Thursday, August 28, 2008

Booking through stories

If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to read is for the story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No … it’s because you want to know what happens next?

Or, um, is it just me?

Many a times I am driven by a good story. Characters are important, plots are important but without a storyline, it does not hold much interest. I like to be totally engrossed and wish to know what happens next! I like short stories which end soon taking all those process. For me a novel with a beginning, a middle and ending works very well. But whodunnits might not have great stories, they still manage to hold our interests. One just needs to know what is gonna happen next and that keeps us glued to the book. I too like books with stories within the story. A case in point is The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood which has three storylines going, all at the same time. Initially it starts slow but halfway through you don't want to put the book down.

Of the classic writers, one can always find good stories in Charles Dicken's writings. His charaterization is good too!

However, I read varied genres. I can read anything. As long as it has strong characters and a great plot or simply a stream of consciousness novel. I also read a lot of travelogues and memoirs. Not for the stories!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Musing about book slump

What do YOU do when you find yourself in a reading slump? How do you get out of it? Do you keep trying different books until you find one that draws you in? Do you just give in to the slump until it passes, and do something other than reading for a time? Do you ask for help? And, if you ask for help, what great (or, not so great) advice have you been given on how to get out of the slump?

Right now I am in a book slump. I think it has been going on for the past one month. There are lots of books I want to read but can't read. I try picking up a book, read a few pages and put it down. Nothing holds interest. I am trying out different genres. Somehow my slump is not going away. Maybe I am trying too hard. I think I should not try reading anyhing at all for a while. That might help me! Most of my blogger friends are enouraging and tell me not to worry and say that my reading would return with a vengeance! I hope so. Until then I participate in memes like this!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Booking through librariy memories

Whether you usually read off of your own book pile or from the library shelves NOW, chances are you started off with trips to the library. What is your earliest memory of a library? Who took you? Do you have you any funny/odd memories of the library?

I recall my dad getting me picture books. I started going to the library when I was around 10 years old. It started with a visit to my school library which had only a handful of books. I think I read almost all the books therein! Come to think of it, I had more books than there were in that library.

After I changed school after a year or so, I found the perfect library. It had/still has one of the best libraries in Delhi for schools. Very spacious and it simply calls out to browse books. My seven years spent there were very fruitful. I don't think I have read all the books in that library. Recently I went back there after 25 years. It still is one of the grandest library one can dream off. The whole school is almost falling apart but the library is still intact. I made it to my favourite section, spending there a few hours. ( I once almost feel asleep, discovered just before the school closed for the day!) I was introduced to Enid Blytons and classics in this library. Now they have all the YA books too.

My college library only had study books. So my memories about that are only related with sudying. My book buying spree started from there. However, our university library known as Central Library is too one of the best amongst university libraries. My library memories are all very good. I am a member of a few libraries. However, I don't go that much. I prefer to buy/own books nowadays. To think, I used to read one book a day. But now if I read 8-10 books a month, it is good enough. This month, I read two books till date, I think!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Musing about choosing books

How do you choose the books you read? Do you like the cover art on a book? Do you rely on reviews? Do you let friends and/or family recommend books to you? How about books you find on other people’s blogs? Do you read the blurb/description?

Prior to blogging, I mostly checked out newspapers and magazines for book recommendations. Browsing in the bookstore too helped in some ways. Covers are not so important for me. I also avoid books which are much hyped. Becos those disappoint me. My family mostly reads technical books which is a big no-no for me.

After I started blogging, choosing books has become easier. Most book bloggers give honest reviews as they don't have financial constraints. It is on us to decide if we like a particular genre are not and get those books accordingly. However, this has helped me read books I would have missed out otherwise. Book blurbs do help but not much. Some of the times, the author's name does the trick.

Sometimes a book takes just a bit longer for me to be engrossed in it. The Blind Assassin took me 250 pages before I truly appreciated it. I usually prefer books between 200-400 pages. Less or more puts me off, although I do read those too. I can pick up any kind of poetry book and read it page to page.

Having said that, reading is deeply personal and also it depends on our particular mood. Many a times, I can't go through the very same genres I have loved.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Dark Child by Camara Laye

Title: The Dark Child
Author: Camara Laye
ISBN: 080901548X
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, NY/1954
Pages: 188
Genre: Memoir

I received this book from Dewey via Weekly Geeks. I asked three question about this book to her and she sent it to me. The title had interested me.

Although this is pegged as a memoir, it reads like a well written novel, holding our interest till the end. Camara Laye was born in Koroussa, French Guinea. Here he speaks about his life there, his father being a village Goldsmith, his mother with supernatural powers, his own growing up years. He reflects about the various traditions and primeval rituals. He has to choose between staying there or going for academic success to distant lands.

Laye speaks of his childhood bringing vivid images for us. We can sense the dilemma in his mind for his roots and as well as pursuing higher education. He desperately desires to go to Paris and yet is torned apart to leave his family. He is nostalgic about all that. This might be his autobiography but it has that universal feel. People who come from primeval cultures have to face this kind of thoughts where they are pulled apart. Laye's writing is in simplistic words and very readable. Here we get to know a lot about his people, his culture, the rituals and place.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Booking through Gold Medals

Do you or have you ever read books about the Olympics? About sports in general? Fictional ones? Or non-fiction? Or both? Do you consider yourself a sports fan?

I used to be in my school basketball team. We won many a laurels. I was also into throwball in a big way. However, after I joined college, I left all of those behind. Being a student of sciences did not leave much room for anything else. I do regret it.

But it has not stopped me from keeping up with sports events. I keep track of all events in the Olympics. I watch it when I can. I like all the athletic events. I also like the Hockey and football matches. It is truly strange that I have not read any book (fiction or otherwise) on any sport event although I read sports magazines and the sports section in the newspaper.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Booking through Other Worlds

Are there any particular worlds in books where you’d like to live? Or where you certainly would NOT want to live? What about authors? If you were a character, who would you trust to write your life?

I am happy enough in the world I live in. In the prevailing times, we do have a choice of pretty well doing what we want. For me gender equality is very important.

Saying that, I don't think I can survive in the world of The Handmaid's Tale. It is so scary out there. Victorian era is not for me either. Women were glorified and still looked down upon.

I can live in a magical world. Like Harry Potter's one. I would like to be good witch waving my magic wand and flying on brooms.

I suppose I can trust Rowling for creating a great character out of me. You either love her books or hate those but you can't ignore them. That's what I wish my character to be if depicted in a book.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Weekly Geeks #13: Author Photos

Dewey wants us to post author photos for Weekly Geeks #13.

1. Photos of your favorite author(s)

2. Photo(s) of the author(s) of the book(s) you’re currently reading.

3. Photo(s) of any author(s) you’ve met in person (even very briefly).

4. A youtube of (an) author(s) you’ve heard speak.

I will pass this!

5. Any photo(s) you may have of yourself with an author.

None whatsoever!

6. A photo of the author of the book you’ve most recently finished.

7. Photos of the hottest author(s)!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

One Foot in the Black by Kurt L. Kamm

Title: One Foot in the Black
Author: Kurt L. Kamm
ISBN: 9781435706262/2007
Pages: 241

This book is a story of a wildland firefighter. Greg has some major issues with his father, a Saginaw city firefighter. He craves for love and acceptance from him. But his father is unconcerned about his own family. Greg's mother loves him but she too is abused by Greg's father. After a while she too leaves her children to their own devices. Greg is no longer close to his younger sister, Vicky.

Greg decides to join the fire department to prove something to his father. However, his father is only too pleased to see him leave home and does not want anything to do with him. Greg goes o California to become a seasonal firefighter with CDF. From there he goes on to LACoFD Helitak-Attack training academy. When his crew is trapped on a mountainside in an explosive wildfire in which his captain TB dies, he suffers from major trauma. Meantime, his father too dies in a fire in Saginaw, the night before this. Greg accepts his mentor's death but he has problem coping with his father's death, whom he had hated all his life. He feels that his father deliberately deserted him by dying before he could prove himself to him. Greg finally finds peace within his family of firefighters.

I had not read about anything on firefighting before this. It opened my eyes to the dangers of fire. And to the fact that firefighters endanger their own lives to control it. This has been well researched. And makes a real good read. One does not wish for it to end. Wildland fire is one of most dangerous of fires. Kamm has written a good book which is both enjoyable as well as informative. It has a good pace and finishes very fast. I liked the ending too. I say, go for it!