Sunday, September 14, 2014

Books that stuck

This was a list-tag thingy going on in facebook. Thought I'll copy that over here too, since this blog has seen a dry spell lately.

Selfish Gene: This belongs to the genre "You can never look at the world the same way again". Many other Dawkins's books left impressions of varying sizes on me, but I should mention "The Blind Watchmaker" and "God Delusion"

1984: Gloomy stories seem to stay longer with you than happy ones. Until it was cheapened to peddle a consumer product, this book was the best ad for democracy.

Old Man and the Sea: The power of good fiction to force empathy out of you. I distinctly remember feeling every bit of Santiago's exhaustion by the time he gets to the shore.

Tropic of Cancer: Whether a book stays with you also depends on at what stage in your life you encounter it. Tropic crossed my path when my own opinions were being formed on a variety of topics- censorship, free will, civilization- and made the kind of mark that none of the author's other books or even a re-reading of this one have made since.

Thinking, Fast and Slow: Had got me hooked on thinking about thinking. Immediately after this one, I binge-read Dennett's "Intuition Pumps" and Pinker's "How your mind works".

Slaughterhouse-Five: It's liable to change in the future, but at this moment, all things considered, Vonnegut is probably my favorite writer of fiction and Slaughterhouse-five is right at the top. Honorable mention: Cat's Cradle.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Like Anantha said, HGG is a genre on its own. What sane mind can come up with ideas like ballpoint planets, SEP fields, and an award for the most gratuitous use of the word "Belgium"?

Asterix series: Incomparable humor. I often wonder how special it must be in its original form in French.

Midnight's Children: I read this book in an 18-hr marathon, sitting in a teahouse in Leh. The setting and the book formed such a strong association that I can't think of one without remembering the other.

The Meadow: Hits home how inextricable the Kashmir situation really is through a masterful reporting of an unsolved kidnapping that happened in the valley years ago. A cloud of gloom hung over me for days after.

Carvalho (Poorna Chandra Tejaswi): The token diversity entry in this list. I'm closet-parochial about the Western Ghats, and no book I've read has quite captured that location with the same level of intimacy. And only my mother tongue seems to do that place justice.
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