Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Books I Read In January



One of my unsaid resolutions this year was to read more books and more authors. Recently, I decided that it would also be nice to do a monthly check of the books I read in a month. So, in January I read Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, The Bad Girl by Maria Vargas Llosa, Surfacing by Margaret Atwood, and half of Dancing Girls by Atwood again.

1. Lord Of The Rings - It is a great book by Tolkien for all those people who love Fantasy Fiction. It is built on a grand scale and makes up for a gripping read. I was so glued to the book that I read it in my cab, during breaks in my office, in the loo...I have to agree that I have not read Hobbits yet which is followed by The Fellowship of the Rings, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Yet it does not make Lord of the Rings difficult to understand. The latter three books (Fellowship, Towers, & Return) come together to make the entire series of Lord of the Rings. It is an epic high fantasy novel written immaculately by Tolkien. They say, that Tolkien began LOR just as a sequel to his earlier novel The Hobbit, which reviews claim is a less complex children's fantasy novel.  It is a long book but I think it is an enriching experience to have read it. In the foreword to the second edition, Tolkien says, "It is a massive undertaking not just to the writer but for the reader as well." I think that in itself sums up how great a reading it makes for.

2. The Bad Girl - A tale of unrequitted love (most part of the book), eloquent and torturing romance, and a show of brilliant language use, is what Llosa has packaged for us in The Bad Girl. Just imagine yourself being under the spell of deceptive genius and craftiness and a larger than life presence with whom you fall in love. You will exactly then empathize with the Peruvian hero of Llosa's book. In the beginning, the story does take a little time to capture you, but once that begins...you just go from page to page. For me it was really engaging the way, Llosa has developed both the Peruvian boy and the Chilean girl (since I do not remember the names, i use the demographics to name the characters). Having read many of the other books by the same author, I feel that he masters the art of having multiple narratives (ref - Aunt Julia & The Scriptwriter) and also he has this great finesse in doing jerky shifts in narratives, without throwing off the readers. I would really suggest people to read atleast these two books I mentioned of Llosa's to have a great reading experience.

3. Surfacing - A book by Margaret Atwood. As the title suggests, its about coming to terms with the protagonist's identity. It is a very complex narrative with a lot of global issues like identity, feminism, distruction towards nature are dealt. In the book the protagonist is narrating the story, so all we come to know is either through her monologues or we experience events through the thoughts of her. Wierd thing is the protagonist has not bee named in the entire book. I think, Atwood has grappled with the complex notions of identity, be it then the national identity or the gender identity with as less complexity in her narrative as possible. Though the upper layer (for lack of better and more technical term) of the narrative forms the story of the girl coming to her hometown in Canada - Qubec, to look for her missing father. But the more important plot comes with her trying to come to terms with her own supressed past and the loss of her identity. Other themes which could perhaps be told is the idea of how nature is being lost and destroyed by the inflow of urban populace to the smaller towns, another would be perhaps madness and how the protagonist washes away the negative influence of her past to align herself to her present state(which is shown by her literally diving into the chilly river, throwing away her clothes, and limiting her to raw food. Basically, throwing herself in the lap of nature and fianlly rejoining her lover Joe). All in all, it makes for a very complex, yet great read. Though, I am still to come to terms or become comfortable with Atwood's style...will save my more detailed comments for later when I have a better grasp of her style.

4. The Dancing Girls - It is a collection of very abstract short stories by Atwood with underlying complex themes and issues. I still do not understand the few stories I have read in my own vague mind. Will hold on suggesting it personally to people till I finish all of the stories, rest choice is always very personal...so you can very well go to a bookstore and grab a copy.

Since, the tag season is on...let me use it by tagging the Meister, The Chronicles Of R, Myriad, alchera, and shyamalee. You will need to mention the top five books you read in January with a short review and if you think I should be reading them, then suggest so after the review of each book. May be if it helps we could all do it every month end of beginning of next month. This way we all can read a variety of books and discuss about them on our blogs. An added advantage, you could always use this post at times when you do not really have much to talk about in your blogs :)
You will need to mention the top five books you read in January with a short review and if you think I should be reading it then suggesting it so in your own post.

8 comments:

Rajtilak Bhattacharjee said...

LOTR is what actually made me interested in Conworlding. Developing a world, a separate tribe of species, their own language, it almost feels like playing God. Tolkein did exactly that and succeeded.

wasted said...

Actually, I had this feeling too. I am not taking away anything from Tolkien, but I think most writers play being God while creating a story though they all paint it in different landscapes.

shock said...

eire, firse intellectual literary discussion ho ja raha hay :-(.....

anyway from LOTR, which character appealed to you the most?

wasted said...

I think Strider, Legolas, and Sam Gamgee :)

Actually, I like Gimli as well.

wasted said...

How about you?

shock said...

Samwise, Merry, Gollum/Smeagol, Eowin and Faramir

Rajtilak Bhattacharjee said...

Tag accepted and completed :)

wanda1234 said...

thanks for sharing....


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