The month of February went by like a bullet. It was a really hectic period at office and involved some travel. In anticipation of this, I had picked really light books for reading in February.
Light books for me are those books, which have less than 300 pages and are neatly divided into small chapters. Preferably, fiction. Also, for such busy periods, I prefer subjects that I am familiar with. Not requiring a dictionary while reading is another criterion.
The three books I read in February and my views on the same follow. Some intellectuals may bash me for some of my choices. And for a change, I would agree to them.
Book 1: Sita - Warrior Of Mithila by Amish
This is Amish's second book in Ram Chandra Series, which is a re-telling of the Ramayana. If you are familiar with his past work, especially the Shiva Trilogy, you would be aware that he modernizes many incidents and concepts from our mythology in his stories, by making his woman characters stronger and men more liberal. Another facet is his strong sense of nationalism in his writings. The concept of modern nation-state India is relevant even in his stories from thousands of years ago. Also, he strongly relies on scientific and technological explanations for, what we assume to be miracles in our mythology. That makes the Gods in his books more human. He continues to do so in Sita, follow up to Scion of Ikshvaku. I believe it is a worthy follow-up.
While the scene setting in the book is laborious, but overall narrative is full of intrigue and politics of that time. Thus, making it a gripping read. I look forward to part 3.
This one is Amish's first non fiction book. It is a collection of his writings and talks across several publications and forums. I must commend that Amish comes across as well read and his writings are well researched and backed by data. As you move ahead in the book, it becomes repetitive though. But his core concepts on religion and Indian politics really bring to fore an alternative narrative. His ability to see things from multiple perspectives seem inspired by several other authors, he has read over the years. I find his writings truly liberal and rooted unlike those of many self-proclaimed intellectuals.
His one particular essay on why he writes, was really heartfelt and I identified with it.
But I would prefer his fiction over this book, any day.
Book 3: Making India Awesome : New Essays and Columns by Chetan Bhagat
I have always liked Chetan Bhagat's fiction books. I know many of you don't like him as an author and may be as a person. I also am aware of, and have often noticed, the mistakes he makes in his books. But then, so do I, when I write. But one thing which I appreciate about his books is, that he is a master story teller. His slice of life stories are simple and identifiable.
But picking Making India Awesome was a big mistake. He writes about well known problems in India and gives over simplistic solutions. The book is written with very little or very poor research. I didn't expect this from an IIT-IIM alumnus. Also, he looks down upon the readers and sounds highly patronizing throughout the book.