on and off the shelves

Posted: January 14, 2015 in books etc.
Tags: , , , ,

If it was love I was looking for, I found it early in the year. That it should be a book comes as no surprise, at least not to me. I came across this delightful little novella quite accidentally – Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader – a funny and charming read. If you have ever wondered what the fuss was about reading, you find the answers in these pages as the Queen of England (no less) discovers the joys of reading much to the distress of her nation.

But really, the book is about reading. Why we read. How we read. How reading changes us, our views. How we progress as readers – from simple pleasure to insights, discriminating reading to clarity of thought, finding one’s own voice to writing. There are also those who having never discovered the joys of reading can be quite hostile to one’s reading habit. I was tempted to note down my favourite sections but gave up soon enough as I realized I would have to copy the book in its entirety. First published in 2006, it has won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize.

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As I was breaking my ‘no library books for three months’ rule, I figured I might as well go all the way and borrowed two more. This is how I like to pick my books. Off the shelves. Not off reading lists in schools or bestseller lists or reading challenge lists or classics-you-must-read lists. Though I did consider a few of these lists as I felt some discipline may be required to get some serious reading done this year. Sometimes one book leads the way to another.

Here’s what I plan to read the first half of 2015.

  1. The Gathering – Ann Enright
  2. The Double Life of Anna Day – Louise Candlish (when I hear chick lit, flimsy is what comes to mind. but thankfully the writing was not flimsy and it was a nice read)
  3. The Uncommon Reader – Alan Bennet (enjoyed it immensely. will buy a copy)
  4. Walden – Henry Thoreau (thought it should be read during a holiday in the hills. well, never mind.)
  5. Kim – Rudyard Kipling (recommended by Ruskin Bond in some article or book)
  6. Notes from a Small Island – Bill Bryson (love Bryson’s humour)
  7. The Big New Yorker Book of Cats (cats and literature…hand me a cup of chai and we are set)

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  1. The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway (A Moveable Feast led me to this and the book was a gift from my Secret Santa.)
  2. The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing (started the book but realized I need to write in it as I read, so bought my own copy)
  3. The Places that Scare You – Pema Chodron
  4. The Great Railway Bazaar – Paul Thoreau (wrote about it in an article about top travel books to read. thought I would read it on a train journey but one can’t wait for perfect circumstances)
  5. Green Hills of Africa – Ernest Hemingway (not very sure if I will enjoy it)
  6. Life a User’s Manual – George Perec
  7. Old Path White Clouds – Thich Nhat Hanh (the story of Buddha. though I have never felt inclined to follow any religion, if I had to choose one, it would be Buddhism)

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  1. Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait by Alas Rojas (I wanted to read this ever since I read a poem about Frida. I always thought of her as a strong woman but the more I learn about her, the less sure i am)
  2. Traveller’s Life – Eric Newby (another of my favourite travel writers)
  3. Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi – Geoff Dyer (read Paris Trance last year and liked it enough to want to read more by Dyer)
  4. Bridget Jones Mad about the Boy – Helen Fielding (loved the first Bridget Jones Diary. I must have read it a several hundred times for more than a few belly laughs. I hope this won’t disappoint)
  5. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (simply because I came across a quote from it that I used to write copy for a bracelet with 42 stones.)

© Anuradha Prasad

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