She – Ekla Cholo Re

First a due apology: I’m extremely sorry to the author for taking too long to read the book. Due to some personal reasons, I was unable to read the book and review it; I seek your forgiveness for that.
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she
The Book
Set in 90’s Calcutta, Raj meets Kusum(the protagonist) on a highway and gives her lift. On the way, Kusum pours her heart out to reveal that she is a transgender. The story then turns out a conversation between Raj & Kusum, where Kusum reveals her struggle to find her identity in a society which considers there are only two genders: male and female.

Writing Style
Most of the book happens in conversation, so the writing style is conversational and lucid. It is also the shortest book I’ve read till date: it is total fifty-eight pages and if you exclude the introduction & author’s profiles, the book is merely forty pages long; but that doesn’t mean one would want to skip the introductions about the authors.

An unconventional but important storyline is the strongest point of the book, but on the last page I sincerely felt that the book could have been made longer and better by delving more into the protagonist’s life. The short length of the book makes it like a sneak peek through a hole into a forbidden room.

Whereas the book scores high in the story and the ease of read, I felt that the book requires more proofreading. Few things I found distracting were: improper tenses, its vs it’s error, dead words, and not maintaining parallel structure.

So, for me She – Ekla Cholo Re was an interesting, unconventional, and a heart-touching read. The topic the author has picked is worth applauding. I recommend the book to everyone; because it’ll make you ponder over the stereotypes of the society which somehow inflict our own brains, too. So go ahead and fetch yourself a copy to adorn your bookshelf. But be warned, this book will make you think!

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

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Eighteen: The End of Innocence by Sudham

Eighteen the end of innocenceWe’ve all been through it, and we remember it as one of the most cherished part of our life – the time when our teenage gives way to adulthood, the time when we try to live out our whimsies. This is a phase out of which none of us comes out clean. But then, as adults, we all term it as ‘experiences.’

It is 1990 and Raghu & Aadi, both teenagers, are high on life. One day Raghu starts getting mysterious blank calls, an ordeal of which brings him in touch with Shalini – a girl from his coaching who has also been getting similar calls. Before they could find out the culprit, they find themselves deep in love. And then the story takes you through the fun and anxiety of being a teenager.

Eighteen the end of innocence is a story of each one of us.

Eighteen the end of innocence is a story of each one of us. I’m sure there is some part of you in there. I found mine in Raghu & Aadi.
For me, the book was intriguing and a page turner. Keeping in view his audience, the author has intelligently kept the language simple and sentences short. One can easily finish it in a single sitting.
Sudham
My only grouse with the book is proofreading. Between the pages, I felt that the book requires more editing. I found problems with the language like exclamation marks not doing their job, dead adjectives, and sometimes the punctuation was not right. I feel better editing could have led the book to another league.

I highly recommend the book to the lovers of YA Fiction. I think they would not want to miss this compelling read.

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

Book Review: The Withering Banyan by Hyma Goparaju

Book CoverOur bookstores are garlanded with lots of ‘PS: I’ll slit my throat for you’, ‘My wife, too, had a love story’ and such stuff which surprisingly sells like hot cakes and makes to the bestseller list.

It is good, rather great, that people are getting more and more into reading, but in this hoopla created by cleaver marketing, the real gems often go unnoticed.

When Hyma Goparaju contacted me about her book, the first thing that caught my attention was the title: The withering banyan. I read its blurb on Goodreads, and agreed to read the book.

Somehow, Hyma had a great difficulty in making the book reach me, and I’m sincerely thankful for her patience and generosity.

Now moving over to the book, The withering banyan is a tale of rise of one Marri family to affluence and its gradual fall due to Schizophrenia – a brain disorder genetically passed along its four generations, which the members ignorantly interpret as madness, till Natya, the granddaughter of the Marri family, comes to the rescue of the family.

The tone of the prose is biographical. And the precise, elegant, and graceful writing of the author has nicely managed to convey the story. Also the author’s love for the language is clearly evident on the paper. In fact, I found the language as one of the greatest strength of the book.
Hyma Goparaju
However, at times the author has gone out of the way to describe things in detail, which derails the momentum of the central theme. Also too many adverbs and adjectives have been used to describe the dialogue of the characters, where even if you pick only the dialogue and discard its description, you don’t lose the meaning of the story.

But I highly liked the way the author has narrated the story, where alternate chapters have been dedicated to carry forward two stories – one of the past, and other of the present – to finally converge at the end to complete the story.

It was an interesting read. The story was good. The language was excellent. But I feel that the same could have been said in fewer pages.

So I would give two stars to the book (for the language and the story), and hold three for the length of the book and the adverbs and adjectives.

I recommend it to anyone who doesn’t read for a mere timepass, and also has love for the language.

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

Why do Bestsellers Disappoint?

Books

What differentiates humans from animals, apart from the tail, is that humans love stories. We love to hear stories and we love to share them. Say, you are late from the office and your wife starts hurtling carrots at you, what do you do? You quickly weave a story to escape the wrath.
Your mother finds a pack of cigarettes in your jeans, what do you do? You again make up a story. In fact, all our talks and gossips are stories. And this is why humans devised writing and books: to make their stories travel far.
We even have mastered the art of limiting them to 140 characters (on twitter).

So what makes a book work?
Sometimes I’ve picked a bestseller only to discard it within first few pages, because the story didn’t click me. The book wasn’t inherently bad, it simply didn’t work for me. If you go through the list of the best books of all time on Goodreads, you’ll find that each book has some one-star reviews. So for every book ever published, there are people who’ve hated it.
But the taste for books is subjective, isn’t it?

If a book has all the nuances of the language but a weak story, it fails for me. And if it has a story but the author’s inability with the words is clearly evident on the paper, then too the book fails to interest me. One thing I’ve realized over time is that the bestsellers generally don’t go well with me; and i’ve read many of them in the past. Now the ‘Bestseller’ tag is insignificant for me, and so are the star ratings. However, sometimes the books that have not the greatest ratings on the planet have worked well for me. Like Animal farm and The catcher in the rye.

So what exactly makes a book work?bookwork
Some books grow onto you slowly over time. Like, in my case, Animal farm. The more I’ve faced the politics of life, the more I’ve grasped the meaning of Animal farm. And each time I marvel at George Orwell’s capability of having conveyed so much in so less (The Animal farm is just 128 pages).
When I read Lord of the flies, I absolutely hated it; but slowly I’ve come to understand its meaning. I don’t have to re-read it. The book simply comes to me when I’m faced with tough situations of life, like a betrayal by a colleague, and it makes me realize that humans aren’t bad, it’s our instinct for survival that makes us do evil things.
I like such impact of books upon me.

So for me a book either must have a good story, like The Hobbit; or it should grow upon me, like Animal farm and Lord of the flies. Fancy imaginings like Twilight never work for me.
However, reading something is better than not reading at all. So tell me, do you read the bestsellers? Or what kind of books do you prefer? And how do you select your next read?