Mitostargazer

Bhoole Bisre Chitra

Bhoole Bisre Chitra - Bhagwati Charan Verma Completed this book in a long stretch, from July to September(can only read so much in a plant library). It only seems apprpriate enough, as the timeline of the book stretches across more than 50 years, spanning through 4 generations of a family, against the backdrop of birth of Indian nationalism at the turn of the century(the 20th, that is). It feels like you've lived a whole life through it.

After I got sufficiently engrossed into the book, it kept reminding me frequently of another book: War & Peace. To me, it is the War and Peace of India- the epic saga of a family(with many families and characters coming and exiting the stage) through the generations, an expansive, frightfully accurate and natural, almost Tolstoy-like, gaze at the society of that time, stories of family, bonds, love, hate, friendship, rebellion, Hindu vs. Muslim sensibilities, generation change, and everything set against, and into, the rising national conscious of a colonized young India, led by Gandhi and Nehru.

Raag Darbari (राग दरबारी)

Raag Darbari (राग दरबारी) - Shrilal Shukla Masterpiece. An inimitable creation in Hindi literature, one who literary impact and socio-cultural forebodings(wrapped inside ingenious satire) still haunts us today.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes -  Arthur Conan Doyle It was good. quite good actually, even though i am not usually interested in thriller or detective stories. But i had to read Sherlock Holmes.


A few stories are somewhat lackadaisical. A few have too abrupt an ending. esp the famous ones, like A Scandal in Bohemia.
And I don't understand what is the hullabaloo about The Red-Headed League? It seemed to me quite an ordinary story

And just as a passing remark,Sherlock says somewhere "It is always a joy to meet an American, Mr. Moulton, for I am one of those who believe that the folly of a monarch and the blundering of a minister in far-gone years will not prevent our children from being some day citizens of the same world-wide country under a flag which shall be a quartering of the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes.”
Mr. Sherlock(might or might not be Mr. Doyle's) seems to be a strong imperialist o_O.
The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun - Gretchen Rubin i can't read this book. not for me.
even when i'll be swimming in the deep waters of depression, i won't read this to raise my spirits.
Rock and Roll Cage Match: Music's Greatest Rivalries, Decided - Sean Manning 30 rivalries(out of which, one, Album vs. Single, is a cartoon strip). Some were brilliant, few were bad, one or two were outright stupid.
Jay-Z vs. Nas, Guided by Voices vs. Pavement, Radiohead vs. Coldplay, Lennon vs. McCartney, MJ vs. Prince were good. Led Zep vs. Black Sabbath and Blur vs. Oasis were the best, balanced, informative and interesting viewpoint in a historical perspective.
Bob Dylan vs. Bob Marley was an outright stupidity. There is no comparison. Both were spokesmen, but of different people, different societies.

Zen in the Art of Writing - Ray Bradbury This book should be read twice a year, once every six months, at the very least, to remind oneself of the way one should approach writing and not get lost in one's own labyrinths of dark and convoluted thoughts. I, for once, saw the sunshine in writing after a long long time.

Ray Bradbury keeps wandering off frequently into his various long-winded memory lanes, so it's more of a collection of motley memoirs than a cohesive piece about writing. But the theme remains consistent, the writing is full of pace, and the zest and gusto(the two words he seems quite in love with) with which he deals with the whole thing makes up the seemingly haphazard manner of explaining his thoughts and viewpoints.

The World Chess Championship: Karpov/Kasparov Moscow 85

The World Chess Championship: Karpov/Kasparov Moscow 85 - Raymond Keene, Mark Taimanov Read it in my early childhood. Brought alive one of the greatest world championships ever, and certainly the greatest rivalry the chess world has ever seen, in an intense game-to-game analysis of the whole match, along with the 1984 match too. Full of tension, giving a peek into the minds of the players.
I remember attaching a sad streak with this book, because Karpov lost the match. Further testament to its emotional appeal.
Your First Move: Chess for Beginners - Alexey Sokolsky, A. Sololsky The book i learnt chess from. Steeped in the Russian school of chess, it takes a no nonsense approach to learning chess, and takes the solid and straight route forward, without indulging in any of the fancy tricks that western books usually employ, giving the reader the direct joy of pure chess.
The Soviet School of Chess - A. Kotov,  M. Yudovich full of propaganda, but a really nice book to shape your chess knowledge(both playing and historical) with.

परिंदे

परिंदे - Nirmal Verma Collection of 7 stories.
Not my first time, but first extensive reading of Nirmal Verma.

One of the writers who have looked captivating and mysterious to me from times unknown, the introduction was a pleasant one. He is all the things I expected him to be. The amazing fluidity of his language, avoiding both pedantic language and Urdu inclinations, wafts lightly over the mountain clouds. His language has that elusive dreamy quality. You hear his words, as if in a half-remembered dream of yours, in a winter's night, hanging listlessly between a long-forgotten pain and the sweet fragrance of once-young love.

His voice beckons to the mountains, to the places where I desire to go the most, the places which stand transfixed in time, forever embedded in his memory as the world he saw it then and created it.

There are a few hiccups to this ascending stairway to heaven, at least the once I experienced in my amateurish folly. Surrounded by depressive, consumptive protagonists, living in desolate places, his monologue sometimes go too far from humanity, or the 'more' human part of the consciousness, wandering into the half-unknown alleys and backyards of the mind, which are far too many, and often meaningless in their complexity. His protagonists, if they were real, would have gone insane by now, either from loneliness or complete absence of speech. The narrative, vivid and strong as it is, weakens the protagonists from within.

Enough said. He and Ruskin Bond have something in common: Mountains. And I love anyone who loves mountains. Yet to discover him fully, more beauty lies hidden.
Stumbling on Happiness - Daniel Gilbert Best thing: Not a self-help book :)
It doesn't try to preach, because there aren't many things to preach anyway, only to point out what's wrong with us. And the author does it with charming wit.
In some places, the experiments that he cites to substantiate his points seem inadequate, but that is more than compensated by the perspicacity with which he lays bare the irrationality of the decision we make based on our foresight, imagination and memory, and why they aren't as perfect as we think they are.
Do the Work - Steven Pressfield Almost, almost better than The War of Art. It seemed a more sobered up version of TWoA. But not good enough for a three star. Same content, dunno why they called it a sequel, put in a rather more structured form, with lesser religious overtones and Muse-calling.
Sometimes, the informal language, the licking, kicking and whooping that 'sonofabitch' is too ludicrous to feel motivating.

Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from EverybodyElse

Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else - Geoff Colvin And the book is overrated too.
Sketches from a Hunter's Album - Ivan Turgenev, Richard Freeborn This one transported me back the old Russia of 1850s, Russia of my childhood. Turgenev is different from both Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, yet their equal in stature, a true master of prose. Sketches depict life of peasants and landlords in pre-1850(before serfdom was abolished)Russia, from the eyes of a nobleman hunter, always on the move, as he passes through all forms of life, observing with equanimity and keenness, all sorts of cruelty, wretchedness, and quirks and foibles of people around him.
His love of nature is equally obvious and as beautifully shown here as his trenchant observation (and occasional commentary) of the life of his times. Which also means the book might not be an easy read if you are not a nature-lover, as these are sketches, not a centralized story.
Written in a poetic, unhurried and beautiful style. There are no all-encompassing moral/geographical canvases of Tolstoy, or violent psychological inquests of Dostoyevsky, only the hunter's eyes, his gun and his dog, the people he meet, the lives he encounters, and nature.
Heart of Darkness and the Congo Diary - Joseph Conrad Reserving judgement on this book as of now. Either I don't seem to have understood it enough, or I have some problem with Conrad's 'mysterious' and 'incomplete' way of describing things.
Eleven Minutes - Paulo Coelho Nice. Evoked many questions in the mind.
First half was better in which there was no answers forced upon you, but were left to wonder upon. In the second half, a preaching kind of tone sets in which disappoints at places. But otherwise, evoking all the pertinent questions with greater ferocity and eloquence.

Currently reading

The Satanic Verses
Salman Rushdie
The Double and The Gambler
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Richard Pevear, Larissa Volokhonsky
The Adolescent
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Richard Pevear, Larissa Volokhonsky
Fight Club
Chuck Palahniuk
How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
Mortimer J. Adler, Charles Van Doren
Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships
Eric Berne
Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur
Max Euwe, Walter Meiden
The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order
Samuel P. Huntington
Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination
Hugh MacLeod
Moby Dick: Or, the Whale