So, you think all that you were taught in history, science, math and geography class was right? Did Henry VIII really have six wives? Did Einstein rea...moreSo, you think all that you were taught in history, science, math and geography class was right? Did Henry VIII really have six wives? Did Einstein really come up with the theory of relativity? Is mercury the only metal liquid at room temperature?
Well, I certainly thought so! Combining the best of what you know and what you think you know, the makers of QI, have now come up with Quite an Interesting Book, that I am glad I picked up from Oxfam and actually started reading after so much procrastination.
Nothing brought out the curious and yet skeptic kid in me the way this book has . Whether you love reading or hate it, whether you enjoy trivia, or are a seekerof knowledge, The Book of General Ignorance is something I would recommend to you anyway! There’s nothing like it! I mean it!(less)
A thing about Khalil Gibran: You can never read anything by him ever again that will hold the same place in your heart as The Prophet.
A thing abo...more A thing about Khalil Gibran: You can never read anything by him ever again that will hold the same place in your heart as The Prophet.
A thing about his poetry:You will love it anyway, more than works by any other poet.
Gibran was not just a poet but a storyteller, a philosopher and a doctor of the soul all wrapped in one. That's how his books are. They are like soup for an ailing soul, they enrich you and enchant you as you flip through their pages, and the only thing you can ever compare them to is another book by Khalil Gibran himself.
So, even if I say I give it a 4/5 rating, please bear in mind that it is only with respect to The Prophet and The Garden of the Prophet, that this book is a 4/5. If I have to compare it to anything else that I've ever read, it is far far superior and way more deep.
If you're big in Oriental Poetry, or poetry in general, i'd say, The Madman is a not-to-be-missed read! (less)
Let me begin this review with my final verdict before I analyse anything else about it: It could have been a LOT better!
For those who worship Philip...moreLet me begin this review with my final verdict before I analyse anything else about it: It could have been a LOT better!
For those who worship Philippa Gregory because "she's a historian!" : Don't you think that for a historian writing historical fiction she is way too presumptuous?
Well, I certainly thought so even though I do grant writers poetic license to bend a few facts in order to make the story readable. However, to turn a figure like Katherine of Aragon into nothing more than a whiny, idiotic girl, who has no mind of her own, is going a little too far, I think!
Katherine of Aragaon, despite all her faults was the strongest and bravest Queen that the dim-wit Henry VIII married and if you look back at her depiction in this book, all she has been shown as is a stupid, snivelling, pathetic cow (excuse my French!) who shows courage only to do what she was told by her mother, her father, her dying husband; whose emotions change like the weather of England and who basically had two major misconceptions: 1)Her mother was God 2)She was God's favourite child
Nowhere in the book is she portrayed as a woman who actually went through the pain of being married off in a deal, who lost her husband and was kept as a captive. Instead, she's just this teenager with the crazy dream of becoming the Queen of England, no matter what it took! Even in the end, when the King's Great Matter is discussed, she's not the devoted wife who braved a war in her pregnancy, she's just a woman, who has lived her dream and inwardly accepts her defeat to Anne Boleyn because, "She is just as ambitious as I was!"
Of course none of us know what the real Katherine was like and nor can we ever found out. As a result, all we have left for reconstruction, is our presumptions.
My question here is: Could we not have done better, Ms Gregory? Could we not have had a not so whiny Katharine and somehow portrayed her in an inspiring light despite all her faults and foibles? If not, I guess this book was certainly not meant for me!(less)
A multiplicity of factors make this book precious to me! yes, precious! The store-it-in-a-lock-and-key kind of precious! So let's start this review wi...moreA multiplicity of factors make this book precious to me! yes, precious! The store-it-in-a-lock-and-key kind of precious! So let's start this review with why I will not lend you this book even if you are my soul mate:
-It's a first day first edition! I was the first person to buy it minutes after its release from a book store in Chandigarh.
-It's more than just a book, it's an important source of history and helps to understand in depth the aftermath of the Battle of Chamkaur and the History of Sikhs as we know it today.
-It was one of the last books my grandfather read before he died, and being well versed in as well as an avid reader of both Persian and English, he was in a true position to comment on it. I think that mentioning that he died a fan of Navtej Sarna is a testimonial in itself on how brilliantly successful Mr Sarna has been in his endeavour to translate this historic letter by Guru Gobind Singh to Aurangzeb.
-It's a signed copy! Yes! Signed by the man himself with the inscription: For Shriya, In the memory of your beloved grandfather.
However, even if this book hadn't been so priceless for me, even if Mr Sarna hadn't been one of my most favourite authors and a truly wonderful person at heart, and even if I hadn't been so blessed as to meet him by the most serendipitous twist of fate in a book shop, this book would still have been my, favourite.
Like I said with my other review in the morning, you cannot translate Persian poetry into English very easily. you have to make sure that your words capture the depth, the essence and the very soul of the poet to be able to do this.
I think I just have to thank my stars that Mr Sarna chose to translate this particular piece. One thing I can say without even thinking twice is Navtej Sarna has a natural flare for poetry. He's effortless with his words, his rhymes come out perfectly formed, and even in a translation, his knack for poetry is incomparable.
In the words of my grandfather, who left us last year, "If you can read and understand both Persian and English, you'll be able to see that in case of this particular translation, Navtej Sarna is not merely the translator but also a poet in his own regard."
Well, I couldn't test that theory because I know nothing about Persian but as a student of history, who had already read Zafarnama in a non poetic translation, I would say this is the best one ever!(less)
" Their melancholy is soothing, and their joy elevating, to a degree I never experienced in studying the authors of any other country. When you read...more" Their melancholy is soothing, and their joy elevating, to a degree I never experienced in studying the authors of any other country. When you read their writings, life appears to consist in a warm sun and a garden of roses, in the smiles and frowns of a fair enemy, and the fire that consumes your own heart. " -Victor Frankenstein on Oriental Poetry (Mary Shelley's Frankenstein )
I begin my review, or rather, I sum it up in the words borrowed from Mary Shelley, who said it all about the likes of Omar Khayyam, Khalil Gibran, and Rumi, in those two lines. Yes, this is exactly what reading Oriental poetry feels like, even to a person from the Oriental world! This is exactly what reading this little pink book feels like.
In fact, I'm glad I got my hands on it before that little three-year-old girl, who was probably eyeing it keenly because it's pink and cloth bound. I still shudder to think where Rumi's wisdom would have lain, in a doll house perhaps, surrounded by Barbie dolls, instead of a bookshelf!
Anyway, what about this translation of Rumi? Is it as good as Barks? Better than Barks? Is it different?
Well, I am not going to compare it with Barks, because, I am yet to read it. As to what I think of this translation, it certainly is amazing but it isn't what one would call brilliant. Somewhere, while trying to keep the rhyme scheme intact, the translator lost that key essence of Rumi: depth! I don't mean that the poems are not deep anymore or have suddenly become simple and shallow and meaningless-no! However, the original beauty of Rumi is lost in the use of more colloquial words and all this just to get the whole things rhyme. Certain quatrains are so vague you just lose track of what you're reading and there are places where the translation is simply clumsy.
I do not claim to be an expert on Persian poetry like my grandfather was however, I know for sure that if this collection had been translated in the same way as Navtej Sarna translated Zafarnama or Vikram Seth translated certain couplets from Arabic, Persian and Urdu in his A Suitable Boy , I, for one, would have loved this book slightly more than I do now.
That being said, I have still adored the book. Who couldn't? Rumi's poems are like music to the soul, and even if they seem a little too casually handled, they still leave a mark on you, hit the nail, touch a nerve somewhere. I throughly enjoyed the book but I just feel that it could have been better!
If you pick up this book looking for the typical Garcia Marquez style, you're in for a disappointment. This isn't the usual Garcia Marquez book, packe...moreIf you pick up this book looking for the typical Garcia Marquez style, you're in for a disappointment. This isn't the usual Garcia Marquez book, packed with elements of fantasy and facts. This is a journalistic reconstruction of a real shipwrecked sailor, Luis Alejandro Velasco, a guy who really faced a ship wreck and sharks, a tale so moving and yet so simple, it is impossible not to be touched by it. Reasing this book, made me dislike Life of Pi a little bit more because nothing seems original about that story now, not even events of the shipwreck, which now seem to be copied and pasted from this one. As for this one, you can take magical realism out of Marquez but not that capturing, haunting style of storytelling out of a book by him! Worth a read!(less)
I am surprised I didn't post my review sooner considering I was long done with the book and I must say I was surprised! Yes, surprised is the word for...moreI am surprised I didn't post my review sooner considering I was long done with the book and I must say I was surprised! Yes, surprised is the word for it because I have never approached Historical thrillers without a certain level of doubt. Being a student of history has always, always made me skeptic about historical fiction but like I said, "Surprised, and pleasantly!" is the phrase I would use for The Treasure of Kafur .
1. Writing historical fiction, especially one which is closely linked with real people can be a daunting task.
2. If you're not very authentic with your facts, you end up misleading the readers.
3. The more you indulge in historical fiction, the more you risk criticism from one source or another.
Breaking News: India finally has an author who braves all these things and delivers an amazing thriller and is our own contemporary to Hilary Mantel and Ken Follett.
A perfect blend of fantasy and fiction, the story is like a fairytale, a historical tale and a thrilling plot all wrapped into one. As a reader, you're never this person who is watching the whole thing going on but a character inside the novel, burying treasures, witnessing murders, discovering secrets and involved in a cat and mouse chase between life and death.
What I found personally agreeable is how elements of fantasy in a historical fiction (which can be really unpalatable) fit in so effortlessly. In fact, I would have given it a higher rating had I not felt a certain something missing-like there's more to the story.
However, despite being a seemingly unfinished business towards the end, here's a book the likes of me have craved for from an Indian author. Definitely worth a read!
Call me crazy or frivolous with my rating but this one act play had me cracking up! I love Julie. I can be Julie myself someday. It's the wittiest, fu...moreCall me crazy or frivolous with my rating but this one act play had me cracking up! I love Julie. I can be Julie myself someday. It's the wittiest, funniest thing I have read in a long time and was worth every minute I spent reading it. Go for it if you're looking for a reason to laugh and go for it if you like to celebrate wit!(less)
The one thing I love about Somerset Maugham is how wonderfully and subtly he raises ideas of sexual liberty, perception and human folly. This little n...moreThe one thing I love about Somerset Maugham is how wonderfully and subtly he raises ideas of sexual liberty, perception and human folly. This little novella brings us an exquisite taste of sexual objectification. As an interested and a rather amateur scholar of gender studies, I have been constantly reading and writing about the sexual objectification of women in popular culture and media but this novella reminded me of one key point I had been missing all along: how women objectify themselves!
Yes, it is true that it's not always men or the male dominated society that views a woman as a thing of beauty. Mary, the pretty thirty something widow, and the main protagonist of the story reminds us that. In a rather Lady Chatterleyish manner, Mary makes the mistake of assuming that a brief taste of her physical beauty can be a joy forever for some poor sod who shall forever be grateful to her for that 'magical experience he could only have dreamt of.' However, as stereotypical people forget, women are not always victims and men aren't always dogs! And so, trouble ensues, once her slighted lover, offended at being offered physical love as a sort of charity, gets hold of a gun... I am not spilling any beans, go and read it for yourself if you like the taste of it so far! A perfect 90 page read for a summer day too hot to be spent otherwise, this book will grip you tightly and provide both entertainment and food for thought when nothing else seems to be working well for you.(less)
Existential Question for an Avid Reader: What do you do on a day your town is cast by thunderous clouds and torrential rain? For me, the answer is ver...moreExistential Question for an Avid Reader: What do you do on a day your town is cast by thunderous clouds and torrential rain? For me, the answer is very simple. I sit by the huge glass windows in my room, on top of my wooden chest of drawers and take out a novel by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and read. For some reason, nothing else works the same way for me except perhaps good old Wuthering Heights. This one, however, lasted me longer than a rainy day. It went on for a week. Which brings me to the review: To be honest, I'm quite conflicted about how to rate this book. If I have to rate it individually, comparing its style, language and lucidity to other authors, I cannot give it less than a 4.5. However, if I compare it to the other two books in The Shadow of the Wind series, I think I find it safe to say that this book is perhaps the weakest of the three, probably because it is nothing more than a subplot extended into a novel. I find that except for the story of Fermin, it is a little dull, and lacks both the thrill and horror so typical of a Ruiz Zafon novel. There's intrigue no doubt, but it's nearly not as satisfying as the previous two, because it is just like a preparation ground. You are left half fed and want more, and maybe that isn't such a bad thing because it's definitely a good prologue to what I expect to be a great ending to a terrific series. So, although far inferior to its prequels, this book is certainly an important one that links the first two together much better. You kind of understand where the story is headed. In a single line, this book is the Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince of The Shadow of the Wind series.(less)
I'm don't blame the British for never getting over Sherlock Holmes! Read a Sherlock Holmes novel two years after your first or 200 years after the ori...moreI'm don't blame the British for never getting over Sherlock Holmes! Read a Sherlock Holmes novel two years after your first or 200 years after the original was first written, you'd never ever be bored by it, and it will never fail to grip you, enchant you, or make the lamp by your bedside burn throughout the night despite the fact that you're suffering from a sore throat and a headache!
What's perhaps even more gripping for me , other than Benedict Cumberbatch, is this particular novel was set in two places I have lived in and loved. The first of course was London, which isn't really where I lived but still had tonnes of memories from, and the second was Port Blair, Andaman Islands, where I grew up as a child. What took me by surprise was how accurate the descriptions of both these cities were, so accurate, you can use this book as a location map! I was almost chasing Toby with Sherlock and Watson and could see everything clear as a picture while I flipped through the pages. It was that good that even the mystery seemed secondary!
Another thing that charmed me was the details of the Revolt of 1857. Sir Arthur, you deserve that knighthood just for being so thorough in your research in times when the best of people had limited access to knowledge, least of all of colonies and their situations.
That you weren't derogatory towards Indians even when racism was at its peak, that you had su h in depth knowledge of the tribals of Andaman Islands, every thing, every single detail has made me an even bigger fan of yours!
Without doubt, one of the most 'Elementary' Sherlock Holmes novel ever! At least for me.(less)