Me before You by Jojo Moyes

Me before You is a book that challenges our choices, probes our relationships and generally pushes the boundaries of our understanding of love. “What do you do when making the person you love happy means breaking your heart?” This is the vital question that envelops the lead characters and leaves with a heavy lump in our hearts.

Moyes is a gifted storyteller. She fleshes out Louisa Clark and Will Traynor with authenticity and perfection. Louisa is perfectly happy leading her ordinary life and does not crave for extraordinary experiences. She has her reasons to set her life to a 5 mile radius even if it means that she has to stop dreaming. Her boyfriend Patrick is obsessed with fitness and she couldn’t care less about her curves. Life was ambling along until she loses her job.

Will on the other hand has travelled the world, challenged his comfortness and explored every nuance of risk. He wants to live life not just pass time until an accident changes it upside down.

We understand and accept why Louisa falls for Will and gradually begin to cheer for her. We want her to succeed in her mission that she is earnestly working towards. But everything she has believed and hoped for is pulled under feet…

Jojo Moyes is poetic with her prose. She attacks sibling rivalry, sisterhood, family values and morality with equal aplomb. The book leaves us questioning our stand on life and love. It sets us thinking about our choices and also encourages us to just live. Because the next second can change everything.

Recommended reads: The girl you left behind.

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Tamarind City

I know what you are thinking… It has taken me far too long to read this book. A book which is about my favorite place on earth – Chennai. A book written by someone associated with my favorite publication – The Hindu.

I want to say Ghosh nailed it. But I can’t… He gets close though. The book starts off slow and Ghosh ambles on about his love for Chennai and we wait for the book to focus…. On chennai. It does and he ensures that he travels the breadth and length of the city. From St Thomas mount to Sriperambathur, from Mylapore to Marina, from Triplicane to T M Krishna, from Appa Gardens to Amma, from George Town to Gymkhana club. Sometimes we feel that he has rearranged the archives from S Muthiah’s archives. But most of the time he sticks true to his quest.

Ghosh misses two very important facets of Chennai – koyambedu and kollywood. The koyambedu market is definitely a landmark that should feature in a travel book and kollywood is the arm candy of chennai. How did he miss that? Editorial arm wriggling?

But Tamarind city brings alive the streets of Chennai – the cacophony, chaos and the civility. We are painfully modest, traditional yet tech savvy, loyal yet accommodating… Chennai is truly where modern India began.

I read this book on a train ride from munich to vienna and instead of dreaming about the sights in the Austrian capital, Ghosh made me wistful of my filter Kappi. That my friend is a good book.

In a Sunburned Country

The world’s largest island; only island that is a continent; only continent that is a country; only nation that began as a prison!

Australia is the home of the largest living thing on earth – The Great Barrier Reef and has more things that will kill you than anywhere else(boxed jellyfish, salt water crocodiles and all ten of the worlds poisonous snakes). Yet Bill Bryson in his travelogue of this incredible country terms it as an interesting place.

Australians are friendly and always mindful of the fact that the rest of the world rarely cares about them. They are too far, in the middle of nowhere for the world to take notice. Tell me, do you know who the Prime Minister is, Bryson constantly reminds us.

This is the first book that I have read on Australia and we have been considering this as one of the places that we most certainly must visit. And this one book is good enough. Because Bryson not only captures his encounters in the most humorous and candid narrative possible but also details the history and evolution of every venue.

If you are an aspiring travel writer you will be reminded constantly to be an avid reader since Bryson seems to have read all the available literature on this island continent country nation. Because of that we are left with a book that can take us through James Cook docking his Endeavor to a Prime Minister who gets lost in the ocean at large, to the state of the Aboriginal people and always to the explorers let loose in the Outback.

Sydney and Melbourne are two great cities, Canberra is a park capital with a severe shortage of drinking holes, Perth is basking in eternal sunshine and Brisbane, Darwin and Cairns can be a once in a lifetime city that you shouldn’t fail to visit.

We might know precious little of this natural wonder but Australia as Bryson notes is a place worth getting to know.

(Highly recommended reads on Australia are Sydney by Jan Morris, The Australian paradox by Jeanne Mackenzie and Crocodile attack in Australia by Hugh Edwards.)

Chic-Lits

Chic-Lits are there for a reason. When you dont want to indulge in the characters, immerse in the storyline, entangle your thoughts with that of the authors.. you grab a chic-lit. These books are a light read, you can start and finish them in a day or hours. The two reasons are sufficient for me to have picked up

  • Hope in a Jar – Beth Harbison
  • How Opel Mehta Got kissed, Got Wild and Got a life – Kavya Vishwanathan

Now i forgot to mention that one of the reasons i like reading chiclits are for the cheesy factor. Like when you watch Alaipayuthey or Pretty Women – there is a very high quotient of cheesiness but also the story is well told. Likewise, the literature shouldnt suffer because it falls into the category of Chic-lit.

Hope in a Jar by Beth Harbison is definetly better of the two. While she wrote the famed shoe addicts series, this one is not very engrossing. And why is it that one of the protagonists are always fat and finding secret ways to lose weight and failing at it miserably. Somebody change the scene and set a new tone. I have never gone to high school in america but from the movies and books i have read, it seems more scary than hell. Friends break up in high school and make up when they are 40.. nice but too late. Worth a read once but if you find something else, please move along. No love is lost in this one 🙂

How Opal Mehta Got kissed, Got Wild and Got a life by Kavya Vishwananthan. If you think you have heard about this author or book somewhere, you are right. This article is an interesting read compared to the book itself. So help yourself.

American Indians or ABCD’s as we refer to them are definetly a confused generation. They suffer in their social life but excel in academics. They are smart but not cool. Opal Mehta definetly fits this streotype and when Harvard almost rejects her for the lack of social life(duh?),she strives to get cool and chic. The parents draw elaborate plans(with pie charts, flowcharts and flash cards) and get their dear daughter to even kiss a guy(american ofcourse). Anything for Harvard that is. While i laughed my heart out watching Bend it like Beckham where indian parents are stuck in the British lifestyle, i can hardle grin at how the Mehta’s plan and plot. It isn’t funny and definetly not realistic(i hope so).

I wonder why Kavya had to plagiarise her work, am sure most of us could come up with this book if we put pen to paper. For each one’s own, but if you want to know what not to do with your kids you can read through this one.

Will i find them?

I decided to sit down and make a list of books that i want to read in the next few weeks, so i dont have to go to the library and wonder what books am going to land up with. In the past, that has never worked.

Although it is utterly frustrating not to find the books that i really want to read, randomly picking them up hasn’t helped me either. So i decided to make this list for the next couple of weeks and if i dont get this, i would rather settle for a daniel steele or John Grisham which would not be so much of a loss either way.

So here goes, (fingers crossed to find them)

HouseKeeping by Marilynne Robinson
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackermann
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A couple of them are from the reviews my fellow bloggers gave, but i think this would make up a good read.