October 16th : I’m now a public library member! Hurray!
Update (November 26th):
One library return deadline has come and gone and I’m nowhere done with these, which is unsurprising because I purposefully went out of my comfort zone here and also I smuggled in a few other books in the interim and read them.
Chicken with plums : It was not as spectacular as Persepolis, but nevertheless a great read. Left me wondering about how all kinds of emotions and states of mind in one’s life are so densely fused with each other. And how complicated it is to judge someone’s action, even after hearing both or many sides of the story.
Watchmen : This probably is the best pick of the lot. Never been a great ‘super hero’ book fan nor a very interested graphic novel reader. But there are reasons why some books gain such an ardent following – they are simply mind-blowingly spectacular. And Watchmen is one such. Dr Manhattan’s story arc (and even his picturization) is probably THE highlight of the story. What miracles can life show you when you know everything in advance ? It was an intense, thrilling and draining read. I loved it. Aside : I’ve also probably found the best quote ever.
Update (Dec 9th):
Issac Newton : I must confess I do not very often read non-fiction. And popular science books (apart from some popular-math books). So this was quite a departure from norm for me, and mostly enjoyable at that. Really loved Gleick’s style of writing. It brought out the personality of Newton and also listed several interesting anecdotes about his life. For instance, I never knew the tumultuous relationship he shared with Hooke (which started out when Newton put forth his theories about colours). Gleick says “Hooke was Newton’s inspiration (though Newton never acknowledged it). He became Newton’s goad, nemesis, tormentor and victim.”
But the book also served as a harsh reminder that I have forgotten any physics I might have learnt in school. So now I can empathize a little bit when people zone out when I bring up math they have probably learnt in high school. It was especially galling when the two and the three-body problems were mentioned (since I did read that at some point long long ago). Alas!
Also TIL : Gravity for the ladies apparently
Death of a salesman :
As expected, it was a most depressing read. But fascinating all the same. Also I finally understood how hard it might be to *stage* such a play, let alone writing it.
Death of a salesman revolves around Willy, the salesman and switches between his past and present continuously and fluidly. For instance, Willy starts talking to his son Biff in the present and suddenly his mind and the play wanders into the past, where he seamlessly continues talking to his son Biff.. but in the past! It is so artfully crafted that it reveals how the characters and the equations between them have changed. It rather seems like Time is an invisible stand alone character himself in this play.
Now how do you showcase this, on a stage ? How do you avoid confusing the audience between the past and the present without spelling it out in dreary detail ? How do you retail the magic of Miller’s play while performing it ?
I think this book finally helped me see that theatre is more than just the playwright speaking to the audience through a bunch of human puppets. So much more.
Oxford book of Sonnets :
Again, half done. Wasn’t enthralled by it as much as I would have liked. Maybe I did not get to the good bits. Or maybe my poetry appreciation begins and ends with Indian film songs. Most memorable one I finished reading was
The owl who liked sitting on Caesar :
Much as I loved the title and the chronicles of Mumble, the tawny owl, I only managed to get through half of the book. The writing is fun, funny and filled with facts about owls (and the author’s life and his fascinating brother). I guess I might give it another shot next year, but now the library deadline looms ahead and I have to part with it.
Cosmos, Yoga, Money, Drawing :
Did not read. Note to self, do not be over-ambitious and borrow so much non-fiction in one library trip. Hopefully, will get to reading all this next year