Let’s Talk Books

Hasn’t it been quite a while since I last did some book-talk? Considering my love for ranting about books, I reckon it has been far too long. So, here goes. I read two books in the past nearly-two-months. ‘Inferno’ by Dan Brown and ‘The Secret Scripture’ by Sebastian Barry.

For anyone who has read the earlier books by Dan Brown, Inferno won’t be particularly impressive, I believe. The twists and revelations lack impact. By the end, even the basic plot seems a little vague and over-the-top. Also, unlike his other books, I felt this one had some parts which just didn’t make sense to me.  Inspite of the fact that it is an action-packed thriller which takes you through a beautiful city (Florence), always offering new bits of information and keeping you engaged, I have to say that I didn’t feel an affinity towards it. One possible reason might be the repetition in the main elements that define a Dan Brown book – the 24-hour time span, the action, the narrative, the basic thread of the plot, the interweaving of history, art, places and facts and even the outline of the main characters. Some of the situations failed to excite me solely because of their repetitive nature. Inferno is definitely not going to be on my list of favourites.

Coming to ‘The Secret Scripture’ (a critically acclaimed novel by Sebastian Barry) , it’s a book that surprised me. When I started off, I instinctively knew that I’d find it slow, intense and a tad complicated. Not an easy-breezy read, that is. I wasn’t wrong. I found it sort of dull. I kept expecting it to wear off. But, even when I was halfway through it, the dullness persisted. The book failed to draw me into it; I just didn’t feel that urge to go on reading, to know what was going to happen. That’s when the surprising element of the book came into play.

Sometime towards the second-half, the characters started ‘coming to life’, their situations gaining an intensity I hadn’t perceived till then and I could sense myself feeling for the characters. Towards the end, I was very deeply into it. So much that I couldn’t help feeling a bit reeled by the climax, taken aback by the sudden developments. When I began reading The Secret Scripture, I had my doubts about liking it. But, now, I still think about the characters and their lives, long after having finished the book. Do I need to add that I absolutely loved it?

“It is very difficult to be a hero without an audience, although, in a sense, we are each the hero of a peculiar, half-ruined film called our life.” 

[A note, in case you decide to read it: Have the patience and perseverance to go on reading even if you find it slow initially.]

The book I’m currently reading is the latest book by Khaled Hosseini – ‘And the Mountains Echoed’. It’s amazing, so far. It is emotionally intense, bit more than the previous two books. Or maybe it’s just because I’m too deep into it. Anyway, Hosseini has outdone himself, once more! Another thing I loved about it is that there is a change in the narrative, the way the story is told. More about it, once I finish.

What have you been reading? 

 

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Why I Loved ‘The Rule of Four’

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

“Published over 500 years ago, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili is one of the most treasured and least understood books of early Western printing. Coded in seven languages, it is an intricate mathematical mystery and a tale of love and arcane brutality that has baffled scholars since 1499.”

The first time I read about it was when I came across an article about a novel that was based on interpreting the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. Probably around 3-4 years ago. And, obviously, I found it interesting. I had read all of Dan Brown‘s books and was impressed by the writing style, the suspense, pretty much everything, in fact. And when I read about this book which seemed to be in the same genre – a perfect blend of suspense, mystery, secret codes, history and much more – I

immediately put it down in my to-read list. The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason.

The book, basically, revolves around how two friends, about to graduate from Princeton, are on the verge of of solving the codes in the Hypnerotomachia and the sudden murder of a fellow researcher makes them realize they are in danger.

Well, I got to read the book recently. And I wasn’t disappointed. It was worth the wait. Most reviews compare it positively to the Da Vinci Code, some say it is a mixture of Dan Brown and Umberto Eco. Personally, if you ask me, I’d say: a Dan Brown fan would like the book, definitely. But the Rule of Four is no Da Vinci Code. The latter was about secret codes, symbology, secret societies, religion with elements like suspense, murder, fast-paced action…you know what I’m talking about. If you notice, the Da Vinci Code does not dwell too much on emotional aspects, relationships and the like.

What I felt after reading the Rule of Four is that it is predominantly about friendship, love, family, emotions; about how the Hypnerotomachia affects the relationships of the protagonist. What the Da Vinci Code lacks in emotional aspects, the Rule of Four more than makes up for it. And I loved the book, especially because of that! The best part, I think, is that amidst all the emotions, the

Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason

Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason

suspense never takes a backseat. Which is kind of difficult to maintain when you’re trying to juggle quite a few genres in a single novel. Even though some reviews I found online criticized this ‘juggling of genres’ as ineffective, I found it interesting and, to be honest, distinct for a novel that is basically categorized as suspense/thriller. Or maybe, it’s just me and my perspective. I expected to find a pure mystery and got something with more depth and emotions than a mere thriller. So, while some might think it was overrated, I’d say: I LOVED it!

Here’s a passage from it that I absolutely loved:

“…that the present is simply a reflection of the future. Imagine that we spend our whole lives staring into a mirror with the future at our backs, seeing it only in the reflection of what is here and now. Some of us would begin to believe that we could see tomorrow better by turning around to look at it directly. But, those who did, without even realizing it, would’ve lost the key to the perspective they once had. For the one thing they would never be able to see in it was themselves. By turning their backs on the mirror, they would become the one element of the future their eyes could never find.”

If you’ve read the book, do let me know what you think. Did you like it? 

Wish I Had Nothing To Do :P

I think I’ve caught a cold. Even though I don’t mind it much, I hope it goes off very soon.

Yesterday was kinda weird. I was confused, sad, disturbed but happy in some ways. Last night, while chatting with Ann, I was feeling so low and wasn’t saying anything much. And then, she wrote out this quote: “Stand tall, smile bright, and let them wonder what secret’s making you laugh!” Surprisingly, it’s from Angels & Demons (one of my top favourite books) and I didn’t know it. She made my day and I tried to go to sleep with a lighter heart. And well, today was a better day. Although I did get bored at work!

Janet is coming over tomorrow. 🙂 I’m really excited. Initially, I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling so happy. But then, today I understood. During the past one week or so, I’ve been amidst a lot of strangers. I did become good friends with some but, at the end of the day, you can’t deny the fact that they are strangers (who are 1 week old, for me). And after being with strangers for so long, tomorrow I’m going to see someone I know, someone I’m very much familiar with. The mere thought is so exciting! 🙂 So, I guess I have a great weekend coming up.

Today, while going through a magazine, I read this line – ‘Do nothing planned this weekend… Read, listen to music, stay quiet, watch

Miss this so badly… 😦

the rain…‘ It was such a tempting idea…sounds exactly like the kind of thing I want to do! It’s been a while since I got time to do something like that – do nothing. Maybe it’s just because the whole situation is new to me, and I need to get used to it, find time for other stuff. As much as I enjoy work, I do miss lazing around and being able to do nothing. Hah! Knowing me, before long, I’ll be talking about how I’m bored of having nothing to do! 😀

Thoughts Running Wild (Just Another Random Rant)

Today, I was going through this site that has prompts (like questions, ideas) that could give you thoughts for writing. And it evoked a lot of memories that had been lost somewhere in my mind (can’t be blamed, it’s all jumbled up in there). So, this is going to be about all the random thoughts that came rushing into my head on reading those questions/ideas.

When you need a good laugh, who/what do you turn to?  – Well, I face this situation very often. Sometimes, I’ll be in need of a good, hearty laugh…just something to help me lighten my mind. One place I always turn to is that place in my head where I’ve kept aside all those awesome memories. So many instances from school life, home, college life…memories that will make me laugh my head off, till tears begin rolling down my face. It might be stupid comments from friends, funny experiences, sometimes, completely silly incidents. But, the bottom line is, they are sure to make me laugh! Apart from that, I turn to my best friends and/or my sisters because they are a bunch of sweethearts who can always bring a smile onto my face. And since I got into blogging, I have found some really great blogs which can lighten up my mood (check out the blogs I follow to find my favs) ! 🙂

Who are your all-time favourite authors?– OK, this is something I could go on talking about. But I guess I’ll do another post (in

English: Dan Brown, bookjacket image.

Dan Brown

detail) on this later. For now, my all-time favourite authors would be Jules Verne, Dan Brown and Paulo Coelho. I read a lot of other books by various other authors but I guess all-time favourites would definitely be them! 🙂

How much does the weather influence your mood? – I love sunny days, a lot of sunshine. In my previous room, my roommates knew this and they used to wake me up early on a sunny day (I used to be the last one to wake up, still am). I wake up with a really happy smile, that goes far deeper into my mind, on days when there’s a lot of sunlight streaming into the room. I love the morning sunshine, though not when it gets a little too much for my taste. I feel dull on cloudy, rainy days and don’t enjoy that kind of weather (except on some rare days). In short, the weather does influence my mood a LOT… So, next time I sound dull on a rainy day, don’t ask me why or what’s bothering me! Because you already know!

What’s your least favourite household chore? – Easy! Doing the laundry! I hate it! I don’t really like any household chore except doing the dishes. But picking my least favourite is always easy. I hate doing the laundry! I have tried putting it off for as long as possible, but I have learnt (the hard way) that it does no good except give me an even bigger pile of clothes at the end of it. So, even though I do my laundry (kinda) regularly now, I DO NOT enjoy it at all!

Kinda the thing I want...but I'd want darker shades! 🙂

Could you pull off a different hair colour? – Interesting question. Just a few days ago, I was talking to Kiran. Both of us have plans to colour our hair sometime soon. And we plan to do it the crazy way (as expected! as if we could ever do anything that isn’t crazy!). She said she would go for purple; I want a couple of those crazy colours – blue, green, and whatever I feel like, at that point. So, can I pull it off? I guess I can. I mean, I know I’ll love it…so I suppose that’s all that really matters. 😀

I have some more thoughts that were triggered by the ideas. But I thought I’d save them for another post, coming up soon. 🙂 And since you’re here, why don’t you try answering the (above) questions, too? Have fun! 🙂