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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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…

 

From my bookshelf, July ’18 – Sudha Murty special.

From my bookshelf, July ’18 – Sudha Murty special.

This month began with a book I had bought for my 8yo nephew. A book on tales from the Mahabharata. He didn’t show the kind of enthusiasm for the book that I was hoping he would. Of course, it’s wrong on my part to expect such a thing from him. He prefers general knowledge to fiction.

So, the book was sitting on my bookshelf for quite some time when I decided to give it the attention it deserved. And, what should I say? I loved every story in there!

The Serpent’s Revenge. Unusual Tales from the Mahabharata, by Sudha Murty.


A beautiful book with tales that you may never have heard, unless narrated by your grandparents, or parents. Tales from the Mahabharata about characters other than the main ones. Tales that are bound to fascinate the young and the old, alike.

I always enjoyed listening to stories as a child. Mother would regale us with stories from her vast repertoire every night. And, I remember, we would never be satisfied with one story. We would always plead for “Just one more!” before we went off to sleep.

This book by Sudha Murty satisfied the curious child in me with stories that are fascinating, entertaining as well as enlightening.  I relived those childhood moments of our ‘story-time’ that hold a special place in my heart to this day.

The book is a page turner, with short stories about characters from the epic with names that can be tongue twisting, at times, and with tales that can be mind-boggling!

The curses and the boons that were put on people at every instance amused me, frankly. However, these being just stories–fiction and not real–were considered the best way to instil in people the virtue of goodness. Good deeds were rewarded with boons and wrong ones with curses that lasted a life time. So, “Do good”–that’s the message this book brings for us all.

And, at the centre of it all, is our favourite deity–the mischievous, but loveable, Lord Krishna. The kind and compassionate One who guides His children through every obstacle Life brings.

Do read this lovely book. I assure you  time well spent. Moreover, you will have a treasure trove of stories for your little ones. An unputdownable book, I finished reading it in three days. And, so will you, I am sure!

 

Three thousand stitches, is also by Sudha Murty.

 

This book is a collection of true stories from Mrs. Murty’s life.  Stories from her youth, her work for the Infosys foundation, her travel and her life have been shared in this book.

I love the way she writes–with simplicity, clarity and a warmth that every story exudes. The characters are from our world–people from every strata of society– who touched her life, shared their experiences with her and also gave back the love she showered on them through her foundation.

Not every story ends on an emotional note, but it did leave me misty-eyed at places where the actions or the words by the characters struck a chord or left me overwhelmed.

Be it the story of the Devdasi community from Karnataka, or the one with the two snobbish women Mrs. Murty met at an airport. Or, the story of how Mrs. Murty was the only female student at the engineering college she enrolled herself in with the support of her father when all others discouraged her to do so, or even the one about the biggest entertainment industry in the world–the Hindi film industry–every story left me spellbound.

The realness of the characters was brought alive by Mrs Murty’s fluid language each one of us can relate to.  The narration of every story felt more like a conversation I was having with her–the kind I really enjoy, when the writer expresses in such a way, you feel them sitting by your side, regaling you with tales from their life!

Right from the first story, Mrs Murty had me glued to the book. I so wished she had included some more such heart-warming stories about people from the real world; people we, too, come across, but rarely spare a second to understand or interact with.

Do pick it up, in fact, I would suggest picking up both these books and all the others by Mrs. Murty.  It will be an enriching experience, indeed!

 

Which books by the author have you read? Do share.

Love,

SHILPA…

 

 

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From my bookshelf, June’18 – Inspirational & Slice of Life books.

From my bookshelf, June’18 – Inspirational & Slice of Life books.

I hadn’t been reading for quite some time the way I was last year. Stuff got in the way and my books got sidelined. So, to get things in motion, I thought of starting this monthly feature at Metanoia–From my bookshelf’–wherein I share a short review of the books I read. This way, I will have to be on my toes and keep up with my reading. I hope you enjoy reading about the books as much as I enjoy writing about them, and take away words or thoughts that stay on with you, as much as they do with me.

This month, I read two brilliantly written books:

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.

Let’s begin with ‘Big Magic‘.

But, first of all, I would like to thank my dear dear friend, Shailaja Vishwanath, for gifting me this precious gem. It’s now my Bible, for Life; for everything that I decide to do in my Life, be it writing, art, or just living. Thank you, my darling!

A quote on the back cover perfectly describes the author as someone to be considered as  “One’s personal life coach.” For, that’s just how I felt as I pored over every word in the book–as if it had been written just for me. As if Ms. Gilbert knew the story of my Life and wanted to reach out to me and share with me pearls of wisdom full of empathy, warmth and humour that came from her own experience, and from people she looked up to.

This book is for each one of us “creative people”, as in, not just writers, artists, singers, et al, but every person who lives on this planet. According to Ms. Gilbert, each one of us is a creative person, for living life is being creative, isn’t it?

But, often times, it’s the fear of living life to its fullest that holds us back. Our self-doubt, self-disgust, self-judgement and our crushing sense of self-protection keeps us from creative living. Unless and until we don’t believe that we are entitled to at least try, we will not be able to create anything interesting out of our Life.  And, these are her words.

I could as well quote the entire book in this review. Such is the power of, and truth in, her words. I am aware, as are you,  of the fear, the failure, the rejection, our ego, all of which stand in our way, hindering our progress.

Will we succeed? Will our work be appreciated by others? Will we find satisfaction from what we do? A hundred doubts crowd our mind, getting into our way even before we begin on the journey. And, this is where Big Magic helps us in learning to focus on enjoying the journey more than meditating upon the rewards. It’s just this message that Ms. Gilbert has attempted to send across through this book.

I would recommend this book to each one of you. And, to read it well. It not only inspires you to create, it inspires you to live, the way we are supposed to.

I have marked quite a many quote and passage in every chapter in the book, with the intention of returning to it each time I falter. How I wish I could share all of those, here. But, then one post wouldn’t be enough for it! So, I will share just some of those before I end this ‘book-talk’.

Learning how to endure your disappointment and frustration is part of the job of a creative person. Handling your frustration is a fundamental aspect of the work. Frustration is not an interruption of your process; frustration is the process.

“If you dare to create something and put it out there, after all, it may accidentally stir up a response. That’s the natural order of Life: the eternal inhale and exhale of action and reaction. But, you are definitely not in charge of the reaction–even when that reaction is flat-out bizarre.”

Whatever it is you are pursuing, whatever it is you are seeking, whatever it is you are creating, be careful not to quit too soon.”

Keep moving, keep going. Whatever you do, try not to dwell too long on your failures. You don’t need to conduct autopsies on your disasters. You don’t need to know what anything means.”

I hope these quotes spoke to you, the way they did to me; motivated you to keep going on the path you have chosen for yourself, rekindling in you the fire that threatens to die down each time the ghost of fear rears its ugly head.

Do pick up the book. I know you won’t part ways with it, ever.

 

The Help.

This is a story about the African Americans working in white households during the early 1960s. It’s set in Jackson, Mississippi, but has a Universal appeal. It could very well belong to India, where every other household employs a domestic help, who comes from the lower strata of our society.

Aibileen Clark, Minny Jackson and Skeeter (Eugenia Phelan) are the narrators, each with her own unique Life story.

Aibileen Clark is the maid who cares for a little one belonging to the Leefolt family. Minny is another maid, and a friend of Aibileen, who speaks her mind, fearlessly, which results in her losing her jobs. And, Skeeter is the daughter of a white family who owns a cotton farm outside Jackson, and someone who had been very close to her maid, Constantine.

It’s the story of Skeeter befriending the coloured maids in an attempt to investigate the disappearance of her own maid, Constantine. And, it’s during their conversations, that she comes up with an idea. She gets them to share their stories with the world and let the world have a glimpse of the life they live, serving the white households.

The maids care for the children, cook, clean and almost give their entire lives to their white employers, but fail to gain their trust and respect. Going through the pages of this book is like being shown the mirror. Do we trust and respect our domestic help? Do we treat them like family for all they do for us?

Many of us may, but most of us would think twice before trusting them with our house keys, or even allowing them to use our washrooms, isn’t it? Of course, there’s the trust issue when it comes to handing them our house keys, but feeding them, or helping them in their personal crisis is, I believe, something we can do…but rarely do so!

It’s the story of how we all could use a little more kindness when dealing with people who give up their all to serve the privileged ones. A little more understanding of their situation and dealing humanely with those who have been dealt a rough hand in Life, and yet strive to live with dignity and honesty.

Every character comes to life from the very first page. Aibileen, Minny, their employers and the little children in their care. The narration is crisp and the characters so true to life, you feel like a part of the cast, as if the story unfolds right in front of your eyes and you wish you could speak up on behalf of the coloured community!

Do pick up this book, as well. It’s one of those unputdownable books you wish could go on, forever!

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Books to be read