The things that I read.

Sometime in June, Angel book-tagged me.
Heck, I was very pleased with it and spent 3 hours crafting a well-researched (!!) and well thought-out book tag. It completely disappeared. Yes, my Blogger- life was never the same again!
But, before we go to the tag, here’s…

A brief history of my reading habits.
My reading habits are, in a large measure, hereditary. I am happiest when I have a book in my hand and I can read it in peace. Unfortunately, I get many complaints about “Shruti not paying attention to what happens around her.”
My dad’s younger days were spent lying flat on his tummy on the bed, and reading the book, which used to be on the floor. Informed ‘sources’ (well, my mother!!) inform me that the maid used to be very puzzled by the phenomenon and used to whisper about “Saab being sick”. I have inherited the habit! Yes, it does sound very strange, but trust me, the distance from your eyes to the page is optimal for proper reading. That said, I read even by candlelight! Fortunately, my eyes haven’t let me down yet 😉
My childhood was spent begging my sister to take yet another Noddy from our neighbourhood lending library at Secundrabad. But I was in LKG and the only thing I could understand from the books was Noddy was a rather nobbly little boy with a yellow and red car that went parp-parp (or was it peep-peep?). In time, I learnt to recognise Enid Blyton’s distinctive signature on her books. Of course, I was still very young and thought the name was ‘Gnid’ Blyton…. But, I was still a Gnid fan of hers (or his, since I was still confused!)
Growing up, and moving to Trivandrum put me in the company of much older cousins. All of them were in their late teens and early twenties and the only notice they took of a little six year old scamp was when she went to them and pulled their sleeves shouting for “A story!! Please?” My sister and her unfortunate classmate, with whom I used to travel on the city bus had a pretty hard time trying to satiate a first-standard kid’s curiousity to hear any and all stories they had. In fact, most of my neighbours remember me as the small little girl who used to trot behind her sister begging for stories rather than 21 years old and in the final year at college.
Coming back to my book history. Hmm, where were we? Oh yes, I was six years old and going strong.
The next two years were spent learning the language and going through all the ‘Tinkle’s and ‘Amar Chitra Katha’ series I could lay my hands on. I then actually graduated to READING all the Gnids I could. I spent many a day on the terrace of my house reading Famous Five, Secret Seven and all the school stories. Till date, my favourite Enid Blyton series has been that of the Five Findouters (and Dog!).
My reading became so voracious at a point, I used to drag my dog-eared copy of the Bible and peruse through the stories there. I even remember trying to explain one of the stories in Judges to an amused audience. There was some talk of a “doubled edged sword” and a “nail through the head”. My imagination used to a step ahead of my experience, however, and I can’t really assert the stories made much sense!!
Unlike most middle-schoolers, however, I scorned Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. Which is not to say that I didn’t read them, because I did! But for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what Nancy being titan-haired and pretty had to do with her solving cases. Three Investigators used to a firm favourite, however. Jupiter Jones and his idiosyncracies made for interesting reading. The guys seemed very normal to me, but the cases they solved were little short of amazing!
And… WHO can forget Sherlock Holmes? The Mystery of the Speckled Band had me hooked on to his adventures for life.
Having a sister who was doing her B.A Literature came in handy, when I discovered the wonderful world of G B Shaw and Jane Austen.
In seventh, I found myself in Elloor Library and in heaven too! All the books I ever wanted.
Agatha Christie, Archie, Alistair MacLean, Forsyth, Crichton, Wodehouse, Tolkien, Pratchett… my list grew as I grew up and out of my old likes.
I love reading magazines on a train, but it annoys me when the vendor hands me a Femina or a Woman’s Era, when all I want is “The Week” or “Sportstar”…. 😀
Of late, I have discovered ebooks and the Project Gutenberg and am in the process of devouring old classics.
The saga moves on…

1) Number of books owned: Around 600 or so, counting all the magazines and itsy-bitsy books. It’s enough to fill about 5 shelves thrice over. Do the maths!

2) Last Book read: The Class by Erich Segal, Thud! by Terry Pratchett, The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell & Breaking the Da Vinci Code by Darrell Brock.
Yeah, I am reading all four (e-books) simultaneously. The last BOOK I read would be Segal’s Doctors.

3) Last book bought: Err, I am a penniless student! Kindly adjust. However, the last book I bought was Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett. The last book I was gifted would be Desert Rats by John Parker.

4) 5+ Books that mean a lot to me:

  • Carrying the Torch: Dr Ida Scudder: I might not get the title absolutely right, not can I remember the author too well. But this is one autobiography that really inspired me. For those who don’t know who the hell Dr. Scudder is, she is the founder of the Christian Medical College, Vellore. This book is the sole reason I even attempted to write CMC’s entrance test (on zero preps). She epitomises to me human spirit and the ideal woman who gave herself completely to her beliefs, and unlike many professed feminists believed in TRUE gender equality. To every woman who cries herself hoarse demanding 33% reservation for women to level out the playing field, I recommend a dekko at this story.
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul series: Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen et al. Quirky, amusing, touching, sensitive in turn. Most of the stories in these books deal with the most difficult of subjects: life. Heartily recommended to one and sundry, including those self professed self-help book haters!
  • Arms & the Man: George Bernard Shaw: G B Shaw is one of the most pithy writers ever. This play is an absolutely brilliant satire on war and soldiering. It’s not really for the romantic at heart, but it is thoroughly enjoyable. Secretly, all girls wish for the strong hero type guys, but life comes as a rude jolt into practical reality. Here it is, “Wake up, sweetheart, and smell the coffee!”
  • Small Gods: Terry Pratchett, Good Omens: Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman: For those heedless souls, who think fantasy writing is cliched and not really literature, I point them to Pterry. Not to put too strong a statement, Pterry rocks! Both these books deal with religion and belief. These are really touchy topics for most people, But Small Gods REALLY makes sense. The points that are driven home are so subtle, if you blink while you are rolling over the floor laughing at the in-house jokes, you miss them. Strictly a book you must read with both eyes open and your funny bone ready to be tickled!
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel: Baroness Orczy: Hardly any will have missed this adventure by the Baroness of the French Revolution stories! Sir Percy Blakeney is not your quintessential English hero, but by Gad, does he get his job done or what!? (PS: For those who haven’t read the book, I just spoilt half the plot for you…BUT what ARE you waiting for?!)
  • Sir Arthur Saville’s Crime & Other Stories: Oscar Wilde: For anyone who has read The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar’s Wilde’s short stories & plays come as a pleasant surprise. Like George Bernard Shaw, his Irish wit is pithy and interesting. Unlike Shaw, however, his sarcasm is directed less at society as a whole and more at personal idiosyncracies.
  • Joni: Joni Eareckson-Tada: Now, how could I have missed this one? Paralysed neck down because of a diving accident when she was 17, Joni’s story is one which is not liable to be forgotten in a hurry. It’s the story of a life lived and lessons learnt.
  • The Veteran: Frederick Forsyth: In three word. Patriotism. Honour. Fiction. Kudos to Forsyth!
  • The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Douglas Adams: How can I miss the king of one liners and set-up jokes. The film did NOT do justice to DNA’s special brand of humour! In short, it sucked! Of course, if you are looking at a strong storyline, that’s non-existent, but H2G2 should be read, just for the sheer thrill of laughing your head off! And of course, for Marvin, the second most interesting character in books, after DEATH.
  • Pride & Prejudice: Jane Austen: Eliza Bennet & William Darcy. His pride, her prejudice. Romantic enough for any girl!!
  • Catch22: Joseph Heller: This is one book I picked up purely on recommendation. I read about half of it not understanding anything that Yossarian and his cronies were upto. There seemed countless strands of storyline that never seemed to be picked up. Until 4 chapters before the end, up in a burning plane with a dying soldier on his lap, everything makes sense. The novel became beautiful

Anyways, I am passing on the tag to…
DJK because I can!
Vijay a break from Vedanta, man!
Prashant Menon aka Undertaker Two in a row, Undy!
Girish because the fellow needs to announce his “taste” to the world!
Kaus because she reads so much!
Quinty Tit for tat, Ankush!
Senthil Get off your pictures, mister and tell us about Wodehouse!!

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14 thoughts on “The things that I read.

  1. silverine

    The Scarlet Pimpernel: woohoo thanks for reminding of this book, my first serious read. What is funny about these tags is that you find so many similarities amongst us Indians in our reading habits. I too did this tag and really enjoyed doing it 🙂

    Great compilation here.

  2. Anonymous

    Nice collection of books. Have you read “The curious incident of a dog at the night-time”? Had put up a partial review of the book on my blog. Is an interesting book.

    ~Rahul

  3. Senthil

    * Noddy’s car did go “parp-parp”.
    * Hey, I thought she was Gnid Blyton for a long time, too! In fact, I also thought she was a he! Eerie.

    Hmmm… I guess I needed that prod. Off now to pretend I’m posing for Rodin…

  4. >|' ; '|<

    your reading curve seems to be hyerbolic.
    havent read much for a long time..
    small gods was good, so was scarlet pimpernel(had to learn that at school…;))

    merry new year n a happy xmas to u..

  5. Abhi!

    Shrutz:
    I am calling you that cos i read in one of your older posts that you like this name! Nice reading taste I must say.
    Do you read Grisham as well?? Pardon me if you’ve mentioned it on your post cos I dont remember seeig it!
    nice stlye of writing as well!

  6. Mind Curry

    What about “God of Small Things”? My favorite..for a lot of reasons apart from the writing. “Then Small God (cozy and contained, private and limited) came away cauterized, laughing numbly at his own temerity. “

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