There’s a quote by an unknown author. ‘Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book’. I concur 100%. There have been innumerable instances when I have completely immersed myself in some books only to be jolted out of my daydreams by Mom or Dad. When I first read the book Client by John Grisham, I could actually picture the scenes happening in front of me. I didn’t have to see the movie Client for the visual representation. The book played itself in front of my eyes. Books by John Grisham and Robin Cook opened me to the world of novels but I was hooked to reading (read fiction) long before that.
Growing up was a magical experience for me. Books were my first love and will continue to remain the fondest to my heart. Who says time travel does not exist? I have travelled wide and far through the fables; lived different cultures, met all kinds of people – and loved the experience. I remember reading so many different kinds of books including and not limited to Tinkle, Amar Chitra Katha, Chandamana, Famous Five, Hardy Boys, Three Investigators, and Nancy Drew. Enid Blyton clinched the #1 position in my list of favourite authors and on reading books like Malory Towers I would wish I could join a boarding school.
I’ll attempt to list the top 4 books of all-time but it’s going be a very difficult task. Asking one to limit your life’s readings to 4 books is very unfair unless you ask me to pick 4 books of history. I could hardly come up with 2 there. So here goes:
1. Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody
One book which left such a deep imprint on my mind that I couldn’t sleep the night after I read it nor could I bring myself to visit the Haji Ali! I was in the 11th standard when I first read this book. I read it in two sittings and literally shivered with fright at certain points. It might not have this effect if you read this now, but it was very different at that age. A few days after reading this, I went to Haji Ali with my close friend D. As we walked over the bridge with beggars on both sides chanting something; it started to have a creepy effect on me. In the short distance from one end of the bridge to the steps of the tomb, I had removed my bangles, removed my ‘bindi’ and worn my dupatta as a scarf around my head in an effort to be someone I wasn’t. I was young and at an age where my thoughts might not have been the most sensible. The book had left its “carbon footprint” on my mind. We reached the steps of the tomb but I could not bring myself to go in. I stood there contemplating for a couple of minutes and finally we both turned and came back. I have not been able to visit till this date. Hope to visit it one day tho’.
2. 100 Photographs that changed the world
It’s a publication by the LIFE magazine. A quick book which you can browse through in less than ½ hour but again, a book, that this time, it’s pictures stay with you long after. It’s a collection of 100 life-changing photographs or basically pictures of memorable events ever since photography has been at play. And brief descriptions of each picture. Be it evolution related or culture, nature or science, this publication has tried to bring the best of life to one place. I can close my eyes and still picture one photograph on Chinese infanticide where new born babies are left to die in the woods. Of the Holocaust survivors. The Chernobyl disaster. The World Trade Centers. The very first picture of the double helix DNA. Science has come a long way. You might definitely feel that there are some events which should probably not have been listed and other important ones which could have been missed. Many firsts listed and overall a very well-made kaleidoscope. Definitely deserves a read.
3. The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Be it Hansel and Gretel or Rapunzel’s story, fairy tales have always enticed me and drawn me into their magical world. It’s been at least 20 years since I last read this collection but I still remember some of the stories and images from this book. I was just talking to Swaps about my trip to Disney World, Florida and how I had got immersed in Cinderella’s coronation. Grimm’s fairy tales are what introduced me to that world. Sometimes I feel, even when I can grow up to be 60, I would love to sneak up at night and stay awake reading this collection J
4. Blindsight by Robin Cook
My first true ‘novel’. Everything else came later. Hence, it had to figure on my list. This is what triggered everything else. If the first novel had been a downer, I doubt they would have held my interest. After I read this, I remember scouring the internet for information around organ donors to see if lists really exist so freely on the web or not. Like any other Robin Cook, a first rate thriller with a lot of twists and turns. I have enjoyed reading crime, medical and legal thrillers after that – starting out with the typical author list of any Indian – John Grisham, Robin Cook, Michael Crichton, Jeffrey Archer, Kristin Slaughter, Lisa Gardner – I have must read all their publications. Not to miss out on sagas like those from Danielle Steel and Sidney Sheldon but after a certain number of their books, they start to feel like stereotypes. I have also enjoyed light dramas by Kristin Hannah, Jodi Picoult and Barbara Delinsky.
There are quite a few more books which are worth a mention and it would be unfair to say they haven’t made an impression. So I’ll still list those out. Some of the few books (apart from those of the above listed authors) that I have rated 4 or more on a scale of 5. (PS: I maintain a list of books I have read and rated plus those I wish to someday).
· Deception Point – How can I forget Dan Brown! Has to be the best master story teller ever!
· It’s not about the bike by Lance Armstrong
· Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini
· The Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan
· Why Men don’t listen and women can’t read maps by Barbara Pease
· The space between us by Thrity Umrigar
· One Night at a Call Center by Chetan Bhagat
I would love to hear your views!