though. I never picked up any non-fiction books either, after.

On the 28th, I had a job interview that could have gone either way. They haven’t told gotten back to me yet. I got home, feeling drained, and Career of Evil finally arrived very, very late even though I’d pre-ordered it. (Thanks for that, Amazon!) 

Regardless, I was a tiny bit happy to see it.

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Yup. Just a tad.

I finally gave in on 29th, which was yesterday, and decided that non-fiction was a bust. It had drained me mentally to read Being Mortal, enlightening though it was, because it had made me realise all the ways in which we’d failed my grandfather, who was already beyond help by then.

I picked up Career of Evil and sped through it, as one always does with Cormoran Strike novels. I finished it today. Robert Galbraith continues, as always, to amaze and awe and this installment may be my favourite one yet. I am working on a review for this book, so you can look forward to that in the next few days. 🙂

I did learn something about myself during this month though. I not only stress-eat, but also stress-read. And I only stress-read fiction. Non-fiction is an enjoyable learning experience, but fiction is my second home.

Nonetheless, I read some amazing non-fiction this month, books I may never have gotten to otherwise, in my rush of reading all the good novels I can get my hands on. I’ll continue to read non-fiction,at least a book each month or every two months. And I’ll try to do non-fiction month again next year.

Until then, I would love to hear some non-fiction recommendations from you guys. I would also like to know if you guys prefer fiction or non-fiction, and which genres. Let me know in the comments, guys. 🙂

If you guys want to stalk me, you’re welcome to. I do have a glamorous and fascinating life. 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: owlishphotographer

Cheers,

Hoot.

Sin

Non-fiction Month Update

Non-fiction month is very hard, guys. I suddenly want to read every novel ever written; every novel that had been sitting on my shelf for ages untouched, unappealing, until this month.

I tried reading A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf but she’s so verbose and meandering and I haven’t been able to get into it at all. It’s a tiny book, about 120 pages long, and I expected to finish it in a day. I’ve cleanly avoided that possibility however, by picking it up as less as possible, for tiny periods and spending the rest of my time watching TV and browsing the internet and sleeping.

The last book that I read was Writing down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I really liked this book. As she states in the preface, this book can just be randomly flipped open to a chapter and read in any order because each one gives a different and interesting tip to improve your writing and also to keep writing.  It gave me some great ideas and I think I’ll reread bits of it all through NaNoWriMo if I get stuck.

I feel like the book was a little too solemn though. Writing is a funny business, you know? You can’t survive being a writer without some humour. That is why I love Bird by Bird so much. I think I ended up comparing them in my head throughout because they both deal with writing and spirituality and life.

Writing Down the Bones is a lot more about Zen and spirituality and using your craft as your spirituality. I really like that because I’ve always thought something similar. I always write out the prayers I send out into the universe because I think it’s more effective. Patti Smith also says she did this in her book Just Kids and it made me very happy.

The chapters are super short , with some being a few pages long and the shortest ones being about three quarters of a page long. I really appreciate that because I like it when brevity communicates big ideas. Plus, it’ll make them easier to reread when I’m losing my mind with a new job and NaNoWriMo. 😛

I think I’m ready to give up on A Room of One’s Own for now even though it got a little more interesting yesterday. I’m sick, see, and my head is all fuzzy, and I’m not able to tune in to her prose. At all. I mostly want to nap some more but I miss reading. I’ll pick a book and keep you guys updated! 🙂

Hoot

Sin

Being Mortal | Book Review

Since this is Non-fiction Month, and since I don’t read non-fiction nearly often enough, I’ve decided to try to review every book I read this month. It won’t be more than four or five books, but I think that’s still a big deal because reviewing non-fiction is hard, especially non-fiction I’ve enjoyed and want you guys to want to read.

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Look at this beautiful cover, representing the fragility of life.

The second book I read this month (not including Bird by Bird) is Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. It was voted one of the top 10 non-fiction books by Amazon, and it was a great bestseller. I didn’t pick it up because of that though.

This is a book one of my friends went nuts about in college, and recommended to everyone. She wants to go into medical policy research, especially policy about equal opportunities for the differently-abled. She gifted the book to our Medicine and Public Health Law teacher when we left college.

She and I, we had this tradition where we’d go places like coffee houses, or restaurants, or anywhere really, with books in our bags, sit quietly and read together. I remember sitting with her at the little shack where we used to get coffee and instant noodles and she grabbed a pen and wrote all over the margins of this book. She couldn’t stop smiling and staring up at the sky like she’d had a revelation. Her obvious love and excitement for the book got me excited about it too.

The author Atul Gawande, is a doctor. He writes about the one topic doctors seem to hesitate to talk about; mortality and death. He says that people are living longer enjoying better qualities of life than ever before. However, people’s bodies still fail. He felt like the entire process of death has shifted from the home to hospitals and nursing homes, has become medicalised, in other words, and that the medical fraternity and society and large is unprepared for the enormous elderly population that exists today and for the concept of terminality and certain death as a whole.

This book talked about so many concepts like elder care, hospice care, euthanasia and the responsibility of doctors towards patients and the patients’ family. He opines that our priorities of safety over  autonomy for our loved ones may deteriorate their quality of their lives rapidly.  He brings in philosophy, sociology and psychology. And he still makes it understandable to people with no knowledge or experience in any of these fields.

It isn’t all academic though. He talks about his own failures and learning processes as a general surgeon. He talks about his interviews and interactions with people faced with mortality, both because of age and because of illnesses. He talks about his own personal experiences with death and disease.

I never expected it from what I thought of as an academic/ medico-legal philosophical book, but this book made me tear up at the end.  Loss of a loved one is always a painful thing, but today’s lifespans mean that generations of family members need to learn to cope better. I haven’t been coping or handling it very well in my own life. I’ve been feeling really helpless, actually. This book made me realise that I’m not alone in feeling like the situation should be better. It also made me realise that it can be better with just a few changes, and that it’s a goal that’s achievable during my own lifetime. The wisdom, accessibility, lack of judgment and and new perspective of the book just made me think of things that had never occurred to me before.

Sadly, my sensitive, small brain has now had an over-large dose about the bleak state of affairs pertaining to our bodies and health, and will not be able to digest another eye-opening, mind-altering book for a while.

The book I was originally going to read after this is Our Moon has Blood Clots but I need to break it up with something lighter first, so I’ll pick up Writing Down the Bones for my NaNoWriMo prep now, and read something heavy after. I really, really want to just give up and read a novel right now, but I won’t. I’m sticking to my guns!

That’s all for now, guys!

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

Happy stalking! 🙂 And happy reading. 😀

Hoot,

Sin