All posts filed under: Books

Books by Ismat Chughtai on a blue backdrop with a gold necklace

Book Review: Ismat Chughtai

For someone who loves to read and has studied English literature in school and college in India, it was very disappointing to learn about writers like Maanto and Chughtai so late in life. It enrages me that we teach a handful of English writers and completely ignore great Indian writers. “Faith is one thing, the culture of one’s country is quite another. I have an equal share in it, in its earth, sunshine and water. If I splash myself with colour during Holi, or light up diyas during Diwali, will my faith suffer an erosion? Are my beliefs so brittle and judgements so shaky that they will fall to pieces?” Ismat Chughtai – the story-teller Ismat Chughtai was a contemporary of Saadat Hasan Manto. They wrote during the time of India’s independence. Both were put on trial for indecency in their writing then finally acquitted. However, it put a downer on both their temperaments.  Chughtai’s Lihaaf or the Quilt was considered quite progressive for its time, talking about female sexuality. She has also written screenplays …

Gajapati Kulapati series of 4 books

Book Review: Gajapati Kulapati

Ganesh Chaturti is the perfect time to talk about our favourite elephant. The Gajapati Kulapati series by Ashok Rajagopalan, published by Tulika Books, is a favourite in our house. We bought the first one when our son was about a year old, and now five years later, we have the complete set and still love reading them. The story is simple and hilarious. Each book is about an adventure Gajapati Kulapati has with his friends in the village where he lives. The sound effects will make kids and adults giggle with delight. There are four books in the series. We meet the same characters in each book and love to see how they’re getting on. Tulika Books publishes these books in Indian regional languages as well. They’re sure to delight young readers for a long time to come. Note: Some links are part of an affiliate program, which means that if you click on a link and buy something, I might receive a percentage of the sale, at no extra cost to you. 

Kindle with the cover of Klara and Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro on a bed of colourful Lego blocks

Book Review: Klara and the Sun

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro is a dystopian science fiction story. It is much like Never Let Me Go but, somehow, not as brilliant. That is not to say Klara and the Sun is not readable. Far from it. Kazuo Ishiguro Nobel Prize winner, has a special talent for making you believe his sci-fi world is as believable as our own reality. He writes with an elegant simplicity conveying complex feelings.  “Hope,’ he said. ‘Damn thing never leaves you alone.” Klara, an Artificial Friend  The book is set in a future where it is possible to have your child genetically engineered to enhance their academic abilities. Schooling is provided at home by on-screen tutors, limiting all social interactions. For those who can afford it, an AF (Artificial Friend) is their constant companion. Klara is an AF for Josie. We follow Klara’s journey as she narrates her life experiences from the store window to her stay with Josie. Although Klara is exceptionally intelligent and observant, her knowledge of the world is limited. We see …

Journals for Kids

As a teenager, I got tired of hiding my diary from my family, so I chose to stop journaling. Much later, as a working adult, I had a day planner I loved to plan the day on.  Even after phones became the norm, I kept a physical planner with me. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of making a hand-written checklist and crossing them off as you complete your tasks. Why Journal? It was only in the last two years that I have gotten back to writing a daily personal journal. And it just happened to coincide with the year of a global pandemic. I found it therapeutic to write down my day and feelings. I also wrote what I was grateful for each day and it helped me stay sane during a tough time. I wanted to inculcate in my child this habit of talking about our days and documenting whatever we wanted to. I bought two journals for my 5-year-old. One was total fun and the other a little more serious.  He’s just 5 …

Top 10 Free Ebooks you need in your Library

Who doesn’t love free stuff? When it comes to books, I can never have too many. I would always have to worry about storage while purchasing physical copies of all the books I wanted. Now, with Kindle, I can read to my heart’s content. The best part is, there is such an immense repository of books that have crossed their copyright period and are now available to download and read for free. All you need to do is download the Kindle reading app on any of your devices if you don’t want to invest in a Kindle. If you already have a Prime membership then Amazon’s Prime Reading programme gives you a wide selection of books that are included in your membership, hence free to read. I have previously written about the benefits of an e-book reader. You can read and decide what works best for you. So, without further delay, here are my top 10 free Kindle ebooks you need to read. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is one of my absolute favourites. Such …

Kindle cover of Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi with a bunch of pink roses on a white fabric

Book Review: Transcendent Kingdom

Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom reviews were almost entirely positive, so I was at first worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. But oh! It did. It is a book about relationships with family and oneself, religion and race, love and loss, and mental health. The narration is by a young woman named Gifty. She was born in America to Ghanian parents. She has an older brother who overshadows her at every juncture of her life, but he is also her hero – someone she loves and looks up to. She talks about how her mother migrated to America in the hope of a better future for her firstborn son. Her father had followed reluctantly. After she was born, she could see the unhappiness in her father, who eventually chose a path away from them. “My memories of him, though few, are mostly pleasant, but memories of people you hardly know are often permitted a kind of pleasantness in their absence. It’s those who stay who are judged the harshest, simply by virtue of …

Book Review: Ammachi’s Glasses

The story starts with Ammachi not being able to find her glasses. However, she continues her day as usual and hilarity ensues. The story is simple yet so engrossing. The illustrations capture your interest with little things happening all around Ammachi as she tries to navigate without her glasses.

My son loved reading it again and again, focussing on the bits he found the funniest. Upon revisiting it again, he found a few more fun things hidden in the illustration and he loved discovering these pieces of the whole puzzle.

Book Review: The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. We follow the Tran family across generations, as narrated by a young girl, Huong and her grandmother, Dieu Lan. Throughout the book, we come across the human cost of conflicts. While we come to realise how some people are self-serving, we also see the true power of kindness and hope.

Book Review: Kindred by Octavia Butler

Kindred by Octavia Butler takes you back in time. It is not just historical fiction, but one that involves some time travelling (not the sci-fi kind).  For Dana, a regular night is turned upside down when inexplicably she travels back in time to save a young boy from drowning. Then just as mystifyingly, she’s back at her home with a time lapse of just a few seconds. If her husband wasn’t there to witness her disappearance, who would have believed her? She keeps going back and forth to the same place and realises how her own life is linked to the people she meets on her ‘travels’. “As a kind of castaway myself, I was happy to escape into the fictional world of someone else’s trouble.” It’s not easy to do a Kindred book review. Slavery in the antebellum South of the United States was a time of unspeakable horrors and dehumanisation of an entire race. It was perpetrated not just by the White men, as most often portrayed, but also by the White women …

Book Review: The Nothing Man by Catherine R. Howard

Do you love the edge of your seat? Do you love staying awake till the early hours of the morning? If you do, you’re probably a reader, and this book is for you. The Nothing Man by Catherine R. Howard is an exciting murder mystery unlike any I have read before. The premise of the book is that a young girl, whose life was turned around after her entire family was murdered, has grown up to write a book about the experience. She hopes that the killer is still alive and wants to catch him after all these years. “…fiction only really worked if it was built like a lattice through which you were repeatedly offered glimpses of absolute truth.” There’s not much I can add to it without giving away any plot twists. All I can say is that this was a wild ride. There are twists and turns, especially at the end, that catch you off guard.  “These are no dark magicians. They have no special skills. People seem to forget that we …