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Posts from the ‘New Year’ Category

The End of the Year Wrappings….

Another year goeth by and yet another year to make new beginnings with! What did we accomplish in these 12 months and what do we hope to accomplish in this new year?? I am not a resolution person and from experience I know that whatever I propose, God/Fate disposes completely differently, therefore it makes total sense to make no plans and go with the flow! Instead I look back on 2016 and think of all that was done and if I may say, I deserve a pat on my back; while I did not do a lot, I did do some stuff that atleast showed some traction on my self improvement trajectory –

  1. I ran a marathon – ok! only 5km, but hey I am 115 Kgs and managing 5km is a task!
  2. I took 3 major vacations and 3 minor getaways, including a 14 days road trip into deep Himalayas. A year in travels CANNOT get better than this!
  3. I got a short story published!! Yes, finally I got something printed! So its not a big journal and the work is not one of my best, but hey! I am now an officially published person!
  4. I made some wonderful new friend, friends who are akin to my soul sisters, who have encouraged me run to marathons, keep writing till I get published and in general become more rational in life!
  5. Most importantly, I read and read and read!

On that happy note, as is my norm, I share below, the 12 best reads of the year as is my norm, with wishes for an even better 2017 for all of us –

  1. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf – I have been in perpetual terror of Woolf ever since I read Orlando when 15. However, Ali was hosting a Woolfalong and I was also participating in the Women’s Classical Literature Reading Event hosted by the Classic Club and this seemed as good a time to plunge in. And I am ever so glad I did; with it’s subtle narrative of following the thoughts of the protagonists and the sense of time passing and some of the most brilliant prose. I fell in love with the book, to say the very least!
  2. Miss Marjorie Banks by Margaret Oliphant – I had this book in my collection forever and now I sit back and wonder what the hell was I doing waiting for ages to finally get around to reading this one! Another one of Women’s Classic Literature Reading Event read, this wonderful narrative of the Victorian town of Carlingsford and Miss Bank’s effort to be a comfort to her father and the residing social priestess of her town is a hilarious and at the same time a gentle telling of things that were not quite right in the Victorian society! One of the best books I have ever read!
  3. Metamorphoses by Ovid – I would have NEVER EVER read this one if it was not for Cleo! Cleo with her enthusiasm and pep talk kept me going and I discovered a book that I had dreaded and ended up loving. This is an epic poem which is a compendium of all Greek and Roman legend has violence, greed, sacrifice, courage and every other element of human drama that come together to form a grand tour-de-force that simply sweeps you away!
  4. The Fortunes of the Rougons by Emile Zola – Another one of those books I did not want to read and ended by up loving it. This first book in a series comprising of 20 novels, traces the rise of the Rougan family from Plassans during the coup of 1851. Not a happy book, with hardly any redeemable characters, this book yet manages to share a story of humanity and deep insights into the human  heart! The only word I could use to describe it is profound!
  5. The Gypsy in the Parlour by Margery Sharp – This one was another one of those great finds thanks to Jane! The trials of the Sylvesters in their Victorian farm with new wives and wayward sons, seen through the eyes of a distant 12 year old cousin, is a retelling of an old tale of good versus bad with wonderful plot, characters that you wish were actually in existence and an end that kept you on the hook. Margery Sharp showed that with the right crafting of the plot, the old stories of human relationships will endure and even become page turners!
  6. The Rose and The Ring by William Makepeace Thackeray – A children’s tale that I picked up on a whim, while looking around for something different to read! Did I stumble on a gold mine or what!! Biting satire with hilarious dialogues with absolutely marvelous cast of Princes, Princess and amulets, this one was written originally as a fireside pantomime, and continues to be a complete enteratainer some 150 years on!
  7. The Dairy of Nobody by by George Grossmith and illustrations by Weedon Grossmith – If I have a find of the year, it is this book! Why in the world is this book not more popular is quite beyond me. This is hilarious, in fact uproarious narrative of Charles Pooter, who has just bought a new house and is adjusting to his life in suburban 1892 England, with some aid from his friends, his difficult son and his exasperated wife! if there was ever a laugh out loud book, this is the ONE!
  8. Up The Country by Emily Eden – My favorite non fiction read of the year! This wonderful travel journal, of Emily Eden kept while her brother was the Governor General of India, is a lovely description of an era of British Raj and of a time gone by. Free of prejudices, and with more insights, than her brother ever displayed, this book is a wondrous read into what the past really looked and felt like!
  9. Shadow of The Moon by MM Kaye – I know and I know! This is my all time favorite and I should not have included this and all that! But every time I read, this breathtaking saga of Winter de Balletros and Captain Alex Randall, in the backdrop of the Indian Mutiny of 1857, I am left breathless and mesmerized! Kaye who was born and for many years lived in India, poured her love for the land and her people in this masterful novels about tolerance, sacrifice and human courage! They really do write books like any more!
  10. The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore – My first ever hosted read-along, with the kind support of many of my friends in the Blogging world! The story of Nikhil, Bimala and Sandeep in the backdrop of Indian Indpendence Movement, tells a complex narrative about freedom, responsibility, choices and a woman’s true emancipation, at a time when India woman had in fact no place of their own!
  11. The Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson – I am NOT a science person, but this book, another one purchased on a whim,.is a wonderful, engaging and at times downright funny telling of , well everything! How this universe, earth and we, the living all came into existence. It makes you appreciate the wonder of the earth, read more about the Big Bang and sit back and wonder at the genius called Bill Bryson!
  12. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas – This is one of those re-readings that classify under “I know”. I know this is a classic, I know there is nothing better than this yarn of revenge and forgiveness and I personally find no better philosophy to live by than those enshrined in this book – “All human wisdom is contained in these two words, Wait and Hope.”

I know I restrict myself to 12 books alone, but this has been a very very interesting year, and I wanted to make an honorable and critical mention about Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Here was a book and an author I was not ready touch with a barge pole, until Stefanie came along with her wonderful review. Now we all know, I trust Stefanie, so I picked it up and ended up receiving some very practical advise, about being a creative person, about persisting in your craft and about capturing the moment, without wondering about when/what/where will the rewards coming in! This is perhaps the first self-helpish book that really helped, saw me pick up the pen and write more and genrally recommend it to all other creative folks!

That just about sums of my 2016 adventure!

Thank You for being part of this bloggish journey, thank you for your diligent and thoughtful comments/likes and advise. I am better reader/writer, because you all decided to help me out! Here’s wishing you all a fabulous and brilliant 2017!

In Memoriam, [Ring out, wild bells]

by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be

The Year in Posts and Books…

I first learnt of this kind of blog posts years back from Jane and since then every year, after gentle nudge from her post, I would suddenly remember, that it was that time of year, to sit back and look at how this bloggish year went. It goes without saying that since I am irredeemably in love with reading, the blogs should be all about books; but as I look back, there are some interesting surprises! Therefore I present without further ado, the first lines from the first blog posts of this past 12 months….

January – Its A New Day

Well, December is gone and January is here and before we know another December will be here…I am trying to cheer myself that If January is here, can December be far?!

February – Money and Marriage in Cumbria

I am devoted and I mean DEVOTED to Anthony Trollope.

March –  The Pickwick Paper Read Along

Many moons ago, some of the greatest Victorian authors, like the worthy Mr. Charles Dickens, Mr. Wilkie Collins, Mrs. Margaret Oliphant and Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell, wrote some of their best works not in a single bound novel, but as serialized installments in various magazines.

April – Holiday Hangover, April Reading and Therapy

Hello! Hello! I am back! And while I am overjoyed to be back in the world of cyberspace and virtual interactions, I must say, I soooooo do not look forward to the Monday! But that is a bridge that I will cross and dream of August again!

May – May-ish Reads

Ah! May…..the fire breathing months on Indian plains, where the sun burns and earth scorches and you wonder if hell is like this! Joy!

June – About Summers & Reading 

I am seeing many posts around the internet, celebrating Summer! Reading and Summer seems a most conducive combination; reminds of my summer vacation from schools, with 2 and a half month of bliss, reading and eating!

July – An Act

I was planning to share my July reading plans but decided to share this instead…

August – The Home & The World Read Along – Indian History Part 1

As many of you are aware, I am hosting The Home and The World Read Along for the Month of August, both to celebrate Indian Independence which happens to fall on 15th Aug but also to mark the centenary anniversary of this masterpieces publication

September – Come September

Yay!! September arriveth and summer goeth! If that is not a reason for me to celebrate I do not know what is!

October – October and Reading 

October is HERE! Yes…October is REALLY HERE!! So what if it feels like I am inside a boiler and there are no winds with a hint of chill and no delicious smell of wood fire smoke signaling the onset of Winter, but October the calendar assures me is here!

November – This & That

Its been an absolutely couple of miserable weeks. 

December – The Most Glorious Month

Yay! December is here….the season to rejoice! Off with the old, and on with the new month!

Its been an interesting year, with reading, writing, traveling and sobering experiences. It’s been an enriching and informative year….it’s been a good year!

The Most Glorious Month

Yay! December is here….the season to rejoice! Off with the old, and on with the new month! The Holiday and Happy Cheer month! The month to read, write, party and rejoice! The Birthday Month! The Month that justifies and makes up for of the other 11 months! Ah! Glorious December, how I miss thee, through the year!

Unfortunately my precious December started off this year on several wrong notes! Stupid partners at work continued to crowd on my time and more importantly on patience! I am striving hard through some personal stuff and i began kick started the month, by spectacularly falling ill! However, this is December so it cannot be all bad, just by virtue of it being December!

So what grand plans, you ask? Well, I know you did not, but I continue to enlighten you anyway – This being the season of joy, I have several house parties planned, namely three, all starting this Friday, the next Friday and the Friday the 23rd. I have friends visiting, so there will exploring Delhi in the lovely winter sun and many grand lunches. I am off the to the mountains again in the last week of December, for a Father Daughter trip. And finally and most naturally, there will READING! Loads and loads of books planned and unplanned which I plan to read, nice and cosy, under a pile of blankets, with tea and snacks! Bliss! The reading plan just got an impetus as I got an advanced birthday present in form of a Paperwhite Kindle (Yes! I hang my head in shame and say that I have gone over to the Dark Side!) which my flatmate cum soul sister cum Santa Claus gifted me, after my tab kind of committed hara-kiri after three years of ruthless use!

Enough excitement to fortify me for the trudge for the next 11 months! For now, I have to rush since I missed on the first few precious days of the month, but I will keep  you all posted; so please do hang around for the party!!

Its a New Day…

Well, December is gone and January is here and before we know another December will be here…I am trying to cheer myself that If January is here, can December be far?! I am I understand being absolutely and devotedly optimistic, but like Ms. Rossetti wrote,

Your sorrow’s are half in fun
Begun and done
And turned to joy while twenty seconds run

Hence, in the words of another immortal poet, (William Blake)

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

Only instead of bow of burning gold, and arrow of desire, I go with Books, Blogs and clouds that unfold to imagination, knowledge and fun!

Ok…without more theatrics or further ado, this is what my January readingscape looks like – as part of several Reading Challenges, I have the following reads mapped for Jan 2016

Women Classic Literature Reading EventTo The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. Ali is also hosting an event for the same and I hope to finally crack the code for Ms. Woolf

Reading England –  Event hosted by O at Behold The Stars, this book is a fall over from last month and therefore last year, but I have already started on Lady Anne by Anthony Trollope and it seems like a good thing to finish it as the first book for this event in 2016!

Lecito List – This page really needs an upgrade and this year I will get to it; however for now as part of the read, I will read The Secret History by Donna Tartt

I have also decided to kill myself and add another reading challenge to my kitty and this time its, The 12 Month Classics Challenge, hosted by Lois over at You, me and a Cup of Tea. I will add a page about this Challenge soon, but in the meanwhile, for January, when the theme is A classic you’ve always wanted to read, I go with George Orwell’s 1984. I was actually holding out for To The Light House, but that kind of trickles into other events, hence the honor goes to 1984!

Besides the Challenges, I also have the Classic Club Spin#11 read, which is thin and easy and I really just need to get down and finish it book – The Time Machine by HG Wells!

Finally I have agreed to a ReadAlong with Cleo, O and Jean on Ovid’s Metamorphoses which goes on for like 10 weeks, each book, each week! Finally Jane from Beyond Eden Rock is doing  a Margery Sharpe event which I am participating in but have not decided on the book, since no printed editions are available in this geography and NOTHING on Kindle….but I will find something and that will be another addition as well!

Considering all these serious literary reads, I NEED some fun but rich reads, hence already bought and started variety includes, Mr. Penumbra’s 24Hours Bookstore by Robin Sloan, The Lake House by Kate Morton and because Jane did such a terrific job convincing me on the genius of Michelle Lovric, I also got The Book of Human Skin!

That is ALL!

I think I will now quietly go to the hole I have dug for myself and start reading so that I can dig myself out of it by end of the month!

And Its a Wrap!

After all the lows of 2014, I was expecting things to really look up in 2015….and well, as always, when you expect too much, a letdown is but inevitable and there were moments in 2015 I would not revisit for a million dollars! It has not been a comfortable year nor a particularly satisfying one; however there is no denying that I did gain some material advantage that included a long awaited promotion and relatively speaking, the ability to dig myself out of a financial abyss following my mom’s illness and subsequent death. I am still struggling with many things, but I now know that (fingers crossed) though I may never have the luck I want, I will (thanking the mightier powers) always have the luck I need.

As always, books and friends sustained me through all the good and the bad. Old and new books as well as old and new friends made my life so much richer and satisfying that I could not have believed was humanly possible. I saw such wonderful instances of uncalled for kindness and generosity, from so many quarters’ as to restore my faith in mankind, and hope for a better tomorrow.  Books have always been my natural therapy from all that is discouraging and distressing and this year was no different. Therefore following the tradition, I began last year, I list 12 books, which have made an indelible impression on me, out of everything I read through 2015:

  1. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – Like I originally posted, what can I ever say about this books that has not already been said? Sublime, insightful and full of sensitivity that remains unmatched, this book is a travesty of mankind. Beautifully depicting the passing of an era as well the realizations of lost opportunities, with succinct and yet powerful words, this book is one of the best I have read ever!
  2. Howards End by E.M. Forster – Again I quote from my original post, the moments of “Hey! That is so true” are liberally bestowed through the book. I again come across a book which was intuitive and deeply insightful of human nature and its ability to stand up for what is truly important, even when the standing up was done alone, against all odds. In Margaret Schlegel, I found one of the most real heroines I have ever come across!
  3. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende – Magical Realism, history, human nature and lyricism all came together in this brilliant book that describes the rise and fall of the Del Valle-Trueba clan from the end of World War I to the end of 1960s that saw an end of democracy and a bloody coup paralleling the history of the author’s native country Chile. A brilliant book that stays with you long after you finished reading it.
  4. Beowulf – One of the best things about blogging is that you get to meet people who encourage and support you to read works, which you might otherwise overlook. Beowulf was one such book, that I hesitated from reading for a long time and then Cleo came along and rescued me and helped me get on with it so to speak. The result was naturally very rewarding – one of the best epic poems ever written, singing of values much underrated today – of courage and nobility and loyalty. The adventure keeps you reaching out to turn the page over and the characterization, despite being an epic, is distinct and contrasting leaving the reader wonder, questioning and thinking
  5. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim – Beautiful book, with wonderful and complete characters and some wonderful settings, a book that tells of all things women are capable of, good and bad, of reaching out for freedom and of beauty and joy that comes from that freedom.
  6. The Custom of The Country by Edith Wharton – Edith Wharton at her best, bringing forth follies and failures of human nature in turn of the century New York, with characters who speak for themselves and of choices we make or do not makes when morals and avarice collide!
  7. The Martian by Andy Weir – Speaking of inspirations, Stefanie is another such person who keeps throwing up books which I would never venture forth on, except she does such a brilliant job of convincing me that I am compelled to try them! Science Fiction is NOT ME and I DO NOT like reading this genre! However The Martian blew me away – smart plot with crazy twists, dollops of humor and some easy to understand science, made it one of the most fulfilling reads ever!
  8. We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson – I was introduced to Ms. Jackson’s brilliance when in 2014, I read her The Haunting of Hill House as part of RIP event. I revisited her again this year as part of RIP and she did not disappoint. Eerie setting, obsessive unapologetic characters and a plot that keeps getting more threatening by the minute, the books is a singular example of the horror genre, of sending chills down the readers spine without the nasty pieces of blood and gore!
  9. Winter: A Berlin Family by Len Deighton – Known for his masterful spy thrillers, this little known historical fiction novel of Deighton is gripping and supremely dazzling. Tracing the family of Winters, father and sons, the story unfolds by taking us through Berlin and her people, beginning at the end of World War I and ending at the end of War War II, the book shakes your belief system, questions the oft repeated history and leaves you heartbroken!
  10. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – I have always been a great Gaskellian and this books lives up to all the glory that her author sought to give her. With believable and human characters and succinct truths of the newly industrialized England, the story is a exquisite and detailed picture of mill towns of 19th century, where money and culture of the old and new emerging world clash for existence and acceptance.
  11. Emma by Jane Austen – I have always believed that the more you read Austen, the newer layers you discover. The Emma readalong to celebrate 200 years of its publication, again gave me not only yet another opportunity to discover a new layer of wit and humor, but as some of my bloggers (Tom andBelleza) pointed out, read the books as an early mystery novel – will Harriet marry? Why is Frank Chruchill so late in his visit to Randalls? Why does Jane Fairfax insist on getting her own posts?
  12. Bloodline by Conn Iggulden (Part III of War of Roses Series) I think people should forget GOT for a while and read the actual events that inspired GOT. Always an Iggulden devotee, I read Stormbirds and Trinity (Part I and Part II) of the series with great enjoyment. However, it was part III that took my breathe away – magnificent descriptions of battles, plot twists and strong and endearing characters (you feel bad even for the rebels!) the book is a testimony to all the brilliance the author has shown in his Conqueror series!

Those are my top 12 of 2015, and while many others competed for this place, I must honestly say that these 12 really stood out!

What more do I say, except to end with what T.S. Elliot said wonderfully –

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning

Here wishing you all a joyous and fabulous 2016!

 

 

 

 

A Musical Lyrical 2015

Happy New Year Everyone!! Here’s wishing you all a wonderful, prosperous and peaceful 2015, surrounded by everything and everyone you love!! Ring in the new!!

Just so that we have some fun on this first day of the year, I break away from tradition and not post about books and poems and such like. Instead I share with you all 15 cheerful, happy and optimistic songs, with a prayer that your year is filled with all these good things!

So here goes – hope your dancing shoes are still on :

Cheers All!!

The Year through Posts…

I was planning to do a woohoo December favorite thing post, reminiscent of what I wrote in October and promised to repeat in December to celebrate winter! But I just saw Jane’s post and I remember doing this last year as well and it brought on such fond memories that I hold on to the December Favorite post for tomorrow and share with you all look at 2014 through my blogs.

Originally started by The Indextrious Reader, it’s a wonderful game of sorts, where we do the following “Take the first line of each month’s post over the past year and see what it tells you about your blogging year”

Without more ado, here goes the rundown of my year through my posts –

January – Ring in the New…

It’s the 1st of January and a brand new day of a brand new year… Like every year, this day today holds out so much promise of life and all that we wish to seek

February – Random Notes on Illness, Books and Love…

I have been so ill…for the last two weeks I have been confined to my bed with multiple disorders including a low blood cell count that has led to such weakness that standing on one’s own two feet for more than a minute is risky (On account my loosing balance and falling) I have not been this ill, ever in my adult life – never been this sick to be unable to stand, write or even read.

March – All The Grand Ladies…Please Stand Up!

I know March is the month of well…so many things (Remember Ides of March!!).

April – On Becoming a Brook…

I know I have taken another one of my hiatus from blogosphere, but that can be completely attributed to my illness which kind of took a turn for worse this one month and threw all my grand plans and projects in a tail spin.

May – At The Very Source…

The Sourceby James Michener is one of my all-time favorites; it’s a book I go back to after years and years and it embraces me like an old friend who still has more tales to tell, despite my having visited it many times previously!

June – Book Reading in June and Other Bookish Musings

June is here and the heat will not go away….not in the near future!! Oh! How I hate summers!!

July – All About Gs

I know I have stated this many a times, but one of my biggest inspirations for blogging and reading is Stephanie.

August – Finally Something Lovely…..

It’s been a tiresome troublesome two weeks – I have besieged with challenges, both tangential and non-tangential – Just after my laptop was fixed and I could resume my normal blogging activities, WordPress for some reason decided to send all comments I made to the SPAM folder!!

September – A Sonnet

I realize that I have been away from blogging for nearly a month and this has truly been my longest hiatus from the blogosphere since I started this blog more than 2 years ago…but life took a really crazy and unexpected turn since Aug 17th 2014 when I posted my last blog and I am still trying to come to terms with it.

October – A Knightly Tale

I finally finished reading “Katherine” by Anya Seton as part of the Classic Club Spin #7.

November – Once Upon A Time, let Ms. Gaskell lead you on further….

On this night after Halloween, it makes sense that I close my RIP IX readings with Elizabeth Gaskell’s “Gothic Tales” (Yeah!! I know I am day late, but with everyone going crazy with the “Halloween rage” thingy, it’s good that I did not pile on to already overcrowded bandwagon of Halloween celebrations).

December – Reading England

Here I was, sitting happily with all my November planned reading done and feeling smug on how well I cope with Reading Challenges and my TBR when God did an LOL and I read Jane’s post and I knew…well, I knew I would be a part of it, even before I read the details.

It’s been some year with all kinds of highs and lows, perhaps a few more lows than usual! However I have read some great stuff this year and I am truly fortunate to have some many friends who inspire me to read more, do more and lead a good life including everyone in my blogosphere!! And yes! I really write loooooonnnngggg sentences and use way to many exclamation marks!!!!!! Interestingly, I had the same observation about my sentence construction last year as well but some things just never change…See what I mean…

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