Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The prophet by Khalil Gibran

It is the first time I haven't rated I book I have read. Mainly, its because I felt that "The Prophet" by Khalil Gibran was a book with extremely deep and profound messages and unfortunately, I had been unable to understand all of them. But from what little bit I understood from the book, Khalil Gibran's words truly seemed to me great words of wisdom. It seemed that all that was mentioned in the book came from a deep and sincere study of human nature. 

The book contained guide lines and advises on various topics like children, work, talking, crime and punishment, beauty, friendship, death, Reason and passion, and many others. Each sentence of the book was very deep in its meaning and understanding. When I first picked this book for reading, I assumed I would finish it very soon as it was of only but 150 pages, but I soon realized that the book wasn't that easy to digest and it took me triple times more time to finish than I had anticipated. I had to stop and ponder after each and every sentence. Also, while sometimes reading this before going to bed, I would close my eyes to ponder over the sentences but then soon I would find myself as sleep. So, you can imagine how difficult it was for me to finish this book. Moreover, there were a lot of ideas I just wasn't able to understand. But the ones I was able to understand had so much power and wisdom in them, that I resolved to reread this book some time later in life when I believe I would be possessing that maturity of mind and ability of understanding required for the reading of this book. There are also a large number of quotes worth remembering. 

The language was too poetic and there was no plot. So, this book will be real turn off for those who do not like poetic language or books without plot. 

some of the quotes are: 

" You give little when you give of your possession. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give" 

"And what is fear of need but need itself? Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable" 

"All you have shall some day be given; therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors" 

" You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving." The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture." 

"When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turn to music. Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison"

Persuasion by Jane Austen

This is the first Jane Austen's book I have read. Thus, I would be unable to compare it with other of Jane Austen's book. But if I review it based on my reading of this book only, it was an interesting read. The character of Anne Elliot fascinated me greatly. The descriptions of how she was forced to make an unwise decision when she was young and the way she later grows to understand several things her father and sister never understood really make the book an interesting read. Also, her being completely against of the narcissist and egoistical attitude of her father and sister adds much more to her character. Despite being most of the time with her father and sister, she never adopted their ways. The maturity of her mind, the consciousness of right and wrong, and her ability of being perfect at most of the things is truly inspiring. 

Moreover, I found Jane Austen's way of building story and describing her characters never make you bore. And she is an expert at describing feelings of her characters which we as human beings can very easily relate to.

For those of you who are interested in watching movies based on books,  Persuasion was made into a movie in 1995 and 2007. 

The winner stands alone by Paulo Coelho

I have read several of Paulo Coelho's books and the title of this book really fascinated me so I chose this book for reading during these summer holidays. 

Most of the Paulo Coelho's books with different themes talk about the same stuff and try to convey same messages like exploring the absolute energy and power of love, following your dreams, searching for truth, living for obsession alone and many such ideas. This novel too talked about some of these same ideas but the theme of the book was very unusual and captivating this time. In this book, Paulo Coelho has revealed the hidden feelings of actors, directors, models, producers, and the super class. The book revolves around the international Cannes film festival which takes place at Paris each year where different artists from all over the world come. He gives a wonderful description of the back stage situation at the festival and the hardships these artists face only to achieve fame and glory. He has very nicely explained the destructive power of fame and glamor which has trapped even the most scrupulous of the persons and made him act the way he never wished to. He describes the extent to which people can go in order to gain just a bit of power, money, fame and the right contacts. He has also mentioned the importance of having the right contacts in this competitive world. For all these descriptions, I found this book very close to reality. All of us, in our small worlds, indeed find people fighting and struggling very hard only to fulfill their innate and the most intense desire of being recognized and achieving fame for the tiniest bit of deed done. 

One of the interesting description was of the red carpet experience. Ordinary audience and fans always view walks on the red carpet with great amazement. There are also people who dream of walking on the red carpet. The writer explains the hidden feelings of the stars walking down the red carpet and how they so strongly desire to make the most of these little moments and, how they learn to conceal what's going inside their hearts and come up with the best of the expressions for photos taken. 

Despite these amazing descriptions, there were few things I could not understand and comprehend. I am still trying to make sense of few things in the book. The character of Igor ( the man who goes to the extent of killing innocent people in order to get his wife back) was the most controversial to me. On one hand, he is a man of principles who has struggled and work hard to achieve success, who is in no way interested to achieve fame and glamor, who behaves elegantly. On the other hand, he turns into a complete devil taking innocent lives and then continuously justifies his criminal acts. I was never able to understand his character. He used to take turns in mysterious ways and was the most unpredictable. 

Also, I found the end a bit unacceptable; a serial killer being able to escape very easily. But then maybe, this explained the notion that super class can easily escape from everything they wanted to. 

To conclude, it was a nice read overall even though few things were unclear to me.

The Associate by John Grisham

John grisham has produced great works of writing but this one was not even closely like those.
The asoociate lacked story and it was far from real world. The complete novel was uneventful and very boring. Moreover, I did not like the ending of the novel. Through out the novel, the reader wishes for Bennie to be arrested and is curious about who bennie actually was, for whom was he working. But these questions remained unanswered till the end of the book. Overall, I am not going to suggest this book to anyone. A complete time waste!

To kill a Mocking BIrd by Harper Lee

To kill a mocking bird by Harper lee is a Pulitzer Prize winning Novel. According to my understanding of the novel, the most obvious reason for its extreme success are the noble and elevated ideas presented so brilliantly by the author through out the novel. The novel discusses very weighty and profound ideas like justice, racism, morality, ethics and human nature from the perspectives of eight and twelve year old children. 

There are three main characters in the novel: Jem Finch, Scout Finch and their father Atticus Finch. Atticus Finch, an ethical man who stands up for principles, decided to defend a black man charged with the rape of a white girl even when he already knew that all men in the jury were white and there was little chance for him to convince them of Tom Robinson’s innocence. Because of Atticus’s decision, Jem and Scout became subject to little criticism by their fellows but Atticus’s training and moral guidance helped them to withstand all criticism. The pleasant relationship between Atticus and his children is one of the most notable elements of the theme of the Novel. So many times in the novel, Atticus is found guiding and explaining his children the meaning of the most abstract ideas. For example, one time explaining jem about courage, he said,” Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It's knowing you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do” This quotation also partially explains Atticus’s ideology behind the initiative of defending Tom Robinson. He also once said that, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” I felt that these lines which Atticus said to Scout and his continuous emphasis on consciousness became a guiding principle for her in the conduct of all actions and behaviors through the novel. 

One of the most important subject matters of the novel which Harper lee brought into notice was of racism. In Maycomb County, most of the people were in someway or the other victims of this disease. There was a complete social structure present of which the Negroes were at the lowest level and a lot of times the children are found exploring these differences but they are shown mature enough to make rational conclusions as once Scout claimed that, “ Naw, Jem, there are only one kind of Folks”. The presence of racial discrimination in Maycomb is so deep-rooted that despite Tom Robinson’s evident innocence and Ewells recognized bad reputation, he was prisoned. While I was reading this trial part, I felt that Tom Robinson’s would be released owing to his extreme lucid responses to the questions posed but this did not happen strengthening the theme of the book. 

There is one very interesting perspectives mentioned in this book. It is such that it is towards the reader to agree with it or not. For example, Harper lee has stressed a lot on learning outside of schools and she suggests that lessons learned through experiences can never be learnt in schools. This thought caught my attention for a very long time and I personally found it very interesting. 

In then end of the book, there is a mystery of Bob’s murder. Could that murder be justified is an important question to ask. I feel that a murder done for self defense or to save someone’s life could be justified. The description of the murder part in the book is extremely vague and the reader does not have the complete account of what actually happened in dark. Thus, no accurate comment could be made. 

If we relate the theme of the book to today’s world, we discover surprising findings. Discrimination is not so common now. The discrimination between black and white which was once so prevalent in America has diminished to a great extent. America is now leaded by a black president. I wonder what Harper Lee would have to say about it. Though we find very little racial discriminations now, religious discrimination has escalated during the past years. For example, there are hindu-muslim riots in India and pakistan. Shia – Sunni differences still exist among Muslims itself. 

To conclude, this book was an interesting read. I especially liked the trial part and from that part onwards, the book grew more interesting. There was also some element of mystery present in it as in the very beginning of the book there is mention of Boo Radley and reader never gets to know till the end of the book that what Boo has to do with the story. It is a nice read

My Story: "A Child Called It", "The Lost Boy", "A Man Named Dave"

It took a very long time for me to finish this book. Probably, because It was an exceedingly depressing book and the fact that it repeated a lot of things again and again. So much repetition made it hard for me to continue reading this book beyond 300 pages. I literally closed the book and didnot tough it for a month or so. 

I have very mixed feelings for this book. No doubt, this book indeed helped in enhancing my knowledge and understanding of child abuse victims, but it arised several questions in my mind which remained unanswered till the end of the book. Moreover, this book gives only one perspective to the situation/theme of the book. 

I strongly wanted to find why David's mother behaved in such abnormal and deviating from the norm ways. The author does not give a satisfactory explanation for that. Secondly, the book discusses a lot about david's struggle but there was hardly any mention of his brothers later in the book. He struggled for his wife, for his son, for himself but there was not a mention of his brothers. 

In the book, it is mentioned that David divorced Patsy from whom he had Stephen because they were different an dcould not understand each other. Later, he married Marsha and was greatly satisfied. There are ample descriptions of his happily married life with Marsha and the extent to which Marsha understands him. But, interestingly, when I googled about dave pelzer, I found that David and Marsha are divorced. This made me doubt every word of the book I have read. Indeed, there are accounts of his social worker and teacher but still I am swinging between feelings of doubt and certaininty. 

These are my feelings. I know some may not agree but this is what I felt after reading this book
Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger, Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2008, is basically about the journey of a man named Balram Halwai from the poverty of the poor village in the country side to being a success in India. Halwai, born in Laxamangarh, grown up seeing his father as a rickshaw puller who finally died from cough and tuberculosis in a public hospital. Balram, nicknamed as the White Tiger ( a creature that comes along only once in a generation) in his school days, dropped out of school early and went with his brother to work in a tea shop in Dhanabad. The book tells how Balram gave himself a better education at the tea shop than he could have got at any school. Living life in Darkness, Balram plans his escape from his family's existence in search for a better job and salary.He is hired as a number 2 driver to Mr Ashok in Delhi but as soon as he gets chance, he replaces the number 1 driver. Balram is very committed and honest to his masters Mr Ashok and Pinky Madam who ruthlessly exploit the poor and carry out their business activities in Delhi by bribing big bellies and government officials. But gradually and yet inevitably the aura of corruption in Delhi transforms the innocent and honest Balram into a murderer. And later by adopting the same ways of his Master, Balram recreate himself as an entrepreneur in the booming Indian economy.Balram's voice is seductive and his observations acute, combined with sardonic wit and trace of sadness as he expresses the inescapable and bitter truth of Indian ways. This intense read can open the eyes of many western readers. I loved this book and found it exceedingly interesting as Adiga's writing is compelling as well as persuasive.