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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Rating: 3 out of 5

ISBN (edition I've read): 9780141036137

Read between: 27-01-2013 to 29-01-2013

Note: This book is best if the reader has the fundamental knowledge of the Russian Revolution and Stalin era.

Tired of their servitude to man, a group of farm animals revolt and establish their own society, only to be betrayed into worse servitude by their leaders, the pigs, whose slogan becomes: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Published in 1945, this powerful satire of the Russian Revolution under Stalin remains as vivid and relevant today as it was on its first publication.

My take on the book:
This book is part of the 'ALL-TIME 100 NOVELS'.

I always had a notion to read this book. The name, Animal Farm, was too much for me to resist. I have always been a animal-enthusiast. (Yeah, I pay more heed to the name of the book than the plot. In fact, I had very little idea about the plot of the book.)

The other reason was the thickness of the book. It is damn difficult to resist a well-known classic novel which is seldom 100-pages thick.

There was a fact in the 'A NOTE ON THE TEXT' section of the book. My mother tongue is Telugu and, I learnt from the note, that this one of those few classics which were translated to Telugu. It also states that many versions of this book has been freed of the original subtitle - 'A FAIRY STORY'. The statement goes like this: "Only in Telugu, of all the translations made in Orwell's lifetime, was A Fairy Story retained."

It was only after I came to know that the fundamental knowledge of the Russian Revolution was needed to understand the satire in the novel, I felt disheartened and thought that I should have paid a little attention during my history classes.

To speak of the language, it is the best. No hard words. No undecipherable sentences. Everything was straight-forward. Every was easy to understand. Awesome language, I would like to call it.

Actually, I enjoyed the story even when I know nothing of the Russian Revolution and Stalin era. Though the story was indicating satiric actions equivalents of the happening of a historic event, it was as good as a good fiction novel. Of course, pigs learning to read, talk and dictate over other animals seemed absurd, but it was pretty entertaining. Perhaps, I would have had a better experience of the book, if I had a minimum knowledge of the historic event.

Also there were more than one instance, when I was reading this book and I fell asleep...

I recommend it to people who have the essential knowledge of the Russian Revolution and Stalin era. I don't know what you would feel during the read.
I also recommend it to those who are in search of a quick, entertaining read.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

ISBN (edition I've read): 9780099284826

Read between: 21-01-2013 to 26-01-2013

Damn slow plot with damn deep meaning. The book is the winner of Booker Prize 1999 and the author is the winner of Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003. Damn tempting combination. This is one of those Booker Prize winning books that bored me. Second consequent Booker read.


A divorced, middle-aged English professor finds himself increasingly unable to resist affairs with his female students. When discovered by the college authorities, he is expected to apologise and repent in an effort to save his job, but he refuses to become a scapegoat in what he see as as a show trial designed to reinforce a stringent political correctness.

He preempts the authorities and leaves his job, and the city, to spend time with his grown-up lesbian daughter on her remote farm. Things between them are strained - there is much from the past they need to reconcile - and the situation becomes critical when they are the victims of a brutal and horrifying attack.
In spectacularly powerful and lucid prose, J.M. Coetzee uses all his formidable skills to engage with a post-apartheid culture in unexpected and revealing ways. This examination into the sexual and politcal lawlines of modern South Africa as it tries desperately to start a fresh page in its history is chilling, uncompromising and unforgettable.

My take on the book:
I am a person who picks books by its good cover design rather than the book with a good plot. There is a dog on the cover page. Dog enthusiast, as I am, I blindly picked it up and started reading. Believe me, dogs have very little - or nothing of important role - in the whole book. Again, believe me, ever since I started reading this book, I dozed off. A note to readers like me. Never read this book before going to bed or while lying on bed. You will never know when you doze off.

It is the winner of Booker Prize - which was then not called 'Man Booker', just 'Booker' - in 1999. Probably the judges then and now aren't the same, because a prize won by a book like Life Of Pi and Sense Of An Ending couldn't be won by a book like this one. This is too boring for the prize.

This books is more similar to Sense Of An Ending, if you have read it. Too much into emotions, but narrated in the third-person style unlike the previous book.

At the start of the book, it was good. Not to mention, better than the rest of the book. The book starts with the description of David Lurie's - the protagonist - sex life. The starting line is,
For a man of his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has, to his mind, 
solved the problem of sex rather well.

Yeah, the story centers around sex and the feeling following the deed.

Overall, build in the darkest country, South Africa, Disgrace is pretty boring - emotional at times - read.

I wouldn't recommend it to Booker fans. Although, the impression of this book is widely unstable. It gave a boring impression for me. It might give a enriching read for someone else. So readers read this book at your own risk.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Signing up for IQR challenge 2013

We are proud to announce that we are registering for the Indian Quills Reading (IQR) challenge 2013.

What is it all about? (Direct, without a word's change from the founder's blog)

The Indian literary scene is under bombardment and Indian Quills Reading Challenge is inspired from that beautiful word-a-lious attack. Indian books, Indian writers, Indian stories…..there are so many out there that each one of us end up missing a few, sometimes even the good ones and that is terrifying to this desi reader.

IQR Challenge is an attempt to bring the reviews of books by Indian authors scattered all over under one database at The Tales Pensieve (the founder's blog). Going forward with this site’s underlying partiality with Indian authors, it is to also serve as a collective effort to promote the literature and authors of Indian origin.

What we feel about the whole thing?
Be patriotic people. Were it not us, who else will read the books from our people? Though I read mostly non-desi books, I loved to Indian, too. They had more to relate in them. More to relate our own life's happenings. We wish the founder a good luck for such a wonderful start.

The number of books that we would be reviewing for this challenge would be 25. Perhaps, more books than that, but I don't commit for a larger number.

For more details, click on this, as the founder of this challenge says, linky.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Sense Of An Ending by Julian Barnes

The Sense Of An Ending by Julian Barnes

Rating: 4 out of 5

ISBN (edition I've read): 9780224094153

Read between: 16-01-2013 to 19-01-2013

Winner of Man Booker Prize 2011. What more reason is needed to read it?

Plot (from the back of the book):

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life.

Now Tony is in middle age. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.

My take on the book:
Perhaps, one of those rare books that I like, in spite of being poetic. In fact, its poeticism is one reason I loved this book.

Aspiring to be a writer, myself, the books of this kind make me think twice before I attempt to write something. I could never be anywhere close to authors like Julian Barnes. It is that kind of authors that make writing a hard row to hoe.

The book is opaque with deja vu feeling everywhere. This is what I would love to call a 'cut the crap' book. There is no filament in the book that felt out of place. The author took special interest in not prolonging the story. In fact, forty years of the protagonist's life pass in a paragraph or two. The book holds more importance to emotions than story.

The most striking feature of the book, according to me, is its size. With 150 pages and lot of white space in the pages, the read was easy-going.

Refreshing read. The kind of a read which you want to read in that special place and not anywhere else. Needs a lot of attention and if you didn't provide that, you will lose track of the story.

Though the review claims high of the book, I wouldn't recommend it to everyone out there. It is more poetic and emotional. There are lot of feelings into the book than story, which, in turn, bores many readers. Once, I was one of them. Even now, many poetic-styled books bore me, but this one was worth spending extra time understanding the complicated language. Ultimately, I would recommend it to people who are patient to take in and understand poetical stuff.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

ISBN (edition I've read): 9780312422158

Read between: 05-01-2013 to 13-01-2013

It was a thick, 529 pages book. Thick enough to scare the daylight out of me. To top that, it is literature. I knew I was risking so much, but still, reluctantly, I started to rad it. At least, the plot was interesting. It is the first time, I heard changing of sex, as one grows, without them knowing it.


"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver's license...records my first name simply as Cal."

So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of 1967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.

My take on the book:

My status updates,

"Almost 30 pages down and I am bored of it. The langugage very complicated and though the font size was considerate, the spacing was enough to scare any reader like me. The lines were like they are glued together. I am foreseeing a 530 pages of hell, ahead. Anyways, it is my bad. I should'be taken my friend's advise and shoud've stayed away from literature."

"Disgusting... I don't know what to comment on brother-sister marriage. Love has no boundaries, I know. But marrying your own sister/brother is, for me, disgusting. It is just my view anyway. I know that it is a never-ending debatable topic."

Page 179 - "The slowest read of my life..."

Page 270 - "One week down and I am only half way through the book. Damn slow and many a times boring..."

The very first chapter of the books takes you on a roller coaster ride synopsis of the book. It high-lights and presents the most interesting bits of the story and when you come to read that part in the later part of the story, it gives a deja vu kind of a feeling.

The whole story is divided into four parts - four books, namely. The most interesting bit of story, for me, was the last part - the fourth book. That is the story dealing with the intersexual protagonist. After reading the first chapter, I was thinking that it is the story of the Cal - the protagonist. But there is background story, dating two generations back.

Just a piece of advise for those who are thinking of reading this book.  Read this book only if you are into literature and contemporary. There is too much comteporary than the story. It isn't the kind of a story which follows the plot, but the story which follows the plot and also describes the life of the people at that period, in that place.

For a reader like me, it is damn boring and when I finally completed - I didn't read the whole book, but scanned the whole of it - I feeling I felt was that of relieve. "Finally, I can start something interesting." (Because I like giving up books in the middle.)

PS: Probably my longest read, yet.......

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Rating: 5 out of 5!!!

ISBN (edition I've read): 9781862302914

Read between: 28-12-2012 to 04-01-2013


Heard a lot of praise about this book. Started reading it with a lot of expectations. And at the end, I was well satisfied. It is probably the last book I started reading last year and the first book I completed this year...

I am certain that you might've heard of the types of narrations - first person and third person. But this book is in a new type of narration. No person narration. The person - or rather, thing - who narrates the story is Death. Yeah, you read it right. It is Death. And the way the author conveyed is much intelligent. The tagline, "When Death tells a story, you really have to listen," can't be more apt...

Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger's life is changed when, by her brother's graveside, she picks up an object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever these books are to be found. But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up, and closed down.

My take on the book:
I don't think anyone might pick up this book by reading the plot or the description of the book. They - the plot - don't give a minutest hint of what the book has got in store for the reader.
Maybe the 'Death narrating the story' part will attract few curious readers but others who merely depend on descriptions and plots will certainly overlook this book. It is only after watching the online ratings of this book that they realize what great a book they've missed.

After reading 50 or so pages, one would understand that the story doesn't follow a particular plot. No certain rhythm. It is evident that author started writing the story and the story made itself up.

When I sit down and think of writing a review about the book, I don't know what to write. In the case of all other books I've read, there was a certain rhythm in the flow of the story. Then I would high-light few things which I liked and disliked about the book. That is how I write a review. But that isn't helping me in the case of this book. All I could say is,

Go, read the book. You will in no way regret it.

There is no particular reason to hate this book. There isn't for liking this book, for that matter. The book is good. It just is. No reason at all. It is kind of a book which is slow, yet not boring. One couldn't rush through the pages. One couldn't risk missing a single word. It feels like each word of the story is thought for days and got printed.

Don't expect me to point out a group of people. If you read books, you should read this one.

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