We all love to travel, to new places, new cities in cars, buses, caravans, by air, by the sea but I have travelled everyday since I was ten through books. I have let the ocean kiss my feet on the Coast of Ipanema and nosed around in Calgary and my travel expenses have never been more than the price of a McDonald Cheese Burger. Here's my travelogue where books can be found through the countries they have taken me to. The reviews are not professional and definitely not worth putting into a book review assignment for school! They are just a string of words that tell you what I felt when I travelled to a certain place. If it suits you, you go and book yourself a trip. If not, well...we'll keep it there!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Hyperion a FragmentHyperion a Fragment by John Keats
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: Keats is my favourite poet in the whole wide world (and that's saying a LOT!) I am naturally biased to him because he's the only poet known to have soothed me in the greatest of sadness merely by the power of the words he wrote over two centuries ago. I write this review, thus, as a lover and not as a critic.

Hyperion:A Fragment is a result of Keats' desire to write something that would include him 'among the mighty dead' but it wasn't something he completed because of his failing health and also because he lost the inspiration. Despite that, it did become a poem that perhaps takes us the closest to Keats as a poet.

I think all of Keats' poetry can be said to revolve around a few common themes:

1. The first one marks the beginning of Endymion but is present in all his works- A thing of beauty is a joy forever.'

2. All that is true is beautiful and worthy of being written about. Since human sufferings and emotions are true, hence, they, too, are beautiful because of their depth, their poignancy and their intensity and can equally move another human being.

3. Change is an inevitable truth. It may be unpleasant at first but simce it's inevitable, and marks the end of the old and rings in the new, there must be some sort of profound beauty in the state of newness as well.

Hyperion, so far, is that one poem, which allegorically portrays all of these sentiments.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tara: A Play In Two ActsTara: A Play In Two Acts by Mahesh Dattani
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first thing that I absolutely loved about Tara is you simply can't keep it down! No, you open it, your eyes skim through the setting and before you know, it has grabbed you and thrown you into the beautiful, witty, twisted and painfully sad world of the conjoined twins, Chandan and Tara.

What starts as a play about two self sufficient siblings, in a famiky where the mother favours the daughter and the father favours the son, slowly evolves into a beautiful and horrifying tale of parental preference for the male, guilt, making amends, secrets and lies.

Tara is gorgeous! It's hauntingly gorgeous! I've read so many plays and yet I've never read anything like this before. Mahesh Dattani is clearly one of the best playwrights in India.

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Twelfth NightTwelfth Night by William Shakespeare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, I'm ready to believe that I love Shakespeare a LOT but how couldn't you? Especially after something so wonderful as this? It's lighthearted, it's funny and it keeps you hooked until the end where, once again, that old bard manages to "please you everyday."

I topped up my reading with the Audible narration by Paul Scofield, Siobhan McKenna and John Neville, which enhanced my reading experience even more. For the life of me, I can't believe there were only three narrators because each character had a different voice. The best bit was the Clown's songs, replete with music, the vendor calling out in the Street Scene with Antonio and Sebastian, and just the appropriate background noises and sounds in EVERY SINGLE SCENE!
I totally recommend you read it along with Audible because it just makes the play so much funnier, wittier and the music is really to die for! Perfect read when you want to read something that sounds as high and mighty as Shakespeare but want to keep it light, and have a few laughs along.

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Death of a SalesmanDeath of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, I know what's coming: This is so depressing! It made me want to jump off a cliff! So why did I like it?

Simply because it is beautifully heartbreaking? Why does a reader like books by Khaled Hosseni? What makes Hamlet such a beautiful tragedy?

Narration! And Arthur Miller is a master of the art of narration! Hate it, love it but you can't deny how powerful it is. Willy Loman, his madness, his imperfections:that's something you see all around you, even experience yourself sometimes.

I think the one thing that makes it so beautiful is the feelings, the emotions, the situations in the play are all pervasive. You've seen something like it inside your own house or around you. You come across people battling ambition, broken dreams, trying and giving up again. You meet people who lie to themselves everyday to evade the pain or to make it more bearable.

Linda, Biff, Happy, Willy and even Ben are everywhere. The world is full of them! What Miller does is he brings out the beauty in the monotony and the everyday life of these common, not so glamorous people and their lives.

Liking this play doesn't make me depressed because it's like being a fan of stream of consciousness: you may not relate to everything in it, but somewhere it strikes a bell of familiarity.

That, dear Reader, is Death of a Salesman for you!

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

People of the BookPeople of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you've loved The Shadow of the Wind, The Book Thief, The Reader, 84 Charing Cross Road here's another book you will enjoy.

Before I begin my review of the Book about a Book, let me talk about how it came to me. Much like the Sarajevo Haggadah, my copy of People of the Book, too, travelled all the way from Montana, USA, to Solan, India: the most wonderful birthday gift from my dear fellow Oxon, Natalia Kolnik, to whom the book originally belonged and who was kind enough to send me her copy.

Reading it was, therefore, doubly fun because Natalia had marked her favourite bits in the book and so, when I marked mine, the book began to carry a bit of our own history, a part of our souls. (Talk about The Shadow of the Wind nostalgia!)

I think, after a very long time, I have fallen so much in love with a book. To start with, this book is a perfect part of myself: a bit of history and a bit of literature, love for the past and a passion for stories. No book could summarise the half archaeologist, half literature nerd that I am, as well as this one.

No book has brought back to me Daniel Sempere, Liesl Meminger or Shosanna from Inglourious Basterds and reminded me what I love best about Natalie Dormer, especially her role as Anne Boleyn in The Tudors as this one. Trust me, Lola, Ruti, Zahra, Nura are all fabulous reminders of these other characters
and personally, I am going to treasure them as my fictional friends forever!

Why, then, did I dock off one star, you ask?
Because of Hanna Heath herself! Hanna, the one charcter who could have been me in the book, considering that she's a conservator who loves books, was a sheer disappointment. She's amazingly whiney, self pitying, self doubting charcter whose parts are the most BORING to read. As a result, I dragged through what I had originally expected to enjoy, sometimes even fell asleep or skipped entire bits, only to re-read them later. If the bits about Lola, Ruti and Zahra leave you wanting for more, the bits about Hanna make you wish they had never been written. Add the third rate 'Da Vinci Code'-esque end to Hanna's bit and you're almost tempted to rip the last few pages apart.

However, the merit of the subplots is way too high to judge the whole thing by Hanna Heath and her moping, miserable, maddening nonsense. Hence four stars and lots of good memories taken home from this beautiful book!

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Oedipus Rex  (The Theban Plays, #1)Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Let me be very clear: I did not want to be convinced by Aristotle here. I mean, forget about Poetics and the wonderful theory of art and mimesis. I was not going to be convinced. I was going to judge on my own. I review stuff for a living after all!

And then I read Oedipus Rex....

Catharsis, you say? Hahahahahahaha! I was bawling my eyes out at the same time as Oedipus stabbed his, and boy did I feel good once I was done shaking with grief and trembling with horror!

Aristotle, you smart, smart old man, you Father of Grammar and Anthropology and modern education as we see it! You knew exactly what you were saying, weren't you? No wonder Oedipus Rex was the perfect Tragedy for you!

It is a perfect Tragedy! It does exactly what you said it would do: it makes you want to jump inside the play and give Oedipus a big hug and tell him, "It was not your fault! You just didn't know! "

Literally, he's like a young man who goes to college and meets the perfect girl, who he hits it off with instantly. They finish off each other's sentences, they are like mirror images and so, they fall in love and get married. Perfect love story, right?

Many years and four kids later, the guy finds out he has a twin who was separated from him at birth. He looks up everywhere to reunite with that twin, finding out that they went to the same college and took the same classes and then...oh! OH! OH?

Read it, even though you know the story! Read it just to find out how well Sophocles executes it and what catharsis, as Aristotle defined it, is supposed to feel like! Why are you even waiting?

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Little Book of SerenityA Little Book of Serenity by Ruskin Bond
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's not something that you read and then put back into your shelf forever. It's something you open everyday, pick a quote and then chew at it as the world spins madly around you.

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