Books, chocolate, romantic comedies, and cold weather. Brew all these together and it turns into the most perfect concoction for my idea of a relaxing day. And if I could seriously have it my way I would be curled up on the bed with all of these things… everyday! 🙂
Books have always been an inseparable part of my life. I grew up in a bookish household, where everyone from my grandparents to parents were avid readers and I too just grew into that habit by default. Because that’s how it works. If you grow up with books, you learn to love books. And if you don’t grow up with books…. Well….
Bottom Line: I love books.
I love reading them, holding them, smelling them, stacking them, downloading them, buying them, re-reading them… well, you get the point! 😀 I only wish I had shared the same passion for textbooks too in my school and college days! 😀
Books have always been my best companion in good and bad times. For me, getting lost in a story is one of the best ways to let go and forget about all the stress and worries in my life. Books have been my only solace and a source of escapism in those really bad times. They are so therapeutic. In fact, many people I know don’t understand why I love walking around book stores so much. I feel really happy around them and can seriously kill several hours just wandering through these stores!
These days, our generation is leaning towards anything that is technology, and reading is not an exception. With the invention of Kindles and I-pads, downloading and reading books have become far more easier and quicker than buying an actual book. The “ebooks vs. real books” debate has been around for years but let’s face it – both of them have their pros and cons. While I agree that e-books are quite handy and far more eco-friendly than the latter, nothing can ever replace the joy of holding an actual book and reading it page after page with that unmistakable musty smell which is as much part of the book as its content. And no matter how handy an e-book is, its intangible nature strips its ability to evoke the sentimental memories a dingy, dog-eared paperback can elicit. I learnt from my friend (Google 😀) that there’s actually some hard science behind the smell of old books. That maple syrup scent comes from compounds breaking down in the wood pulp of the pages and hence creates that incredible musty smell. Who knew?
New goal: Figure out a way to recreate that musty smell artificially and insert it into an e-reader so that I can finally switch over to the digital bandwagon! 😀
Now that we have established my everlasting love for books and reading in general, lets go a little further and have a look at the list of books that I absolutely loved reading. I plan to discuss about all the books in detail. So…. *Spoiler Alert* 😀
Out of all of them I’ve read so far, most are in that “good, but not earth-shattering” category, a few were so bad I’m not sure how they were even published… but a few were legitimately great. But having read a lot of good books, listing all of them below might be difficult. So to make things easier, I have only listed a few truly amazing books that have inspired, touched or struck a chord with me in some way or the other.
(Brace yourselves, this is going to be a really long post! 😀)
Reading glasses ready? First up….
10) The Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I was initially very apprehensive about reading this book as I had already watched a movie that was loosely adapted around this book – Bride and Prejudice (Starring: Aishwarya Rai and Martin Henderson). I don’t know what they were even thinking. The movie was an outright insult to the book. The actual movie version of Pride and Prejudice (Starring: Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen) came much later on. Even though the latter too is nothing compared to the book, it’s still better.
Pride and Prejudice is basically a story of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks of him as arrogant and conceited, while he struggles to remain indifferent to her lively mind and good looks.
Though this book may be over two hundred years old it is still one of the greatest and one of the most popular written novels in history.
If you notice the trend of books I have read and mentioned in this post, you will know that I mostly stick to romantic novels, sometimes I move towards fantasy, mystery and thriller but rarely towards any other genre. Mythological books are something I had never read before. This series totally changed my mind about the whole genre.
This mythological – historical – adventure – fiction series is all but immortalized as one of the trend changers amongst Indian books and Indian publishing as a whole. This series is creative, out-of-the-box and very much Indian.
A picture of a man, with a trishul, hair in dreadlocks, rudraksh beads and battle scars displayed on the bestsellers shelf – in a crossword bookstore. That was my first rendezvous with Amish’s Shiva. The cover looked interesting and the punchline, “A Story of a man, whom legend turned into a god” was interesting enough for the book to land into my buying cart.
Shiva – is a Tibetan tribal chief who is as fierce as he is moral. He has been depicted as a normal man who comes from the banks of the Mansarovar to fulfil his destiny of ridding the world of evil. On drinking somras, the elixir of those times, his throat turns blue and people bow to the Neelkanth who has come to save them. Only, the Neelkanth is reluctant to believe that he is the savior of these people and there starts the story of Shiva, who from a mere man becomes the Mahadev. The characters of the books are the ones we all grew up hearing about – Shiva, Sati, Kali, Ganesh, Karthik…, they are all there in human believable form. Not gods but human beings like you and me who are flawed and yet loved.
I love stories, and mythology is nothing but that, add to this the number of Gods we have in Hinduism and the two Epics (Ramayan and Mahabharata) and you have never ending stories. This trilogy is very well written and is an enjoyable read but be warned it does get a little draggy as you progress through the books.
My recommendation: The concept is fresh and the writing simple. The narrative is pacy and the book rushes through – pausing at the right places for the correct duration – and then riding out to a very pulsating end. Not to be missed. A definitely recommended read.
8) The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer
I read the whole Twilight series on my laptop in lightening speed. I was so hooked on to it that I didn’t rest till I finished the whole series.
Twilight is a series of four vampire-themed fantasy romance novels written by Stephenie Meyer. It charts a period in the life of Isabella “Bella” Swan, a teenage girl who moves to Forks, Washington, and falls in love with a 104-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen.
Now, I know most people would have safely watched the movie instead of taking the pains to read the book. And yes, I agree it’s a much easier option too. But there is so much background to each character and so many back stories in the book that its all of those things that come together to make the story so enthralling. I was so excited to see how they would have shown some of my favorite scenes from the book on to the silver screen. But alas, many of those things were not even included in the movie. I agree that it’s impossible to show every single sequence in the movie, but there are still a lot of things that could have been shown better in the movie.
The character description of Edward Cullen in the book is so amazing that I was dying to see how Mr. Pattinson would have portrayed the same in the movie. But as usual, it was nothing like the book whatsoever. Edward Cullen was made to look so horribly pale in the movie with so much makeup on his face, and the other vampires too were not as beautiful and graceful as they were described in the book. Mr. Pattinson’s constipated look in most parts of the movie really put me off.
Bella Swan’s character in the book is mostly described as a typical girl next door who even though is not superbly beautiful, has every single guy in town fawning over her. Very frankly speaking, I quite disliked her character in most parts of the book. Her ‘damsel in distress’ avatar at all times and her confusion and indecision over Edward or Jacob really unnerved me to a large extent! 😐
7) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
I’m often a little dubious about reading books that involve time travel and other fantasy related gimmicks. But this book had me hooked from the very beginning as the plot was very different from anything I had ever read before. The story revolves around a Chicago librarian (Henry DeTamble) who has a rare genetic disorder that causes him to involuntarily time travel. This is also about how he meets his future wife (Clare Abshire) and the complications his time traveling creates for his marriage and life in general. But despite the genre-bending premise, The Time Traveler’s Wife is primarily a love story; the science part of the sci-fi doesn’t really hold water.
This book again, like most books these days, has been adapted into a movie. And like any other movie adaptation, there are numerous differences between this book and its movie version too. There’s bound to be mixed feelings when a good novel is adapted on to the silver screen. But I’m torn between the two endings. Although one of my favorite passages in the book was Henry’s letter, I’m not sure that I liked that he told Claire that he would see her again and exactly when that would happen, although I like the element of hope that it gave her. In the movie however, she hopes without being told and is rewarded with seeing him again, which I felt was somehow much more romantic. I feel the ending in the movie gave Clare a better closure than the ending in the book, where I got a sense that she waited for that one moment all her life and didn’t really move on.
My recommendation: Go see the movie, but only if you haven’t read the book. If you’ve read the book, it’s possible you will be a bit dissatisfied. Either way, definitely read the book!
6) Doctors by Erich Segal
I was in school when I had first read ‘Doctors‘. This book had inspired me to such an extent that I had decided that I will definitely become a doctor.
But that never happened and we all know what course I ultimately took up and pursued!
Anyway, Doctors is a novel that follows the lives of The Harvard Medical School’s class of 1962. Initially I used to wonder why all Erich Segal books had stories revolving around Harvard. It was much later that I got to know that he had completed his entire college education (bachelors through doctorate) at Harvard University, and hence his fascination for Harvard and the reason around why it features so prominently in all his books.
Doctors takes us into the lives of a batch of Harvard medical students. The story mainly revolves around 2 best friends – Laura and Barney and their relationship. The first few chapters revolve around these 2 families and their friendship. Until they enter medical school, from where onwards, the book describes the making of doctors. How each character in the story has different reasons for pursuing medicine. It covers the harsh training of med school, the taxing internship and residency days, the individual struggles they face, their triumphs and falls, the professional demands of the field, friendships and failed relationships.
5) Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
Angels and Demons is one of the best Dan Brown novels I have read till date. Even though The Da Vinci Code is much more popular than Angels and Demons, I still prefer the latter.
Angels and Demons is a prequel to The Da Vinci Code. This book tells the tale of the resurrection of an anti-religious deeply enlightened cult known as the Illuminati and their play at bringing down the Catholic Church – their ultimate enemy. As the Pope had recently died, the Cardinals are in the process of electing another when the Preferetti, or the four favored Cardinals, go missing. There are threats of murder, all being followed by a lone reporter and his camerawoman. The main characters in the story are Robert Langdon, an American symbologist, Vittoria Vetra, an Italian physicist, Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca, Maximilian Kohler, and some members of the Vatican Swiss Guard. There are several other crucial characters, like Vittoria’s father Leonardo Vetra, the Hassassin, and the Pope.
I tried to predict the ending many times throughout this book, but I really don’t think anybody could guess the ending of this book correctly without previously hearing about it! There are just so many events that come together so perfectly in the end that you will be amazed.
My recommendation: Angels and Demons is an explosive thriller. There are so many twists and turns in the plot, character development and story-line that it will leave you awestruck at the end of the book. Its a definitely must-read (if that’s an actual word! )
4) Harry Potter by J.K Rowling
I absolutely enjoyed reading every single Harry Potter book. I used literally wait with bated breath for each installment of the series. Writing a small summary on this amazing book is impossible. Harry Potter is one of the very first books I really loved. The imagination of J.K Rowling knows no bounds. She takes you through each and every book at the same pace and excitement.
As most of you already know, this book revolves around Harry Potter, an orphan with a lightening scar on his forehead, who discovers at the age of eleven that he is a wizard, who until then is living within the ordinary world of non-magical people (Muggles). He is invited to attend a school (Hogwarts) that teaches wizards the necessary skills to succeed in the wizarding world. The world of Harry Potter is a place where the mundane and the marvelous, the ordinary and the surreal coexist. It’s a place where cars can fly and owls can deliver the mail, a place where paintings talk and a mirror reflects people’s innermost desires. It’s also a place where death and the catastrophes of daily life are inevitable, and people’s lives are defined by love, loss and hope — the same way they are in our own mortal world. And even though I knew from the very beginning that there would only be 7 installments to the series, I would still keep wishing that Ms. Rowling would change her mind in the end and write more! But as we all know, that never happened. 😛
3) Love Story by Erich Segal
Love Story was my most favorite book for many, many years, until it got replaced by P.S. I Love You and A Walk to Remember. But it still is among my favorite books. I feel Erich Segal was the Nicholas Sparks of his era with his tales of epic love. He’s not known for his literary masterpieces but he was a prominent name a few decades back and I had heard so much about this book that I just had to check it out for myself. Trust me, I was not disappointed. This book is considered as a bible for romantics around the world even today.
Love Story is a short book, running to fewer than 100 pages. It was one of the very first romance novels I had ever read. It tells the story of the blossoming love between Harvard law student Oliver Barrett IV and Radcliffe music student Jenny Cavilleri, who dies at an awfully young age. That isn’t a spoiler: it is revealed in the first line of the book.
The story begins:
“What can you say about a twenty-five year old girl who died? That she loved Mozart and Bach. And the Beatles. And me.”
My recommendation: Love Story is an amazing book and had made a huge impact on me when I had read it. Would I recommend you to read this book? Definitely.
2) A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
A Walk to Remember is one of the very first Nicholas Sparks book I had read. It takes place in 1958, Northern California. The story revolves around Landon Carter and Jamie Sullivan. Landon is a popular boy at Beaufort High who unwillingly gets involved with a shy girl Jamie, a girl he never thought of talking to before. His world starts to change once he starts to learn more and more about Jamie.
This book introduced me to the world of Nicholas Sparks. He has a way with love stories. There’s something about the way he writes that makes you feel so heavily involved with the characters and the story you’re reading. I think what I love most about this story is how innocently simple it is. Does that make sense? It’s just very pure. It was refreshing to read, and it forced me try and see things in a different light – a more positive light. I’d recommend it to anyone, especially if you’re looking for a quick read and a good cry. Just don’t read it in public because you’ll surely embarrass yourself.
The movie version of this book is not as bad as I thought it would be. The differences between the book and the movie are quite a lot (big surprise there!) but its still better than other movie adaptations I have seen till date.
My recommendation: READ THE BOOK. Just make sure you have tissues handy, especially when you hit chapter 12. It’s like, 35 pages long, and you cry through every. single. page. *sniff*
P.S. I Love You is one of the most powerful and touching novels I have read till date. It deals with the struggle people face to cope and get over the death of a loved one. Cecilia Ahern really understands the pain that people feel and the desperation to hold on long after a loved one has gone. It is a story of a young widow who discovers that her late husband has left her 10 messages intended to help ease her pain and start a new life post his death. This book was adapted into a movie and was brought to the big screen in 2007. Sadly, the title and the idea that a man sends his wife letters after his death is the only resemblance the film has to the book. This is a story about a man who is cut down in his prime, all the plans he and his wife had for their life together are gone – this is not a funny or happy tale. And yet, this is a story of hope. It is a story about accepting and coming to terms with death and believing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Many people who hadn’t read the book, liked the movie quite a lot. But I was very disappointed with the way the whole story was changed in the movie. The power and the emotional connect in the novel was well and truly lost and replaced with clichés and unnecessary humor in the movie. Characters that don’t even exist in the book were added on in the movie just to give it a happy ending and the status of a “rom-com”. I also don’t understand how the authors agree to this while signing on for the rights. You get the feeling that they didn’t want to make a ‘depressing’ film and so have tried to make it a rom-com – well, it doesn’t work.
Until then…. Happy Reading!