Facebook Fast – A month on…

It sounds absolutely outrageous to cut oneself off from social media in today’s day and age, when the whole world seems to be living their life online. I guess the growing crowd compelled me to move away from it, like any introvert would.

Or perhaps the endless scrolling through selfies and happy faces really did get me. I realised the peer pressure of having a beautiful life was stressing me out. Add to that mindless, uninformed political opinions of of people I have probably just met once in life.

I just decided one fine day to sign out of Facebook from phone. It wasn’t a great decision that took a lot of thought. I just grew tired, irritated after realising that I had again wasted half an hour, scrolling through things that did not make me happy.

It was supposed to be a temporary thing. But it lasted, and suddenly I feel like I have the gift of time.

I turned to more positive social media platforms and dedicated my free time to follow people who are creating meaningful content on the one thing I love – reading.

In my free time, I turned to YouTube, Instagram and Blogs to inspire me to read more, or to study more. If I take a study break and then search #studygram or something of that sort.. I see wonderful people making such beautiful notes, that it makes me dive right back to studying.

The bibliophile community online feels much more positive and inspiring. I did a little cheat though. I created a fake account to follow two of my favourite book groups on Facebook, and of course to keep an eye on my boyfriend. šŸ˜›

I am able to finish my books much faster without constant notifications coming from Facebook. I feel less depressed and better positioned to actually accomplish the stuff I want to do in my life. I don’t have to look at selfies anymore. I can’t tell you how much I grew tired of them!

I used to post random thoughts on Facebook usually, and that prevented me from actually letting those thoughts flourish into full length articles.

And ugh, don’t even get me started on the number of click-bait articles and ads, and ads, and ads.

Will I go back to Facebook? Eventually I guess I’ll have to. It has many year’s worth of photos and professional connections. Perhaps it ll be only when I have the time to sit and declutter my timeline, rid myself of all the people I really have no intention of keeping in touch with, and have nothing in common with.




The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris – Book Review.

Where I, a person with no legitimate literary qualifications, pass my judgement on books IĀ read.

Written by Jenny Colgan

The Plot:

30-year-old Anna Trent is going through a bit of a bad time in life, when her old French Teacher gets her a chance to work in a chocolate shop in Paris.

What I thought:

I did not enjoy the book much, and was geared to trash it completely. However, as an after thought, I realised that the fault is not in the novel itself. Rather I am reading it at somewhat a wrong age.

The author describes Paris quiet beautifully, using very evocative language and making it seem as though the city is a wonderland. I have never been there, so I can not vouch for the accuracy of the descriptions. The picture painted by Colgan seems very tempting. Judging by her words you’d think Paris is all about the food, the wine, the flamboyant social life, love, sex.. and chocolates.

The plot in itself was quite predictable. There weren’t great twists and turns, which is just as well since, like chocolates, this book is a comfort read. I would go as far to describe this as a fairy tale in the modern day setting, where damsels in distress are rescued by men who can cook.

I am a little averse to novels where the guy – who usually is the centre of attraction for all women – suddenly notices the innocent female protagonist and falls in love and mends his ways. However, here the love part happens not because of the women’s beauty but their ability – which to some extend saves the novel from becoming absolutely frivolous.

The fact that everything shapes up so perfectly one after the other in this novel, leaves you a little sceptical because – you know – life is never that perfect.

Still, I would say that my opinion of the novel is coloured by my own experiences in life and I simply do not believe in happily ever after stories.

To a younger audience that is new to the concept of ‘love’ and have the whole life laid out ahead of them, this book may be a great read.

The take away from this book is to move ahead in life and listen to your heart even when everything around you seems to be at it’s worst. And that chocolate can pretty much solve everything.

Who should read this:

  • Readers between 15-20 years of age.
  • If you have been reading a lot of heavy stressful books, bite into some chocolate šŸ™‚
  • If you are in a spot in life where hope seems scarce
  • If you are moving to Paris (or any new place) and are scared.

Who should not read this:

  • If you are in a steady relationship and understand that love is not magic, but hard work on most days šŸ˜›
  • Grown-ups struggling with real life problems like rent and bills and stuff.
  • If you don’t like chocolate. Or France.

Thanks forĀ reading!

Read my previous review here: Unladylike, by Radhika Vaz

Unladylike – Book Review

Where I, a person with no legitimate literary qualifications, pass my judgement on books I read.

Written by Radhika Vaz

The Plot:

It’s a memoir, a standup comedian taking us through 40 years of her life.

What I thought:

Unladylike: The name intrigued me. I expected funny, honest narration of what a woman’s life really is like. I was disappointed, and that’s to put it nicely.

The book starts off as a rant of a typical Indian army brat who thinks her life has problems – you know with being dragged from one elite school to another, living in the best accommodation the county can provide.. poor souls.

She describes her life as a single child to begin with, and to be honest, not once did she hit the chord with me (also a single child).

I know it’s a memoir so the author primarily talks about herself. But to build a story, you need to talk about people around you, especially when most of your life depends on them. If you lived half your life with your parents, and through your memoir we barely know about them, your story is not complete.

Throughout the book, Vaz completely fails to build any characters at all. People make appearances and leave, leaving you unsure of how things affected her.

The whole book reads like an extended script of stand up comedy. With the exaggerated antics and expressions of a live stand-up comedy performance, the narration would have perhaps stood a chance. But as book, where the reader is more focussed, open to more details, it fails to charm.

There are hardly any laugh out moments. And it’s almost painful to flip through all the pages of mindless drinking, clubbing etc, and reading about the cruel parents who wouldn’t lend poor Radhika the family car so that she can go late night clubbing. Not that it stops her.

She does not take time to establish the depths of her relationships with anyone. For example, the only time her life seems to have any semblance of a purpose is when she get through a college in the US – simply to be with her boyfriend. But as a reader I am simply left to wonder why she is going through all the pain, since he barely appears to play much role in her life.

When you are reading a memoir, you would expect more insights into the author’s life. Her feelings, her train of thoughts. At most, this book appears as is it is an unattached observations of a third person. The events in her life are simply described as is, and with a few lazy attempts at humour.

The language was uninspiring. It sounded more like a coffee shop gossip between teenagers, not words of a 40 something woman speaking of her entire life. There is a huge difference in a performing before a live audience and putting forth something in written words, and unfortunately Radhika Vaz failed to take that aspect into account.

Simply put, there is very little to gain from this book – except perhaps, how not to write a memoir.


Who should read this:

(Ideally I would like to say no one.. but let’s see..)

  • It’s a good book to choose if you are starting up on the habit of reading.

Who should not read this:

  • If you are looking for feminism, nah, this one does not cover it.

Thanks for reading!

Read my previous review here: The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Book Review

Where I, a person with no legitimate literary qualifications, pass my judgement on books IĀ read.

Written by Arundhati Roy

The Plot:

The story begins with a tale of a Anjum, a transgender born in Old Delhi. Through a web of characters from different parts of the country, as well as different generations, and various political movements, Roy weaves together the story of modern India.

What I thought:

As I have described in my previous blog post, I had been eagerly waiting for this book for years.

As ever, Roy shows an unparalleled brilliance in the way she puts together her story. What I like the most about her writing is how she makes tiny minute details, like an insect or a tree, as much a part of her narrative as the main characters. What I did miss, however, is the vivid imagery she seemed to be adept at conjuring with her words 20 years back.

The canvas of this book was quiet large. To describe the whole of India and it’s political situation at any given point of time is not an easy task. To capture more than two decades of it through fiction.. needless to say that it would not do justice to the country of a billion people.

But then again, it was pretty clear that she took her audience back home for granted (and as a devoted fan, I am hurt that she did that). Some portions of the book felt like she went out of the way to explain herself to the foreign audience. It took the nativeness out of the book.

The ending was a little abrupt, especially after the urgency of the rest of the book. I was hoping for the book to give me puffy eyes from crying. There is no such intense heartbreak moment, just a few drops of tears at places. What she describes isĀ  the India I live, so it made me think, and the heartbreak is slow, and more long lasting.

In an attempt to describe the country’s political developments, the characters have not gotten enough space to develop. The backdrop in itself became the story. It may not be a bad thing, but I picked the book up for fiction so the characters were more important to me.

Perhaps the fact that the book ended with some semblance of hope did not work well with me. I like stories to end badly.

Too much of Roy’s past non-fiction work has influenced this one.

About the whether or not her facts are correct, I would suggest that you look things up. Because there were some parts where even I – a person with almost zero GK – could sense discrepancies.

Having said all this, I would still rate this book as among the best out there, for the writing. In spite of all her so-called ‘anti-national’ stand that some present-day media channels love to highlight, the underlying idea of the book is an India unified, not through the staunch saffron-clad worshippers of the state and its government, but despite them.

Dissent, rebellion and internal struggles brings the characters all together at the heart of the largest democracy of the world – Dilli.

Things you should know:

The novel took more than 20 years to complete, and is Arundhati Roy’s second work of fiction. Her first, God of Small Things, had won the Booker Prize.

Who should read this:

  • Indians, to get a perspective on events in the far reaches of the country.

Who should not read this:

  • If you are looking for a modern history lesson on India, this one will not exactly put forward the absolutely accurate, balance picture.

Thanks forĀ reading!

Read my previous review here: Kafka on The Shore, by Haruki Murakami

Waiting For Arundhati Roy..

Back in school when my best friend had first made me read God of Small Things, I had never imagined it would change the way I looked at fiction. Up until then I guess the best books I read had been the popular Sydney Sheldons and Dan Browns, and my idea of contemporary Indian writers was Chetan Bhagat.

It took me a while to get a hang of the book though. The incomplete phrases, the abstract style just did not sit well in my mind that had so far been conditioned by mass-appeal fiction. I left the book after some two chapters.

But my best friend was usually never wrong about books and it had won a Booker. So I decided to start again. It made more sense the second time. I laboured on. Before I realised, I was sucked into this Arundhati Roy dimension. It wasn’t just another piece of fiction. It was a piece of real life captured in words. The emotions she was dealing with were so intense that words could not have described them. And so she did not let the words take over her story. The story dictated the words, and they were placed just like they would be in our minds. Scattered. Incomplete. Real.

I cried my eyes out for the book. And when I finished. I immediately began again. The brilliance of her writing meant that even after reading the book 20 times, it doesn’t get old. The words get more life, the story gets more meaning. More detail.

I was so disappointed that she never wrote fiction again. And whenever I found myself wishing she had written another fiction, I read God of Small Things all over again.

I never liked non-fiction, and for the life of me I never managed to finish any I picked up. So I never ventured into reading any of her essays. I closed my ears to any news item that went against her. I worshiped her to the extent of being blind to anything that threatened to corrode my faith on her writing – especially since it was all based on that one book.

In a twist of fate, I got a chance to live in Kottayam, Kerala for almost a year. That’s the place the book is set in, and to my delight I saw what she saw. I saw the sheets of rain battering down, I saw the fat blue flies, I saw the dampness of the place making the pages of my books go wavy between the covers.

I read God of Small Things again, this time it was to my boyfriend, over the phone. He was trying to get to know my favourite author. And we were trying to get some sense of shared space in our long distance relationship.

Reading it while in Kerala made the book come alive atĀ  a whole new dimension. My boyfriend became a fan too.

Since he did like reading non-fiction, I decided to gift him her other works. But somehow her essays did not sit well with him. Unlike me, he never had the blind worshiping attitude and he read more of her, about her. I slowly saw him turn away from my favourite author. To him, she was a writer of excellent skill, but of uninformed, radical opinions that did not sit right even in his communist frame of mind.

I abandoned any intention I had of reading her non fiction works.

The number of feathers she ruffled in India, made me more awestruck than ever. This lady cares for nothing. She is unapologetic in sharing her opinions, fearless in the face of public ridicule, and as independent as a human can be.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get to meet her. Or if I even want to, seeing that in real life an idolised figure rarely matches up to one’s imagination.

But I did want to read more from her. More fiction.

And today is the day. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness will reach me in a day or two perhaps.

The reviews have been mixed. And honestly it would be too much to expect anyone, even Arundhati Roy herself, to be able to trump God of Small Things. I have been giddy with expectation.

For me it is no less than a reincarnation, since I only know Arundhati Roy through her first book.


Kafka on the Shore – Book Review

Where I, a person with no legitimate literary qualifications, pass my judgement on books IĀ read.

Written by Haruki Murakami

The Plot:

Fifteen year old Kafka Tamura runs away from home, listening to what seems to be his alter ego or subconscious mind. Another Mr. Nakata, goes around talking to cats. There lives somewhat merge. :/

What I thought:

I had heard so many people gushing about the awesomeness of Murakami, that I spend months waiting for it’s price to go down on Amazon, before hitting buy. That was the only good decision I made as far as Murakami goes.

My reaction after reading this book was, “Whaaa…?”

I did something I never do. I went online to look at discussions about the books. Why was this book so famous? Nobody who had read the book seemed to be able to tell me exactly what it was about. And the cover seemed so tasteful, elite and minimalistic. I had such high hopes!

I did not get the book. I did not get it at all. Yes, some places there are beautiful quotable quotes that give you something to think about. But what makes book quotes more beautiful is when you read them with context in the book itself. But that’s barely true here. You might as well look them up on Goodreads.

The only thing that keeps you going is the build up of mystery. So many mysterious things happen. Unfortunately very few of them eventually get explained so you are just like, “Whaaa..?”

It’s like a long dream that seems to makes sense while you are seeing it, but in reality it does not make any sense at all. The book just ends and you are awake and you never get to see the end of the dream.

You know sometimes you are in this relationship where everything seems to be going so great, but suddenly your partner calls it quits and you just spend days wondering, “what just happened here?” You go over your memory, looking for clues, signs to help you understand. You even start doubting yourself. But it was never you!

That’s what Murakami does to his readers here. He begins with a lot of zest. And then just figures that his readers don’t need any answers at all. He just puts his pen down one fine day and sends his book off to be published.

I kept thinking about the book for days. I asked people what they thought. Eventually I began to doubt my ability to appreciate literature. How is it that such a highly acclaimed book was not appealing to me at all?

Apparently this genre is called Magical Realism. I guess I just do not like this genre.

Basically anything happens in the book. There is no logic, and no closure. You could say its like abstract art. You should pretend to understand it if you want to fit into the elite crowd.

I am so much of commoner, and I found the book quite pretentious.

Things you should know:

The novel was originally written in Japanese in 2002. The author recommends reading the book multiple times to get a meaning out of it.

Who should read this:

  • I guess if you dig magical realism you will enjoy this one.
  • In case you enjoy books rife with life philosophy, go for it!
  • In case you are having trouble sleeping, this one may help.

Who should not read this:

  • If you read novels for a story with a definite beginning and end, I don’t think you’ll like this. This book lacks closure.
  • If you are a busy no nonsense type, seriously stay away. This will waste a lot of time.

Thanks forĀ reading!

Read my previous review here: Possesion: A Romance, by A.S. Byatt