Monday, March 16, 2009

My Favourites- Books

The listing of a few of my favourite books happened because of Shalini "of travels and travails " and kanchan of "elan".I am greatful to them for having been given the opportunity.
The habit of reading for me is one of the oldest and till now perhaps the only one without a worthy substitute.I cannot guarantee that I'm an avid reader,but I read almost anything.But now getting time to read is no guarantee with my 4 year old taking away most of the time.Now i end up in reading Cindrella,Mermaid and Red Riding Hood repeatedly.
As you all know Books, remain a world wide hit,despite the advent of modern technology.They open up an entirely new world before us. Worlds we have never visited before, unheard of, even unimagined before. They open up a plethora of experiences and tales of awe which one can only, but read to experience. They influence one to a great extent. Thoughts, both rational and revolutionary, ideas both subtle and explosive have been effectively preached through the instruments called books.I have read quite a few books till date and am greatly impressed by some of them.I've been greatly impressed by some writers and by some whom I have not.
Very clear are those memories wherein when I was 4 year old,my amma telling me stories.She was great in cooking up wonderful stories and it used to be told in parts each night after night.Dedicated to my childhood and those wonderful memories here comes the first book:

1.Grimms Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
This book for the first time opened up an entirely different world to me unheard of and unimagined before. For almost two centuries, the stories of magic and myth gathered by the Brothers Grimm have been part of the way children—and adults—learn about the vagaries of the real world. More than 200 enchanting characters included here. Lyrically translated and beautifully illustrated, the tales are presented just as Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm originally set them down: bold, primal, just frightening enough, and endlessly engaging.Anybody would love it.It will be a mistake if this volume is merely bought for a child; it should be, first and foremost, an educational ‘must’ for adults.” It was one of the birthday presents when I was 6 years old.Till now remains one of the prized collections of my books.Now that I have my 4 year old i dont think i have any escape from not reading it now either.

Dedicated to my teens:is

by Kamaladas /Madhavikutty/Kamala Suraiya
In my teens and until recently, the legendary & iconoclastic writer put me off with her histrionics; or what I perceived as her histrionics. All her women protagonists came across as sexually frustrated and infidelity was a leitmotif in all I could read. This lady was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature.In simple words she is brilliant and I like her still as Madhavikutty.She is the quintessential feminist, eternal lover and the most independent soul, the lady is my idol. She is not a feminist of the typical mould,but the truest of them all.In all her writings and talks she always admitted her need for emotional security, her longing for physical beauty, the need for attention and all the other vulnerabilities innate in a woman. The undercurrent of emotions is the same in each name of hers.The superficial exhibition of it baffles me at times.

Krishna, I am melting,Melting, melting Nothing remains But you ~ Kamala Das.

Though autobiographical, Neermathalam Pootha Kalam isn’t just her story. It is the story of any one of her generation would tell. I have heard similar stories from my parents & grand parents. Reading it gives the same feeling; the feeling of sitting in your grandmother’s lap and listening to her stories of “good old times”.
No drama, no whirlpool and nothing extra ordinary. Just plain, mundane day to day life; told in the language so non-fictional. Yet it is the Diary of Young Ami, so captivating and it gives you that long needed catharsis. In the initial chapters, Das brilliantly draw the whole family tree. But later on, growing up as the daughter of one of the greatest poetess of Malayalam and successful Indian Official in the British India, Ami speaks more about the servants in the kitchen, the dhobi whose daughter of her age had to marry an old widower, the poor Anglo Indian girl who pursue her to get a job for some relative in her father’s company. So many characters evolve, as the author juggle between her days in Calcutta and her ancestral home in South Malabar. We move with her, without any disconnect. We live with her grand mother, swim with her in the pool and then take the train journey with her. Such is her versatility.
You can’t read thru the pages without being Ami, as the author is fondly called by her family and as you finally finish the book, you are left with the angst, unrest and eventual peace the grandmother go thru the first time Ami comes home wearing a sari.
As a Malayali, you owe this read to yourself. If you are not one, you still owe it to yourself to know one of the best authors our country has ever had.This book got her the Vayalar Award for 1997.

Enjoyed reading the three below

3.Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children"
A novel by Salman Rushdie. It centres on the author's native India and was acclaimed as a major milestone in postcolonial literature.
It won both the 1981 Booker Prize and the James Tait Black memorial Prize for the same year. It was awarded the "Booker of Bookers" Prize and the best all-time prize winners in 1993 and 2008 to celebrate the Booker Prize 25th and 40th anniversary.Midnight's Children is a loose allegory for events in India both before and, primarily, after the independence and partition of India which took place at midnight on 15 August 1947.It story starts with saleem discovering that all children born on midnight 15 August 1947 has imbued with special powers.The technique of magical realism finds liberal expression throughout the novel and is crucial to constructing the parallel to the country's history.Midnight's Children chronologically entwines characters from India's cultural history with characters from Western culture, and the devices that they signify -- Indian culture, religion and storytelling, Western drama and cinema -- are presented in Rushdie's text with postcolonial Indian history to examine the effect of these indigenous and non-indigenous cultures on the Indian mind and in the light of Indian independence.Helps us in undertanding the bygone era a little better.

4.One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey
Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is based largely on his experiences with mental patients.The novel explores the themes of individuality and rebellion against conformity, ideas that were widely discussed at a time when the United States was committed to opposing communism and totalitarian regimes around the world. However, Kesey's approach, directing criticism at American institutions themselves, was revolutionary in a way that would find greater expression during the sixties. The novel, published in 1962, was an immediate success.

The novel's title was derived from a familiar, tongue-twisting Mother's Goose children's folk song (or nursery rhyme) called Vintery, Mintery, Cutery, Corn. The ones that fly east and west are diametrically opposed to each other and represent the two combatants in the film. The one that flies over the cuckoo's nest [the mental hospital filled with "cuckoo" patients] is the giant, 'deaf-mute' Chief:

Vintery, mintery, cutery, corn,Apple seed and apple thorn;Wire, briar, limber lock,Three geese in a flock.One flew east,And one flew west,And one flew over the cuckoo's nest.

Dale Wasserman adapted One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest into a play version that ran on Broadway in 1963, with Kirk Douglas in the leading role. In 1975, a movie version was released without Kesey's permission, directed by Milos Forman. It was extremely successful, though quite different from the novel. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards and swept the five major categories. As a result, for many people familiar with the film version, Randle McMurphy will forever be associated with Jack Nicholson, the famous actor who portrayed him.

5.The Old Man and the Sea
It is a novella (just over 100 pages in length) by Ernest Hemingway, written in Cuba in 1951 and published in 1952.It was the last major work of fiction to be produced by Hemingway and published in his lifetime. One of his most famous works, it centers upon Santiago, an aging Cuban fisherman who struggles with a giant marlin far out in the gulf Stream.He drags the marlin onto the shore and portrays heroism,defeat and victory.It is noteworthy in twentieth century fiction reaffirming aHemingway's worldwide literary prominence as well as being a significant factor in his selection for the Nobel prize Literature. It is a quick read as it is only hundred pages and you get a touch of Hemingway.

These are some of the books that have left a long lasting impression.For me books are not to be read and forgotten but to be read again and again.Some of them especially I keep on reading them again and think of them,the people,life,the cultures associated with them.It just comes into my mind frame by frame as i close my eyes to dream.
All of you can give a try on some of them if it appeals you.

Links to the post
Read Shalini's list on "of travels and travails" and Kanchans List on "Elan".


  1. You have a lovely blog. My first time here & I love it!!

  2. Welcome to my blog Shillu.I am extremely happy that you liked it.will wait for your comments.

  3. What a fantastic post, Lakshmi. I can tell you have really gone deep to find the books that have touched you. The only one I have read from your list is the first one....and that too was ages ago of course!

    PS: Love the photo...and Full Circle do post it on flickr so I can fave it :-)

  4. Love you shalini.Its only coz of you that i managed to dive deep down in my memories,dig out what remained inside me.thanks for doing that.Its nice to hear that you liked them.I am sure to post the full circle photo on flickr,but i have another photo of full circle and i will post that too.

  5. Nice Lakshmi. Love the latter three. Am making a mental note for Kamla Das after your recommendation. Is there a good english translation available that you can recommend?
    (love the fat roses in their green vase BTW!)

  6. It was very interesting to read about the background of 'One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest'. Thanks for putting this up!

  7. Thanks Chandan and Kiran ,Welcome to my blog.
    Chandan:You can read the autobiography of her.Its called "My story".
    Kiran:Thanks for loving the background of the books.The book is an acclaimed one and its been translated into the southindian language ,malayalam and hindi too by salmankhan and kareena.Loved the English and malayalam too.Have seen it umpteen number of times.If i love something (my character) wise,as i read the books over and over and i see the films over and over.Thanks.


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