5 Books Every Woman Must Read

There are millions of books in the world, published day in, day out. It is hard to read every one of them in the limited lifespan that we have. But the pro of having so many books is that you never run out of books to read. There is always that one book that you have to read. It’s right there on your book list and you can’t wait to get your hands on it. Once you’re done with it, another one mysteriously emerges and thus, the cycle goes on and on.

There were a few books on my list that I absolutely HAD to read. Not that my list is very extensive, but as I read those few books, I realized that they helped me grow stronger as a woman, whatever the definition of stronger might be in your dictionary. Some made me cry and told me that it is okay not to cry, that this world will not always give you what you want, while some others told me that as long as you know what you want and as long as you strive to reach that goal, the struggle is always worth it.

The following five books are what, according to me, every woman must read. Oh, no “feminism” or “women empowerment” here. It is more like they teach you a sense of identity and self-belief.

    1. Eat, Pray, Love: Yes, yes, yes. A cliché when it comes to such lists. But you have to admire the independence that the book portrays. You can leave all you know behind, be it for a sense of adventure or to heal yourself or to just look for life in all you do. Who knows, in all your travails, you might just rediscover yourself and find that one reason that can have you falling head over heels in love, either with yourself or with a person who can make you fall in love with yourself.
    1. The Fault in Our Stars: This book seems to grab a spot on every book list that I make. I am that affected by it. There are probably a million reasons why I am absolutely in love with this book. One of them is how it shows the futility of regret. You might have heard this a million times, but greatness is not the only objective of human life. Finding happiness, love and content is. There is no better life than this life and treasure what you have. Fight against the odds, but don’t forget to live!
    1. The Undomestic Goddess: Relocating to some place you do not know and fitting in there is an uphill task. Running away from your past sure sounds easy, but it will eventually catch up with you. And when it does, be prepared to have a clear mind to make the decision of what you want. Do you want the past that now suffocates you? Or do you want the present that presents you with a million new ways to see life?
    1. The Hunger Games Trilogy: When you isolate and connect the beginning of the first book to the end of the third, you somehow feel that maybe sacrifices are in vain. But as you concentrate on the intermediate parts, you will understand that sacrifices, even if started on a small scale, might grow on and amplify their goodness to the rest of the world. You can mourn for a while or for a long time, but the world, the recipient of the goodness of your sacrifices, will forever be thankful to you.
  1. Gone With The Wind: Another cliché. Scarlett O’Hara may be a smart yet vain and selfish woman, but she has the strength to not only get through wars and famines but also take care of the people who hold her close. She might not be beautiful, but she has plenty grey matter to use her verbal charms accordingly. Loss is not the end. Loss is a brief trough in life.

There is hardly a day that passes that does not containing posts and articles related to women, be it empowerment, praises or humorous dissing. This is just a post that combines two loved topics into one. Women. And Books.

12 Fictional Deaths That Seemed Too Real

Fiction is wonderful. It gives your imagination wings and takes it to places that you never dreamed of. It makes you feel without being a sap. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry. It raises the bias factor in you, it makes you feel sorry, it makes you feel vindictive.

So when a fictional character that you are attached to dies, the only thing that’s on your mind and in your eyes is how not to cry. Still, you cannot help those tears from rolling down your cheeks and those hiccups from echoing from your throat.

I have been prone to tears at the deaths of my favorite fictional characters and any allusion to them just gets the mood going spiraling downwards. Here are those deaths that have most affected me, in no particular order.

  1. Sirius Black – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

As if the absence of Harry’s parents wasn’t enough, Rowling had to go and pluck out the closest thing to a father that Harry had with a cruelty that made the world shiver.

  1. Fred Weasley – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Not even Sirius’ death could make the acceptance of this death any easier. Imagining George without Fred is too difficult. And when the story of how much it affected James and Oliver Phelps, who played the Weasley twins, it was an overload of tears. This was way over bad. It was cruel.

  1. Augustus Waters – The Fault in Our Stars

I might be the person who cried the most, next to Hazel Grace. I was already crying when Hazel read out her eulogy in the church, but when he died “eight days later”, I was a total mess. I hardly followed what happened later and even if I did, it was totally out of love for Gus Waters.

  1. Oberyn Martell – Game of Thrones

I was in shock for a good two days. Unable to understand how to vent it out, I was desperately and frantically searching for ways to do so. It was only after a full session of ranting and abusing George R. R. Martin, that I was able to accept the fact that Oberyn will no longer be there to expound his boastful memoirs.

  1. Sati – The Oath of the Vayuputras

The pain that wracks Shiva when he lays eyes on his wife’s dead face felt so real. It brought home the notion that in this world, even the Gods are mortal, however true or untrue that might be.

  1. Melanie Wilkes – Gone With The Wind

Melanie was the epitome of the perfect, forgiving woman. She saw the good in everyone, even in someone like Scarlett O’Hara. Despite her shortcomings, Scarlett enjoyed a special place in Melanie’s life who was forever grateful to her for saving her during the war. And when she died at the end of the book, I shed a few tears, for it almost meant the death of good during the period that I read that book.

  1. Carlisle Cullen – Breaking Dawn Part 2 (Movie)

Okay, this was not an actual death and it was clarified only ten minutes later as to why it was not an actual death. But when Carlisle’s head came into Aro’s hand, a collective gasp went through the whole theater and I think the loudest had been mine. Thank God for miracles.

  1. Ellie – Up

Eight minutes and she was gone. I agree that she grew old, but still. Why do bad things happen to good people?

  1. Anand – Anand

As Anand takes his final breaths to his own voice reverberating in the room, Babu Moshay cries his eyes out and pleads with him not to go. That flash of Babu Moshay’s eyes, that still face, is a sure tear-jerker.

  1. DJ and Karan – Rang De Basanti

How often do you see people go out with laughter on their faces? It is endearing how, even in their final moments, these two men are talking about marriage and children and laughing at their own quips. The last still of them is them supposedly looking into the barrel of the gun. It’s heart-wrenching. Yes, I cried.

  1. Aman Mathur – Kal Ho Naa Ho

Undying love – pun totally not intended – is what Aman Mathur exudes in this movie. Unselfish in his endeavors to have Naina lead a happy life, he leads her to believe that he is happily married to someone else. And when she finds out the reason for his lies, all hell breaks loose. In the form of tears. In Aman’s eyes and in Naina’s and in mine.

  1. Ishwarchand Thakur – Waqt: The Race Against Time

The actual moment of grief and tears is not when Ishwar is actually dying. It is when he calls Laxman to his side and Laxman chokingly asks him, “Aap wapas kab aa rahe ho?” It was hard to control my tears as a father, a friend, a father-in-law, a grandfather, a husband and a master passed away just moments after naming his grandson after himself.

These are those movies that made me choke with tears when I saw them. Do they find a place on your list? Do let me know!

Keep smiling, for life is what you make it to be.

The Fault in Our Stars – A Poem

Okay.

This might look like I am obsessed with The Fault In Our Stars. In reality, I am. That book has influenced me like no other in recent times. The last time I was raving this fanatically about a book was when I read Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less.

So, coming back to The Fault in Our Stars, I was so touched and influenced, that I rustled up a poem on this absolutely wonderful story. Thought I would share it with everyone. I hope you like it. 🙂

02-09-2014 - The Fault in Our Stars - A Poem

As a child with a million impossible dreams, I looked up to the skies,

As my eyes found the brilliant stars, I let out a series of wondrous cries.

I called out to my Dad and asked him to pluck out one or two fistfuls,

He said those stars are too far, and this life too small, and I wondered why he looked so wistful.

I talked to my Mom and clung to her tight, as she held me to her bosom,

As my mind found the reasons why I grew up, my mind really started to blossom.

I called out softly and asked her how she felt as I gradually started to grow up,

She answered that she was proud and that she couldn’t contain the happiness that threatened to blow up.

But I hardly saw the pain that dwelled deep within her, such loving gazes she held,

As Dad held her hand and strove to explain, it was then that the angst I beheld.

I embraced her with as much force of love and support that I could consciously muster,

It was then that I knew why my Dad seemed so wistful, for God was out to test her.

I had met him that day when they’d said I needed help, that I needed people like me around me,

And I could constantly feel those feelings of love that were beginning to surely surround me.

There was peace, there was love and then there was more, as I couldn’t live longer without him,

But life was never fair, nor was it happy, and the light in his life grew dim.

The tears won’t stop rolling, my heart won’t stop aching, yet I stop slaying myself,

For I did me a favor by falling in love, how can I ever be repaying myself?

And this night I lay, clutching him to my chest, I lay on the dewy grass,

It is then that I realize that the fault is not in me, but it is just in those bright blue stars.

“Okay, Hazel Grace?”

“Okay.”

Disclaimer: I do not own ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. All references here are made to the book, ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ and to the author, John Green. Thank you, John Green, for giving us such a wonderful book. 🙂

Picture Courtesy: Tumblr

20 Books On My Must-Read List

Books. A human’s best friend. Every time you feel down, pick up a book and you’ll forget all your worries. Every time you feel happy, pick up a book and you’ll feel your happiness double. Every time you feel angry, pick up a book and you’ll find that your anger evaporates. Oh, well. This might not be applicable to a many people, but yes, bookworms will understand.

That feeling of holding the book in your hand and losing yourself in its pages: Priceless! I could read and read and read day and night, if I didn’t have a job at hand and worries of waking up early and going to work. A book can be your companion in travel. You could read a book just about anywhere. And I mean ANYWHERE!

In this age of evolving technology and gadgetry, the love for reading books, of shuffling through the pages of a book, listening to the sound of the pages turning and of finding the words forming vivid images in your mind, is lost somewhere. A couple of years ago, there was an ad doing the rounds, of how an iPad can never replace a newspaper or a book. It was a little unfair to newspapers and books, for it almost showed that the only thing that you could use them for was swatting flies and cockroaches. Nevertheless, the basic point still stood out and struck a chord with me.

There are certain books that you have first impressions about, but then all those impressions are bound to be destroyed once you start devouring the books. I would love to see what all books have that effect on me. The Oh-My-God-I-Thought-It-Was-This-But-It-Is-Not effect.

In a previous blog post, I had written about books and the joys of reading them.

You can read the post here: https://themindtravelogues.com/2013/11/18/revere-your-reads/

In this post, I list out 20 books (in no particular order) that are on my must-read list. The reasons why I picked these books vary, from interesting title names to interesting authors, to interesting plots to the hype surrounding them. Here we go:

  1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s: One of Truman Capote’s best-known books, the first thing that leaps to mind is Audrey Hepburn’s face as Holly Golightly.

Breakfast at Tiffanys

  1. A Passage to India: Unlike what the title looks like, this book by M. Forster apparently shows the tensions that simmered between Indians and the British during their rule of India.

A Passage to India

  1. Vanity Fair: William Makepeace Thackeray, using the metaphors ‘Vanity’ and ‘Fair’, made an impression on my mind, of man and his worldly attachments.

vanity+fair

  1. Veronika Decides to Die: Paulo Coelho, I want to know: Why did Veronika decide to die?

veronika decides to die

  1. The Winter of our Discontent: Apparently this book shows us how immorality can lead to discontent and yet, how it is not too late for us to change for the better. At least, that’s what I understood from the synopsis. John Steinbeck, let’s see what you have in store for me.

Winter of Our Discontent

  1. Love in the Time of Cholera: Alright. My first impression of the book was that one of the main characters might be diagnosed with cholera and how their love stood by despite the harsh circumstances brought about by the disease. But no. Gabriel Garcia Marquez has something else in mind. Activism for Eradication of Cholera.

2+love+in+the+time+of+cholera

  1. Mrs. Dalloway: High-class women. High-class parties. High-class Mrs. Dalloway. What do you want to say, Virginia Woolf?

mrs dalloway

  1. The Conquest of Happiness: At last! A book that preaches on how to conquest of happiness. Exactly what I needed! Well, at least that’s what I think. So let’s see what Bertrand Russell has in store.

the conquest of happiness

  1. For Whom The Bell Tolls: Who does the bell toll for in such Ernest (Hemingway)? I guess I’ll just have to read to find out.

hemingway-for-whom-the-bell-tolls

  1. Utopia: How long before I actually get to this place? Written by Thomas More, There is correspondence with other men and then there are discourses on ways to reach this “good place”.

utopia

  1. Coma: The only other Robin Cook book that I have read till date is Abduction. And I found it amazing! This brought on me a desire to read this medical thriller. The name itself gave me the chills.

coma

  1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: This is one book that has shattered my illusions of it. Before I read the summary, I assumed that this was a book that was a story of a demented murderer on the run. But then, Hunter S. Thompson talks about drugs and the 60’s cultures! Interesting!

Hunter S Thompson, Fear and Loathing

  1. The Painter of Signs: As the name suggests, K. Narayan tells the story of a man who paints signs. It’s R. K. Narayan. All arguments end there.

the painter of signs

  1. The Catcher in the Rye: I was not able to decipher this and thought, ‘What does this man want? ( J.D. Salinger)’. Till I saw the gist. Teenage rebellion. Grass. Crops. Hmmm. Again, interesting!

catcher-in-the-rye-cover

  1. Dracula: Who doesn’t want to know about Bram Stoker’s fiendish vampire Count Dracula? The image that comes to mind when I think of Dracula is that of blood dripping from the fangs of the suavely yet horrifying dressed near-human monster.

dracula

  1. The Phantom of the Opera: Two colors come to mind. Purple and red. Purple to denote Lee Falk’s Phantom. For some strange reason, whenever anybody says “opera”, all I can envision is a fat lady singing on a stage, in front of blood-red drapes. Yet, Gaston Leroux paints a seemingly lovely story about two people in love. Er, too much love?

phantom of opera

  1. Shantaram: Well, as stereotypes go, I envision an old toothless man sitting in the corner of some obscure sweetmeat shop or maybe a stationmaster of a small station. But no. Gregory David Roberts’ protagonist is an Australian robber on the run. I’ll save the rest for when I read the book.

shantaram

  1. My Name is Red: This novel by Orhan Pamuk is set in 16th century Istanbul and follows the lives of miniaturists.

My Name Is Red

  1. The Idiot: I expected that this Fyodor Dostoyevsky book would follow the life of a presumed “idiot” and I was not disappointed when I read the summary.

the idiot

  1. Things Fall Apart: Chinua Achebe’s novel describes the life of a 19th Century Nigerian leader and a local champion. My guess is that this novel shows how life can be put right back together when you feel that it is falling apart at the seams. I don’t know how right I am, but I look forward to reading this classic.

things fall apart

Well, that is my list of 20 books that I have made a priority to read. Hoping to lay my hands on these as soon as possible. Have a great time reading.

Until next time! 🙂

Images’ Courtesy: Google Search

Revere Your Reads

Have you ever wondered how that window to the magical world appears and opens before you? From the eyes to the mind and then you are transported into an altogether virtual world, where you are the director, cameraman, creative director, art director and the music composer, all at once. You can smell the rain and feel the heat. You wince at a blow, smile at a cheesy line, laugh at a comic one and cry at a tragic one. You shout and swear in consternation at the injustice meted out. And at the end of it all, you heave a sigh of satisfaction or of frustration, or you cry of sorrow. What could be the initiator of such happiness or such grief?

Books. Those gifts sent from heaven, to give you a sense of joy and excitement.

In this world of online reading and e-books, the value of the traditional book is going lower and lower. But the joy of holding that gem in your hand and experiencing the anticipation of turning a page and not knowing what you will find ahead: priceless. The uncertainty and the eagerness to open that world of dreams defines the underlying beauty of those bountiful treasures.

The feel of a fresh cover of a book in your hands, the turn of the crisp pages and the possessiveness you feel when you lay your hands on it, is second to none. It is with great expectations and excitement that you open it and embark on a journey so wonderful, that you find yourself drowning more and more into the depths of the ocean I call a book. The words, woven so artfully into such beautiful scenes, make you lose yourself in them. They swim around, they dance and they enter your imagination like no other.

A book can be enriching, entertaining and educating, and once you give your all to your book, it will never disappoint you. It will give you at least one emotion when you close it at the end. Distress, frustration, disbelief, even happiness. But the most common sentiment that accompanies a parting with a book is bereavement. There are books, at the end of which, you do not know what to do anymore. You have been immersed in the book so deep that there has been forged a strong bond that cannot be broken by trivialities. What do you do? Where do you go?

The answer lies in the reason for your frustration. Take on a wholly different world to visually construct. A different world to add to the satisfaction that has built up in you after the last one. You will understand that the feeling of plunging into the depths of these worlds is absolutely unparalleled.

If only there was a world where you could spend all your time just reading books and building visions of beauty, without eating, working and sleeping. But alas, this world does not work that way. Socialization, competition for survival and hunger dictate the norms here. So all we need to do, is preserve those treasures for a time when you are free of all the burdens, albeit for a short period of time. Preserve them and revere them.

18-11-2013 - Revere Your Reads

P.S. If you happen to stumble upon that wonderful world, you know where to find me.

Picture Courtesy: christopherpressler.com