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Some of the Best Books I have Read – Part – I July 11, 2009

Posted by Chatore Diaries in Babudom, Books, Catch 22, Firm, Godfather, Matilda, Morrie, Netadom, Ramayana, Sybil, Trainspotting.

I am an avid reader…a bibliophile. For as long as I remember, I have had books around me, and I have been the happiest when I was involved with a captivating book. It all started with seeing the pile of books at home, some belonging to Dad, some to my aunty and uncle.But my own journey and fascination with books began when my Dad got me a copy of the Amar Chitra Katha. Boy!! Was I hooked or what! From then on, I was books and more books. From the Amar Chitra Katha, as I grew up, I graduated to more serious topics of law, medicine, Autobiographies, investigation, business, management, philosophy, religion, and everything in between. I sampled all sorts of fiction and non- fictional writing from multiple languages, translated into English or Hindi. I am no by no means the most well read person I know, or the one who remembers all the books he read. But here i present a list of some books I consider as masterpieces, and that I would recommend everyone to read. These are in no particular order.

1. Catch 22 – An all time classic. Considered as one of the best literary works of all time. This is the story of man named Yossarian in the Army, during WW 2. Most of all, this is a satire on the governmental ways of working, some processes and rules that defy common sense and logic. The beauty of this book is in the way that the plot has been presented. The story is presented from each characters angle. It is by no means a simple book to read, but the trouble is only the first few pages. Once you get the hang of the writing, it is fairly simple.

2. The Godfather – Whatever I say about the Godfather, is not going to do justice to it. It has been a favorite with bibliophiles for decades now. A lot has been said, and a lot will continue to be said about the Godfather. Elegant in its plot, and masterful in its presentation. This is Mario Puzo’s greatest gift to mankind.

3. Tuesdays with Morrie – This short, but very very deep and touching narrative by Mitch Albom, has forced me to think time and again about people who have helped me, been with me through thick and thin, and shaped my life. This true story revolves around a teacher and his relationship with his students, in particular, one student, the author Mitch Albom. The teacher is dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease (a form of muscular dystrophy), and Mitch gets to know about it. Mitch hasn’t been in touch with his old sociologist professor for over a decade and a half, because of professional priorities, or whatever. This story is about what happens when Mitch meets his old dying professor, and the lessons he learns thereafter.

4. The Firm – One of John Grisham’s best ever. The story of a fresh and highly ambitious law graduate and the sudden surprises life throws at him after graduation. He joins one of the most sought after and prestigious law firms, and then gets drawn into their secret. For the movie buffs, there is a very well adapted movie by the same name, starring Tom Cruise.
5. Sybil- Sybil is a dark and haunting true story of a girl called Shirley Ardell Mason (aka Sybil), who is suffering from multiple personality syndrome (MPD). She has 16 personalities. Flora Rheta Schreiber is the author and has done a good job in retaining the essence of the interaction between the patient and the doctor. It is not an easy to digest read. So be prepared for going through some heavy emotional roller coaster.

6. Ramayana by Ashok Banker (In Parts I-VII)– This is the Ramayana re-told for the new generation. Simple in narrative, and extensive in detail, it attempts to give a logical reason for every mantra and tantra. Mr. Banker has done a wonderful job of essaying the entire Ramayana, in a manner that in coherent with the millennia old version, and reads like a dream.

7. Matilda – Matilda by Roald Dahl is the story of an exceptionally bright young girl child, who is born in an imbalanced household. Her parents are involved in a lot of shady business, her only elder brother treats her like muck. In all this mess, no one pays attention to the extremely talented Matilda, who ultimately finds solace in books. She can read at the age of 2, and by the age of 6, is a regular at the city library. When she joins school, after much pleading with her parents, she meets a teacher who actually recognizes the bundle of surprises that is Matilda. It is a book written for children, simple, and straight forward, but adults will enjoy it as much as the next 10 year old. 🙂

8. Journeys Through Babudom And Netaland:governance In India – TSR Subramanian – This is a indepth analyses and narration of the Indian Bureaucratic system. The narration comes from an ex-IAS officer, from the batch of 1968. It traverses the many streets and alleys that is our system. It covers the ups and down, the good and the bad, the ways of survival, and numerous examples of failed logic in the ‘system’. This book has been an eye opener

9. The horse that Flew by Chidananda Rajghatta -Chidanand is the foreign editor and the U.S Correspondent for the Times of India. In this masterpiece, he has travelled down the annals of history and shed light on some of the greatest Indian or started by Indians, enterprises. He covers the likes of Infosys, Juniper, SUN amongst others. Some of the facts highlighted are simply awesome, like the fact the NR Murthy had to spend three nights in a prison in Bulgaria because of running down communism, in the then Communist ruled Bulgaria. These are some other interesting snippets are spread across the book, making it very difficult to put down once taken.

10. Trainspotting – Drugs, more Drugs is the only theme of this piece of fiction. A group of 4 friends, all addicts, and their constant search for the ‘next fix’ makes for an interesting read. The constant ideation that brings with it the money for the next dose of death, the constant fixation with the next high, and the dark and scary underground world of dealers, abusers and money lenders. How the families of the addicts cope. How the death of a near one can straighten one person completely. The highs, the lows and the complete ruins of an addict. Beware, this book is not for the light hearted. Not easy to read since it is written in a very Irish English style, with pronunciations intoned in the language. There is a movie of the same name starring Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller based on the book.

So these are some of the books I liked, and this may not necessarily apply to all. I have purposely kept the descriptions short, since there would be much better and detailed reviews available. My intent is just to highlight. There are millions of other books that need to be mentioned here, but have not been. Some other books of interest are The Animal Farm, 1984, Riots, Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park,
Do let me know how you liked this post, and if there are any books you would like me to speak about. If I have read them, I would be more than happy to share my thoughts and review, else I will go and read it :)Till then happy reading.