I would not out rightly say that I am going to mention about my favorite books because I myself am not sure about the exhaustiveness of the list. I am also very certain that the list will keep changing. Hence, without getting politically incorrect, I am heading this blog entry as 'the books which I would like to read again'.
Love in the Time of Cholera: By Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The book is a semi autobiographical account wherein Marquez picks up the love story of his parents and subtly mixes it with his own imagination. The coalescence of the real happenings with imaginary events creates one of the most Quixotic and romantic Love stories.
Fermina Daza, the fiery and temperamental girl, who was obstinately wooed by whimsical Florenteno Ariza, the telegraph operator, goes much against the will of her father in courting Ariza but leaves him as she turns 21 for she feels that their love was immature and impulsive and marries much well off doctor Urbino with whom she feels more secure and financially stable and lives with him for decades till he dies one day when he falls from a tree while catching a parrot. On the day of Doctor Urbino’s funeral the old Florenteno Ariza, much to the chagrin of Fermina, confesses his inextinguishable love for her. Story switches between the present and past and the love story unfolds.
While Marquez most famed work is ‘100 years of Solitude’ I liked ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ more because of two reasons; First that it’s a semi true Love story and second its is free from the magical realism that marks ‘100 years of Solitude’ . However both the works are labor of love and an absolute reader’s delight.
Midnight’s Children: By Salman Rushdie
Saleem Sinai, the magical child, is born on midnight of 15th of August 1947 .And his destiny is linked with the destiny of his motherland which comes into existence at the same time as him. The story travels backward in time as he narrates his life to his to be wife Padma. Rushdie is a brilliant raconteur. The way he weaves his words amazes his readers.
Shame: By Salman Rushdie
Rushdie claims that this can be a story of any country but any observer of world politics can easily identify that this is about Pakistan. Written in the backdrop of General Zia and Zulfikar Bhutto’s relationship, this story revolves around two characters, the peripheral hero Omar Khayyam who is allegory of shamelessness and Sufia Zinobia who symbolize shame. This concoction of fact & fiction is a brilliant read.
Of Human Bondage: W. Somerset Maugham
This is story about Philip Carey and his relationships. Philip is a lame guy madly in love with Mildred. He is heartbroken when she leaves him for another man. But later when her lover does not marry her, she along with her baby returns back to Philip. Philip breaks his relationship with his then girlfriend and happily accepts Mildred. He looks after her and her baby but again one day she leaves him for Griffith who is a friend of Philip. He is devastated. He always knew that Mildred doesn’t love him and is taking advantage of him but he could not stop him from loving her. Like a placid river the story moves slowly and smoothly. the reader feels pity of Philip. Finally the story end in a happy note when Philip finds his love in a farmer’s daughter and becomes indifferent towards Mildred who becomes a prostitute.
Genre: Non Fiction
My areas of interest is History, Geo Politics and Philosophy and hence most the books in non fiction belong to these categories.
History of God: By Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong talks about the provenance of three great monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. She critically analyzes the circumstances in which these religions came into existence. The book is very factual and is free to a large extent of personal biases however at times one might feel that being a Christian nun she knows the follies of Christianity too well than the other two religions which she observe through text books and anecdote.
Decline & Fall of Roman Empire: By Edward Gibbons
Before it was first published in 1776 , Edward Gibbon took about 20 years to complete this book. and . 236 years after that it still remains the most authoritarian book on this subject. It starts from the height of Roman Empire (Around 60-90 Ad) and covers a period till the fall of Constantinople in 15th century. The gradual decline of Roman Empire took 1500 years during which the empire was divided into two halves the western Roman Empire and the eastern Roman Empire. The western empire ended by 7-8th century but the eastern empire, popularly known as Byzantine Empire, continued till 14th century when it was finally conquered by the Turks.
The Wonder That was India: By A.L Basham
This book covers the history of India before the arrival of Islam. It studies the political and cultural landscape of India beginning with the Indus valley civilization till 700 AD. Basham devotes separate chapters on Prehistory, The State, Society, Everyday Life, Religion, Arts, and Language & Literature. When it was first published in 1954, it became an instant hit. It is a classic that anybody with an interest in the civilization beginning of India must read. It is work of uncompromisingly scholarship.
Freedom at Midnight: By Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins
In the preface of this book the authors reveal that they have collected about a ton of research documents for this book and it is very much evident when you read this master piece. This book gives an account of the political and social events of the last two years before the independence. The book is slightly favorable towards Lord Mountbatten but the authors can be condone for the fact that he was only key figure available for interviews when authors were researching as Gandhiji, Nehru, Patel and Jinnah had already become history. After reading this book my respect for Gandhiji increased to an extent which fell little short of deification.
Story of Philosophy: By Will Durant
Those like me who wants to get initiated with philosophical doctrines but are unable to make sense of the contradicting and arcane philosophical text must first put there hands on this book. Durant very lucidly explains the life and teachings of Major Philosophers. Even after 80 years of its first publication it remains the best selling books in Philosophy.
Hayavadanah: By Girish Karnad
The plot comes from Kathasaritsagar, an ancient collection of stories in Sanskrit .This drama entails a woman’s struggle to satisfy her desire of physical love and her thirst for intellectualism that she finds in two different person. The play opens with Devdatta and Kapila who are close friends. Devdatta is a man of intellect and Kapila is a man of great physique. Their relationship gets complicated when Devdatta’s newly wedded wife Padmini falls for Kapila. While attempting to resolve this conflict, the two men behead themselves. Padmini is contemplating suicide when Goddess Kali intervenes and endows her with the powers to revive Kapila and Devdatta. In reattaching their fallen heads, Padmini transposes the heads onto the wrong bodies. An identity crisis ensues. Hayavadana explores the dilemma of physical versus intellectual appeal, and how it defines us.
Genre: Short Stories
Metamorphosis: By Franz Kafka
Gregor Samasa one morning suddenly turns into an insect and with this changes the attitude of his parents and sister towards him. This once blue eyed boy turns a liability on his family. The emotional bonding and strength of a relationship is need based is the central theme of this book. His father loathes him, his mother fears him and his sister sympathizes with him but gradually she too feels burdened looking after him. Death absolves him of his family and his family of him.
In Cold Blood: By Truman Capote
One night the entire Clutter family is found murdered in Holcombe a small town in US. The book has two different narrations running in parallel which converges when the victims meet their killers. Truman Capote who covered this incident for a newspaper digs deep into the minds of killers. How at the impulse of moment some of the most heinous crimes are committed, how the past defines the present actions, are some of the questions which leave the reader pondering.