The Golden Notebook, Not My Cup Of Tea On A Rainy Afternoon

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The heavens suffered from diuresis after a full day of intense heat and humidity. The asphalt road sizzled as the unceasing rain poured into it. I was brewing tea when all of a sudden all the water from the sky came down with a vengeance. Babar, my dog, and I rushed towards the front door. The amount of downpour washing away the dust in the air of this arid city is a beautiful sight. Babar wagged his tail excitedly and I was smiling ear to ear. We both love the rain. My plants on the front yard lifted their heads and arms to welcome the long awaited shower. I can almost see them smiling too. I looked gratefully at the sky and sent my thanks to the heavens for this blessing. The terrible heatwave that cursed the land for more than a month is now over. Relief for all has come. Of course, I am trying not to think of the flooding that will inevitably follow this. I wanted to enjoy the cool, wet weather for now.

So with a warm cup of darjeeling tea and my dog dozing cozily near my feet I settled on my cushiony sofa and I opened the book, The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, with anticipation. The one I picked from my bookshelf to snuggle with in this special occasion. Finding this book was quite a tale in itself. Continue reading

A Beginning Of A Love Affair

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“What is history? Any thoughts, Webster?’

‘History is the lies of the victors,’ I replied, a little too quickly.

‘Yes, I was rather afraid you’d say that. Well, as long as you remember that it is also the self-delusions of the defeated. Simpson?’

Colin was more prepared than me. ‘History is a raw onion sandwich,sir’
‘For what reason?’

‘It just repeats, sir. It burps. We’ve seen it again and again this year. Same old story, same old oscillation between tyranny and rebellion, war and peace, prosperity and impoverishment.’

‘Rather a lot for a sandwich to contain, wouldn’t you say?’

We laughed far more than was required, with an end-of-term hysteria.

‘Finn?’

‘”History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.” (quoting Patrick Lagrange)”

― Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

Funny and true.This beautiful and delightful short novel of 150 pages is a writer’s novel. If you are a lover of literature and philosophy you must read it. I am barely past 5 pages and the author has already thrown me numerous thoughts to ponder upon.

This is love at first phrase.

The Useful Art Of Skipping

“A sensible person does not read a novel as a task. He reads it as a diversion. He is prepared to interest himself in the characters and is concerned to see how they act in given circumstances, and what happens to them; he sympathizes with their troubles and is gladdened by their joys; he puts himself in their place and, to an extent, lives their lives. Their view of life, their attitude to the great subjects of human speculation, whether stated in words or shown in action, call forth in him a reaction of surprise, of pleasure or of indignation. But he knows instinctively where his interest lies and he follows it as surely as a hound follows the scent of a fox. Sometimes, through the author’s failure, he loses the scent. Then he flounders about till he finds it again. He skips.

– Somerset Maugham, Ten Novels And Their Authors

A novel is to be read for enjoyment

If it doesn’t give that, it is, so far as the reader is concerned , valueless. In this respect every reader is his own best critic, for he alone knows what he enjoys and what he doesn’t. I think, however, that the novelist may claim that you do not do him justice unless you admit that he has the right to demand something of his readers. He has the right to demand that they should possess the small amount of application that is needed to read a book of three or four hundred pages. He has the right to demand that they should have sufficient imagination to be able to interest themselves in the lives, joys and sorrows, tribulations, dangers and adventures of the characters of his invention. Unless a reader is able to give something of himself, he cannot get from a novel the best it has to give. And if he isn’t able to do that, he had better not read at all. There is no obligation to read a work of fiction.

-Somerset Maugham, Ten Novels And Their Authors

The Golden Notebook A True Gem

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What an incredible, wonderful exhausting book to read!

The last page has been read, the book closed, kissed and kept away yet the sentiments of those beautifully crafted words still linger around me like an intoxicating perfume leaving me dazed confused and lost in a different world and time. The protagonist’s depression rubbed on me a little. Leaving me pondering over my existence in this world as woman and what have I contributed for the betterment of humanity. I am ashamed to admit that most of my energy and efforts revolve around myself, my family and my friends’ concerns. Whatever good deed I dished out to someone or to some organization had been too inconsequential to even mention. Perhaps it’s not too late. There are so many chances to care for others and be involved.

Needles to say the book moved me very deeply. I fell in love with Anna’s (the protagonist ) beautiful, lucid introspections that assaulted me page after page, sometimes finding myself closing the book when it’s about to overwhelm me. Continue reading

I Will Buy An e- Book Written By Bloggers

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I have been following closely a lot of amazing writers in WordPress and a realization dawned upon me. This is truly the future of book writing or book promotion. Bloggers have swayed a staunch paperback reader like me to start downloading ebook editions of novels I like from online writers I have been reading religiously.

I am an avid reader. I read news, articles and books. Lots of books. I spent a fortune on them more than on anything I have. Like clothes or shoes, gadgets etc. I buy tons of books I will be reading five years from now. I don’t go anywhere without a book attached to my armpit. Armpit? Lol. I have more books than furniture. In my cupboard instead of food you will find neatly stacked copies of classics, books written by Jane Austen, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Hemingway, and their contemporaries. In my closet competing with my clothes for space are books by Umberto Eco, Marco Polo, Salman Rushdie, Naguib Mahfouz, Orhan Pamuk, Gabriel Garcia Marquez…( I have a long list and I don’t want to bore you with it). . .so yeah, I love books.

But I am unable to read books for entertainment so definitely I would never pick up a book like’ Fifty Shades of Trash’. I apologize for being a book snob. But more than money I do not want to waste my time reading something insipid which for sure will fail to evoke strong emotions in me nor will illustrate life and living in the truest sense. I no longer indulge in fantasies. I don’t want to escape from reality. I want to know it, shred it piece by piece, inhale it, bathe in it and let it seep in my pores until I reek of it. So. (shrugs)

I say future of book writing because after reading bit and pieces of wonderfully crafted stories or even just beautifully strung phrases from bloggers I came to the conclusion that yes if they have a book available online I would want to read it. And I would be willing to  pay for it.

Blogging is the reality TV of the literary world. And I have seen a few Kim Kardashians in here.

Day by day I watched these men and women spew genius online. And so close at hand not some remote obscure author I heard from a review or from a friend. Feeling even some delusion that I am developing some kind kinship with them. They are reachable, breathing, living, human authors not just a name below the title of a novel. They respond when I reach out and show appreciation of their works.

I felt a sudden shift of attitude towards the kind of books I will read from now on. Of course I will still buy books from my favorite famous authors but those are few and far between so in the meantime I would gladly watch out for future ebook publications from my favorite bloggers.

©JMKhapra

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To Be A Woman Independent And Single

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What is terrible is that after every one of the phases of my life is finished, I am left with no more than some banal commonplace that everyone knows; in this case , that women’s emotions are still fitted for a kind of society that no longer exists. My deep emotions, my real ones, are to do with my relationship with a man. One man. But I don’t live that kind of life and I know few woman who do. So what I feel is irrelevant and silly…I am always coming to a conclusion that my real emotions are foolish, I am always having, as it were, to cancel myself out. I ought to be like a man, caring more for my work than for people; I ought to put my work first, and take men as they come, or find an ordinary comfortable man for bread and butter reasons– but I won’t do it, I can’t be like that…

Ella from The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

This novel have me in a tight grip. As I turned the pages I get sucked more and more into it. I can feel my mood changing, my being, my thoughts, influenced. My dreams becoming vivid intermingling with the characters in the book as if I am living their lives.

The Author a woman. The protagonist a woman who is writing about the life of a woman in the 1950s. About a period of time when the roles of women were set for change. Feminism was rising in a crescendo and women were breaking free from stereotypes but still galled at the fact that they still need the love of a man to make them happy. Her honesty stings. And still so relevant even today. The truth in her words scalds. It forces you to look at what you refuse to acknowledge.I am like a moth drawn to a fire. I cannot stop reading even if it burns me.

©JMKhapra

Illustration by Jofelyn M. Khapra