One of the sure signs that you are a bookaholic is a tendency to pick up books wherever you go. You could have ten unread books in your cupboard and yet when you see something interesting, you grab it like a refugee reaching out for a food packet in a famine. Friends who gush about a book they have read in the recent past usually know I will request to be put on the list of people who is going to borrow their book. Libraries regularly make their income because I borrowed stuff I just had to read and then realised that I was actually in the mood for reading it a good one month later.
The last few weeks have been a nice combination of beg, borrow and buy. The buy list started with the Landmark sale this year, which was a stellar example of the ‘quality over quantity’ argument. They did not have too many books on sale. However, I found stuff I wanted to read at decent prices. So not surprisingly my book budget for the month was thrown out of the window and I went berserk. Here is stuff I picked up
Sideways by Rex Pickett – I had seen the movie and it was pretty neat. It is a ‘slice of life’ story about two friends on a road trip, checking out the California countryside. Going by the basic truth of ‘the book is always better than the movie’, this book went into my shopping bag
The 6th Lamentation, William Broderick – A friend had been recommending it for a while. Since I loved his last recommendation (Neal Stephenson – Cryptonomicon), this one was picked up
Interface by Neal Stephenson and Frederick George – refer comment above.
Four Blondes, Candace Bushnell – I don’t particularly like Sex and the City. I find all of them wimpy whinny types who spent most of their waking hours agonizing over the lack of men in their lives. However, allowances have to be made to the side of me that digs chick flicks. (I have since read the book and realized that this is worse than the series)
Dilberts – When you are getting a 50% off, you just buy them. Guaranteed to make you laugh.
The super-absorbent biodegradable family-size baby blues by Kirkman and Scott - for a friend who delivered twins about a month ago and is suffering from an acute lack of sleep. Hopefully this will help her see the lighter side of life at this stage. It definitely made my colleagues in office laugh a lot.
Foundation’s Edge – This was not on sale. However, my library has not been able to locate its copy of the novel and I am too involved in the series to patiently wait for my library to order it from its network
Best American Essays 2003, edited by Anne Fadiman– Ever since I read Anne Fadiman’s Ex Libris I atleast knew that she had great taste in books. The first page of the first essay sounded quite promising.
Being Human by Mary and John Gribbin – to indulge the side of me that seriously believes that one day I will read all the science books in my cupboard.
All this for roughly 2000 bucks. Not a bad deal huh?
After this blitzkrieg, I managed to pick up Satyajit Das’s Traders, guns and money which was recommended by a friend in forex trading. The book is an absolutely hilarious look into the big bad world of derivative sales. Das is an insider and he has a wicked sense of humour. Sample this. Das believes the difference between buy side and sell side is that the buy side says ‘**** you’ and puts the phone down. The sell side puts the phone down and says the same. Anybody in any kind of a selling job would applaud this insight.
To this happy pile of books have been added two books from my library borrow list - Haruki Murakami’s Blind Willow and Sleeping woman and Edward Luce’s In spite of the Gods. The latter’s blurb has positive reviews by William Dalrymple (wow) and Amartya Sen (double wow). More importantly I am hoping this has a balanced look at the hysterical cries about India’s super growth (in other words, that the writer agrees with my views)
Finally my friends beg list has not met its target. A friend to whom I gifted Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity was supposed to lend it to me and we both forgot about it when we met. This just reaffirms my policy that you must always read books that you propose to gift and avoid inconvenient logistics later on.
I am fairly confident that some of these books will probably be stored away for a few months, perhaps even a year before they make it to my bedside table where the current reading lists are piled. Which right now is the rest of Satyajit Das, Foundation’s Edge, Orhan Pamuk’s ‘I am red’ (intriguing historical mystery – the only way I can read history) and Sylvia Plath’s Bell jar that is a terse account of an American girl before her breakdown. Plath is very depressing and it is no surprise she killed herself after writing that book. I am sure I can never finish the rest of the book but I don’t have the heart to put it away either. After all she died writing it and you have to commemorate that.
The really cool moment was an addition to the beg, borrow and buy categories, viz unexpected gift. As I mentioned in my last post, I was gifted Khalil Gibran's The Prophet.
It has been a happy few weeks.