Reading this year

It was a very good year in terms of amount of reading done, though the amount of reading dwindled in the second half. Below are few lines about the authors and the books.

Orhan Pamuk – Snow, My name is Red & Other Colors: Essays and a Story:
Unlike booker, with Nobel Prize one definitely gets to know a very good writer. So I took up Snow initially in the year, which was a compelling read. Pamuk in “Snow” weaves a beautiful setting whereby he shows struggles, confusions and conflicts of a nation at one place clutching its tradition, its past and on the other hand trying to move towards modernization, read westernization. After Snow I read “My name is Red” which again beautifully presents the divide between east and west. Here the central theme was the conflict between Traditions Islamic art style of miniaturists and the emerging western influences and styles. And over the top of it is a beautifully woven murder mystery and a unique and dense writing style. Then during the year end came “Other Colors: Essays and a Story”, which is a collection of some of his nonfiction work. He writes bout his own reading, his life, his literary influences and other writers (Dostoevsky, Bernhard, Borges, Nabokov etc) his city and also on the books he has written. Quite a delightful read.

Jean-Paul Sartre – The Age of Reason:
It’s Sartre’s first installment in the “Road to freedom” series. The book attempts to elaborate the existential aspect of Freedom in absolute sense. All the drama in the novel takes place in 4 days, revolving around the Life of Mathieu, a Philosophy professor, and few people around. An absolute gem of a book.

J M Coetzee – Life and Times of Michael K., Foe & Disgrace:
Some how Coetzee is slowly become my one of the most fav. authors. Read “Slow man” last year and it didn’t ring much inside my head but it did leave something, something bit obscure, something direct, bit more fundamental. And I have been coming back to this author since then and with each book my respect for his work is growing more and more. First read “Life and Times of Michael K.”, here’s a bit I posted about it. Then read “Foe” and then “Disgrace”. These are few of Coetzee’s lines about the theme that he explores in it:

“There was something ignoble in the spectacle that I despaired. One can punish the dog, for an offense like chewing a slipper. A dog will accept the justice of that: a beating for a chewing. But desire is another story. No animal will accept the justice of being punished for following its instincts.”
“What was ignoble was that the poor dog had begun to hate its own nature. It no longer needed to be beaten. It was ready to punish itself..”

Haruki Murakami – A Wild Sheep Chase, After Dark, “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman”, “Dance, Dance, Dance” & The Wind-up Bird Chronicle:

Read a lot of Murakami this year, though the books were not quite of the standard of “Norvergian Wood” or “Hard Boiled Wonderland & the End of the world”. Nevertheless the satisfaction and pleasure of reading Murakami was all present.

Also read “Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words” by Jay Rubin, who has translated few of Murakami’s novels

Fyodor Dostoevsky – The Brothers Karamazov & “Crime and Punishment”: Great Russian sensibilities and depth. Absorbing reads.
Milan Kundera – The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts & The Unbearable Lightness of Being
George Orwell – Animal Farm & 1984
My God Died Young – Sasthi Bratha
The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje: Almost like a dream.
Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino: Mesmerizing.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s: A Short Novel and Three Stories – Truman Capote
Flaubert’s Parrot – Julian Barnes
No One Here Gets Out Alive, Jim Morrison’s Biography
Styles of Radical Will – Susan Sontag
The Moon Is Down – Steinbeck
Memories of My Melancholy Whores- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Selfish Gene – Richard Dawkins: It’s good in the beginning but then he keeps moving around the obvious.
Anton Chekov’s Short Stories

Few Disappointments:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – You Know Who
The Myth of Sisyphus – Albert Camus: Not exactly a disappointment, but I sort of expected a lot form it. May be I will read it again some day.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – R Prisig: Not as good as it looks, quite limited in scope.
The Sea, The Sea – Iris Murdoch: Too much muddled drama
Travels in the Scriptorium – Paul Auster: Donno why I picked it up.

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3 comments

  1. I am finding ‘My name is Red’ as too good. The idea of writing one story with different perspectives is interesting, never read anything with this concept before..

  2. I find the book of haruki murakami as always literary marvel. i like the way his novels portrays alienation or nostalgia, his characters are somewhat impartial and nostalgic. for me, Norwegian wood is the simplest yet most splendid work of art of his.

    im reading also “my name is red’ beginning this year. somehow, it leaves me breathless…

  3. @whitegarapata: yeah, Murakami is perhaps one the most ambitious writer writing now. His characters are alwats eccentric with a natural coolness attached, which some how seems to come from an deep sense of loss, they are either down right plain weird or far too mature for their age, and having an high attachment to pop culture and too much alienated from the people around saving from one or tow of their kind.
    The closest definition Murakami comes to giving about his characters is in “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World” where the scientist says as to what the central character, Calcutec had unique about him..

    regarding “my name is red’ its definitely quite a good start of your year.

    @divya: well, what should I say now after that you have completed the book.
    Take ‘Snow’ from me any time you feel.

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