From My Book-Shelf

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Modern Romance

by Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg

GoodReads Link

My Rating- 0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)Half rating star

I thoroughly enjoyed Aziz Ansari’s stand-up act & his show Master of None on Netflix & that got me to pick up this book. It is about dating & relationships in today’s age where choices are just an app away.

Aziz teams up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg & they conduct several experiments to understand the implications of such a dating scenario. The book is interesting, well written & is not lengthy at less than 300 pages.

Since Aziz has covered these topics on his show and his stand-up act, the book will feel a little repetitive if you have watched them. But it is a book which should be read by people who are in the dating world now & are used to the swipe-right-swipe-left phenomena.

Definitely worth a read.

 

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Narcopolis

by Jeet Thayil

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GoodReads Link

Jeet Thayil is a poet with a Sahitya Akademi Award for English to his name. Narcopolis is his first attempt at a novel. The book is an amalgamation of people who live or spend time at Shuklaji street in Old Bombay.

Thayil, an alcoholic & an addict for almost two decades wrote this novel as a memorial to all those people he met & hung out with during those days. It is based in the 70s and 80s Bombay when opium was being replaced by the more potent heroin.

Hookers, eunuchs, pimps, dealers, all of them turn up in this book & bring alive the underbelly of Mumbai in such a way that no movie or other book has been able to capture before.

Narcopolis is like a hallucinatory dream. It has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012, Man Asia Literary Prize (2012) and the Hindu Literary Prize (2013).

Even though it is beautifully written, it is not a book for everyone.

 

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Ramayana

by C. Rajagopalachari

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Yes, my bookshelf this week has a book on opium right next to one of India’s biggest epics.

This year I decided that maybe I should include some philosophy & religious texts to my book-shelf. While I have watched this epic saga countless number of times on TV, I wanted to know how it was portrayed in the written word.

Also, reading this got me some brownie points from my mother. 😀

This English translation by C. Rajagopalachari is one of the most popular translations of Ramayana. He has also translated Mahabharata and was actively involved in the Indian Independence movement & was the last Governor-General of India.

If only today’s politicians could read & write or at least inculcate policies that would make more people read & write.

But this book falls way short. I was looking for a story which combines mythology, history & fiction but instead this is an extremely simple translation of the text.

It fails to bring the epic to life, has the author’s comments at the end of chapters for those who don’t believe this story to be true & is a pain to read. My hunt for a genuine translation of Indian & the world’s religious texts continues.

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From My Book-Shelf

From My Book-Shelf

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Serious Men

by Manu Joseph

My Rating- Half rating star

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This is Manu Joseph’s first book & the second one I have read. The Illicit Happiness of Other People blew my mind! It is one of the finest books I have read and Serious Men was also recommended by several people & it does not disappoint.

While I did not find it as good as the previous book, it is witty, interesting, and will keep you hooked.

The Serious Men in this book are the scholars & scientists of the Institute of Theory and Research who are divided into two factions: One who want to explore alien life by listening to their signals & those (mainly Arvind Acharya, who is the head of the institute) who believes alien life forms are falling on earth in the form of particles.

Ayyan Mani is a dalit who is living in a Mumbai slum & working as a peon at this instituteHe weaves his own plot to find significance & matter in this life where he is surrounded by people who are considered important in their own right. The story revolves around him along with the events & the people.

The book is a delightful read and Manu Joseph is another good Indian author who should be read by more people.

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Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad

by Brett Martin

My Rating- 

 GoodReads Link

Let us make this very clear. This book is for those who watch American television shows. The ones who have watched either The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men or Breaking Bad. These are the shows which changed American television & introduced the concept of the lead actors who have their flaws.

This book takes us in the writers’ rooms of these shows & how the universe of these shows was created. Each lead writer has his own style and the book explores that well.

While tracing these shows, this book also traces the change in American television with HBO changing the business with The Sopranos and then following up with The Wire. Other networks followed suit and today the landscape has evolved with OTT platforms.

A fine book for those interested in television.

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Moth Smoke

by Mohsin Hamid

My Rating- Half rating star

GoodReads Link

The second Mohsin Hamid book I have read and at 256 pages, this is not a long read either.

It traces the story of Daru Shezad, a man living in Lahore who is fired from his job and descends into drugs. He cannot pay his bills, falls in love with his best friend’s wife and ends up on trial for a murder he may or may not have committed.

His story is set against the backdrop of a Pakistan which was racing against India to acquire its own nuclear bomb at the expense of its economy. This was Mohsin Hamid’s first novel and it is well-paced.

There is not a moment when one wants to put down the book as we see Daru spiral in a rabbit hole.

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From My Book-Shelf

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Siddhartha

by Hermann Hesse, Hilda Rosner (Translator)

My Rating- 0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)Half rating star

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This book can be mistaken for the story of Gautam Buddha, but it is not.

It is the story of Siddhartha, a young man who leaves his family in order to search for meaning in his life with his friend Govinda. While Govinda follows Gautam Buddha, Siddhartha embarks on his own quest.

This self-discovery tale stands for the fact that an individual does not attain enlightenment through intellectual methods or by immersing oneself in the pleasures of the world.

An individual attains self-discovery by the totality of his/her experiences. Siddhartha leaves his home, ends up going after materialistic & carnal pleasures, leaves it again only to realize the true meaning of life on the banks of a river.

This is a decent book & at less than 200 pages it is able to convey the point very nicely. It is well-written & is able to move the readers. However, the book does not dwell deep into Siddhartha’s journey so it should be read for its message & what it stands for.

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Byculla to Bangkok

by S. Hussain Zaidi

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Goodreads Link

I read Dongri to Dubai earlier & thought will follow it up with this. Somehow I did not find this book interesting since a lot of it is known now. Even the writing style is not very captivating.

This book traces the stories of Chhota Rajan, Arun Gawli and Ashwin Naik. However, I think movies have done better justice to the Mumbai underworld with the likes of Satya, Company and some of Amitabh Bacchan’s old films.

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The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Goodreads Link

I had watched the movie in which DiCaprio plays the role of Jay Gatsby and this book is hailed as a masterpiece for depicting America during the Jazz Age. While the book is well-written and Fitzgerald is able to paint the lavishness with his words, it fails to captivate.

The book is an American classic, but only for Americans. A person (like me) who is not aware about the Jazz Age & the 20s period in the US may feel disconnected from the novel and its popularity.

The underlying theme of the book is the decline of the American dream & the moral bankruptcy prevalent in the US at that time. The period of excess consumption & greed & the divide between the new & old money is what this book has portrayed throughout.

However, the period depicted in the book has become a norm even in India. The greed & material excess is what its all about everywhere & is also being replaced with the next generation.

Nevertheless, this book is a reflection of its time & those keen on picking up classics will have this on their list. Just ensure you read a little about the American society during that time.

From My Book-Shelf