It’s Valentine’s Day and we can practically smell the love in the air. From red stuffed hearts peeking from store windows to florist’s shops overflowing with red roses and lace, this special day of love is making its presence felt everywhere. Young or old, this day touches one and all; and everyone celebrates in their own unique ways. Obviously, we book lovers are no exception. And to celebrate this wonderful day of love, we bring you the freshest list of weekend reads where love takes centre-stage!
In this list, I present to you, love in all its different forms – a classic love story with subtle, persistent love, a comic take on love and also a story of dangerous love. I bring to you a story of love that is beyond the boundaries of time or reality; and I also give you a love story that stands the test of time and reason. So then, without further ado, here’s presenting the Valentine’s Day weekend reading list –
1) Persuasion by Jane Austen
Jane Austen needs no introduction and has a rightful place of honour in any list of love stories. Most people are aware of her works Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility; and while those works are justly hailed, I personally feel that it is Persuasion that really takes away the prize. Shorter than her other works, Persuasion is one of the most sincere and fascinating books by Austen. A love story with a simple plot, Persuasion depicts the pressures and choices facing the young woman, Annie, who is technically past her prime. But despite everything, Annie believes in true love that eventually finds her! A worthy read about a heroine who marries for love and finds her rightful place in the world.
2) Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Any list of love stories is incomplete without Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind, a classic that was made into an award-winning film. This book that gave us the famous quote “after all, tomorrow is another day!” is a coming-of-age love story of southern belle Scarlet O’Hara and bad boy Rhett Butler who are torn apart by war and then reunited almost a decade later. Many might argue that this book is more historical than romantic, but it is definitely worth a read just to reaffirm your faith in the miracle that love can be!
3) Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella
Now here’s as superb a comic take on love as there could be! Everybody has secrets, but how many dare to share them with a stranger on a plane believing that you would never see the stranger again? And then imagine what could happen when you do see the stranger again; only to find out that the said stranger is none other than the CEO of your company? Oops! The Shopaholic series has made Kinsella a household name; but Can you Keep a Secret? is one of her standalone novels and take my word, it definitely stands on its own.
4) The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison
After some humour, here’s a look at the dark side of love. And The Silent Wife is the story about a marriage slowly and chillingly disintegrating. It is also the story of a wife who is ready to go to any lengths to keep what is rightfully hers. A compelling, although shocking read, The Silent Wife keeps you intrigued and turning pages till the end that leaves you stunned! For fans of The Girl On The Train and Gone Girl, I recommend you read the book before the movie comes out starring Nicole Kidman.
5) The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger
Love truly transcends the realms of time and reality. Here’s a unique love story that transcends time and takes “time travel” to a whole new level! This page-turner tells the story of Henry, a time traveller, who has no control over when he leaves and where he goes when he time travels. Clare is in love with Henry and has been in love with him since the age of six, when she first met him when he was forty! If this has already piqued your interest, I suggest you pick up The Time Traveller’s Wife which is will make you smile, cry, laugh out loud, worry to no end and which, more than anything else, will make you fall in love with love all over again!
6) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Romeo and Juliet died for love. Most love stories end with the couple getting together with each other; but in Me Before You we have a story that makes us rethink all that we ever thought we knew about love! All love ends with a happily ever after, but the happily ever after of every story is different. Me Before You is a sweet love story of a rich but sick Will and his smart, funny and full-of-life caregiver Louisa. We have all heard that love can help make life meaningful; and this book shows us just how! Being made into a major motion picture, I recommend you read the book before the movie comes out!
7) The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
And last but not the least, here’s a mention of possibly one of the most popular romantic authors of our times – Nicholas Sparks! Technically, you can pick up any book by Sparks and reaffirm your faith in love; but The Notebook is special and deserves a mention here as a love story that tells us that one person’s love is enough to sustain both the people in love! Adapted into a movie in 2004, The Notebook is the story of Noah and Allie who have an extraordinary summer romance and are then separated by social constraints, only to meet again years later but it might be too late!
And these, my dear readers, are the books that will surely make your valentine’s day special!
What’s your take on this list? Did your favourite book make it to my list? What books are you reading this Valentine’s Day?
I am sure you have heard of Stephen Hawking? The black-hole scientist? So, he and his daughter Lucy, have written a book called George’s Secret Key to the Universe. And here’s my review of the same!
So, George is the son of vegetarian, technology-hating, nature loving, environment enthusiasts. They grow their own vegetables and encourage George to try his hand at vegetable farming, in a small patch of land, specifically given to him for this purpose. The garden also houses George’s pet pig, Freddy. Now Freddy was a gift from grandma; but George’s parents weren’t very happy about Freddy.
George is usually free to do his will, except wander into the neighbour’s backyard which has been neglected and has overgrown like a jungle! It isn’t safe for George to go in there, say his parents. Because once upon a time, there lived an old man there – an old man with a beard reaching up to his knees, no less – who had, suddenly, disappeared one fine day!
That was enough for George and his parents to avoid anything to do with that backyard.
But then one day, Freddy disappears! And George finds a suspiciously pig-sized hole in the fence separating their garden from the jungle next door!
What happens next, has us all turning pages, to find out the end. Because George, when looking for Freddy, accidentally stumbles upon the most powerful computer in the universe – Cosmos!
Technology, science, astronomy, black-holes and the universe in general keeps us occupied in this intriguing tale.
I would recommend this book to guys (and girls) who like
b) the universe,
d) ballet, and
– Not necessarily in that order.
So check out this marvellous read, and let me know how you like it!
By the time a weekend rolls in, I am ready to hang my tools and relax. Of course, like most others, I too have my poison of choice that helps me relax like nothing else does. It helps me not only mellow down and de-stress, but also rejuvenates me, getting me get ready for the coming week.
Now, before you go all ‘aahh…’ let me name my poison of choice. It is reading mystery books! Thrillers, psychological thrillers, good, challenging whodunits – you name them, and I read them! My choices range from the classic Agatha Christie, the Queen of Suspense herself, to anyone – new or old – who is a promising author and is known to be a good writer.
And so it was, that the last weekend, I chose Dial T for Terror by Piorre Hart. A new author for me, although she already has another book published before this one. Honestly, I am in the middle of a gruelling assignment right now and I was looking at making a clean break, not letting any thoughts of my current project come to my mind. And I saw this book was available on offer for the Kindle device. Gladly, I downloaded the book, and immediately began reading.
Must have been sometime Saturday evening that I started, with ideas of dinner and a bit of night reading on my mind. But what actually happened was that I barely concentrated on dinner and was back with the book the earliest I could! Not to mention, I stayed up late, reading into the wee hours of the morning, and by early Sunday, I was done with the book. And the first thing I did after that? I messaged the author personally congratulating her on a taut, crisp thriller that had me turning pages to reach the end as fast as I could!
“When the system becomes the victim, what does the citizen do?” the book asks. Well, read on to find out and root for the citizen, I say.
The story begins with a phone call placed from a telephone booth. A mundane occurrence. Only, this telephone booth isn’t run by your average Joe; but an above average ‘Jane’. And she isn’t all that she makes herself out to be, either. Also, this telephone booth, is in one of the safest locales possible – with a college, a park, a temple and a police station surrounding it! And it is here, that our Jane, Parvati, gets embroiled in a mystery that is too close for comfort and too terrifying to contemplate.
What begins with a benign telephone call that she happens to hear a part of, soon turns into a conspiracy that threatens to swallow Parvati, her family, and the entire nation as a whole. What’s more, when she extends a helping hand to the authorities in solving the case, she gets pulled in head over heels into the terrifying events occurring at dizzying speed, leading up to a final chilling crime!
On the one hand, she has her personal relationships to look after, which really need her attention; and on the other, the authorities need her help, in more capacities than one! Racing against time, it is now up to Parvati, to help find the perpetrators of an extraordinary crime, especially because they have found out that she is helping the authorities!
Will Parvati be able to solve the mystery before the final crime is committed? Will she be able to save those around her? Who are her friends? And who is working against her? Will Parvati survive this unusual swirl of events that she has inadvertently gotten swept into?
Time to read Dial T for Terror to find out!
The book is short enough to read in a few hours. And chilling enough to make you jump at a slight noise if you are reading it late into the night. The language is simple. The scenes read authentic and clear.
Overall, a good read for a thrill. A page-turner that will keep you guessing till the very end!
Note: To buy the book, do click on the affiliate link below. FindMyRead will get a small commission on your purchase which will go towards the maintenance and upkeep of the blog. Thank you! https://amzn.to/2DiG72b
“That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”
What reader will be able to resist a book filled with heartfelt quotes like these? Add to it a post-war setting, a protagonist who thinks more with her heart than her head, a quiet, strong hero who is also handsome in a silent, brooding way, with a heart of gold; a bunch of characters that feel like long-lost friends by the time you are in the middle of the story, and a beautiful island as a backdrop for this simmering love story. Now that I’d say is a story no reader wants to pass up! And finally note the fact that this is an epistolary novel, and you will surely want to rush to read it!
In today’s times when emails and instant messaging have all but wiped out the art of good old letter-writing, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows comes as a breath of fresh air! Imagine an entire novel, written only as letters and little notes from and to the characters? And yet, we have a complete story! And what a delightful story it is!
In London, a writer is looking for an idea for her next book. Across the channel, a stranger finds a book that belongs to someone he doesn’t know, but loves what he reads, so much, that he writes to this person at the address he finds in the book. The letter reaches our writer; and she writes back to him. A simple letter-exchange. A little chit-chat. And thus begins an eventful story that takes us through experiences of the inhabitants of a remote island off the coast of England, during and after World War II. What begins as a one-off exchange of letters between these two characters, gradually extends to letters being exchanged by several characters, who are all so dear and real, that one forgets that one is actually reading a story and begins to believe in the story that unfolds through these letters.
Let me ask you this; what do you make of an orphan child who tries to run away from her guardian’s care because that place is too foreign to her? What do you make of a girl who cries out of sheer frustration? Who is reluctant to commit to her beau who is too high-handed for her taste and who gives her a feeling that he never really 'listens' to her. What do you make of a woman who has lost her home to a bombing during war, but is keen to avert her eyes from the rubble that was once her home, so she can take a good look at the shimmering waters of the river beyond the rubble? What do you make of a friend who is so protective that he is always available to his friend, even when he is physically far, far away? Who runs to her aid and understands her, even better than herself? What do you make of someone who believes that goodwill can help even the most devastated souls? What do you make of someone who thinks cruelty is wrong and does everything to stop it; even if it means that she will die in the process?
Yes, we are all these people, sometime or the other, in our own lives, in our own way. And no matter what else we think, we all believe that good always triumphs, that love can conquer all; that for every nasty person out there, there are also good, selfless people who believe in the power of good and know the way to, and the importance of appreciating love.
Through their warm, touching, uplifting letters, the wonderful characters in this marvellous book take us through an emotional roller coaster that ultimately has us believe in the strength of love and endurance in the face of the harshest of circumstances.
Think you have read enough World War II fiction? Think you have read enough warm and fuzzy romantic stories? Think you have read enough stories of struggling writers falling in love in a beautiful countryside? Think you have read enough stories about a handsome, brooding islander falling for a beautiful, cheerful city girl? Well, think again. Pick up The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and let all these beliefs melt away!
Recommended for anyone who believes that we humans are capable of boundless love and warmth. For anyone who trusts in the power of emotions and the stirrings of the heart. Just anyone, really, who loves to read a love story that touches one’s heart.
P.S. There is now a movie adaptation made of this lovely read. But as a reader, I would urge you to adhere to the one golden rule all readers must follow: Read the book before you watch the movie.
Picking up books is a lot like making friends. You don’t get attracted to all people equally, do you? Many times, you know of some people and wish to make friends with them. Other times, someone you know, knows some people, and tells you that they can be great friends. Sometimes, you share something with people, it may be a hobby or the love for the same song. But most of all, the best friends you make, are ones who you have a gut feel about. Where you sort of have a feeling that this will work out. You may not know them, you have never heard of them; and yet, you spot them and you just know, that this is going to be worthwhile.
Just Another Day by Piyusha Vir, for me, was something like that. There are enough reasons why I should have picked up the book the moment it came out – the name of the author is fairly new to the world of books, and yet, it is familiar to me; the author and I are part of the same social media circles, the author is widely endorsed by a group of fellow writers who share similar tastes and optimism, the book was available at an amazing introductory price – and yet, none of these reasons were what prompted me to pick it up. It was this gut feel, this knowledge that I have no idea where it came from, that led me to believe that this will be one good read!
And I am glad I picked it up! Because where else, was I going to hold in my hands, something so rich and powerful, so touching and moving, so stirring and uplifting, all at once?
Just Another Day is a short-short story collection that features three stories by Piyusha Vir. Three stories. That is all there is. And in these three stories, there is world full of intrigue and warmth and pleasure and distress! Each of these stories talk about just one day in the lives of the protagonists. An ordinary day in their lives. A day that makes or breaks them. A day that changes them completely. And with them, leave a lasting impact on the reader’s soul by tackling emotions that a lot of us have just plain stopped acknowledging or just plain stopped feeling.
Richly crafted characters that stay with us long after we have put away the book, and splendid atmospheric narration are the highlights of this deceptively small book. What it lacks in weight, it more than makes up in the way the author compels us to think and to introspect during each and every story. Crisp, clear writing, rich, yet lucid language, and the ability of the author to be able to move the reader with the written word, are why you should pick up this book.
I could tell you what each of these stories is about and leave you with just enough tantalizing information about the stories and what happens in them. But where’s the fun in that? All I say is, pick up the read, and let it play its magic on you!
An engaging, riveting, unnerving, almost creepy page-turner that will have you rooting for the protagonist by the end! You don’t want to miss this one :)
Anna Fox. A lone woman who lives in a four-storey house. She hasn’t left home in over a year. She watches her neighbours through her windows. Their lives, their routines, her pills, her booze; and her classic noir thrillers keep her days filled; while her sleeping pills take care of her nights.
There was once a family. A husband. A daughter. But they are now separated. Or so she says.
There was once a job too. Helping children. As a clinical psychologist.
But that is all in the past. Now, there is the loneliness, and her hobbies – spying on her neighbours, playing online chess, and offering online advice to strangers who are in a similar situation as hers – that keep her occupied. And of course, the new neighbours who have just moved in, in the house across the park. A family. A father, a mother. A teenage son – with a ‘good boy aura’ around him.
And then there is a murder.
Anna sees it through her window. A woman is killed. A woman who Anna has met just recently.
But who is the killer? And why is everyone keen on keeping this woman's identity, a secret? Why are they making it out as if she never existed?
The police don’t believe Anna. And the new neighbours are keen to keep it that way.
But Anna knows what she saw! Or does she?
In Anna, we find a protagonist who is as real and relatable as any. And as we get to know her story, in her own words, a picture begins to emerge. Full of intrigue and luster. Full of half-truths, and deceit; and then the heart wrenching truth hits us with all its might!
Depression is hard enough to live with. Even more so for the person who is suffering from it. Add to it, a harrowing mix of guilt, denial and strong medication (which should not, but is, mixed with alcohol); and you have a disaster waiting to happen. And when this volatile mixture is confronted with manipulative, twisted psychopathy, you have a thriller that refuses to let you go!
Having cut my teeth on Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, and devoured a large part of the Agatha Christie collection in my teens, I knew I would grow up to be a mystery junkie. By now, having downed copious amounts of mysteries, I find that I have gotten very good at predicting a few things. The red herrings don’t get me all that much anymore. And as thrilling and satisfying it is to see my predictions come true; I always keep looking for more and more challenging stories.
Recently, I have begun seeking out psychological thrillers. A genre that is as engaging as it is thrilling; as I have always been interested in psychology. They are a great exercise for the mind as well as the brain. The Woman in the Window is no exception. Intense drama, engaging psychological thrill, an (un)reliable narrator; and a strong story; are the highlights of this fascinating psychological thriller-murder mystery.
A must read if you love to exercise your mental faculties, or just simple plain enjoy a good whodunit!
!!*Spoiler Alert Warning*!!
If you haven’t read the book yet, you should stop reading now.
For those who have read it, and would like to discuss, read on –
!!*Spoiler Alert Warning*!!
And now for the people who have read the book; I have a few points to share:
1) I would love to know if anyone guessed at the Ed and Livvy situation, midway, before the actual reveal. Much to my satisfaction, I did. And yet, I still shed a tear or two when the truth was revealed anyway.
2) I also figured out who it must have been, who spent the night with David. Hence explaining the earring.
3) And yet, I came away impressed with the red herrings strewn across the story. I especially enjoyed David. Alistair, I must say, was a good one too.
4) And finally, for the life of me, I never saw the actual end coming. Even when Ethan went away ostensibly to ‘talk to his parents about going to the police.’ I still kept thinking that Alistair would do something to change his mind… Well, glad that I couldn’t figure everything out, eventually :)
For a reader, all books are interesting, all stories are engaging. And yet, every once in a while, a story comes along that sweeps you off your feet right from the beginning and refuses to let go! A story that fills you with so many emotions, gets you so involved, that it leaves you exhausted and exhilarated at the same time! A story that you want to end soon, so you know what happens eventually; and yet, you do not want it to end, because when it ends, what will you be left with, really? All the possibilities you have dreamed of for the protagonist, all your hopes for the central character, what will happen to it all once you have reached the end of the story? And you definitely have built up hopes. You surely have been dreaming up possibilities – although, you never really think of the solution that the story eventually offers, oh, no! Not that! Because, you see, you, like the protagonist, are still scared, dazed, trying to understand the right from the wrong, the good from the bad.
Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (my first by the Nigerian author, and now I cannot rest until I have read all her work) is one of the most heart wrenching and at the same time, heart-warming books that I have read. A book that had me reeling in the first half and almost forcing myself to stop midway because I just couldn’t take it anymore! But then, I finished it. And I am so glad I did! Because how else would I have revelled in my protagonist’s ultimate triumph? How else, would I have found myself glad that justice was finally served, and so well? How else would I have found myself looking forward to the protagonist’s future as much as the protagonist herself?
I know, I have gotten carried away. So, let me give you some perspective.
Purple Hibiscus is the story of Kambili, a young girl who has known only one kind of life, the life that is sheltered behind high walls that surround her father’s vast estate. A father who is a very correct, very proper, very Christian man. A man who wishes that his children always and ever only do what is right, and what is ‘acceptable’ to him. He has ways of ensuring that this happens and that his children, and his wife, always do exactly what he expects of them. Ways, which are questionable. To an outsider. To anyone looking in on their rich, extravagant life. But to the people involved – to Kambili and her brother and her mother – it is the only life they have known. Until that is, they learn of a different way of life entirely. A way of life that is simple, easy, happy – something that their way of life is not.
And that, in a nutshell, is what Purple Hibiscus is all about. The course-changing experiences of young Kambili and her brother and the courage found, eventually, by their mother. It is also about the contrast between free-will, and forced acceptance. The contrast between a free bird flying in the sky, and a beautiful bird locked up in a golden cage. It is about the contrast between acceptance of a religion out of honest faith, and fanaticism. It is about the contrast between true, honest beliefs, and a warped sense of right and wrong. And it is about the contrast between growing up with a tyrant, and being in the embrace of someone who has so much faith in you as you do not have in yourself!
Narrated entirely in first person, with simple, easy flowing language, this book has loads of native Nigerian words which is a bonus for readers who appreciate multi-cultural references and multi-lingual stories. It is also a brilliant commentary on how we perceive religion, community, good, bad, right and wrong. It is a story that makes you think. That stuns you into introspection. And a story that gives you hope.
This book is all about the power of love and friendship and acceptance and everything in between. It is a story that tugs at your heart. A story that refuses to let go of you. A story that forces you to give it the time that is its due. And you do. Because you are left with no choice but to give in. Because, as I mentioned earlier, you just cannot stop wanting to know what happens next!
A fast paced, must-read that is highly recommended for everyone who enjoys stories that speak of love, faith and hope.
Late last night, while the family relaxed after dinner and prepared for bed, I sat in a quiet corner with my Kindle, hoping that no one needed me right then, as I was reading the final pages of a murder mystery.
A mystery that has a murder mystery tucked into another murder mystery. Where the search for the killer in the story-within-the-story, leads to the discovery of a killer in real life!
And as I finished the last page, my one thought was, that I would never have guessed the killer! Neither the one in the story, nor the one in the story-within-the-story.
Presenting Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz!
Our book begins with an editor who works for a publishing company. She has in her hands, a copy of the manuscript for the latest book by their all-time bestselling author. The editor, who has been travelling for a few weeks on work, has only come into office on the Friday, when the manuscript is handed to her. She reads the manuscript, which is an authentic murder mystery, over the weekend; only to discover that the final chapters, where the entire mystery would be unraveled, are missing from the manuscript!
She presumes someone has made a mistake in the copying room and decides to check with her boss about it on Monday. But when on Monday she goes in to work, she is surprised to find that her boss, the publisher, too, has had the final chapters missing from his copy! What’s more, she also hears from him, the shocking news that their most successful author, the one whose ninth book would’ve been the manuscript that she was reading over the weekend, is now dead!
Searching for the missing chapters is now imperative for our editor if the book ever has to see the light of day. But what is more troubling, is that although initially everything points to the fact that the author committed suicide, our editor soon finds clues that suggest foul play. And before long, she is convinced that there is a very good possibility, that the said author would have been murdered!
A race to find the missing chapters and to find the killer has us turning pages and wanting to read on and on! So much so, that at one point, we are seriously tempted to just turn to the last page and actually see how it all unravels!
But, I have kept my patience, and read the book diligently, without cheating; and was superbly rewarded at the end. So I would suggest, you too do the same.
For a contemporary murder mystery, this book is unconventional in many ways. It is a unique story-within-a-story. I know I keep harping on it, but it is quite distinctively done, really. Then there is also the fact that the stories are written in two very different voices. One, as told by the narrator of the book we hold in our hands and the other, is the story that forms the basis of the book. And then there is this really interesting fact, that the story that the book revolves around, is written in a very “Agatha Christie” style. So that’s a bonus.
There is, in fact, so much in this book that I found interesting and had me rooting for the author, that I really do not know where to begin! From the clever use of names, to the wonderfully placed red herrings, to the subtle clues, to the complex plotting to the engaging writing style to the very fact that this is an “unputdownable page-turner” Magpie Murders has everything going for it! Not only is this a wonderfully fresh read, it is also unique in that it has a very different story, despite it being, at the end of the day, nothing more than a regular, garden variety whodunit itself!
I had heard of the author Anthony Horowitz before this book too, of course. But that was for his Alex Rider series for teenagers. This is his only book I have read so far. And after spending almost a week trying to snatch as much reading time as I could with this book (despite having exams going on at home and deadlines staring me in the face), I am now determined to explore more of his work!
Recommended for you if • you are in the mood for a good whodunit, or • if you like Agatha Christie, or • if you like clever detective fiction; or • even for the simple reason that you have a bit of time on your hands and would love to engage in a good read.
Growing up in a family where everyone loves stories has its advantages. Bed times, meal times, picnics, trips to and back from school – everything becomes fun when you have storytellers accompanying you everywhere. Be it your grandparents, parents, siblings, cousins, uncles or aunts – everyone has a story to tell, and no matter where you are and with whom, you are always happy listening to stories. It also helps when you grow up, because there is a lot of wisdom in folklore and a certain sense of humour, which teaches you a way of taking life and its trials with a pinch of salt.
As children when you listen to stories, your imagination works overtime and your perception of the stories you hear leaves a vivid imprint on your mind. So that when you grow up, and maybe hear the same stories, you are instantly transported to the land where you spent your childhood! As an adult when you tell these same stories to your young ones, that land comes alive once again – and the fact that this time, you are sharing it with someone really special, makes it superbly satisfying.
But what happens when you grow up and get busy, and time and work and travel prevent you from sharing with your young ones the stories that you grew up with? Ouch! Right?
Well, the good news is – to every problem, there’s a solution! And I have the solution for this problem right here!
What if, there was a book (or even better – a set of books) that had all those stories that you have grown up with, nicely packaged for your young ones to enjoy? What if, someone, like your grandparents, has taken care to tell them in a simple, lucid language that your young ones understand? What if, these stories were short enough to read in just a few minutes (of course, you could discuss about them for hours later,) and what if they were told in an interesting way to hold your young ones’ attention and lead them into the same magical world that you enjoyed as a child?
Now that would be awesome! Right? What’s more, even you would want to sit and read such a book yourself! Right?
Then wait no more! Because The Man From The Egg – Unusual Tales about the Trinity by Sudha Murty, is exactly that book!
This is a collection of wonderfully short, crisp stories from the time of our ancestors that take us on a magical journey to a land of gods, demigods, asuras, rakshasas, handsome valiant princes, beautiful, strong-willed princesses, learned sages, proud kings and a lot more! These stories talk of the holy Trinity in Hindu Mythology – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. And while they are all about gods and goddesses and princes and kings, their ancientness ends right there. These stories are as much relevant today as they were in the earlier times. Because these stories really are about feelings, emotions – and those don’t change no matter how ancient or modern the times are.
And as a plus, they are unusual tales – stories that aren’t necessarily commonplace.
We all know, for instance that there are several temples dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. And not so many dedicated to Brahma. But how many of us know the reason why?
How many of us know the man who was born out of an egg?
How many of us know why Shiva lives in the freezing conditions of Mount Kailash or why he wandered as an ascetic?
We all know that Shiva has a third eye, which when opened, can turn anything to ashes within seconds! But how many of us know if he has actually done that? And when?
We all know of the diplomatic prowess of Vishnu. But how many of us know that he is indebted to Kubera, the treasurer of the Gods? And how many of us know why he took that debt?
And while we all know that Vishnu and Lakshmi are meant for each other, how many of us know that Lakshmi stays away from Vishnu here on earth, separated; and why?
And then there are folk tales! Do you know the story of Bedara Kannapa? Do you know the story of Kodagasu? Do you know how the bael tree came to be?
Oh, there are so many stories in here, I can go on and on and on!
These stories teach morals, life lessons and show how you can look at life positively if you have faith and you tread the path of righteousness. But all these morals are hidden in the magic and curses and the boons that abound in here.
A beautiful, and nostalgic (for those who have heard some of these stories growing up) read for parents and a must read for children!
P.S. I was lucky enough to get the author signed copy one day before the launch of this wonder! And what I was told by the legendary author, was that these stories are meant for parents as well as children – parents first, so they can read and appreciate them, relive a bit of their childhood, and then pass it on, with full gusto, to their young ones.
P.P.S Although they are independent stories to a large extent, it is best to read them in order, at least for the first reading. Later on, of course, there will be favourites and you can read accordingly.
So, go ahead, pick this one up and I guarantee, you will keep turning pages till you have reached the end and then start all over again!
“Mom disappears into thin air two days before Christmas without telling me…”
A skittish woman in her fifties who hates the city she lives in, the mothers of the kids in her daughter's school and the world population in general. A fifteen year-old girl who has had an extraordinary childhood, now thrown in the middle of an extraordinary situation involving her family. A super genius coder who has won patents for his work in the field of artificial intelligence, but is slightly off when it comes to understanding the feelings of the people closest to him. An overzealous secretary who is best pals with the one person who is responsible for turning a mole into a mountain (who also happens to have the genius coder's ear) ends up stirring trouble where there never was. Add to the mix a psychiatrist who, despite having been specially called in as a favour, botches a psychiatric intervention; and you have a superb roller coaster ride called Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple! I am in the habit of picking up random books to read that pique my interest. And my sources range from brick and mortar to the unknown depths of the internet. i.e. I own a library card and abuse it (I am almost always overdrawn) and I also visit my share of bookstores and scrounge the second hand book market on most weekends. But because, obviously, this is not enough, I also look up for compelling reads online (Pinterest is one of the coolest places to pick up a lovely read, I must say).
And so it was, that on Pinterest I discovered Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple. (It features in several threads – books with superb plot twists, books that you will have to read in one sitting, books that you will love to hate and hate to love….) I began reading it knowing it was a light comedy, and ended up being blown away by how much it made me think and introspect!
Where’d You Go Bernadette? is a hysterical story of Bernadette Fox – a uniquely engaging character that keeps you hooked to the story right from the get go. Pretty early on in the story we get a picture of Bernadette – the free thinking, opinionated mother of a fifteen year-old. And then the story progresses and we see that Bernadette is so much more than just a woman with an attitude. We understand she is agoraphobic. We understand she loves her family and can do anything for them, but the same love doesn’t necessarily extend to herself. We understand there is a lot of back story to her that we want to know badly. But the present story keeps us so engaged that we are torn between our desire to keep reading and to know more about the backstory.
At one point, we think we have Bernadette all figured out. We think we know now what motivates her and why she is the way she is. And then we turn the page and bam! The backstory is suddenly upon us and that takes us into a whole new world! Once we know this backstory, we rethink all that we know about Bernadette; even feel sorry for her. And we begin to hope for a miracle that would save her. But from then on, things just go from bad to worse. And we come to a point where we completely lose hope.
Then Bernadette disappears!
Now we know there is no coming back from the depths of this misery – not for us, not for Bernadette, not for her family. But then we take a trip. With a fifteen-year old girl and her Dad. And there we see a world we don’t even know exists. And just as we are losing all hope and questioning our faith, we are surprised, yet again, by (by now) our beloved Bernadette!
This is an incredible tale of love – love for your child, love for your spouse, love for your work, love for your creativity. This is also an ingenuous take on the extent to which things can go wrong if we don’t communicate with our partners. And last but not the least, this is a perceptive look at our tendency to ‘fix’ people around us if we find them not adhering to the standards set by society. (I absolutely loved the way the author has portrayed regular, everyday things we can relate to, in a way that leaves a lasting impact.)
But most of all, this story is all about Bernadette Fox! A character we can all relate to – if you love your work, you will relate to her; if you love your family, you will relate to her – and it is this understanding of Bernadette, that has us involved in this superbly histrionic character and her incredulous journey. It is a funny story, that makes you take a hard look at yourself and compels you to think.
I picked this book for its intrigue. And I am happy I wasn’t disappointed. This is my first book of 2018. In fact, this was also my last book of 2017 – so technically, I rang in the New Year with Bernadette Fox and her family; and I am glad I did! I couldn’t have chosen a better book for the first read of the year – utterly heart-wrenching and superbly heart-warming at the same time.