My First Book on Kindle Paper White | The Experience

Book Title: Half-Girlfriend

Author: Chetan Bhagat

Translator:  N/A

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  Amazon | Flipkart | SnapDeal

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Chetan Bhagat is a writer of Indian origin and widely recognized as popular stream writer. The New York Times calls him “the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history”. Of course, you can check the Wikipedia for more info. But I found his official website more informative. I found the Q & A very interesting.

Chetan’s style of writing at least for this novel was very down-to-earth and simple. If I read another story of his, then I can make out if his natural style is to be simple and to the point. But in this novel the storyteller’s voice is very distinctive which I liked.

Chetan as a storyteller gets to my sensitive emotional points, I am invested in the story that he draws out of those bear necessity words. I am someone who reads Virginia Woolf for light reading. I love complex sentences and I am a long sentence writer myself. If sentences get complex and beat around the bush, then one is studiously serious to offer something important to the world. All hail my misconceptions!

But then, if you the above kind of reader, then you are in for a shock, because the main characters one from Bihar and another from Delhi don’t do language. For the most parts, the story moves like an art movie giving an immense sense of reading between the lines. Storyteller was such a pleasure to listen to.

Story in a Nutshell:

A typical college love story and the fate of the lovers in the face of varied life challenges. Relationship definitions under Indian setting and how much goes into maintaining one. The story has been set in contemporary timeline and space-out for a few years. Will the lovers and their love succeed? Well, that is something you might want to read the book and get to know.

The leads Madhav Jha and Riya Somani are in a not-yet-there relationship. A tug of war of emotions that creep in slow process which indicate where the relationship is headed. Simple thing is that the story is about a boy who loves a girl. That girl feels she not yet ready for him and rest of the story is all about why she isn’t and if she would ever be ready to accept his love!

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

There were places in this novel, that I felt Chetan just chickened out. But one thing was very strong for him and that is his English is superlative in its simplicity. He never strayed away from simple and compound sentences and used complex sentences only if he was pushed by the narrative. This makes the story so smooth flowing in the head and reads well.

Books take the head space and I think of it as a tête-à- tête session between the storyteller and the reader. Unlike watching a movie, it is not a communal activity, though the discussion of the books among friends could be a group activity of like or different minded people. So, when I read the book, there were moments when I was rushing to put things together. But Riya’s reasons for her silence was such a shock for me. Do this say that woman are vulnerable all their life on earth.

But I felt Chetan didn’t do a psychological twist on it and couch crashed Riya. I liked that a lot. Sometimes, somethings need to be just not explicit but suggestive. The book is an excellent light read and a travel companion during transit.

This book was a little unusual for me, because I was in the mind of a male and with the view of woman’s thought process from male perspective. Though it was very interesting space to be in, I did feel that emotional complexity and frustration were beautifully administered.

My Opinion

Chetan Bhagat right after Shashi Tharoor was an extreme relief. Shashi’s book cooked my brain while Chetan’s book was a fluffy omelet. IMHO, I believe that this book is wonderfully light reading and of course, the movie version of this book has some beautiful songs.

Image Source:   Amazon

My Numero Uno Pratham’s Champions Programme of 2015

I have been linked with Pratham Books from my Creative Remixes days. I had used their ‘Creative Common’ images to create an original story. So I was not unfamiliar with the organization but Champions Programme was new for me. Pratham has been creating awareness and exposure to this programme through their twitter and facebook social media spaces.

The organization aims to increase readership among children for the International Literacy day falling on the 8th of September 2015. This year’s programme was flagged off on Teacher’s Day 5th September to bring more children towards reading books. It had special connotation because the teachers bring the world of books and knowledge to a child in their unique ways.

I got to know about the Champions Programme from my co-worker Anitha Selvanathan. This year’s featured book was “The Boy and the Drum” by Umesh P N and Illustrated by Rajiv Eipe.

DSC00031

The Boy and the Drum

Even though I registered for the drive of getting books to children to inculcate reading habits, I was rather excited and felt a little challenged. I am crazy about books and if I can generate interest among children for reading then the very sharing is a reward by itself.

I had planned on having a Reading session in my house for my home tuition students. But something kept egging me to seek out a bigger challenge. I wanted to share it among a larger audience since I was equally passionate about sharing a story.

DSC00043

Home Tuition Students

Quite by accident, actually, I came across the Government Girls Higher Secondary School (GGHSS), Ashok Nagar, Chennai. I approached the Headmistress Mrs. R. C. Saraswathi who felt strongly about encouraging reading habits in Children.

She immediately linked me up with the Drama teacher K. S. Latha who had been a great source of help for smoothing my way for the reading drive. The school was closed for the Teacher’s Day and so we scheduled to have the reading session a day earlier on 4th September at the school.

On the D-Day, I was conscious of the enormity of my challenge but I was also happy to bring them a story to enjoy reading. The Drama teacher offered to set aside two periods for the reading and enacting session.

I was able to prep-talk the children on how to read the text without the stage instruction. The Drama teacher added in her spicy instruction to make the play alive. The selected 10 Children read the story first as a practice and then as a finale.

20150904_144559

10 Lively Characters of the play

(Photo Courtesy: K S Latha)

DSC_7973

Play in Progress

(Photo Courtesy: G Keshav Raj)

DSC_7981

The children were spirited about the reading session each trying to out-do the other in making the play come alive and giving it their touch of unique interpretation. We had a discussion session after the reading to further understand and gain insights into the story.

The Children showed such enthusiasm towards being exposed to reading that they felt an annual event would be a long wait for them. They gave me the inspiration to take these sessions to more children and give them the gift of reading and to explore stories with their imagination.

DSC_7988

Champions Programme 2015 Participants

(Photo Courtesy: G Keshav Raj)

I enjoy making the children desire befriending a book, because one gains a friend who would remain an inspiration through all seasons of life. The One Day One Story drive was the first step towards a long journey ahead. For there is nothing as rewarding as watching those sparkle in the eyes of the children who have just finished reading a story and have found enjoyment in it.

 

Stories That Border on Euphemized Indian Lives

Book Title: At Close Quarters

Author: Sonia Narayanan

Translator: N/A

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy: N/A

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Sonia Narayanan is based in Bangalore and as a writer; she creates stories that are captivating with a nice human twist to it. The storyteller of these pearls of stories has a unique understanding of human mindset. The author weaves in and out of each story with relative ease and she has set them in different parts of India, thus diversifying the whole collection. The characters are built with such care and details that it showed the writer’s sparkle of writing talent.

Story in a Nutshell:

The short stories in this collection are really interesting with multiple level of flavoring, that it covers all the reader’s entertainment requirement with ease. The collection has 10 short stories set at various places and with different types of personalities. The stories start off, as if ambling into the park of storytelling, while holding the feeble thread of an audience attention with great care. These stories are emotionally mature and yet so filled with human fallacies that become the part of our everyday commoner’s life.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

More than likes, I would say I found a writer who conversed with me. I was captivated by her storytelling style. I loved the fact that the characters were either casual stroke of the brush or intricate painting of Dorian Gray personality feel. There was a taste of R. K. Narayan in the description of the settings but the characters were Sonia’s own. I enjoyed spending time in the scene, while my emotions were the crumbling fourth wall.

There wasn’t much that I disliked about this book, but I did feel that she was hiding from actually placing the dark side without any obscurity. Because in the short story “Anand” I felt she played it safe and left the death of Anand’s wife as a mere apology. Maybe that is the only thing that I felt that the author was not doing it right. I think euphemism is good for certain stories and sometimes one just has to be brutally true in some stories.

But that brings up an unique question within me. Do we have to be graphically explicit in our stories to be authentic? Or just not talking about the bad stuff makes us more palatable writer of reality and social activist causes.

My Opinion

I enjoyed all the ten stories and would love to read it again. But the first impression of the stories can never be replicated. It was a wonderful Indian flavors presented in gentle spirit of being socially right. Great read!