Here, as promised, is my Book-Tag meme (thanks, Yazad):
Total Number of Books I Own
Could be anywhere upwards of 3,000 (though if I’m allowed to include every individual Amar Chitra Katha comic it’ll probably be over 5,000!).
Last Book I Bought
A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami
Last Book I Read
The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Globalized World in the 21st Century by Thomas Friedman
Five Books that Mean a Lot to Me
Five books? Pointless exercise, as any book-lover would know. But it’s great fun too, so we’re all doing it. In his meme, Amit Varma says his list might be different next year. Well, mine would probably be different tomorrow, or an hour after I’ve posted this blog. (Except for the Faraway Tree books, which will stay forever.)
Here’s the list:
The Enchanted Wood/Faraway Tree books by Enid Blyton
Blyton doesn’t seem to be much in favour these days, and besides there are so many clever children’s writers around now, but she’s given me some of my earliest, most precious reading memories. Even today, every few months I need to go back to the three Faraway Tree books. And every time, without fail, as I near the end of the last book I find myself wishing that a previously unread chapter would magically materialize. And then another, and another. And that the stories of the magical lands atop the tree would never run out.
The Mahabharata - Various authors
Am I allowed to include this? I’ve read around 10-12 versions by different authors and my favourite single-volume version is the Kamala Subramaniam one, which is over-sentimental at times (though mind you, I didn’t think so when I first read it at the age of 10!) but also superbly captures the pathos of the story – the interior lives, motivations and emotions not just of the obviously sympathetic characters like Bheeshma and Karna but also of the likes of Duryodhana (who was turned into a leering Hindi-film villain by B R Chopra in that gaudy TV epic we were all so addicted to 15 years ago). Just to clarify though, I’m talking here about the epic in general, not any one author’s version.
Cult Movies 3 by Danny Peary
Some of my crucial reading years were spent on film books and while I relished a lot of the academic stuff, one of my personal favourites is the simple, conversational – but very, very intelligently written - Cult Movies 3, which I happened to stumble upon at a sale in CP and picked up only because one of the movies discussed was Hitchcock’s Psycho. The great thing about Peary’s writing is that he has that first, most important quality of any true movie-lover: unconditional open-mindedness about what he’s willing to watch. He writes with equal passion and insight about such B-films as Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and the 1970s “thinking person’s porn film” Café Flesh as he does about “respectable” classics like Dr Strangelove. Without his example, I don’t think I would ever have been able to discuss movies like Star Wars and Deewaar with any confidence.
The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
I’ve blogged about The Unconsoled at length before, but well, here it is again. Reading it at a time when I had started getting terribly weighed down by the difficulties of time management, I was enormously affected by Ishiguro’s great novel about a man who seems constantly to be treading a pre-determined path others have laid out for him, never gaining control over his own life, always losing sight of the things that really matter. The book’s circular, surrealistic narrative is seriously disconcerting; offhand I can’t think of another novel that provides such a vivid sense of a nightmare world from which there’s no waking (among films David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive comes close). At least, I thought it was a nightmare world until I went on a couple of high-activity, high-tension junkets and realized that Ishiguro’s book was an only slightly exaggerated version of our real lives.
And…that’s it. I’m leaving the fifth slot blank, as a reminder of how futile this exercise is. But just off the cuff, here are some honorary mentions, all of which would (probably) make it to my Top 500 (!):
Moby Dick - Herman Melville
A Cinema of Loneliness - Robert Kolker
Fiction into Film - Joy Gould Boyum
50 Great Innings - Peter Roebuck
Portnoy’s Complaint - Philip Roth
Shame - Salman Rushdie
Red Dragon - Thomas Harris
The Silmarillion - J R R Tolkien
The Ragman’s Son - Kirk Douglas
The Blandings Castle books - P G Wodehouse
Tag five people and have them do this on their blogs: Unfortunately everyone already seems to have been tagged. Clearly, I need to increase my blog circle!