Book Recommendation: A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

๐‘ฏ๐’‚๐’—๐’† ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’‚๐’๐’š ๐’๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’‰๐’๐’˜ ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’๐’š ๐’ƒ๐’๐’๐’Œ๐’” ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’˜๐’“๐’Š๐’•๐’•๐’†๐’ ๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’˜๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’„๐’๐’–๐’“๐’”๐’† ๐’๐’‡ ๐’๐’๐’† ๐’š๐’†๐’‚๐’“? ๐‘ฏ๐’‚๐’—๐’† ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’‚๐’๐’š ๐’๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’‰๐’๐’˜ ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’๐’š ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’˜๐’“๐’Š๐’•๐’•๐’†๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’š ๐’Ž๐’†๐’? ๐‘จ๐’“๐’† ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’‚๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’‚๐’“๐’†, ๐’‘๐’†๐’“๐’‰๐’‚๐’‘๐’”, ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’Ž๐’๐’”๐’• ๐’…๐’Š๐’”๐’„๐’–๐’”๐’”๐’†๐’… ๐’‚๐’๐’Š๐’Ž๐’‚๐’ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’–๐’๐’Š๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’”๐’†?

Here’s a book I’d like to recommend. A book which should be read once, at the very least, by everybody. A non-fiction, short but a very valued read, it’s an essay, to be accurate.

One of my absolute favourite quotes from it:

๐‘ญ๐’Š๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’Š๐’” ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’† ๐’‚ ๐’”๐’‘๐’Š๐’…๐’†๐’“’๐’” ๐’˜๐’†๐’ƒ, ๐’‚๐’•๐’•๐’‚๐’„๐’‰๐’†๐’… ๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’“ ๐’”๐’ ๐’๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•๐’๐’š ๐’‘๐’†๐’“๐’‰๐’‚๐’‘๐’”, ๐’ƒ๐’–๐’• ๐’”๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’‚๐’•๐’•๐’‚๐’„๐’‰๐’†๐’… ๐’•๐’ ๐’๐’Š๐’‡๐’† ๐’‚๐’• ๐’‚๐’๐’ ๐’‡๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’„๐’๐’“๐’๐’†๐’“๐’”.

It’s a book I’m unable to review, and I don’t expect anyone to do a brilliant job at it anyway. Here’s a summary (courtsey: SparkNotes) of it, though:

“The dramatic setting ofย A Room of One’s Ownย is that Woolf has been invited to lecture on the topic of Women and Fiction. She advances the thesis that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Her essay is constructed as a partly-fictionalized narrative of the thinking that led her to adopt this thesis. She dramatizes that mental process in the character of an imaginary narrator (“call me Mary Beton, Mary Seton, Mary Carmichael or by any name you pleaseโ€”it is not a matter of any importance”) who is in her same position, wrestling with the same topic.

The narrator begins her investigation at Oxbridge College, where she reflects on the different educational experiences available to men and women as well as on more material differences in their lives. She then spends a day in the British Library perusing the scholarship on women, all of which has written by men and all of which has been written in anger. Turning to history, she finds so little data about the everyday lives of women that she decides to reconstruct their existence imaginatively. The figure of Judith Shakespeare is generated as an example of the tragic fate a highly intelligent woman would have met with under those circumstances. In light of this background, she considers the achievements of the major women novelists of the nineteenth century and reflects on the importance of tradition to an aspiring writer. A survey of the current state of literature follows, conducted through a reading the first novel of one of the narrator’s contemporaries. Woolf closes the essay with an exhortation to her audience of women to take up the tradition that has been so hardly bequeathed to them, and to increase the endowment for their own daughters.”

 

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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: Review

๐‘ฏ๐’† ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’ˆ๐’–๐’†๐’”๐’”, ๐’ƒ๐’–๐’• ๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’๐’’๐’• ๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’“ ๐’Œ๐’๐’๐’˜, ๐’๐’๐’• ๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’๐’๐’š. ๐‘พ๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’Š๐’• ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’†, ๐’˜๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’”๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’Œ๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ, ๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’š๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’”๐’‰๐’†’๐’… ๐’๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’“ ๐’•๐’๐’๐’… ๐’‰๐’Š๐’Ž.

Everything I Never Told You is a literary fiction and Celeste Ng is no doubt a wonderful writer. The first book I read by her was Little Fires Everywhere and I highly recommend it.

It’s not easy to talk about this book without giving out spoilers so I’ll keep it brief.

It’s a family drama with a focus on the everyday life, a melancholy story, and the readers get to witness quite a few intimate moments the characters go through. I especially loved how each character was equally complicated and strong. The plot is heavy and convoluted, expected, because of the central theme of the book. The writing is engaging, haunting.

Heartbreak, grief, self-reflection, relationships between parents and children, between siblings, between friends is what you should expect.

Rating: โญโญโญโญ/5.

Verdict: Read.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie: Review

๐‘ฎ๐’“๐’Š๐’†๐’‡ ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’˜๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’๐’˜๐’†๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’…๐’†๐’‚๐’… ๐’‡๐’๐’“ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’๐’†๐’„๐’†๐’”๐’”๐’‚๐’“๐’š ๐’„๐’“๐’Š๐’Ž๐’† ๐’๐’‡ ๐’๐’Š๐’—๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Ž.

Home Fire, Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018 Winner, was nowhere near my radar until few weeks back. The reviews from other readers left me unsureโ€”while many loved it, there were equal amount of those who didn’t.

The book, a reimagining of Sophocles’s Antigone (which I haven’t read) in a modern environment, has five central characters and is divided into five parts, each character getting a chance to run the show. I didn’t like nor connect with any of the main characters and it was one of those reads where just the plot kept me going, and what a brilliant plot it was!

Isma, the first character introduced to us, after spending years raising her twin siblings post losing their mother and grandmother within a span of a year resumes her dream of studying in America. Her feet getting used to a new world, she constantly worries over her headstrong sister Aneeka back in London and her brother Parvaiz, who has had his own misfortunes and has disappeared, following the dark footsteps of a father he didn’t know.

It is a powerful manifestation of clash between family, society and faith while the dominating presence of politics and the issue of Muslim migrants seeps from the very first page. But what stays with you is the final scene, which is one of the most memorable, unexpected and emotional scenes I’ve read in a book.

The language is something I initially struggled with but soon realized how well it sang with the plot and how well it fit.

Rating: โญโญโญโญ/5.ย 

Verdict: You may like it, you may not but you should most certainly read it.

A special mention to the way Kamila Shamsie has written about Grief. I don’t think I have ever read something quite like thatโ€”like it’s a distinct character.

Poonachi by Perumal Murugan: Review

๐‘ถ๐’๐’„๐’†, ๐’Š๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’—๐’Š๐’๐’๐’‚๐’ˆ๐’†, ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’† ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’‚ ๐’ˆ๐’๐’‚๐’•. ๐‘ต๐’ ๐’๐’๐’† ๐’Œ๐’๐’†๐’˜ ๐’˜๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’† ๐’”๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’ƒ๐’๐’“๐’. ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’Š๐’“๐’•๐’‰ ๐’๐’‡ ๐’‚๐’ ๐’๐’“๐’…๐’Š๐’๐’‚๐’“๐’š ๐’๐’Š๐’‡๐’† ๐’๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’“ ๐’๐’†๐’‚๐’—๐’†๐’” ๐’‚ ๐’•๐’“๐’‚๐’„๐’†, ๐’…๐’๐’†๐’” ๐’Š๐’•?

Written by Perumal Murugan and translated into English by N. Kalyan Raman, thus begins the life of this black goat named Poonachi.

There’s a very prominent, recurring and touching theme throughout the bookโ€”something we see and witness every day without ever really sparing a thought. The plot is exceptionally well written and equally smoothly translated. Simple language, funny at instances, and you sail through it, wanting to delve further into the life of this little, inquisitive, intelligent and precious goat.

All the fuss around it feels justified and I’m glad I bought this book.

Rating: โญโญโญโญ/5

Beartown by Fredrik Backman: Review

๐‘ฌ๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’š๐’๐’๐’† ๐’‰๐’‚๐’” ๐’‚ ๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’”๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’˜๐’Š๐’”๐’‰๐’†๐’” ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’‡๐’๐’“๐’† ๐’‚ ๐’•๐’“๐’‚๐’ˆ๐’†๐’…๐’š, ๐’ƒ๐’–๐’• ๐’‹๐’–๐’”๐’• ๐’๐’๐’† ๐’‚๐’‡๐’•๐’†๐’“๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’….

Beartown is a dark contemporary fiction which tells the story of a small, dying fictional town in Sweden with high hopes for both its local youth hockey team and its own future which depends on the team, and the serious crime they try to cover up to make their aspirations a reality.

Beartown is first and foremost a hockey town. And if you do not like hockey and still live there, you keep your dislike to yourself. Here everyone’s life is some way or the other entangled with the sport. The book started real slow, setting up the scene in front of your eyes, letting you get a feel of this mightily cold town. But once it pulls you in, you’re a goner, even when you dislike what’s happening on that particular page, even when you don’t like the characters. There are multiple instances where you’d find it infuriating but this too will keep you going.

There are characters you will instantly fall in love with, few who will grow on you and some you will loathe. Together they form a colourful, complex bunch with layers to them, as is often the case with humans.

Translated from Swedish, most of the sentences in this book are pure gem. I love the words in this book so much, I want to quote the entire book here! It makes me wonder how much more beautiful it must be in its original language.

๐‘จ ๐’”๐’Š๐’Ž๐’‘๐’๐’† ๐’•๐’“๐’–๐’•๐’‰, ๐’“๐’†๐’‘๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’†๐’… ๐’‚๐’” ๐’๐’‡๐’•๐’†๐’ ๐’‚๐’” ๐’Š๐’• ๐’Š๐’” ๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’๐’๐’“๐’†๐’…, ๐’Š๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’Š๐’‡ ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’•๐’†๐’๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’„๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’… ๐’Š๐’• ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’…๐’ ๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’”๐’๐’๐’–๐’•๐’†๐’๐’š ๐’‚๐’๐’š๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ, ๐’๐’“ ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’Š๐’• ๐’„๐’‚๐’’๐’• ๐’…๐’ ๐’‚๐’๐’š๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‚๐’• ๐’‚๐’๐’, ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’˜๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’‚๐’๐’ ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’†๐’๐’Š๐’‰๐’๐’๐’… ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’‘๐’“๐’๐’—๐’†๐’ ๐’“๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•.

It definitely took me by surprise as I didn’t realize I would come to love it so much. It’s bold, honest, heartbreaking and a remarkable book. I’m definitely going to gobble up moreโ€”every, if possibleโ€”books by the author.

Rating: โญโญโญโญโญ/5

Verdict: Buy and read!

The Wicked King by Holly Black: Review

๐‘ถ๐’๐’„๐’† ๐’–๐’‘๐’๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’•๐’Š๐’Ž๐’†, ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’† ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’‚ ๐’‰๐’–๐’Ž๐’‚๐’ ๐’ˆ๐’Š๐’“๐’ ๐’”๐’•๐’๐’๐’†๐’ ๐’‚๐’˜๐’‚๐’š ๐’ƒ๐’š ๐’‡๐’‚๐’†๐’“๐’Š๐’†๐’”, ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’„๐’‚๐’–๐’”๐’† ๐’๐’‡ ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’•, ๐’”๐’‰๐’† ๐’”๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’† ๐’•๐’ ๐’…๐’†๐’”๐’•๐’“๐’๐’š ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Ž.

Last year, the initial few months, all I saw on Bookstagram (in case you aren’t familiar with the term: it’s the bookish community on Instagram) were pictures of The Cruel Prince and how everyone was going gaga over it. I wasn’t particularly inclined and hence ignored it as just another over-hyped book. But one night, during a reading slump, I picked up my Kindle perusing the titles and came across this (yes, I did indeed buy the book despite not planning to read it: HOARDER ALERT) and…gave in. It turned out to be one of my favourite reads last year.

So here I am now, thinking how do I review the next one in the seriesโ€”The Wicked Kingโ€”without giving out spoilers because all I want to do is gush!

We are back in the High Court of Faeries and our beloved Jude, now a seneschal to the High King, is once again pulled in a too-familiar current of enemies and allies, and if you’ve read the previous book, you’d know she has more of the former. Fighting the battle of politics and crowns, she can’t afford a second to let her guard downโ€”every step must be calculated, without showing any fear or weakness. The only power she hasโ€”herself. The only person she can trustโ€”herself.

While she cleverly managed to strike a deal with Cardan towards the end of the previous book where he vowed to act in accordance to her will for one year and a day and not one minute more, time is running out a little too swiftly. Managing too many things at the same time? What could possibly go wrong, right?

๐‘ท๐’๐’˜๐’†๐’“ ๐’Š๐’” ๐’Ž๐’–๐’„๐’‰ ๐’†๐’‚๐’”๐’Š๐’†๐’“ ๐’•๐’ ๐’‚๐’„๐’’๐’–๐’Š๐’“๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’ ๐’Š๐’• ๐’Š๐’” ๐’•๐’ ๐’‰๐’๐’๐’… ๐’๐’.

The author knows how to keep her audience enraptured, engaged, enthralled and entertained. With writing as descriptive and imagination as captivating as hers, I felt I was present on the island of faeiries. And misdirection? Holly Black? You bet. This book is a slippery slope and with one of the most fascinatingโ€”if not lovableโ€”set of characters ever in a series. Drop everything and jump into this treacherous world of faeiries.

Rating: โญโญโญโญ.5/5
Verdict: Buy!

The Other Side of Positive

This feeling of being a disappointment, does it ever go away? Donโ€™t you find it scary how much power other people have over us; how easily they can make us feel like absolutely nothing?

I donโ€™t know.

I donโ€™t know if the feeling ever goes away. And even if people bury it inside, I donโ€™t know how they can simply let it stay that way. It has to come up to the surface some day.

Right?

My whole life, till this point, has been about making my parents happy, however, whichever way possible. But, I guess I have only tried to make them happy and very unsuccessfully. What is a person supposed to do? I feel like I have completely ruined my life, no, I have ruined my life. Iโ€™m really, truly a failure. Iโ€™m completely lost and helpless, all the time.

And I donโ€™t know how to get back up and on the track.

All these inspirational quotes saying what matters is that you got up even after the failure are just shit. What exactly do you do after? How do you pull yourself up? Simply standing up wonโ€™t make a difference. How do you deal with constant criticism? How do you stop blaming others? How do you stop blaming yourself? I want, so badly, a way out of this goddamn loop.

I think I am angry, all the time.

I think I am frustrated, all the time.

I think I am claustrophobic, all the time.

I need to better myself? Sure. Iโ€™m not perfect? Duh. But am I the absolute worst? Because thatโ€™s how I feel, Iโ€™ve been made to feel, all the time. I do not want to get into the whole โ€œthey must be doing it unintentionally…โ€ Again, sure. But how is that going to make my life any better? I feel like a hopelessly entangled wire; no matter what you do, I canโ€™t be untangled. Unless you cut the wire, but that would, of course, be fruitless.

It kills you a little every day and I guess that explains why I donโ€™t feel so good about myself. Thereโ€™s barely anything of myself left anymore.

I have lost the will to do anything.

On better days, I give myself pep talks throughout the day to not give in, to do things which make me happy but now I donโ€™t even know what makes me happy anymore.