The Liebster Award

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The Leibster Award

I think this month long break from writing while I was busy getting married has rendered my pegging-thoughts-on-to-the-right-words skill a little rusty. I’ve been trying to pin down the long overdue review of Among Others but every word that blinks into existence on my computer screen feels colourless. So to ease back into the whole process of gathering my thoughts, structuring them and clothing them with the right words I’ve decided to have a go at the questions that Litlove so kindly tagged me with. I’ve just read up on the Leibster award and I feel honoured that someone I really look up to decided to tag me with this award alongwith Miss Darcy, Desperate Reader, Dolce Belleza, Mrs Carmichael, Curate’s Egg and Helen at A Gallimaufry – thanks so much Litlove!

Without further ado, here’s my answers to Litlove’s questions:

1. What do you think of literary prizes? Good idea or bad?

As someone relatively new to the whole organized literary scene (including lit blogs and review sites) I find myself wanting to sit on the fence with ‘Insufficient Data’ as the justified excuse! Having said that I do have an off-the-cuff response – as a reader my impulse is to say that literary prizes is a good idea.

I’m cognizant of the fact that like any other public honour a literary prize has a whole gamut of politics associated with it and that there are hundreds of other books out there perhaps more worthy of our attention. However, I see value in literary prizes as a way to discover new books. In so far as it’s a recommendation mechanism literary prizes expand the scope of my reading to include books and authors I might either have not come across or paid attention to. The bestowal of the prize itself does not necessarily predispose me to like the book in question. It’s just that as someone who loves to glom on books and is forever on the lookout to add more to her TBR, I find a certain usefulness to having literary prizes.

2. If you could write any sort of book, what would you write?

Ahh, definitely something that would uplift the reader. A work that would deal with the lives of ordinary men and women and bring out the poetry of everyday existence. Something that while delving deeper into the questions we come across in our daily lives also leaves a smile on the reader’s face. As I’m responding to this question I’m thinking that while I also love reading fantasy and stories that have grand sweeping adventures at their core, yet if I were to sit down and write I would want to explore more of our day to day lives.

3. Describe your ideal home library/study.

Here’s the features that my ideal library would be endowed with:

  • A big fireplace that one could lounge in front of while sighing through something comfortable
  • Ample lighting – both electronic and from the sun
  • A whole side taken up by french windows that would look out over a garden bursting with flowers across the year and at the shimmering blue of a lake or a river in the distance that would be ringed by mountains in the faint horizon
  • Shelves upon shelves of teak wood laden with books that would extend from my forehead to my waist – not an inch above nor an inch below
  • Sofas that one could burrow into and that would be scattered throughout the room
  • Window sills broad and comfortable enough to dawdle on as I think through bookish thoughts and jot them down on my laptop
  • And of course nooks and crannies that I could just lounge back against if I felt too lazy to scurry to one of the sofas!

4. Name two new authors whose work you think will last the test of time, and explain your choices.

I shall pass on this question as I feel woefully inadequate in answering it – I can’t think of anyone for whom I can say this and more than likely that’s because my repertoire and range of reading has been / is perhaps very limited.

5. Which books do you hope to get for Christmas?

Oh!! Here’s the best way to answer this question – My Amazon Wishlist!

6. What’s the last book you did not finish and why?

I am afflicted with complete-it-itis. The book has to be really really bad (think Fifty Shades of Grey bad) for me to give up on it. If nothing else just wanting to know how it all ends will compel me to reach the last page. Though if I dislike a book I do have the tendency to skip sections. The last book that I was racing through though had nothing to do with me not liking it. Rather it was my impatience to know what happens next. It was the Lymond Chronicles.

7. Would you accept 20 books that were absolutely perfect for you and dependably brilliant reads, if they were also the last 20 books you could ever acquire?

No! Who’s to say that a more brilliant and perfect read will not come out the very day after this duplicitous proposal!

Ok, so here’s my 7 questions!

1. Are you genre agnostic or do you read only specific genres? Why?

2. How and who started you on your love affair with the written word?

3. What were some of your favourite books as a tween and a teen?

4. Have you found your reading taste change across the years?

5. What’s your absolute favourite comfort read? Why?

6. Do you think a love for reading automatically leads to a love for writing as well?

7. What’s your favourite book/reading memory?

And here’s the blogs I’m tagging (though probably none of them are newish!):

The blog from Williamsburg Regional Library, Full Soul Ahead, Bookeywookey, The Sheila Variations, Belle from Miss Bookish

And of course anyone else who would fancy a go at these questions is more than welcome to them!

a reading meme

Found this wonderful meme over at Litlove’s and wanted to give it a whirl!

The Book I’m Reading

Jo Walton’s ‘Among Others’ – universally good reviews plus a 2011 Nebula followed by a 2012 Hugo clinched the deal. This was, however, a month ago. At the time that I started Among Others I also embarked upon Francis Lymond’s 10 year journey with Dorothy Dunnett little realizing that I would be dead to everything else till I finished the six part series. Of course, once I finished the series I was left gasping for breath and had to breathe in a lung-full of something sweet, something light. Once THAT was over with as well I could finally settle into Among Others.

Among Others is a fantasy unlike others in that the story’s not choc a bloc with fantastical creatures and other-worldly happenings. In fact now that I think of it the story’s touched more by an air of mystery than fantasy – the event that triggered Morganna’s current life situation are never fully revealed (Morganna is the 15 year old socially awkward bibliophile who narrates the story). Her mother is hinted at being literally evil but we do not really hear from her or of her other than Morganna’s oblique references. The secondary characters especially Wim and Morganna’s paternal relations, grandfather Sam and her father’s three sisters, all portend trouble – of things coming to a head in the second half of the novel where all these secondary characters are going to become important. And of course writing the above just made me realize that Miss Walton has definitely succeeded in imbuing her story with a certain atmosphere – a thick pall of rain and thunder and storm is what I would associate the story with. I’ll come back to this once I’m done with the whole novel.

The Last Book I Read

Pride & Prejudice – Ahh, I loved this re-reading so much. Sort of like soaking in the warmth of the sun after a particularly chilly night. The romance between Miss Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy was delightful. So too was the ridiculousness of the haughty Lady Catherine and the obsequious Mr. Collins. I appreciate the fact that while from my 21st century perspective I find these characters a tad unrealistic and tending to be a little caricature-like they probably have their grounding in the norms that were prevalent in the late 18th century and early 19th century. Of course each character could also be held up as a template of a certain type of individual that remains as true in the 21st century as it probably was in Miss Austen’s times – Mrs. Bennett and Lydia Bennett, the fluffy heads with nary a care except all that would be judged by the social barometer; Jane Bennett and Charles Bingley who seem naïve and too-good-to-be-true with the sweetness of their tempers and kindness of their dispositions; Mr. Bennett who seeks solace and amusement in his books and the absurdities of life as his coping mechanism for the choice he made in marrying Mrs. Bennett; and last but not the least Elizabeth and Darcy who in the surety of their opinions and in the blend of a certain selfishness and caring affection towards their family members and friends are perhaps the most easily relatable. I have to admit that I would not mind reading Pride & Prejudice in a proper classroom setting with a rigorous analysis of the novel as well as of the context in which Miss Austen wrote this much beloved work.

The Book I’ll Read Next

Ahh, all the contenders have been swept aside by the release of Karen Marie Moning’s next installment in the Fever world series – Iced.  I am a fan of Miss Moning’s packs-a-punch storytelling where half the world’s population is dead and the other half is busy cavorting ‘in the Faerie’. I came to the Fever series late which was odd considering that I was a big fan of her Highlander romances. However, once begun I could not put the books down – a heavy dose of paranormal elements crossed with alpha-male-hunkiness dunked in a world of non-whimpering females who can kick some major ass is as good a pleasure-read as it gets. Why these would not be the epitome of comfort-read is something that I might need to explore in another post; for the time being for a thoroughly enjoyable bout of pleasure reading I’d most certainly recommend the Fever series.

The Last Book I Bought

My last purchase was actually last night – Persuasion from the Kindle store since after re-reading Pride & Prejudice I want to go through all of Miss Austen’s works again.

The Last Book I Was Given

It’s been a while since I was given a book. I think the last one was a collection of poetry edited by Edward Hirsch. I love what I call ‘Poetry of the Everyday’ and I distinctly remember this collection featuring several of those kind… perhaps it’s time for a re-read. Speaking of poetry, I love the sort written by David Whyte, Billy Collins, Jane Hirschfield and Mary Oliver – they remind me of the joy and the poetry lurking in the interstices of life. And writing this brings the forceful realization that it’s been a really long while since I read any. I think one of my next purchases is going to be a book of poems!