the wonderful world of veena.

28 July 2011

the books, #16-20.

Raise your hands if you're ready for the next 5 books on my list:

16. The Help [Kathryn Stockett].  I have been hearing and reading reviews about this book since sometime last year, but I had to put myself on a book-buying hold because I had too many books in India that needed to be finished before I moved back.  So what did I do almost immediately upon my return from Bangalore?  I went to Barnes & Noble and purchased this book.  And it was fantastic.  Even though it was excruciating to put it down, I made myself read the last 50 pages really sloooooowly, simply because I did not want it to end.  I had never read a book set in 1960s Mississippi, so I was fascinated from the first page.  I'm glad also that I finished it now, a few months before the movie comes out, so that while it will still be fresh in my mind, I won't nit-pick [too much] over things that are changed.  I also waited until I finished the book before I read who was cast in which roles, so that any prior knowledge of those actors wouldn't overshadow the characters I was reading about.  And now I can't wait for the movie.  This will be one of those that I re-read every few years.

17. The Commitments [Roddy Doyle].  When I first read A Star Called Henry, also by Roddy Doyle, I fell in love with his writing style.  It's not for everyone - anyone I've spoken to who has also read him either loves him or hates him.  It's partly the writing style and partly the Irish humour.  I am one of the ones who loves both.  And reading his story of a ragtag bunch who are trying to start a soul band in Dublin was downright hilarious.  This was made into a movie a while back, and I've just never gotten a chance to see it.  Netflix streaming, here we come!

18. The Lovely Bones [Alice Sebold].  Upon the recommendation of my dear friend Rob, I picked up this book after my first stint in Bangalore.  Most people will know it, as it was also made into a movie a few years ago.  I heard mixed reviews of the movie, but I honestly didn't have much of a desire to see it, because I didn't want a movie to ruin how I had already pictured the scenes in my mind.  This was one of those books that ran the gamut of emotions: at times it made me cry, at times it made me question humanity, and at times it made me laugh out loud.  I remember my parents being out of town one weekend - and the power went out because of a bad storm - so I spent all of Saturday evening and night reading this book by candlelight because I could not put it down.

19. 700 Sundays [Billy Crystal].  Billy Crystal has long been one of my favourite actors / comedians [who can forget him in The Princess Bride], so when I heard that he had written a book, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.  I didn't even care what it was about, because I just knew it would be fabulous.  And boy, was I in for a surprise.  It was definitely funny, but it was also surprisingly sweet.  It's an ode to his father, to the approximately 700 Sundays they spent together before his father passed away.  I have to be honest, it brought me to tears at a few points, and contrary to what you might guess from all these books almost making me cry, I actually don't cry all that often.  I really enjoyed getting a glimpse into this part of Crystal's life, including stories of when he was a small boy.  It made me appreciate my father in a new light.

20. Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found [Suketu Mehta].  Come on, you knew there had to be at least one India book mentioned in this week's list.  This one was actually a recommendation from Aja when we were working at Barnes & Noble; as soon as I met her, my first day at the store, she asked me if I had read this book.  So obviously I picked it up on my way out that day.  I enjoyed it because it wasn't just a collection of short stories set in Bombay [never Mumbai, always Bombay for me].  There were a few of those, but there were also stories outlining the history - including the political history - of Bombay, as well as general travel stories about the city and memoirs from Mehta about returning to live in Bombay after spending something like 15 years in the US.  It's complex, but then again, so is Bombay, and no book set there or about the city can be simple.  I have been fascinated by Bombay since I was a child, the same way many people are fascinated by New York City.  There are just so many aspects to Bombay, and I loved that Mehta included as many as he could, emphasizing that it is a city that can and never will be simplified.

p.s  I just found out - via my brother's latest copy of US weekly - that Sarah's Key has been made into a movie!  I'm curious, but also a bit apprehensive.  To anyone else who has read the book, what are your thoughts?

about to start reading: Little Bee [Chris Cleave].  I have been intrigued by this book ever since I read Caroline's review last year, so naturally I picked it up at the same time as The Help.  I'm starting it tonight and hope to have it finished before grad school starts and my time for reading for pleasure is slashed.  From the way Caroline put it, and judging from the size of the book, I'm hoping that won't be a problem.  Grad school reading can wait until next week...

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