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<title>Book Reviews for Dec 08 and Jan 09 | Divya Manian</title>
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<time datetime="2009-02-08T00:00:00+05:30" pubdate><span class='month'>Feb</span> <span class='day'>08</span> <span class='year'>2009</span></time>
<h1 class="entry-title"><a href="/book-reviews-for-dec-08-and-jan-09.html">Book Reviews for Dec 08 and Jan 09</a></h1>
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<div class="entry-content"><p>Book Reviews for December and January</p>
<p>It has taken me two months to pack my belonging and move to Seattle. Meanwhile, my book reading suffered quite a bit. But I did manage to complete reading about 7 books mostly in December. Here is what I read:</p>
<ul>
<li><h3>The Ballad of Halo Jones</h3>
<p>I enjoyed reading <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1401205909?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1401205909">The Ballad of Halo Jones</a> lot more than reading <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1401219268?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1401219268">Watchmen</a> or <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/140120841X?ie=UTF8&tag=nimb">V for Vendetta</a>. I really liked the way they have portrayed the protagonist, and the life that she <em>endures</em>, set sometime in the future. The fiction is ironically realistic and portrays women without any bias (very rare in a comic book). </p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>Kitchen</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0571171044?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0571171044">Kitchen</a> is a book that made me think a lot about Death. It is something I avoid thinking about, because it brings forth a lot of unanswered questions and thoughts. But this book&rsquo;s protagonist (who is shown as writing in first person) clearly has the same questions and doubts. The book also showcases the modern Japanese ways of living. Also interesting is the sub-plot of the relationship between a transexual mother and her son. It is not the kind of book that you will remember though.</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>The Tin Drum</h3>
<p>I did not think I would read a heavyweight like G&uuml;nter Grass. Ever. But then I read about <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0749394757?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0749394757">The Tin Drum</a> and decided to read it for the heck of it - to see if I could actually complete such a book. I did! Though it is another matter that it seemed weird that the story features a boy who &ldquo;refuses to grow up&rdquo; and has (for a short period of time), glass-splitting shriek. I wonder if these are metaphors for something else. This book does have a great description of the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_of_the_Polish_Post_Office_in_Danzig">defense of the Polish Post Office in Danzig</a>.</p>
</li>
<li><h3>Cairo Modern</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/9774161564?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=9774161564">Cairo Modern</a> is a very insightful book written about Cairo in the forties. It is quite similar in some sense to <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400076560?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1400076560">The In-Between World of Vikram Lall</a> as it highlights the corruption in the Egyptian government and what a man would do to escape poverty and remain wealthy. The book also has an interesting character who is a fundamentalist probably based on <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sayyid_Qutb">Sayyid Qutb</a>. The book is worth a read just for the dialogues between the fundamentalist, the atheist, and the agnostic protagonists.</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>Gertrude Bell: The Arabian Diaries 1913-1914</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0815606729?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0815606729">Gertrude Bell: The Arabian Diaries, 1913-1914</a> was a book I read at one go in the Central Library, Singapore. These are the diaries of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gertrude_Bell">Gertrude Bell</a>, who was influential in creating the state of Iraq after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The writing are written in the &ldquo;old style&rdquo; of long paragraphs and formal english, so it is difficult to keep focused, but what emerges is a great description of the life and times of Iraqis which seem no different from what it is today. I am in awe of Gertrude Bell, who in the twenties managed to undertake extraordinary adventures in a hostile territory. I liked the book for the adventures that Gertrude Bell nonchalantly describes as though she was just buttering toast!</p>
</li>
<li><h3>No God in Sight</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0144000601?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0144000601">No God in Sight</a> is an attempt at &ldquo;R.K.Narayanesque&rdquo; writing which does not have as much impact as those by R.K.Narayan. It has an interesting thread connecting one story to the other. But nothing really great about this book.</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>The Hitchhiker&rsquo;s Guide to the Galaxy </h3>
<p>I first picked up Douglas Adams in my university days (I think at the prodding of <a href="http://nandinisniche.blogspot.com/">Nandini</a>). But I picked up <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0671742515?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0671742515">Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul</a> which made absolutely no sense. I was <a href="http://nimbupani.com/blog/god-is-no-w-here.html">infuriated at wasting my time reading such nonsense and gave up on it</a>. But after talking to <a href="http://twitter.com/maddyks">Maddyks</a> and <a href="http://twitter.com/grumpygorilla">Ashwin</a>, I decided to give <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0345391802?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0345391802">The Hitchhiker&rsquo;s Guide to the Galaxy</a> a go. I am so glad I did! I haven&rsquo;t read a more funny sci-fi novel! I adore Marvin, the depressed robot so much! I did not appreciate the movie much, because I hadn&rsquo;t read the book then. But I need to watch it again! LOVE this book.</p></li>
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