Friday, May 4, 2007

One book per week?

The other day while browsing at one of the NYPL branches, I got hold of a book in which an author was telling about her efforts at reading one book per week for a full year, and had given as part of the appendices at the end of the book, the original must-read list, the final books-read list, and the must-read list for the next year.

I must average atleast 20 or more books per year.

Some of the books I remember reading in the recent past:

(a) Story-wallah: Short fiction from South Asian writers
The Editor - Shyam Selvadurai - has collected an extra-ordinary set of stories written by writers of South Asian origin. The introduction to the book provided by the author shows his deep appreciation of the sense of no-where-ness a South Asian person experiences when he moves to US or Canada or Europe. The editor also is quite adept at expressing his thoughts. His comment that he identifies more with the hyphen in Canadian-Sri Lankan than with either national identities impressed me and set the tone for the rest of the book.

(b) The Namesake
I had liked the various stories Jhumpa Lahiri had weaved together in her book "Interpreter of Maladies". The title story and the one where the couple are considering separation but change their mind were the two favourite stories from that book. Had never heard about 'The Namesake' till I came across the news about the movie's release.

Listened to the CD version of the novel on a trip to Baltimore, and was totally absorbed with the story of the Ganguly family, and was amazed at the breadth of Indo-American experiences the author has been able to distill into this sweet story. I doubt if watching the movie will be as good an experience as reading the book.

(c) Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness
William Styron's story of slow descent into the depths of depression and a courageous recovery is the type of story I was looking for when I went about seeking someone's story on overcoming depression.

Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac Nation - which I read first with the same objective - turned out to be more of a journal of depression-driven excesses and didn't focus much on the recovery part. After spending 99 % of the book describing the hell she was in, the author touched upon Prozac and recovery very briefly in the last couple of pages.

William Styron was not only able to express very lucidly the hopelessness and maddening frustrations of his increasingly melancholic state-of-mind, but also delves in length on the recovery aspects, starting with his recollection of the happier times of his life on listening to a favourite piece of music.

Hopefully will come across more wonderful books to read in the future......

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