July Book Haul

If you ask me what’s new in my life, I’d probably say, ‘Nothing much.’ But in my head, there’s a whirring machine that’s showing me slides of the books I just bought or want to buy or want to read or have read. That’s basically what life is for me now – I read.

They say a picture says a thousand words so let me help you out here.

July Book Haul

Those are the 24 books I got just in the month of July. You can see only 18 you say? 5 of them are ebooks and 1 is an audiobook, and hence are on my phone – which you can perhaps spot at the top of the pile.

What I want to achieve through this post is to very briefly be able to tell you about each book so that maybe, just maybe if you find it interesting – you could go out there and read it too! Sounds fun right? Let’s begin.


Second Hand Time: Svetlana Alexievich ○ GoodReads
The winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015, Alexievich is an investigative journalist who, through this book, brings together the voices of dozens of witnesses to the collapse of the USSR in a formidable attempt to chart the disappearance of a culture and to surmise what new kind of man may emerge from the rubble.

Pandeymonium: Piyush PandeyGoodReads
Piyush Pandey, India’s supposed ‘Ad Guru’ of India writes about his life, influences and how he brought this into his work. (This book was a gift, I don’t think I would have bought it otherwise. No offence.)

Harry Potter & The Cursed Child: JK Rowling  ○ GoodReads
Aah, the much awaited ‘8th book’ – a look into the Harry Potter Universe after 9 years of the release of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows. The book is actually a play which premiered in London. But for those who can’t go for the play, we have the script. Didn’t live up to my expectations, but was still a good read and is a must read for all Potterheads!

The Discovery of India: Jawaharlal Nehru ○ GoodReads
The much talked about book is written by the first Prime Minister of India and outlines the legacy, culture, heritage and philosophies of India.

The Fisherman: Chigozie Obioma ○ GoodReads
Four close knit brothers go fishing where they meet a madman who prophosizies that oldest of the boys will kill a brother. What happens next is described beautifully by the Nigerian author whose book was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2015.

Self: Yann Martel ○ GoodReads
Martel, of Life of Pi fame, comes this book which is a fictional autobiography of a young writer which takes the reader to Canada, Portugal, Greece, Turkey and elsewhere.

Quidditch Through The Ages: J K Rowling (Kennilworthy Whisp) ○ GoodReads
The book that Hermione gave Harry for his first match, is now an actual real thing! Bought this because of the Harry Potter fever that was going around due to The Cursed Child’s upcoming release.

The Nightingale: Kristin Hannah GoodReads
The story of two very different sisters during Nazi occupied France and their attempt to survive and revolt. One of the most beautiful books I have read. I ugly-cried when the book got over.

The Guide: R.K Narayan GoodReads
One of my impulse buys mainly because it was so damn cheap (Rs 85!). This is a story of a tour guide who later becomes a spiritual guide. Only after I bought it and brought it home did my mother tell me that this is the book that the very famous Bollywood movie, Guide, featuring Dev Anand is based of off. 

The Red House: Mark Haddon GoodReads
Not great reviews on GoodReads, but I’m partial to the author who wrote The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time. 

High Fidelity: Nick Hornby GoodReads
I have to admit, I haven’t read any Nick Hornby books or see any of the movie adaptations but this is the most famous one – so I’m happy that my best friend gave me her copy. Thanks Ranj! The book tells the story of the protagonist’s struggles to cope from the break up of his relationship with his girlfriend and his failing record shop. 

Fight Club: Chuck Palahnuik GoodReads
I must be the only person in the world who hasn’t either seen the movie or read the book. I know, *gasp*. Hence, my lovely friends gifted me this book. I’ll read it, I promise.

The Vegetarian: Han Kang GoodReads
This book has already been announced as the Man Booker International Prize winner of 2016! The story is of a South Korean home-maker whose decision to stop eating meat after a bloody, nightmarish dream about human cruelty leads to devastating consequences in her personal and familial life.

The English Teacher: R.K Narayan GoodReads
The book that is said to be autobiographical is the story is a series of experiences in the life of Krishna, an English teacher, and his quest towards achieving inner peace and self-development.

Em And The Big Hoom: Jerry Pinto GoodReads
This book was the book of the month in the online Facebook community I’m part of – ‘Book Deals for Broke Bibliophiles’. I didn’t get down to reading it, but it’s based out of Mahim, Mumbai – so I’m excited to give it a go. 

The Motorcycle Diaries – Notes of a Latin American Journey: Ernesto Che Guevara GoodReads
This is the travel story of the guy who was on our t-shirts for a good part of our lives – Che Guevara. Like many others, this too was made into a movie in 2004. 

Slapstick, or Lonesome No More: Kurt Vonnegut GoodReads
The old classic presents an apocalyptic vision as seen through the eyes of the current King of Manhattan (and last President of the United States), a wickedly irreverent look at the all-too-possible results of today’s follies. I bought this because I really want to see if Vonnegut was right and if we might be edging towards that sort of world with Trump.

Fahrenheit 451: Ray Bradbury GoodReads
A prophetic novel that describes a world where the world is destroying all books and those who read it. Sounds super interesting right? 

We Should All Be Feminists: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie GoodReads
The super famous TEDx Talk by said author and activist was soon after converted into this book. I feel this is a must read for pretty much everyone in this world. You could watch the TED Talk, but I preferred the book. 

How To Be A Woman: Caitlin Moran GoodReads
The very famous and outright feminist spokesperson – Caitlin Moran, interweaves provocative observations on women’s lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own. A thought-provoking, but bitingly funny read.

The Color of Magic: Terry Pratchet GoodReads
On a mission to read more series, I plan to start reading the Discworld Series. This is the first book of the said series and is about a wizard who goes to the world that is supported on the back of a giant turtle as a tourist. Sounds strange right? That’s why I bought it. 

The Complete Works of Virginia Woolf: Virginia Woolf GoodReads
This includes everything – all her novels, her short stories, her plays, her essays, her memoirs, everything! On my Kindle app, it shows that it has 91700 pages! I think I’m set for life.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves: Lynne Truss GoodReads
I’ve wanted to read this book forever. A friend recommended this to me as a joke because of my love punctuation (I punctuate even when sending a message on whatsapp. Example – “Haha.”). Couldn’t find the book, so I bought the e-book.

Modern Romance: Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg GoodReads
The book for our generation! By juxtaposing the romance of the 30s and ‘romance’ of this Tinder generation, the authors give us a hilarious, thoughtful, and in-depth exploration of the pleasures and perils of modern romance. I love that I’m listening to the audiobook because I can hear Aziz Ansari and his extremely funny-cute-nerdy voice as he runs me through the book. 


 

Wow, listing down 24 books and trying to describe them in two lines or less take a while (read: 2 hours)! But I’m glad I did it.

Please do comment below if you have recommendations for my August haul! It is my birthday month, so I expect I will be buying some books for sure.

Till Next Time.

P.S. I’ve started an Instagram profile that’s just for the bibliophile in me. Follow me if you want to – @sant.reads

TIPS TO HELP YOU PICK UP THAT BOOK AND FINISH IT

Books have been part of my life since forever. Even as a child I preferred reading over going out to play. In retrospect, I see that happening now as well. Sorry for cancelling so many plans guys!

As the years have gone by, my reading dwindled down. So this year I decided that I was going to read more – and it’s the only New Years Resolution I have had no problem in keeping!

A lot of my friends have come up to me (post seeing all my book posts on Instagram and other social media platforms) and asked me which books to read or complained about ‘how they can never read as much as I do’ or how they aren’t ‘voracious readers like me’.

It’s not rocket science guys. If you want to do it, you just got to do it!

However, I decided to jot down some points that will help you in the process.

1. Know what you like 

You first have to answer a very simple question – ‘Why are you reading?’

Are you reading to gain knowledge? To know more about people or places? For pleasure? If you answer that you will know what genre of books you should choose – Fiction, Non Fiction, Fantasy, Thrillers, Biographies, whatever. There are so many choices.

so many books

This is the first and most important part. If you start reading a book on a topic you don’t like, it’s just going to turn into a snooze machine for you – a chore that you will never complete.

2. Pick a good one! 

Now that you have decided what genre of books you would like to explore, do some research and find out which book is good and which isn’t. A good book can keep you hooked. A bad one can make you wish the papers in the book could be turned back into trees.

There are plenty of ways to find a good book. I personally love GoodReads. It has the most extensive lists of books from around the world and laymen like you and me have reviewed them. If not GoodReads, you can always start with the best sellers lists such as New York Times or choose books that have won/been nominated for awards such as the Pulitzer Prize, Booker Prize, etc.

3. Start slow

When I started reading books again after my sabbatical away from them, I wondered if I had it in me. I had lost confidence in being able to finish a book and if I had to start with something heavy, I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it.

I hence started with Chick-Litt (much like Rom Coms, but for books) and murder mysteries. These were easy reads and I soon gained the confidence I had to start perusing through other books of my choice.

-matilda

4. #Goals

I don’t know about you, but I always get things done if I have clear-cut goals. We do this at work and in life – so why not with the books we read? Once you’ve zeroed down on a book, have a plan in your mind as to how and when would you want to finish it.

There are two ways of going about this:
1 – Figure the number of pages you want to read each day and thus, know how many days you will take to finish it.
2 – Figure the number of days you would like to ideally finish the book in and divide the book up according to that.

You thus have small baby goals every day that you know you have to achieve and slowly but surely you will finish that book!

Smriti’s Hack! – I use a technique that I call ‘Two Bookmarks’. I have two bookmarks in my book – one for where I am in the book and one for where I want to be by the end of the day.

Two Bookmark

I set small goals and push myself to achieve it. It’s the only way I have gotten through 1000-paged books. They just seem so daunting otherwise!

5. Get a Buddy

Having someone keeping you accountable for something always works – which is why the buddy system is so great! Find someone who would also like to embark on this book reading process and share with them your daily goals. Keep each other accountable.
reading buddy

What would work even better is if you both are reading the same book. You can up the involvement by dividing the book and discussing it together.

6. Keep Calm and Carry Your Book 

I always carry my book around wherever I go. You never know when you have to wait in a line or for someone who is late. And let’s be real, to someone else observing you, reading a book is just so much cooler than you just being on your phone.

So I leave you with a quote from Roald Dahl – ‘Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.’

So go out there and have your booky adventure.

Till Next Time!

30 Days of Health

For the people who know me, they know two things for certain.

1 – I love food.

2 – I can be a little bit of a lump.

Truer words were never said.

New York Fashion Week is going on in full strength. Being part of this generation of Millennials, I am but naturally an Instagram addict. While being glued to my phone, I am subjected to pictures of gorgeous women with flat abs, long legs, that thigh gap that everyone’s talking about and I still don’t get this – amazing collar bones? (I see you Kendall Jenner.)

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I mean look at her! :O

I then did what pretty much every person does. I had a look in the mirror and I literally did not like what I saw. Let this be known – I have never given a shit about my appearance. People say that a lot, but I really don’t. If I had to choose a dress over a New York Baked Cheesecake, I think the choice would be pretty damn obvious. 

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And THAT is an original Junior’s Cheesecake from New York City. If you don’t know what this is, then shame on you! Google it right now!

However, after speaking to some of my friends, they coaxed me into actually thinking about *gasp* exercising and (I can’t believe I’m actually typing this) eating right (whatever that means). So, I have decided to follow through – for a bit.

I give to you ’30 Days of Health’!  This means that I will exercise and (try to) eat right for the next 30 days. Every week, I’ll write a post and let you know how things are going.

I promise you, this is not going to be easy! But stick around, give me some useful advice and hopefully things should be that bad.

Till next time.

 

The Man Who Will Always Live – Goodbye for Now.

I didn’t know David Bowie. I wasn’t awed by his music, never really listened to it much to be honest. So I wasn’t a mess when he died. But an hour ago, I heard that Alan Rickman died at the age of 69 this Thursday, and I have been weeping ever since.

I will admit I have had my doubts about the Harry Potter movie casting choices, but I have never doubted the choice of Alan Rickman for Severus Snape. Indubitably Snape has been one of the most complicated (and controversial) characters of them all and Alan Rickman was perfection.

It’s very tough to match up to the expectations of the reader in a movie and he just did it. We had no doubt that this man right there was Professor Snape.

The years progressed and Alan Rickman never faltered. He’s been other characters in movies (read: my favourite in Love Actually), but for me he will always be Snape. Always.

alan rickman

So today, we raise our wands to the man that made us cringe, laugh, smirk, angry, cry and yet gave us so much joy. Goodbye Alan Rickman – you will always be remembered.

raise your wand

 

P.S. These videos are making me cry so much! Watch and join me.

Happy Fuckin’ New Year!

January 1st – always a day full of hope, dreams and setting unrealistic goals of losing weight for so many people around the world.

January 1st, 2016 for me – a day that I woke up with a fever of 102.2, a cold & a cough, a wisdom tooth that’s coming out wrong and to top it all, I got my period (Yes, I can announce it to the internet. There’s no shame in it. It’s 2016 now! Yeeesh!). So basically, you’ll pardon me if I don’t think it’s ‘that wonderful time of the year’.

This time is also the time that people introspect and try to analyse their life and the year that went by. I tried to do that too and then stopped myself before I got too depressed. But here’s what I did realize – WE TAKE LIFE TOO DAMN SERIOUSLY. It’s about how much money we’re making, what holidays we took, how many likes we got on that Instagram post.

instagram likes

But this year? I’ve decided to do things a bit differently. Instead of ‘looking forward to the year’, I’m simply not going to. I know, that sounds confusing. What I mean is that I’m not going to keep any expectations from this year – I have goals that I wish to achieve and I’m setting down realistic time based mini goals for them through the year and I’ll just keep my head down and work my way through getting things done.

On that note, I’m also making a conscious decision to be more grateful. They say all you need is ‘roti, kapda and makaan’ (bread, cloth & a house) and I look at the situation around the world and feel so grateful that I have all of these things – the first in excess at times. So I definitely shouldn’t be complaining. Also, I don’t have Donald Trump running for the Presidency of my country, so phew! Though, we do have Narendra Modi as Prime Minister – I still don’t know how I feel about that.

Anyway, so here’s to 2016! Hope you all have a great one. I’ll see you on the other side.

Till Next Time.

Mind-Blowing Facts, Figures about Married Girls in India and then of course, my views.

Do you know any Indian girl who is still in her teens? Basically someone who is 19 or younger?

Do you know 5? Yes? No? Doesn’t really matter.

What does matter however is that fact that approximately 2 out of those 5 girls are likely married according to the recently released data point of 2011 census of India.


Side Note: Why did this data point of the census of 2011 just get released? I get that we have billions of people in the country but don’t you think we need to get a system in place that does this faster and more expeditious way?

I read a report in The Times of India and they reported 41% of all girls aged 19 are married, however I went to the census page and downloaded the report for myself and did some simple math and this is what I got. I could be wrong; I was never good at math anyway.

Click the image to see graph in 'responsive mode' with real numbers, etc.

Click the image to see graph in ‘responsive mode’ with real numbers, etc.

Let me break this down for you.

Number of girls in India married below the age of 15: Forty-seven million, one hundred twenty-six thousand, two hundred sixty-one. (13.87%*)

Number of girls in India married between ages of 16 and 17: Fifty-five million, four hundred eighty-nine thousand, four hundred twenty-eight. (16.33%*)


FYI, marriage for girls is legal only at 18, so all these 102,615,689 (30.21%*) i.e. one hundred two million, six hundred fifteen thousand, six hundred eighty-nine girls were married illegally.

That figure is more than the population of Philippines (12th largest population in the world) – yes, women AND men included.

Also, it’s 4 million more than the combined population of Canada, Belgium, Zimbabwe, Uruguay and the continent of Australia!


Number of girls in India married between ages of 18 and 19: One hundred four million, eight hundred seventeen thousand, five hundred thirty-eight. (30.86%*)

That means 35.31% of the population of girls in India get married before they even finish their ‘teenager years’.

Number of girls in India married between ages of 20 and 21: Sixty-two million, six hundred sixty thousand, two hundred sixty.(18.45%*)

I can go on…

Being in India, you know that ‘child marriage’ is pretty rampant, but you would think it would be a thing of the past or perhaps just something that happens in the rural areas. But don’t get fooled!


25% of the Indian girls married below the age of 18 are of the urban population.

Just for your information that’s twenty-six million, thirty-five thousand, eight hundred thirty-five girls. (A teensy bit more than the combined population of Belgium, Greece and Panama)


I don’t know about you, but I have complained a lot recently about how I’m seeing (via my Facebook timeline, of course) so many people who I know who are either getting married or engaged. I was agitated to say the least. Now I read this and I’m enraged!

Modiji has of course started his ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ (Save Daughters, Educate Daughters) campaign, however that is more focused on female foeticide – which though still being a very crucial issue, doesn’t really help this cause.  Awareness, education can only achieve so much. What else can we do? I would love to discuss it and take things forward.

Signing off feeling slightly powerless but confident that there is still hope.

Till next time.

P.S. Being a feminist and all for equality, this issue is rampant for boys/men in the country as well with 125,329,987 or 125+million (41.72%) of boys getting married before the legal marriageable age i.e. 21 years. The number of boys who get married before the age of 18 however is 19,471,359 or 19+million (6%). Notice the huge jump of 105,858,628 or 105+million men who have married between the age of 18 and 21.

*Total Female Population in India as per 2011 census of India = 587,447,730 (587+m) out of which 58% of women are married. Percentage was calculated with the base of total number of married women in India i.e. 339,621,277 (339+m). 

It’s a ‘Doggy-Dog’ World!

Greetings from the capital – New Delhi.

I’ve never been a great fan of the city – for the reasons that I’ve stated earlier. But what I do love is sitting out here on the balcony of the house, with this beautiful dog, the view of the ruins, the culture and sip on some tea.

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So while I’m admiring these beautiful flowers, I have company – Casper (The Friendly Dog). He was just sitting there, looking so serene, so content that I had to just snap away a little.

Here’s what I got.

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Isn’t he absolutely beautiful? <3 Yeah, well he’s family.

Till next time.