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What started out as a pastime soon turned into a hobby that turned into a passion until it eventually became a necessity. Reading is a need so beautiful that I feel I must write about it every day.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

I'm back!

As guilty as I am about neglecting my blog for over three months, I am not going to wallow in self reproach (done enough of that) and instead move on to tell you of the books I've been reading and the things I've been doing. 

First things first, I moved to a new city! I now live in Istanbul, Turkey which feels pretty much like lıvıng ın a museum at times. Excuse the dot less 'i's, for I haven't gotten used to the Turkish keyboards. I'm studying Psychology, exploring a highly intriguing city and adjusting to a completely different (read: independent)  life over here. Living alone has its charms and I feel extremely lucky to be having that oh-so-desirable European college experience. 

Needless to say I haven't allowed the craziness around me take its toll on my reading. So here's the list of books I read since I got here. 

  1. The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway 
  2. Animal Farm - George Orwell 
  3. Istanbul: Memories and the City - Orhan Pamuk 
  4. A Mercy - Toni Morrison 
  5. The Importance of Being Earnest - Oscar Wilde

...and currently Im reading This side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. My obsession with Fitzgerald ıs at an all time high these days due to the movie adaption of The Great Gatsby. The trailer alone gives me chills every time I watch ıt. We've all had our share of horror stories about brllıant books ruined by movies but I have high hopes from this one, primarily because I think the cast is gorgeous! 
Moving on, last night I made a collage...a sort of hodge podge of pop culture mixed with personal favorites. Its for the cover of a notebook I recently got.  

No pretentiousness intended but I carry around a notebook with me when I'm travelling, writing down whatever grabs my attention. A seat by the window is all you need to get the ideas rolling in. I love the cover, its a painting of the Maiden's Tower (built during the Byzantine era) in the middle of the Bosphorus. The tower gets it's name from the two maidens who are said to have lived there.

Every monument in Turkey has a story behind ıt. Some are enshrouded in legends and myths, others in ancient glory. Its a city of varying tastes, beliefs and sights. Before coming here I heard and read a lot about the 'stark contrasts' within the city or as Orhan Pamuk puts it, the dilemma of:  'Westernisation and Europe or tradition and Islam.' Istanbul undeniably has strong elements of both. In his memoir he talks at length about the Huzun (melancholy) of the city's citizens which comes of living amid the ruins of a lost empire, but lets leave that discussion for another post. I'm itching to write about this fascinating city so expect something of that sort in the near future.

In short, I am back. I started this blog last August and now that I sit here writing after so long I realise just how much Ive mıssed ıt. A big thank you to all those who read and appreciate it. Hope you all read some wonderful books in 2012. The list of books I read this year is in the left section and I'd love to see yours too.  

Happy reading! 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Things I do not need: More books. Things I will keep buying: More Books.

Exactly what I'm going for.

P.S. Pictures of a dozen new books gracing my shelves to be put up soon. One step closer to creating a personal library. XD

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Why do you read?

I've always loved reading but could never put a finger on why I read. I've never admitted to reading as a means to escape since to me that translates into - 'My life is horrible and I need the help of books to transport me to a happier, more exciting place'. However, I now realize that while escapism is one of the reasons I enjoy reading, there's no shame in admitting it because what I mean is simple: Now and then, I love to live the life of others; the rich and the poor, the beautiful and the damned, the joyous and the distressed. To create a parallel life and alternate between the two at will is a miraculously liberating feeling to say the least.

However, a recent conversation on Twitter made me think that for a majority of people escapism comes from the fantasy genre only. The success of Harry Potter and The Lord of the rings are prime examples in this case. Here's one bit:

Follower's tweet:  i love d fantasy genre, takes ur mind off real life, the reason for reading books.

My reply:  hmm im sure.bt im nt into d fantasy genre.i need 2 b able to relate 2 the characters in d real world.
So my question to you, dear readers is: How can you relate to wizards who go to a school of wizardry, vampires who live for centuries, and hobbits who inhabit the lands of Middle-earth rather than characters rooted in the real world with actual human problems?

Maybe its a limitation of imagination on my part but when I read I need a strong sense of place. I need stories that are grounded in reality; in a fully real world. But that's just me. Feel free to differ.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Liebster Blog Award

A big thank you to Auggie from Auggie Talk and Candace from Read between the covers for the award! 
The Liebster Blog Award is given to upcoming bloggers who have 200 followers or less. It helps people to get to know you as a blogger while introducing your blog to new viewers.

The Rules are as follows:
1. Each person chosen must provide 11 facts about themselves.
2. Answer the 11 questions that the blogger who tagged you has given, then think of 11 questions for the people you tag.
3. Choose 11 people to receive the award and link them in your post
4. Be sure to tell these people that you've tagged them.
5. Remember, no tag backs (in other words: don't tag the person who tagged you.)

11 Random Facts About Me

1) I prefer writing10 facts about myself.
2) I don't like celebrating odd number birthdays. 
3) At bookstores, I put shelves in order if the books are in disarray. 
4) I write letters to friends and acquaintances without the intention of ever sending it to them.
5) I've been keeping a journal since I was 10. 
6) It takes me almost a month to finish a novel even if I read it every day. 
7) I like to hold a Kit Kat finger like a cigarette.
8) I can climb high places but need at least 10 people to help bring me down. 
9) I wanted to be an archeologist as a kid. 
10)I am not going to write the 11th fact because I hate odd numbers.

Questions for Me:
1.   Why did you start your blog?
      To connect with like minded people and maybe turn this solitary passion into a shared one.  

2.   What are your top 3 to-die-for characters?
      Lord Henry in The Picture of Dorian Gray
      Rebecca in Rebecca
      Fermina Daza in Love in the time of Cholera

3.   What are you top 3 favorite books?
Love in the time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
      The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
      The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

4.   Where do you live?
      Karachi, Pakistan

5.   Future release you are drooling over?
      The next book by Marquez (if he ever writes one).

6.   Favorite author?
      Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Oscar Wilde

7.   What "paranormal" creature would you be and why?
Aloja- A female water spirit because water fascinates me.

8.   Can you read more than one book at one time?

9.   What is your worst habit?
       Plucking dead skin from my lips. Even writing about it grosses me out but I can't help it.
10.  Book you were suprised you LOVED?
       Like the flowing river by Paulo Coelho. I had given up on Coelho after Veronica decides to die but this book was revelatory and gave me inspiration at a time when I needed it the most.       

11.  If you could live any story, what would it be? 
       Hands down! One Hundred years of Solitude.

Questions for those I tagged:
In one sentence: Who are you? 
What's something a lot of people do that you disagree with?
What's something no one can take away from you?
What's a common misconception people have about you?
 Your favorite quote?
 Do you believe honesty is the best policy?
 Describe yourself in three words.
Which dead author would you want to be haunted by?
What do u want to be known for?
What do you do when nothing else seems to make you happy?
Who do you think is the worst writer?

Blogs I am Tagging

I think its a great way to support upcoming blogs and hope you will participate with me. :) 

Sunday, 10 June 2012

I dream a dream of a library (2)

Back in end of February I started setting up my library with a mere 18 books. See: I dream a dream (1) Over the past three months I've added almost 30 more books. Not qualified to be called a library still, but it's finally starting to look like the picture I have in mind.

                                          Taken in February 


                                                     In June
Good progress, eh?

Anyway I bought a couple of books at a Liberty Books sale today.  Here are the ones I got:

1) Night by Elie Wiesel
2) Selected Poems by Gulzar
3) Reading like a writer by Francine Prose  
4) Selected Short Stories from the 19th Century by David Stuart

Reading One hundred years of Solitude these days has me trapped in the imaginary village of Macondo and its daily life of atrocities, resilience and miracles. Marquez truly is a master of Magical realism. I've been reading the book at a slow pace and its already been a month since I started it. No rush. Masterpieces are too precious to be glanced at and brushed past by; they are meant to be savored, experienced and appreciated.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Type away!

Ms. Procrastination over stayed her welcome, hence the blog was not updated for weeks but I've got to write now. Sometimes I feel like I'll explode or die of an emotional overload if I don't write. I know I must but sometimes, I just don't.

Anyway, I'm sure nobody who reads this blog wants to comb through my mental debris so I'll let you know something that may interest some of you. I'm getting myself a TYPEWRITER! Okay so I have wanted to get one for the longest time but wasn't able to find it in my city but now I finally know where I can get it from and next week I shall be typing away from the ultimate writing machine of the 1800s. 

I think my love for typewriters and other vintage items stems from a fascination with bygone eras, very much like Owen Wilson's longing to belong to the early 1900s in Midnight in Paris. Something about the fantasy-nostalgist theme of this movie made me wonder how incredible it would be to personally know these writers from almost a century ago who are now considered literary Gods. What insecurities had they faced in regards to their writing? Self doubts? The extent of their passion? I want to know everything about them!

I can't jump back in time but I can own something that was used by them, and so, using a typewriter is my way of getting a little closer to the writers I've admired all my life.
Source: molsrock.tumblr.com

Monday, 21 May 2012

Books are magic!

"What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic." - Carl Sagan

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Pakistan’s first online library!

Originally published in Unique Pakistan

Very rarely would you hear of libraries being opened up in our country. However, a lack of public reading spaces doesn’t necessarily signify a lack of reading culture. This can be proved by the success of an innovative business venture called The Readers Club, launched in 2009 by the enterprising duo- Usman Siddiqui and Jawad Yousuf. The Readers Club is a vast online library consisting of thousands of books that can be borrowed once you subscribe to the website. It is Pakistan’s first book rental service.   
 I stumbled upon their website two years ago. Excited by the vast variety of books available for a small monthly membership fee; I instantly became a member and filled up my bucket list. I had the books delivered to my house the very next day. With excellent customer service, efficient delivery and good quality books, I was won over. A year later The reader’s club sister website Kitabain.com (Kitabain is urdu for books) was launched. This is a platform where you can buy and sell books online. Perfect for those looking for books at a lower price delivered to their house and those wanting to get rid of stacks of books consuming space in the house. Kitabain.com also received the Service Innovation award at the P@SHA awards, Lahore in October, 2010.

An effort such as this one must be applauded as it not only promotes reading but makes books much more accessible and affordable for a majority of people. Last year in December, at the annual Karachi international book fair at Expo Centre I was delighted to find a stall by The Reader’s Club offering numerous books at quarter the original prices. It was probably one of the best stalls at the fair, offering the most affordable books.

Their next project includes digitizing Urdu books into an audio format. In our country where the older generation shake their heads in disapproval of the young and their supposedly non-existent reading habit; an online library is a sign that there are still ambitious people who cater to readers in Pakistan and a significant number of people who consume such services.

 Here is a video about them!

Happy reading!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Stunning Book Art!

It kills me to see books and papers turned and twisted mecilessly but I find a bit of consolation in the fact that these are old newspapers and books turned into wonderful pieces of art. Just goes to show the uselfullness of book!

                                                             A tower of books 
                The Argentinian artist Marta Minujin has built a tower of 30,000 books.
 The tower was built to celebrate Buenos Aires' nomination for World Book Capital 2011.

 "Paper Elegies"
 Nick Georgiou uses old books to make these colorful artworks


                                                        Carved book landscapes

Artist Guy Laramee says about his work: So I carve landscapes out of books and I paint Romantic landscapes. Mountains of disused knowledge return to what they really are: mountains. They erode a bit more and they become hills. Then they flatten and become fields where apparently nothing is happening. Piles of obsolete encyclopedias return to that which does not need to say anything, that which simply IS. Fogs and clouds erase everything we know, everything we think we are.

Cascades of books
  Artist Alicia martin transformed thousands of unused books into columns that pour out of windows of historical buildings in Madrid into the streets.

                                       These over sized sculptures are definitely one of a kind.


Sources: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2OceD5/:pZK9eOfY:Tj2GO3yC/www.thisiscolossal.com/2011/12/carved-book-landscapes-by-guy-laramee/

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Of books and Pakistan

First published in Unique Pakistan

A few years ago, Pakistani writers were globally unheard of. Fast forward to today and you’ll see Pakistan’s literary landscape flourishing. With international awards and widespread acclaim to their merit, Pakistani authors are making waves in the literary circles and casting their magic. Pakistani novelist writing in English are now being hailed as the new generation of intellectuals propelling the country’s almost non-existent reading culture forward and garnering attention for the country due to their immense talent.

The likes of these young guns include Daniyal Mueenuddin, Kamila Shamsie, Mohsin Hamid, Mohammed Hanif, Bina Shah, Bilal Tanveer, Ali Sethi, Nadeem Aslam amongst many more. Dealing with themes of religious extremism, racism, politics, class division, war and love, these novelists are weaving complex and epic tales with their distinguished style. Their popularity can be measured by the crowd that turns up in droves to attend their sessions in literature festivals in Pakistan and India as well as the prestigious awards they have been nominated for and won.

For the last three years, Karachi Literature Festival has been accelerating the process of the resurgence of writing in Pakistan. Every year it’s becoming bigger and better, bringing together the biggest names in literati from various countries. This year the festival showcased brilliant talent to the literary starved audience of Karachi by presenting an astounding number of 150 authors, poets, journalists, publishers, etc.

According to Kamila Shamsie: ”Pakistani writing is in it’s infancy”. While that may be true, Pakistani writers are surely taking the publishing world by storm.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Literary crushes!

I have plenty of free time on my hands these days and it seems all I do the entire day is read. Thank God for the makeshift library I set up a few months back; plenty of unread books grace my shelves so I'm set for a few more weeks. Yesterday I finished reading Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and found myself utterly captivated by it's dead protagonist- Rebecca. This made me ponder back to the numerous literary crushes I've developed over the years. Here are some them: 

 Mr. Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Johnny Depp plays Willy Wonka, 2005
Every fat kid with an irrevocable love for chocolate adored this eccentric character created by Roald Dahl in Charlie and the chocolate factory. Not only is Mr. Willy Wonka the best chocolatier in the world, he also owns a chocolate factory where everything is made entirely out of chocolate! Apart from a fabulous dressing style complete with a sleek bob, a tall hat and a perfectly tailored maroon coat, I love him for his quirkiness, his unconventional attitude and his disgust for almost everything that isn't made up of chocolate. Watching Johnny Depp play Willy Wonka in Tim Burton's film adaption only cemented his position as one of my favorite literary crushes. 

Best dialogue: “"Everything in this room is eatable. In fact even I am eatable, but that is called cannibalism my dear children and is frowned upon in most civilizations.”

 Vampire Lestat in Vampire Chronicles

Stuart Townsend plays Lestat, 2002
 This enigmatic monster gripped my attention in Interview with the vampire by Anne Rice- A story about blood sucking, bad ass vampires! (Take that Meyers). Despite the story being about Louis and his transformation from a human to a vampire and his subsequent adventurous life, it was Vampire Lestat who made a lasting impression on me. He prompted me to read the entire Vampire Chronicle series, including Vampire Lestat and The queen of the damned.
This 200 year old vampire is a vanity-struck sexy rockstar, a rebel, a miser, and ultimately a redemption seeker. He is more like one of my bi-polar friends...yes Molls I'm referring to you. He's crazy when life's good and deeply morose when things go bad. Unbelievably powerful and  unapologetically fatal; Vampire Lestat is irresistible!

 Best dialogue: ''Evil is a point of view. God kills indiscriminately and so shall we. For no creatures under God are as we are, none so like him as ourselves.''

Lord Henry in The picture of Dorian Gray

Collin Firth plays Lord Henry, 2009
 Could there be a character more witty, opinionated and intriguing than Lord Henry? The answer is no! He plays the devil's advocate, misleading the naive Dorian Gray with his demonic views of the world. Lord Henry is a clever man who doesn't practice what he preaches, instead he influences others with his immoral and unconventional philosophies. He may not be the desirable hero of this novel; he is sexist, offensive and attention seeking but Lord Henry is also undeniably fascinating and an exquisitely eloquent character who says things that most of us only wish we had the courage to speak.

Best dialogues: "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.''
"The people who love only once in their lives are really the shallow people. What they call their loyalty, and their fidelity, I call either the lethargy of custom or their lack of imagination. Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellect - simply a confession of failure."

Florentino Ariza in Love in the time of Cholera

Javier Bardem plays Ariza, 2007
Florentino Ariza is observant without being detached, tragic without being hopeless and stubborn without being impatient. Our passionate hero waits fifty-one years, nine months, and four days to reach his lover, Fermina Daza. During his wait he turns into a sex addict, becomes an obsessive stalker and lives and breathes poetry.

This is not to say that I find the above mentioned traits attractive but despite his flaws Florentino Ariza is a die-hard romantic who reaffirmed my belief in true love that transcends time. Written in Marquez's masterful prose, Florentino Ariza is unforgettable.
 Best Dialogue: “The only regret I will have in dying is if it is not for love.”

 Rebecca in Rebecca

Author: Daphne Du Maurier
Rebbecca, the antagonist of the book with the same title is headstrong, accomplished and beautiful. Although she is dead, she is still indestructible. I am completely smitten by her character because of the different sides of her personality that were revealed to me as the book progressed. In the beginning the narrator of the book pieces together an image of Rebecca that portrays her as the perfect hostess of the grand Manderley and the much loved wife who dies tragically at sea but a few chapters into the book and the real Rebecca begins to emerge; one who is rebellious, flirtatious and an evil woman who commits unspeakable acts under the masquerade of beauty and grace.

The oppressive presence of Rebecca throughout the novel captured my imagination and made her one of the most memorable characters I've come across. Her 'last joke' in the book is the perfect example of Rebecca's wicked nature. Not so much of a crush than a fascination, the ghost of Rebecca haunted me long after I finished the novel.

These were mine. Who are your literary crushes? Any character who has captured your mind and enthralled you with their charisma?

Monday, 16 April 2012

Dead man walking - Mark Twain filmed by Thomas Edison

Mark Twain is arguably one of the best writers of all time. Unlike so many other authors of yesteryear  whose pictures we have seen in paintings and photographs only, here we have a footage of Twain captured on film by none other than Thomas Edison in 1909. The eerie video shows Twain in his estate in Stormfield with his daughters Jean and Clara. Here's a rare glimpse of the man who has inspired and entertained a generation of readers beyond measure.

It is sad to think about how his daughter Jean, featured in the video died in December of the same year, while Twain himself passed away the following spring in 1910.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Birth of a book

Found this beautiful video on Huffington Post. Also, remember my dilemma? Well, these two videos helped me make my mind- Hardbacks it is! Forever and ever.

A wonderfully hilarious speech about Book cover art:

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Nastiest literary insults of all time

I think most authors are an insecure and envious lot. Hell breaks loose when a writer decides to spew his/her hatred publicly. It makes for a highly amusing read too. No wonder these insults are so eloquent and hard-hitting, after all they have been made by some very good writers who just find their fellows really bad. Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby present to you a stunning mix of wit, jealousy and sarcasm.
Note: Regarding some comments as plain nasty would be an understatement. 
Let the vicious war of words begin!

Oscar Wilde on Alexander Pope
“There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.”

Lord Byron on John Keats
 “Here are Johnny Keats’ piss-a-bed poetry, and three novels by God knows whom… No more Keats, I entreat: flay him alive; if some of you don’t I must skin him myself: there is no bearing the drivelling idiotism of the Mankin.”

Mark Twain on Jane Austen
Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” Ouch!

Vladimir Nabokov on Ernest Hemingway 
 “As to Hemingway, I read him for the first time in the early ‘forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, and loathed it.”

Homer J. Simpson on Walt Whitman's book
'Leaves of grass' my ass!

Harold Bloom on J.K. Rowling
“How to read ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’? Why, very quickly, to begin with, and perhaps also to make an end. Why read it? Presumably, if you cannot be persuaded to read anything better, Rowling will have to do.” Sorry Potter fans

Gertrude Stein on Ezra Pound
“A village explainer. Excellent if you were a village, but if you were not, not.”

 H. G. Wells on George Bernard Shaw
“An idiot child screaming in a hospital.”

Charles Baudelaire on Voltaire (1864)
“I grow bored in France — and the main reason is that everybody here resembles Voltaire…the king of nincompoops, the prince of the superficial, the anti-artist, the spokesman of janitresses, the Father Gigone of the editors of Siecle.”

William Faulkner on Ernest Hemingway
“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”

Ernest Hemingway on William Faulkner
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”

Gore Vidal on Truman Capote
“He’s a full-fledged housewife from Kansas with all the prejudices.”  

Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac
“That’s not writing, that’s typing.”

W. H. Auden on Robert Browning
“I don’t think Robert Browning was very good in bed. His wife probably didn’t care for him very much. He snored and had fantasies about twelve-year-old girls.”

Evelyn Waugh on Marcel Proust (1948)
“I am reading Proust for the first time. Very poor stuff. I think he was mentally defective.”

Virginia Woolf on James Joyce
“[Ulysses is] the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples.”

William Faulkner on Mark Twain 
“A hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven sure fire literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.”

D.H. Lawrence on James Joyce (1928)
“My God, what a clumsy olla putrida James Joyce is! Nothing but old fags and cabbage stumps of quotations from the Bible and the rest stewed in the juice of deliberate, journalistic dirty-mindedness.”

James Dickey on Robert Frost:
“If it were thought that anything I wrote was influenced by Robert Frost,
I would take that particular work of mine, shred it, and flush it down
the toilet, hoping not to clog the pipes...'' Seriously Dickey? lol

H.G. Wells on Henry James:
“A hippopotamus trying to pick up a pea  that has got into a corner of its cage..”

Lawrence Durrell on Henry James
 “If I were asked to choose between reading Henry James and having my head pressed between two stones, I’d choose the latter.” Sorry Azzaam, that must've hurt. 

 Mark Twain on Henry James:
“Once you put one of his books down, you simply can’t pick it up again.”

Mark Twain on Edgar Allan Poe.
“To me, his prose is unreadable– like Jane Austen’s”

Gore Vidal after being punched by Norman Mailer 
 “I see Norman, words have failed you again!”

Louis-Ferdinand Céline on D.H.Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”:
“600 hundred pages for a gamekeeper’s dick, it’s way too long.”

Vidal on Truman Capote’s death
 “A good Career move.”

Mark Twain on Jane Austen:
Just the omission of Jane Austen’s books alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn’t a book in it

Dorothy Parker’s on Benito Mussolini’s -The Cardinal’s Mistress
“This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” HAHA

Flannery O’Connor on Harper Lee
 “I think for a child’s book it does all right. It’s interesting that all the folks that are buying it don’t know they’re reading a child’s book.”

John Updike on the name of a character in one of Rushdie's novels who has the same name as a German actor: Why, oh why, did Salman Rushdie, in his new novel ... call one of his major characters Maxmilian Ophuls
Salman Rushdie: A name is just a name. Why oh why ... Well, why not? Somewhere in Las Vegas there's probably a male prostitute called John Updike.

Dorothy Parker on Clare Booth Luce
Clare Booth Luce, opening a door for Dorthy Parker: Age before beauty.
Dorothy Parker: Pearls before swine. OH GOD!

Ben Jonson on William Shakespeare
“I remember the players have often mentioned it as an honor to Shakespeare, that in his writing, whatsoever he penned, he never blotted out a line. My answer hath been, ‘Would he had blotted a thousand,’ Don't speak ill of the bard!

Salman Rushdie on John le Carré 
 “an illiterate pompous ass”.

James Dickey on Steinbeck
I can't read ten pages of Steinbeck without throwing up.

Arnold Bennett on Charles Dickens
About a year ago, from idle curiosity, I picked up 'The Old Curiosity Shop', and of all the rotten vulgar un-literary writing...! Worse than George Eliot.

Samuel Johnson on John Milton's Paradise Lost
'Paradise Lost' is one of the books which the reader admires and lays down, and forgets to take up again.

Anatole France on Emile Zola
His work is evil, and he is one of those unhappy beings of whom one can say that it would be better had he never been born.

Norman Mailer on Tom Wolfe’s 
“Reading the work can even be said to resemble the act of making love to a 300lb woman. Once she gets on top, it’s over. Fall in love, or be asphyxiated.”

I'm just as surprised as you are...

Friday, 6 April 2012

Date a girl who reads by Rosemarie Urquico

“Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”


Thursday, 5 April 2012

Under the spell of Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I'm a woman possessed! From Love in the time of cholera to a collection of his morbid short stories to Of love and other demons, I'm utterly mesmerized by Marquez. If you are a frequent reader of this blog, chances are you're aware of my obsession with the Colombian novelist. To say that his books carry me away to a different world wouldn't be entirely correct. His world is just like ours but slightly more romantic, (and trust me, this is coming from someone who has never been a sucker for romance novels), its a bit more melodramatic and its a lot more...magical! I'm currently reading Of love...and enjoying every second of this epic tale.

“Do not allow me to forget you”
Gabriel García Márquez, Of Love and Other Demons 

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A solitary passion.: Devastating imagery

A solitary passion.: Devastating imagery: The month of April is regarded as the National Poetry Month . So I thought I'd share my favorite poem. It's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufr...

Monday, 2 April 2012

World's fastest reader

Okay wow! She's just as fast as she's cheeky. I'd love to see an argument between her and Nicki Minaj!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Every banned book is worth reading

Here is my list of books that have caused massive controversy since their release and are a must read. Most have been subjected to censorship, which has prompted me and many other readers to hunt them down and read to see what the hullabaloo is about. Let me tell you; these are books that require you to think and in the words of Wilde ''...show the world its own shame'' which is precisely the reason they are banned. However, it is interesting to note how all these books are considered to be some of the greatest in literature and are widely read despite being frequently challenged. Read on to see why these masterpieces deserve your time. 
1) Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

Banned for: Profanity, sexual references and immorality. This is one of the most banned, censored and challenged books of all times.

Why you must read it? How often is it that you come across a morally fallible, world-hating, teenage character? Not often. Searingly honest and brilliant in its disillusionment, this is one book that every person must read if they want to experience a classic, coming-of-age story unlike any other.

Note: In 1980, a young man named Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon and later gave the book to police as an explanation for why he did it, making this book stand out as an icon for teenage rebellion.
 Just don't interpret the book the way this retard did.

Key quote: "In my mind, I'm probably the biggest sex maniac you ever saw."
2) The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

Banned for:  Being "a real downer''.
As if a real life account of the biggest genocide in the history of mankind is supposed to be a joy fest!

Why you must read it? One of the most prominent accounts documenting the experiences of Jews by the Nazis. One that shows us a victim's unwavering faith in humanity even in the worst of conditions. I was deeply upset after reading the book but reflecting on the writing of this young legend made me realise the true message of inspiration and hope it contains for the world. It reaffirmed my faith in the goodness of humanity.

Key quote: ''How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.''
 ''I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.'' 

3) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

Banned for: Offensive language and racism due to the use of a racially charged word. One administrator branded it as the "most grotesque example of racism I’ve ever seen in my life."

Why you must read it? It's Twain. Need more convincing? Well, after reading this book in grade 5 and being forever fascinated with 'Huck Finn', I reread the novel recently. Not only is this book Twain's finest work, it is also the cleverest anti-slavery and anti racist work ever written. The used of the word 'nigger' in the novel is used to depict the disgusting connotations of the word and actually attempts to challenge the racism Twain saw around him. A must read.

Key quote: "It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a n*****; but I done it, and I warn't ever sorry for it afterwards, neither. 

4) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Banned for: Charges of racism and the accusation that it "represents institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature'' and "promotes white supremacy".

Why you must read it? It paints a true picture of the struggles of it's time and is one of the greatest anti-racism books of all time. With memorable characters, great plot and a thought-provoking storyline, this book has secured it's place as the most loved classic.

Key quotes: ''You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.''
''She was white, and she tempted a Negro. She did something that in our society is unspeakable: she kissed a black man. Not an old Uncle, but a strong young Negro man."

5) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

Banned for: Anti-Christian sentiments

Why you must read it? Read it as fiction and it will exhilarate your senses. Take it a bit too seriously and things will get disturbing. It sold millions of copies, caused widespread outrage, its a page turner and gets you interested in Art History. Enough reasons to read it if you haven't already.

Key quote: "Almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false."
6)The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Banned for: Sexual references and profanity.

Why you must read it? This book is not only featured in every 'Must read' list, it is also Fitzgerald's best work. His words are simply beautiful. This tragic love story truly captures the fascinating lifestyle of the Jazz age. Jay Gatsby is quite an interesting character himself, the utter loneliness and emptiness that he exudes is bound to strike a cord with most readers.

Key quote: "Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known."
7) Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov.

Banned for: Obscenity, indecency and sexual explicitness.

Why you must read it? This book is about the life of a highly intelligent murderer and pedophile who seduces a 12-year old girl! However, this is no How-to manual for perverts. Read it simply because it is the most beautiful love story you will ever read (in a very demented way). A tale of forbidden obsession; Lolita is sure to leave you heart-wrenched, mesmerized and a tad bit disturbed- just what a good work of literature should do.

Note: This bone-chilling story is not for the faint of heart.

Key quote: "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.

8) The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

Banned for:  Violence, profanity, racism, and sexuality, including a rape scene.

Why you must read it? This book is a personal favorite. It evoked in me infinite respect for the black women who survived a miserable time living in South America in the 1930's and their struggle for independence and equality. Written as a series of diary entries and letters by the protagonist to God, the novel chronicles the life of black woman's poignant journey towards a better life. This is one of the most gripping novels I have ever read and one that everybody must read once. 

Key quote: "I see Sofia and I don’t know why she still alive. They crack her skull, they crack her ribs. They tear her nose loose on one side. They blind her in one eye. She swole from head to foot."

9) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

Banned for: Profanity, portrayal of smoking and drinking and questionable themes such as anti-religious and anti-establishment sentiments.

Why you should read it? Talk about irony! This books deals with the issue of censorship itself. It is a novel about book-banning in a futuristic society. The descriptions of modern society made in this book written more than 50 years ago are eerily obvious now. This is one of the most important novels in American literature and rightfully so. For those who find Bradbury's lengthy prose burdensome, here's what he has to say: "If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmilk teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture." Touché!

Key quote: "We know all the damn silly things we've done for a thousand years and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, someday we'll stop making the goddamn funeral pyres and jumping in the middle of them."

10) The picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Banned for: Themes of homosexuality.

Why you must read it? This masterpiece will indulge you in a world of opulence and corruption, immerse you in shameless pleasure and in the end, make you gasp in horror. Undoubtedly, one of the greatest books ever written.

FYI, I am the proud owner of the original version published for the very first time after the book's release 120 years ago- 'The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated, Uncensored Edition' edited by Nicholas Frankel.

Key Quotes: "Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world's original sin. If the cave-man had known how to laugh, History would have been different."
"My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.

How many of these forbidden masterpieces have you read?
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