Book Review, Indian authors

Olympus: An Indian Retelling of the Greek Myths

Very few writers incite in me the urge to reach for their books at the devdutt_660_041113063104mere sight of their names on the cover and Devdutt Pattanaik is one of them because, according to me, he is the master of retellings. His works, Jaya and Sita have been revelations to me; and The Pregnant King is still one of my favorites. His stronghold seems to be his ability to stay subjectively objective in drawing from mythology what is relevant to the ever changing modern scenario. He is not a puritanist bogged down by the conservative traditionalist. Neither is he dismissive of the western view on Indian mythology. He understands that it is important to stand firmly grounded on the cultural nuances to understand and interpret Indian mythology. So when such a reasonable and learned man shifts his gaze to Greek mythology, and you love reading mythology, you follow suit.

olympusOlympus: The Indian Retelling of the Greek Myths comes to me in my near total ignorance of Greek Mythology, but for a few stories here and there. And, because I read from cover to cover, the Author’s note required atleast three reading of me because I believe that is the most important part of the book. It prepares you for what follows by giving you a briefing as to what Greek mythology came about geographically, politically, socially and culturally. The book is later divided into 8 books each for a Greek God and the mythical stories surrounding them.

Pattanaik, as expected of him, doesn’t stray from drawing parallels between Indian and Greek Mythologies. He finds parallels between characters, incidents, and ideologies. This book, like any good book, has worked up my curiosity about Greek mythology.

Pattanaik’s writing is simple and straightforward as always. The stories are almost journalist and to-the-point and the notes that follow are where he lets his analytical and reasoning brain at work. This is the kind of book you go back to for light reading. The stories are prophetic, pragmatic and sometimes cringe-worthy-all of what is beautifully handled by Pattanaik’s simple language that keeps him an observer and narrator, at a safe distance from all action. I would go as far as calling him a modern day Sanjaya, the commentator of the Mahabharata war to the blind King Dhritarashtra.

P.S. I would love for Devdutt Pattanaik to turn his gaze towards South Indian folklores, which otherwise seem to be largely neglected. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know his fresh and progressive views on the myths down south?

Verdict: This book is for Greek mythology neophytes and can serve as your crash course in the same.

Continue reading “Olympus: An Indian Retelling of the Greek Myths”

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Book haul

Amazon discount on Kindle edition: Feb 2017

Amazon is a book lovers’ friend and here’s why. Amazon is selling a few books for Kindle users at a throw-away price of Rs.39. Here’s how to make the most of it. (If you would rather go through the entire list by yourself then click here.) 

Although the site claims that the discount changes hourly not much has changed in the past two days. The following are the books I bought, followed by the ones you might be interested in.

  1. An Unsuitable Boy by Karan Johar with Poonam Saxena
    • Because Bollywood spice do you no harm when it’s not burning a hole through your pocket. Also, I started reading it and it has me hooked on like his TV show, Koffee with Karan.
  2. The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor
    • Because the paperback is priced at Rs.414 and the Kindle edition at Rs. 39. You do the math! Besides the novel has people raving about the language, satire, and political relevance.
  3. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
    • Apart from the Kindle edition the only available print of this book is a hardcover priced at Rs.1867. I’ve been eyeing this book long enough to snatch the deal.
  4. Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata by Devdutt Pattanaik
    • Every single penny spent on this book is worth your while. This book is going to change the way you look at the epic, Mahabharata. So, if this price drop isn’t a reason enough for you to buy it then I don’t know what is.
  5. Mrs.Funnybones: She’s just like You and a lot like Me by Twinkle Khanna
  6. Last Mughal by William Dalrymple
    • A massive book on the last few years of Indian Mughal history of by a historian of such repute should not be missed by a history-buff. Especially when the price is as low as Rs.39.
  7. The Great Derangement: Climate change and the Unthinkable by Amitav Ghosh
    • This is a small book of 176 pages and the only noteworthy non-fiction essay in this haul. And, it’s by Amitav Ghosh.
  8. Playing It My Way: My Autobiography by Sachin Tendulkar
    • This one is for the sports enthusiasts and because, well, Sachin!
  9. Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored by Rishi Kapoor with Meena Iyer
    • Though it hasn’t created ripples in the literary world, like the Karan Johar one did, it could be worth a shot given the controversies Mr.Kapoor creates on Twitter. Again, Bollywood spice in such little price. (Look! It rhymed!)
  10. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    • The only classic on the discount list with worldwide acceptance.

That’s my list of the Kindle editions worth your time currently available on Amazon for Rs.39. Go grab the offer and let me know what you feel.

ciao!

Bibliorant

A list of 5 books for women

I’ve come across umpteen lists of books people of all genders, ethnicities, orientations and age-groups “should” read. I’m nobody to tell you what to read and what not to, but here’s a list of 10 books that I think every woman deserves to read at least once in their lifetime. I’m not a feminist by definition; I don’t think men and women are equal. I think men and women are complementary and they have to be so to contain harmony. So, this list here is by no means a list of feminist books, but a few could have elements of feminism as I am a humanist. So, here goes, in no particular order.

  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl was the first book cover_page_48139I read which didn’t have a ‘happy ending’ and I was cool with it. I walked into this book as a young girl myself, just about 10 years old or so, and encountered that feeling of being alive in morbidness for the first time ever. That feeling has never left me hence. It has made me search hard for the silver lining in every dark cloud, the key for every shut door and the light at the end of every tunnel. It’s a book that has helped me appreciate the quality of my life,not based on the material things, but the emotional and creative experiences.
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi : This is one of those books I have to thank my old Persepolis_filmroommate for, as she had an amazing collection. Persepolis is the first graphic novel I ever set hands on. This is also the best coming-of-age book I have ever read. The author had me hooked to the book by her innocence as a kid, her honesty as a teenager and her perseverance as an adult. The simplistic language and illustration made it all the more enjoyable and comprehensible. The complexities of emotions like, the lack of freedom and the fear of life that drew her out of the country, through the eyes of a child opened a new surge of emotions in me.
  • My Story by Kamala Das : One of the most controversial books on this list, My Story  My_Story_Kamala_Dasis an autobiography by one of India’s finest poets, Kamala Das. It travels through the loneliness that transpires through her childhood, all the way to her adulthood. Apart from the beauty in her craft, what really caught my fancy was the boldness with which she discusses her sexuality, not once letting it seem crass or vulgar. Her boldness did, at times, feel like defiance to the narrow society we still live in. But having said all that, the sheer poetry in prose in her writing would make me re-read this book.
  • Sita: An Illustrated retelling of the Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik : The book, 511T3FDFBeL._SX380_BO1,204,203,200_though a retelling of Ramayana, concentrates on Sita, her thoughts and actions. It swells with feminism, coming from one of the most chauvinistically interpreted epic from India. The story examines Sita’s actions as a spiritual act of compulsively being at peace with herself and not waiting to be judged by a society she has no part in. Sita connects to nature than to the society. There is an interesting conversation Sita holds with Shurpanakha, who was maimed by Ram and Lakshman. In this conversation, Sita urges Shurpanakha to free herself of all negative emotions and be at peace for her own good.
  • Eat, Prey, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert : This book here, is a popular favorite among Eat,_Pray,_Love_–_Elizabeth_Gilbert,_2007women. So, it’s an obvious choice in this list. But, more than anything, this book speaks of the love and celebration of life. It speaks of spirituality and the holistic well-being of an individual by how they keep happy and positive. It’s a beautifully written, feel-good book, especially if you are going through an emotional crisis. It urges you to wake up and be your own sunshine and shine your way through.

 

This list comes out of the few books that I’ve been able to read and enjoy. So, if some of your favorite books don’t make it to my list feel free to enlighten me so that I can broaden my reading range.

Book haul, Book update

Book Haul: April 2014

Though I’m particular owning the books that I’ve loved reading I equally despise wasting money on experimenting with book, i.e books that I’m not sure that I would enjoy. That does not mean that I’ve

April '14 eBook haul
April ’14 EBook haul

ever shied away from buying books. I like to think of myself as an economic book buyer. Libraries have helped me stick to my book budget. I have always read books rented from libraries and then decided if I wanted to own them. But lately I’ve gotten bold and have begun buying books without putting in much thought. Here is my latest book haul.

As you might be aware, I’ve finished reading Love Story by Erich Segal (click here for review) and I loved it. Hence I need my time to get over Oliver and Jennifer to be grabbing at its sequel, Oliver’s Story. But I’ve promised myself to get there.

I’ve begun both Servants of the Goddess by Catherine Rubin Kermorgant and Book Thief  by Markus Zusak simultaneously. Servants of the Goddess is a book in the non-fiction category. Its a memoir of the author trying to make a BBC documentary on Devdasi system, a practice quite prevalent in yesteryear India. It reads as her journey to find the remains of this system, bordering on prostitution, still practiced in India and its cultural and social implications. Book Thief, on the other hand is a fictional story about a girl and her life in nazi-Germany. The most intriguing aspect of the book is that it’s written from Death’s point of view.

Books by Devdutt PattanaikThe fourth and last book, 7 Secrets of Shiva, which is yet to be explored and will be in due course, deals in mythology. It explores the concept of Shiva in Hindu culture. The author Devdutt Pattanaik is one of my favorites in the genre. I’ve enjoyed both Jaya: An illustrated retelling of Mahabharatha and Sita: An illustrated retelling of Ramayana in equal measures inspite of knowing the mythological stories beforehand. His books are less about the literary value, and more about the content. I’ve liked the way he entangles fresh, modern and contemporary thought into the classic stories. So his books are always on my list.

These are the only eBooks I’ve bought in the month of April. Tell me about the ones you bought and how you liked them. So untill next time. Keep reading. Ciao!