The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: A review

The Little PrinceThe Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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The awesomeness of this book might be lost to somebody who isn’t aware of psychology.

In psychotherapy, concepts like Inner child, Emotional literacy and Flow are explained in detail with many serious terminologies. But this story captures the essence of all that in a few simple and profound words.

Isn’t that the beauty of stories?

I was both happy and disappointed with the language used because in some places the dialogues were so intense that they triggered extreme guilt and sadness in me. I felt that the tone could have been gentler in such places. I felt downright shameful in some chapters.

“…and it is of some use to my flower that I own them. But you are of no use to the stars…”

Woah. Tone it down a notch.

I was a sucker for the conceptualization of Inner Child in this book. The innocence, the incessant questions, the curiosity, the ability to see the beauty of the rose and to appreciate the value of beauty are all characteristics of a child. These are portrayed exceptionally well. These characteristics are shown and spoken of directly and with a rawness.

What I loved best about ‘The Little Prince’ is the flexibility of the metaphors. Here, the haughty rose can be equated with ‘Love’ or ‘Innocence of childhood’. Either metaphor works well. So this book is to be read by each individual with their own interpretations and meanings.

How you enjoy this book depends on how imaginative your inner child is!

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White Teeth by Zadie Smith: A review

White TeethWhite Teeth by Zadie Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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White Teeth is the story of three families – the Jones, the Iqbals and the Chalfens – in post war England. And my, what a story they each have to tell! 
Overall review:
As a reader, you have to give this book some time. It is a slow, SLOW read, but trust me, it gets better.

You see, when I was reading White Teeth, I didn’t feel like reading any other book. It felt like I was somehow cheating on this incredible book somehow, and some part of me was also afraid that Alsana was going to jump out of the pages and scold me. Yes, it was that gripping. And I was completely invested in this tale for as long as I read it.

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In-depth review:
The book starts off with the first generation Jones and the Iqbals and how they come to be good family friends. In the first few chapters, the narrative of Mr.Archie Jones is – how do I put this – quite bland. It was really boring, much like the English with their stoic faces and stiff upper lips. I can understand how many readers would fall off at this point.

white-teeth-reading-progress-1

 

Somehow, I persisted. And boy, am I glad that I did. As we read about their lives, we begin to understand the real problems of immigrants from the Iqbals’ POV. Samad Iqbal! You wacky, sonorous, proud but dirty fascist! Oh, don’t look at me like that. If you read his story, you would say the same of him too. What I loved about White Teeth is that, the entire voice of the book changed when it switched from Archie’s to Iqbal’s narrative. Suddenly, the lines were alive and animated. The parts with Alsana and Iqbal are truly rib-tickling. I could almost recite word for word what Alsana would say. This husband-wife duo were one of the most realistic couples that I’ve ever read.

Some of the laugh-worthy moments are in the beginning of Samad’s narrative. Although I appreciate the heavy dose of humor, I felt like the novel housed all possible jokes on Indians/English. Sometimes, even at the expense of the progress of the story.

Speaking of humor, it was so readily available. The setting was already there. The jokes are already there. All Zadie has to do was juxtapose of the two different worlds of the ruddy English and the grovelling Bangladeshis, to create comedy. Zadie did an excellent job. Her understanding of the many cultures and the human equations in each culture is extraordinary.

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The story was forever branching out into distant arcs, anecdotes and facts. But it was fun. It kept me engaged. Zadie, the storyteller, also knew how to bring the reader’s focus back. So that was good.

 

The thing about White Teeth though, is that there is no real plot. It’s only an account of the lives of the two families in London. It was a fresh take on modern novels. I was growing tired of cliffhangers and villains who threatened to destroy the world. This novel is such a humble hat tip to Dickens and his like. I always love stories which have humor at their heart. In this story, there are so many complications and terrible things that happen to the characters, but Zadie found the funniest perspective in all of them. Kudos!

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I expected more out of Irie because of the mix up in her genes. A great combination of fire and ice in the half-jamaican and half-British girl. But she was a major disappointment. Irie could’ve been much more. I wonder why Zadie didn’t do anything there. Character-wise, Samad stole the show for me. Followed by Alsana. Incredible house wife portrayal.

Overall, White Teeth feels like an unhurried story that goes into many details. A story we can sit and read for days at leisure. A languid slice-of-life tale that helped me understand fascism from the grassroots level.

white-teeth-reading-progress-4

The best part about white teeth is that there is no plot per se but you will want to keep reading chapter after chapter to find out what is happening. Kinda like what you’d have in classics like Jane Austen’s or Charles Dickens’ works. So rare to see such work in post modern times where authors use cliffhangers like condoms. Way to go Zadie! Well deserved debut novel award.


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Krishna – Defender of Dharma: A review

Krishna: Defender of Dharma: A Graphic NovelKrishna: Defender of Dharma: A Graphic Novel by Shweta Taneja
My rating: 4 of 5 stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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I’d like to start off with the reading progress of this Graphic Novel on Goodreads.

Krishna Defender of Dharma Reading Progress

As you can clearly see, I was’t very impressed with the storytelling. Dialogues were filled with large words and very little emotions. And the script wasn’t compelling enough. It was no match to the grandeur of the illustrations that accompanied it.

Krishna is a character I’ve adored all my life. I’ve heard numerous stories of him as the butter-thief, the prankster and the undeniably wise guide of Arjun. As a Hindu, I grew up amidst stories of Kannaiya. I have sung bhajans in his praise; I have danced to his ‘leelas’.

So, when Krishna is such a big part of my life, I had huge expectations for this graphic novel.

And I was disappointed.

That said, I think that the artwork itself is mind-blowing. See, I know all of these stories already. So I would sit late at night, propped against my pillow, open this graphic novel and ogle at the artwork with starry-eyes. It’s worth it.

I think that Indian graphic novels can be done in a much bigger scale and scores better quality-wise. We have the stories. We just need the storytellers to do it right.

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The Golden Compass [His Dark Materials #1] by Philip Pullman : A review

 

Ah! That feeling of reading a fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping adventure. 

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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Here’s a gist -> In Lyra’s world, Daemons are the soul-projections,in animal forms, of any human being.They are companions of the soul and the separation from their Daemon could even be fatal for that human.Lyra and her Daemon, Pan, are brought up and cared for by the Scholars in Oxford, just as any other child. But she has a bigger destiny to fulfill. Unaware of this, Lyra sets out on a journey, to look for her missing friend, who is one among the many children who were kidnapped by a secret society.The rumor is that the society intends to do horrible things to children, even murder them. Lyra is intent on bringing her friend back. Her adventure takes her to the deep North, where she meets many Supernatural and powerful beings, human and non-human. In her course, Lyra learns about bigger threats her world faces and ends up in the middle of it all. How she escapes danger and fights off evil forces is the story of The Golden Compass.

What splendid narration! Philip Pullman has a way with words, it just draws the reader in. I was instantly connected to the story from the first line. The story has a beautiful flow to it; and I wondered how it would be to hear a vocal rendition of this novel, narrated in a deep baritone. Such was the enchanting narrative of the book.

I liked the premise of the book. It’s complicated but it works as a good baseline to build on. A Destiny that Lyra has to fulfill for the saving the world-as-she-knows it, but, and here’s the complicated part, she has to do it without her own knowing. Nobody can help her, and she can’t know that she is the destined savior of the world. As for the story arc, keeping us readers in the dark for more than a hundred pages was a little unfair. Until then the story only wavers about without any ‘purpose’. The direction of the plot isn’t revealed. But not to worry, it picks up fast from there and slowly the big picture is revealed.

Each of the characters were designed so well. Lyra – what a lyrical name. I loved it! Lyra – like the mythical musical instrument lyre. Lyra is a non-fussy, mature, pragmatic child. She is sensitive to others while being equally outgoing and adventure-seeking.Lord Asriel and Mrs.Coulter and Iorek and John Faa…every character was unique.

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Simplicity by Edward de Bono : A review

SimplicitySimplicity by Edward de Bono
My rating: 4 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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A book that lived up to its name. It was simple and effective. There were about 10 ‘rules’ of simplicity outlined throughout the book. Combined with ample examples it was a stupendous effort to explain the concept of ‘Simplifying’ (or in de Bono’s words, ‘simping’ – a simpler word for simplifying).

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green : A review

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters live a brief 300 and odd pages but forever in our hearts. The book starts out with a sour Hazel attending a support group for people with Cancer , where she meets Augustus, a self-assured seventeen year old. The Fault in our Stars is the non-cancery (as Hazel Grace would put it) side of their story. The adorable quirks and witty exchanges make the couple adorable. It is evident from the beginning how beautiful their chemistry is. Gus and Isaac’s friendship is to die for (no pun intended).

some infinities are bigger than other infinitiesAlthough neither of our protagonists has crossed adolescence, their profound knowledge on life and death, Humanity and the general existence of the world makes me wonder. Characters like Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters are really hard to come by in real life, but hey surrealism is the essence of fiction. John Green’s optimism in giving us such positive and non-superficial teenagers is a rare treat for those of us who aren’t big fans of frivolity in Death.

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