Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Quiver Full Of Arrows

Author: Jeffrey Archer;
Genre: Fiction;
Pages: 270;
Rating: 4.5/5;
Challenges: Orbis Terrarum 2009; Country: UK/London

I usually dont read mainstream fiction and this is probably the second book of Jeffrey Archer I've read so far. As the name aptly suggests, the book is a collection of 12 impressive short stories (arrows) put together in a book (quiver). Each one of them is quite unique and leaves an impact on the reader. I feel it's always difficult to convey the right meaning and invoke the right kind of emotions through a short story as compared to a full blown novel 'coz there is no luxury to build up the plot and the characters in detail...but Archer seems to have a great talent for creating characters! The stories are intriguing & entertaining...though they somewhat seem to have a similar setting and flow they are unique with the unexpected endings and a few of them do captivate your heart....

I especially loved the "One night stand" and "The Luncheon". They are hilarious and bring out the different aspects of human nature and above all, they end with a pun which makes you laugh out loud!

Keeping it short, I'd say that it's a great collection of short stories and definitely worth your time!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Two States

Author: Chetan Bhagat;
Pages: 270;
Genre: Indian Fiction;
Rating: 3.5/5; (only for the drama & entertainment)

I remember when I read Five Point Someone years back I had enjoyed it a lot and I was eagerly waiting to read Chetan Bhagat's second book; but unfortunately One Night at the Call Center was a huge disappointment. I had decided never to read his book again and I didn't pick up 3 mistakes of my life. To me, his writing looks very commercial and soap-opera-like. Every book of his is being made into a Bollywood movie (which is again commercialized) and it seems like the books are written more like a script for Bollywood than a work of literature. I am not a writer to critique but having read books by a lot of authors across the world I feel his language & writing skills are very ordinary and something which I cannot appreciate. Well, for we all know he himself has never claimed to be literary. I have read much better Indian "writers" and I'm quite surprised to see New York Times calling him "..the best selling English-Novelist in Indian history..." Anyway, the books are priced so low (Rs.95) that no one would probably even think twice before buying the book, so am sure by the sales figures, his books are definitely the best-selling ones...

Not wanting to sound too critical, I did enjoy reading his latest book Two States a lot. Mainly because it's the story of his own marriage and it's very close to reality (he says the readers should still consider it as a work of fiction). It's always nice to read a true story...though it was full of drama and very filmy & spiced up, it was still entertaining and quite engrossing and managed to hold my interest till the last page. But I still stick to my point that the writing style was extremely ordinary and definitely not for literary fans.

The plot is quite predictable. The story is about a couple at IIMA, Krish (a Punjabi boy) and Ananya (a Tam Bram) who fall in love and struggle to get married. The catch is that they dont want to elope and want both the family's approval for the wedding. So they take turns to win each other's families and it doesn't end there 'coz in Indian you dont just marry the guy/girl, you marry the family! So they try hard to get the 2 families to like each other, which in reality, is a HUGE thing to accomplish!

What I liked is that the book draws your attention to the huge cultural differences and racism that still exist in India across various states. People still face the dilemma to marry someone outside their clan. Couples themselves wonder if it is worth it to marry by making the entire family unhappy?

Irrespective of the cliches, the book is worth a read once, to know what couples from different communities (esp north/south india) go through because of the society and family norms...

If you are looking for something to make you laugh or to lighten your mood between serious books, then this is a perfect choice!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

To Sir With Love

Author: E.R. Braithwaite;
Pages: 185;
Genre: Autobiography;
Rating: 4.5/5;
Challenges: Orbis Terrarum 2009; Country -South America (British Guiana)

I am back to reading again, after a long break! Work and vacation didn't leave me any time for reading and I really missed it. I have a lot to finish before the year ends, especially for the Orbis Terrarum Challenge...hope to get it done!

This book by E.R.Braithwaite had been lying in my shelf for many months and I am glad I picked it up this time. To Sir With Love is a true story of a dedicated teacher Rick Braithwaite, a Negro who is often subjected to racial discrimination and prejudice, in the post-war cosmopolitan London city. He begins his first teaching job in a tough school where he faces similar discrimination and reactions. Slowly and painfully he wrestles to break the barriers down and turns hate into love, rebelliousness into self-respect and contempt into consideration.

The book is very inspiring and extremely heart warming. The language is very neat and simple and the characters are very detailed and well etched. I liked the way in which the explosive topic of racism is handled with finesse. Towards the end of the book, Braithwaite realizes that it was not his skin color which was holding him back but his attitude. The book presents a very fresh perspective on equal rights, co-existence and mutual respect....and I absolutely loved reading it!

The book was also made into a movie with the same title, a pretty old one, in the year 1967. Something that am going to watch pretty soon!

A book that I would definitely recommend to all...