Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Big Read: Another meme

And so we have another meme.

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed.
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list on your own blog so we can try and track down these people who've read 6 and force books upon them ;-)


1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (my first Austen. And my second favourite)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (it took me three years to finish this. Mainly because I took a 2 years and 10 months break in the middle)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (ugh. I have no idea why I did this to myself)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (well, duh.)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (Technically, I haven’t read the whole thing. I think I gave up halfway through the last chapter and watched the ending on Star Movies.)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (I didn’t like this one much. Loved the protagonist’s character though.)
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (Hated this one.)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy (Well I started it. By the second chapter, I had no idea which princess was being referred to and therefore gave up. Hey, I was 16)
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (why is this separate from #33? And I have seen the movie though.)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (the only Dickens I have ever been able to sit through)
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton (it’s still a favourite! :D)
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams (I can’t place this one. I haven’t read it, but why does it sound so familiar?)
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute (A complete and all-time favourite. Read it if you haven’t!)
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Well, 29 out of 100 isn't bad. Well above the average really.

Anyone who reads this blog and has a blog, you're tagged. And if I don't know you read this blog, then tell me so we can compare our lists! :)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Utter darkness

I was gone for a week. One week with no access to any English newspapers, the Internet, television, the radio, or any inkling of what was happening in India. Sure, I spoke to the parents everyday, but the sharing of news there was limited to the family and events around home. 

Only on the last day was I told about the attack in Lahore on the police academy there. And on asking about what's happening here at home, I was told Varun Gandhi continues to hog the limelight. C'est tout.

The day after I got back, I read about the supposedly estimable L K Advani saying that Varun Gandhi reminds him of Vajpayee and and other leaders of yore. Pretty much confirming what any sane person has suspected all along - Varun Gandhi said those things mainly because he knows, and the BJP knows, that if he passes communal statements, gets the media's attention (and therefore the public's), he can win by a very comfortable margin. Divisive politics works in this country every bloody time.

And then there's the wonderful Sanjay Dutt. Who comes across as a bigger ass every time he opens his mouth. First it was the utterly annoying statement when he said "Women should not stick to their father's surname after marriage after marriage just for the sake of fashion. It will be a disrespect for their husbands if they do so." as well something about sisters never getting along with their brother's wife. (Do read that entire interview by the way - I would find it screamingly hilarious if I didn't want to hang upside down by his toes.) Then comes the supremely chauvinistic statement about his wife's decision making being limited to what gets cooked for dinner. And now I hear he's accusing the Congress of pretty much killing his father. I don't how much truth lies in the sob story he's spouting, and frankly I don't care. All I know is the guy's a bloody jackass. And I'm rather glad he can't contest elections.

The latest news is about Jagdish Tytler getting a clean chit from the CBI. Where the Sikh riots of 84 are concerned, I have only hearsay to go by. But from all accounts, they were no less the Gujarat carnage of 2002. And if this man had anything to do with them, then he's no less than Narendra Modi, and deserves to be punished for his crimes. And if the Congress is shielding him, then my last hope is really gone.

Because the way I see it, I don't think the Congress has done too great a job in the past five years. But tell me, what other option do we have? The BJP? Whose coming to power means every bit of Hindu fanaticism from the Rediff message boards coming into play in the streets of India? Or Mayawati, who will take every paisa left in the Stock Exchange (oh, I hear it crosses 10K after the G20 talks! Will it last?) ad use it as a mattress. Or our lady Mamata Banerjee, who refused to let Ratan Tata do to Singur what his family did to Jamshedpur, but promises to turn Kolkata into the new London?

I was in Ahmedabad a couple of weeks back, and yes, I was impressed with the roads and the infrastructure. So sure, I can see why people rave about what a brilliant administrator Narendra Modi is. And I can get why they say he's good for Gujarat, and probably good for India. From a development perspective.

But here's my thing: where do we draw the line between good for us in terms of what we get, and good, period? Between right, and convenient? Because he could maybe bring about change in terms of roads, and infrastructure, and lighting, and housing, and all of that, do we forget that even if he didn't encourage the 2002 massacres, as Tehelka would have us believe, he definitely stood by and watched it all happen?

Till today afternoon, to my mind, the Congress was the best of the worst. Our only hope amidst all the inept, self-serving goons who call themselves our politicians. But if they're shielding Tytler for the same things Sonia Gandhi called Modi a maut ka saudagar for, where do we turn?

Sorry for rambling so much. It's 1.30 AM. And I'm tired. I'm tired of wondering where my country is headed. I'm tired of seeing the news channels go mad about one brief conversation between Manmohan Singh and Barack Obama, like a little boy who's exhilarated at getting a smile from his favourite teacher. I'm tired of seeing the same politicians say the same things and proving yet again that we don't deserve such leaders.

I want one leader. Who actually means what he/she says. Who really does want to do some good, and is willing to do it, and is capable of doing it. I want one single, solitary ray of hope.