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Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Words

Hello. So, last night, while I was wandering the vast reaches of the internet, I found this amazing website, Wordle. You basically type/paste in a bunch of text and it will create a sort of word cloud type thing, with the sizes of the words based on the frequency with which they appear in the text. You can specify the font, colours and the orientation of the words. It will even remove the most commonly used English words, so you don’t end up with a giant ‘the’ or ‘and’. I pasted in this post that I wrote a couple of weeks ago about books and reading and stuff, and this is what came out;

Obviously, the big words are ‘books’ and ‘read’, but I love how some words just go together, like ‘first memories’ and ‘remember old’. Its nice. I like it. It shall maybe go up on my wall now.

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Hi! So, about a month ago, something weird happened. I decided to do something that almost gave my mum a heart attack.

I decided to Clean! Well, sort of. I got out all my books and figured I would rearrange and catalog them in a way that made sense to me. But, once I got them out, I got all nostalgic and the process took a lot longer than it was supposed to. This led to my living room looking like this for about 3 days. Needless to say, my mom was a lot less happy with my new found desire to clean at the end of this period.

My living room floor had my entire childhood on it. My relationship with books began pretty early. There are pictures of me reading my little alphabet book as early as age one-one and a half.  But, my first book that I remember was this big book of Fairy Tales. I read that thing so much, the spine came apart! I remember every little detail about that book. Cinderella, Sindbad The Sailor, Gulliver’s Travels, Snow White and Rose Red!

That was the beginning, what followed was the age of Enid Blyton and Harry Potter, in adjacency with the Scholastic books era. I used to live in a city where there weren’t any decent bookstores, up to age 12. My dad used to bring me books from Chennai every time he went there. We had a deal, during my Enid Blyton phase, 3 books of a series per visit. The Scholastic company would have these book exhibitions and give us this catalog to order books from. Since I was so book starved, I would buy any and every book from the fiction section. Anastasia Krupnik and Ramona Quimby were my heroes when I was 10. My favorite Enid Blyton books were The Five Find-Outers series and The Faraway Tree stories. And I like Malory towers better than St. Clare’s. I remember, I once reread the whole 15 books from the Five Find-Outer series in one sitting. I read a little Nancy drew and Hardy Boys like most kids my age. But, they got predictable, fast. I made the mistake of reading Agatha Christie after reading Arthur Conan Doyle, and well, after you’ve read Holmes, nothing really compares. Hercule Poirot never had a chance.

I read the first 4 Harry Potter books when I was about 8-9. They got me hooked to the genre. I read Artemis Fowl, His Dark Materials, Lots of books by Garth Nix, Ingo, Eragon and the like, ravenously. I had an extensive Fantasy phase. It was the best one and lasted the longest. It also kind of contributed to how the three of us met.

I moved to Chennai from Madurai when I was entering class 8. On my first day of school, as I enter the class, I see lots of groups of people, and for some reason I zone in on these idiots sitting in the last couple of rows and decide, “Hey, I should sit there!”. So I walk over, and ask one of them if I could sit there. They look at me funny, probably wondering why I was asking their permission, but they nod yes, nonetheless. Now, Adzzie claims that she was the one I spoke to, but I don’t really recall.*grin* Anyway, I’m kind of socially awkward and shy, so I just sit there listening to them talk. And the things they were talking about! They were discussing, and I kid you not, how Alan Rickman’s nose was long and that it matched the book’s description perfectly. What you should know is, that where I had come from, people who read anything at all were a scarce commodity, so when I found these bunch of people who read the same kind of things, I was so excited. Then, Fuzzy initiated conversation and the rest, as they say, is history.

Somewhere during the Fantasy phase I read the Maximum Ride series, which I loved, but which got so very crappy later, the Boy Soldier series, which were brilliant, the Magician’s Guild Trilogy, also very, very good, the Bartimaeus Trilogy, the Pendragon books and so many more. The books were so good during this time, we would all read them and discuss them endlessly. We also read Twilight during this time. It was before all the screaming , rabid fangirls and we were 15, so I blame our youth.

Then, as I got older I started reading the kind of stuff I do now. Its a mix of everything, classic literature, contemporary fiction, historical fiction and the occasional young adult novel. I haven’t read a decent fantasy book in so long though!

When I was doing this cleaning, I realized how important books have been in my life. I mean, when I open an old book, I see 10 year old me or 12 year old me. I remember how I was back then, how I used to think and how I’ve changed and grown. I love how the stories you read as a younger version of yourself will change as you mature. These books have been my best friends all my life. There are good ones that I will remember always and some downright terrible ones. But, they all have memories attached to them. Memories of spending all day in bed reading and having my mum yell at me for forgetting to eat, memories of scouring bookstores for that book, memories of staying up till 4 in the morning because I couldn’t put that book down and of getting and reaching for that book first thing in the morning.

Well, that turned out longer than I expected. Anyway, that was my book story. What’s yours?

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So, Lucid was over and we went to the *drumroll* beach. I bet you’re probably tired of us going to the beach, but, well she wanted to eat. And BWC couldn’t come over as she semi-fails.
Anyway, we got to discussing when we started reading. So here goes.


Like any little toddler, I began with a big book of Fairytales. My mom would make me sit in the balcony and she would read them until I fell asleep. And then, I began looking at those giant pictures, telling the story my way. This was followed by a series of graphic stories which unfortunately was lost when we shifted to Chennai.  My fave ever fairytale was Snow White and Rose Red because no one else in my class knew that.

Okay, now, skip a few years and land in fourth grade. I was introduced to Enid Blyton with Mr.Meddle and St.Clare’s. I wasn’t all that thrilled about Mr.Meddle while I absolutely loved the twins in St.Clare’s.  (Ahh,  Mam’zelle!) And since then, I’ve always carried books. Reading became a major part of things that define me.

And in fifth, one of my neighbors forced me to read a page from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Up until then, I never wanted to because everyone was talking about it. (See! I was like this even back then. I tend to dissociate myself with these ‘popular’ books.) And I was hooked onto the book after which I forced my parents to get me those books.Of course, I never stopped reading Enid Blyton. Every visit to the library would

And for a while, I was stuck onto a bunch of ‘series.’ The ones I loved the most were probably Chalet School and The Three Investigators. Even now, I still wouldn’t mind curling up with a Chalet School because it had a really fresh voice. I loved how they chronicled Jo’s growth unlike some series where the kids stay the same age forever. I enjoyed the area and its description (especially now that I’ve seen Interlaken and stayed in a chalet,) and a world of adventure unlike the other school series.

In the eighth or so, I started out a few Classics that were my mom’s books. I did switch between the abridged and unabridged versions. I probably read Alice in Wonderland, the unabridged version, around this time. Also, I read Eragon around this time. And by ninth, I was into a lot of YA literature. It was a time when I drowned myself in books that angered my mom, but hey! Who cares? I also started science fiction around this time and I really enjoy science fics that have a solid scientific background. Not those hocus-pocus ‘in-the-future-years’ thing.

Nearing the end of twelve years of school, I started out with Literary Fiction, one of my favourite genres as it combines a great written style and a story. It made me enjoy each page and appreciate the words, as much as I loved devouring it to finish the book. And it also got me critiquing certain parts of the book. I mean, not just rating the book, but actually figuring out the what’s and why’s. A lot of these books would probably fall in the ‘Favourites’ category. Two books that pop into my head are Gift of Rain and Atonement. These stories were beautifully crafted and I sat up late into the night as I finish these. I highly recommend these books.


Now, after a year of college, I can never go for a week without reading something, even if it is some old books of mine.

So, what is your favourite ‘early book?’

EDIT- I just realized our last post was over a month ago. A month! Shows how college can ruin you.

So, Lucid was over and we went to the *drumroll* beach. I bet you’re probably tired of us going to the beach, but, well she wanted to eat. And BWC couldn’t come over as she semi-fails.
Anyway, we got to discussing when we started reading. So here goes.
Like any little toddler, I began with a big book of Fairytales. My mom would make me sit in the balcony and she would read them until I fell asleep. And then, I began looking at those giant pictures, telling the story my way. This was followed by a series of graphic stories which unfortunately was lost when we shifted to Chennai.  My fave ever fairytale was Snow White and Rose Red because no one else in my class knew that.

Okay, now, skip a few years and land in fourth grade. I was introduced to Enid Blyton with Mr.Meddle and St.Clare’s. I wasn’t all that thrilled about Mr.Meddle while I absolutely loved the twins in St.Clare’s.  (Ahh,  Mam’zelle!) And since then, I’ve always carried books. Reading became a major part of things that define me.

And in fifth, one of my neighbors forced me to read a page from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Up until then, I never wanted to because everyone was talking about it. (See! I was like this even back then. I tend to dissociate myself with these ‘popular’ books.) And I was hooked onto the book after which I forced my parents to get me those books.Of course, I never stopped reading Enid Blyton. Every visit to the library would

And for a while, I was stuck onto a bunch of ‘series.’ The ones I loved the most were probably Chalet School and The Three Investigators. Even now, I still wouldn’t mind curling up with a Chalet School because it had a really fresh voice. I loved how they chronicled Jo’s growth unlike some series where the kids stay the same age forever. I enjoyed the area and its description (especially now that I’ve seen Interlaken and stayed in a chalet,) and a world of adventure unlike the other school series.

In the eighth or so, I started out a few Classics that were my mom’s books. I did switch between the abridged and unabridged versions. I probably read Alice in Wonderland, the unabridged version, around this time. Also, I read Eragon around this time. And by ninth, I was into a lot of YA literature. It was a time when I drowned myself in books that angered my mom, but hey! Who cares? I also started science fiction around this time and I really enjoy science fics that have a solid scientific background. Not su hocus-pocus ‘in-the-future-years’ thing.

Nearing the end of twelve years of school, I started out with Literary Fiction, one of my favourite genres as it combines a great written style and a story. It made me enjoy each page and appreciate the words, as much as I loved devouring it to finish the book. And it also got me critiquing certain parts of the book. I mean, not just rating the book, but actually figuring out the what’s and why’s. A lot of these books would probably fall in the ‘Favourites’ category. Two books that pop into my head are Gift of Rain and Atonement. These stories were beautifully crafted and I sat up late into the night as I finish these. I highly recommend these books.

Now, after a year of college, I can never go for a week without reading something, even if it is some old books of mine.

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Of all the books I’ve read lately, this one sticks out by a mile.In fact I am so in love with this book that I think it deserves a post in itself.Any other book sharing space would just sound very ‘meh..’.

The lead character, Howard Roark, is like no other.If there is one thing I love more than the book (OK, almost), it is him:

‘Both men disliked Roark.He was usually disliked, from the first sight of his face, anywhere he went.His face was closed like the door of a safety vault; things locked in safety vaults are valuable; men did not care to feel that.He was a cold, disquieting presence in the room; his presence had a strange quality; it made itself felt and yet it made them feel that he wasn’t there; or perhaps it was that he was and they weren’t.’

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Another excerpt, this from the antagonist-in-chief, Ellsworth Toohey  (Perhaps ‘The man who could never be’ , as the author intended to portray him would be a better description?) :

” Have you ever thought of the style of a soul, Kiki?”

” The ..what ? “

” The style of a soul.Do you remember the famous philosopher who spoke of the style of a civilization? He called it ‘style’.He said it was the nearest word he could find for it.He said that every civilization has a basic principle, one single, supreme, determining conception, and every endeavor of men within that civilization is true, unconsciously and irrevocably, to that one principle…I think, Kiki, that every human soul has a style of its own, also.Its one basic theme.You’ll see it reflected in every thought, every act, every wish of that person.The one absolute, the one imperative in that living creature. Years of studying a man won’t show it to you. His face will. You’d have to write volumes to describe a person. Think of his face. You need nothing else.”

And Howard Roark is every inch that man who knows his ‘style’, and finds an outlet for it in architecture.‘The man who was as man should be.”

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” Howard Roark built a temple to the human spirit. He saw man as strong, proud, clean, wise and fearless. He saw man as a heroic being. And he built a temple to that. A temple is a place where man is to experience exaltation. He thought that exaltation comes from the consciousness of being guiltless, of seeing the truth and achieving it, of living up to one’s highest possibility, of knowing no shame and having no cause for shame, of being able to stand naked in full sunlight. He thought that exaltation means joy and that joy is man’s birthright. He thought that a place built as a setting for man is a sacred place. That is what Howard Roark thought of man and of exaltation. But Ellsworth Toohey said that this temple was a monument to a profound hatred of humanity. Ellsworth Toohey said that the essence of exaltation was to be scared out of your wits, to fall down and to grovel. Ellsworth Toohey said that man’s highest act was to realize his own worthlessness and to beg forgiveness. Ellsworth Toohey said it was depraved not to take for granted that man is something which needs to be forgiven. . . . To glorify man, said Ellsworth Toohey, was to glorify the gross pleasure of the flesh, for the realm of the spirit is beyond the grasp of man. To enter that realm, said Ellsworth Toohey, man must come as a beggar, on his knees. Ellsworth Toohey is a lover of mankind.” – Dominique Francon.

The woman for a man like Roark, Dominique Francon is an idealist who loves Roark for his impassioned work, and hates him because the general public will never see beauty in it.She pronounces him guilty of the crime of building structures fit for no man.While it is generally taken for an agreement with public sentiment, she believes that they are not a worthy audience and that his structures must be saved from the world, not the other way around.

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“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision.” ( Part of Roark’s stunning defence at his last trial. I wish I could put all of it here but 1) It’s the best part of the story, and something you should read for yourself and 2) We have too few readers as-is, ’nuff said.)

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Genre : It’s a book on a man and his work and the formidable combination they make.Roark’s buildings are described as seeming to grow out of the very earth- so natural and true as they are.It might seem strange that one man’s ego give birth to that , but Roark’s personality accounts for everything.There is also a contrasting character in Peter Keating- the architect seemingly at the head of it all, with recognition in toxic quantities.Mr.Wynand, the man who could have been , for the part that he is ( is this all sounding too much like something from a legal document what with all the repetition?) is another absolutely brilliant character.

Bottom line? Must.Read.Book.NOW.

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OK, seriously, ‘Reading maketh a full man’ sounds much better. I just realized how there’s no proper, usable synonym for the words ‘reading’ and ‘book’.Weird. Anyway, I figured I ought to write something on here before everyone reading (or writing) dies of depression or something! But Adzzie’s last post was funny! But she forgot to mention my personal favorite (second actually, my current fav is the chalk one!) of her huge collection of funny stories.

Crows:

When she’d just moved to India from Ireland, her aunt (?) decided it would be a good idea if Adzzie came along to pick up her cousins from school. All was well until, on the way back, they stopped at a store. Now the complications in this seemingly mundane act are crows. You see, thing is, in Chennai, we have a lot of crows….and little else actually. They’re quite common and mostly all over the place pooping away, showering innocent by-standers with their fragrant…um…droppings. But I digress. So our girl here had never really encountered an honest-to-goodness crow before and decided that she had to have one now. So, what does she do? She grabs onto an electric pole thing and says she won’t let go until she has a crow! Why she would ever want one is beyond me! Lolz!

OK, I have digressed a lot from what I actually wanted to write about.

Recently I’ve been in a sort of frenzy, finishing a book a day almost, staying up reading till 3:30 in the morning then realizing that I should go to sleep before the sun rises!

What I’ve read so far:

  • The Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin : Its basically about a gIrl, Naomi Porter, who has an accident involving yearbooks,a camera and steps and as a result loses her memory of the last 4-5 years. Everything that has happened to her between the ages of 12 and 17 is gone. But she does remember her math( Is this a sign?). What follows is plot about her discovering her world all over again and examining all her relationships, with her parents, friends, siblings and others from an almost third person point of view. Her character is human and flawed which makes the book quite easy to relate to and one that made me ask myself the question, ‘What would happen if I forgot the last few years of my life?”.
  • A Certain Slant Of Light by Laura Whitcomb: I found this book in the ‘Similar to Twilight’ category and you know how much we love Twilight so I decided to buy it. Its a love story about ghosts..sort of. Its a lot more complicated than that but you’ll have to read to understand. Its written very well. Almost Poetic. And I love the cover ( I know, I know ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’). But I don’t know, even though it was a beautiful book, I found it quite forgettable. I think it was too short and too rushed for me to enjoy properly.
  • This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen: Now this look I really liked. I loved the cover (again!) and the plot line. Its about girl named Remy and her life after high school. She is a girl who ‘doesn’t believe in love’. Cheesy, I know. But honestly the book isn’t. Well, anyway, she thinks love is imaginary because of two quite strong reasons, one, her mother is working on her fifth marriage and two, her father left her when she was a baby with nothing to remember him but a song called ‘This Lullaby’ written for her. Sadly, this song was his one and only hit and for Remy it was like ‘a bruise that never healed’. So every one is a cynic and hugely bugged with life. Enter or actually Crash in Dexter, the lead vocalist of a band who begins liking Remy on sight and changes everything with his optimism and his Potato songs! Read it.
  • The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen: Another book by Sarah Dessen. This one’s really good too. Its an all out love story. Its about Macy Queen. She’s one of those perfect girls except she isn’t. She lost her father to a heart attack recently and this was her way of coping.She has perfect life with a perfect mom and a perfect boyfriend and a perfect job at the lubray until she suddenly becomes an impromptu caterer at one of her mom’s parties and meets a bunch of amazing people who change her life. I like this one better than This Lullaby actually but I like the cover of This Lullaby better. I like Wes (the guy in this book) more than Dexter too. But they’re both really good reads.

Thats all for right now I suppose. I really need to go to sleep. Its late and I have school tomorrow (Bleh).

L8r people!

Update: I know I changed my avatar (again!). I swear I’ll stick to this one k?

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Maybe I should make this a weekly feature.I do devour books by the week as-is and I love dissecting and analyzing the story to bits.I know, sounds violent but if you love books as much as I do, I don’t need to explain that.

1. I’m done with Pendragon : The Pilgrims of Rayne (book 8) and it was a good read, as always (so far, touchwood*).You see a ‘ whole nother’ side to Bobby and a much more likeable Courtney, Saint Dane still talks in riddles, it’s very ‘ the fate of all halla rests on the shoulders of Bobby Pendragon’ ..so for anyone who’s been following the series, there isn’t a moment of disappointment.For anyone who hasn’t : “….”

2. I obviously ‘have a thing’ for psychology-fiction (well, mostly the former) so I’ve decided to bury my nose in We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel S( -omething.I forget.).And? I think there’s a very good reason it won the Orange Prize for fiction.I’m still not through with it, though..Almost but not quite.It is every bit as powerful, brave and compelling as the blurbs at the book-back claim it is.Currently I’m just amazed at how many books there are that go unsung no matter how good they are ( I’d never heard of this one, before! I chanced upon it in the library!).Nineteen Minutes is built on a similar theme, and as I read, I compare:

They’re both unconventional and I call them ‘brave’ because they bring into focus what everybody likes to push to the back of their heads, what everybody likes to believe is entirely fictitious and something that just happens to nameless, faceless people on the News when the reality is starkly different.They’re both novels on school shootouts.

Nineteen Minutes is different in that Jodi Picoult (author) manages to capture everyone’s POV**.You get inside the head of the messed up ‘kid’ behind the gun, the parents, the neighbours, cops..It’s more than just the direct victims affected in the case.It is so well presented that you actually catch yourself feeling sorry for the assailant.It paints a depressingly horrible but accurate picture of the many pretenses and cliches your average high-schooler deals with, and the court scenes are very well written.We Need to Talk About Kevin, on the other hand, is written solely from the POV of the mother (or ‘Mommer’) to the assailant, in the form of letters to her estranged husband.She does not try to defend him or even make him  sound the least bit humane but portrays Kevin’s life as a series of vindictive acts that his father, while with them, refuses to believe.She obviously blames herself for being a negligent, unfeeling mother but as seems to be the goal of the entire correspondence (well, actually, it’s one-way so that’s not really the term) tries to prove to her ex-husband that Kevin’s faults had been plainly on display all along while he persisted in turning a blind eye to them.Basically, she is justifying her past self  against her husband’s unspoken accusations , and the story just falls together along the way.It is a captivating book mostly due to the author (mother)’s strong (although whether ‘likeable’ is debatable..) character and amazing insight but mostly due to her style of spelling out uncomfortable truths.Nineteen Minutes is a lot more recent and easier to swallow because of the lead character’s having a ‘nicer’ side; it’s easier to accept that he was ‘pushed’ into it through the many tortures he is subjected to at school.That is his very reason, in fact.WNTAK, on the other hand seems to be an account of a kid with absolutely no conscience or er, feelings or anything at all remotely ‘normal’.

The whole thing brings to mind something from Kite Runner (another masterpiece) on ‘the astonishing cruelty of children’.

Definitely not some light, feel-good reading but then again, that is also precisely what makes them so worth reading.If that wasn’t a hint, I don’t know what is!

*Not really, I never do that.It’s called laziness..

** Point of View.Ahem.

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Update : I am now through with WNTAK, too.I can safely stick to my recommendation- in fact, the last ten pages or so are the best in the book.Here’s where the plots and twists, and ofcourse, the much called-for (in this case) happy ( well actually far from happy, but in comparison..) endings come in.Seriously.If you can lay your hands on this book-GO for it!

</spoiler warning>

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