Book Shelf

Current reading list

Monday, December 19, 2005


All the same, I can never bring myself to live in Dubai.

Archives>23rd post>5th sentence.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Two titles and how

Something has to be said of my reading habits. Depending on your definition of reading I may or not be a reader at all.
Anyways. Last evening was not something I would have planned myself and I was a fool to guile myself that it could even be anything as remote as teh girls' time outs I used to have back in time. But. So. A couple of colleagues were planning to go shopping. Au naturale and by way of conversation I came to learn of it and invited myself to their party (yes, I am that desperate for friends). Unfortunately their idea of shopping was different from mine. On a scale of say one to ten, I would say the difference was a glaring 20! I mean, who goes to just one shop and but suits in bulk. And Indian suits at that! To each woman her own. I said I was not into manmade fibrous clothing, whatever that may have meant to them, when I said so, I meant I prefer to swathe myself in just cottons and lawns and pure silks (as head accessory). At times I veer towards georgettes and chiffons too but Indian clothing? Do they even have a sense of color, just a riot of color if you ask me. But no one did ask me and I kept my precious opinions to myself. And this is a book blog. coming to it, give me a chance, sheeesh!
So, this shopping trip was about as exciting as a can of soda left open and unattended too long. Flat. And I don't do sodas anyway. So, on the return journey I was trying to work out a route back home that would involve minimum fuss and a turbulence free ride home. I called home, sis, bro and cousin and had to put up with ringings that left my ears ringing. Asked my colleague to drop me off at this new swanky mall in town. Changed my mind and told her to drop me off at the bus stop that I catch a bus home. Then changed my mind and got dropped off at teh mall anyways. My only fear, after the shopping trip fiasco and no-reply-home annoyance was that I would, as is my wont, end up spending all money I had on me. And I did. In a way, I'd say.
Now this mall has an OUP outlet. Not the brightest star in the sorry constellation of book stores back home, but a book outlet all the same. If I thought OUP was a shame to the very idea of a decent book store, I was wrong. It ought to be declared illegal for OUP to go about claiming as a book store. I mean what kind of a place does not even have a decent shelf on Current Affairs? Just one sorry shelf on Management? And God knows hoe many books brought in from India and on India? Excuse me but did I just walk in a small tucked away New Delhi bookstore. Not that I have ever been to ND to draw that analogy. But the shop and its contents were surely not a high street success to satisfy the bibliophilic cravings of discerning Indian readers.
Anyways, the best I could do was pick up two books:
Really, Your Highness! by Jyoti Jafa
Paradise of the Assassins
A Translation of Firdaus-e-Bareen by Abdul Halim Sharar
Translated by Tariq Mahmud
I had read a review of the latter in a local book supplement and wanted to get it anyway. The former just promised to be an interesting read. Royalty, the spledour of an era bygone, the romance of old customs and traditions fascinate me no end. and of course it was fiction. i checked that out first thing.
Buying fiction actually guarantees that I would actually get round to reading a book. Unlike The Edward Said Reader that looks oh-so-impressive gathering dust on my bookshelf but I have yet to read through a chaptre. Oooops, that was one tooo many confessions!
So. I may or not come round to writing a review of the above mentioned titles.
At the moment it just feels great to type away my story of how I came across these titles without fear of giving away too much of myself. i don't know what that means either. so.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Fact and Fiction

There is so much happening out in the world. And here I am starting out, taking baby steps and faltering so very often on that lofty path to knowledge.
and I have yet to read Stephen Hawking's Brief History of Time and follow it up with Universe in a Nutshell.
On a positive note, I finished Gabriel Garcia Marquez's A Hundred Years of Solitude. And loved it enough to read his Of Love and Other Demons. This novella is the most beautiful and poignant of all works I have read. Garcia has a charming way of writing, like taking a boat journey on a serene river with banks on both sides not lost to view, but far enough for one to wonder what would be behind that thick foliage lining them, a multitude of natural sounds serving as background for the journey of a lifetime. The waters churning lovingly below your boat, fish popping out of the water surface to greet your amused face. The wind sometime spraying your face with water borrowed from the river. A journey in time, of old times. Just trying to mention the world Garcia describes makes me write such words, imagine what a treat it must be to read him!
I could not get round to finishing Love in theTime of Cholera for the first three times. And now I can't have enough of it. I would still prefer re-reads of Of Love and Other Demons though.
I also shamefully confess that I never got round to reading the Story of Philosophy. My only hope of making any headway in teh heady world of philosophy would be to read Sophie's World. From the way my brother has been ignoring everything else to finish off htis book, it must be something (not to mention the reviews it had culled). Soon then.
If my reading habits are anything to go by, I am a fiction kind of person. Non-fiction reading, for me takes a lot of time and effort, not to mention teh guilt trips I go on becuase I have forgotten what I had read as soon as I have turned a page!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

toss the tosh

Ok. So Bhai tagged me. Technically I don't qualify for the tag as the stick had to be passed onto three people and I was a poorly fourth after-thought. But. Not many drop by my bookshelf anyway and I can respond to the meme here and yet not take it up. Devious. I know.

Here goes:
You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
Easy beasy. This was why I took up this meme in the first place. Deewan e Ghalib. As if there was any other book I'd rather be. Actually I would cheat, and also lap up Nuskhaha e Wafa.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
A crush? As in a single one? Heck no, I make it to a point to look for the best traits in any given protagonist and gradually graduate to the crush stage. Of course this carefully analyzed, worked on, scientific crush ceases to be one the moment a book is finished and replaced in the bookshelf.

The last book you bought is...?
You really want to know? OK, confession time. I was stuck in a hotel room in my road show and had to get some word tosh. So I browsed through the hotel bookshop which did not have much reader's choice and settled for Sophie Kinsella's Can you keep a secret? Confessions galore. Fact and fiction. Go figure.

The last book you read?
Read as in took up and finished reading? That is tough. So I read teh trash confessed about above and flipped through a couple of work related titles. Update a day later: Finished Love in the Time of Cholera and feel mighty proud of it too. This was mt third attempt at reading it and not have I only done that, but also savored the almost lyrical quality of its prose. I hate Florentino Ariza though.

What are you currently reading?
Love in the Time of Cholera. Finished, as above. Started on The Battle for God, Karen Armstrong and Edward de Bono's I am Right, You are Wrong.

Five books you would take to a deserted Island.
I will not take five books to any deserted island. If I am being shipped off then I'd rather have a say in this one. I will take all that I can read to last my stay. Diverse trash and serious stuff. Or see below.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
No one ever comes round here. And by the time I got this stick most had already moved onto better and exciting things. So. The meme stops here.

And this one following I had meself tagged onto. VLady set a pretty tough criteria for it though. Red shirts/french fries/chewed gum on the day of reading the post. I did not qualify for it of course but. Some questions are repeats of above and would be left unanswered. In a way of speaking/writing/typing/blogging.

Total number of books owned, ever:
Let me count, 1, 2, 3, 4...

Last book I bought:
Why do you have to rub in the fact that I have extremely trashy reading habits? 15, 16, 17...

Last book I read:
See above. Not that I am particularly proud of it. 35, 36, 37...

Five books which mean a lot to me:
That would be the same as ones I would take with me to a deserted island?
Actually all books I have read so far mean a lot to me. And that is not many books that I have read. So.
Guess, being a muslim, I have to give in the standard answer, so yes, the Holy Qur'an means a lot to me. Actually, I have this translation/tafseer of the Qur'an Pa got for me. It's been ages since I opened it (shame on me, I know too) but I know this much, every time I read it, I find something new to think about, something so beautiful and profound that it makes life worth a living all over again.
The second book would be, Deewan e Ghalib of course. I am not an authority on the bard, just a humble starter Ghalib lover.
Third should be Faiz's Nuskhaha e Wafa. 53, 54, 55...
Fourth would be a compilation of all the tosh I have ever written, feautures, articles, interviews, class assignments, reports, projects, researches, exam and test copies (yes!), that meagre amount poetry that had my name to it, my master's thesis, a couple of girly diaries, and all my blog content etc.
Fifth would be the book I am yet to write. If I write more than one, then an omnibus edition: Collected works of AWK.
No, let's revise. If two and three can be lumped as one, or one is a given, being a Muslim and all, I can squeeze in a fifth but technically sixth book which would be a collection of all my thoughts left unsaid/unairedunwritten. And that would be the one meaning most to me. And 79, 80, 81 ... still counting the number of books I owned, ever. :-)

Friday, April 22, 2005

Giving up!

From now on, I will only report titles I am actually reading and not those I had on my hands, with all good intentions of reading it them through.
Cactus Town, as logged earlier, is a treat, something you read a bit of every night before going to sleep. Open a page at random and read a short story...Let the book fall and drift off. Someone will come along and put out the lights.
Last Saturday I went out to Urdu bazaar in Karachi and got Through the Narrow Gate, Karen Armstrong's memoir of seven years as a nun. An intellectual giant that she was, this book traces her difficulties as a nun, where she was supposed to quell the self, her intellect, in an ongoing quest for finding God...More on it later. Her Order facilitated her studies at Oxford, with the World and Order in a cataclysmic clash, she had to leave one, and she chose to relinquish her robes. She later went on to right epic works like history of God, Islam: A Short History, Jerusalem : One City, Three Faiths, and Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet, among various other works of religious, primarily monotheistic researches. Of the list given above, I have just two tomes waiting to be read in my bookshelf, the first two.
I first discovered Armstrong's History of God in early 2002. I was supposed to write and present a paper on 'Dialogue Among civilizations' organized by a University in Iran. I had reams and reams of print outs, had managed to mutilate Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order but it was this book that had me glued. So much so that I forgot when deadline for the paper went by. It's a mammoth work, this tome, History of God, and I am embarrassed to say that I have yet not finished it. Even when I had ample time on hand during two prolonged bouts of unemployment. But it is the kind of work that merits proper treatment. I can't read it for the sake of reading it and bragging in front of people that I have read it. I want to read it and understand it fully. And I am hoping that my read of Through the Narrow Gate has equipped me with a better understanding of the writer's background. There is no doubting her credentials as a religious writer/researcher par excellence, she makes you think, question and reflect on many thanks you may take for granted. She has been a nun, taught at the Leo Baeck College for the study of Judaism and is an honorary member of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists. Top that!
On another note, I was considerably dampened when I googled for AMSS (US and UK) and found that both have not been updated. AMSS (US) is in want of an update since 2003 and AMSS (UK) has not brought out its newsletter since 2003. One would have thought that both these organizations were as dynamic as they promised to be, not so.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Trust me to do such things.
I listed two titles I had got my hands on.
Never finished either.
Instead I finished Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi's Zurguzisht, for a second time.
I last read it in 1993 with his other two works, Chiragh Taley and Khakum Bedehn. Yousufi at that time and age was not exactly the kind of literature I had the nous to appreciate. My interest was piqued only because Pa was rediscovering Y and would not let me get anywhere near the books! And what reason he cited...that I was smack in the midst of my board finals. He hid the books, can you imagine? Not to be outdone, I found his hiding places, swiped a book when he wasn't home, read a chapter or two and back it went. Real appreciation of satire and humor, as Y merited, was not possible in such circumstances. I could only get the obvious digs.
So a real reading was long overdue and I can galdly report of a task accomplished.
And picked up Aamer Hussein's Cactus Town and Other Stories from OUP the other day (Sunday to be exact). Been reading through it.
Also to be reported is Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. I know I am usually late in picking up and finally reading a book. Got this from W with high recommendations. Never got to read it and somehow it latched along when I made the move back home. With it insisting so much taht I read it, why should I not oblige.
Of the previously reported, Hayek I am trying to plough through, ploughing being such a task.
Another reason I can't really make a headway is that I keep it at work, hoping to snatch some time and finish it.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Got in my hands:
F. A. Hayek's The Road to Serfdom a Routledge Classic.
Paul Taggart's Populism an Open University Press Publication.


I don't remember ever claiming to be well-read. Well read in the sense that I had read all those impressive tomes that would have justified that pair of thick glasses permanently perched on, and forever threatening to squash, my wee nose, out of existence.
I realised this even more when I met some wonderful people in UAE, like Bhai and W. The former is a business graduate and the latter has an MA in English Literature...and both are literateurs with an impressively stacked bookshelves at their respective homes. And better still, both had actually read most of their books. Imagine me, a person who has to be slapped back into reality at the sight of old book thelas at Hasan Square, at such a paper feast...
And then the conversations were so educating, one shoudl always have intelligent, well read friends or not bother with friendships at all. And so, we got along the dosti highway and zzzzooomed away.
It was while with them that I realised I may have read quite a lot, but I was not well read. Oh that term again. So I started to rectify that bit...starting from raids on their collections of books and now that I am back home, away from those dearest of dear friends, I have access to an Institutional library. I am an academic would be a shame if I have not read all that I should have read...also, I hope it would improve this trait of mine...of going on and on without making any sense and claiming to be a writer. Anyways, this was to be an intro, a justification of sorts. and now with tat out of the way, let's work on the list. as promised above.