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<title>Book Reviews for April 2009 | Divya Manian</title>
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<meta name="description" content="I can&rsquo;t seem to read more than 4 books a month! Here are the books I read this month: The Best of Spirit
It was with great fascination I read &hellip;">
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<time datetime="2009-04-29T00:00:00-07:00" pubdate><span class='month'>Apr</span> <span class='day'>29</span> <span class='year'>2009</span></time>
<h1 class="entry-title"><a href="/book-reviews-for-april-2009.html">Book Reviews for April 2009</a></h1>
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<div class="entry-content"><p>I can&rsquo;t seem to read more than 4 books a month! Here are the books I read this month:</p>
<ul><li><h3>The Best of Spirit</h3>
<p>It was with great fascination I read the book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1401207553?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1401207553">The Best of the Spirit</a>. I have never enjoyed the experience of reading comics as much as I did with this one. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spirit">The Spirit</a> is a character created by <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Eisner">Will Eisner</a>. The very first story of Spirit gives hints to the genius of Will Eisner. The irregular panels, the treatment of time, are all very unlike the usual comics I have read from that era. </p>
<p>&ldquo;Meet P&rsquo;Gell&rdquo; has nothing much to boast about in the story line, but the way it is presented is unique. Given that it was 1946 when it was first published, it was one of the earliest ways of narration by a character in the comic.</p>
<p>&ldquo;The Killer&rdquo; is another striking story which &ldquo;screws&rdquo; (in a good way) with the timeline and comes up triumphantly. The story not just goes back in time but also in a few parts shows the scene through the Killer&rsquo;s eyes. </p>
<p>Unlike other superheroes, Spirit simply appears for the sake of appearing in these comics. In The Story of Gerhard Shnobble, Spirit is simply fighting some villains in the background while the story focuses on Gerhard Shnobble. </p>
<p>Two Lives is a hilarious story about how a man finds prison more pleasurable than being married. Spirit appears only in 2 panels. </p>
<p>The story I liked the most was Ten Minutes. The first page is totally arresting, the panels by themselves have nothing special about them but the action and the text are really innovative.</p>
<p>The earlier stories seem to have a racial stereotyping of characters (Chinese, Black, Turkish) which were disturbing to see in the otherwise fantastic stories. Hats off to Will Eisner!</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>A Year in High Heels: The Girl&rsquo;s Guide to Everything from Jane Austen to the A-list</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061673609?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0061673609">A Year in High Heels: The Girl&rsquo;s Guide to Everything from Jane Austen to the A-list</a> by <a href="http://camillamorton.blogspot.com/">Camilla Morton</a> is a frivolous book that you expect it to be. This book serves as the wikipedia to the chic, but ignorant. The book is divided into twelve chapters (each for one month of the year). Each chapter ends with a &quot;Foot Note&quot; that is a short eulogy on a kind of shoe (e.g. Platform Shoe for October). Each chapter also has a recommendation of a book to read (famous ones/books make to films/ romantic ones/classics) along with wikipedia-like entries on who was born/died/created in that month. In between all this is a bunch of how-tos including how to podcast/blog/dress for interviews/hoodwink your boyfriend/girlfriend into buying you all that you want.</p>
<p>If that is not enough to turn you off, then I guess you are the prime audience for this book :) Just kidding, I did enjoy reading this book. It is an interesting glimpse into the &quot;Sex and the City&quot; lifestyle the author seems to enjoy and promote! If not anything, I did learn who <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peggy_Guggenheim" title="Peggy Guggenheim - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia">Peggy Guggenheim</a> was!</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>Foundation</h3>
<p>
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0553382578?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0553382578">Foundation</a> is a very exhilarating novel by <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov">Issac Asimov</a>. I can&rsquo;t imagine it was written in the 1950s. The props - though dated - fade invisibly to the background in the light of the main story. The philosophy that underlines the novel is called <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychohistory_(fictional)">Psychohistory</a>, a combined study of history, mathematics, and statistics to make near accurate predictions of the future (provided there is no overwhelming external force).
</p>
<p>The ideas in Foundation have been widely used in Star Wars, Hitchhiker series (now I get the joke about Encyclopedia Galactica!), and other science fiction stories. I love the recurring quote (and theme) &ldquo;Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.&rdquo;</p>
<p>An interesting idea explored here is the use of religion to subjugate the masses, and priests using it as a tool of power (which seems to have been the case in Ancient Egypt/Rome).A great start to the series and I hope to keep reading more.</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>The Toss of a Lemon</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0307356329?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0307356329">The Toss of a Lemon</a> was an emotional read for me as every word I read was like seeing a movie in my head. It is the story of 3 generations of an Iyer family from the late 19th century to the 1960s. This book is primarily about Sivakami, but strongly touches on the issues of untouchability/caste. It also helps to understand the struggle of women to gain an equal footing in society. </p>
<p>This book is peppered with symbolism which might delight a western audience but they didn&rsquo;t add any value to the story line (Thangam shedding gold dust for example). It is also a little jarring to read the english translation for every tamizh word used (there should have been a glossary), but some of the words brought a smile to my face (especially &ldquo;Mundai&rdquo; :D).</p>
<p>The story is not very different from that of my family and the quarrels/meetings are just too reminiscent of the gossip I have heard. </p>
<p>If you are an <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iyer">Iyer</a> or interested in the history of Iyers, this book is a must read. </p>
</li></ul>
<p>That&rsquo;s it! What books have you read lately?</p>
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