The Five-Books-At-Once Challenge

There’s one thing I hate to admit: I’m a slow reader. In fact, so slow that in the past 22 years of my life I’ve read close to a meager 150 books (minus the Goosebumps and other similar fantasy novellas I read in childhood). It’s a shame, I know. Pitiful. Despicable. Cringe-worthy. I should be ashamed to call myself a “book-worm”. But it’s all because I have a few behavioral problems. I need particular “settings” around me that should be in place before I start reading. Everything from the lighting of the room, the snack I’m going to have while reading (be it a cup of tea or a bag of chips), to the position at which I’m going to read in; everything is calculated beforehand. Yes, when I’m out of home, I bend the rules a bit, and just go with the flow. But inside my home, everything has to be just perfect.

Relaxing Read

And then there’s the matter of speed. I read S.L.O.W.L.Y. I savor the words and then I like to play them out in my head and direct that entire scene to my taste. What accent, tone of voice and pitch the character is speaking in, what gestures they must be making, at what “camera angle” that scene is being shot in, how the cuts are being made from one scene to the next. I’m the director, I’m the cinematographer, I’m the film editor, I’m the actor, I’m everything except the writer. That’s why until I complete that shot (till perfection) in my mind, then and only then do I progress to the next page. Yeah I know I’m not a Special Snowflake. A lot of you can relate to this methodology. You too must admit that it gets frustrating sometimes, but it carries its own reward which the reader himself/herself can appreciate.

Thinking while Reading

But I’ve realized I’m not reading half as much as I should be, so I think it’s time I challenge myself. Expand my horizons! Therefore, for my love of putting myself through discomfort, I’ve decided to do the Five-Books-At-Once Challenge. This will not only allow me to have a go at tackling multiple books at once, but will also widen my literary experience in a taxing yet fun way.

Speed Reading

The books I’ve selected for this task span across a variety of genres, each entertaining in its own way. Those Five Books are:

  1. The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler (contemporary, adult, romance)
  2. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (mystery, thriller, crime)
  3. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (autobiography, memoir, historical)
  4. Infinite Jest by David F. Wallace (contemporary, literature, humor, philosophy)
  5. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (nonfiction, humor, romance, sociology)

Now many of you who have read Infinite Jest or Anne Frank’s Diary must be thinking, “This is a disgrace! This is no way these classics should be read!!” I know that, and I also know I won’t waste my experience with speed-reading. I’ll try my best to never compromise on my understanding of these masterpieces and do them justice. But I need to push my limits. Some of my friends have also said to me, “Reading multiple books at once never works, you idiot. You always end up finishing none of them.” This is exactly the reason I’m naming this a CHALLENGE. And when I commit to a challenge I don’t back off until I give it my all. I’m planning on finishing all of these and my stubbornness will help me along the way.

The method I’m going to apply is that I’ll set different time slots of one day to two different books and I’ll dedicate one whole day to Infinite Jest, because I can’t mix up that book with any other in the same day. IJ takes up too much mental capacity, and to be honest, I’m always emotionally drained (and confused) after finishing every single chapter.

So now that I have a job (oh yeah just recently got my first real job.. I’ll tell the details in a future post), all the energy of my free time will be dedicated to just reading. The timeline I’ve decided for this challenge is 2 months, but I know due to the 9 to 6 job it’s gonna be a pain in the bottom, but still, I’ll do my best to complete these as soon as possible. It’s time I do something to justify myself as an “avid reader”.

If anyone else is up for this challenge please do let me know. I’ll have a reading buddy whose willing to go through the same torturous/pleasing journey I’m about to embark in 😀

Trust me, a lot of people do this without losing their minds.

Anywho, wish me luck *_*

Best of Luck

Changing the Race of One of the Most Beloved Characters in Literature. Does It Matter?

For the past few weeks I’ve been on a Social Media hiatus, due to my midterms – they went completely awesome by the way – and also because right after exams I was involved in some personal matter that I’ll share in the upcoming post; let’s just say it involves me making a new best friend after 7 years. Big achievement for me! Yay!

Anyway, as soon as I got up to speed to the online world, this news made my jaw drop: Idris Elba is the Frontrunner in portraying the role of Roland Deschain in the Movie-TV Show adaptation of The Dark Tower series written by Stephen King.

The Dark Tower

Now let me discuss how this issue might affect the book readers and how the non-readers shouldn’t be too quick in judging them wrongly.

  • These 7 books were published in a span of 22 years, so they are probably the entire LIFE for some adults and for me they have been my entire teenage. I have finished all seven of these 5 times, EACH. This series was the reason I developed a passion for writing, although I sucked at it but I wrote a LOT of fan-fiction based on Roland and his Ka-Tet. Those were my first projects on serious and focused writing. I also developed a fan-site for TDT, but it bombed. Anyway, at the time when teenagers are going through issues related to puberty, hormones and self-esteem problems at school, for me The Dark Tower series were my life; so I know what being passionate about a particular series feels like. People obsessed about Star Wars, I obsessed about The Dark Tower.
  • I NEVER wanted it to be adapted to the big (or small) screen. I know, everything is “sell-able” in this world, but this was the ONE thing I never wanted Mr. King to give away his rights to. I usually love it when any of his work gets picked up by a great studio and they do justice to it, like The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Shining, Misery, Stand By Me, Carrie, The Dark Half, The Mist and a few more. BUT we also have the examples like the Dreamcatcher, Thinner, Sleepwalkers, Maximum Overdrive, Graveyard Shift. Yikes. So I hope these directors understand how emotional we fans can get when they screw with some work from our favorite authors. Especially when it comes to Mr. King’s magnum opus; The Dark frikkin Tower.
  • Another reason for The Dark Tower having problems with adaptation for SO many years (the project got picked up and dropped by numerous directors and studios) is just because… it’s a little too much. Here, we are talking about a world that is more complex, enriching (and horrifying) then the one’s portrayed in Lord of the Rings or The Song of Ice and Fire. This bizarre world was only meant to exist in us readers’ minds! Directors have quit (even J. J. Abrams backed off) because the The Dark Tower Universe was too big for them to handle. Therefore, I have severe doubts with this Nikolaj Arcel person who is only popularly known for his work as a screenwriter on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Now that I’ve made it clear why I hate the idea of these movies and/or show, let’s get to the issue of “race”.

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November 9 by Colleen Hoover: “Crippling, Debilitating, Paralyzing Love”

Let me start this review by sharing what happened to me when I finished this book. It was 4:20am, I was lying in my room in the dark and everyone else at home was fast asleep. The moment I finished it, I got up from my bed – my knees shaking – closed my bedroom door, and right then and there I fell to the ground and starting crying as if these tears were held inside me for years. I cried so much I couldn’t breathe anymore. I crawled to the bed, lied face down into my pillow and bawled as loud as I could.

I was a complete mess.

Those weren’t tears of sorrow. They were tears of joy. :’)

I love you Colleen Hoover, for making me believe in love again. :’)

Image courtesy: www.goodreads.com
Image courtesy: http://www.goodreads.com

I usually read a book’s Goodreads review before starting it. I need to know what others think about it, because I hate it when I realize I’ve wasted my time with a lame story. But with November 9, I went in completely blind. I had no idea what it was about, what rating it got, how “bestselling” it was. I avoided reading anything about it like I avoid reading Game of Thrones spoilers. I only knew that it was written by CoHo.

And I would advice you to do the same.

I promise you, it will be worth it.

As for my review, it will be completely spoiler free. Yeah, there will be a few quotes here and there, but they’re only for the purpose of convincing you to read this book immediately.

Okay, now I’m just gonna rant on like an idiot about WHY I loved this book so much.

My Take on November 9:

“You’ll never be able to find yourself if you’re lost in someone else.”

THE ROMANCE:

November 9 has the most engaging and one-of-a-kind romance I’ve read in a long, long time. The formula CoHo used has been done before – obviously – but how she executed it, how she dealt with those characters and the purity of love between them (I haven’t swooned so much in YEARS), and that mind-boggling twist near the end, HOLY GUACAMOLE, it left my head spinning.

It made me feel ALL THE FEELS!!!

“You left with my soul in your fists and my heart in your teeth, and I don’t want either of them back.”

I have plenty of experience with romance novels but this time there was something different. You know when you read/watch an amazing love story and you say to yourself, “Yeah right, THAT’S never happening to me. I’m gonna become a cat-lady and die alone.”

Abeeha the Cat Lady

But in November 9, Ben and Fallon’s love seemed too real. So real that it made me believe that one day I too can have something like that. Do you remember what I said in the beginning? About me crying like a baby? It was because I suddenly knew it in my heart that I WILL find my Ben someday :’)

“I’m in love with her. Like, really in love with her. Crippling, debilitating, paralyzing love.”

Laughing-Crying Matthew

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“The Girl on the Train”: A Study on How NOT To Write Your Characters

The Girl on the Train has been one of the most hyped-up books of 2015; having comparisons with intense psychological thrillers like Gone Girl. But let me just get one thing straight: it’s not the next Gone Girl. That’s false marketing/word-of-mouth. Yes, both had unreliable narrators, both revolved around a murder, but where ‘The Girl on the Train’ fails terribly is in its character design.

"The Girl on the Train," by author Paula Hawkins. (AP Photo/Riverhead Books)
Image courtesy: http://www.yahoo.com; “The Girl on the Train,” by author Paula Hawkins. (AP Photo/Riverhead Books)

Plot Synopsis (taken from Goodreads):

“Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?”

My Take on the Book:

Don’t get me wrong, I really liked reading this book (to some extent). I love meself some “whodunnit” stories, and I was glued to it for two days straight. I couldn’t put it down.

Page Turner

But there are two reasons why it was such a page-turner for me:

  1. It was undoubtedly an engaging read. Although very predictable (I had to literally dumb-down myself in order to maintain that element of surprise for the big “killer-reveal” moment) but nonetheless it kept me on the edge of my couch as it had a really fast-moving plot. I don’t mean to sound crass but murder mysteries are FUN!
  2. I wanted to get it over with. I was 100 pages into the book when I truly started to hate the characters and I was just too invested in the story by then that quitting was just not an option anymore.

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“All the Bright Places” – A Book That Broke My Heart

You know one of those stories when you read about the love between two people and it just gives you this fluttery feeling, that little twinge in your chest, a small skip of a heartbeat. A kind of love that you know will not and can not happen in any stage of your life (sorry, I’m talking about myself here), but when you read about it you can literally FEEL that love inside your heart. And when the story is finished you just lie there, crying, holding that book close to your chest, and staring at the walls feeling absolutely shattered. All The Bright Places was that kind of book for me.

All The Bright Places Cover

Book Synopsis (taken from Goodreads):

“Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
 
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
 
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.”

My Take on the Book:

When I read this blurb I knew it that it’s not gonna have a happy ending. This isn’t a spoiler, it’s just very very extremely obvious.

Let me make one thing clear; All the Bright Places has A-LOT of similarities with The Fault in Our Stars. But this time instead of battling with cancer, our protagonists are battling with depression and mental illness.

Gus and Hazel Crying

Now you might be asking, “So why should I give a damn about this book when I know it’s exactly like TFiOS? Nothing original there!

Even though it has a lot of similarities with it (two broken people – who are very witty, charming, their literary taste and IQ level is spectacular – find love and hope within each other), but ATBP is still unique in it’s own way.

“The thing I realize is, that it’s not what you take, it’s what you leave.”

The love story felt… how do I explain this… deeper? Better? I don’t know why but to me Theo and Violet felt more in love with each other than Gus and Hazel.

And now the John Green and TFiOS fans will be like *gasp* “BLASPHEMY!!!

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Happiness is: Getting Your Hands on a Heck Load of Low-Price Edition Books!

Ah the sweet smell of old books! I know sniffing them so vigorously might not be so good for my sinuses, but oh what the heck, I don’t get to read many books on paperback. All I have to make do with is eBooks, and it gets really tedious sometimes reading from a screen for 2 to 3 hours.  When I read novels on print, I used to go on for 6 to 7 hours straight! My personal record is 9 hours (without food or sleep or bathroom) but that one time my Mom confiscated all my books and locked them in a trunk because she believed I had gone clinically insane. Thank you Stephen King; you showed me what real addiction is.

Anywho, today I went to one of the biggest annual book fairs that my country has to offer; the University of the Punjab Book Fair. Oh yes, one of those times when I get to be proud of my institution.

My friends and I, we decided that we shall buy as much books as our wallets may allow us, so these are some of the novels that we’re gonna savor in the coming weeks.

Book Fair Selection

Can you believe it that we found most of these at a measly price of Rs. 50/book? That’s like half a dollar each. It was Literary Heaven for me! Well considering my current collection of eBooks, my own paperbacks, and now these, I have enough books to last me this whole year! Woot woot!!

So tell me, which one of these should I read next after I’ve finished “The Martian” by Andy Weir? Haaa, decisions decisions. Help a sister out, huh?

“Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes: Don’t Let the Title Fool You

“Fiction”. Probably the best creation by humanity. A source of infinite joy for billions of people in this treacherous world. Sometimes it is used as a means of showing you the harsh realities of life and most times it is something that steals you away from your worldly worries, lets you step-in a world created by someone else’s imagination and allows you to view life in a different light. An affirmative, shining, bright light. Why couldn’t you have done that Jojo? Why did you have to put me through such…. misery? The title of the book fooled me. I thought this was supposed to be a love story. A love story that’ll take me away and let me be a part of someone’s happy ending.

Why Jojo?

Why?

Me Before You Cover

What is it about?

Excerpt taken from Goodreads:
“Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.”

My Thoughts on this Book:

[Caution: Contains Spoilers]

The synopsis of this book is also gravely misleading! This is NOT a love story. Me Before You is based on a very sensitive subject matter. One’s right to die. *cue dramatic music*

If I had to write the synopsis of the book it would be something like this… Continue reading