Books I read in 2015

2015 was the year I realised that I now read non-fiction more than fiction. I also tried to buy a graphic novel a month this year and resolved to finish my backlog.

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Though I was not successful at finishing my backlog I did get some really good books into my collection which I shall finish in 2016. Unlike those long lists out there, I am just getting back to reading. Here are the chosen ones.

Being Mortal:
I loved his style of introducing his topic and keeping you interested through every chapter.

Do androids dream of electric sheep: One of the smoothest sci-fi stories which is bound to make you fall in love with the genre.

Nick and Norah’s infinite playlist: I do not know why i like the story, but I finally read the novel behind one of my all time favourite movies. Next up is Me, Earl and the Dying Girl.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories: Surprisingly my first Rushdie was a book written primarily for the child in you. Next up is Luka and the Fire of Life.

Modern Romance: A subject I would not have chosen to read upon but was a delight and reading it made me enjoy ‘Master of None’ even more.

What I talk about when I talk about running: Easily the best book i’ve read this year and the one I shall recommend and gift to people to read. You need not want to run to read this book.

The Hard Thing about Hard Things: Recommended by a lot of people, this book did not live up to its hype and Ben came across to me as a mighty lucky chap who is looking at things in hindsight but there were good things to be learnt from it.

The New Ghost: A short story about the afterlife with some great art.

By this Shall You Know Him: A short story about creation with some mind boggling art

In Real Life: A story set in the contemporary world of MMORPGs and questions ethics on the internet.

Killing and Dying: This anthology of short stories of people like you and me made it to bestseller lists this year.

Gaysi Zine #3 #4: A shoutout on the Kokkachi fb page showed me this wonderful zine and I ended up funding the #4. However I liked #3 better 😛

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland: This tribute revival of the Winsor McCay comic strip was beautiful though I had bought this book thinking its the entire collection.

Prophet: Remission Volume 1: I bought this book because I am a fan of Brandon Graham. The story so far has been cryptic.

The Wrong Place: What a pretty watercolour graphic novel. Brecht Evans’ debut has a good story to go with the art but it ends up lacking something.

Chicken with Plums (reread): Because I was feeling like Nasser Ali Khan.

Antares Episode 5: I just love this series, the alien world’s Leo illustrates are fascinating.

I hope to read more in 2016. Feel free to recommend me books to read.

Why I dont like reading digital books

I don’t think I will ever abandon the physical book for a digital one in the long run. Granted that when travelling, an ebook reader makes more sense than a suitcase of books but it’s not the same thing when you want to curl up and read it in leisure at home. I bought a tablet last year to read ebooks while on the go but since then I’ve read less digital books than the fingers on one of my hands. I somehow find the act of reading an ebook cumbersome. First of all, there’s the trouble with powering/charging up the device. Ebook readers that I am aware of just do not seem to replicate the size of the book or the number of pages accurately. To me, the physicalness of the book is something very intimate to the experience of reading. With the move to the digital, this gets lost. Further more, I am often distracted trying to keep a track of the number of pages I finished reading on the digital book but I hardly bother doing so when reading a book. Coffee table sized books look bad on a 7 inch screen and their non-existent weight makes me feel disconnected. Searching through the book is probably easier but where you once used your memory you now end up resorting to a dumb search to find that elusive sentence. Bookstores are slowly disappearing and don’t even get me started on new book smells. The physical book is truly a wholesome sensory experience and sorry technology, but you are not there yet.

Image Credit: Jose Hernandez

What it takes to be a writer

To be a good writer, you have to be totally honest and not afraid to speak out. You have to have the ability to work hard and the stamina for a long haul. Sometimes you will sit for hours staring at a sheet of blank paper in front of you. You will have to have the determination not to get up till the sheet is filled with writing. It doesn’t matter if you fill it with rubbish. The discipline will prove worthwhile.

Always do your homework. A writer’s responsibility — whether he’s an essayist or a novelist — is to inform his reader while he provokes or entertains him. The challenge is to tell him something he doesn’t know. And don’t talk down to your reader; level with him.

– Khushwant Sigh, page 91, Khushwantnama

An Introduction to Comic Books and Manga: Part 1

My introduction to comic books like most people were the Archie’s, Asterix and Obelix and Tintin. My eventual enrollment in the local Central Library was where i was introduced to DC and other american comics. Being in India, Comic books are not easy to come by and definitely not light on your wallet. In 2007-08, i decided to have a look into the world of comics again. I had started off reading Manga in 2007 with Naruto and Bleach and wanted to get back to DC comics. The Final Crisis was the main event that started in the DC universe about the time i started reading comics. It gave me a place to start reading. Although confusing in itself, the DC universe was what i prefered over Marvel. Why? thats because there are some aspects of Marvel i simply dislike. I decided to give Marvel a chance this year. There are storylines there i would read but story arcs are really tough to follow compared to DC. Take for example the various Avengers titles available. After the recent reboot, Avengers Prime looks promising. Hopefully it stays that way.

Now am not saying that DC is easy to follow. What i did after Final Crisis was follow the story into the War of Light. I was hooked easily onto the 7 light spectrum power struggle and then came the Blackest Night which although reminded me of something called Marvel Zombies was still well written. The Brightest Day is the currently ongoing event but apart from the Green Lantern storylines am just reading the tie-ins for fun. I really believe that Green Lantern is a Comic book to follow due to the War of Light. I am also keen on the Return of Bruce Wayne(6 issues). I would also recommend Batman Beyond(6 issues) and Marvel Universe vs The Punisher(4 issues). Former dealing with Batman of the Future and the latter with a ‘I am Legend’ storyline with The Punisher instead of Will Smith.

Resticting yourselves to the two biggies is not a smart thing to do. There are many great titles out there in the smaller companies. Listed below are some worth reading in my opinion(My favourites). I dont know if its wise to start of with them but you can try these and then find your comfort zone. Please note that i have read them. There maybe many more good series out there. If you know about one than do suggest them to me.

DC:

  • Grant Morrison’s psychedelic run of Doom Patrol (45 issues) which has one of my favourite woman superheroes of all time- Crazy Jane.
  • The War of Light arc consisting of Green Lantern(ongoing) and Green Lantern Corps(ongoing) and certain select Final Crisis, Blackest Day and Brightest tie-ins.
  • Green Lantern: Rebirth Lord Havok and the Extremists from the Countdown to Crisis arc(also a decent storyline).
  • The Return of Bruce Wayne and Batman Beyond are ongoing series that have already been mentioned above.
  • Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta and Watchmen are acclaimed titles which i havent finished reading yet. And also Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

Marvel:

  • Testament:- The origin story of Magneto which utilizes events from the Holocaust of WW2.
  • Wolverine:Origin:- The graphic novel which first dealt with the story and not the rubbish which the movie was about.
  • Bulls Eye: Greatest Hits:- Reminded me about Joker from The Dark Knight and his origin stories.
  • Daredevil: The Man without Fear :- pairs Frank Miller with John Romita Jr.
  • Weapon X: Days of the Future Now:- A must read X-men title.
  • X-men: Blind Science:- A Brilliantly written One Shot.
  • Hulk: Planet Hulk story arc was decent.
  • Marvel Universe vs The Punisher and Avengers Prime are ongoing series that have already been mentioned above. The Ultimate Universe is recommended for people who want to begin reading now. I have heard the marvel movies will depend on the Ultimate Universe anymore.

Others:

  • Scott Pilgrim (6 volumes) for the graphic novel manga lovers.
  • Icon’s Mark Millar and John Romita Jr’s Kick-Ass.
  • Icon’s Mark Millar and Steve Mc’Niven’s Nemesis(ongoing).
  • Avatar’s Chistos Gage’s Absolution.
  • DDP’s Hack/Slash for its unusualness(have read only one book). Cassie Hack makes Lisbeth Salander look cute in comparison
  • Wildstorm’s Push prequel to the Movie helps you put things in context.
  • Also the Inception prequel The Cobol Job is a must read.
  • Dynamite Entertainment’s Sherlock Holmes.
  • IDW’s Singularity 7 and the ongoing True Blood(alongside the HBO series now in season 3)
  • Frank Miller’s 300 and Sin City.

Will keep adding to this list.
(Article to be continued in part 2)

Singularity 7 Hack/Slash

My “Top Characters in Print Ever” List

Mario’s recent list of  “Top 25 Favourite Screen Characters Ever” got me thinking and well i decided to make a list of my very own. But i soon found out that since my list would be one of characters in Print, it would be a lot harder. I tried my best to include all of my favourite series by including atleast my favorite creations in them. And when i meant print i meant anything that s been published and it includes all that i have read voraciously. It does include chiefly among others; novels, comic books and comic strips. Probably everyone will have such a list. So if you intend to do so Please make a list but do link me up to it or atleast include a link in the comments.

Okay before we see the actual list i would like to explain that the list is currently still under construction. I would definitely expand upon it. Plus the list currently contains 13 Characters. You can suggest more characters that i could have possibly missed out or perhaps i can have a look at them.

And Finally The List In Alphabetical Order[ since i didnt want to go through the agony of ranking them]:

  • Artemis Fowl [cant forget his Butler] From the Artemis Fowl series Type: Human. Occupation: Evil Teen Mastermind.
  • Bartimaeus From the Bartimaeus trilogy Type: Djinn[4th Level] Occupation: Magician’s Servant.
  • Batman [Bruce Wayne] From DC Type: Human. Occupation: Crime Fighting Vigilante/Superhero.
  • Calvin From Calvin and Hobbes Type: Human Occupation: Being a Gyaan-Spouting Kid.
  • Crazy Jane [Jane Morris/ Kay Challis] From Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol[DC] Type: Human with 64 super powered personalities[multiple personality disorder] Occupation: Superhero.
  • Elva From the Inheritance Trilogy Type: Human affected by a spell gone wrong leading to abnormal growth. Occupation: Royal advisor and Can tell The Future.
  • Hercule Poirot From the Agatha Christie books Type: Human Occupation: Detective of Belgian origin working in England.
  • Hit Girl From Kick-Ass : Book One [8 issues] Type: Human Occupation: Student
  • Ichigo Kurosaki From Bleach Manga Type: Human Occupation: Soul reaper/Saving the World.
  • Kakashi Hatake From Naruto Manga Type: Human Occupation: Top Jonin Ninja of the Leaf village.
  • Kirin From the Gameworld Trilogy Type: Half-Ravian and Half-Rakshas Occupation: Saving the World??
  • Phantom From Lee falk’s Phantom Comic books Type: Human Occupation: Crime Fighter from Bengalla.
  • Shine Sarkar From Keep of the Grass Type: Human Occupation: IIM-B/IIT-D graduate
  • Wallace Wells From Scott Pilgrim Type: Human Occupation: Unknown. He’s Scott’s gay room mate.
  • Zaphod Beeblebrox From the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Type: Betelgeusian Occupation: Ex-Galactic President; confidence trickster; etc

To be continued…

Why Chetan Bhagat sells?

No wonder Chetan Bhagat is a best-seller, he’s got most engineering students reading and buying his books. And there are quite a lot of engineering students in India. And when I mean students, it also includes those who normally would not touch a novel with a 10 foot pole. What possibly began as word of mouth praise for 5 point Someone culminated in sequel books which as standard movie sequels are a low reprisal of the original and also in follow up movies.. I agree 5 point someone was good. It allowed us insight into how an IITian may live. Getting into an IIT is a dream dreamed by a lot of students although very few actually make it into those hallowed portals. Now am not saying that the ones inside are better than the ones out. The stringent admission system only makes it possible for the ones who are hardworking and studious and mostly who don’t have a life able to get in. Well I did write the JEE and obviously did not do any good at it. But given the amount of hardwork I put in, I was satisfied with my performance. So much so that I still covet that markscard. So well 5 point Someone showed us that IITians are humans too and they have feelings and live through the same screwed up engineering student problems. Well the book became a standard read for all engineering aspirants and with it became famous all the books. It also spawned an entire genre of book titles regarding IITs and IIMs. My worst experience being an IIM one who’s title I have gladly forgotten. I think it had ‘dream’ or ’inspire’ in its title. That book was a god forsaken mistake.

Now that his books were selling like hot cakes , the guy decided to give up his day job and take to full time writing; newspaper columns and movie scripts. Personally speaking, I like his non-fiction writing. Its good. But his fiction is going nowhere. I barely know any hard core readers who liked the latest book, ‘2 states’. I, by far, had expected something better. I started reading the book mid October, during my second sessionals and uptill now have not been able to get past ACT 2. Now his insights into Indian life is largely true and maybe thats what makes it click. Indians, I believe, like to laugh at themselves hence we have so many jokes about so many ethnic groups; Sterotypes and otherwise. We are great voyeurs, no?

But apart from all this, These books have made people take to reading. Just like how Harry potter had done for the western world. Reading Novels and visiting libraries are some things which are decreasing in our world. With digitising of books, libraries may in the near future cease to exist. I love libraries and second hand book shops. I can spend hours together there and I really do. Ebooks are great but they are not keepers. Kindle is innovative but I want to see it being used for bulky engineering texts. And Yes, I would like to own one.

I’m really glad that I was introduced to reading when I was little and I still covet those treasures of mine. Reading teaches you a lot, mind you!

Trivia:
A friend asked me whats similar between all the titles. “isnt it obvious? Each title has a number.”
I almost want to see ‘ 4’ in his next book title eg..’4 freaking days’, ‘4saken’,’4 the love of god’

“Have you noticed how sex has moved through his series?
From the almost end part of 5 Point Someone, to page 23 in ‘2 states’.”
Remarked by a second year in the college bus.

I got inspired to write this after reading The Oatmeal’s Twilight review. Thats another series which is lying unread at home.

Corridor

Corridor: a Graphic Novel by Sarnath Banerjee. Its been peeking out of the library book shelves for a long time now. Finally i picked it up yesterday. As part of my ongoing allergy towards big novels i have embraced the small short story types. Read a translation of Goan literature and now this.

In the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi sits Jehangir Rangoonwalla, enlightened dispenser of tea, wisdom and second-hand books. Among his customers are Brighu, a postmodern Ibn Batuta looking for obscure collectibles and a love life; Digital Dutta who lives mostly in his head, torn between Karl Marx and an H-1B visa; and the newly-married Shintu, looking for the ultimate aphrodisiac in the seedy by-lanes of old Delhi. Played out in the corridors of Connaught Place and Calcutta, the story captures the alienation and fragmented reality of urban life through an imaginative alchemy of text and image.

-extracted from Wikipedia.

I loved it but then graphic novels marries my two favorite interests 🙂  what more can i ask.
hope i get to read his second novel. BarnOwl’s wondrous Capers.