Monday, August 15, 2005

Friends, philosophers and guides

I have been book tagged by fellow blogger Neil,
And so here an account of my journey into the world of books and their influence in my life.

One summer holiday I stumbled upon an old wooden trunk in the attic of my grandparents home in Kerala. It was a treasure chest and this is no fiction. All I am about to reveal is true. I opened the trunk and saw several dusty books covered by the dust of time ( Ok I am getting a little carried away here). I picked up a book from the top and saw it was “The Keys of the Kingdom” by A J Cronin. On turning the page I saw my grandfather’s name written in neat cursive letters with an ink pen. This treasure chest was the sum total of my grandfathers travels around the world for the UN. I sat down in the gloomy attic and began reading in the half light of the one glass tile of the tiled roof. I finished this book in 12 hours. The story was so gripping. I will not spoil it for you by giving you a review but it is a must read. The next day I picked up ‘The Nuns Story’, which is adapted from a movie. Another 12 hours and the elders were getting curious about my disappearances into the attic. My uncle came to investigate and I came back home to Banglore that summer with the treasure chest sitting proudly on the cars’ roof.

Total number of books I own: Plenty at last count. All time favorites however remain all book of James Herriot, Gerald Durrel and Betty MacDonald’s hilarious classic‘Onions in the Stew’. I think Betty MacDonald has influenced me most in my writing though I don’t see even an iota of that class reflecting anywhere in my writings! A personal thank you to her for shaping my views on life. I think I read her ‘Onions in the Stew’ in Class 6th (yeah guys I did go to school). I was amazed at her ability to scrape out humor from the driest of situations in her life. And since I read her book in my formative years, I was able to laugh through most of my teenage years when rebellion and doubts and frustration at parental restrictions were at an all time high.

Last book bought: ‘Blood, Brains and Beer” an autobiography of David Ogilvy.

Last book read: Dave Barry in Cyber Space. I am not gonna apologize for this. After a tough week in the office I was in no mood for “Song of Ice and Fire” however it is highly recommended by fellow blogger Jake and I will get down to reading it soon! . Dave Barry in Cyber Space will keep you chortling and is not recommended for reading in public areas.You might risk incarceration in a mental asylum due to the demented laughter that will burst from within your person from time to time. The digs on Microsoft and Customer Support will catch you off guard.

Books that mean a lot to me:

1. All the Fairy Tales I read in childhood: These books are the trigger that made me take up reading. It lead me to fantastic lands of fairies, elves, wizards, witches and helped my imagination take wings. These books also made childhood a very happy place indeed.

2. Oliver Twist: This book led me to read almost all the works of Charles Dickens and also flagged off my journey into English novels. This is the story of Oliver Twist a pauper child who runs away from the ‘workhouse’ only to land in the dragnet of a criminal gang. The entire narrative is gripping and reveals facets of the English society where the lot of the poor was indeed grim. The book ends on a happy note but if Dicken were alive today I would definitely walk up to him and say “ Please Sir can have some more.”

3. Treasure Island: How many kids have embarked on treasure hunts after reading this book? Set in the days of pirates and sail ships this book is about the buried treasures of Captain Flint an infamous pirate. Robinson Crusoe: Another adventure in the sea. Yes the sea and pirates fascinated me after Treasure Island and so it was natural that I picked up Robinson Crusoe. This book is considered to be the first English novel.

4. The Mahabharatha: The entire Mahabharatha especially the many tales of the Pandavas in exile is perhaps one of the best Indian story books I have read.

5. Anne of Green Gables: Anne Shirley the protagonist became a sort of role model for generations of girls since the early 20th century. This classic is still a hot favorite with school and college girls in India.

6. A Farewell to Arms: This book by Hemingway is an account an American ambulance officer's disillusionment in the war and his role as a deserter.

There are so many more, but lack of time forces me to cut short my remiscences.I am supposed to pass on the book tag. Therefore with malice towards none here are the lucky ones. (Wow that rhymes)

Leon Cyril


Jake said...

yuor elders got curious after you went missing for a whole day ?

Matter of Choice said... i get tagged second time in a week!! i guess there is no escape for me..

an interesting collection of books here..probably the only ones i have read are james herriot (luved him) and hemingway (one of my all time fav authors)

ah well...lemme go and start the writing :)


Leon said...

Hmm.. You know what.. I haven't read James Herriot, Gerald Durrel and Betty Macdonald.. And I thought I had read them all... ;-)

I really must get hold of some of those books and catch up on my reading..

Btw, Providence was great.. :-).

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
silverine said...

@jake:Well it was not one straight sitting, but several sittings in between b'fast.lunch and dinner :))
@matterofchoice:Well you dont have a matter of choice in this lol. Would love to read your book blog :)
@leon: Great to know you had a good time in Providence. Now get down to writing that book blog.Would be interesting to see the kinda books you like.And maybe I will pick up those I didn't know about.

SNM said...

Hi,Thanks for the comment.
Attrition in the IT is indeed one of the reasons for losing many a good friend. Anyways, I'm just too glad when I say that I haven't lost him after all! We did just make a wonderful trip, didn't we? :)

I'll be updating my blog with the trip details frequently. Keep visting.

Pratish Menon said...

Mahabharatha - Rajagopalachari version? I have that one and I have the Amar Chitra Katha seriesn too :)

crossblade said...

thats quite a compilation


silverine said...

@snm:Sure, your trip to Ladakh seemed exciting.
@Pratish:No, not the Rajaoplachari version. But the tales of the Pandavas in exile is wonderful.
@Crossblade: This is not even a percentage of the books I have read :)

Jiby said...

i too remember a summer holiday 15 years back when i chanced on a beautiful collection of books including an encyclopaedia set belonging to my dad he left behind at his tharavadu and when i stubbornly demanded my inheritance...the diplomatic tightrope my dad had to walk to secure the books for me from his bro and family who lived there and never expected anyone to come claiming it!

great post...treasure island, mahabharatha and oliver twist are among my fave books too. looking forward to the book tag continuing bcoz there is so much we all can relate to in the questions posed by this tag.

kickassso said...

books...hmm! my folks thought that reading literature would be a waste of time..sadly the only thing I enjoy reading these days are semiconductor Datasheets..And my star trek Ebook collection:D

Goan Pao said...

Your post on the literary arts has got me wondering if it is god send sign that I should get reading again...

Nice compilation of books...
enjoyed quiet a few books when I was younger.. actually my rapid reading class in school was what got me interested in reading..and the fact that my mom had a lot of books in the house..
Later on it was the occasional novel picked from churchgate...god I miss those road side book stalls..

silverine said...

@Jiby: Lucky you, to have finally secured those books!!! My grandpa and uncle were only too glad to give it to me.I am also looking forward to this tag continuing. Never realised that I would have so much fun writing it. Thank you Neil.
@Kickasso: You can still pick up reading. Try "Onions in the Stew" for starters. Guaranteed to get you hooked :)
@parna:Understand what you are saying. Books have that uncanny ability to draw you into their world.
@goanpav: I picked up a lot of good books from pavement hawkers for as little as Rs.5/-. And please do restart that reading.

Sindhuja Parthasarathy said...

fairytales,Mahabarata and olivertwist.........can see some corelation there ;)

Praveen said...

A very good list. I havent read Betty MacDonald. Maybe its time I did.Nice that you mention Cronin, I have enjoyed all the books that I have read of his, "The Green Years" being my favorite.

SNM said...

"A farewell to arms". Thats what I'm reading now. I've just read one Hemingway before: 'The old man and the sea'. And I loved it.
Just started 'One hundred years of solitude' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez too. Bought it to kill boredom at Blore airport.

monu said...

Read Davinci Code ???

Anonymous said...

hmm...i absolutely love James Herriot. i was just wondering why his name didnt appear in even one of the numerous book tag posts i read. and i loved oliver twist too...i think i actually cried readin the book. i havent read durrel and macdonald..maybe i should trust ur taste in books, and go get myself a copy...:-)

hope and love said...

that was lovely to read..iv read the answers in many blogs..but
this is the best iv read

Sujith said...

if u see mahabharat from a novel's point of view than an epic's point of view, how intersting and complex it is? so many characters, so many stories.. like a big ocean! truly amazing, the man who created it.. well it is a thriller in deed ;-)

silverine said...

@samudra:Quite a corelation;)
@Praveen:Cronin is good and you must get Betty MacDonald or you are missing a great thing. I picked that book up from a pavement book seller for 20 bucks I think.
@Monu: Yes I have read DV.
@chips: Trust me and get those books. Thanks for dropping by my blog. Your account of your cousins was funny :))
@Jithu:Mahabharatha is an epic. No doubts :)
@snm: I enjoyed a Farewell to Arms.Must try Garcia
@Hopeandlove: Thank you :)

Anonymous said...

The Mahabharatha,I could relate completely to the character 'karna'and hence it was one of my favourite reads... apart from that I guess we are poles apart in our taste of books.

nibujohn said...

i really hate tags. taking up one or reading one for that matter. but here you've made the whole thing look a bit decent. great job. and i really envy you for inheriting that treasure chest. i am making one so that my grandchildren could inherit it. lol

aravind said...

As for me reading was the only serious past time for some time. Until CS came :D. But the fact is thanks to ma cousin I have a great collection of ebooks. Read a lot of it and lot more remains. I do love fantasy stories. Then comes Douglas adams.
Still I read most of what I get my hands on.

silverine said...

@well we agree on Mahabharata at least :)
@manu: Lucky grandchildren.I was one :)
@Aravind: My first ebook was Da Vinci code sent to me by fellow blogger Quatros. Then I acquired quite a collection.Some I lost when my comp crashed LOL

vijyan said...

Thankz for the long list of books.
very very informative post.

SNM said...

How I hate e-books! I have tons of it in my comp, but never touched any of those. Acc. to me, book should be read the conventional way to enjoy it to the max. Sitting in an easy-chair (or on a bean bag), holding it in hand, feeling the papers, smelling the scent, turning the pages, keeping a book mark... :) ( With it raining outside, and classical music-Rag Malhar, preferably- on the background, nothing can be better! )

I'm not too fussy, am I? ;)

Ar said...

did u read the 'he said, she said' article by dave barry? Totally hilarious!

Anonymous said...

Anne of Green Gables is my favorite movie of all times. I have watched it sooooooo many times ever since I was little...

Anonymous said...

Hey , Silverine nice one on books

Reading that piece set me on a fla(a)shback of sorts on all those books i've actually read, thos i skimmed thru, those which i read the blurb and guessed the story, the books i wanted to read becoz of the Pseud value tho i was bored thoroughly, and all the many unfinished classics.
btw apart from anything on Animals and anything i'm supposed to study; i read almost anything; right from the scrap of paper they wrapped the vegetables in, to what is written on the back of a truck in front of my car (dangerous hobby i'd say-especially coz i've shortsight).

Thanks for the tag! I'm honored (deep bow) Promise i'll write somethin as soon as i get around to it

PS: Wud u believe tht David Ogilvy bio ws a very popular one in Bschool library prob more due to some of the "pics" that the matter :-))

crossblade said...

that's so great...
the only books I can say I've read are Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island and that too only the abridged versions..
I simply cant read a story :(...
you truely are a voracious reader :)

aks said...

hey dear.....books.....they are a pretty interesting proposition.....they can cause a lot of changes to lotsa people...
i love books....

Pradeep Nair said...

Good see this post on books and reading. An impressive list of books.

asliarun said...

I'm a bookworm as well, and love James Herriott. Current reading Focault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco, which has a very interesting concept, and is not unlike The DaVinci Code. By the way, i'm part of a book club in Bangalore and we meet every second Sunday. Let me know if you're interested, and i'll forward you the details.

Anonymous said...

Given : 100 years of solitude
Angels and Demons

Taken : The Keys of the Kingdom
A Farewell to Arms


Fundoo said...

Okayyyy!! Sooo we have one extremely well read, knowledgeable soul among us! It seldom happens that I bump into a book and even seldom that I read that book! Hmphhh!! But the 'reading' part of me changing for sure!! Especially after reading your posts, I have made a resolution to read your blog for sure, if not novels!!! :D Ahem I still can't stop grinning when I think of the previous post on how to teach a guy to cook! ROFL.. I could see my own image in your students! :p The pun couldn't have been narrated in any better way. Goshh.. it'll take me some time to get over post. :D

Beautifully written!! Your fan club count goes up by 1 today! :D

clash said...

danks for the comment in ma blog! books : i haven heard abt all these books u have listed here except a farewell to arms.i have read some books of marquez, lhosa, hernando tellez, borges, its an outright inclination towards spanish lit. now grooming my interest in portugese too by reading jose saramgao! thats seems to be a tough nut to crack though!

VHS said...

'Books Books' everywhere! But who's complaining? The Citadel by A.J.Cronin has been one of my all time favourites.

Sindhuja Parthasarathy said...

Resting,it seems!!nestled with the books?:)

Dr. Pissed said...

OH my good lord Jesus Christ!
Where did all these posts come from? I was like waiting in eager anticipation for Ponnu something PART II and suddenly all this?

Anyways, I hate reading books. Its amazing I actually find the time to browse through blogs too.

But more importantly, I demand that you send half of you audience over to my place. I am going to beat the crap out of them for not making me feel like GOD

ada-paavi!!!! said...

nice list of books, liked the hemmingway book the most along wit mahabaratha,

and i can cook pretty decently (only veg)

J said...

Can u lend me BB&B plzzzzzzzzzz???
I never read the books i buy :(

പാപ്പാന്‍‌/mahout said...

Gerald Durrel: Yes! The ones about his childhood are pretty neat (My Family and Other Animals etc) whereas some of the later ones were not so good, IMHO.

Herriot: I liked the first one, but when it became a series it became sort of monotonous. Also, I don't like domesticated things that much -- neither animals nor plants. That could be another reason.
[In fact, AJ Cronin's "The Citadel", and Herriot's "All Things..." somehow always struck me as having similarities. Probably because I always concentrate on the romances/love-lives of the protagonists. Both books had young doctors practising in the countryside, and falling in love with local belles, if I recall correctly.

Hemingway: I read "For Whom The Bell Tolls" and it made me cry, and so I stopped reading his books :-)

Suggestion: Have you read any of Alexander McCall-Smith's books? YOu may like them. They are light reads like Gerald Durrel, though not about animals etc.

Anoop said...

Hi Silverine,

First of all thank you for visiting my blog ;).

Your article on books made be backtrack to my younger years. Being a lazy person I never used to read books. One day my pops told me a story midway through the narration he stopped and left to meet a friend. On his return I was enthusiastically waiting to hear the rest when he asked me to sleep as it was nearing midnight. During the next few days I was literally waiting for his return from the office, but he mercilessly avoided telling me the rest of it, being a very impatient person I started losing sleep over this, at one point I even started imagining the rest of it, I still remember the feeling. Then one day he just tossed a book infront of me and asked me to read to know more about the story and he didn’t have time to tell me rest of the story. That was the first book which got me hooked.

Still now I wonder whether my pops did that on purpose. Well in any case it worked well.

Of the books listed here Oliver Twist and Robinson Crusoe are the ones that I’ve read. Watched the Mahabharata Sunday series punctually on Doordarsha (searching for a copy of Gita translated ofcourse). I am obsessed with authors so complete an author before I venture to the next. Guess I am still nascent as.