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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Life Changing Reads

Yet again, here I am, a changed person.

I do believe that in the last few months, the books I have read have made me laugh, moved me deeply, and have become a part of my life. Today, I want to share a little bit with you all about these three books I encountered:

"Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" - Amy Chua
"To Kill a Mockingbird" - Harper Lee
"The Hindi Bindi Club" - Monica Pradhan

MY first book - Battle Hymn - is the one that made me laugh, and nod my head along with. I was born in India and came to the United States at the age of 6. SO, in parts I can understand where Amy Chua was coming from, because I think I had her childhood for a part of my life, and her kids' childhood for another part. A blending of generations and countries I suppose. I wouldn't say that this book was well-written, but boy was it a fun read.. you gain quite a bit of perspective on what exactly goes on in an Asian mother's head - a mystery to most I'm sure. This book was a fast read as well, so I'm certainly glad I gave it a go. Not much more substance than the "funny" I suppose - so it was a great "light" read!

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is a classic for a reason. I first read this book in 8th grade as part of the curriculum. I had fallen in love with the book and it became my favorite, but somehow over time, the memory of the characters faded from my mind and I started wondering what had made the book so great? So, 9 years after I first read the book, I decided to give it another read. I must say, this is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read in my life. And the only book I have read twice. I now understand why it become my favorite, because it has taken the title all over again! I must say though, as an adult I got a profound view from these few hundred pages. I'm in that phase where I question life and the world around me, but with a skeptical view, not a child's innocence. And Harper Lee's beautiful words made me realize that a child's innocence is inherently how the world should be looked at, because without it, we lose all perspective. The simple words of the book, the power of each of the words, the scenery, the characters, and the plot of course could not have been better - this truly is a gem of a book and if I could (I might someday) I would buy everyone I know a copy a of this book - it's that good! :)

I think I've saved the best for last - the Hindi Bindi Club. Now, as touching as To Kill a Mockingbird is, and as much as it has become my favorite novel of all time, I must say the Hindi Bindi Club shocked me in terms of how much I enjoyed reading it. As I mentioned, I was born in India and grew up in the U.S. - a combination that gave me a perspective quite unique on this particular book. Three families - two generations - one grown up in India, one in the US - what a combo! There are so many of us today that are part of this combo - yet no book, no words have quite captured our emotions, our trials as well as this book has. At the same time, it quite aptly captures the emotions most folks feel when they immigrate from their home country to a foreign one. Meenal, Kiran, Uma, Rani, Saroj and Preity have become a part of my life - I don't think I will forget them, and I do believe I will visit their story again when I'm seeking comfort from my culture. Because at the end of the day, this mind-provoking, heart healing/hurting book is a mix of Indian spices and American comfort food - an irony isn't it? Oh, and the book has some lovely recipes peppered throughout - something that inspired me to cook some Indian food and enjoy the flavors of the book even more!! :)

So, my friends, I leave you here - however, I do urge you to read these three books. All different in their own ways, all lovely in the own ways, all having given me immense pleasure in the same way..

For those of you who have never read "To Kill a Mockingbird" - put down whatever you are doing and read it, you will always be glad you did.

For those of you who are of mixed descent, or first/second generation immigrants, or just want an insight into those of us who are - read "The Hindi Bindi Club", trust me, you will make friends with the characters and miss them sorely when you finish!

For those of you want advice on what to do (or not to do really) when parenting - go ahead and give Amy Chua's book a try.

And here, I do bid you all adieu! :)