by George Orwell is a classic which I picked up on a friends recommendation. I always ask people what their favourite books are & endeavour to read them. If my friends regard the books so highly surely they must have some substance! This book is infamous & I have heard about it, of course, but never had the burning desire to read it. I read Animal Farm at school & didn’t feel the compulsion to venture back to George Orwell since.
I picked up this tatty copy at a book exchange & struggled with the tiny writing during a 16 hour overnight bus in India. I got sucked right into Winston’s world of Oceana in Nepal & took it trekking in the Himalayas.
The vision Orwell had back in the 1940s fascinates me & makes me shiver. It genuinely frightens me how much of our lives are controlled & monitored. Sometimes I feel like we’ve got everything wrong & we need to abandon our futuristic western lifestyles for something more wholesome & simple. The concepts of this novel have resonated deeply with me.
At last! A classic I truly enjoyed & will recommend to others.
After my spate of bleak books about India I was thrilled to see Holy Cow
by Sarah McDonald in a book store – yes, I actually purchased this book! This 600NPR purchase is a modern day tale of a western woman’s experience of living in India. It may be a cliché backpackers book but I don’t care. Also, I question the cliché as I didn’t see it once in book exchanges across India! Game of Thrones & Lord of the Rings aplenty however!
The author, Sarah, is brutally honest about everything she sees & I could relate to the emotions her Indian encounters aroused. Sarah is a likeable, down to earth person who has taken her time in India as an opportunity to find spiritual solace & explore the various religions throughout this diverse country. She is funny & unapologetically realistic.
Initially I really enjoyed this book as I felt someone was mirroring my views. I’m not a person who rages how amazing India is. It is not one of the best places I ever visited – at least for me at that time. I won’t rule out visiting India again, but it won’t be high on my list. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed my time there & thrived on the new experience but the dirt, lack of hygiene, fear for safety & monkeys aren’t something I can happily gloss over. Each to their own, right.
The fresh approach in this book is an honest recollection of the India I visited. If you plan on visiting India this book might give you an introduction to this mesmerising country of bold colours, smells & sights.
The Shock of the Fall
is the debut novel of Nathan Filer & 2013 Costa Book of the year & debut novel of the year winner.
I read it in 2 days – half of it on a 12 hour night bus from Dharamshala to Delhi & the rest during my 12 hour wait at the airport. It is a sad tale of a boy with mental issues coping with the death of his brother at a young age. It follows him through to his late teens as he navigates through his life carrying his haunting guilt.
I enjoyed the sincere, honest style of writing. It felt like the author was speaking to me as a confidant. The story is touching & certainly put me in a more thoughtful mindset. It is similar to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon (if you haven’t read this yet I really recommend it).
Next up will have to be a more upbeat book! Recommendations ALWAYS welcome!
My lovely friend & I occasionally send each other books we’ve loved knowing that the other will fall in love with the book as well. When I was living in Switzerland my friend asked me for my address & I knew to expect something wonderful in the post. I was not disappointed! When it arrived I opened the package & delighted at my shiny brand new book – The Bees by Laline Paull.
This is the story of a bee, Flora 717, & her incredible life in the hive. We follow Flora 717 struggling with bee life, caste controls & issues the human world wouldn’t expect a bee to endure.
This book is completely captivating & an absolute triumph! It is exceptionally warm & despite being about a bee, Flora 717 is strangely relatable. Laline has created a beautiful piece of work which immediately drew me in & kept me in suspense. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I’m thankful my friend gifted it to me as I’m not sure it’s a book I would have brought on my own accord. The fascinating world of bees gripped me & I couldn’t wait to escape into my bee life after work. I didn’t want the adventure to end & was sad to finish this book.
I highly recommend this book as one of my top reads in 2015. It’s currently available for £5.84 at Amazon.
In case you’re wondering, I sent my friend Shantaram in return – & she loved it too!
Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki & His Years of Pilgrimage is the 13th novel by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. Murakami was on my radar as a writer whose work I needed to delve into. A few years ago I read one of his novels & was a bit disappointed to be honest. I appreciated his style of writing but the story was not captivating enough for me – I can’t even recall the title now. Another friend whom I trust with book recommendations just adores everything he writes so I made the mental note to revisit his work & not make my judgement based on one book.
I was sitting in a hostel & someone approached the table I was sitting at with hopes of finding this book a new home. The book peddler regarded the book highly & said he couldn’t put it down. I took this opportunity to add to my book collection currently breaking my back & added it to the pile. I’m ready to give you another go Murakami.
This is the tale of Tsukuru Tazaki who was exiled from his friendship circle for reasons unknown & his anguish & struggle to find out the truth. Friendships are extremely important to me & this idea of being completely cut off struck a chord. I felt so sad for him without his friends & his consuming sadness & loneliness. As informed, this was a quick read & I easily got drawn into the book. If you see it at a book exchange it’s worth picking up to get lost in someone’s story. It is currently available on Amazon
The First Bad Man A Novel by Miranda July was a book recommendation from a blogger I follow – Estée Lalonde
. She gushed about this book & said it was the best book she has ever read. Spurred on my her passion & enthusiasm I immediately purchased the book & selected it as one of the books I bring to New Zealand. Apparently I put more thought into my reading list than my itinerary. I have been carrying this around for over 6 months….
To my disappointment it was not as inspiring as I anticipated. I did not get sucked into Cheryl’s world, I did not relate to or empathise with her struggle. I’m not sure if I’m still wallowing in my previous book, A Fine Balance
, & this was too modern & alternative for my mood.
I’m sorry to say I read it as quickly as possible just to get through it – with hopes that it would improve (it didn’t). Does anyone else get this irrational need to finish a book they aren’t even enjoying? As soon as I finished it I abandoned it in the cafe I was sitting in in Dharamshala. I hope the next person enjoys it more. Apologies if you find it as underwhelming as I did.
If you want to try it you can click this link to Amazon
where it is £8.99 at present.
I’ve purchased A Fine Balace by Rohinton Mistry several times at various second hand book shops around the world. I have one copy on my bookcase at home but am yet to get round to it. The others have been sacrificed to friends looking for something to read or deemed too heavy on my travels & donated to a book exchange prior to reading. I repurchased it for the fifth time in New Zealand with a steely determination to actually read it this time.
Now I know why I hadn’t read it yet. The forces beyond me were trying to save me from this heart breaking story. Next time I will let the gods lead the way & not let my steely determination get involved. I felt of average mental stability prior to this book & not I am definitely below norm.
My god do I feel depressed after finishing it. A Fine Balance is the story of 4 main characters living in 1970s India & how their lives become intertwined. These people have incredibly harrowing lives & we are not spared the heartache. Lives I couldn’t even imagine unfold in the pages & my heart sags in pain for the people I grow attached to. It seems India is not an easy place to be born to, grow & prosper. I even feel an irrational grudge towards India for letting this happen to her people.
The strength of the characters to trudge along in the face of what I would consider cruel defeat is admirable & arouses a certain awe & compassion.
The book spiralled me into a complete energy dip as I processed what happened to these poor people. It is a phenomenal read, a big book at over 700 pages, I really recommend it. I found it to be very emotional – though I do prefer books that affect & help shape me in some way. Since finishing it I have been messaging friends to see if they’ve read it – I believe I am seeking a support group response. It has certainly increased my urge to cuddle my wee dog (my happy safe place).
I’m keen to hear if you’ve read this book & what you thought. If you would like to buy it in empathy with me it is available at Amazon for £5.84
I was having a heart to heart with a new friend I met & he thrust this book into my hands. Breath of the Absolute: Dialogues with Mooji
by Mooji. My friend told me about Mooji, a spiritual teacher & direct disciple of Guru Papaji. From what I’ve grasped, his main teachings are on self enquiry & discovery where one of his questions may be ‘to whom do these thoughts arise?’ – making you query a lot more than your initial issue & opening up a whole new world of questions.
I immediately immersed myself in it & finished it in 2 days. I come from a traditional religious upbringing however I am not religious. I try to be a good person by being kind, helpful, generous, considerate to others… You get the idea.
My spiritual side is in its infancy. I am open to everything but I am yet to have a strong impulse to change my religion or follow a guru. I was very interested to take this book & I devoured it over 2 days at Palolem beach in Goa.
The idea of this book is to open it at random & read as you wish. My logical mind did not adore this method of reading & when I knew I read most of it I had to go from front to back to ensure I had read every page.
I admit some of his teachings went completely over my head but I did take some valuable aspects from this book. It did however open me up to a completely new world of self enquiry. Previously I was happy to go about my life minding my own business & now I want to know more. I want to question why I’m here & what my purpose is. Surely there is more to this thing we call life?? I endeavour to investigate further.
I have to return the book to its faithful owner, but if I had kept it for myself I would definitely read through it often. I really enjoyed the philosophical diversity it brought to my library of non fiction, novels, popular psychology & sports autobiographies. A good introduction to Mooji – Thank Rahul!
I treated myself & purchased H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald in Dublin airport at the beginning of my adventure to New Zealand. Browsing for books is one of my favourite pastimes. Wandering around Waterstones with an hour to kill is my idea of bliss – & if I can afford to buy a book, well, I feel like a demigoddess!
I am on the stubborn half of the fence that hasn’t been converted to Kindles yet & has no desire to be! I will carry a minimum of 2 books with me when I’m travelling & I willingly sacrifice clothes, shoes or a hairdryer for my book habit. I love the feel of a book, especially a new book! I love to flick through the pages, admire the shiny cover & the pristine pages. I like being able to physically view how much I’ve read, being able to pass it on to a friend, packing it in my bag as a new world waiting to be delved into. I’ve met people of this constitution who have been converted to e readers & now say they struggle to go back to books. I don’t want this to happen to me! Leave me with my traditional books & you sit with your e reader while I struggle to imagine which book you are not disclosing…..
I digress, H is for Hawk is the 2014 Costa Book of the year & it was recommended by A Model Recommends blog. I enjoy her beauty blogs & thought I would give the book a try.
This book is about the author, Helen, & how she strives to cope with her father’s death. She seeks solace in an unlikely companion – a goshawk. These are irrefutably difficult to master & seem like a life’s dedication. She takes us through the testing learning curve she must conquer, her triumphs & failures.
Some of the writing I found incredibly heartfelt & soulful however overall this book did not enlighten or inspire me. I am a very demanding reader! At parts I found it slow & not particularly flowing & easy to read. I posted it from Singapore to a friend back in Ireland experiencing loss & she seemed to appreciate it more than me.
I traded Mindy in for The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger at a hostel book exchange. I am always happy to find a classic I haven’t read. I feel that classics are a genre I haven’t given enough attention to so every now & then I make a conscious effort to incorporate one into my reading aperture. More often than not these turn out to be slow & disappointing. I even feel disappointment in myself as though I am missing something. As though I am a sub standard reader for not appreciating this literature. Are my expectations too high? Am I a literary reject? Does anyone else feel like this?
Unfortunately Catcher in the Rye was no exception to this pattern of literary self demise. I found it lacking. It was bland. I prefer other books. Should I give up on my classics campaign? Can you recommend a good classic? Don’t judge me!