the wonderful world of veena.

06 October 2012

book update: the nepal edition.

I've been a reading machine while I've been in Nepal [spending 4.5 weeks in a remote area will have that effect], so here is my update of all the books that have kept me entertained during my two months in this amazing country.

The Great Hunt [Wheel of Time Series book 2, Robert Jordan]. I read the first of this 12-book fantasy series [yes, you read that correctly, I said 12 books. and counting, if I'm not mistaken] about 3.5 years ago at the suggestion of Vik [as in Manipal Vik, not my brother]. I really enjoyed the first book, called The Eye of the World, but never got around to continuing the series. So when I was thinking of books to download for my time in Nepal, I figured a few of these would be good, as they're quite long. I forgot, however, how quickly they go, and I finished this 1,700 pager [according to Nook, that is] in just over a week while I was in Bardiya. The beginning took me a little while, just because my memory was a bit rusty, and I was trying to remember things I had read nearly 4 years ago, but once my memory started kicking in, the rest of the book flew by. It would take me days to explain the plot of the series, so you'll have to trust me when I say it's a really interesting series. I've never really read many fantasy series before, but this one has caught and kept my interest. I wish I had not waited so long to get back into the series, and I'm continuing on with it while simultaneously reading other books. And this has been a case where my Nook app on my iPad has come in handy, because these books are behemoths and weigh quite a lot, so I'm able to read them while traveling without having to deal with the weight. I still love physical books, but sometimes those e-readers are convenient.

The Bastard of Istanbul [Elie Shafak]. I've been hearing this title from various sources for a while now, so I finally decided it was time to read it. I liked the back-and-forth between past and present, and I learned a lot about the Armenian genocide, but I can't really decide what my overall feelings for the book are. There were a few too many coincidences that connected the two main characters, Asya and Armanoush, and I found those coincidences to be just a little too convenient. After a point, I could predict how certain situations were going to turn out, and while that's fun while reading mysteries, it's not as fun in fiction. Sometimes it's nice to have things revealed to you rather than guessing what's coming 10 pages before it happens. I liked Shafak's writing style, the book itself was a quick read, and I enjoyed remembering my own days in Istanbul when reading about some of Asya and Armanoush's wanderings around the city; I just feel the story itself could have been stronger.

House Rules [Jodi Picoult]. Ever since reading Picoult's My Sister's Keeper many moons ago, I am always intrigued when I spot another of her books. Picoult takes on difficult subjects, and I always tend to enjoy the stories she weaves. This story, about a teenager with Asperger's Syndrome on trial for murder, struck a particular note with me, as I had a significant experience with someone who has AS in the last year. While the ending was a little too neat for me - as is the case with many of Picoult's books - overall I enjoyed the book. My Sister's Keeper continues to be my favourite of her books, but there are some stylistic points from this one that I liked, particularly how she changes narrators throughout the story to allow the reader to assess the situation from many different viewpoints. It's a style that she employs in many of her books, and I always like these more than her others. Overall it was an interesting read, and I'm sure I'll continue to read most of her future works [ps - after My Sister's Keeper, my next favourite of hers is Perfect Match].

Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? [And Other Concerns] [Mindy Kaling]. I will admit, I have not always been a fan of Mindy Kaling's. It's not that I don't think she's funny, because she absolutely is. It's because my first introduction to her was a Diwali episode of The Office, and her character Kelly Kapoor irritated me to no end. As a result, I couldn't watch her in anything else for a few years, which is my own fault, because she's hilarious. Her book, a collection of random stories, anecdotes, and lists she thinks are important, was a great, breezy, light, funny read. She herself admits in the beginning that her book is a poor man's Bossypants [Tina Fey], and there were some definite similarities between the two, but Kaling's unique personality also shines through in this book. She has a new show on Fox called The Mindy Project, and I'm looking forward to checking it out and following Kaling's career more in the future.

The Dragon Reborn [Wheel of Time Series book 3, Robert Jordan]. I thought I would take a bit of a break between these books, but they're so addicting that I couldn't stop myself from jumping into this one quickly. I also didn't want to risk forgetting details like I did between the first and second books. I don't know how Jordan can keep up this story through 11 books [Jordan passed away without having finished the 12th and final book, so his family hired another writer - Brandon somebody (I can't remember off the top of my head) - to complete the series], but I am looking forward to continuing the series and finding out.

Primary Colors [Anonymous]. I happened to find a copy of this in a bookstore in Kathmandu when I was searching for a physical book to read, and I couldn't stop myself from picking it up. Last year, I had the amazing honor of having dinner with Joe Klein, the "Anonymous" author of this book, and was able to hear some of his stories of the writing and publication of this work. Having had the opportunity to hear a behind-the-scenes account of the book certainly gave me an interesting perspective. I also found it to be quite interesting given the current election that is taking place in the States. While I am always glad to be out of the country during the election lead-up [I was in India in 2008 also], I still follow the highlights, and reading this while simultaneously reading about the conventions and campaigning and debates that are occurring in the States made for a unique experience. Suman, one of the servers at one of my regular coffee shops, remarked more than once on my random giggling while I was reading. For someone who mostly avoids politics, I really enjoyed reading Klein's book.

The Borrowers [Mary Norton]. I've been thinking a lot recently about books I enjoyed as a child, and when I saw this book mentioned somewhere online last month, I took it as a sign that I should re-read it. This story about a family living below the kitchen of a great country estate who "Borrow" items from the main house to run their own household held my interest just as it did 20 years ago. It also made me want to go back and re-read some of the other books of my childhood, so I think that might become a plan, depending on my schedule for the coming months. It's nice to take a trip down memory lane every now and then.

Currently reading: The Shadow Rising [Wheel of Time Series book 4, Robert Jordan] and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks [Rebecca Skloot].

Thank you, Nepal, for being productive for my reading. Now to see how India compares.
woo pig.

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