Okies - since my NYR - new year resolution (yes, its still January na!!) included - errr..reading more (by far the easiest resolution to keep, esp. since it does not involve rigorous movement of any muscle group other than perhaps jaws?), heres an update on all that I've managed to trudge through so far :
1. The Marriage Plot - Jeffery Eugenides
I had read Eugenides' first novel, 'Middlesex' just after having my kid - I can possibly blame post-partum depression on the not very pleasant feelings that I had about the book. But one thing was for certain, depressing or not - I did not put the book down before finishing it. The writing was as arresting as the controversial subject matter it covered! But that did not mean that I picked up my copy of 'The Marriage Plot' without a sense of unease - Eugenides is not for the laid back reader. But the the blurb was interesting and I took the bait. TMP, on the surface of it is the story of three individuals caught in a love triangle sort of situation wherein nobody is loved back by the one, one loves - you get the drift. The story spans a time of but a few years - between the time they graduate (or don't) and the next few years of self discovery before reaching a sort of resolution for each of the three main characters - it is a coming of age story cloaked within interesting philosophical takes on the meaning of love, religion and as always the past that haunts us all! Though a bit tedious in parts, what I loved about the novel, really, was the description of life in a college town and all the characters therein - very very nostalgia invoking ! Indeed, there is something for most of us to relate to in this book (Including an almost de-riguer element in bestsellers nowadays -a discover India trip!) , which is why it will be a recommended read by me for sure. Do read it if you have a few large lazy chunks of time in your life!
2. Oprah - Un-authorised biography - Kitty Kelly
This is quite a tome - be warned! Kitty Kelly has been biographer brutal to many celebrities - including Liz Taylor and The Royals. So you more or less know you will be subjected to some unkind controversial stuff even before you start. Much of it you already know - thanks to the deluge that is 'Oprah' yet there are things that are new - and they are mostly unpleasant :( Indeed it is the greatest pitfall of the book - it may be un authorised but need it be so judgemental. I came away from the book feeling Kelly was single minded in her pursuit of portraying Oprah as somebody none of us actually knows (which is saying a lot considering the image Oprah has!). Which is also fine with me, since that is the reason one typically reads a biography - to get to know unseen facets of a public personality. Yet, yet , yet....lets just say it is difficult to believe that there are parts of Oprah - still not public - yet not unpleasant - which Kelley did not find to put in this biography! Read it if you love the Queen of the talk show like I do - else give it a skip.
3. Beautiful Thing - Sonia Faleiro
To be honest - I did not want to read this book. I did not want to buy it. Why? Last year I had read a book called 'The Mafia Queens of Mumbai' and that left me with a deep sense of dread and desperation about the city that I live in. I started looking around my surroundings with a new sense of wonder knowing that I know nothing about the people who live within breathing distance of me. Yes, call me a prude and weak stomached - but thats who I am. It took me time to get over that book - even with all its grit gilted glamour - it hit me hard. I found it hard to read! And hence I decided not to read any book about the so called underbelly of Bombay. So it came to happen that even though I read a lot about 'Beautiful Thing' in the papers, I did not feel like reading it. But then guess what : Twitter happened!! And I 'followed' Ms.Faleiro and she came across as being a forthright and non-sensationalist person and I just had to read her book now, hadn't I? And boy, am I glad I did. Beautiful thing is essentially the story of Leela a bar dancer in Mumbai - yes one of those tribe, that ahem - dance at bars. Yeah - those places which types like you and me don't haunt - hmmmmm. The thing about beautiful thing is that Sonia writes it with absolute truthfulness and it comes across - I could imagine Leela in my eyes as I read the book - I felt like I had known her intimately by the time I finished. That in itself is what makes the book reading - especially given the fact that, the life that Leela lives is so grim it accounts for so less, that it can be wiped out without leaving a trace. Dont be squeamish - and read this book!
4. Confessions of a serial dieter - Kallie Purie
Bought at the airport - finished in flight on the Chennai - Mumbai sector. Absolutely enjoyable if you are a serial dieter like me :) Read it if you are in the perpetual diet trap or not - you could even learn a trick or tw0 ( which would be the champagne diet and NOT the Bulimia!).
5. The Gospel according to Coco Chanel -Karen Karbo
This is not a biography, but a rather tongue in cheek look at Chanel's philosophies in 'how to get ahead in life'. Cheekily titled with 'gospel' like Chanelesque , this book is surprisingly interesting and a must read if you are overwhelmed with the pressures of living a 'branded' life. Think Chanel like is my new mantra now :) You have got to read this book to know more about what that is!!
6. The Reluctant Detective - Kiran Manral
Finally, the last book I read yesterday was blog and twitter personality - Kiran Manral's debut novel - The Reluctant detective. Like the lady herself (as she comes across on her online platforms) her book is witty and engaging. Even though it has a stiletto on the cover - the book steers clear from predictable bustledom of romance/no-mans and ensuing hormonality. The book is about a lady who lunches (apparently a lot ;)) is stuck in house-wife-land and all its predictability until there arrives a corpse..and then another. How Kay Mehra bumbles into almost solving the case is just part of the fun; There are 'Star' studded parties and buffet lunches attended, dietitians and friend circles dissected, and husband/kid/maid quagmires..not to mention 'society' going ons. This book is for us so called Urban moms who know that there is mystery and intrigue even in the most mundane! A good fun read - especially if you know what it feels like to have a friend whose waist is the width of your thighs!!
Well, there is still a bagful of books from the strand book sale to dip into now - hopefully I should have a post about them in a month from now! Till, then - happy reading :)