In what has been quite a few months of some disturbing and some pleasant discoveries, my belief has been reiterated in the fact that it is lovely to have a friend or relative around to discuss music, books and movies with, to nit-pik on each other's favourite lines, pass judgement on films or say that a particular song is a must listen. I understand what ma told me once long back, about the reason why she shared the books she read with me, even though my Kannada reading is negligible.
The intro has nothing to do with the rest of the post, really. I wanted to write about the way I have been nearly devouring books lately. Back in school and college, there was the district library I spent the summers in and my own library to pick the books from. I had no friends who shared my voracious reading habit. So every few months or so when we travelled to Bangalore or some big city, I would linger over book stores for hours, calculate what I could buy with the money I had saved and pick up from among the fattest and cheapest good books I could manage to make them last longer. A hard combination to find.
Madikeri used to have Navakarnataka Exhibitions once in a while and I was happiest there, for the Russian literature, of which I read a lot, went as cheap as Rs 25 for a volume of Puskin's poetry or Rs 50 for Tolstoy's short stories. Hard cover, that too. Then I discovered Books Today, a thin catalogue from the India Today Group from where you could order books at a reduced price and have it delivered home.
And then I moved to the cities and my collection has only grown large enough to overflow from a huge antique book shelf back home. My collection started out with the Russian literature books that my grandfather had left me. Somehow, I am very possessive about my books, even it is some pulp fiction rag that I bought to pass the time on a flight. I hate lending them out too, to most people. There, I said it. Not many treat books well and I have cringed to get them back in dog ear condition. Just two days ago, I discovered that an author signed copy of a novel, autographed when I was interviewing the master storyteller, a book that I had lent out, was SOLD in a second hand book store by mistake. Some miscommunication there I am told, but I am still extremely excruciatingly upset.
I was to write here that I have been reading a lot of books off late, late into the night, with the dogs barking outside my window for company. It feels like being back home. I absolutely loved Andre Agassi's autobio Open. I had the mistake of reading Gandhi's autobio long ago and had sworn off them for years. A friend, quipping that it was a wonder that I was still reading at all (!), insisted I read Open. It is by far one of the best books I could recommend for you. The story is racy, but the writing style is what bowled me over.
Right after that, I zipped through Lance Armstrong's autobios It's Not About the Bike and Every Second Counts. Though the writing lacked much, I too well associated with his thoughts. Brought back to mind my own years in and out of hospitals and surgeries, though it was no where close to the things he went through. Then I finished Kazuo Ishiguro's Pale View of the Hills, a strange, rather macabre story. Then came Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, a fantastically written account of the 1996 Everest disaster. All this is less than two weeks, mind you. That's a lot for me, I never read this fast usually.
Now I am on the Millennium series, Stieg Larsson's phenomenal works. Sitting up till nearly 4 AM this morning, I finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I was impressed, yes. But I did find the ending a tad predictable. The book is amazing for the way he tackles cyber crime, sexual crime and a host of other intricate issues. I finished it abandoning much work. And tomorrow that I leave to Sittilingi again, I am not sure I should start the second one.
When I was reading the book, I swear I could hear a soundtrack in my mind. You know, like in those movies, when the suspense builds up and there is terse, fast zug-zug-zug-tenna-tenaaooo kind of music? The story is so visual that I almost heard the thriller-film music when I was reading some parts. Does that ever happen to you I wonder? Does a book so immerse you that you see the story come alive on a screen before your eyes and you begin seeing it directed, music, the swish of the knife, et all?