Monday, June 06, 2005

Dredging Meme-ories

Booktagged by The Scab That Swung and Samanth Subramanian. And I confess it felt like a cold clap on the shoulder.

Reading the book meme everywhere on the blogosphere has been so, so fascinating and I’ve been left with a persistent feeling that it is time my reading interests were widened. Evidently, sitaaron se aage jahaan aur bhi hai.

How many books do I own?
Just the ones I bought/own? Or books in the house? Do candyfloss romances count? Er… dunno. About 600, maybe 750.

Last book bought
Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, Dick Francis’ Knock Down, Devices and Desires by PD James and an armload of M&Bs.

Last books read
Michael Critchon’s State of Fear, and all of these in Bhopal: Thrones, Dominations by Dorothy Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh, The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie, Ipsita Roy Chakraverti’s autobiography Beloved Witch, one book on Kundalini, bits from a glossary called Q is for Quantum, Dick Francis’ 10-lb Penalty.

Am in the middle of: The Blind Assassin, Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, Aldous Huxley’s The Perennial Philosophy.

Books that mean a lot to me
Amar Chitra Katha. They were all engrossing. I loved the cover versos that gave the sources and a little history behind each story, and so much of what I sought later – Kalidasa, folklore, the Hitopadesha, the Mahabharata – was triggered there.
Favourites: The Magic Grove, Balanagamma and Gopal and the Cowherd.

Enid Blyton. All, all of ‘em. I’ve outgrown the Famous Five, but am still addicted to the Five Find-Outers and Dog.
Faves: Malory Towers, The Enchanted Wood series, the Circus Series (I should’ve been Jimmy, of course, having tigers purring to me and eat from my hands).
Absolute favourite: The Children of the Cherry Tree Farm.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes. A lovely hardbound book, in elegant font. A gift from my parents for accomplishing something or the other. Holmes… he blew my mind. I pretended to be his ‘soul’ child for a long time – he moulded my rationality, my ‘cold-bloodedness’. I loved him so much, my 10th standard teacher once refused to go on to the next chapter of The Hound of Baskervilles because I was absent.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Another gift – from my Bapa, my grandfather. Have by no means read everything, but I can never survey my books without dipping into this one.
Told you I was reading Mansfield Park? Here are words Austen puts into the mouth of Henry Crawford: “Shakespeare one gets acquainted with without knowing how… His thoughts and beauties are so spread abroad that one touches them everywhere; one is intimate with him by instinct. No man of any brain can open at a good part of one of his plays without falling into the flow on his meaning immediately.” My sentiments.

Am I allowed dictionaries? Aaina-e-ghazal by Vinay Waikar and Zarina Sani – a dictionary especially for the ghazal, with ‘poetic’ meaning of ordinary words. Before this, I would listen to shers, put down words I didn’t know or couldn’t make out even in context, and take these scraps to my classmate and friend, Romaisa. She would take them home to her mother and bring them back the next day with meanings scrawled next to them. When my father ordered for Aaina-e-Ghazal, it enriched my life beyond measure. There is a later edition and I mean to get it, but this well-worn book is special.

Many many others: From the King of All-the-Time-in-the-World, LOTR (which is due for another reread), Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals and that excellent argument for conservation in Catch me a Colobus which turned my steps there (haven’t done anything yet, but I’m a cauldron in progress), all the Georgette Heyers, Trevanian’s Shibumi, Gary Zukov’s The Dancing Wu Li Masters (which along with a few other circumstances put everything, everything into place), Wodehouse’s Leave it to Psmith, A Damsel in Distress and the Mulliner stories, Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate… and oh, my Harry Potters.

Persons I’d like to tag? Shweta, Gayathri, Navin and Nishu (when she chooses to come out…).

My friends Alina and Sudha don’t even read my blog – I have a feeling the poor things will live and die without discovering blogs – but I’ll do my bit and tag them. Sheer vanity might get them going if the inducement of reading me can’t.

Finally, she’ll kill me for this and die a bit each day till she gets it done… PRIYA. heh heh.

Felt like mucking about in waist-deep memories, TeeGee, Samanth, but fun anyway. Thanks.


Navin said...

Hey Sheetal, I did it!

See it here:


KM said...

I thought long and hard about blind assassin as well... but then i'd have to include cat's eye.. and if i had atwood what about toni morrisson... oh, and maya angelou.. and..!
so i didn't even begin! Hope you enjoyed mucking :-)

Sheetal said...

Teegee: yes, I did! And have since remembered half a dozen titles I should've added :).

Navin: you reminded me - whyever didn't I put in Tintin in Tibet?

Anonymous said...

Oh no Sheetal! I was just beginning to feel so relieved that I finally wrote my NY highlights... Why do I let you do this to me? I know I'll probably enjoy it once I start but I have starting trouble:-) Priya

Gaurang Prajapati said...

Hey where do you get the books here in Hyd. Am an avid reader myself. As far as i know Koti is 1 place for it. Am infact interested in anything from design to fiction to general good reading. Any suggestions and directions would help.

Sheetal said...

Pri: Just had to :-).

Gaurang: If you like second hand books, rhe Sunday stalls at Abids are great - many treasures have been found there. Also Best Books in Ladki ka pul and Tilak Road - excellent collection, although they're getting pricier by the week. Plus, M R Books, very near Sapna/Santosh cinema in Abids.

Gaurang Prajapati said...

Thanx. Will surely check out the places suggested this weekend.