Where do you like to read?

Where do you like to read?

February is the Library Lover’s Month. I came across this information while surfing the net and felt that, actually, for a book lover, every month could be the Library Lovers’ Month, right? For so many of us bookworms, the library and the book shop are the most favourite places in the world!

I remember my college library, with its rows and rows of book stands, the peace and quiet of the place as everyone around busied themselves with a book. I wished I could spend my time at the library instead of the classroom, listening to those unexciting lectures. I would have learned a lot more at the library, no? 😜

And, entering a book shop makes me feel like Alice in Wonderland, with a hundred treasures waiting to be discovered. Picking up a book from the neatly arranged shelves, staring at its colourful cover, turning its crisp pages and taking in a lungful of their freshness and wondering what story they hold within them–how I wish I could live in that palace of books forever!

Anyway, coming back to the topic, I came across a post on Lydia Schoch’s blog about ‘What is the Perfect Reading Spot?” last year, and found it to be an interesting topic to write about. For, there are days when you want to give your mind a break from doing any research for your niche topic, and write something delightful and entertaining, instead.

So, as I asked, where do you like to read?
What’s your favourite reading spot?

For me, when I was a kid, it was a Gulmohar tree in my garden. I would climb on it and settle on one of its branches to enjoy a book during my summer vacations. It wasn’t a very tall tree, but its branches were pretty sturdy and held me perfectly well. The leaves would shade me from the sun and the breeze would sway the tree gently, making me feel overwhelmed by the experience.

My room was my other favourite reading spot and I would lose myself in the pages of one of my books and forget the world. Mom would keep calling out my name, asking me to come down for meals, or to help out with some chore. I would plead with her to give me “just five minutes more“, but, those five minutes would never end!

Now, I enjoy reading in the balcony of my house, sometimes. It faces an endless stretch of mangroves and is a very peaceful spot. So, in the evening, before going for my walk, I slip out there with my book and make myself comfortable on a low wooden stool and get busy reading.

I also like reading by the dining table that faces a big window and the mangrove stretch outside. Sitting on a chair, with my legs stretched out on another chair facing me, I sit for hours with my head buried in a book. My winged babies climb onto my shoulders to take a peep at what it is that has all my attention. They even try pecking at it out of jealousy!

Earlier, I used to read in bed. But, last year, after I began experiencing an unbearable backache, my doctor advised me to refrain from doing so. “Sit in a straight-backed chair to read; do not slouch, and DO NOT read in bed!” he said. So, I gave up that habit. On days when I feel like reading before sleeping, I do read in bed, but with a couple of pillows supporting my back. And, yes, I sit erect. No lying in bed to read!

Actually, if I have a book, I could read anywhere..even in a crowded mall, where hubby is busy window-shopping or looking at the cars on display at a car showroom. He is an auto buff and I am not. So, I prefer sitting with my book than torture my feet, standing and staring at those gleaming machines.

Come to think about it, my perfect reading spot would be at the beach. Just imagine….the wind, the surf, the soft, grainy sand, the sound of the waves, and I, with my book…and not a soul on the beach…just like in the image below.

Ah, bliss!

Hmmm….so, that’s it about me. What about you? What is your favourite reading spot?

Love,

SHILPA…

Celebrating the Library Lover's Month!

From my bookshelf – November’18. The story of a “supposed” spy.

From my bookshelf – November’18. The story of a “supposed” spy.

 

Mata Hari, by Paulo Coelho, is the story of a woman way ahead of her times. She was convicted for spying during the 1st World War, but, from the story she wrote about herself when in custody, she comes across as someone who was falsely labelled a SPY for the sole reason that she did not conform to the rules of the society she lived in.

Frankly, I did not know her story would grab me by my shoulders and take me away to a world back in the 1800s and leave me feeling awestruck!

In her own words, she was a woman born in the wrong times and wished the world to remember her as a woman who lived with courage and paid the price for doing so.

Raped by her school principal when she was sixteen, abused by her husband whom she married to leave her world and move to Indonesia to live a better life, she learnt how sex and love were not related to each other, at all. Had it not been for a dance performance she saw one evening, her life would have continued to be the nightmare that it was ever since she married.

It was in France, where she moved after separating from her husband, that she found an audience for her exotic dances which were bold and seductive. She claimed it was her own dance style that she had actually witnessed on one of her tours around Indonesia.

Wanting to earn money to live a good life as her husband had stopped sending her any, she became a courtesan and then the exotic dancer who left the audience awestruck. Her dances were crude versions of the original Java dances. She wore a flesh coloured body stocking which gave an impression that she danced in the nude. Her provocative style of dancing brought her much acclaim wherever she performed.

During World War 1, she met and fell in love with a Russian pilot. When he was wounded in a fight with the Germans, she wished to meet him in the hospital where he was staying. But, the French agents made a deal, that she would meet her lover only if she spied on Germany.

They also later offered her an impressive amount of money if she continued spying–an amount that she felt would help her lead a lavish lifestyle that she had grown used to. Sadly, she did not receive any money, but was arrested while travelling from Spain.

She was executed by a firing squad for playing the role of a spy, but, according to her, it was because she lived her life on her own terms, refused to bow down before the norms of her society, that she met with such an end.

I really liked reading the book and finished it in two days. A page-turner, it gave me a glimpse of the times from all those years ago– not very different from what we see today–with rules laid down by men to be followed by women who are expected to stay “within limits” and get labelled “immoral” if they dare to live life on their own terms!

Have you read ‘The Spy’? If you have, how did you like it?

Do share with me what you felt about the story of Mata Hari–the woman…

Love,

SHILPA…

Was she really a spy?

From my bookshelf, October’18 — The story of a little boy.

From my bookshelf, October’18 — The story of a little boy.

Wonder.

Wonder, the book by R. J. Palacio, is about Auggie–August Pullman–a fifth grader, who suffers from the Treacher Collins Syndrome. It’s a medical condition that has left his face disfigured. Having being homeschooled by his mother, Auggie now has to join the Beecher Middle School so as to experience the real world.

Auggie has an elder sister–Olivia– an extremely caring sister who understands that her brother needs all the attention of their parents, more than she does.

At the new school, there are children who are petrified by his face, but there are also some, like Summer, who look beyond the disfigurement, at a child who is not only adorable, but also very articulate and intelligent.

Wonder is Auggie’s story, of how, despite being so against joining a school, ends up enjoying school life, making new friends and winning everyone’s heart.

What I loved about the book:

Everything about the book just stole my heart! RIght from the first word, I fell in love with the story and with Auggie, as well as the other characters in the story.

His parents, who care about their son, put his insecurities about the school to rest and are open to his opting out of the school if he finds it uncomfortable. It can be such a tight rope walk for parents with children who need their constant attention due to some medical condition. Giving equal attention to their children can be a tough thing to achieve.  Auggie’s parents do their best to give their all to both their kids so that they bloom into beautiful individuals.

His sister, Olivia, or Via, as she is called, knows and understands how her brother needs all the attention because of his condition. A girl who treats her brother like a normal child and is, yet, very protective about him. It can be a really difficult situation, having a sibling with special needs and with the focus being on them, the other child is sure to feel left out. In spite of it, I liked how Via takes it all with a smile and learns from Life. The perfect little elder sister.

Auggie’s friends, especially Summer, a child whose caring heart never differentiates between Auggie and the other kids at school. She becomes his best friend right on the first day of school and could, actually, teach us adults a thing or two about accepting people as they are and not judging them on the basis of their appearance.

Oh, and Mr. Lawrence Tushman, the director at Beecher Prep. He welcomes Auggie into the school and makes sure he feels at ease in the new surroundings with the help of three of his classmates. We could do with more teachers like him–caring, understanding and with a clear conscience; whose only intention is to help mould their students into wonderful human beings.

And, how could I forget, Daisy–Auggie’s pet dog, who loves her human brother, but, sadly, dies in the story. Her death made me weep like I did when I lost my Chikoo.

*Sniff*

 

There are some quotes in the story that grab our attention and urge us to look within and ask ourselves if we are being the kind of humans we were meant to be.

Courage. Kindness, Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.

When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.

Funny how sometimes you worry a lot about something and it turns out to be nothing.

It is not enough to be friendly. You have to be a friend.

And, this one, Auggie’s precept:

Everyone deserves a standing ovation because we all overcometh the world!

So, be kinder than is necessary, and remember to be a friend….a true friend.

I am sure you will love this book. Our children could do with such stories of kindness and courage in today’s world where appearances are given more importance and instant gratification is the way of life.

Next on my list is, to watch the film!

Love,

SHILPA…

From my bookshelf — A book by Louise Hay.

From my bookshelf — A book by Louise Hay.

I read about Louise Hay around last year while reading an article. It was about how her books had inspired people who, with sheer willpower and perseverance, had managed to turn their lives around.

So, when on my last trip to the bookshop I came across her book, ‘You can heal your life‘, I knew I had to read it and share it here, on my blog, which is all about making a change.

‘You can heal your life’, by Louise Hay

 

The author of the International bestseller, Louise Hay was an inspirational teacher who helped people discover their true potential. Her books inspire you to make changes within yourself–the kind you are unwilling to make–and realise how beautiful life really is! How you can, indeed, achieve that which you felt impossible.

We all know how difficult it is to change. Habits that have been inculcated in us by ourselves can be so tough to let go of.

But, if we really need to improve our life, we need to shed those old clothes, let go of those old habits that hold us back and take bold steps towards our goals. There is really nothing that ever stops us, except our old habits, our fears and our reluctance to take the risks.

Our resistance to change, our eagerness to hold on to old beliefs as if our life depended upon them, are the real culprits.

“For every habit we have, for every experience we go through, for every pattern we repeat, there is a NEED WITHIN US FOR IT.”

How true, isn’t it? This line actually made me think of some of my habits that make me do the things I do and how I waste precious time repeating those things day in day out. Waste time and energy. So, with the help of this book, I intend to make certain changes in myself and see where it takes me.

We hold some really horrid kinds of emotions within us, which manifest through ailments we suffer from on a regular basis. Our anger over being wronged by someone, our resentment at facing certain losses in life and our jealousy about those who have succeeded in life and “moved ahead”, are all the emotions that prove to be our undoing.

Seldom do we realise these facts, but these thoughts that simmer within us for years together cause havoc on our system, our mind and our Life. It isn’t easy letting them go, but it isn’t difficult either.

It is all a matter of how hard we try, how we shower ourselves with the love and the respect that we deserve and how we heal our life, eventually.

Louise Hay suggests that we read this book once and then read it again, slowly, working on the exercises she has given in the chapters.

I am yet to read it the second time, which I will be doing soon. But, it is for certain, that her words have left their mark on my psyche. And, although I haven’t read the book in detail, the way it is supposed to, I felt that writing this post would give me a clarity about what I need to work on, which habits I need to change.

Have you read Louise Hay’s books? Did they help you? Did you work on yourself and find any changes in your Life?

Do share with me in the comments, I would love to know.

Love,

SHILPA…

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Inspirational books by Louise Hay
You can heal your life
From my bookshelf, August’18 – Books by women writers.

From my bookshelf, August’18 – Books by women writers.

Okay, first things first. I know “women writers” is, oh, so politically incorrect! But, frankly, I feel so so proud reading books by writers who are women!  And being a woman, I know what it is that they think, feel, and experience in order to give us some of the best literary creations. And, thus, the “women writers“. I hope you can sense the feeling of pride in my tone.

So, this month, I read two wonderful books by women writers–one suggested by my friend, Ramya Abhinand in her blog – ‘The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty, by Kavita Kane, and the other, a gift by my friend, Shalini Baisiwala –  ‘The Colour Master’, by Aimee Bender.

 

Affiliate disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links, which means I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you click on the image below and use it to make a purchase. 

 

The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty, by Kavita Kane.

 

This is the story of queen Satyavati, wife of King Shantanu from the epic, Mahabharata. It was ‘Jaya’, by Devdutt Pattanaik that made me fall in love with the Mahabharata, so when I read Ramya’s post on this book, I decided I just had to read it!

It is the story of the rise of Satyavati from poverty to royalty, her struggle to make a place for herself in the hearts of her subjects and her desperation for an heir to rule her beloved Hastinapur.

Kavita Kane has brought Satyavati alive through her description. Satyavati’s abhorrence for the life she leads as a fisherman’s adopted daughter, surrounded by filth and stink; her yearning to rise above her poverty and her dreams of acquiring the throne, for which she is ready to use her beauty, her body.

I liked how the author has sketched Satyavati’s portrait as a dark-skinned, voluptuous beauty who awakens lust in every man who lays eyes on her. The love scenes did feel a bit out of place–rather, more Mills & Boon kind. But, I will ignore all of it because of the narration, the treatment of the story and, yes, for Bhishma–my favourite character from the epic.

The story is of people’s aspirations to achieve it all in life, dream vivid dreams for their future, make grand plans that are so against nature and then watch them all crumble to the ground. You can sense  Satyavati’s agony at Life slipping away from her hands as she loses her two sons; your heart goes out to Bhishma who, for the sake of his father, vows to remain celibate all his Life and crush his happiness for the happiness of others. Your heart just goes out to these characters–be they good or bad.

They were humans, after all, and despite being so powerful, they suffered as a result of their decisions, their choices and expectations. Human foibles have been so well portrayed in this story. It’s relieving knowing they were just like us!

 

Rating:

Just like every other book on the mythology, I couldn’t put this book down till I finished reading it. So, I will give it 4.5 stars. The love-making scenes and the very slow progress in the latter part of the book take away that half star. Otherwise, it’s a book I enjoyed reading as much as ‘Karna’s Wife‘, by the same author.

Do read the book, if you haven’t already, and let me know how you liked it!

 

The Colour Master, by Aimee Bender

 

When Shalini asked me which book I wished to read from her collection, I picked this book, for its uniqueness and its quirky stories. Shalini had done a post on this book as part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, and that’s where I read about it.

For starters, the writing is really really unlike any that you might come across. Well, I did find it unique, in that, it has this element of fantasy that I hadn’t come across ever since I read my last ‘childhood’ story! There’s magic in every story, if I could put it that way. The characters in each story come across as people from real life, looking for love, companionship, seeking pleasure through sex…a lot like the real world, but with a strangeness found only in imagination–the kind that is far removed from the real world!

It is a collection of short stories that are a mixture of emotions: humour, sorrow, intrigue, too. Most of all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the title story–The Colour Master–the story of a woman who recreates colours from nature and uses those to dye the clothes of royalty. Be it a dress that resembles a moon, or a sun or a newly bloomed rose, or even the sky.

The story just transported me to that fantasy world where the artist brought clothes to life. I won’t even be able to express what I read and what I felt for lack of the right words. The story just needs to be read to be enjoyed. The powerful imagination of the author translates into the stories that take us to a land far away from the ordinary world we live in.

There were a couple of stories that failed to evoke an interest in me, no offence meant. I failed to grasp the meaning behind their magic, I guess.

Rating:

I would give a 5 for the imagination, the vividness in expression..well, to be frank, I really have no right, whatsoever, to rate such a magical book. Have you read it? Do give it a try.

Love,

SHILPA…