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Friday, May 27, 2011

The Summer I Dared by Barbara Delinsky: Book Review

I came across my first Barbara Delinsky novel by chance. Till then I had not heard about her work, as her books are not available in the Indian market yet. There is also not much information available about her books here, since the Indian book blogging community still does not exist.

It was purely by chance that I came across her book at an old bookshop, where you get these hand-me down books that have been sold there by previous book owners. The first Barbara Delinsky book I read was The Vineyard. There was something about her writing style that really appealed to me. And I decided to search for more of her books.

At present I am reading her novel The Summer I Dared (published 2004). Yes, I got this one at the same store, and this is a copy that was originally bought in the US and has now been discarded in India...thankfully.

(I am still reading the book, so will update more once am finished reading)

Before I tell you what I thought of the book, here are the first few lines from the book:
'The Amelia Celeste was born a lobster boat. As elegant lady, she ran a proud thirty-eight feet of mahogany and oak, from the graceful upward sweep of her bow, down her foredeck to the wheelhouse, and, on a straight and simple plane, back to her stern. True to the axiom that Maine lobstermen treat their boats with the same care as their wives, the Amelia Celeste had been doted on by Matthew Crane in much the way he had pampered the flesh-and-blood Amelia Celeste, to whom he had been married for forty years and on whose grave every Friday he continued to lay a dozen long-stem roses, even twelve long years after her death.'

The story:
The plot is set in a small island called Big Sawyer Island, a quaint little place inhabited mostly with lobstemen, whose lives revolve around the water and the boats. One day, Julia Bechtel arrives from New York to visit her aunt Zoe who lives on the island, and is all set to embark upon a photography course. Julia has been going through a tough time in her marriage, a time of retrospection and thoughts over the state of her married life, and she is looking forward to this much-needed break. But there are other things in store for her as she will soon find out.

Surviving a terrible accident even as she is on the way to the island, Julia begins to feel herself getting more and more to the only two remaining survivors other than her - Noah, a divorced lobsterman and Kim, a young woman whose voice is gone with the shock of the crash.

As Julia gets more and more attached to these survivors and the other grieving families and friends who have been affected by the crash, she begins to look at her own life with a new perspective, truly understanding the value of what she has and what she needs to do make life more meaningful, more worthwhile.

My view of the book:
The writing style is fast and simple, yet entertaining and engrossing. The author has done a thorough research on the lives of lobstermen and their community and it is evident in her description and detailing, and the perfect ease with which she enables her readers to get a glimpse of the lives of these strangers out there on an island.

The characters have been given much thought and are truly believable. They stay with you for long and you feel as if you have really known them a while. Since I am from India, the daily routines of the characters are different from what I am generally used to, but the natural and descriptive style of Barbara's story-telling made me feel at home.

A very interesting read, readers in India can order the book online on Amazon.


Title: The Summer I Dared
Author: Barbara Delinsky
Pages: 491
Year of Publishing: 2004

- Debolina Raja Gupta

The Many Benefits Of Introducing Your Little One To The World Of Books

A book is not only a great way to spend your time with, it can also become your way of life, opening up windows to the many vistas that were hitherto unexplored, giving you reins to drive your imagination, letting you visit those faraway places in any part of the world or universe that you thought were till now unattainable. A book is not only a book, it is a whole new world – a world that only you can introduce your little one to, a world you should introduce your little one to - The world of books Baby Bestsellers

Click here to read more....

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nurturing Book Blogging Relationships - The Armchair BEA Style

Its Day 04 of the Armchair BEA Agenda 2011, and some really awesome things have been going on the whole week, bringing together book lovers, book lovers, publishers and authors from all parts of the world. And if you too happen to be one of those eternally crazy people who just can't live without books (and oxygen too maybe?), then Armchair BEA is THE place for you to be.

I have been blogging for about a year now, but its only been just six months that I have started blogging about books. Well of course that had to happen, given my love for books and reading.

Today's topic of discussion on Armchair BEA is about Nurturing Book Blogging Relationships. So in these last few months, I really got to have a look at the book blogging scene across the globe.

I am based in India, and here, the concept of ARC or blogger review through publisher is still not popular, and most of us who blog in India about books end up making it more of a personal blog where we talk about the books we read and our view/review on these books. The book blogging scene is still not very popular here, I have only seen about 4-5 blogs that talk much about books, that too while mixing book blogging with all other things like poetry, travel, recipes and many such things. So I cannot say that there are other book bloggers in my country with whom I connect.

After being a part of Armchair BEA (exactly two weeks back!), I discovered many wonderful book blogs and was really happy (and will admit, jealous too) to see that the book blogging concept is so popular in the US and some other parts of the world. I wish I could also get a little of the support back in my country, sometimes it gets tough to just sit and keep reading and writing and getting back to the same routine again, without actually getting to meet more like minded people. It was pretty lonely earlier on this front, but I have started making some wonderful and intellectually stimulating friends here on Armchair BEA and the relationships are beginning to form now.

While I was never much great at talking about networking, I did not pay much heed to it earlier. Blogging about books for me had started more like a passion that I wanted to share with whoever dropped by, I was not doing anything proactively to promote my blog. Since I was always talking about books, I was labeled as the 'Girl With Books' and anytime my friends wanted a review or a reference, they would immediately ask me about it. If anyone wanted a list of books to read, in a particular genre or otherwise, they would always ask me first. This is why I started a book club on FaceBook for BookWorms to bring together people who share a common love for books.I also promote my book blog there and try and give readers in India, especially the non-bloggers, a chance to connect with books and book-lovers from around the world.

As the concept of ARC or book reviews through publishers or bookstores has not begun in India, I cannot say I share such a bond with anyone here. I am mostly on my own, collecting books as much as I can and talking about it. I had heard a lot about Twitter and had got an account for myself precisely for the reason of connecting with fellow book lovers, publishers and authors, but my twittering (or tweeting?!) was really poor and I had kind of given it up altogether (as if reading, writing, blogging, managing kid and hubby, managing a job, and doing a couple of more things together at once wasn't enough) - but I know thats no excuse :O I am now beginning to get back to Twitter as I have seen how most of the bloggers here swear by it..I am particularly looking at taking a few tips from blogger and tweeter Tiffany James (she was so sweet to add me as a friend on FB and I got to know her better) and if you get the time to help me out a bit, maybe you too will share a few twitter tips with me here? Thanks in advance from a twitter-illiterate.

I met up with some amazing book bloggers her and have done a post about my favourite book bloggers in my previous Armchair BEA Agenda post and I am sure you will enjoy their work too.

Recently a website in India has been calling bloggers to register. But it's not a stand-alone place for books. It looks like they are thinking of starting a ARC concept and I am really excited to see how that goes....fingers crossed :D I got a few awards too .... happy happy happy...

For now, to be really honest, I am still to learn the ways of networking. Each time someone visits me on my blog or follows my blog, I make sure to visit them back and follow them and leave a hello on their site. I love making new friends and I know its only fair that if someone's following me, I should follow back as well. Also, any time I get a new comment on my blog, I make sure I reply as soon as I can. I also try and tell people about a new site or blogger I may have found, I believe its always best to share something good you came across.

So you see I have a lot to learn here and I would really love it if you could help me out. Comments, suggestions, referring my blog to others (only if you like), following my blog (if you like), giving me tips to make myself more visible on the book blogging scene and most important of all, sharing tips on how I can start reviewing through authors and publishers...(that will be a huge favour as most of the time I don't even get my hands on the lovely titles that are realeased internationally and many times I am not even aware of them).

Love you guys and thanks for visiting me :D Have a great day and I really hope to make many more amazing friends here.

Lots of love from India......

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Networking Wednesday - Armchair BEA Style

I have been a regular at Armchair BEA for only about two weeks now, and each day helps me connect with more interesting book lovers and book bloggers.

Today is Armchair BEA Networking Day, if you want to know what that means and be a part of this blog party too, visit Armchair BEA and since I am very new at Armchair BEA, I am not interviewing anyone this time. But I do have a few favourites amidst all the great blogs that I come across each day, and I think it would be great if you all could check them out too. Sorry to all those wonderful bloggers whose blogs I could not include, its just that I have been around for a very less time and did not get much time to look around and visit each blog.

So here are my favourite book blogs (in random order) I found on Armchair BEA (I do not intend to make anyone offended) If your blog is not here, please DO drop me a comment here with your blog link and I would love to check it out:

The Book Buff

E&K Family Book Review

Books Obsession

Lazy Girl Reads


Lazy Girl Reads

Puss Reboots: A Book Review A Day

Armchair Heroines

Under The Boardwalk

Bloggin 'Bout Books

Today's Adventure

Take a look at these amazing blogs for yourselves. I hope you like them.

Happy reading to all :)

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Feed A Kid Every Saturday

I know this is not a post related to books in any way, but when I see so many kind souls out here who keep dropping by this blog, I can't but help make a genuine request to each one of you.

I am Debolina from Mumbai, India, as many of you already know. I am really passionate about street kids and try and help them in my own way as much as I can. But I am really a single individual really, and there is only so much I can do. Its really a big challenge you know, to try and give even the basic of basic amenities to these little ones out there on the streets...to try and give them a little slice of this beautiful thing we call Life...which they really don't have, while we have too much of it...don't we?

Till date, I and my husband have been going out and feeding these little ones on the street. We cook at home and take a meal once a day each weekend for these kids on the streets. But it really pains me to see the number of hungry and extremely poor kids who turn out asking for some food, while I have to sadly ask them to leave, as I don't have any more food left to distribute then. Its really one of the saddest and most humbling experience ever.

My husband gave me this idea to try and get people together from all over the world and instead of just us doing this, why don't WE ALL try and give a little bit of smile and sunshine to these kids?

Beginning this Saturday, the 28th of March, and for all Saturdays to come, lets join the 'Feed A Kid Every Saturday' movement... The reason to stress on Saturday is that most people are off work on a Saturday and hence have more time to do their bit. Of course if you can do this even on the week, nothing better than that...I am stressing everyone to atleast feed one hungry child out there, but if you want to share more love, of course you can feed more children, isn't it?

We see these kids everywhere..outside restaurants, outside malls, on the roads, at traffic signals. Everywhere..Little children selling flowers and toys and balloons, even while it's their time to play with all this and enjoy this beautiful thing we take for granted called life...

You may have given them a few rupees, or bought their wares, paid them and gone your way. But how many times have you got them a meal for a change? Instead of the money, why not feed these little hungry mouths? If EACH one of us feeds atleast ONE KID EACH SATURDAY, imagine how many children will get access to clean and real food. A sandwich, a meal, rice and dal, fruits...anything...Just go out there and make it a point to try and feed atleast one kid each Saturday.

Spread the word on your blog, on FaceBook, on Twitter, through mail, through phone, in person, in any way you can. And it would be really wonderful if you could actually go ahead and feed them. And if you could urge your friends to do so too. Do it more times a week if you can. Feed many kids if you can.....but atleast start doing it......they really need all the love they can get...they really need you.... Get as many people as you can from all parts of the world to join and take part... And thank you for doing this....really...."

Click here to join and please bring in as many people as you can. You can do your bit in your part of the world. And don't forget to share the pictures on our FaceBook Page and also tell us about your experience...

I thank you with all my heart for sharing your time and effort for this, and I wish you all the very best in life...Thank you for sharing the love.....


And like I always believe in and say:
'Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children' - MJ

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Topic Tuesday Courtesy Armchair BEA - The Hottest Books Of 2011

So here is the second day of the Armchair BEA Agenda 2011 and today being Tuesday is Topic Tuesday for 2011, which means that I will be listing down the names of the books released or to-be-released in 2011, books that I really think are going to be worth a read, or in some cases, a must-read.

So here is my initial list for 2011, in no specific order:

1. River of smoke by Amitav Ghosh
2. Manik Da: Memories of Satyajit Ray by Nemai Ghosh
3. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and An American Family In Hitler’s Berlin
4. Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins
5. Daughters: A Story of Five Generations by Bharati Ray, Amartya Sen, Madhuchanda Karlekar
6. Night in Bombay by Louis Bromfield
7. Life by Keith Richards
8. Room by Emma Donoghue
9. A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother by Janny Scott
10.Theodore Boon: The Abduction by John Grisham

I know its not a huge list, but to be honest, I am already armed with a list of books that I will be reading this year, so at this point in time I am going to keep this wish list short and simple, and yes, of course I will put in more books in the list when I feel I can achieve my goal of reading and enjoying them...done enough hoarding already !!! (not that I am saying I wont do it again ;) )

Have a great reading friends and let me know if any of these books are on your list too, or if you have already read them, let me know what you think.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

The Sea Of Poppies

Sea of Poppies: A Novel
is the first in Amitav Ghosh's new trilogy of novels. The main part of this huge novel takes part on a ship called the Ibis. Set in the times of upheaval in the mid-nineteenth century in India, the book is a map of sites and a conglomeration of varied characters, from sailors and stow-aways, coolies and convicts, to zamindars, Indian rajas and widowed village women. The story of The Sea of Poppies is the journey of Ibis across the Indian Ocean to the Mauritius Islands.

Publishers: Penguin
Price: INR 399.00
Pages: 512

I have been a big fan of Amitav Ghosh's writing ever since I first read The Shadow Lines: A Novel about 12 years ago !!! Since then I have been fascinated by Amitav Ghosh's strong writing and his detailed sketch of his characters that make us feel as if we are sitting together with the characters in his book and traveling with them on all their adventures and daily routine.

I picked up this huge book in the first trilogy and read the first paragraph, something which I always do while bringing home a book. Here are the first few lines from the opening paragraph:

"The vision of a tall-masted ship, at sail on the ocean, came to Deeti on an otherwise ordinary day, but she knew instantly that the apparition was a sign of destiny for she had never seen such a vessel before, not even in a dream; how could she have, living as she did in northern Bihar, four hundred miles from the coast? Her village was so far inland that the sea seemed as distant as the netherworld: it was the chasm of darkness where the holy Ganga disappeared into the Kala-Pani, 'the Black Water.'"

The size of the book may, in the beginning, intimidate a reader who is not used to reading such vast number of pages. But as the first few pages start turning, you are soon engrossed in a book that has all the power to pull you inside the fast-paced story and the 'real-as-life' characters.

One of the main plus of the book is the strong character portrayal. Whether its a low-caste poor coolie from the rural background, or an Indian Raja who has become broke but continues to show off his lost splendour to fool the visiting Britishers, the courtesans of the Raja who are mostly behind the veiled windows and lattices, but who keep us entertained with their witty remarks and give us a glimpse into the life of a courtesan, the village widow who is now herself kind of an outcaste due to her loss of a husband, the labourers, the convicts....these and many more interesting characters who leap out of the book and pull us into their own world, forming a bond that stays on with the reader much after the last page has been finished.

As I read the last line of the last page, I knew this would be the beginning of a long wait for the next in the trilogy. And I have been checking with bookstores and publishers ever since.

This is definitely a must-read for every book lover anywhere in the world.

My ratings: 5/5

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, May 23, 2011

Armchair BEA Day 1 - THE WEEK For All BookLovers Across The Globe

Wow, so here is the start to my Amazing Week of Books And Booklovers that is being kickstarted by the Armchair BEA.

So as the new week begins, we start on our Armchair BEA Agenda 2011 with an interesting and fun-filled week to look forward to. A great place to meet many interesting people who love books as much as I do and a place where you can always be sure of fun-filled interesting contests, giveaways, agendas and more.

The first day of this book and book-lovers week is today, Monday, and here we are, all book-lovers from across the globe, talking about who we are and what we love.

I am Debolina from Mumbai, India, and it was by chance that I recently happened to come across the Armchair BEA site from a fellow book-lover's blog....thank god for that! I have been going back each single day to get my dose of books and book lovers ever since.

I am a writer and a stay-at-home mum by choice, friend and sometimes dictator to my three-n-half year old. I was previously working as the editor for a parenting and lifestyle magazine, but am now only working as a freelancer due to time constraints.

I am a die-hard book-lover and I really love old books, especially the ones I pick up at flea markets, the ones that have been thumbed down with age, who have seen many keepers before them, but have now finally found a home with me. I love the yellow-ed look of the pages, imagining the people and the families where these books are coming from.

I have seen many bloggers host memes and giveaways, but till date, I have not got myself to do a giveaway, as I get too attached to my books and can't bear to part with them. I am consciously trying to start hosting giveaways this year....Do come back to see if I have made any progress on that :)

I had started this book blog as just a journal of sorts, where I would simply keep track of my favourite books. But as I got more involved and got in touch with other book-bloggers, the community soon began to expand and now I am really involved with a lot of other fantastic bloggers who share some amazing insights into books. I love reading and am never without a book, so much so that even my daughter is a complete bookworm already at her toddler stage..her bookshelf is already filled to the limit and we are trying to make new space now. Earlier I used to read two-three books at a time, but now I concentrate on one book more, as I feel it gives me a better connection to the book that way.

There are also many friends whom I have met and found through books. I am one of those people who is always trying to bend down and check the title of the book in your hand. So whether I see someone on the flight, at the airport, at a clinic, at the mall, supermarket...anywhere...I just have to try and catch a glimpse of the title, and many times, I have even walked up to complete strangers and asked them how did they find the book !! And I have made a few lifelong friends like that....

I have never really chosen my books based on the awards they have collected. When I pick up a book, I flip through the first few pages, and if I feel the first page or so is interesting enough, I bring it home. Many times, even the cover jacket can be tempting enough to bring it back with me.

There are so many different kinds of books that I love - I like books that talk about real-life situations, books that talk about families and generation leaps. I love books that talk about history and culture and I always love to read books that share stories from other parts of the world and gives me a window into the lives of those who have a different tradition and life than ours. Of course I also love to read Indian literature, especially since Bengali is my native tongue, and I particularly like works of Indian-origin writers. Sometimes I also enjoy autobiographies. I do like mysteries, psychological thrillers, chic-lit, travelogues and any kind of writing that is directly from the heart and does not come across as vain. I hate pretend writers, those who will blindly copy a situation or setting and put it in their own work, irrespective of the country or culture...that is such a dampener....

I love the smell of rain and I love to get wet in the rain too :) I also love to take in the fragrance of old books and sometimes, you can find me buried inside a book, filling my lungs with that heady smell of words. And if you happen to get a peek in my handbag, you will always find a book there without fail..

When I get some time to myself, I love to do something for the lesser-fortunate children, especially as there are so many little ones out there on the streets in India. Earlier I used to teach the slum kids, but have had to give that up due to time constraints. I do cook for these street kids once a week at home and go out and share the meal with them. I also work with a few NGOs who work with slum and street kids, children of beggars and construction labourers, and I help collect and donate toys, clothes, books, footwear and food for them. I truly believe that if each one of us would take it upon ourselves to look after at least one such unfortunate child, the world would be a much better place. It really does not take too much to bring in a few smiles. I have recently taken my individual initiative a bit further and started a group on FaceBook called 'Feed A Kid Every Saturday' Do visit and join if you believe in it and spread the word.

If you like my blog, feel free to follow and share your blog link in the post here, so that I can visit your book blog too. You may choose to follow me on FaceBook or on Twitter as DebolinaRGupta. I like making new friends and meeting new interesting people who also share a common love of books. I hope to see you here more often and read your comments :)

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, May 22, 2011

That Book That Story

My friend had once lent me a book almost 11 years back....well, lent is not the word really, she had brought it with her to work, and while lunch/dinner breaks (we worked in shifts too), she would take it out of her bag and begin to read, totally lost to the world around her, just as only a true book lover can.

I asked her what the book was about and she told me it was about an Irish family, four generations of it, a family that begins as coal mine workers and later go on to own a mine, or something like that (just a little confused whether they get on to own the mine or not). Well, it sounded really interesting, especially as I love these kinds of 'family' stories a lot, especially the ones that deal with generation leaps. So I promptly 'booked' the book as 'borrowed' and took it home once she finished reading it.

It was a great story, one that still comes back to me after all these years, with its intense and real characters, with a strong storyline that I still wish I could read again. The lovely family, the children, the parents, the relatives, the friends, the family sitting down together by the fireplace for meals, the discussion, the events, everything was too real and too interesting.....I was so engrossed in the book that all my free hours were taken over, much to the irritation of my family. The story was building up towards a great climax and I was dying to reach there.....just as I turned the page to start the last chapter....horror of horrors...I realised that the pages were gone !!!! Just like that....the entire book was there except those last pages of an entire chapter. I could not believe it..I immediately called my friend and she apologised, saying some little child of the family had ended up tearing the pages and she too found out later after giving me the book. The child had apparently tore the pages and they had been thrown off, without a thought :(

The worst - she had bought the book at a flea market, it was probably already 4 5 owners old by the time it had reached her. The covers were torn, so that I had no idea of the name of the book as even the first few pages of the book were missing, I had started reading it from the second page....and it was one of the books that does not have the name of the book on each page (I think this should be made mandatory!!)

I copied the pages of the book (a few of them) and searched for years. I searched in all major and small stores, taking the pages with me, hoping with my heart that someone would recognise the story.....it went on for years....many years later, I have even lost those last few remaining pages now....but I wish I could someday lay my eyes on a story that I know is the one I am looking for.... How I wish...

That one story...that has remained someway with me for all these years, buried in my thoughts, but still very much alove....

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Book Reading Challenges This Year 2011

Wow, so last night, I finally managed to find the perfect three book-reading challenges that I am going to try and finish this year (of course I will bring in more challenges as and when I find the ones that are to my liking...honestly, most of them are, but I know I wont be able to finish even one if I start up on ALL of those ;) )

So here are my book-reading challenges that I am starting for 2011 as of now. Click on the name of the challenge to know about the rules and more...

Have a look and do feel free to join in and leave a comment in this post to let us know if you too are taking this challenge simultaneously :) Have fun...

My Book-Reading Challenges For 2011:

1. Alphabet Challenge
2. Cover Love Challenge
3. Off The Shelf Challenge

- Debolina Raja Gupta`

Alphabet Challenge

The Life (and Lies) of An Inanimate Flying Object is hosting the Alphabet Challenge which again is open till the end of 2011.

Here are the rules and the levels you can choose:

1. 26 books!
For each letter, read a book that has a main character or key supporting character (not some random minor character mentioned twice!) whose name starts with that letter. It doesn’t have to be the title of the book, just the name. Ex: Alice (in wonderland), Bella (twilight), Cathy (Wuthering Heights), Dracula (Dracula) Estella (Great Expectations), etc.
2. only one letter per book!
3. Crossovers are fine
4. audio, e-book, bound book, someone reading it out loud to you, reading a book to your little brother or sister, it all counts.
5. any length—short stories, books of the Bible, etc. they all count for this one.
6. Don’t have to be a blogger, don’t have to review the book. Just tell me you're participating.

Level 1: 10 Letters
Level 2: 20 Letters
Level 3: all 26 letters

Im not sure really about what level I can try but Im definitely going to try and complete as much as I can. Again will keep updating as soon as I complete one alphabet. So if you too find this book reading challenge interesting enough, do post a comment here to let us know you too are doing this simultaneously ! :)

A. Andrea in The Devil Wears Prada: A Novel
B. Brooke Last Night at Chateau Marmont: A Novel
D. Dora Crystal Kingdom Adventures (Dora the Explorer (Simon Spotlight))
- read this to my daughter
E. Elizabeth Gilbert Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia
J. Julia Bechtel - The Summer I Dared: A Novel
K. Kamala Das Untying and retying the text: An analysis of Kamala Das's My story (SELL-Series in English language and literature)
L. Langdon in A Walk To Remember
O. Olga Olga - A Daughter's Tale
R. Rabindranath Tagore My Life in My Words
S. Satyajit Ray Manik Da: Memories of Satyajit Ray
T. Tina All And Nothing by Raksha Bharadia

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Cover Love Challenge

Cover Love Challenge

Here's another really interesting reading challenge being hosted by The Love of Reading. The challenge, cutely named the Cover Love Challenge needs you to read atleast one book a month with a particular mentioned colour that will cover at least 50% of the cover of the book. The challenge is on for all of the year 2011 and in case you got to know of this challenge a little late, you can still start now and keep filling in the missing ones in between. So if you also find this book reading challenge interesting enough, do post a comment here to let us know you too are doing this simultaneously ! :)

January: Wild Cherry (Red)
February: Pineapple Pashionfruit (Blue - Darker Blues)
March: Sour Mandarin (Orange)
April: Melon Berry (Green)
May: Grape (Purple)
June: Peach Pear (Light Greens)
July: Orange Mango (Light Peach)
August: Milk Choclate (Brown)
September: Lemon (Yellow)
October: Brownie Batter (Black)
November: Cotton Candy (Baby Blue-Lighter Blues)
December: Peppermint (White)

So here is my list (am doing this in random order), just beginning now, hoping to make it more colourful soon :)

February: Pineapple passionfruit (Dream's Sake by author Jyoti Arora)
June: Peach Pear (A Walk To Remember by Nicholas Sparks)
October: Manik Da: Memories of Satyajit Ray by Nemai Ghosh (Brownie Batter - Black)
November: The Summer I Dared by Barbara Delinsky Colour: Cotton Candy (Baby Blue-Lighter Blues)

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Off The Shelf Challenge

Off The Shelf!

BA (Bookish Ardour's)Reading Challenge is hosting this great challenge called Off The Shelf Challenge. This is a challenge that a person like me can really identify with, well the challenge has something to do with those books that have been lying on your shelf for some time now and you have still not got down to read them, instead new books and moving on, always thinking you will get back to them soon. The contest runs from 01st Jan 2011 to 31st Dec 2011 and you can only include books that you have bought before you sign on to take the challenge. Of the multiple levels that are there, Im choosing the Trying level - Choose 15 books to read. Will keep updating my list below as I finish off. So if you also find this book reading challenge interesting enough, do post a comment here to let us know you too are doing this simultaneously ! :)

1. Eat Pray Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
2. The Summer I Dared - Barbara Delinsky

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, May 16, 2011

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

On the cover:

'One woman's search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia.

Elizabeth Gilbert is in her thirties, settled in a large house with a husband who wants to start a family. But she doesn't want any of it. A bitter divorce and a rebound fling later, Elizabeth emerges battered yet determined to find what she's been missing.

So begins her quest. In Rome, she indulges herself and gains nearly two stone. In India, she finds enlightenment through scrubbing temple floors. Finally, in Bali, a toothless medicine man reveals a new path to peace, leaving her ready to love again.

Praise for the book:

'Eat Pray Love has been passed from woman to woman like the secret of life' - Sunday Times

'A defining work of memoir' - Sunday Telegraph

'A writer of incandescent talent' - Annie Proulx

'A word-of-mouth bestseller. As funny as it is wise' - Elle

'Utterly of the moment...it would be a hard heart that did not warm to Gilbert's intimate sharing of everything' - Guardian

'Fuelled by a mix of intelligence, wit and colloquial exuberance that is close to irresistible' - New York Times

- Debolina Raja Gupta

My Story by Kamala Das

On the cover:

'The outspoken and controversial autobiography that has become a cult classic.

Born in 1934 in Kerala, Kamala Das was the author of several novels, collections of poetry and short stories in English as well as Malayalam. First published in Malayalam in 1973, My Story, her sensational autobiography, shocked readers with its total disregard for mindless conventions and its fearless articulation of subjects still considered taboo. Depicting the author's intensely personal experiences in her passage to womanhood and shedding light on the hypocrisies that informed traditional society, this memoir was far ahead of its time and is now acknowledged as a bona fide masterpiece.

"I cannot think of any other Indian autobiography that so honestly captures a woman's inner life in all its sad solitude, its desperate longing for real love and its desire for transcendence, its tumult of colours and its turbulent poetry" - K. Satchidanandan

Debolina's verdict:
2/5 I had a lot of expectations from the autobiography of such a renowned poet. Sadly, this turns out to be another tale of open infidelity, where Kamala Das openly runs into each male arm she can find, while her husband is aware of the same and even encourages her to do so. Will not recommend.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

New Book Update

Each and every book I read is special.....some are awesome and I almost always immediately recommend it to others. Some are so bad that I again need to recommend it to others, to NOT read ever !!! So here's what I read and here's what I am reading and what Im gonna read next....Read on...

Just finished reading:

Good read, gives a lot of insight to Indian cultures in a specific caste and culture. Not intellectually stimulating as predicted in many spaces though.

Currently Reading:

Absolutely interesting and filled with the feel-good factor.

Next On My Reading List:

Extremely Excited to read this one...had absolutely loved Toni Morrison's Beloved. Will keep you posted as I reach to this one....

Happy Reading All of you :) Do share here on the comment section what you are reading right now and what you just finished reading and how you liked it...Also let us know what you're planning to read next...

- Debolina Raja Gupta

My Story by Kamala Das

Kamala Das ((31 March 1934 – 31 May 2009)was an Indian writer who wrote in English and Malayalam. She mainly wrote short stories and poetry.

There was a paper I had done on Kamala Das in University for my Masters in English Literature, specifically, Indian writers in the English language. One of the writers whose essays I really liked was Kamala Das, alias Madhavakutty. There was a kind of realism in her work that anyone could associate with and I liked the easy flow of her words, at once communicating something intense while being good to grasp.

As I read more about Kamala Das I came to know of her autobiography, the infamous book called 'My Story' (original version is called Ente Katha) Critics had been especially harsh on the book, so much so, that the book is still banned in many parts of India and is very difficult to get your hands on. Most of the bigger book chains do not stock her book, just to steer clear of any controversy. Though I had searched for the book in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, I could not find it anywhere, of course not in the leading bookstores.

It was on a recent trip to Coonoor that I found the book lying in the lowest shelf of a quiet bookstore. I immediately reached out and grabbed it, finally happy that I had had the interest to get inside that store (of course I never need any other initiative to enter a bookstore except the fact that it is a bookstore)and that my eyes had singled out the book in question.


Publisher: Harper Collins
First Published in: 1988
Price: INR 250/-
Genre: Non-Fiction/Autobiography
Form of Book: Paperback
No. of pages:214

The book is a detailed account of Kamala Das's life, from the time she was born to non-caring, non-loving parents (as she admits boldly), and goes through all those years in her life, when, as a child first, and then as a growing adolescent and finally a woman, she faces the many challenges and unfair games of life. In the book, Kamala Das also talks about her ancestors and their personal choices in life, as well as more details that give us a picture of life in the said years and the kind of social and family structure that was prevelant.

The book has been banned and ridiculed by most critics and laymen as being adulterous and vulgar. Those who are not in favour of the book have called it vulgar and cheap. When I picked up the book I had no pre-conceived notions, I accepted it with an open mind, ready to read a woman's tale of what she has been through. And now that I have read it, I must say I am really a little confused.

For one, Kamala Das was a young woman who was always strong and confident about what she wanted. Though she was not allowed a proper education (which she mentions many times in the book), there were many things that she could have done differently and made her situation better. One instance is when her fiance, a much-older cousin, takes her to a quiet spot and assaults her with his mouth and hands. She comes back all shaken and confused about what love is to be between a married couple. She does end up marrying him and cribs for the rest of her life, but she could have simply have mentioned the assault to her mother or grandmother (who was quite open to talk as she admits). Taking the excuse of being married to a non-loving man, Kamala defends her decision of falling in the arms of each and every man who comes her way. She does not show much standard here, and is open to go and 'do it' with anyone who is willing. She admits her husband is aware of all this, that he thinks of her as 'his baby' and is concerned that she should 'only go out with genuine men who will love her with care'!!!! WHAT !!!???? Here is a husband who is okay to let his wife go out and have sex with any man, as long as the man in question is caring towards his wife!!!! Kamala also admits to taking free gifts and favours as and when she can from these lovers, whether its a gift or an outing or a dinner with her lover and children to a fancy restaurant while her husband is out on tour (whenever he was out for work, XYZ would take me and my children to the restaurant for a nice evening so that we wouldn't feel lonely) and later the evening would end in an amorous night. Her husband was always aware of all such interactions...
Also, the husband himself has a homosexual relationship with one of his 'very close friends' and they do it right in Kamala's own bedroom, while Kamala sits outside.....
When Kamala's cousins show some physical interest in her, its as if its the most natural thing in the world, she feels excited when her male cousins get besotted with her beauty and pay her amorous compliments, and she actually enjoys it when one cousin kisses her passionately, professing his love for her.

All through the book Kamala describes all her encounters with the many men she chooses to bring in her life. Being a mother, most of the time she is either writing or busy choosing a new lover, while she fills her house with cooks and maids and more maids and nannies. She calls her mother uncaring and unloving, someone who was always writing poetry and had hardly any time for her children...but what is it that she has learnt from her mother's mistakes? I am not sure who is more at fault here, Kamala's mother or Kamala Das herself. While Kamala's mother remained loyal to her husband, what was the impact Kamala's lifestyle had on her own sons? Her pride at being the object of desire of so many men other than her husband is widely present in all pages, of course her children would have suffered in some way for her total failure as a mother.

I must say I am quite disappointed with the book. Though it provides an insightful reading, I somehow cannot accept the fact that this woman is actually being praised by many for being bold and honest to come out with her feelings !!! I cannot disagree more...

- Debolina Raja Gupta