Thursday, January 15, 2015

2014 in Books

After a dismal 2013 in terms of books, and a resolution to not repeat that in 2014, I somehow managed to read just about 10 books. (As opposed to 20 that I had took up as a challenge!)

Even though the number might not be impressive, I have to say that I read some of the best prose and style this year.

Here is the denary:

  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson - What a drug-addled chaos! Review.
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess - "Oh it was gorgeosity and yumyumyum." A bloshy big review will be govoreeted later on.
  • Money by Martin Amis - "I will spin out a review as soon as I am done with a twenty-quid rug-rethink." I keep recollecting about some situations from this book as I do from the still-incompletely-read Infinite Jest.
  • Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett - Probably the best of the Discworld. Review
  • Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy - Wow! The very stylish McCarthy just whips your imagination to a degree that at times makes you cringe, and at times makes you hold your breath in horror. The most violent book I have read so far. Review.
  • The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman - If you think that a graphic novel cannot be simple and yet represent the horrors of WW2, then you must read this book.
  • Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut - Another classic Vonnegut, or so it pretends to be. Review.
  • Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, The Ultra-runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall - Very inspiring and a brilliant narrative! Motivated me to run my first ever Half Marathon!
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami - I was eager to read this before this was released, but it didn't turn out as good as I hoped it would. Review.
  • Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons - A masterpiece in itself. Someday I would write a review about this milestone of a graphic novel. Someday.
Book shelf of read books in 2014. Courtesy: Goodreads.
Here's to a better year in 2015!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Piccadilly Jim by P.G. Wodehouse - Book Review

Piccadilly JimPiccadilly Jim by P.G. Wodehouse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a recent Reddit post titled What books are worth reading just for the quality of their prose alone?, I was very happy to see P.G. Wodehouse being mentioned. He truly deserves to be mentioned!

With Piccadilly Jim, PGW is probably at his descriptive best and the book contains ample amount of the sunshine-filled (hat tip Stephen Fry) language that is known to flow out of his mind.

Plot-wise I wouldn't say that this book would stand well in a Sumo wrestling match against some of his other champions, but the Wodehousian charm is strong and pervasively permeating in this one.

I loved the characters drawn in this book. Mr. Pett (Sensational Turning Of A Worm!), Miss Trimble, Mr. Crocker, Jimmy, Jerry Mitchell, Ann (with her red hair and the nature which generally goes with red hair), and even Ogden for that matter are beautiful.

He had the plethoric habit of one to whom wholesome exercise is a stranger and the sallow complexion of the confirmed candy-fiend.

(On a slightly unrelated note, the Kindle / Gutenberg version has chapter titles that are missing from the printed book. The titles do add to the fun part!)

Few gems from the book:

An exile from home splendour dazzles in vain.
Oh, give me my lowly thatched cottage again;
The birds singing gaily, that came at my call,
Give me them, and that peace of mind dearer than all.

Mr. Crocker had never lived in a thatched cottage, nor had his relations with the birds of his native land ever reached the stage of intimacy indicated by the poet; but substitute "Lambs Club" for the former and "members" for the latter, and the parallel becomes complete.

"Have you packed everything I shall want?"
"Within the scope of a suitcase, yes, sir."

It is but rarely that any one is found who is not dazzled by the glamour of incivility.

It is one of the effects of a successful hunch that it breeds other hunches.

And this one is particularly romantic!

"To a girl with your ardent nature some one with whom you can quarrel is an absolute necessity of life. You and I are affinities. Ours will be an ideally happy marriage. You would be miserable if you had to go through life with a human doormat with 'Welcome' written on him. You want some one made of sterner stuff. You want, as it were, a sparring-partner, some one with whom you can quarrel happily with the certain knowledge that he will not curl up in a ball for you to kick, but will be there with the return wallop. I may have my faults—" He paused expectantly. Ann remained silent. "No, no!" he went on. "But I am such a man. Brisk give-and-take is the foundation of the happy marriage. Do you remember that beautiful line of Tennyson's—'We fell out, my wife and I'? It always conjures up for me a vision of wonderful domestic happiness. I seem to see us in our old age, you on one side of the radiator, I on the other, warming our old limbs and thinking up snappy stuff to hand to each other—sweethearts still! If I were to go out of your life now, you would be miserable. You would have nobody to quarrel with. You would be in the position of the female jaguar of the Indian jungle, who, as you doubtless know, expresses her affection for her mate by biting him shrewdly in the fleshy part of the leg, if she should snap sideways one day and find nothing there."

I enjoyed reading this book a lot.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 9, 2015


Last year has triggered a variety of emotions and feelings in varying degrees of manageability. Close family members were caught between two cycles of life. One began while another ended. Two very closely interlinked cycles. For most of the time, we had to play the game of wait-and-watch.

It is tough thinking about how unexpectedly things can change. As eloquently put by P "a verbal reply of what I really feel, is impossible to formulate".

I tried to imagine how it must be to caught in between "I felt unguarded, a little less loved and a bit shaky in my knees" and "I believed every minute that she is in a better place, that her suffering has ended, that she is at peace". Though I could come close, I cannot say I completely feel what you do.

In fact, I failed miserably.

In grief we are all alone.

So much so that the past starts to feel more real than the seemingly-fictional present, or the unknown future.

The room of memories that opens with us, will close with us eventually. The ones adjacently close to us will remember and reminisce, probably shed a silent tear or two, and walk along the path of time. 

Everything has a tendency to move on.

Just as you should. Move on carrying the memories, the thoughts, and the values with you. Ensuring they stay alive. Just like the person they belonged to would have desired.