I’ve always been the curious one. I blame the books for sweeping me away into the magical world of pixies and wishing chair, solving puzzles and crimes alongside the daring Hardy Boys and the intrepid Nancy Drew. Long before Google and cable television came on scene, books were my magic portals that lead me to the discovery of scones, the art of shadowing and wind swept white cliffs of Dover.
I received my first lesson on Communism and experienced the searing pain of unrequited love and tragedy in Ayn Rand’s, We the Living. There were weeks of loud cheers and tears (by the Bookworm Company of the Table 2 girls) for the 6th battalion of the Marine Corps a.k.a Huxley’s Whores in Battle Cry by Leon Uris. We really loved that book.
I still remember the days I didn’t sleep because I had to let everyone know how thrilling Alistair MacLean’s, Where the Eagles dare was. I was beside myself with excitement reading how the wise cracking Lt Schaffer and his serious senior Major infiltrate the Nazi stronghold high in the Alps. It was amazing and the movie showed it exactly how I visualised. (Thank you!)
While I’m at it, I have to mention P G Wodehouse, a master of genteel humour, still my favourite pick me up; the antics of the quirky inhabitants of the Blandings castle are unparalleled, unrivalled in this universe. Ahem! With exception of Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
I have so many favourites but today’s post is dedicated to those special books that sparked my interest, added a zing to my ordinary reading and learning. They opened my eyes to a whole new world and I believe, left me a tad wiser. Trust me, it was tough to narrow down so I went back in time to figure out the ones that set me thinking.
Anyway here it goes :-
1 . Shadow of the Moon by M M Kaye
I read this in Std 9 and the love story of Winter and Capt Alex Randall set during the Indian Revolt of 1857 in Lucknow fired my imagination. Alex, was my hero. I felt the heat, the dust, the danger, the emotions as I literally lived through that tumultuous period. To date it remains the most vivid part of my History lesson and responsible for turning me into a History buff.
2. The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
With a title like that, the last thing I expected was to be lead to appreciate art – those magnificent paintings and sculptures (Italy is on my bucket list for sure). I picked painting as a hobby and read as much as I could about this fascinating world . The list is mind boggling for we have come a long way from how art was traditionally interpreted but it helps me to see the beauty and the effort behind it.
To think it all began with the story of Michelangelo – a genius painter , sculpture, a contemporary of Leonardo Da Vinci and they could not stand each other.
3. Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordon.
Are the Greek gods living amongst us ? What about their Roman counterparts? Oh boy! Mythology has never been more fun and add to the mix, we have the Demi gods with conflicting names and parentage. More reading required to figure who Andromeda and the actual sons of Zeus were.
In the books of course, the Greek gods have received a modern makeover but they have retained their special powers . It is pretty cool to visualise Ares as a bad boy, clad in a leather jacket, astride a motorcycle and Poseidon in a Hawaiian print shirt as a regular beach dude . Riordon gets full marks for making mythology cool.
His latest, The Hidden Oracles tells the story of Apollo’s incarceration as a surly teenager, fully aware of his status as a god but without any powers. One word- awesome !
4. Da Vinci’s Code by Dan Brown
It was a puzzle book for the adults and thanks to it, minutely studied ‘The last Supper’. Of course the ending was dramatic and felt far fetched but it certainly left me intrigued about religion and how it has evolved over the ages.
5. Inferno by Dan Brown.
The protagonist had the time to admire a particular fountain in the special garden that could be only accessed through ABC street while being chased by the baddies. It’s been two years since and like our lead pair escaping the clutches of the villains, the names escape me today. Then, I couldn’t resist googling all the landmarks after Dan Brown’s vivid description. Is it better than a tourist information guide to Florence? I’m conflicted but I am inspired to carry a copy of the book when I go to see the Medici’s magnificent city.
6. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.
Suffice to say, I’m no longer naive. I wouldn’t count it excellent, more infuriating and repetitive . (What’s with repeating “inner goddess” for the billionth time like a mantra for self empowerment?)
I did check out all the classical music pieces mentioned in the book on YouTube. I wonder why very few talk about that? The music was good and so was Ellie Goulding’s Love me like you do .
7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels by Stieg Larsson.
It was no doubt a disturbing book but once you got over that, it was hard to put down. So from this book I take my greatest lesson that nothing is safe on your computers from the hackers of the world . Lisbeth Salander is just a click away from owning your life. So watch what you upload. I certainly do!
This is Paranoid Bookworm signing off. Till next time!