My blog is not really a blog. More than anything else, it is a glorified bookmarks list. My friend Deepa chided me once that this blog does not really give any insight into the real me – i.e. what my opinions are, what I stand for, etc. A few days back, Venkat tagged me with a book-reading blog-meme which gives me the opportunity (excuse?) to go all I-me-myself on you. So here goes:
Books that changed your life – As a kid, instead of studying, I would read Ya. Perelman’s books: Physics for Entertainment, Figures for Fun, and a book on algebra whose name I forget. Interestingly, as a result, I ended up doing really well in my exams without really studying for them. I must be one of the few people who ended up high up in the IIT-JEE rankings without ever having read Resnick and Halliday or any of the other bibles of cracking JEE.
Even today, whenever any kid I know shows some interest in Physics or Maths, I give them a set of these four books.
Books you’ve read more than once – Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. For a few years, I would keep this by my bedside, and just before fallling asleep, I would open a random page and start reading. A great combination of humor and insight.
Book you would take to a deserted island – A notebook. I don’t really see myself reading some book over and over and over again on a deserted island. I could however spend lots of time writing things.
Book that made you laugh – Jerry Seinfeld’s SeinLanguage. Another great combination of humor and insight, this time in the most trivial things. All done in tiny bite-sized chunks that are easily digested.
And of course, P.G. Wodehouse, especially the Jeeves series, definitely needs to be here. And Mark Twain, especially his short stories.
Book that made you
cry want to kill yourself – I don’t really get depressed from reading books. But there were some that did make me cry. The one I really remember is Kramer vs. Kramer. But that was a while back. More recently, I think I’ve just stayed away from books that might have had a deep emotional impact. Not sure why.
Book you wish you had written – This doesn’t really match my style of thinking. When I read a good book, I don’t go “I wish I could write like this”. So nothing in this category for me.
Book(s) you wish had never been written – I wish 99% of Atlas Shrugged had never been written. I do find the central argument of the book interesting, but having to wade through the 1000+ pages of one-dimensional characters, repetitititive repetitions of the same argument over and over and over again, and a fairly silly plot, is just torture. Nobody should have to read that. It would be much better as a short story.
Book(s) you’re currently reading – Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light (thanks Ganesh). Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them. This was a rather eye-opening experience for me – since I don’t have any background in arts or literature (being a science and math person all through) I was completely unaware of how writers use language to achieve the impact they want to. And this book helped me start looking in the right places.
Book you’ve been meaning to read – Outline Of History by H.G. Wells. Another topic that I hated while I was in school, but now find very interesting.
Book you have been meaning to finish – J.A.B. van Buitenen’s Mahabharata series. It is an (incomplete) unabridged translation of the Mahabharata. I read the first couple of volumes and found them fascinating. The unabridged version has some really cool things that are missing from the shorter versions like C. Rajagopalachari’s book (which I love by the way). You get a real feel for why Krishna is so godly until you read his decimation of an opponent’s argument in full unabridged glory. But it’s just too long, and parts (especially the ones that deal with ancestry and lineage) are very boring. Someday…
And now I tag Paul, Rujuta, and Krish Ashok.