The Outsider and The Descendants

Finished these 2 books in the last few days and liked both of them. They came as suggestions from friends and avid readers!

The Outsider by Albert Camus, is a light, yet deep and meaningful, easy-to-read book of about a 120 pages. I have not been into Albert Camus and the likes as far as reading is concerned and so when I started reading I kept an open mind. It is written in a simple style, nothing too fancy or heavy. But the underlying meaning is true. Considering that the book was written in the 1940s (in French) I am amazed by how the essence of it holds true even now!

Loved the writing style and more than that the book itself and I could relate a lot to the central character Meursault. As the author says in the afterword “In our society any man who doesn’t cry at his mother’s funeral is liable to be condemned to death.” ¬†Intriguing enough for you to grab the book? Go pick it up! My mom who is visiting also read the book and liked it, though she was in slight disbelief about how the book ended ūüėČ

The Descendants¬†by Kaui Hart Hemmings¬†is also a book that I liked. It is more commercial, hence the movie of the same name starring George Clooney. Love that guy, don’t we?

Coming back to the point, The book describes people and their emotions in a straight matter-of-fact way. Don’t want to give away too much of the plot here but it’s about a man who has 2 daughters and his wife is in coma after an accident. How the father wants to get his family back together and move on with life forms the crux along with a few twists! A story focussed on human emotions more than anything else! Makes for an interesting read, I would like to see the movie too!

The question now is what next? I have The Ice Candy Man by Bapsi Sidhwa and A Fine Family by Gurcharan Das. Both of them are based or revolve around the Partition. Am thinking which one should I start with or should I go and pick Fountainhead by Ayn Rand or Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – both “famous, much recommended” and on my to-read list for long?? Suggestions??

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The Egg Factory

I don’t even remember how I heard about this place. Oh I think my friend A had mentioned that she wanted to go. Ever since then, about a year back, I have wanted to go to this place. What I had heard is that it had some great options for breakfast, lunch and dinner – all egg based and some for non-eggetarians also!

What followed is multiple attempts to go there for breakfast or brunch with multiple people – but all failed for some reason or the other ūüė¶

Finally this Sunday S and I decided we will go there come what may (a li’l melodrama doesn’t hurt does it?) and we did, thus succeeding at our 6th attempt ūüôā

Location/Direction РThe place  is in an alley off St Marks Road (turn left to go to UB City from the split before you hit St Marks Road while coming from Hosur Road to MG Road). Google maadi the place for directions!

Cleanliness/Service/Ambience – It is a medium-sized decent looking clean place. Though some of the cutlery could do with a more thorough cleaning. Its bright, with lots of windows and enough space to avoid people bumping into each other. We went on a Sunday morning at about 10:30 am and the place was full, with people waiting for tables! Once we were done with brunch which took about an hour, people were still streaming in and waiting for tables. The service was quick and efficient – he got me my coffee along with my scrambled just like I had asked for ūüôā

Food/Taste – The food was great. The menu has a good mix of Indian inspired dishes and the regular breakfast specials along with a lot of the mexican/spanish stuff! I had ordered for a parsi (akoori) scrambled with toast, butter and jam along with a cappuccino and it was yummm!

A classic French toast with syrup for S, the French toast was just perfect – the right kind of fluffy and just perfect sweetness! Then we also ordered one last dish from the “specials-of-the-day” menu – the “Kannan Bullseye” – it looked great – 2 bullseyes with the perfect thin-ness and very appetizing looks, along with toast! But you might need to order extra toasts to wipe off all that egg off your plate ūüėČ

A great experience and a must-visit-once type of place for all you foodies out there! Oh and btw there are a few choices for the veggie fellow human beings too! ¬†Also forgot to mention that their menu is kinda quirky – simple and done nicely ūüôā Enjoy your eggs!!

“The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas” by John Boyne

This is one book that tugs at your heart-strings and leaves you feeling haunted for some time. It explains the pain and trauma of the Holocaust in a simple, in-direct yet effective manner.¬†It has been categorized under “Novel for Younger Readers” on¬†the author’s¬†website.¬†¬†The book has been written from a child’s point of view and hence is easy for young readers¬† (I would say 10 years+ ) to read. Although it is intriguing and well written for adults to read too.

The Boy in Striped PyjamasThe book is about a 9-year-old boy Bruno who lives with his family in Berlin. His father is an important officer in the German army under Hitler’s command(Fury as Bruno calls him in the book). He is transferred to Out-with (as Bruno refers to the place in the book, but which refers to the Auschwitz concentration camp). The book tells us how life changes for Bruno, his sister and his mother after the move, what they see and what they are told about the camp. He leaves behind his friends in Berlin and feels very lonely in Out-with till he meets a friend from the other side of the barbed wire – Shmuel who wears striped pyjamas like all the other people on that side of the fence. Shmuel’s world is very different from Bruno’s. And in child-like curiosity Bruno wants to find out more about his new friend’s world. What he learns is beyond his innocent mind’s comprehension. And soon he becomes a part of that world unknowingly.

The book is a page turner and you won’t feel like putting it down. The characters are beautifully portrayed – the hesitant house help, the arrogant army officer, the submissive servants, the naive friend and Bruno – innocent, curious and unlucky. The plot and style of writing are captivating. A heart-wrenching narrative of one of the worst tragedies of mankind! The book has also been made into a motion picture – both the book and movie have won a lot of critical acclaim.

The author John Boyne is an Irish novelist and the story is set in Berlin so I will file this review under Europe in my 2011 Global Reading Challenge.  You can order the book via Flipkart.

Children’s book reviews

I can never have enough of books. Be it for me or N. The more the merrier.¬† Tulika¬†Books has announced two smashing and irresistible offers. Ones that I couldn’t resist ūüôā¬†So I ordered some books for N and am waiting for them eagerly.

Here are some books that N read during the summer holidays. The reviews and age suggestions are my opinions.

Mr Gumpy's Outing¬† Mr Gumpy’s Outing

By John Burningham.

Available on Flipkart.

Suitable for 2+ year olds.

Mr Gumpy has a boat and lives by the river. He goes out on his boat one day and everyone wants to join him. He agrees to let them on but if they agree to some things. Eventually everyone is on the boat but soon the boat begins to rock and then they all fall into the river with a SPLASH!

It is a simple book with big pictures and few words. The repetitive format is easy for the little ones. The book also helps kids to be familiar with different animal actions and sounds. The illustrations are easy on the eye. N was gifted this book by friends. It came with an audio CD narrating the story.

Maisy Goes Camping

By Lucy Cousins.

Available on Flipkart.

Suitable for 2 and 1/2+ year olds.

Maisy is a mouse who goes camping with her friends –¬†a squirrel, an elephant, a crocodile and a duck. They pitch a tent after some trouble. Then they have a campfire and sing songs around it. When it is time to sleep they all manage to get into the tent one by one BUT they are squished and squashed and begin to POP out of the tent.

This one was a gift again and N loves it. It is a very bright book with colourful illustrations. The text size is big and clear for kids to read (if they are of the read-on-your-own age). The book helps teach counting when the animals go into the tent one by one.

¬† Harry and the Dinosaurs say “Raahh”

By Ian Whybrow.

Available at Flipkart.

Suitable for 2+ year olds.

Harry’s mother is taking him to the dentist and Harry is slightly scared. He wants to take all his dinosaurs with him.¬†¬† But they are hiding all over his room. He calls them one by one and takes them along in his bucket. Once they reach the dentist he uses a magic button to make the¬†dinosaurs grow big. Harry then feels safe and gets onto the dentist’s chair. The dentist examines Harry and the dinosaurs’ teeth and gives them a good rinse. On their way back home Harry’s mom lets him choose a book from the library for being so good.

This is one book of a series of Harry and the Dinosaurs adventures. It is done up in a very eye-catching way. The book is informative with the names of the dinosaurs shown РTyrannosaurus, Pterodactyl, Scelidosaurus, Stegosaurus, Anchisaurus, Apatosaurus and Triceratops. Even for my 2 and 1/2 year old the names were interesting and he tried naming all of them. The illustrations are big and colourful with a few words. The book can be used to encourage good dental hygiene and to remove fears of going to the dentist. N was definitely ready to go to the dentist for a check up along with his stegosaurus!! I would like to try out the other books in this series.

 

“Room” by Emma Donoghue

As part of the Global Reading Challenge, the first book that I would like to add to the list-of-books-read is “Room” by Emma Donoghue.

After a long time Room was a book that I didn’t feel like putting down at all. From the teaser on the back cover to the actual story it was intriguing and captivating.

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It is about a little boy named Jack who stays with his mother in an eleven feet by eleven feet room. Jack has been born and brought up inside that room. It is where he and his mother play, eat, sleep and watch day and night through the skylight. The room is home for Jack, but for his mother it is prison. The book explains the how and why and much more than that.

The book is told in Jack’s voice and¬†explains¬†routine and mundane¬†events¬†from¬†a 5 year old’s perspective. It deals with Jack’s innocent yet fragile world. It shows the love and strong bond between a mother and a son. How Jack and his mother spend day after day in the room and yet keep their spirits alive and stay positive. Jack believes that this is reality and everything that he sees on TV is¬†pretend.¬†He lives his life believing this till the time his mother tells him that there exists a life outside the Room. I wouldn’t want to spoil the suspense and let the readers know what happens after that. You should read the book on your own to find out!

The author has used a simple yet effective writing style. The book is not very dark or depressing though it does make you feel very involved, empathetic¬†and connected to the characters.¬†It keeps that silver lining around the cloud intact. I felt happy and blessed after reading the book and relieved too.¬† As Audrey Niffenegger (author of “The Time Traveler’s Wife) rightly says on the front cover “Room is a book to read in one sitting.” Once I started reading the book I couldn’t stop turning the pages.

Emma Donoghue is an Irish writer from Dublin, Ireland. So I am going to file this one under Europe as part of my Global Reading Challenge. You can get this book via Flipkart.