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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Intensely Lucky

While some books are a breezy read, there are some that move your mind…perhaps with a slight shudder or a tremor, or it may have the effect of a rough jolt on your mind. The book I’m reading right now falls in the latter category.

Since I moved to this new place in October, my mornings start with a cup of coffee and some time of peaceful reading, sitting out in the balcony area, while the neighbourhood wakes up around me. When I opened Lucky by Alice Sebold, one morning, recently, I never thought I’d have to rethink about the phrase used earlier: peaceful reading. 

LuckyLucky is not an easy read, not the kind of book you can breeze through. It tugs at your heart, firmly clutches on to your thoughts in a way very few books will. If I had to describe it in one word, I would certainly use ‘intense’. On the morning I started reading it, right after the first couple of pages or so, I was disturbed, pained and moved. Like, by those few pages, something had changed in my world.

Lucky is a memoir by Alice Sebold, author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed The Lovely Bones. If you have read The Lovely Bones, you will know how powerful Sebold’s writing is. It is bold, open and distinct. No tough words or phrases, nothing complex. She does not use subtle synonyms to describe a situation; she says it as it is, plain, straightforward. Lucky recounts her experience of beingalice sebold raped when she was in her freshman year at college and goes on to describe how it changed the rest of her life. The book was all the more disturbing for me because of the fact that it’s not merely a story; it details exactly what a young girl went through, for real.

Sebold has portrayed the emotions and situations so intensely that I couldn’t help but feel the 19-year-old Alice was a part of me. I could feel her pain and confusion, the joys of friendship, the problems in her family… Her writing is intense, it pulls you into the book, implores you to try and feel what Alice must have gone through. I had loved Sebold’s writing style after reading The Lovely Bones. And it’s no different this time.

Lucky is a powerful book; a raw, intense read. It has moved me, touched me…and, like The lovely-bonesLovely Bones, I know this is one book that will fail to leave my mind. Highly recommended. And, if you haven’t read The Lovely Bones, that is yet again another highly recommended book.

Some lines I really loved, from the book.

“I live in a world where two truths coexist: where both hell and hope lie in the palm of my hand”

“Since then I’ve always thought that under rape in the dictionary it should tell the truth. It is not just forcible intercourse; rape means to inhabit and destroy everything.”