Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Book Pact - 31 to 40

31/100 Tintin - The Castafiore Emerald by Herge
I've read all the Tintins multiple times over the decades. This one was the first one I ever read, if I remember right, which makes it a coincidence that this was the first one that Puttachi read. I had vaguely been thinking that Puttachi might be ready for Tintin, when S picked up some for her from the library. When she was reading this, she could be heard giggling and guffawing, and at one time, I found her on the floor next to her bed, clutching her stomach and laughing breathlessly. So of course, I just had to read it again, and I tried to read it as if it was my first time, just so that I could feel what made her laugh so much and so hard.

32/100 Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sachar
I can't begin to count the number of books and authors that Puttachi has introduced me to, thanks to her school. Her teacher started reading out the first book of the Wayside Series to the class, and she liked it so much that she borrowed the second book from the library to read at home. She laughed throughout and then commanded me to read it. I enjoyed it thoroughly too. It is about the children in a classroom on the thirtieth story of a building, and their absolutely crazy and wicked and clever stories. After a long time, a children's book made me laugh out loud.

33/100 The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
Lucien Bernard is an architect in Nazi-occupied Paris. Though he is almost anti-Semitic initially, he starts creating ingenuous hiding places for jews in the houses of gentiles. He initially does it for the money and the challenge, and then for the joy of duping the Nazis, and finally, because he actually starts to care. And before he knows it, his life has changed beyond anything he thought possible.
I enjoyed this book. It is both thrilling and has well-rounded characters that I started caring for.

34/100 The Doll People by Ann M Martin and Laura Godwin.
Puttachi was recommended this by her friends. What's not to like in it? Dolls that lead secret lives when humans are not looking! The dolls have pretty strong characters, but they do a lot of gasping, I must say. Come to think of it, lots of books for children have characters that keep gasping all the time. No wonder that the stories Puttachi writes are also full of gasps. "Oh no!" she gasped. "What is that?" he gasped.
Actually Puttachi brought home the third book in this series, but I couldn't read it in time, and she had to give it back to her school library today. She was so upset that I've promised her to request all the books in the series from the City Library and read them all.

35/100 The Children Act by Ian McEwan
I cannot just pick up an Ian McEwan book in passing and read it like I do other books. I have to step into another level. So it requires a certain will, an effort. But once I am in that zone, and I start reading, I cannot stop. His words are also like that - puts me into a kind of trance, and I feel like I am inside the minds of the characters, I feel things like they do, I know what they are going to do, and understand their actions. It is a very strange feeling.
And I need more time than usual to extricate myself from the world of the book, and get back to reality.
This book is about a judge whose marriage is on the crossroads, and one of the cases she is presiding on threatens to overpower her life and emotions.

36/100 SandRider - Alice TodHunter Moon Series by Angie Sage.
The TodHunter Moon Trilogy follows the Septimus Heap series, of which Puttachi and I are fans. The beloved Septimus Heap characters are adults in this series, and hold positions of responsibility, and another bunch of young characters take centre-stage in this trilogy. We had read the first of the series, PathFinder, shortly after we moved here. SandRider was released in Nov last year, but we were busy with Harry ...Potter, so we didn't read this. After I told Puttachi that we must take a break after the fourth HP book, she "remembered" that PathFinder had just been released, and so we read it. (This is one of those books that I read aloud to her.)
The first book in the series was good, but this SandRider, I felt, was very random and all over the place. The plot, that is. The writing and the humour is still as good, the characters and places as vivid and lovable. But the tight plots of the Septimus Heap series are missing in this one. It was a disappointment for me. Puttachi, of course, like a loyal fan, insists that she likes this as much. In fact, for this week's composition at school, she even chose Alice TodHunter Moon as the book character she would most like to be friends with.

Considering the fact that I've started and abandoned four books since the last one I read, I thought I'd never move forward in my book pact, but help came in the form of this little book:
37/100 Hooray for Diffendoofer Day, by Dr Seuss, with help from Jack Prelutsky and Lane Smith.
Puttachi's teacher read it for them on Dr Seuss day, and we requested it from the city library because Puttachi wanted to read it out to me.
She read it out (very well, I must say) but the interes...ting thing about this book is not the story itself (which is fun and cute) but the story behind the book (which is also included in the book after the story). Ted Geisel (Dr Seuss) had been working on the drawings for this book but hadn't arrived at a story yet. And then he died. His editor took these drawings and sought help from an author and an illustrator to bring the book to life. This is the result. The story behind the story contains the original illustrations that Ted Geisel had made, and all in all, it makes for an interesting book.

38/100 The Mother by Pearl S Buck
This book was picked up by the reader as she had read the author back in her days of youth and she had read and she had liked, but time has passed and water has flown under the bridge as it is wont to do and the likes of the reader has waxed and waned along with the vagaries of life. So the reader went forth and picked it up with trepidation and not a little wariness, and the language was thus, as if it were picked from an ancient text, and t...he reader hesitated, lest she grow weary with the toil of reading this kind of language. But the hours turned into days and the days went by and the words flowed like the river beyond the curve of the hill on the horizon and the reader read. Put the book down she could not. Even so it had been in the old days that the reader had read and liked this author but remember she could not if the words flowed like this then when she was but a young girl not having known yet the ways of the world. So the reader read of the pages of the book and she be sated and she be content.
Ok. I got that out of my system. Seriously, this book is gripping, unputdownable (yes, in spite of that language). The nameless Mother is someone I see in myself and in people I know - and in spite of being the simple story of a woman in a remote Chinese village, it is amazing how the author brings it to life, and in the process, holds up a mirror to society.

39/100 Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Often said to be one of the best books on writing, this book is indeed full of tips and advice, written with self-deprecating humour. I especially liked how the author spoke out about the difficult emotions of being a writer - the lack of self-worth, the self-doubts, the jealousies. On a practical level, I got some ideas and some inspiration. But on an emotional level, the book didn't really touch me, or rather, I didn't warm up to it.

40/100 Wonder by RJ Palacio
This is a feel-good story about August Pullman, a ten-year-old boy with a facial anomaly, who starts school in 5th grade. You cannot help loving the characters in the book, though I think they are too good to be true. I quite liked the book.
In a way, my case is similar to August's, though far milder. He has a facial anomaly, and I have a speech anomaly, so I relate to that feeling of people pointing and staring and laughing behind my back (and som...etimes in front of me). But as a child, I used to be fine as long as I didn't open my mouth, but August can't get away with it unless he hides his face (which he did for a while). So in the face of that (pun unintended) this is a story of his courage (children can be very cruel, believe me) and the importance of friends, which is what helps him make his way through school (and that holds good for me too).
I think Puttachi is old enough to read and appreciate this book. I've asked her to give it a shot.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Here's my website!

Shruthi Rao

And if you have anything that needs to be edited (stories/manuscripts/books/documents) on any subject, you know whom to ask. (Me!)
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