“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality”

I don’t ever post my artwork here (except for some super old ones that I put up when I first switched over to WordPress), but today seems like one of those days when I should.

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When I think of why I love reading so much, these are a few names that pop into my head – Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Daphne duMaurier, Harper Lee (I dislike the damned lawyer that published that prequel). Right at the top of the list, is Lewis Carroll, the man who told you you could believe six impossible things before breakfast (it’s no coincidence that I also love the number 6). The man who told you that if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. And most importantly, the man who told you that it doesn’t matter if you’re bonkers, because the best people usually are.

If you thought he writes “children’s books”, well, you just grew up too soon (and you don’t realize that writing a good children’s book is infinitely harder than writing any adult book ever. Children will tell you if your work is crap, adults lie and often don’t have theĀ imagination to know any better). If you thought he was high, you’re reality is just very different from mine. If you think that nonsense words do not “teach” right, then may the Jabberwock get you by those slithy toves.

I’ve always believed that one must never do something unless one is good at it, and this is someone who reminds me over and over that the bar for what I want to do is pretty darned high. Thank you Mr. Carroll, for setting such a high bar (and maybe someday I’ll make it somewhere close to it). Until then, thank you for also always, always reminding me to keep my muchness alive.

Book Review: Dance of Govinda

This post also appears on my Goodreads blog

Ashok Banker is one of the best when it comes to mythology, and he does not disappoint. While these stories are oft-repeated and well known, Banker always adds in little known details. For me, the revelation in this one was Puttana’s connection with Kamsa (one of those things that ACK and your grandfather wouldn’t tell you as a child). I liked how the book focused on Kamsa’s struggles. It was an interesting take to show how he became what he was, and shows a different side to his personality as well.

The updated foreword was also interesting, as I had no idea that the Krishna series was originally a part of the MBA series (I’m still waiting with bated breath for Book 3!).

I’m glad that this series is complete so I won’t have to wait to get my hands on the next book as I go along. Maybe that’s the best way to read his work, wait till the series is complete. From Ramayana to MBA, the wait for the next book has always been agonizing.

Of Goodreads and Listicles

I’m a HUGE fan of Goodreads. I have been using it for a few years now, and I was depressed when the new Kindle Fire came out with Goodreads integration and my old Paperwhite didn’t get it for almost a year later. I mark every book I read (mostly the paper kinds, and yes, I’m weird like that) and rate them, though I rarely write reviews. Today, I was looking at the recent deluge of Facebook Book lists and it got me wondering why these lists were a Facebook thing, when all my friends seem to be on Goodreads too. When I started making my own list, I had this vague plan to link the Goodreads pages to the list, but then frankly, for a status message in FB it was just too cumbersome. It’s weird though. Many of my friends have books on their list that I want to read, but now, I have to go discover these lists (or hope that Facebook surfaces the ones I’d really like) and then keep adding on Goodreads.

I wondered why in these times of Buzzfeed and crazed listicles, Goodreads doesn’t have lists. Except, it does. I checked. But here’s my issue – I’m a longtime user and it took a search for me to discover this. I realize that in the interest of simplicity, there is no point in having lists upfront on the login screen. But, in times like this, especially when a book tag is doing the rounds, shouldn’t Goodreads be pushing users to publish these lists on Goodreads? Especially since the FB ones are going to die down, and none of us will ever be able to locate them later. It also looks like Goodreads believes the lists should only be of the format ‘Best Robot Books’ not “Michael’s Favorite Books’ – I wonder why. I mean, I may be far more interested in discovering something from A’s favorite books, than a list of her favorite thrillers, for instance. Maybe I’m projecting way too much of my self into the shoes of a generic user on Goodreads. Maybe people would prefer Goodreads be the way it is. It would be interesting though, to see if Goodreads could maybe create these list driven FB posts as a social media marketing campaign, where they get people to tag books on Goodreads or some such. I feel like all the virality should benefit them!

Goodbye, Landmark

Nostalgia is probably one of the biggest signs that you’re getting old. I feel old today, as I think about Landmark shutting down. I don’t even know if I’m allowed to feel this way, because I’m not from Chennai and Landmark wasn’t THE bookstore of my childhood. And yet, in the same way that Chennai has never been my hometown but was still my home, Landmark isn’t the bookstore I went to the most often but it was still the place that nurtured two of my hobbies, readingĀ and trivia.

It was one of the main stops during every trip I made to Chennai. Even though there were other stores closer to home, I still had to stop by Landmark, just because. It was one of those places that my grandfather took me to, as surely as we would go to Vandalur Zoo when I was a kid, or Eden for lunch when I was older. It was also the home for the Independence Day quiz, when trivia buffs all over India would show up at Chennai to try and win that coveted prize. I haven’t been in Chennai in August very much, but whenever I was, I’ve been at the Landmark quiz. I wasn’t a serious quizzer, so I never got as far as the finals but just watching the quiz was an experience in itself. I don’t know if I will ever be in Chennai in August again, but I do know that if I am, it will be weird knowing that there’s no Landmark quiz to go to. Just like I know that I can buy every book I think of online, on Flipkart or Amazon, but I still cling to paper books.

I now wish I’d stopped by Landmark the last time I was in Chennai, in December. I ended up going to Odyssey only because it was closer, and I didn’t have much time. I now feel like I missed witnessing the end of an era. Like I said, nostalgia is a sign of age – and yes, I feel old. Landmark is going to shut down, and I my kids will probably never understand why I feel the way I do about paper books.

Of reading challenges and pop culture references

I stumbled across this today – a comprehensive list of every book that Rory Gilmore read over 7 seasons of ‘Gilmore Girls’. Given that I’m a supreme fan-girl of the show, going to the extent of rewatching the entire series last year, I figured I had to take it. I think I did pretty decently! I’ve read 88 / 393 books referenced in the show (I did not count instances of having watched the movie, but not reading the book).

For anyone else who is interested in reading, Gilmore Girls or both, do try it out and let me know how you did šŸ™‚