Monday, February 15, 2016

BBAW Day 1: Books That Represent Me


I decided to participate in the Book Blogger Appreciation Week after reading about it on Deepika's blog. The Book Blogger Appreciation Week is an event hosted by The Estella Society. The first day's task is to introduce yourself, but creatively, with a list of books that represent you. My favourite authors do not make it to this list, that I love their books is a given. JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett, Stephen King. Here are books that I read at turning points in my life, books that witnessed a new dimension taking shape in me or perhaps the very things that dragged me around a corner into an altered perspective. I think about these books a lot, and here is what each gave me -

"All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive."

Life of Pi by Yann Martel. The story of a Pi Patel, an Indian boy who loses his family in a shipwreck, survives 227 days on the Pacific in a lifeboat with a Royal Bengal Tiger. The story revealed creases in the fabric of reality and helped me reconcile with parts of myself that I wished to be rid of. Words fail me when I try to describe what this book did for me all those years ago. The humour, the quirk sprinkled into the terrible horror of it all, the story turned me from sceptic to believer. Not in God, like Pi, but a believer in belief.

"There are things that happen and leave no discernible trace, are not spoken or written of, though it would be very wrong to say that subsequent events go on indifferently, all the same, as though such things had never been."

Possession by AS Byatt. This book led me to discover the romantic in me. It is a literary mystery, the story of two long-dead poets and a secret uncovered. It is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. Byatt is a linguistic genius and Possession stoked in me a rare appreciation for poetry. 

"To come to the end of a time of anxiety and fear! To feel the cloud that hung over us lift and disperse - the cloud that dulled the heart and made happiness no more than a memory! This at least is one joy that must have been known by almost every living creature."

Watership Down by Richard Adams. An epic adventure about rabbits. This book illustrates the utter genius of storytelling. Suspension of disbelief taken to a whole new level, with rabbit languages, rabbit friendships and rabbit mythology. I have yet to find a book written with such unparalleled conviction in the power of fiction. 

"Why does everything you know, and everything you've learned, confirm you in what you believed before? Whereas in my case, what I grew up with, and what I thought I believed, is chipped away a little and a little, a fragment then a piece and then a piece more. With every month that passes, the corners are knocked off the certainties of this world: and the next world too.”

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Another take on one of the craziest, ruthless and most intriguing stories of scandal in English history. The story of Henry VIII and the Anglican Church told from the point of view of one of the key movers of the time, Thomas Cromwell. This book is everything I love about historical fiction and more. It defines and defies history, shows us the gaps in common knowledge, leads us to the dark crevices in truth, and makes us peer in for a look. 

"Somehow, irresistibly, the prime thing was: nothing mattered. Life in the end seemed a prank of such size you could only stand off at this end of the corridor to note its meaningless length and it's quite unnecessary height, a mountain built to such ridiculous immensities you were dwarfed in its shadow and mocking of its pomp."

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. A coming-of-age story. A horror, a fantasy, a mythology. Things came full circle for me from when I read Life of Pi to eight years later, two years ago, when I read this. Bad things in my life were just bad things now and I had a choice to either laugh or cry and I came of age. There is no better writer of fantasy or better presenter of reality than Ray Bradbury. This is a must read.

I chose these books off the top of my head. There are others I keep mulling over all the time. The Crucible by Arthur Miller about the Salem witch trials, Embassytown by China Mieville, a sort of linguistic science fiction, Ghost Story by Peter Straub which describes my love for horror and so many more. Which books would you say represent you? 

18 comments:

Beth F said...

One thing I'm enjoying about this BBAW task is re-discovering old favorites ... Watership Down is one them!

Brian Joseph said...

This is a great theme for post.

Though I have not read all your choices they all seem well worth the read

Something Wicked This Way Comes is a brilliant book. It is indeed a case study in dealing with some of the really bad things in life.

Marce said...

I like that you included quotes from the books. I also chose some books that were transition life moments, they always remain with you.

I look forward to getting to know you more this week.

SHANAYA TALES said...

Your list reminded me of the the fact that Life Of Pi has been eternally sitting on my TBR now; this was just the nudge that I needed. Glad to come across your blog through BBAW.

Heather said...

Possession! I'm really feeling like I should have put that one on my list. Such a great book! Such a great list!

Words for Worms said...

Your list sounds like a master class in "Awesome Stuff Katie Hasn't Read." My TBR list thanks you.

Kay said...

Ah, I haven't thought about Ghost Story in a long time. I loved it years ago. And I might have been the only person who really liked The Crucible when it was assigned in high school, many years ago. Very nice picks.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

Oh Priya, you are a reader after my own heart. (THIS IS WHY I LOVE BBAW SO MUCH.) I love these choices -- especially Watership Down! I resisted reading that book for so long because the premise sounded silly, and now it's one of my all-time favorites.

Jean said...

I love Something Wicked This Way Comes and have very clear memories of when and where I first read it. My daughter just read it too and is now a confirmed Bradbury fan. :)

Shelley said...

I love the addition of quotes! I have Wolf Hall from the library right now but haven't started it yet.

Memory said...

I love how you write about your defining books. Your passion for them shines through!

Deepika Ramesh said...

Priya, I am so glad that you are participating, and thank you for the tag. :) I love this post. And, it's a shame that I haven't read any of these books. 'Life of Pi' has been in my stash for a long time. I am waiting to forget the movie to approach the book with a fresh mind. How can one try to forget right? ;)

I love Ray Bradbury. After reading 'Fahrenheit 451', I didn't know what to read next. Now that you have mentioned one here, I will go for it. I loved all the quotes. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and I look forward to reading your posts every day.

Priscilla said...

Possession! I'm surprised that's not on more people's lists, given that it's a true book-lovers' book.

Kristen M. said...

You've listed so many fantastic authors here! I'm still just getting started with Ray Bradbury but his stories are genius. And I'm so happy that you found my March Magics event! Though Pratchett and DWJ fans rarely need an excuse to pick up one of their books, do they? Still, it's fun to get together and read and love as one!

Christy (A Good Stopping Point) said...

I've already had Something Wicked This Way Comes on my to-read list for some time - but you've definitely rekindled my interest with your description!

Viktoria Berg said...

Fun! I read a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery today, and in it he says "Books, you know, Charles, are like lobster-shells. We surround ourselves with them, and then we grow out of them and leave them behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development." as he is snooping through the shelves of a suspect. I´ll be 50 this year, and I have left many such representative piles of books behind me. Now, I don´t think books represent me at all, or perhaps you could say that today, Lord Peter Wimsey is the mirror of my soul... ;-) Tomorrow I may pick up something entirely different. :-D

Priya said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone! I really wish I could reply to every comment, but my stupid blog design won't allow that option.

Viktoria, I love that line!!

Brian, I love how Something Wicked This Comes is not only about the two boys growing up, but also how the father learns and grows from the experiences.

Deepika, Something Wicked This Way Comes is in a tone very different from Fahrenheit 451. It is about childhood and dreams and nightmares and growing up. The Ocean at the End of the Lane reminded me a lot of this book, and I know how you love Gaiman!

Kay, I had to study Death of a Salesman when I majored in English Lit. But The Crucible was a by-choice read much before and such a good one. It was the first play I actually read. :)

Jenny, everyone I have recommended Watership Down to makes this sceptical face at me, like 'rabbits? really?' but they have no idea what they're missing, right?

Shaina said...

Life of Pi really had an effect on you! I read that one in senior year of high school, and I remember not quite believing how it all panned out... maybe because there were parts of me I didn't like and wanted to ignore. ;)

Nice to meet you!

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