Reading is always one of my favorite past time activity. I won’t claim that I am a voracious reader like many others, but I make it a point to read a few fiction or non-fiction books each year. I am particularly a fan of books with
- Controversial historical facts
- Compelling suspense narratives
- And everyone’s all time favorite classics.
Though year 2019 was not that a good year for reading to me, but, this year I have promised myself that I’d be reading at least a dozen of books if not more.
I always used to think a lot before choosing a particular book to read. It does not mean that I don’t often buy books. I buy a lot of them but read only a few. I cannot pass a book shop without having to look out for the current best sellers from my favorite genres. The sheer fragrance of a new book and its pages makes me buy a stack full and come home elated. My husband is particularly annoyed of this habit of mine since he knows the new stock will just add to the existing one and the question of reading would go tossing out of the window! But this year I would not let that happen and that is why I am going public with my reading list for the next month or let’s just say next 30 days. The post will remind me of the promise that I made to myself and my blog readers.
The present situation in India is also favorable for me to keep up with my promise since it is a complete lockdown for next 21 days here due to COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic has taken its toll over the people and everyone is home bound for next 21 days as per orders of govt. of India. What is better than spending this time in doing something that we all have been longing for since months or may be years? Also, to keep myself getting on the nerves of my husband (we have been arguing twice a day) and my daughter (yes, she is rather finding me more edgy than ever before!), I thought to indulge myself into reading something.
I have randomly picked up a reading list of five books, all from different genres—AUTOBIOGRAPHY, HISTORY, FICTION and MEMOIR. I haven’t given too much thought into choosing the books this time. Each book selected is either based on a good feedback, or a nice review that I found on Goodreads, or simply because I wanted to give it a try. The old pile of ‘books-to-be-read’ has already bored me, and I ordered a few fresh ones this time again. Thankfully my order reached in time before the lockdown began.
Let me share my newest list with you here.
- Lone Fox Dancing-My Autobiography by Ruskin Bond
Ruskin Bond has been my all time favorite story teller. I love the way he portrays his characters and makes them come alive before you. The thoughts of characters do not leave my imagination long after I have read them. I must admit that the fascination for Bond took me over so much that my husband once surprised me by arranging a meeting with my favorite author, at his little abode in Mussoorie, on our first marriage anniversary. That was really cute and I still cherish that moment in a photograph with my favorite storyteller.
For years Bond has been writing about characters, their lives, places they live, the hills, the mountains, and the little hamlets. Shimla and Dehradun have been the two places which were introduced to me through Bond’s stories before I actually visited them. In this autobiography, Bond talks about his days in Shimla, his winter holidays in Dehradun and his finally settling down in the hills of Mussoorie. The book is a non-fiction work and talks at length about the life and making of ‘The Ruskin Bond’.
2. Daughters of the Sun by Ira Mukhoty
Mukhoty has undoubtedly done a brilliant job at writing about the life of Mughal women of prominence in this book. She has judiciously researched about these women in question and wants her readers to know how these women helped shape the art, culture and politics of India during the Mughal era. The book debunks the myths around Mughal women as mere possessions of the kings along with other valuable artifacts. I would divulge more into the book after I finish reading it.
3. The Pearl that Broke its Shell by Nadia Hashimi
The next in line is the work of fiction by Nadia Hashimi, born in the USA to Afghan parents. This book is her debut novel which talks about the lives of two Afghan girls, from two different centuries, but tied by legacy. A brief bio of the book tells about the story line in which the lead characters in question are living a double life of bacha posh, which allows the young girls to dress up and be treated like a son until they are of the marriageable age, a custom well approved of in Afghanistan. The story line seems pretty interesting and the novel has won accolades and has been the international bestseller of 2014.
4. Black Warrant: Confessions of a Tihar Jailer by Sunil Gupta & Sunetra Choudhary
The book is a memoir of Sunil Gupta, a Tihar jailer once, who narrates his experiences with psychopaths, murderers, hitmen, terrorists, and even the innocents serving their time in Tihar during his tenure. The jailer talks about many controversial convicts like, Afzal Guru, Charles Sobhraj–the Bikini Killer, the killers of Indira Gandhi, Anna Hazare and many more, of whom we have read about in popular news headlines often. My friend, who has read the book, is all praises for Sunetra Chaudhary, the editor, who has done a wonderful job at bringing together all such facts and craftily compiling them into a book that keep us hooked till the end. The thrill becomes real with all the real people in question here which is the USP of the book. The review that I have received is quite compelling and since then I can’t wait to read the book. I will come up with facts around these real life characters once I finish the book.
5. Delhi Heritage: Top 10 Baolis by Vikramjit Singh Rooprai
My only reason for buying this book and wanting to read it was to know my city more than what I generally see. My father, grandfather, great grandfather and the generations before them have lived in Delhi, the capital of India and also one of the most historic cities of the country. I have been told many times about the rich heritage and remarkable geography of this city by my father and how he used to reach his maternal grandmother’s haveli in Chirag Delhi, riding on a Camel. Yes! It was not ages ago but 55 years back. But to our surprise, what we see of Delhi today is a city surging with ever rising buildings, numerous flyovers, increasing traffic, malls, and metro rail routes traversing through the city like spines. The Baolis in question here were the water reservoirs, the stepwells of Delhi, and their importance in meeting the water requirements of the residents of the city. The book also talks about many villages that have now been lost to development and expansion of the city. It really excites me to know more about my heritage and the old and forgotten culture of the rural Delhi which it was once.
I hope that the list excites you as much as it excites me. I would come back with excerpts, facts, incidents and anecdotes from the books listed above. Meanwhile I would love to hear about your reading list. What are you going to read all this while at home? Keep up your spirits alive and surrender yourself to the imagination pouring out of the books you read. Though we cannot leave our homes for fear of getting affected by COVID-19 but a flight of imagination to places and times unknown will not harm anyone!
And…..Stay at Home!!