Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book Reading Challenge 2011 Book List

Below is a compilation of various book lists that list great books you may read for this challenge. Just a recap of the rules:

The book does not need to be part of these lists in order to be considered eligible for this competition. The only requirements are that it must be:
- Either written by an Indian (or Indian origin author); or
- Set primarily in India;
- About India.
(Note: A single short story would not be considered eligible, however a whole book on short stories, all of which follow the above guidelines, would.)

This list is intended to be more of a guiding point for anyone wondering what kind of books they may read for this competition.

1. A Wikipedia alphabetical list of Indian Authors, linking to their page.
2. A list of 'Important and Famous' books by Indian authors.
3. A great discussion on Indian books to read before you die.
4. An excellent list on the top ten Indians authors writing in english.
5. Great, comprehensive list on Indian authors and books set in India.
 6. An amazon list on contemporary Indian authors.
7. Another great list on contemporary Indian authors.

(Note: All book lists are compiled by the original authors and are not our property in any way. Also note, that if you've seen another great list to add here, simply leave me a link below and I'll add it.)

Click here to read some reviews by In My Bookshelves on Indian books or go here to see some Indian books promoted by Book Readers Lounge or click here to check out some Indian books by Of Books and Reading.

Happy reading!

Click for more info, click for sign-ups, and click for faqs.

Sign-up for the Reading Challenge 2011!

This is the sign-up post for our Reading Challenge, hosted here at my blog, this challenge is jointly organized by IMB (In My Bookshelves) & BRL (Book Readers Lounge) and Of Books and Reading. It will run from the 1st of April to 2011 to 31st May 2011.

If you’re not sure what this challenge is - here is an F.A.Q. about the challenge, (hopefully) covering all aspects. If you have any questions, feel free to comment on the F.A.Q. post and we will answer them to the best of my ability!
Both bloggers and non-bloggers alike are welcome to participate.

Below is the widget. Please sign-up with your name and blog (if you are a non-blogger, any social network handle like Facebook or Twitter may be included in the link column.)

Feel free to copy and paste these to use on your own site!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman, is an epic book.

American Gods: A NovelAmerican Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition: A NovelAmerican Gods
(You might wonder at the three covers...but I find them all beautiful. None, incidentally, is the one I read.) 

Why do I call a book epic? Because its about 600 hundred pages? Well. That might just be large. (Actually, this is fantasy, and thats probably just about average for the genre.) Do I call it epic because it is about a mind boggling concept - that Gods exist, and that we take them with us when we go to different places, and our belief in them determines how powerful they are? Well. That's just a wonderful concept, but I've seen something similar, and I still wouldnt call it epic. No, I think the epicness about the book is that it deals with a whole country - America - and the Gods of a hundred different religions. It deals with large-scale battles fought in landscapes humanity cant even understand, and most of the book relies on things you can even imagine, actually, and yet the author still manages to leave you feeling like you know the characters, and understand them, and you start to care for them. 

I think the biggest reason for this is the main character. Shadow is just amazing. He starts the book in prison, and is hit by the shock of his life - the death of his beloved wife, within the first twenty pages or so of the book. He's devastated, but brave - and then he enters the service of Mr. Wednesday, an odd guy who seems to have too much money and claims to be a God. Through the course of the book, Shadow's life is torn apart, he is faced with numerous revelations, and he finally learns how to be alive - and he's the reason I could stay hooked on to the book. Because Shadow is so very human, and yet so very interesting, that he balances out the extreme oddities of the various Gods without becoming annoying or boring. Other, supporting characters, are also great - especially people like Mr. Wednesday and Anansi, and the Zorya sisters, are really wonderfully written and deep and beautifully portrayed - and they add to the book in great ways. 

But thats not the only reason why the book is amazing. The book is also amazing because of its plot. The entire book is a huge metaphor that juxtaposes the old religions with the new ones (technology, media, internet - the gods of the 21st century) and thus questions the role and importance of religion in our life. And there are many other themes - love, honesty, beauty, death, life, and the secret costs of a perfect life that add layers and layers to this book. I'm already looking forward to a re-read because I know the book will be full of new layers to uncover - a sure sign that the book is a good one. The book is helped by the author's writing style - somewhat rambling, full of many points-of-view and unafraid to deal with both sorrow and death. 

Final thoughts: Bold, imaginative, epic. You're going to love American Gods if you like to examine the role of religion in your life, if you like fantasy, or if you just plain like odd. Because this book is definitely odd, but a good kind of odd. This author is starting to climb my list of favorites.  

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

Size 12 is Not Fat is a chick-flick disguised as a murder mystery.

Size 12 Is Not Fat: A Heather Wells Mystery

The book follows the adventures of Heather Wells (who also later stars in a sequel, Size 14 is Not Fat Either). Heather is a washed-out pop star - robbed by her mother, cheated on by her famous boyfriend,  dropped by a label owned by the aforementioned boyfriend's father, living with (and quite in love with) her boyfriend's elder brother...and of course, size 12. Heather is plagued by problems like whether or not walking ten minutes is exercise, how people keep recognizing her randomly without having any idea who she is (or being told 'you look just like Heather Wells')  or whether or not her landlord likes her, and by 'vanity sizing' in stores...until, of course, some girls in the dorm she works in start falling down elevator shafts (believed to be doing something called 'elevator surfing') and Heather smells a rat...and then goes straight into the investigation.

As a chick-flick, this book is fine. Cooper makes an adorable hero and Heather makes a heroine who is slightly less annoying than the majority of the heroines of romance books these days, and the entire premise of being a washed up pop-star (while completely unbelievable in so many issues - like how she still talks to her mom who robbed her and fled the country) is fairly interesting to work with. In fact, the book might have been quite passable if this had just been a regular love story of the guy and girl who have issues (like the fact that she's his little brother's ex-girlfriend) falling in love and having a happily ever after somehow. However, this gets mucked up (spectacularly) by the introduction of the so called 'mystery'.

The 'mystery' of the book - of the dying girls - is ridiculously done. Not only is there no suspense built up or any sort of feeling built for the girls who die but the resolution of the mystery is also terrible. The major part of the mystery lasts on a single point that no one even thinks about mentioning until the author suddenly puts it in to explain how in the world her heroine came to a conclusion about the identity of the killer. Also, the motivations of everyone, including the so called 'bad-guy' killer, are absolutely crazy, illogical, and based on some kind of weird perception of the world. In fact, the entire mystery is poorly plotted and seems tacked on rather than a natural evolution from the plot, and in fact it spoils the book completely.

Final thoughts: Reach it for chick-flick value if you like such books. If you're reading for mystery, or really for anything other than passing some time, give it a miss.

Other thoughts: I recently finished American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. Its amazing. Expect a review sometime in the next week. Until then, happy reading. :) 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram reads like poetry.


I think the most beautiful part of this book has to be its language. Its the part that touched me the most, and its the part that makes reading this (admittedly huge) book a real pleasure. There are certain lines in this book, like, "If fate doesnt make you laugh, you didn't get the joke," that touch a chord. Others, like the discussions on suffering or the general philosophy that the author manages to incorporate in mind-bogglingly horrible situations, is harder to portray but makes you re-think your life in a way that even self-help books (or perhaps especially such books) rarely do. The book is written gorgeously, especially if long descriptions and conversations do not end up boring you, though if you are not a fan of philosophy or if non-linear storylines confuse you, this book might not be the book for you. 

But there's a lot more to recommend in this epic book. The first would be the characters. The main character, Lin, is compelling - an active, flawed, very beautifully written character who is actually the reason this book works at all. But its not just him. Every character, from characters in the slums of mumbai to don s to criminals are not only believable but also likeable. It seems hard to imagine from inside air-conditioned rooms that one could ever find something in common with people living in the dredges of poverty in the city that boasts of having the largest slum in the world, but the glory of this book is that you do. The author seems to really understand what makes people tick, and has the additional gift of being able to put that into written words. My favorite set of characters was undoubtedly the "Leopold crowd" - Karla, Didier, Kavita, Vikram, Ulla, Modena and the others, but I'm pretty sure I can understand that others would have other favorites - each character is just so remarkably etched. 

Another wonderful thing about this book is the setting. There is just no question. The author understands the very core of India and portrays it a lot, lot better than I've ever seen any other author do, with the possible exception of Vikram Seth (read the review). Roberts concludes that what drives India is love, a beautiful sentiment that he proves again and again through various examples throughout the book. He doesn't gloss over the bad parts on India, he in fact is not shy at all about pointing out that India has flaws. But he does it like a child knowing the flaws of his parents, and the love for India that shines through each and every page makes you even more open to the criticisms. Something many contemporary Indian writers might take note of. 

And finally the plot. There's not much to say...just read the back-cover, which talks about being a slum doctor, a gangster, going to jail, fighting with mujahideens in Afghanistan, and still managing to work in a bollywood film, and tell me if you dont find it interesting. If you really dont, probably not the book for you. 

Final thoughts: An epic, epic book. I would recommend everyone to read it at least once. But I fear that once might just not be enough. 

Other thoughts: I must admit, its been a while. It was just a combination of the fact that the book took me a while to read and then exams came in the middle. Expect more reviews in the future. 

You Might Also Like

Related Posts with Thumbnails