Veronika Decides To Die

Author: Paulo Coelho

My Rating:  4.2 / 5

veronika

” Madness is the inability to communicate your ideas

This is my favourite line in the entire novel. Somewhere at the beginning of the book you come across the question ” Who are mad people and what is madness ? ”  and you will find the answer for this question later in the book after which I introspected myself whether I am a mad person or not. Surprisingly, my answer was slightly inclined towards yes if I took my past into consideration. I realized that there used to be a deficit between the ideas and passions which had popped in my mind and the expressions and actions which I had put forward. Now I would like to mention the highlights of the book.

Reasons for Suicide:

This came as a shock to me not because that they are extremely silly but are convincing enough. FIRST: Once the young age departs, it would be downhill all the way with old age beginning to leave irreversible remarks, onset of illness and loss of loved ones. So there is no point in continuing life. End it when it is perfect. SECOND: There were many wrong things going on in the world but she had no way of putting them right, which gave her a sense of powerlessness. End it when you are not playing a role. If everyone had the guts to take their lives ( or timidness depending on your perception ), I guess a vast majority of people will go ahead after they read and absorb these two lines.

Bitterness of life:

We often try to stay in our comfort zones without putting up any risks since we feel that moving out of our comfort zones may disrupt our lives. But eventually it leads us to the sameness and monotony in every aspect of life which will ultimately make us uncomfortable which the author quotes as bitterness. We hide our passions and desires since we do not want them to hinder our relationships and our normal day-to-day life. We sacrifice them because we do not want to disappoint our parents and our loved ones but the result turns out into disappointing ourselves.

Life in a mental asylum:  

We often think of mad people as someone with a health problem involving lack of certain chemicals. But there are people who try to build a wall from outside world and sufferings, people trying to escape from unemployment and economic crisis during wars, people just acting madness in order to free themselves from certain crimes they are charged with. The author narrates three individual stories who end up in the hospital for three different reasons: The first by depression due to the loss of a loved person, the second by panic attacks and the fear that she may never lead her normal life again, the third by sacrificing his goals for his parents and suffering from delusions. All the three of them remind us of the important characteristics which we need to uphold for a successful life.

Who can buy this book ?

Many of us often have this strange feeling that we are not living our lives whole-heartedly. There is always a small space in our hearts filled with this dissatisfaction. After reading through the blurb of this novel, you will definitely question yourself  ” How am I going to live if I were to die in a week ? ” If you find the answer, then kudos!!! and start living your entire life in that way. If you don’t find it, then there isn’t a better time than now to figure it out. Irrespective of either case I feel that this book is worth a read for everyone.

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CODE TO ZERO

Author      :  Ken Follet

My Rating :  3.4 / 5

220px-CodeToZeroCold war and particularly space race are often one of most discussed topics in the subject of History. Based on this theme, the way how CIA and KGB operate discreetly trying to steal information from each other through double agents is focused in this novel. Ken creates an air of tangible tension throughout the book which is obvious to the genre and storyline he has selected. Usually I mention the highlights of the book in my reviews but this time I would like to mention the things which I learned or felt during my reading.

1. Capitalism vs Communism:

                   “It is something which happens in your childhood, otherwise never”

Well, I should say that I disagree with Ken in this issue. As a kid I was inclined towards Russia and communist ideologies but as I grew I felt that true equality between people in a society can never be achieved even under the control of totalitarian government. Nevertheless, the idea of US born citizens getting influenced by the communist ideology and preparing themselves to deceive their country-land was marvellously narrated by the author. It almost seemed like the author was expressing his idea that sometimes basic instincts and notions dominate personal life and patriotism. I should admit that though I didn’t feel that his idea was practical – the dialogues between the characters were convincing enough.

2. Coup d’etat:

Though I personally believe that capitalism is a better ideology, I shall also note that this is exactly where US loses its points. I knew about the Taliban uprising and Iraqi regime change (partially before reading this book) but when the country of Guatemala was mentioned I came to know that Iraq and Afghanistan were just two of the many coup d’etat missions conducted by America for the benefit of its economic interests. Apparently it was evident how a large section of the society would raise their voice against government actions. But still, how come banana be the reason for a regime change ?!?!?!

3. Swinging relations:

As the story progresses, the hero of the story finds that the man whom he considered as a best friend tries to murder him and the woman who was his college love deceives him in marriage. Also, he comes to know that the man who he chooses to distrust and the woman who he has ignored turn out to help him at the right time. Well sometimes those misunderstandings happen in our lives too, don’t they ?? However, the lead of the story has lived with it for over a decade, too large time to avoid shock – common in espionage activities I guess.

Who can buy this book ?

If you are a person who love spying activities, secret missions, double agents and counter-fights, you will love this book. However you shouldn’t be expecting someone breaching into a foreign country and bringing down a criminal or an organization, rather you should settle with far less than that. Still, the book with its engrossing narration is worth a read if you are a lover of this genre. For others, go for it if you are too bored.

The God of Small Things

Author: Arundhati Roy

My Rating: 3.4 / 5 the-god-of-small-thingsIf you ask me to summarize the entire book into a single line, I would say it as ” An ugly story written in a remarkable style of writing. “ As if like the author is trying to entertain us with tragedy weaved with innocence by introducing us to a woman who could not resist her sexual desires, an Indian who marries a foreigner against the dislike of his parents, a paravan ( a sect of backward caste ) who could not realize his limitations in the society and most importantly two twins: Ambassador Elvis Presley and Love in Tokyo who represent themselves as “we” and “us”, as if they are one soul residing in two bodies. I would like to mention the highlights of the book.

1. Siblings affinity: Truly,things can change in a day. Separated and united by destiny, the author illustrates the love between two twins of opposite gender who knew each other even before they began life. I loved a particular line in the novel where Rahel opens the door for Estha though he didn’t knock the door. Strange and almost difficult to understand how a person can realize the presence of other, when they come close to us. I felt a little uneasy when I came across such lines or like a white moth spreading its wings on my heart, if I had to say in the style of author. Because I never had or seen someone else experience love to such an extent !!

2. Indians of 80’s and 90’s: Or perhaps I should mention as Keralites specifically. Right from childhood I always loved Kerala due to its low population growth rate compared to other states which I personally believe as a good factor in the growth of India. Let it be the influence of Christianity and its education or the history of the world’s first democratically elected communist government or the oppression of people belonging to backward and scheduled castes or the Plymouth car or the tangerine radio, Roy gives a brilliant narration of all the tangible and non-tangible things of the late 20th century which are adored by a reader of early 21st century, someone like me.

3. Needs vs feelings: Sex, perhaps one of the most uncontrollable desires of mankind, the root of many wars and casualties, the reason for many pages in the books of history finds its way into our story too. A young teenager who lusts a Christian father and expects him to satisfy her, an woman, most importantly a widow and mother of two children creeping through the shadows of night to quench her desires, a divorced man who uses the special door of his house for his secret visitors or his man’s needs are all real characters in the world just represented as a fiction in the book. But, astonishingly you will also find this natural desire making its way between two twins when they meet after years of separation !! Where all the above cases were needs, this one was a feeling and where all the above cases were sex, this one was a way of expressing love !!!

Who can buy this book ? If it wasn’t for Roy, I would have rated this book much lower. If you are a kind of person who enjoy a good storyline ( unless you admire tragedy ), you can move on without looking at it. But if you are a kind of person who fancies the narration of an author and the way he/she uses the language to picture the characters and their inter-connections, or the beauty of story-telling as to simply put it, then definitely add this book to your cart for a literature sized hole in your heart !!!

The Street Lawyer

Author: John Grisham

My Rating: 3.7 / 5

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One thing for sure to be known by all the readers of this book after its completion: “Basic attributes of Law”.  I had never read a novel ever before which puts you into engaging excitement right from page 2. Such was the impact left by Grisham but however you will never find that rush of adrenaline again apart from several minor occasions. The entire mood is primarily based on the lifestyle of squatters and the suffering of homeless people. Grisham too like Archer kept the vocabulary simple, perhaps to impress readers like me. I would like to mention the highlights of the book.

1. Trivial nature of money:

I loved this theme used by the author when the hero of the novel moves away from a million-dollar firm to a non-profit organization as a result of several circumstances faced unexpectedly. Ultimately he finds the joy in helping the dying and the destitute. The greediness of rich people and the unwillingness shown by them in helping the homeless is highlighted by the author. However, the lead of the story finds a radical change within himself from the extent where he used to charge a thick amount for his clients at the old firm and to the extent where he whole-heartedly refuses to charge even a single penny at his new firm. He recalls the memories from his graduation where all of his classmates promised to use their law education to help the righteous side without the lust for money. Money which once made him to stand up on his heels and chase down anything and almost everything has slowly become trivial to him.

2. Tenderness of relationships:

Probably, one of the common scenarios which we seldom observe in our own lives. In my opinion relationships get anchored when you spare and spend time with the other person and will break when you fail to do it. More or less this is what that happens to the hero of the story, he aims to become a partner at the firm and works hard and in order earns a lot from his billings but fails to better his relationship with his wife Claire. Claire, who works as a doctor doesn’t succeed in finding time as she too like her husband runs back of money and finally gets divorced to end an unsatisfying marriage. However, the hero finds an another woman later in the story but nevertheless, the author gives a beautiful message regarding the effects of uncompromising attitudes and imbroglios in relationships.

3. Uncertainity of future:

30 days is all that takes for the lead of the story to change his life drastically between two ends of his life. It thrilled me when I realized the fact about how unsure the future is and we never know what tomorrow holds for us. But, we do believe change is good and it happens for good reasons. We may lament for several events which occur in our lives but as our life progresses we realize that everything happens for a reason and it starts making perfect sense to us. The same theme is applicable to the hero who is initially bewildered by the circumstances he had faced but at the end he turns out to be a happy man, in fact a lot better than what he actually was !!!

Who can buy this book ?

The reason why I rated this book below 4 is due to the belabouring of the author on the lifestyle of homeless people which appeared unnecessary to me. Apart from that the book had a very good story-line with essential elements mixed up to keep the reader engrossed. All the newbies and first-time readers can buy this book due to the simple usage of vocabulary. Also, voracious readers looking for a slight change of genre can opt for it.

CHANAKYA’S CHANT

Author – Ashwin Sanghi

My Rating –  4 / 5

History is the most fascinating thing when it comes to novels. I heard the name of Chanakya for the first time during a budget session being carried out by the finance minister of India, denoting him as an ace economist known till date. After reading the novel it appeared to me as if most of the Indian movies have been inspired from various themes of Chanakya’s biography such as revenge, fighting for justice, sacrificing love etc. The history of Chanakya interweaves with the politics of modern India suffering from religious differences, caste feeling and corruption. These two stories run parallel to each other, with the latter inheriting the ideologies of the former. I would like to mention the highlights of the book:

340 B.C:

The history has been effectively narrated as it deals with the tyranny of the lustrous emperor Dhanananda, who controlled the major portion of present day geography of India and who executes the innocent and revolutionary Chanak, father of Chanakya for his selfish needs. This marks as the beginning of the story, which is later followed by the journey of Chanakya to Taxila University, arguably the first established university in the entire world which graduated many students and princes from India, China, Korea and central Asian territories in various streams. The epic picks up its pace as Chanakya grows to the position of a teacher at the University. He believed that strength lies in unity and wanted to unify Bharat under an able emperor to protect the country from external forces. At a point of time I felt that I reopened my history book of 9th standard as I passed through the phase of the Greek hero Alexander’s invasion of Sindh defeating the powerful emperor Paurus in a battle and reinstalling him into the throne as an honour of his bravery shown in the battlefield. The later epic deals with how Chanakya succeeded in making Chandragupta Maurya, one of his trusted disciples as the emperor of unified Bharat using his cunning tactics.

For a brief period I wondered whether Chanakya was positive or negative. He misuse’s his childhood crush, asks his disciple to trap a princess under an illusion of being loved, play’s dirty political tricks in order to achieve his personal goal, but what keeps him positive throughout is the very goal which he wants to achieve.

Modern politics:

                                         The fiction part of this historical fiction begins when a man by name Gangasagar finds an ancient tabloid in Sanskrit language at the ruins of Pataliputra, the capital city of Chandragupta which contains the chant as mentioned in the title of the novel encrypted on it. He resembles the Chanakya character of ancient India. The character of Chandragupta is inherited by Chandinigupta, dramatically both Chandra and Chandini meaning the same word moon but surprisingly the latter being a female. Even this story gave me the same feeling that whether Gangasagar was a good or a bad guy. He forces Chandini to be single and never lets her to fall in permanent masculine relations. He deceives several people and never let them to grow in their political career after using their popularity. He involves in share-market scams, bribes several journalists, misuses the electoral voting machines and uses every dirty trick possible to bring his beloved and selected candidate Chandini closer to the throne of Prime minister of India.

I wonder what impression would Pakistani and Chinese citizens will have once they read this book, as it deals with the possible operations undertaken by RAW(Research and Analysis Wing) agents in the interiors of respective countries. Well Sanghi, though it is an open truth, you cannot tell it openly !!!

Women power:

                                     It appeared to me as if there was lust, prostitution and fornication in almost every chapter, both in ancient and modern India. Many downfalls of emperors and destruction of politicians are a result of these carnal desires. Though the author didn’t make any such statement, I realized that women are not only the positive power who result in the creation of humanity but can also be a negative power if they are misused or when their mental instability of control are taken as an advantage. After all, this is what we learn from history or literature……..a lesson !!!!

Who can buy this book ?

                                         I can assure you that this novel is not a history textbook. Actually, anybody can read this book irrespective of their age and gender but I recommend it to people who have a reasonable knowledge in politics as well as economics. Here, I don’t mean to say that you can’t enjoy this book if you don’t, but you can’t enjoy it to the maximum because the particular phase of novel where it deals with these aspects may turn out to be dry. If you want to witness the possible political change in India, then go ahead as this book provides a thrilling visual

THE ALCHEMIST

Author –        Paulo Coelho

My Rating –    4.2 / 5  

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                                       Months before I started reading this book, on a certain occasion I thought over a question: Who is God? , the instant answer was the same routine one that he is the power who created us and the universe, but then struck the question: Who created God? …….then I remembered the Higgs-Boson particle being researched by some of the scientists and physicists. But, even what they conclude is that something came from something, but how did this something ever come into existence? , I felt that something came from nothing and this something can become nothing when the nature wishes to and I concluded the question with an answer that this power which makes something to nothing and vice-versa is the SOUL, which is present in every element in the universe including humans.

Now coming back to the novel, an alchemist is a person who is believed to have the skill of converting lead or any other metal into gold. The story starts with a boy named Santiago whose parent’s wishes him to become a priest but he has a different passion and follows it. He encounters with the same dream twice within a span of a few days and goes in search of it which happens in every novel, but whenever he pauses he finds a driving force in some or the other form. In some part of the book, a saying goes “If you put your full heart into something, then the whole nature conspires you in achieving it.” I also want to mention the highlights of this book:

1. Following our dreams:

“Do what your heart tells you to do.”, a famous quotation which we come across many times in our life and some people refer it as passion. Before reading the book I only thought of fulfilling my passions but after reading the book, it was something more. I never felt like the boy Santiago who dreamt of something twice and gets curious about it and wills to find a way to reach his treasure near the Egypt pyramids. Maybe I don’t remember my dreams or even I do, I don’t have gypsies around me to hold my palm and say what it is about !!!……..well but I had to admire the courage of the boy Santiago who risks his earnings and sells his sheep in order to travel a different place which he didn’t even know in search of his treasure, I had to admire him because most probably I would never keep my earnings at stake in pursuit of reaching my dream in my entire life. But courage is the key to balanced life and with that element he decides to become a shepherd instead of a priest at first and then decides to follow his dream later on. Maybe the story is far away from my original surroundings and daily life and maybe that is why I couldn’t help admiring the character. Then I felt that even if there were gypsies around me, I need to break the parental power and stop caring for money to follow my dream and that might never happen, maybe that was what I felt missing the instant I closed the book.

2. The Alchemy:

The further I read the book, the more connected I felt with it because it has the same question which I mentioned in the introduction part that occurred to me much earlier. This further proved me that every being has the same soul and perhaps people get similar questions and ideas because of this philosophy. We try to change for better and modify ourselves. More or less, alchemy is something like this philosophy. The author tells that: Lead tries to change its properties and becomes gold as a process of evolution, but it will only happen when lead has fulfilled its purpose and destiny. This is a perfect beauty from the author who refers that if we are supposed to turn into gold or evolve then we have to first follow our dreams and fulfill our destinies. As we do this, we not only evolve ourselves but also evolve the surroundings. Forget the alchemy, I was just wondering about the girl Fatima, a desert girl with whom Santiago falls in love in the midst of his treasure-seeking journey. She tells him to go ahead and find what he has been looking for though she knew that there was a possibility that he would never come back. Yet, once again I felt that the story is far away from my daily life and surroundings. But this time I couldn’t admire the character but instead felt jealous of it because finding a girl who understands your heart doesn’t come from an inner quality something like courage, it is of pure luck or maktub, an Arabic word which means “it is written” as mentioned by the author in the novel.

3. Omens:

My goodness, I felt as if this word appeared on almost every page of the book that I had to look at the dictionary to find its exact meaning. Damn, these 161 pages consists of so many philosophical statements that you would probably forget half of them the minute you close the book. The boy Santiago followed omens throughout his journey and what mattered me was the way he followed them. The author calls it as the universal language or the language between the souls. The boy Santiago could sense a language between him and the sheep, the desert, the tribesman, the wind and every elemental particle he found around him, the ultimate essential wisdom of listening to our hearts. There was one scene in the novel which was very hard to imagine, the conversion of a man into wind. Perhaps, the alchemist wanted to prove the boy that he could convert himself into any elemental form he desired to be. I thought over the possibility of this scene when I was first encountered with the question that I mentioned in the intro, it made sense when I thought over it deeply but it was like an exaggeration when I read it in the book. The climax was good proving the novel with the statement “All is well that ends well.”

Who can buy this book ?

Well, as the book stands as an inspiration with its rich philosophical values, anybody can buy this one. Unlike other books you need a lot of patience and leisure to complete this one, the narration has got its meaning rooted in-depth and so take your time in reading it.

I want to tell you about two characters, one: The boy Santiago or the hero of the novel who commits to his passion, follows his dream, listens to his heart and follows the omens, finds his girl, discovers the universal language between the souls and two: An average man who commits to do what most of the people do as he feels that it is a secured path, follows wealth and money, never discovers the universal language as he is never out in the nature and never tries to evolve himself into something like gold.

Just observe the difference between these two characters, if you feel like buying the book, go ahead…….!!!!!!!