Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Kindle, Swami, and Tea.. Oh My!

So, I decided to put down the Ascent of Money after only one chapter. I decided classes were over and I wanted to read something that resembled textbooks a little less. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed whatever I read of it - but will continue at a later time.

Then came Christmas and I decided it was the time of year for a new toy! SO - drum roll please - I am now the proud reader of an Amazon Kindle 2!!!! :)
For those of you who love to read - this is so perfect. I was afraid I would not like it because it wouldn't hold like a book or smell like a book - and I have a bit over 300 books on my shelves. Lo and Behold I don't even feel like I'm reading on some device - it is a brilliant invention, and I for one am very happy with it. Unknown to a lot of readers out there are a few facts that made the Kindle experience (or hope it will in the future) better for me:
For one, I found a ton of pdfs (something like 80) for popular books that I absolutely adore. Adding the pdfs to the kindle is a breeze and takes only a few seconds via computer transfer. (aka I got 80 free books)
Secondly, Amazon allows you to share the books you buy for your kindle with up to 6 devices - this also means if another device by a close friend or family member is being used (say the iphone) they can get in on your account, and now the 2, 3, 4, 5, or even 6 of you can share those books.
The Kindle also comes with 3G wireless network - a benefit that allows you to do basic web browsing on your kindle - follow blogs (such as this), check e-mail, send e-mail, surf, etc. etc. There is even a feature of listening to mp3 songs on your kindle (again a breeze to upload from your computer)

This is a device I highly, highly recommend to any reader out there - it is completely worth the investment! :)

And with my brand new kindle, I have started reading two books:

1) Swami and Friends by R.K. Narayan; this is very cute children's book that I never read as a child and really wished I did. It has all your basic kid themes: bullies, fights, friends, grandmother telling stories, etc. But the writing used by the author, along with the cuteness of the main character Swami is making this volume of short stories absolutely enjoyable! :)

2) Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin; a very gripping book right from the beginning. The imagery as written by Relin and narrated (I'm assuming) by Mortenson is absolutely phenomenol. I haven't gotten past 3 chapters yet because of the bustling holiday season - but I certainly hope to get much ahead on my 16 hour flight to India in a couple of days! The fact that this book is based on the true story of Mr. Mortenson makes it an even better read for me - I have been moving towards non-fiction of this sort lately.

Well, that's all for now folks! I hope to read a ton on my new, handy dandy kindle on this flight and two week vacation - after which I will be back, and updating this blog! :)

Happy end of 2009, and a Fantastic beginning to 2010 for all of you out there...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

WWW Wednesdays

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions!…

What are you currently reading?
"The Ascent of Money" by Niall Ferguson; never thought a book about money would be so interesting! lol..

What did you recently finish reading?
hmm.. "The Tao of Pooh" by Benjamin Hoff - it wasn't very recent but it was the one that I remember the most, quite an interesting viewpoint to describe Taoism using Winnie the pooh!

What do you think you’ll read next?
Probably "The Omnivore's Dilemma".. I got it during Barnes and Noble's cyber monday sale and it arrived a few days ago, so I will probably get to it next.

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own WWW Wednesdays post, or share your answers in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks! :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"The Mango Season" by Amulya Malladi

I'll be honest: I don't know where to begin!

Well, I guess I should start somewhere.. Let me re-introduce the book then!
"The Mango Season" is written by Amulya Malladi. It is the first book I have read by her - and I completely have mixed feelings. I agree with a lot of the story, the traditions, the methodology of things she mentions - the book certainly reads fast enough - and yet I'm left slightly unsatisfied.

Although Ms. Malladi does a great job developing her characters, and certainly her story - she doesn't completely finish it. I felt like the book could have had another 50-100 pages going into details of how the overly conservative family of American-return Priya actually handles her marriage to a foreigner. Perhaps even a sequel might have done it justice - alas, I was left at the end only guessing how it could have been.

This is one of those books I don't know what to talk about - probably because it didn't have such a big impact on me - or any impact for that matter. I certainly enjoyed the story, but didn't find any substance in it. Not all good stories make great literature, and this happens to be one of those - sad, but just the way it is!

I do, however, appreciate Ms. Malladi's wit in her writing - I constantly found myself chuckling at her sarcasm and strong feministic tendencies not belonging to Indian society. The twist she throws towards her reader near the end is one that leaves you laughing and in disbelief all the same. I think that right there made this read worth it - not a classic - but something light and enjoyable.

Perhaps my next endeavour will be one a little different from this.. perhaps something more along the line of "great literature" - or not - let's wait and see! :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

In Progress update...

SO, I finished the Tao of Pooh (as you can see below). I'm still working my way through "Love begins in winter" and I think I won't start the Enchantress of Florence. I have decided to post-pone the book club joining, I will for sure join them in November. But for October, I have too many exams, assignments, etc. (yes, typical college student excuse - I know)

But in the meantime, I have started another book (it's like a book bug that bites me, lol). This one is called "The Mango Season" by Amulya Malladi. So far (and I'm not that much into it) this girl has returned to India after spending 7 years in California. She left when she was 20, and has to return, just because she has no more excuses not to. In such a relatively short time she has alienized herself from her own country - she doesn't seem to fit in, or want to fit in. I didn't spend 20 years in India - only about 6, and yet I find myself agreeing with so many of her beliefs, and disagreeing with so many of her methods. But I totally recognize that feeling of going back, meeting people you should be comfortable with - but are not anymore. Handing out present like you are Santa Claus and the politics that go into purchasing those presents, and how the other person will feel about the money you spent. I see it, as does she, as a very calculating, marriage obsessed society. But that's just the way it is, and even living here, I accept it for what it is there - I might not agree, but I won't do much about it either. This system should be changed, but I don't think anyone wants to.. It wouldn't be "proper". Lol.. and for that you should read the book.. and I shall continue to do so to see what happens with our main character (who must eventually tell her parents she is engaged to a "foreigner")

Until Next time, I leave you with this...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

Taoism = simple, yet hard to understand for some, philosophy/way of living.

Winnie-the-pooh = A.A. Milne's children's book character who is a silly, cute little bear.

The greatest teacher of Taoism, according to Mr. Hoff, Winnie-the-Pooh!

How?! "The Tao of Pooh" tells us exactly that.

This is one of those rare books you come upon: adorable, quick, and soaked with so much meaning. Taoism is this philosophy of nothing-ness. Of not thinking, worrying, just having inner quiet - inner peace. Pooh bear is the ideal candidate for this type of behavior. He doesn't bother about anything, nor does he run around like a chicken with no head just trying to do things for the sake of doing them. He is a simple little bear - just like a true Taoist. I highly doubt that A.A. Milne knew he was writing the world's greatest taoist into his little silly bear's character. But that leads us to ponder - how did Pooh end up being like this?

Mr. Milne, perhaps stumbled, or had perhaps known, that the character of Pooh would represent a kind, silly, simple-mindedness. He might not have written it with the Taoist concept in his mind, but maybe he was commenting on society and the roles we all hold within it. Like Rabbit for example - he is the one who most of are like - type A, running around at all times, always trying to get something done, making sure everything is perfect, etc. etc. In today's society don't we all just go about having "no time" and not enough hours in a day to complete our "to do" lists? Sounds just like Rabbit; and take a look at Eeyore - we have all come across (or perhaps even are) the pessimistic sort, the downers, the ones who think the world is doomed from the start. Then there is Owl - the "smart" sort, the know-it-all, or rather the ones who think they know everything and are completely full of it. And although Tigger was a much later character - we definitely have come across his types - the ones who jump around always and try to be the center of attention. Of course I'm leaving out Piglet - the scared sort, not wanting to take chances, ready to take the back seat to avoid confrontation. And then there is Pooh - the empty headed one - deemed as silly, but really simple; he comes up with things unknowingly, and doesn't want much more then just some honey and his friends to keep him happy. How many of these have we come across? Very Very few, and yet, this is the type we all secretly wish to be like.

Simple, not worrying, not thinking, living life as it comes, enjoying each day and the beauty within each day. Not waking up to worry about the day's chores, but waking up to the sounds of birds and feeling the sun's warmth. Not thinking about what bird it is, or how warm/cold it is, but just relishing the moment that is life. I do truly believe most of us progress through life without stopping to "live". Pooh bear apparently teaches us this; and Mr. Hoff points that out quite wittingly in his 158 page book of pure, simple silly-ness.

Highly Recommended for those who want to be amused, who love Pooh, have an interest in Tao, or simply want to read something that makes sense! :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

In Progress

The blog itself has begun, but I do so wish my speed would increase. Alas, it cannot, and so all I can do today is tell you that I am "in progress." I have several (yes I can never read one book at a time - a bad habit I suppose) books that I am currently working my way through, and I must tell you, they are equally interesting, and completely different from each other. Here's a bit for you to get your feet wet:

The Tao Of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
Yes, this is about Pooh, Winnie-the-Pooh that is! Winnie the pooh and friends were my favorite childhood characters - and now there is a book about taoism with Pooh as the main character. The thought "huh?!" comes to mind. How could this adorable little, silly old, honey liking bear possibly know anything about taoism? That is the beauty of this book. The simplicity and thoughtlessness of pooh bear is the perfect example of taoism. So far in the book I have noticed, and learnt, that pooh bear upon waking in the morning does not think about his day or his week or all the tasks he must get done. He simply thinks its a good morning and than moves on to breakfast. If only we could all be so simple - we must surely learn from this "intelligent" bear how not to be intelligent...

Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy
I must tell you I really like short story volumes. Growing up I was a big fan of novels. But ever since reading "Arranged Marriage" by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, I have become a fan of short stories. You can say so much, take up less space, and make an impact that stays forever (or at least for a really long time). The beauty of this particular book (love begins in winter) is that it has a European-esque theme through it, and yet seems to be based in the modern world. Not something seen so often (at least not in my world of reading). The main story in this volume (not surprisingly titled "Love begins in winter") is a beautifully written story about two people who meet by chance but who within their most inner souls know that they have somehow always known each other. They both have tragic pasts, and somehow an unspoken, unknown bond holds them together. At the essence of it, it is a love story - however, at deeper analyzation it is also a story of letting go, of moving on, of being able to love again. It is also about growing up and forgiving yourself. There are so many layers in this story that it left me quite satisfied. There is no "ending" just a page where the story leaves off, we don't know what eventually happens to the characters - but nor do we know what will eventually happen to us. It is a realistic story, a story of love, and how in reality it is all seamlessly bound. I have continued in the book and progressed through another story or so, but I know none will have an effect on me like the first. Although I must admit - the writer is a witty, sarcastic, and poignant one and has kept my attention to one book for quite some while! (a small success I would say :D)

The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
So, this is going to be a challenge. MY first Rushdie book; MY first book club; Only 2 weeks to go. I picked up my book today from the local library - I have now joined their book club and will attend the first session on October 19th. Needless to say I am super excited, but a bit anxious too. Rushdie is no easy feat - and the Enchantress of Florence a bit outside my realm of books. I think of it as a mini hurdle, but I have confidence I will make it through! (I hope.. lol) Let's see what tale/adventure Mr. Rushdie can take me on...

That's all folks!
Until Next time..

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Task Now Upon Me

A new task befalls me today:

To create a new blog. Reading is my life, my passion - and along the way life has been so busy with odds and ends that reading fades in and out - and consequently so do these amazing creatures known as Books. I'm a college student, a senior actually, who has spent the last few years pouring over textbooks and research papers in biology. It has taken 3 years for me to realize that none of that makes much difference. What matters: passion. My passion: Books. So, today I take upon myself a task. I want to re-live the most dearest moments of my childhood, and create new dear moments: those spent reading various tales from various lands. These books were my friends, are my friends, and today I turn to them once more. Here begins a journey, and a desire - a desire to read more, a task to read more, and to share with the world what it is I read. No one can come away with the same effects as someone else when they read a book - each of us thinks of something different, because each of us is different. So, this is not a book review, or a critique of whether what I read was good or bad. This is simply a way to read more - to make the spirit of the book come alive, to let the world know what this college student gets out of the books she reads. Who knows, you might find something of intrigue, or something you completely disagree with. The idea is exactly that.

The goal: to read as many books as possible, as different as possible, by the time I graduate college in May 2010. That gives me from October 1, 2009 to May 1, 2009 (7 months). Can I read 50? a 100? 10? Only time will tell.. and the choices I make. Welcome to my journey...

Let the books come to life!