Thursday, September 14, 2006

Buying Books

I had no post in mind for today. And for a long time, I have been a bit irregular at writing; mainly due to work and other things. But today when I read this comment, I thought, well I could write something about it!

Let me first confess that I have bought a lot of books which I haven't read yet. Some of them have been lying on the book-shelf for more than six months now. I would say, it's rather soothing feeling to own many books, regardless of having read them or not.

When I go to a book shop, I have nothing specific on my mind. Most of the time, it's with the resolve of not buying anything that I enter the book shop. What happens next may be termed as giving up to temptation, and may even be attributed to natural inclination of the humans.

I tend to simply skip through the heaps of books. Every book shop has something unique to offer - the way books are classified or simply the way they are stacked on the racks to catch your attention.

I go by author first.

I am a bit reluctant to try out too many authors but it suits me fine to 'finish' one particular author before moving to the next. I started with Franklin W Dixon and Enid Blyton when I was in school. This trait continued with John Grisham. I first read The Client and went on to read almost all of his novels. That was the time when I was amused by legal battles and the terrific compensations to be followed by, of course, the irony of bankruptcy. Then there was Jeffrey Archer, Tom Clancy, Frederick Forsyth, Robin Cook, Alistair MaClean, and a whole bunch of other international thriller writers. Over time, the tastes and likings change. I proved to be no exception, and soon I took to more of literary writing than thriller-fictions. Enter Harper Lee. To kill a Mockingbird was such a good book! And then there was Richard Bach of Jonathan Livingston Seagull fame. I tried a few Paulo Coelho, and Jane Austen too. The real break towards literary liking, I think was Of Human Bondage (you can read the complete book here) by none other than W Somerset Maugham. Then I continued with The Moon and Sixpence, Cakes and Ale, The Razor's edge and most recently, Liza Of Lambeth. They say there are only two kinds of people on Earth: one, those who have read The Lord of The Rings, and two, those who haven't. And I decided to be the first of the two kinds. I think I finished this fantasy in less than two weeks! Every page of it is full of excitement, wisdom and beautiful language. I occasionally look at Nobel prize winner's list. I picked John Steinbeck from the list and bought The Grapes of Wrath. Now I have turned to Gunter Grass, and am looking for The Tin Drum.

On to Indian authors, I have tried Amitav Ghosh, and liked Calcutta Chromosome. His The Glass Palace is lying on the shelf for a long time now. I have found Sudha Murty's books to be very simple yet very thought provoking. Dom Moraes's writing is lyrical, especially his autobiographical My Son's Father is a good starting point. His travelogue Gone Away is quite interesting, especially his experience of interviewing Pt Neharu in person. From the translation category, Premchand's selected stories and Dr. U R Ananthamurthy's short stories collection are certainly recommended.

If I may, let me classify my book-reading by genre-
I have tried many a science fictions, Asimov, Jules Verne, Fred Hoyle, and the great Carl Sagan. More recently I read The World Is Flat, an interesting read on globalization. From its experience, I bought Lexus and the Olive Tree. A good four-five years ago, I read Data Smog by David Shenk. Really, those were the days of boom and it made a nice read from that perspective. I tried Oscar Wilde's lovely fairy tales in The Happy Prince and Other Tales. On to science, let me recommend Douglas Hofstadter's "Godel Escher Bach- the eternal golden braid" and "Mind's I", and of course, the collection of essays that appeared in Scientific American, "Metamagical Themas."

OK. Let me not dwell upon technical books!

As far as selecting a particular book is concerned, I have many a times bought books going by its front cover, and after a brief glance at the back-cover. Most of the times the choice has ended up in much satisfaction. The other method, as I have already mentioned, is to go by author, or genre. Another source of recommendations is The Hindu Literary Review, which is published on first Sunday of every month. And then, of course there are personal recommendation made, and borrowings of books done. Since last year, I have not had much of access to any library, but prior to that library was chief source of books. The IISc library (that boasts of a collection of books above, hold your breath, 7-8 lac books!) has been one of the better libraries I have ever been to.

Well, looking at this list, one may say that what's so special about your reading? Well, there isn't much! Over the years, the habit of reading has grown, yet the classics or popular reading are never-ending. And I am happy to follow the popular reading. Let me finish that (I don't see anytime soon that can be achieved, though) then maybe I can think of any off-beat reading. Of course, that doesn't stop me from looking out for such books, which I do. Only thing may be that I don't always buy such books. If you have any recommendations, I am always looking forward to hearing them!

Now, let me tell you how I buy book-marks...


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