Monday, July 26, 2010

Three good books

I've read more than a dozen books these two months. They've all been great, but there are three I just had to mention.

Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. One of the most engrossing books I've read. The characters just grab you by the collar and don't let go of you. Excellent writing, fabulous details - enough of them without it getting boring, and none of that flowery writing that gets in the way of a story. It transported me back two centuries to the time of the opium trade, and I was there, right there, with the characters.

I've spoken before of not liking it when I get to the midpoint of a good book, because it means it's getting over. This book was such that I actually put it down at midpoint, and picked up another book (the next on this list). But that book was so good that I finished it in no time, and I came back to Sea of Poppies. Sometime around now, I'd realized that this was the first part of a trilogy, with the other two yet to be published. So when I drew towards the end of the book, I decided to stop reading, and continue after the second part came out. But before I knew it, the pages turned on their own, and I flew to what I thought was the last chapter, only to read the title - "Acknowledgements". The book was over. I could have screamed. I could have torn my hair out. I could have rent the book into a thousand pieces. I was that mad. But all I did was put it away sorrowfully and look up Amitav Ghosh's email id to mail him and tell him, "Get on with the next book!"

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I picked up this book thinking that it will be slow reading, so that I could make Sea of Poppies last longer. But it was better than any thriller! I literally read it open-mouthed. The ideas and the writing are so clear, consice, incisive and they make so much sense, that I'm floored. Now I can't wait to get at his other books.

Three Men in a Boat (To Say nothing of the dog) by Jerome K Jerome - Now, this is one funny book. Barring one racist remark, and a few sentences that treat women with mild condescension, this book could have been written now. The humour is so relevant even 120 years after the book was published. That's probably because the author laughs mostly at human nature, and that, perhaps will never change! The events are most commonplace, but the way he writes about it is very good. This is one of the very few books I've read where I've actually caught myself laughing out loud, and in one case clutching my stomach while I laughed. Just this morning I was walking on the road when I remembered something from the book and grinned all by myself.

What made it nicer was that I now knew most of the places he talks about in the book, as he and his friends boat up to Oxford from London - all those places I've seen, including Reading, which he unkindly calls, among a multitude of other things, a dismal, dirty place. (It is not ;))


rajk said...

Hi Shruthi!
Are you on Shelfari?
An avid reader should be writing much more about the books you read; it'll be good guidance for others.
I have to add these three books to my wishlist now; it's growing longer and longer. I've not read the Sea of Poppies yet but I loved the Glass House and the Hungry Tide by him. Very evocative language. read them if you get the chance.

Gradwolf said...

The second of the Sea of Poppies trilogy is coming out late 2010 I believe. But not sure how true that news is.

Shruthi said...

Rajk, I'm not on Shelfari, though I have a vague memory of having signed up sometime. I'll check it out once again. Thanks for the recos - will check out those!

Gradwolf - I hope you're right - it is not too far away!

Ravi said...

It was great to read about this, Shruthi. Three men in a boat is a classic. Soon after I entered the UK, I was in a place called Walsall for a few months. Walsall is the birth place of Jerome K Jerome and there is a museum in his name in his ancestral house. Apparently, his family moved out because his father went bankrupt! The room I stayed in was right next to a canal, and I would spend hours sitting in the window recess looking at narrow boats sail by as they might have done in Jerome's days. Next time you visit the UK, maybe we should have a holiday in a narrow boat.

Shruthi said...

Ravi, that sounds lovely!
I'd been to Walsall, and found out only after I read the book that Jerome was born there!

bachodi said...

God Delusion is Atheist bible :-)

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