I took my time reading this, preferring to savour every word of the beautiful writing. The book brings forth an interesting notion, of how objects can...moreI took my time reading this, preferring to savour every word of the beautiful writing. The book brings forth an interesting notion, of how objects can hold stories, memories, even secrets. Most of the stories hold a touch of poignancy, and Mai Al-Nakib's descriptions and brilliant choice of metaphors paint stunning pictures in the reader's mind. A couple of my favorite lines:
"In Kuwait, bougainvillea is called mejnooneh, crazy, notably in the feminine. Crazy because the fuchsia tissues multiply with an exuberance bordering on madness despite the heat and dryness."
There were quite a few details and events that'd occurred in my childhood that I'd forgotten about and it was interesting to relive them through the book. The stories are all placed against the turbulent backdrop of the Middle East, and as an expat living in Kuwait, I loved the glimpses of Kuwaiti history, culture and society (pre-1991) interspersed in some of the the narrative.
You may not be able to relate to some of the characters or their experiences, but that is of no consequence. Read it for the language, for an alternate outlook on the Middle East from the one portrayed by the media today, for a peek into a different world.(less)
Decided to begin the year on a light note with Jeeves and Wooster. I've said it before and I'll say it again, PG Wodehouse is my tonic for a lousy day...moreDecided to begin the year on a light note with Jeeves and Wooster. I've said it before and I'll say it again, PG Wodehouse is my tonic for a lousy day. No matter how crummy I feel, reading a page or two of any one of his books never fails to cheer me up greatly. Carry On, Jeeves, being a collection of short stories, didn't evoke as much mirth as a full fledged novel; nevertheless it was a fun read accompanied by adequate bouts of laughter. A master of humour in his own right!(less)
When I'm disgruntled or feel particularly grieved with how the world has treated me, I turn to Wodehouse. Wodehouse is my tonic. He never fails to dis...moreWhen I'm disgruntled or feel particularly grieved with how the world has treated me, I turn to Wodehouse. Wodehouse is my tonic. He never fails to disappoint. I have not yet read one of his books without repeatedly convulsing with laughter. He has the rare gift of making one forget their troubles and throwing one into a very welcome fits of apoplectic mirth. Bless him.
I can't imagine why the other characters in the book opine Bertie to be 'mentally negligible'. He seems to be in perfect control of his cognitive faculties. What's wrong with refusing to concede defeat when threatened with eviction on shattering the nerves of the building residents by playing the banjolele and then banishing yourself to the serenity of a cottage in the country to continue playing said banjolele, and allowing Jeeves to give notice in the process? And then spending the night in the garden because your ex-fiance—now engaged to a close friend—has taken over your bedroom and your heliotrope pajamas? And then spending another night with your face blacked with boot polish scaring the living daylights out of the domestic staff by trying to escape a bethrothal to said ex-fiance as is determined by her father?
Thank You, Jeeves came very close to toppling Right Ho, Jeeves off my list of favourite Wodehouse novels. The holes Bertie somehow gets himself into are priceless. If only everyone read Wodehouse when they felt low or depressed. I'm convinced people would be considerably better-humoured. (less)
As another person mentioned in their review, some of the stories have a touch of cynicism which I felt was slightly unpleasant. The story in the title...moreAs another person mentioned in their review, some of the stories have a touch of cynicism which I felt was slightly unpleasant. The story in the title was by far the best one of the lot (besides A Parrot for the Parson) and I couldn't stop laughing, the author's siblings are unbelievably ridiculous! I especially like his style of expression, it is very distinct and is a delight to read.(less)
I read the 2006 edition (got it from a used bookstore) but I'll fool myself into believing not much has changed in content. I read this all through my...moreI read the 2006 edition (got it from a used bookstore) but I'll fool myself into believing not much has changed in content. I read this all through my trip to Central Europe last summer and it was an awesome and very helpful read. It didn't have much about the towns and regions I went to, but it was because of this book that I learnt of the Munich Walking Tours and went on an amazing, informative and very thought-provoking Third Reich Tour on a rainy morning in München, walking through the beer halls Hitler first orated in all the way to the building (now a Music Academy) that housed his office. There was a lot of very useful travel advice and tips and I recommend the book to anyone making a Euro trip, although if you're visiting Eastern or Central Europe you might want to pick another of Rick Steves' books which are perhaps more relevant to the region.(less)
The book's title is slightly misleading, as there is barely any talk of Jane Austen or literature for that matter. It contains nothing but a three yea...moreThe book's title is slightly misleading, as there is barely any talk of Jane Austen or literature for that matter. It contains nothing but a three year long exchange of emails between two women in opposite ends of the world, one an Iraqi English literature professor (May) in Baghdad and the other (Bee) a journalist with the BBC in London. It seemed dull at first, and as my sister put it when she read the book, intrusive, as though you were violating the women's privacy by reading their personal emails. But then you get caught into their lives by witnessing the blossoming of a true friendship and the bond that develops between them and you're struck by the stark contrast of their lives. In almost every email, May talks about death, insecurity and instability in the city but never fails to add words of love to her 'sister' (Bee) and her 'nieces' (Bee's daughters) and her longing to see them. Bee, on the other hand, talks about the joys and trials of motherhood, her work and her husband while asking probing questions as to life in Baghdad before and after the US invasion, May's work and her students, her husband's family and Islam, while at the same time offering comforting and compassionate words to ease May's troubles. What I liked a lot about the book is that May answers Bee's questions intelligently and honestly, helping dissipate any stereotypes the reader may have about Islam, by firmly establishing the fact that Islam and tribal law, (the latter which governs most regions in Iraq) are completely separate of each other, even though most people consider them to be synonymous.
You're also struck by the strength of the Iraqi people who having been subject to so much adversity for the past 30 years, still stay rooted in their faith, traditions and culture despite the curfews, bombs and bullets.
In the face of May's trials, Bee's complaints of her daughter's 'weeing' may seem trivial but I think it is the normalcy of her friend's emails that strikes a chord with her, helping her to get through her daily routine. Similarly, the sadness of some of May's emails touches Bee and she realizes how small her afflictions are in comparison and attempts to do everything she can to get May and her husband out of Iraq.
I would have loved to read more about May's classes in the university, but all in all a good read, if you can bear to read May's horrifying (some eye-witness) accounts of the terror reigning in Baghdad. You really feel for the civilians living there stuck in the inferno and wonder how people can be so merciless to their fellow human beings, for no reason whatsoever except for a difference in faith or political opinion.(less)
This book made me want to get the laws into practice straight away. Some of the laws are in danger of being redundant as the authors word them differe...moreThis book made me want to get the laws into practice straight away. Some of the laws are in danger of being redundant as the authors word them differently but with very similar content to drive home their point. But a lot of what they state made sense, especially the Laws of Sacrifice and Line Extension - to milk greater profits you must focus on a single product that is your specialty rather than delve into everything that will negatively affect your market share and make you lose money in the long run. This is so true with marketing today, where companies want a piece of every pie out there, concentrating only on short term profits. However, their laws should be mulled over with a pinch of salt, a couple of their examples of companies 'in trouble' then or products with supposedly no future (this is a pretty old edition) are world renowned brands today so they didn't get it all right. All the same, a riveting read and a must for marketing students.(less)
The Hobbit was lighter, more delightful. The LotR is of a much more sombre nature but hardly less captivating a read. The journey is dreary and some f...moreThe Hobbit was lighter, more delightful. The LotR is of a much more sombre nature but hardly less captivating a read. The journey is dreary and some find the many descriptions and imagery tedious to read. But this for me is one of the many things that made it so endearing. The songs were not distracting, many relating the history of Middle-earth and the glory that once was, the fallen kings and tales of old and I found myself poring over the appendices, studying the timeline and marvelling at Tolkien's genius for creating so detailed a world. The language is so beautiful, particularly that of the Elves. I am especially fond of a song sung by Bilbo in Rivendell, 'I sit beside the fire and think'; it has with it an air of nostalgia and longing. I always regret watching the movies before reading the books. But here, I'm glad I did. At least in this installment of the books, there are too many holes (for me) and unsaid dialogues (Arwen for one, is but a mention) that the movie fills up which makes it all the more real and bewitching. That said, there's nothing I can add that will do justice to this masterpiece. Looking forward to continuing the journey in the next book in the series.(less)