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Books I had been reading

November 1, 2013

First a shoutout to Grammarly because I checked out their website recently and I am really impressed by extend of effort they put into proofreading the text you submit. If you would like try, please sign up for their 7-day trail. The text is checked for an array of mistakes that creep up in our daily usage/writing. I use Grammarly for proofreading online because I am too scared of Grammar Nazis coming after me 🙂

The lady and the monk

The problem with having a ‘to-read’ list longer than a mile is you are constantly looking at your list to see which book you should buy next. I discovered ‘The lady and the monk’ during a lazy day of meandering around a small book store in India. I read the back cover and I felt the subject resonating with me. I love travel, reading about new cultures and the first hand account of the places I have never seen. Sometimes the impromptu buys make the best purchases and this book is a testament to it.


The lady and the monk tells the story of four seasons in Kyoto during the time Pico Iyer spent exploring the country. I couldn’t help but wonder the entire time how beautiful the country is. Cherry Blossom lined walkways contrasting with the comic book themed motels; the beautiful Japanese women; Japanese monks and monasteries. A country steeped in culture and history, and at the same time it is as high-tech and modern as it gets. The book provides an endearing gateway to the Japanese Culture when the author meets Sachiko, a vivacious, attractive and educated Japanese woman who is married to a Japanese “salaryman”. Her dreams are in constant conflict with the expectations from the society. She longs to go out and work and earn a living, however everyone including her mother is wary of her ambitions. The book also gives a glimpse into the nature of Japanese people and tells us who easy it is for us to misunderstand them. Their love for perfection most of the times, comes across as pretentious and conscientiousness. As Pico Iyer spends four seasons in the beautiful country, we are taken through a lyrical journey with elements of cross-cultural infatuation thrown in between. The book made me want to pack my bags and go stay in this beautiful country and explore their culture. Highly recommended.

The Shadow of the Wind

I read the first 50 words of this book in a blog and I immediately knew I had to pick up this book. The first 50 words went something like this.

I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time.  It was the early summer of 1945, we walked through the streets of Barcelona…

The Shadow of the Wind

Now what I was forgetting was the fact that first 50 words doesn’t define the book. Quite truly, it didn’t. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon tells the story of a boy who discoveries an ‘unknown’ book and how his search for more books by the author opens up a web of mysterious incidents, murder and treachery. He soon realises that his own life is inexplicably linked to the book and how he comes into terms with it forms the crux of the story. Now, my main gripe with his book is its language and execution. At 700 odd pages, it is a long book. Nevertheless you can breeze through the pages but it is a fast paced book. I kept reading thinking that the something interesting will be coming up with the next turn. Alas, nothing happened. The language is bare, the story is atmost ‘dramatic’. No real substance or words that stay in your mind.

Two lessons learnt from this experience:

1. Just because everyone is loving a book doesn’t mean you will love it. Quite contrary, mass appeal books are not always to be trusted with reviews.

2. First 50 words doesn’t define a book !

Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books

I was truly fascinated by the subject when I first heard about this book. Hay-on-Wye, often described as “the town of books“, is a small market town and community in Powys, Wales. It has 40 bookstores, and if you can’t find what you want in one of them, you can fork over 50 pence and visit the field behind the town castle, where thousands more long-forgotten books languish under a sprawling tarp. The story follows Paul Collins as he abandons the hilly SanFrancisco and move his family to Hay where he tries to organise the American literature section in one of the many used-book stores, his attempts to buy an affordable house that is not falling apart and his struggle to make peace with the life in Hay. The book is spruced up with Collin’s witty and funny observations on many book titles and the village life of Hay.


Did the concept of actually having a town where bookstores outnumber the other shops fascinate you too? You should pick up this book then.

What have you been reading lately?


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  1. First of all, thanks for bringing up the site grammarly. Its been quite long time since i checked my account here. You seem to read more books than anyone i know. How do you get the time to do this. I read books maybe once in a year and that too if it interest me. The recent book i read was chetan baghats ” 2 states”. I know you may not like it going by the taste of your style. I brought the triseries book of Amish Tripathi but still i have not completed reading the few chapters of the first book. I though the book was good but somehow the book start seems to be boring. Another book which i borrowed from my friend is the Princess by Jean P Sasson. I dont know if you know about this book. Its a must read atleast for me as i stay in this part of the world.
    Lately i just been bitten by photography bug. My hubby just got me a canon camera DSLR. Though heavy and not easy to carry, the pictures that come out are awesome…anyway, enjoyed reading your blog and i forgot belated Diwali Wishes.

    • Oh girl, I don’t read as much books as I would love to. I agree it is really difficult to find time in between our schedules.

      I have read “2 states” and found it just ok. I personally don’t like Chetan Bhagat as a author. I should check out “Princess” by Jean Sasson.

      Wow, photography bug! Would love to see the pics. Belated Diwali Wishes to you too.

  2. A big hi-10 for ” The shadow of the wind” !! Haven’t read the other two but they sound so interesting, especially Sixpence house. I am so adding them to my list. Yes, it is longer a mile ofcourse.

  3. Pity you didn’t enjoy Shadow of the Wind. 😦 I have read SO MANY great reviews for it!

    Sixpence House sounds wonderful. It is non-fiction, right? I am adding it to my TBR list, which is growing by the day. 🙂 Did you enjoy the book?

    I have never read Pico Iyer, and want to begin now. The lady and the monk sounds like a great place to begin. Adding that to the TBR list, too. 🙂

    • I had also read so many good reviews about it. I didn’t like it one bit.

      I did enjoy Sixpence House, it is a book lovers version of ‘A Year in Provence’, not that fancy though.

      You should definitely read ‘The lady and the monk’. I highly recommend it.

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