Earlier, when there was no internet or Kindle, in India, we used to get only popular or classic books. Our choices were very limited. So, when purchasing, a whole lot of thought was given before selecting a book. But these authors I knew, were the best. I was sure to have a good time reading about the countries never seen, peoples and cultures we never met, but still understood them like our own.
Ken Follett – Undoubtedly, he is my favourite. I have read almost all his books. I may have missed one or two. He also writes my favourite genre – Historical sagas. But his thrillers are also equally amazing. He is the only one whose books I have pre-ordered.
John Grisham – The courtroom dramas, the lawyers are all excellent. I also love his books because they have a hint of humour which just fits right with the grim surroundings.
Jeffrey Archer – His novels are best seller sagas like Kane and Abel, Sons of Fortune, Prodigal daughter. In Bollywood, many movies can claim to be inspired by the lost and found formula of Jeffrey Archer. But, my favourite is Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less. If you have not read it, please do. I would highly recommend it.
Wilbur Smith – His stories are mostly based in Africa among the wild animals, jungles, deserts. He is a master storyteller. He completely pulls you into the book. They are more about the people of Africa.
Mary Higgins Clark – Thrillers are her forte. Her novels have all the elements of mystery, thriller, spookiness and fear. She grips you from the first page till the last. I have read almost all her books.
Ken Rutherfurd – He writes about the history of places through stories. It is a good way to learn history. His books include stories of places like London, New York, Dublin which are also the names of his novels. Excellently blends history and the people bringing alive the different times. His writing is similar to Ken Follett s historical fiction novels.
Sidney Sheldon – I love his books simply because they are edge of the seat thrillers. One of the first thrilling authors I had read. I must have read almost all his books.
Violet Winspear – I do not know if she is famous or not. She is a Mills & Boon author. At a time, when I was completely fascinated with M&B, she was my favourite author. Her heroines were strong, the story was good. In the limited scope of M&B, she did shine as a good author.
Agatha Christie – Nothing to be said about her. She is the queen of crime after all.
Devdutt Pattnaik – As an Indian author, I have read most of his books. He has a simple, clean style of writing. He also writes one of my favourite genres – mythology. His blog gives continuous fodder on mythology and how it can be interpreted in the present times.
Let me warn you, this post is not about any religion which will insist on any specific rituals on specific days. It is more about us readers who believe books are our religion. And anyone who will question that or say anything against that, will incur our wrath.
Before writing this, I was checking on Google for ‘Reading rituals of famous people’ if any, but all I got were results on Writing rituals. Apparently, there are none. But I am sure, some of us may be following some rituals before we sit down with that book in hand and go off into pleasurable stories of distant kingdoms and knights in shining armours. Do you stop reading at only certain page numbers? Do you scribble notes on the margins of the books? Do you dog-ear your books? Continue reading →
All books tell stories about characters. Characters are universal in nature with some regional flavors. But what attracts us to these characters is some characteristics we can identify with. It could be something we love or we hate. Both evokes strong emotions. How many times have you laughed out loud, or cried when reading a book. And there are some favorite characters who have inspired a whole host of stories. They travel beyond their own countries of origin and make themselves at home in alien countries among alien cultures.
Here’s a list of some of my most cherished characters –
Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen – I am absolutely in love with Mr. Darcy. He is the perfect gentleman. He is caring and understanding towards his love’s problems. He moves heaven and earth to solve her problems. And then, he is also supremely rich and handsome. Beat that combination.
Scarlett O’Hara & Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell – Scarlett has a fiercely independent mind who will go to any lengths to get what she wants. It’s a dangerous trait. Though we would all like to be like Scarlett, it is not possible. Scarlett lies, schemes, and does everything to get Ashley Wilkes who is not at all interested in her. Then comes the suave Rhett Butler who falls in love with Scarlett simply because she is so different from the rest of the girls. Excellent chemistry between the two.
Sherlock Holmes and Mr. Watson, Arthur Conan Doyle – The story is told from Mr. Watson’s perspective which could be actually, us, the readers. Sherlock’s character is clear with good analytical skills, knowledge of chemistry, and old world English. A good combination.
Hercules Poirot of the Poirot Series by Agatha Christie – Poirot is shown as a short, rotund, bumbling Frenchman. People easily take him for being dull. But he is razor sharp and love the way he solves cases. He is funny and complete with old world charm. One of my favorites is ‘Murder on the Orient Express.’
Felicity “Flick” Clairet of Jackdaws, Ken Follett – Flick is the mission leader for a team of women who are planning to blow up the Telegram office of the Germans in France during World War II. She is a tough leader. She has to be because her team is made up of invalids. They are rejected by the military. But deep inside, she is a caring human. The character evolves from being a tough person to a caring, sisterly persona.
Gabriel Allon of The Messenger and other stories, Daniel Silva – Gabriel Allon is an Art Restorer specializing restoring paintings of masters. But he is also a member of Israeli secret service. An agent with a good cover. But he is also a man who lost his love – his wife to mental illness and his child to a terror attack. This shows his human side and gives him motivation to perform as a secret service agent. We want him to succeed always.
Voldemort of Harry Potter, J K Rowling – Voldemort, the villain of Harry Potter who is out to kill the child Harry Potter. How can you not hate him? But, it’s his characterization which is eerie, cold. Voldemort never shouts or becomes agitated. He is always cold and has a mind of his own. He will not say what he is going to do. He just does it. Perhaps that’s what makes him so scary.
Karna in Mahabharat, Valmiki – Here is a man who is a hero. He is intelligent, loyal, brave, generous, handsome. He has all the qualities of a King, but he can never become a King. His father is the Sun-god. His mother abandons him at birth. He is raised by foster parents. He never knows who he is. His mother knows but tells him a day before he goes to war against his brothers. He is one of the most complex characters of Mahabharat.
Father Ralph de Bricassart of The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough – Father Ralph is a very ambitious man. He is ready to sacrifice his love for achieving his ultimate dream of becoming a Cardinal in Rome. He achieves that too. But he is ultimately broken when he comes to know that he had a son and the son is dead. That shatters him, ultimately leading to his death. But, we love him because Meggie loves him with all her heart. And we feel the conflict of interests faced by Ralph.
Colonel Aureliano Buendia from 100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez – The colonel is quite a character. He is quirky, crazy, honest, disloyal with a mind of his own. He has some futuristic visions and he believes he can see into the future. This makes him crazily reckless and goes on with life with his eyes fully open. In this book, which takes a humorous approach to life in Macondo, the Colonel shines.
I can go on and on. But these are some characters which stay with us through our lifetimes. Let me know some of your favourite characters.
I love to know about different cultures, different people and countries. Mostly, these books are long drawn out sagas. Because you see, each character will have some story and a deep background. But, I love reading these long sagas.
The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri – It is a story of immigrants who come to the US to live. Plucked out of their natural surroundings, they find it difficult to adjust to the culture of US. And their children are confused about their identity. It’s a story with a heart.
Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkein – The book set in a fantasy land with different races of humans like Hobbits, Elves, Monsters, Ogres, Wizards… middle earth. .. it’s an endless list.
Shikhandi, Devdutt Pattnaik – This book explores the queer stories ingrained in Indian mythological stories. It proves the point that LGBT is not something new discovered recently. It is as old as human race. In fact, the mythological stories are very much accepting of queer behaviour.
London, Edward Rutherfurd – It is the story of London. The book begins from the birth of Britain as an island and goes on to describe the journey from Londinium to 21st century London. Along the way, it describes the different races of people who come to live there bringing with them their unique customs and rituals. We have the Celts, Vikings, Christians, English, French, Tudors. It also shows the evolution of the English language.
Tarzan and the Apes, Edgar Rice Burroughs – This is a very old book. I personally do not know anybody who has read the book. Unlike the movies, it is not really about a flat, six-pack abdomen Tarzan. The book tells us about the different lives of the Apes with their social heirarchy and behaviors. It narrates the behavior of human beings from the perspective of the Apes. Again, a very unique take on two closely related races, which are so different.
The Immortals of Meluha, The Secret of the Nagas, The Oath of the Vayuputras (Shiva Trilogy), Amish Tripathi – In this book, the author stripped the Indian Gods of their mythology and given a possible scientific reasoning for the way they are. The book shows how a culture which is good for one race, is detrimental to other races. It very effectively shows the fear of the different races of each other. It is when Shiva comes along, he brings the different races together simply by talking with them and understanding them, instead of being judgemental.
Palace of Illusions, C Divakaruni – I like this book because it talks of a story from Mahabharat which does not exist in the Mahabharat. It’s a story purely imagined by the Author. It gives a different perspective to the happenings in the Mahabharat. It is from the perspective of Draupadi who is the queen married to five Pandava brothers.
The Century Trilogy, Ken Follett – A saga that touches 3500+ pages. It is the story of the 20th century starting from 1900 to 2000. It touches again on the people from different regions and through them the story shows historical highlights. So, we have Russians, Americans, British Royalty, British Commoners, Africans and other Europeans. It touches on the Russian Revolution, World Wars I & II, Civil Rights Movement in the US.
Harry Potter Series – Harry Potter has everything which is diverse. There are different groups, houses with unique behavior, people with different magical skills and backgrounds – rich, poor, white, black. There are wizards, witches, muggles, elves, ghosts, and more.
Twilight, Stephenie Meyer – I haven’t read this book. But, I like the way there are vampires, werewolves living with humans. They even fall in love with each other.