My To-Read Pile

Charlotte's Web and Little Women book covers

I visited crosswords last day to pick up some technical books and returned home with these two. I just couldn’t resist not buying them. It is amazing how our book buying habits have changed over the years. I couldn’t believe myself when I walked out of the shop with these two books when a ‘Buy 2 Get 1 Free’ offer was going on for select books.

When the year started, I had so many books in mind that I wanted to read in 2015.  I also wanted to make some progress in my Classic Club Challenge. To be frank, things are not going the way I wanted to happen.

My To read book list

First I realized that it is quite tough to find time to read when you are a working mother with two kids. I do read a lot, but not as much as I would love to read. 8 months  are already down in 2015 and I have managed to read only 20/50 books which means I am 12 books behind the schedule. I really need to review this number for 2016.

I have decided to plan things out a bit especially wrt to my Classic Club challenge. I have together my to-read pile of  books that I want to read in the immediate future. I hope to read the 3 classics from this pile this year – Chronicles of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Matilda by Roald Dahl and Far From the Maddening Crowd by Thomas Hardy. This will be apart from the Charlotte’s Web by E B White that I am currently reading.

I am also actively pursuing my mission to read the chunskter called The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. My endeavor to read it has already been declared tough/impossible by the husband, but I am still confident to finish it. After all, I have 4 more years to complete it :P.

 

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is a super duper psychological thriller, with abundant flawed characters. If you are into psychological thrillers or likes to read something apart from the usual literary fiction, this book is a good choice.

This book starts with narration from a set of terrible characters and there is no way you can feel warmth towards either of them. This actually made me wonder if I should pursue my reading, but then I kept on reading because I was told that I may feel so.

As the book gets to the second half, you realize that you are totally pulled into the story and there is no way you can put this book down without knowing what has actually happened.

The Girl on the train is a perfect example of manipulation in many ways. The reader is made to believe that Rachel’s character is so much flawed that the reader hates her. There were also times when I had this urge to slap some sense to her even though I knew it is all fictional and I might be taking the ride that the author wants me to take.

Did we not see something similar in Gone Girl too? I can understand why many wanted to compare The Girl on the Train to Gone Girl. But personally I believe these two stories are handled and presented way differently. The emotions, thoughts and feelings evoked by this book is by far different from what I felt when I read it. Also there is a definite ending (though a little bit too convenient)which is missing in Gone Girl.

Recommended to all who loves a thriller or a quick read. You might feel a bit irritated while you read the first few chapters, but hang in there.

Wordless Wednesday #6

illustrated classics collection

We saw this awesome offer in Crossword Stores few weeks back – Buy 5 of these illustrated classics and get another 5 for free. So the total cost of this whole set of 10 books was around 1200 and the illustrations were just so beautiful that we couldn’t resist. There were few more titles to choose and I hope to add more to this illustrated classics collection in future.

Once you take a look at these books, there is no way you are coming out of the shop without one of them especially if you have kids or a favorite niece/nephew. TH has been reading from these books to our daughter whenever he can :)

The copy of Gulliver’s Travels is missing in the picture because that is lying on our dressing table right now. I realized it quite late.

Moto G 3rd Gen

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I am writing this post using my new Motorola G 3rd Gen (16GB variant). I used to have a Lenova P780 that I loved very much. But it stopped detecting network signals properly and I was fed up of using an antique phone of TH. So with blessings from my dear husband, I bought this phone.

I know that we can afford this phone, but considering our mounting expenses and the mammoth home loan, this is a big financial drain.

Yet I am happy!

Currently Reading

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I am currently going through a time what is generally known as the writer’s block. I do want to write about the books I have read, but is often not satisfied with the words written and end up abandoning the effort.

Meanwhile here is the book that I just started reading. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I wanted to read this book for a while and had to get the Justbooks Library to procure it on my recommendation. After all I have been paying them thousands of rupees for almost 5 years.

There are few other awesome books that I want to write about here. Guess I have lost the interest to write full-fledged reviews. I will write about them sometime soon, may be some sort of mini- reviews.

Have you read this book? Someone mentioned that the first few chapters are little slow. Did you feel so?

Does this book deserve all the hype surrounding it?

Goodreads Reading Challenge 2015 – Update

Goodreads Reading Challenge 2015

Before I joined this current job, I used to read books during my commute between my home and office. When we shifted closer to my office around 18 months back, I lost around 2 hours of daily reading time. I liked the fact that I do not have to travel so much, but I missed reading my books and that personal time. Then reading took a back seat when I got pregnant with my son.

I read 30 books in 2014 and this was mainly because I was on leave for 5 months to take care of my newborn son. I joined back office sometime during November 2014 and I have been torn between my work and kids ever since.

I began 2015 very optimistically and planned to read 50 books for the Goodreads Reading Challenge this year and I am currently 9 books behind the schedule. I know 9 books are not too many to catch up when half the year is still left. During May we moved to a new place closer to the daughter’s school and since then I travel for 2 hours every day.

My Android phone has stopped detecting network signals and I have given it for repair which meant I could not read the e-galleys and missed reading them. Now I read them on my laptop using Adobe Digital Editions. After all “Where there is a will, there is a way.” Now that I have found ways and time to read, I hope to read many more books in the second half of 2015.

Wish me luck dear friends.

Do let me know how your current Goodreads Challenge is going.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Reading for the Classics Club #2 – The Brothers Karamazov

I joined the Classic Club with much enthusiasm few months back. The enthusiasm is still there, but there has been no work to reflect the enthusiasm.  For those who don’t know what is  the Classics Club, I have written a  blog post here – The Classics Club.

I did read ‘The Railway Children’ and enjoyed it, but never got around to writing a review/post about it. Later I started the massive attempt to read The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

The Brothers Karamazov is a 796 page chunskter  with a small font size. Carrying it everywhere I want to take it poses a big challenge, but I do try to take it to office. For a book  written centuries ago, the words are so beautifully written that you feel bad that you didn’t read this book before.

I was tempted several times to return this book to the library and TH told me that it will be tough to accomplish. But I surprised myself when I renewed my justbooks library subscription and came back with this and I don’t regret it a bit.

I have only read the first 50 pages of the book in so many months, and I am determined to finish it asap. Read this wonderful quote from the book.

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”

I will update you guys more about my progress in reading The Brothers Karamazov.Between is there someone who wants to read The Brothers Karamazov along with me? We can have some fun with a read-along style. Let me know.

Organic Lifestyle- Organic farming

Going the organic path!

What are your thoughts on the recent Maggi noodles controversy in India. I mostly avoid giving instant noodles to my daughter because of the MSG content. But then you know how kids are! They want to eat things which are not good for them.  I have no regrets or shock regarding the Maggi controversy.I drafted this post before the controversy and this post has got more relevance after that.

Do you worry about the harmful contents that are present in your food items?

Do you buy organically grown vegetables and fruits?

I never did. My idea of protecting myself and kids was to avoid all those fruits which could have loads of pesticides in it. For eg. Grapes. Someone in the medical field told me that it is very difficult to remove pesticides from grapes by soaking it and it is altogether better to avoid giving it to kids. So there was the end  of our grapes eating.

I am skeptical about buying oranges because of a bad experience in my childhood of eating oranges which had pesticides.  The bananas I buy with skepticism and the occasional pomegranates constitute our fruit intake. I soak tomatoes and other vegetables in water for few hours, but I do not know how much they remove the pesticides. Mangoes are also avoided unless they are my from native.  We were practicing a method of exclusion of potential pesticide-laden things from our diet.

This plan is good for short term, but when you think of the nourishment that my kids are missing because of avoiding these fruits and vegetables in our diet are huge. During a recent introspection I was feeling bad about my family diet.I grew up in a village where there were lots of pesticide-free items available to us and I longed to provide a similar environment for my kids.

That is how I went back to Lumiere Organic Store in Marthahalli, Bangalore. I realized it may not be possible to have everything organic or organically grown, but we do have a choice to buy at-least eat few organic food items from such stores. I have decided to buy more fruits, eggs, mangoes, chicken etc. from this store.

One of the other items that I would like to inculcate in my life are using organic bathing soaps, shampoos,mosquito repellants and moisturizing creams. They are expensive, but I feel less scared when I dab my kids with the organic mosquito repellant made from citronella and lemongrass.

A full-fledged organic lifestyle is possible, but too far expensive in the current circumstances in India. And that is a major lifestyle choice too. I will rather stick to a middle path right now. Buy onions from local store but buy the mangoes from organic store. May be all this will encourage me to start a small vegetable garden on my balcony.

How do you manage this pesticide/chemicals menace around us? Do you use organic products in your daily routine?

Image courtesy: Flickr under creative commons

Us by David Nicholls

Us by David Nicholls book cover

I have been reading this book for a long time that TH asked me last day “haven’t you been reading this for months?”. I sheepishly said yes, and that is because it is a wee bit heavy (both literally and figuratively). I was totally clueless about David Nicholls until I read a few good reviews about Us by fellow bloggers. David Nicholls didn’t let me down and he has found a place next to Ian McEwan in my list of favorite authors.

Us is a book about relationships through the eyes of a man in his 50s. There are no whirlwind romantic stories, no big fights or high drama, just plain life as told and recalled by a man who has been married for almost 25 years.This is the story of a scientist Douglas Petersen and his artistic wife Connie, how they met each other, their marriage and life after the birth of their kids. Albie, their son is ready for college and the Petersens have decided to go for a Europe trip before it. Such exciting things were happening in the Douglas’s life when Connie told that she intends to leave him after the trip. Douglas is shocked and he cannot accept the possibility that Connie doesn’t want to live with him longer, or rather grow old with him. The relationship between him and Albie were never comfortable and Douglas is determined to win back both his wife & son during the course of the Europe trip. But then things go rarely the way you expect.

Us is a story told by Douglas about their life and there are lots of thoughts on how he might have screwed up their marriage and his relationship with Albie. I liked how the story go back and forth in subsequent chapters, from present to the past.I was totally ok with not knowing Connie’s version and the fact that this book could stand alone without it indicates the talent of the author.

“The early days of any relationship are punctuated with a series of firsts – first sight, first words, first laugh, first kiss, first nudity, etc., with these shared landmarks becoming more widely spaced and innocuous as days turn to years, until eventually you’re left with first visit to a National Trust property or some such.”

I totally recommend Us by David Nicholls to all who loves realistic stories around love,relationships, marriage, life after children etc. There is so much wisdom hidden in these pages and I just was awed by the understanding the author has about the human mind. And those words. They are just beautiful. No wonder this book was in the long list for Man Booker Prize 2014.