Saturday, August 20, 2005

If books could talk...

*Personal post disclaimer*
This post should probably be read only by my friends and those who want to know me better. It is as factual as can be and is about ME alone. I have been book tagged by Silverine and Prasanna
and thought I would recant my reading history exactly as it happened.

I embarked on my long reading journey on an extremely boring evening during a visit to my uncle's place in Cochin when I was 5 years old. My dad took a Tinkle that was lying around and slowly taught me to read. I haven't looked back since. We had a great library at National Public School in Bangalore and were encouraged to read from a very early age. Sometime during first grade I went beyond comics and got a Famous Five home. I then pestered my parents to get me one for my birthday which they did. The first book I ever owned is thus "Five on a secret trail" by Enid Blyton purchased for a pricy 30 Rs. Then began the craze.. I wolfed up all the Enid Blyton's I could come across. My favorites at the time included "The Faraway tree", "St. Clare's" and "Malory Towers" (sheepish).

Before long I graduated to Hardy Boys, Nancy Drews and The three investigators and I'm not exaggerating when I say I've probably read everyone of them. The next five years saw a lot of variety in my reading. I basically went berserk. I JUST HAD to read ANY printed matter be it classics like Oliver Twist, Vanity Fair, Wuthering Heights, David Copperfield or religious books like the Bible, the Ramayana or the Mahabharatha. There was a time when I was a member of five lending libraries!! I wouldn't go out when my friends called me to play cricket. Books were essential side dishes while eating. The huge pile of books on the dining table irritated my mom to no end. Things went so bad that my Dad was forced to impose a rule that allowed me to read non-academic books only during weekends. I still remember reading under a night lamp until my eyes ached.

Sometime in 7th grade, desperate to keep me away from the stack of James Hadley Chases' we had in our house my Dad introduced me to Erle Stanley Gardner, Alistair Maclean, Desmond Bagley, Jeffery Archer, Robert Ludlum, Dick Francis and Frederick Forsyth. Unfortunately for him however, I'd already managed to sneakily get my hands on a few Sidney Sheldons. In fact Sidney Sheldon contributed more to my sexual education than did my ninth grade biology class or mainstream television. lol.

But all good things must come to an end. Computers have changed my reading habits.. :-(. I still read a lot but nothing like before. This post is getting nostalgic isn't it? Coming back to the questions I'm supposed to answer..

Total number of books I own? It goes without saying that I own enough books to open a small library. Long long ago my sister and I even numbered our books in some complicated x.y.z format hoping to start one. I forget what those variables stood for though.

The last book I read is technically Reader's Digest, but if that doesn't count then it would be "Digital Fortress" by Dan Brown which I read sometime back. And no it wasn't that great. Talking of Dan Brown, I thought "Angels and Demons" was better than "The Da Vinci Code". Both were fast paced no doubt but the former is factually more correct and as a Christian I believe I'm qualified to make that statement.

Books that have significantly influenced me:

1) The Complete Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister.
- Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay
I've already talked about this book in my first post. So let me just insert a little something from the book.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: I must express in the strongest possible terms my profound opposition to the newly instituted practice which imposes severe and intolerable restrictions on the ingress and egress of senior members of the hierarchy and will, in all probability, should the current deplorable innovation be perpetuated, precipitate a progressive constriction of the channels of communication, culminating in a condition of organisational atrophy and administrative paralysis which will render effectively impossible the coherent and co-ordinated discharge of the function of government within Her Majesty's United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Jim Hacker: You mean you've lost your key?

Everytime I read this, I'm ROTFL.

2) Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
Whoever said this book was for girls. If there was ever a book that could send goosebumps through me then this is it. I read an abridged version of this book when I was on vacation in Madurai during my 5th grade. Over the next 5 years I read the book atleast twenty five times in three other versions. Wonderful dreams I had.. :D. Darcy and Elizabeth.. *sigh*. I've kind of grown out of it now, though it still brings back fond memories.

3) The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexander Dumas
Hail.. Here is D'Artagnan ready to duel with Athos, Porthos and Aramis anytime!! Sword fights rock. Gun fights suck.. :D.

4) The Golden Rendezvous - Alistair Maclean
My father suggested reading him when I was in my 7th standard referring to his english as Queen's english. Rightly so, for Alistair Maclean has taught me more english words than the Barrons. But more than the vocabulary, it is his usage that is most striking. I'm kind of proud of my english but everytime I read one of his books, I'm humbled.
The Golden rendezvous has just about the right amount of romance embedded into the thrilling-as-usual plot which is my main reason for picking it out from all the others.

Other must reads by the same author..
- Fear is the key (An amazing thriller set on an oil rig. The starting is out of the world. Read the first 10 pages and you will be hooked)
- Where eagles dare ( Bluffing at it's very best)
- The Last Frontier (Set in war torn Hungary. A tale of treachery and deception)
- The Guns of Navarone ( A world war II book. Heroism exemplified)
- The Golden Gate ( An audacious kidnapping of the President of the United States on the world famous golden gate bridge in San Francisco. Do read his description of the Golden gate on the first page of chapter 3 (pg 28 in my book). Especially those of you who have been disappointed in love.. lol )
- Goodbye California ( Kidnapping + earthquakes + impending large scale destruction )
- The Satan Bug ( Biochemical warfare )
- Ice Station Zebra ( Set in a submarine deep under the sea ).

5) PG Wodehouses'
Try as I might, I couldn't single out a book by this author. However the entire Blandings Castle series come right at the top.

6) Tintin, Asterix and Archies..
For the innumerable hours of laughter they have provided me over the years, they deserve a mention.

I guess I have rambled on for long enough. Silverine and Prasanna will never make the mistake of tagging me again. :D. Right? Hey.. are you guys still there.. Hey!!?? You asked for it remember?

PS: This day last year, I left India for the US. It's been an eventful year with several ups and downs. Fortunately there have been more 'ups' of late.

PPS: Today also happens to be the 25th wedding anniversary of my parents and both my sister and I are in the United States. That's life for you.. :-(.
Anyway Happy Silver Anniversary Mom and Dad. Thanks for being the 'bestest' parents in the whole world. I love you.. :-)


Anonymous said...

hey nirmal... WOW!!!!! 2 thumbs up to the amount of reading u've done so far!!!!!

hope and love said...

i too love reading.
i dont think there is any book by enid blyton that iv not read.

eismcsquare said...

Coolio! A lot of reading, man.

"Digital Fortress" - isnt this the crappy story about that encryting thing? I am not touching Dan Brown again - not even with my dick. Still feeling like puking, man! :-(

Leon said...

[Divya] But like I said.. I haven't read that much in the last 3-4 years.. sigh..

[Hope and Love] Way to go.. I've actually missed out on some secret sevens.. hehe.

[Squared] You're right.. Digital fortress was logically flawed too. Aww.. c'mon he's not that bad. Or maybe I'm saying that because he lives in New Hampshire. lol.

LovingAndLosing said...

Man, this was a freeeeeeaky post. I could almost swear I wrote most of it! Or so it seemed, except for just a couple of lines here and there.

And you know what's freakier than that? My parents' wedding anniversary is on the 21st of August too!!!!!!!!!!! It was their 22nd year. I was here to share it with them though.

Still freaked.

Leon said...

Wow! Freakingly freakish indeed..

You were real lucky to be there inspite of living so far away from home...

Did you make them wish you had stayed right where you were and left them alone for their big day? :p

Prasanna said...

Cool man..! At last u responded for getting tagged! But i would definitely recommend atlas shrugged, fightclub and life of pi! Three amazing books which has the tag MUST READ!

Anonymous said...

I don't think there is an Alistair Maclean book that I haven't read. You have listed all my fav books. Bought back memories of the all those good books. And Asterisks!!!!!! I still read Asterisks, re read I mean :))

Where would I be if i didnt read all those wonderful books? I shudder to think.

Great great post. and thanks for taking up the book tag.

And "God Bless' your parents on their Silver Wedding Anniversary!

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Leon said...

[Prasanna] Thanks, I'll check them out.. Are the last two funny/satirical?

[Silverine] Hey.. thanks for wishing my parents. I'll tell them. :-)

You know what I like best about you? The fact that you hand out God's blessings very freely. :D. Good for you.. hehe

I wonder what God has to say about that though.. lol.

silverine said...

@Leon: It's free!! Hence the generosity :))

p.s God doesnt mind the job being shared I

Leon said...

[Magnus Astrum] Hey.. Thanks for adding me.. :-). I just checked it out on your site.

[Silverine] You heard? From whom? :p

silverine said...

Hey I left a comment. it seems to have disappeared :(

@leon: that is confidential information. Lets just say a lil angel er...a lil bird told me :))

Sayesha said...

Used to be crazy abt Enid Blyton. On some levels, still am! :)

THE DEVIL said...

Hey.. i still remember u and your sis smuggling books into your house with out the knowledge of your parents...

And ya.. thinking of which i think i have a couple of your perry masons..(well, technically speaking.. it should be there in my house!!)

Leon said...

Indeed Karthik, those were the days!!!

And you better return my Perry Masons real soon. You've had them for 5 years?!!

Anonymous said...

what u read is what 3 generations of my family couldn read! cool man.

but take that dan brown out of ur list.. u re too good for that.
i regret deception point! Da Vinci was a trap for innocuous ppl like us who are never suspicious. :-(

Anonymous said...

Same PINCH!!!... but the sameness is restricted to only the Tinkle and the Dan Brown!!

I love reading too.. but I never do. LOL I am commenting on your blogs at 2am when i'm upto my neck and more with work!!

N said...

Ah... books. And this was one tag I loved too. I can talk about books for hours n hours n hours and still not be done. It might have sth to do with the fact that I love talking, but I think it has more to do with the fact that I love books!

What's funny is that so many of us seem to have progressed through a reading history which is really freakishly similar! Missed out a couple of authors on your list though.

Am proud to say that I still manage to read quite a bit despite the whole B-school BS! And btw, you are responsible for bad grades in FD for today :P

And hey, Dan Brown IS kinda sad. He just sorta drops the story towards the end. I only read Da Vinci Code, and regretted reading it!

Όstalgia said...

i read fear is the key and my literature changed!, the car chase at the begining of the novel.. no movie director can bring a scene to life the way Maclean did in his writing.