Thursday, September 18, 2014

The 10 Book Challenge

An year ago when I resigned from my job, I promised myself I will read more and travel more. Not finding time to read was a situation akin to my face being pushed in a bucket of water.
I kept my promise to myself. I read more than I could I ever imagine. I traveled more than my imagination could conceive.

I wrote the above simile because reading has indeed been like breathing to me. However, to be nominated for this challenge from people higher than me in the hierarchy of reading in a very obvious way, has been a humbling experience. 

I will thank and acknowledge those who nominated for this. These are not the people who can be described with brevity. So for books, please skip to the part where you see Mahabharata in Bold.

I stumbled across Shaz's blog at random. One of the few instances when randomness has been an ally. A sage when absorbed in mundane routine meditations feels no emotions. Then one day at random a vision blesses his tranquil mind and fervor grips him. Reading Shaz's blog was like that.

I remember her review on Knut Hampsons "Hunger". It was simple yet it would capture the reader. I read it several times while I read the book. I read it several times after I finished the book. This had never happened.
It's a privilege to have been nominated by her.

Pratik Mishra is one of the few people who re kindles the fire for reading in me every time we have a conversation. It's amazing how people know the field they want to be in and become ninja at it at such an early stage.If hierarchy, class , expertise and aristocratic principles exist to define the line which separates a reader like him from minion mongrel readers like me; then I not only accept the concepts with delight but endorse them.

Tamanna is one of those people who sit next to you in a movie in silence and then you both suddenly speak the same thing on the same scene together, creeping each other out. She writes about Mahabharata the way I do. She feels about physics the way I do. She has a hunger to learn new subjects like economics just like I do. However, she has a beautiful blog which if compared to mediocre blog of mine, would sit on an ivory tower. Beauty of the author reflects in the writings. Tamanna is a beautiful person. 

Rohini Singh is a genius. She can put Kafka to shame if she is feeling dark. She can write a novel which will strip away shrines from soul if she is angry. She is blessed with the superpower of capturing the readers soul and then do whatever she pleases to do with it. One has to read her exceptional blog to conceive the awesomeness she serves.Her nomination makes me as happy and humble as an apple polisher would be if the Countess asked his name. Its an honor.

Vernica has been a classmate besides being a close friend. So while others have known me personally, her request came as a huge professional compliment to me. I guess she is one of those people who realize that I always read books I am not supposed to be reading.[No, no pun intended] Always the wrong book at the wrong time. But that's how I've always been

I had to write this rather long introduction. Thing about my post is that....."it's mine"..

Here I go 

Everyone who knows me knows the impact I have had from this book. I blog about it. I study it on persistent basis.For this longest epic in the world, I think only these lines from my favorite band Strings come to my mind :

ये कहानी नयी है पुरानी भी है 
कुछ अनोखी भी है और सुहानी भी है
सुरम्यी शाम है और दीवानी भी है 
बात कहनी भी है और छुपानी भी है 

Alice in Wonderland

While every single fairy tale and childern's fable was about a clear distinction between good and bad, this was just about fun. I think I identify the most with the moment when caterpillar asks Alice who she is:

"Alice replied, rather shyly, 'I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.'
'What do you mean by that?' said the Caterpillar sternly. 'Explain yourself!'
'I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, sir' said Alice, 'because I'm not myself, you see.'"

On a personal level this book is pandora's box. It has secrets related to me which perhaps I will never tell. Things I write about Alice and Hatter maybe give some hint.

 Great Expectations:

“You are in every line I have ever read.” 

In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice.” 
― Charles DickensGreat Expectations

It was the title which intrigued me as a child . I became a co-traveler in the journey which Pip takes on the sailboat of his "Great Expectations". I have had profound learning experience from this book. I learnt how one could be extremely poor and in a wretched state as Pip's but still have amazing turnarounds. I learnt how one could have a fortune such as Ms Havisham's but still be stuck in time with gloom gripping your soul like spiderwebs in the Ms Havisham's mansion. I remember realizing that it was important to make the journey, like Pip. Things then have a way to surprise yourself. You will have tears , heartbreaks but you shall be alive nonetheless. 
Ms Havisham's stuck clock became a sort of symbol for me. When I found myself feeling stuck in my job, I would see this clock in my vision. It was easy to quit and leave with my bagpack then!

The Great Gatsby

When I read this the first time I was the college grad student who was reading this novel simply because it fit in the backpocket of my rugged jeans. Fast forward 10 years, I was on a bus from Prague to Berlin and was reading the book again. I wept. So much so that people in the bus had to come check if I am allright. I wanted to tell them that this is the first time I have found a man who in his bare naked soul form loves a woman like I would. I wept because the similarities were frighteningly similar.

I think the key thing which was captured was the "insignificance" which Gatsby felt because Daisy was not with him.

This poem I wrote comes close to what I want to say about this book. 

It's difficult to talk about this book , even harder to write.

I think the following quotes shall give an idea

The 4 Hour Week- Tim Ferris

I was recommended this book by Mukti Shah. She is a professional trainer whose workshop I attended and kept in touch ever since. I was suggested this book by her when I was looking for answers like a drowning man looks for a gasp. I was eternally confused about decision to leave my job. I will be honest and tell you that I have not read the whole book. I didnt need to. This books causes a paradigm shift in the thinking patterns.
Suddenly, co-existence of career advancement and living the dreams seemed like a possibility. I did it. I left the job which was sucking my soul and traveled across Europe. At the same time, I have grown my money and my skills. I owe it to this book.

Positano, Italy

Aghora: The Left hand of God by Dr Robert Svoboda

This is a hidden book. I didnt not want to write about this. I sincerely thank Vikram Gehlot for recommending this book to me. This book is extremely weird and different. However, it gave me a direction. A direction towards exploring the spirituality of the religion I was born into. I got into reading Puran's in their original form. The beauty between Shiva and Sati can not be fathomed by love. The way Svoboda speaks about concepts is extremely different and very serious. Exposing this book makes me vulnerable. Nonetheless, this book nudged me in a direction which makes me proud. The readings which happened as a consequence of this book make me who I am. 

Surely you are joking, Mr Feynman: Richard Feynman

Awesomeness was always associated with one being a ninja in one field. Then we had Feynman, who could be better than you in whatever you did best and still win a Nobel in Physics.I am often accused of being distracted and immersing myself in extremely varied fields. After BTech in Chemical Engineering and working in a fortune 500 company, I am now pursuing a Masters in Arts. This is the book which made this possible. This is the book which made me respect my tendencies. This is the book which inspires me. 

Outliers: The story of success by Malcom Gladwell

The only thing my being could come up with when exposed to someone awesome in her field, was awe. After reading this book i realized there is a way to greatness. There is a pattern. Everytime I see someone doing something I admire, I immediately start cracking the code on how he does it. I take my focus on how he is doing what he can , instead of immersing myself in the awe. Its a paradigm shift.
It also made me realize that solutions of problems can be extremely far from the places we look. Thus, it gave me a skill to dissociate myself from the problems I am facing and solveit from a third persons perspective.I'd recommend this book to everyone.

Le Petite Prince

This is a thin book which sometime people percieve as a children's book. I think every page is as profound as a book. 
I wrote a few lines being inspired from the book. Those who have read it will appreciate the rendition more. You can read it here

Basic Writings of Existentialism: Gordon Marino

This was one of the random finds in a bookstore. This book exposed me to some of the most brilliant authors I have ever read. I introduced me to the realm of existentialism. To the absurd. To the randomness. It now forms my core. If I had to dig deeper and point out one author from this genre I would have to pick Fyodor Dostoevsky's excerpts from "Notes from the underground". This writing was hauntingly similar to what I had written in my journal sitting alone in my room. 
I believe that anyone who accepts the absurd becomes a person I would have coffee with without checking my clock. 
People ask me why this book is always on my "currently reading" list on goodreads, it because this book is like looking into mirror when one is facing his own existential crisis. It takes guts to open this book. 

Tao Te Ching

This book is reported to be from approx 4th Century BC. From the courts of the Zhou Dynasty in China. 
I add this book with much embarrassment. It's because I got it very recently. I am still in the process of reading it. However, its not a book one reads cover to cover. I have this notion that every time I have a problem , I open a page randomly from this book and it throws a solution at me. Its thousands of years of magic packed in a few pages. This book is magic. 
I thank Pratik Misra for not only recommending but also recommending the book to me. 

We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel;
But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.
We turn clay to make a vessel;
But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.
We pierce doors and windows to make a house;
And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.
Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not. (chap. 11) 

There we go , the end to the extremely loquacious post.
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