Tag Archive: books read


I am blown along a wandering wind,’ replied the voice irresolutely, ;and hollow, hollow, <br />
hollow all delight.

Between what matters and what seems to matter, how should the world we know judge wisely?

He was a man of middle height and spare figure, nearly sixty years old, by constitution rather delicate in health, but wiry and active for his age. A sparse and straggling beard and moustache did not conceal a thin but kindly mouth; his eyes were keen and pleasant; his sharp noseand narrow jaw gave him very much of a clerical air, and this impression was helped by hiscommonplace dark clothes and soft black hat. The whole effect of him, indeed, was priestly. He was a man of unusually conscientious, industrious, and orderly mind, with little imagination. His father’s household had been used to recruit its domestic establishment by means of advertisements in which it was truthfully described as a serious family. From that fortress of gloom he had escaped with two saintly gifts somehow unspoiled: an inexhaustible kindness of heart, and a capacity for innocent gaiety which owed nothing to humor. In an earlier day and with a clericaltraining he might have risen to the scarlet hat. His austere but not unhappy life was spent largely among books and in museums; his profound and patiently accumulated knowledge of a number of curiously disconnected subjects which had stirred his interest at different times had given him a place in the quiet, half-lit world of professors and curators and devotees of research; at their amiable, unconvivial dinner parties he was most himself. His favorite author was Montaigne.

So much being determined, Mr. Cupples applied himself to the enjoyment of the view for a

few minutes before ordering his meal. With a connoisseur’s eye he explored the beauty of the rugged coast, where a great pierced rock rose from a glassy sea, and the ordered loveliness of the vast tilted levels of pasture and tillage and woodland that sloped gently up from the cliffs toward the distant moor. Mr. Cupples delighted in landscape.

. ‘An enormous great breakfast, too—with refined conversation and  tears of recognition never dry.

She said that the worry and the humiliation of it, and the strain of trying to keep up appearances before the world, were telling upon her, and she asked for my advice.

I said I thought she should face him and demand an explanation of his way of treating her. But she would not do  that. She had always taken the line of affecting not to notice the change in his demeanor, and  nothing, I knew, would persuade her to admit to him that she was injured, once pride had led her into that course. Life is quite full, my dear Trent,’ said Mr. Cupples with a sigh, ‘of these obstinate silences and cultivated misunderstandings.’

I know that he was making a desert of the life of one who was like my own child to me. But I am under an intolerable dread of Mabel being involved in suspicion with regard to the murder. It is horrible to me to think of her delicacy and goodness being in contact, if only for a time, with the brutalities of the law. She is not fitted for it. It would mark her deeply. Many young women of twenty-six in these days could face such an ordeal, I suppose. I have observed a sort of imitative hardness about the products of the higher education of women today which would carry them through anything, perhaps. I am not prepared to say it is a bad thing in the conditions of feminine life prevailing at present. Mabel, however, is not like that. She is as unlike that as she is unlike the simpering misses that used to surround me as a child. She has plenty of brains; she is full of character; her mind and her tastes are cultivated; but it is all mixed up’—Mr. Cupples waved his hands in a vague gesture—’with ideals of refinement and reservation and womanly mystery. I fear she is not a child of the age. You never knew my wife, Trent. Mabel is my wife’s child.’

A painter and the son of a painter, Philip Trent had while yet in his twenties achieved some  reputation within the world of English art. Moreover, his pictures sold. An original, forcible talent and a habit of leisurely but continuous working, broken by fits of strong creative enthusiasm, were at the bottom of it. His father’s name had helped; a patrimony large enough to relieve him of the perilous imputation of being a struggling man had certainly not hindered. But his best aid to  success had been an unconscious power of getting himself liked. Good spirits and a lively,humorous fancy will always be popular. Trent joined to these a genuine interest in others that gained him something deeper than popularity. His judgment of persons was penetrating, but its process was internal; no one felt on good behavior with a man who seemed always to be enjoying himself. Whether he was in a mood for floods of nonsense or applying himself vigorously to a  task, his face seldom lost its expression of contained vivacity. Apart from a sound knowledge of  his art and its history, his culture was large and loose, dominated by a love of poetry.At thirty-two he had not yet passed the age of laughter and adventure. His rise to a celebrity a hundred times greater than his proper work had won for him came of a momentary impulse.

‘It had been like that,’ she ended simply, ‘for months before he died.’ She sank into the corner of a sofa by the window, as though relaxing her body after an effort. For a few moments both were silent. Trent was hastily sorting out a tangle of impressions. He was amazed at the frankness of Mrs. Manderson’s story. He was amazed at the vigorous expressiveness in her telling of it.

. . . what I want to  say is that along with it there had always been a belief of his that I was the sort of woman to take a great place in society, and that I should throw myself into it with enjoyment, and become a sort of  personage and do him great credit—that was his idea; and the idea remained with him after other delusions had gone. I was a part of his ambition. That was his really bitter disappointment, that I failed him as a social success.

the sort of girl I was, brought up to music and books and unpractical ideas, always

enjoying myself in my own way. But he had really reckoned on me as a wife who would do the honors of his position in the world; and I found I couldn’t.’

 

The alchemist and Orientalism

the alchemist

Edward Said – Orientalism

http://www.butler-bowdon.com/alchemist

The Alchemist is remarkable for being a love story that renounces the idea that romantic love must be the central thing in your life. Each person has a destiny to pursue that exists independently of other people. It is the thing you would do, or be, even if you have all the love and money you want. The treasure Santiago seeks is of course the symbol of the personal dream or destiny, but he is happy to give up on it when he finds the woman of his dreams in a desert oasis. Yet the alchemist tells him that the love of his oasis girlfriend will only be proved real if she is willing to support his treasure search.

Santiago’s dilemma is about the conflict between love and personal dreams; too often we see the love relationship as the meaning of our life, but the obsession with romantic coupling can cut us off from a life more connected with the rest of the world. But surely the heart has needs? Live your life around the dream, Coelho says, and their will be more ‘heart’ in your life than you can now comprehend: ‘…no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity’. Romantic love is important, but is not your duty as is the pursuit of your dream. Only through devotion to the dream is the ‘Soul of the World’ revealed to us, the knowledge which destroys loneliness and gives power.

Treasure of the present

The alchemist Santiago meets in the desert is the real thing. He actually can turn base metals into gold, the goal of the medieval alchemists. Santiago asks why the other alchemists never succeeded, and gets the strange answer, ‘They were only looking for gold.’ That is, they were seeking only the treasure of their destiny rather actually trying to live the destiny. Their focus on a prize lessened the quality of the present.

This is similar to Hindu concept of not seeking the fruit of our actions, but just doing according to our dharma, or purpose. There is a subtle distinction between living out the destiny, as you have comprehended it, and scrabbling to achieve some distant goal. Destiny is not a prize but a state of being, realised only when, as the camel driver counsels Santiago, we live in the present. Alchemy is difficult to understand for today’s mind, because it was a ‘science’ that blended matter and spirit. The alchemists spent years patiently heating and purifying metals, but the end result, a product of their total immersion in the task, was a purification of themselves. The moral being can make the distinction between the prize and the journey.

Autobiography of a Yogi.- one of the many books given by Thatha , my beloved grandpa  – read this book if you want to know the real india – yes they exist the yogis – the ones transcending beyond life and death ; joys and miseries , the ONES.

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The razor’s edge by somerset maugham — love this book , my compass / inspo for spiritual exploration – reading razor’s edge always makes me happy …………….feel light………some new insight everytime i read it  – the courage of the protagonist to discard all that is superficial , in search of the truth…………….it is neither self-indulgent nor a mark of laziness to pursue the soul……..nor is it a reason to feel one is an advanced being – the simple reason is that people are different – – driven   by an unknown passion in life and one can only be satisfied if she or he (yes she or he…..why always he or she ) is free enough to pursue it , it is not laziness or failure to do so . and i particularly like the last line which is non-judgemental – Maugham ends his narrative by suggesting that all the characters got what they wanted in the end: “Elliott social eminence;  Isabel an assured position; … Sophie death;  and Larry happiness.” . author is not propounding a philosophy – we all are struggling through various stages of spiritual evolution and need to cultivate compassion with each other . Pleasantly surprised when i came to know that maugham was inspired by our very own sri ramana maharishi

 

far from the madding crowd : The one word that comes to my mind while reading hardy…….. is his “rich ” use of language…….that makes reading  almost like luxury…………and  a self- indulgent pleasure- I felt the way he writes is like ” poetry in prose ” , i mean , especially the way he describes nature and natures (of individuals) so subtly yet so effectively .

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Totally mesmerised when you read it the first time – especially when one is young -( you roam around with a  self-important attitude thinking you are the embodiment of roark- high brow- don’t care -attitude and oh so very antisocial thinking it’s the new  cool – realising after many years –  after u get over ur obsession of rand and roark) ….. but don’t agree with the author trying to to propound this philosophy as a way of life…… an individual even though he is antisocial, is nurtured , supported by and bound to his family in a very deep way ; and so i opine that you can’t only follow the work philosophy in isolation…….also applies to atlas shrugged. the bhavadgita is a much superior alternative. but then again , can’t really undermine the importance of this masterpiece ………….,  roark still towers above others – in his solitude and few , but true friends……………especially   in contemporary  culture  …..aptly representative of objectivst+ minimalistic attittude……………..towards life -with minimalism all the rage now ??  roark – anti-social/ anti-social networking then ????…………………the argument inside my head continues but putting an end to this unending monologue………………..NOW.

One Hundred Years of Solitude

the book has sooooooooo many characters , but is never confusing to the reader , and well written.

Crime and Punishment , Fyodor Dostoyevsky-  it’s been quite sometime since i read it……..deals with the the theme of repentence and starting over.

Les miserables – one of the first recommended by Thatha

PnP , persuasion -Austen – the original chicklit author – well ,  all romances till date are just well-disguised austen spoofs  (Ehle’s the best elizabeth ……hands down )

Jane Eyre– Charlotte Brontë

Wuthering Heights –  bronte haunting  and intense…………read only an abridged version.

the professor– bronte ….      amazing  how   the bronte sisters’  works are sooooo different from each other……

silas marner – George Eliot

few sheldons and the prodigal daughter by archer

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own this exact paperback of mocking bird -loved her style of writing – narration , describes the world through a child’s eyes perfectly , explaining integrity and equality through the simple yet strong atticus finch……..played to perfection by gregory peck.  love the film too – peck  …….amazing as usual – one of the few films which does justice to the book

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used to own it, lost it .one of the most well written characters……….can’t say whether it is due to the author’s style of writing , but the characters seem so real and alive,  u  feel u know them ……

  • The Mother by Maxim Gorky – communist , marxism – but still a worthwhile read – human relations – Pavel and his   mother
  • J.Krishnamurti: A Biography [Pupul Jayakar] – read- reread only a few chaps in med school but which helped me a lot
  • bridges of madison county
  • far from the madding crowd -from dad –  OAK !!!!!!!!!
  • memoirs of a geisha
  • conquest of happiness – russell
  • all the books in this blog………..have  blogged and will blog  excerpts from –  https://excerptsandm.wordpress.com/category/e-from-fiction/
  • most of  agatha christie and  sherlock holmes and a few chicklits , mary higgins clark etc. – some chicklits – by weiner , jane green ………..etc……….- really witty – about the single woman in contemporary times – while others are so dumb and cliched ..i have to read a christie as rebound to get the crap out of my head
  • Roots –  suggested by shekhar mama !
  • alchemist -Paulo coelho  , burden – a different christie

and……….many i can’t recollect as of now……..