Monday, September 12, 2016

Book Pact - 61 to 70

61/100 - The 100-year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
An unusual story of a centenarian who decides to avoid his 100th birthday party at the senior home, and skips town, going on a long journey and leaving bodies and unbelievable stories in his wake. The story see-saws between the present and the old man's past as a bomb-maker who has participated in the major events of the world. The book was fun about half-way through. Then the novelty wore off, and I skim-read the rest of the book.

62/100 - A Few of the Girls by Maeve Binchy
Had never read anything by this author before, and I thoroughly enjoyed the simplicity and beauty of her words, and the amazing insight she has into human psychology. This was a collection of short stories, and I read them in bits over a long time, partly to savour them, and partly to not get muddled up over the narratives. I'm going to try her longer works next. Any recommendations?

63/100 - The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz
I wasn't expecting this kind of a story when Puttachi pleaded with me to read this book. This is essentially a book about the beauty of nature, and the importance of bravery and friendship, with a little fairy protagonist, written with sensitivity and love by an author I have come to admire.

64/100 - The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A beautiful, moving story of a bookstore owner in a small town. Unlikely storyline, engaging narrative, and sympathetically written. Loved it.

65/100 - Writing down the bones by Natalie Goldberg
One of the better books on writing that I've read. It is honest, encouraging, and kind. Halfway through the book, I was sure this was the best book I've ever read on the subject of writing, but towards the end, I changed my mind. Not the best, but among the better ones. Deserves a re-read.

66/100 This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
This is a collection of her published essays, essentially her memoirs. It contains one essay on writing, "The Getaway Car" which I would say is the one essay that any writer needs to read. It also has a foreword she wrote for "Best American Short Stories 2006" which talks of my favourite form of fiction - the short story. The rest of the essays are good too.

67/100 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
I read this one out to Puttachi over the summer. I don't remember reading this before at all, though I know I did. Phew, its a big book. On one hand, I kept thinking -- get on with it, enough with the description! And on the other hand I couldn't marvel enough at the depth and the width of her imagination. Rowling's success lies in this - that she has built this wide, believable world full of the tiniest details, allowing the reader to get completely immersed in it. And if anybody had ever told me that I would read such a big book out to somebody, I would have laughed at them. The things we do for our kids! To be honest, though, sometimes, my throat would get hoarse but we would be in the middle of an exciting thing, and then Puttachi would take over and read it out to me.
Anyway, it was fun, though ideally, I would have liked Puttachi to wait for some more years before she read the 5th, 6th and 7th books.

68/100 Criminal Tendencies: Great Stories by Great Crime Writers by Mark Billingham
I don't recall why I picked up this book. Was in a mood for crime (reading it, that's all) but wasn't in the mood for something long, I guess. Anyway, it was okay. A collection of stories by famous and emerging crime writers. Only about 3-4 stories among the 20 or so in the book were good.

69/100 The Charming Quirks of Others (Isabel Dalhousie series) by Alexander McCall Smith
Too meandering a story for my taste, and too much of pondering over ethics and morals. Besides I couldn't bring myself to like, or even tolerate Isabel Dalhousie, and it became worse after I found shades of Anne of Green Gables in her (of whom I'm not too fond). Yet, I ploughed through the book out of loyalty for the author, but halfway through, I just gave up and skimmed through to the end.

70/100 Swimming Lessons and other stories from Firozsha Baag, by Rohinton Mistry
I've been bowled over by Mistry's novels. They are dark and depressing but leave an indelible mark on your mind, and they always leave me with the feeling that I shouldn't have read them, and at the same time, that I'm glad I read them. I hadn't read these short stories of his, though, and they didn't appeal to me as much.

Friday, September 02, 2016


It all started off, for me, with the yellow boards on recently cleaned floors, saying, "Cuidado: Piso Mojado" and in English, "Caution: Wet Floor".

I love languages, and when a new language constantly makes its presence obvious to me, I feel the need to learn it. Learning a new language is like being able to get a glimpse into another world.

In many public places here in California, there are boards in both Spanish and English, and for me, it was but a natural progression to want to learn Spanish.

Duolingo came to the rescue. It is free, and fun and convenient. Both the website and the app are great to learn from. Puttachi and I have been learning Spanish together over the summer.  It's exciting to recognize words written in Spanish on boards, and to guess what the notice is about, without having to look at the English version.

It cracks both of us up when we speak like this - "It's going to be cold manana, so don't forget to take your chaqueta azul, and I'm going to cut manzanas and put quesa in your emperadado for el desayuno" :)

It doesn't have Indian languages yet, but I read that Hindi will be added early next year.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Avani and the Pea Plant on Storyweaver

You can now read Avani and the Pea Plant online in English, Hindi and Marathi.

Read it here.

Share it with the little ones in your life, please! And I would love, love, love feedback!! :)

Roald Dahl's stories for adults

Here's a piece I wrote for, on Roald Dahl and his stories for adults.

Read it here.
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