Category Archives: Book Review

I am… What I Read

Mark Twain once revealed his mind, “A man who cannot read has no advantage over the person who is illiterate.” Reading and writing are the fundamental things that we learned in school. I distinctly remember the first day in new class when books were distributed. I was zestful that now I’ll get to read new stories from the books. Be it the fable of ‘The Bore and Two Friends’ or the story of ‘A Crocodile and A Monkey’ by Vikram Seth. Characters of the books left an everlasting impression on me. The professional ethics and values I possess today are somewhat in sync with what I imbibed those days.

As a kid, we find everything fascinating. We are even amazed by the things we find mundane now. The reason being, back then it was a new experience for us. But as we all get exposed to the hassles of life, these events around us cease to be impressive. We abandon the most wonderful habit we inculcated during childhood. We stop to add new assets to our arsenal. We stop to read. As I grew up, along with me, the books grew up too. I was devoured by the heavy volumes of Physics and Mathematics books. The purpose of reading was now different but there was one thing still common between the different genres I was reading – it was helping me to grow. This time the growth was on the professional front.

For my joining at ABC, I relocated to a new city. The joy of amazement returned to my life. I was amused by the simplest things again. The hoardings, streets, buildings, everything was fascinating once again. And it was prodded by this bliss I picked story books again. My world was now revolving around the characters of novels I was reading. I was traveling places I never imagined I would. And I was viewing the world through eyes of the protagonists of the books I was reading. At times, trying to be committed to work while reading Md. Ali’s biography whereas trying to be brave like Santiago in The Alchemist.

Pragmatically, it’s impossible to opt several careers at one point of time. But submerging into depths of words I can look the world through the eyes of a doctor, a refugee, a survivor or a soldier. Books are a way of life. They have helped me develop a perspective. To understand people at workplace better and to relate to them. Books have provided me words and thoughts which are the greatest asset a man can possess.

Looking through the prism of time, I feel all the shades that are sublimed into my life are a byproduct of the books I have read over the years. The shades might not be fifty yet, nor are they gray but certainly a bright combination of the colors of umpteen books I have read over the years.

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

nineteen-eighty-four-1984-2

Story in short:

The story of Nineteen Eighty-Four is set up in Oceania and unfolds around the life of its protagonist Winston. He is a part of the dystopian society where no such thing as free-will exist and every action of every person part of the state has to be in accordance with the will of the government. The society is fragmented into three parts. The inner party is the one who works for the government whose sole aim is to work for the achievement of the purpose of the government. The proles are the lower class who constitute a large portion of the population and are not cared for by the government. The third being the inner party which supposedly works secretly and is rebellious.

Winston is working for the government where his task is to examine the articles and news carefully and change them suitably in the favor of the government so as to record them in history.  Everything that is against the government is stashed away as it never existed. People who betray the government in one way or the other are ostracized as if they never existed – the termed unperson is used for this. The people are under the constant observation of the telescreen and they have been just reduced to a condition where they can not do or think logically. For them, whatever the party does is supreme.

Orwell has described the dystopian society and the life of people in the first hundred pages. Since it is written in the third person without much conversation taking place between people, it is excruciating to go through it. Most of the times we are just reading Winston’s monolog without anything interesting event taking place to take forth the story.

The story takes a turn when Winston meets Julia who works in another department in Winton’s office. There begins their clandestine affair which paces up the story a little bit. Julia seems to be an intelligible woman and they both get with each other very well. The one thread that sews them together is their mutual hatred for the party. In times where even thinking against the party is a thoughtcrime, love blossoms in their hatred.

The love-affair was going very smooth until one day when Winston meets an Inner Party member O’Brian. O’Brian promises to induct Winston into the inner party league so that they can work secretly to overthrow the government. This, however, turns out to be a farce and Winston along with Julia is captured by the thought police soon after. The rest of the story is just about Winston and Julia are separated, about how they are tortured till the extent they forget their own existence. Where they meet in the end or not? Whether the rebellion against the government was successful or not? You will have to pick the book to find out the answer to these questions.

The Good:

George Orwell has successfully depicted how a dystopian future would resemble like. How would life be when all your rights are taken away from you? How would you act and react if the language is reduced to a few words where you can not even express yourself? The times when each and every action of yours is under constant surveillance and even thinking against the government is a crime. It is when all the past has been re-written and you remember nothing about it.

Could Have Been Better:

The novel is too descriptive with more conversation happening in the mind of the character and very less with the outside world. We may consider this to be the disadvantage of living in a dystopian era. Still, I would have preferred a bit less of description or perhaps the perspective of few more characters could have been involved in the story telling. The story does become interesting as and when new characters are introduced in the book but it becomes repetitive when they take forward the story for a long a time.

The book requires a lot of patience to be finished but if you have it, there are a number of remarkable quotes and descriptions that will surely amaze you.

Rating – 3/5

Perhaps one did not want to be love so much as to be understood.

“She was very young, he thought, she still expected something from life, she did not understand that to push an inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing.”

Animal Farm

Animal Farm

The world as we all see is just a distorted image reflected through the mirage of our perception. So the quest to view the events occurring around you through another perspective is what makes one read more and more. In my attempt to read musings of George Orwell, I zeroed upon Animal Farm. It was not someone’s suggestion but merely the less number of pages that prompted my to pick it up. The expectations, thus, were not much. However, as I progressed through the book, the story got hold of my attention. The beauty of this book is that though it is said to be a political satire it never picks up any actual political figures to convey its message. Even if you are narrating it to a five-year-old kid, it would still be as gripping as it is to a political science student.

The book begins when the animals in the Manor Farm are grappling with the negligence of their owner and the talks of rebellion are circulating among the animals. After days of deliberate effort by the dedicated animals, the rebellion does take place and Mr. Jones Manor is thrown away from the farm. The animals, as they wished,  thus become the sole owner of the farm.  Like any nation that gets freedom after grappling with the dominant opposing forces, the animals, too start to set up some rules (constitution in our language) which each of them would abide by. The rules that let them govern without any malice and any inequality towards each other.  They call it the 7 principals of animalism- which makes sure their rights are well taken care of.

It has been rightly said, power corrupts. As the time progresses, animals also change their way of living. The pigs who are the intelligent creatures take charge of the governing of the Animal Farm and slowly start engaging into malpractices.  Just the way each regime changes its colors once they come to power. The leaders who once fought for oppression start oppressing once in the regime. Amidst all this, the heroes have turned villains through propaganda. Napoleon, the pig, who fought bravely when Mr. Manor made a failed attempt recapture the farm is treated as a traitor. Little does people realize that the minute behavioral change taking place each day sums up to a drastic change in attitude in the long term. Animals forget the principals of animalism and the laws are tweaked to suit the pigs in power.  Slowly, chaos takes over the farm but no one has the courage to raise a voice against the rulers because by now they have been habituated to live under fear and tyranny. The story of the animal farm by the end comes back to square one.

George Orwell has wonderfully carved out each character of the novel and they reflect the different types of people existing in the society – from the ones who doesn’t bother about political change to the ones who believe their work is supreme no matter what, from the ones who feels something wrong in happening in society but never raise a voice to the one who starts to gel with the people in power. At many instances, you would simply be dazzled by the wonderful character and story build up by the author. The book though written in 1945, holds relevant in today’s time. You can relate each and every scenario described in the book with the contemporary politics and the political parties and it would hold true.

If you are interested in politics of the nation, are curious to know how narratives are built by political parties, how smallest of the decision matters in the long term then I would highly recommend this book to you.

There are a number of thought provoking as well as amusing quotes throughout the book, however the following indeed makes you think twice about the meaning it conveys.

“Several of them would have protested if they could have found the right arguments.”

Rating – 5/5

River Valley To Silicon Valley

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River Valley To Silicon Valley is an autobiographical account of IFS officer Abhay Kumar. It is the story of his journey from the bank of river Paimar in Bihar to being a civil services officer with many inspiring intermediate stops. A motivational story that describes how India has transformed over the past decades.

The only thing that I would say regarding this book is that everyone preparing for any competitive exam must read this book to boost up his/her enthusiasm. I picked up this book just a day before my semester exam and was glued to it until I completed it. The result is that I am high on adrenaline and am prepared to face any obstacle or challenge thrown up at me.

I would like to quote few lines from the book:

“Focus is vital in life for the goals one want to achieve. My belief is that one can achieve anything in this universe if one really wants it and believes in it. When one tries putting one’s heart and mind together, all forces of this universe helps him to achieve that goal.”

Of Course, I Love You… Till I Find Someone Better

Book Name – Of Course, I Love You… Till I Find Someone Better
Author – Durjoy Datta, Maanvi Ahuja
Type – Indian Fiction
ISBN – 978-81-922226-0-8

Story In Short:

Starting up with the first chapter, I felt as if I am reading a part of those magazines sold at stalls at railway stations in which they have printed you cheap sex stories. Debashish, the protagonist is a sex-famished playboy. He keeps swinging from one relationship to another in search of the better breast to feed and a girl who could shed herself without being asked to do so. Love for him was to make out on every third page (on an average) of the novel until he meets Avantika. He feels that this time he has fallen in love for real, so he dumps his existing girlfriend Smirti. To balance up the situation, Avantika also keeps befooling her existing boyfriend Shawar. While the making out/nights outs between them progress the story. Also, Deb has no job in his hand & is debarred from attending any further interviews. Things turn up quickly as Avantika decides to leave Deb. She did not want to hurt him. Consequently, Deb is pushed into a depression. What happens next? Does she come back is a suspense that I won’t unfold.

Positives :

Durjoy Datta & Maanvi Ahuja has aptly described present generation’s way of thinking about a relationship. The contrast between love & lust is also shown in the book very well. The prompt & witty dialogues.

Negatives :

Too much erotic element have been put into the story. There are so many ‘getting-too-close-to-it’ scenes. This frustrated me and made it boring.

My Rating: 2.75 stars