What Life Teaches Me Everyday

Category: Books

When life happens every third day – 2018 in review

Another year gone. And 2018 literally flew for me.

If you were around my blog this time of the year, you would know that I intended to publish or rather self-publish one fiction and one non-fiction book in the year 2018. Needless to say, I failed miserably. I have a semi-finished draft of the non-fiction book and some 25 flash fiction stories on my drive as of today.

Of course, a work in progress is much better than nothing, I take it as a failure to meet my goals. We freelancers can hardly be blamed for not meeting our goals because to us life happens every third day, throwing our schedule and short-term goals in complete chaos.

Being a freelance writer, I am no different. And I am proud of the fact. I chose a freelance life because I wanted to live life as it comes, not missing out on anything just because something else needs to be done more urgently.

Everything said, 2018 was a very hectic and fruitful year both professionally and personally. And this post is just a review of that.

Personal achievements

While talking of goals, I cannot ignore the fact that building an extension to our house was on our to-do list since 2016. We could finally achieve it in 2018. Building an extension and renovating the existing parts of a house are no mean tasks. So, I wish that charitable ones among you would pardon me for not meeting my other goals like publishing a book!!

Hey! not everything was a failure professionally

I connected with Shradha Anand the founder of Aura-books through LinkedIn and did what I love doing the most – writing Computer Science textbooks. I wrote some 7-8 books between the period of April and October. Even if I am not sure about their publication, given the chaotic state of text book publishing industry in India, I feel satisfied. And that is the one thing that counts.

And in the process, I have also gained a good friend in Shradha – a bit crazy, a bit worked up, but all the way loving and caring!!

For the past few years I had been rigorously taking stock of the year gone by in terms of both financial and creative satisfaction. This year I did no such exercise. I might do it sometime during January but I am not very sure or keen about it. Because, in my mind I am crystal clear about what I want to do this year. Read more and write more.

2019 has started on a good note

I have started my reading with Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. A great start, I daresay.

And, I started my writing with this blog.

I have been collecting newspaper pages doing 2018 book roundups from Hindustan Times and Times of India to read through the year.  

I have also signed up for Goodreads to help me read more. Though, I must confess I was too lazy to go beyond step 2, where I had to select my favourite genres.

Now, I usually read whatever I can get my hands on, plus I did not want to lose out on some good books simply because I did not put a tick in a box. Eventually, I got confused and clicked the cross button of the browser.

And I need your support

Pray for me that I may be able to read more and write more as I want. I plan to keep updating about the books I read here.

I wish you luck in meeting your expectation of yourself this new year 2019 too. Do let me know what are your expectations in the comments below. I refuse to call them resolutions, because the word itself makes me want not to follow it!!

Post Script: I will post about my analysis of year gone by soon, in case you are interested in knowing. Please say yes even if just not to break my heart.

How does a writer grieve? For someone who led her to the world of books

how should a writer grieve

How does a writer grieve? By writing, what else. But it was not clear to me initially.

My babuji, my father’s eldest brother, passed away last night. I came to know early morning today and I have cried so much since then. But the lump in my chest fails to diminish even an iota. And then I realised that tears were not the way to grieve for a man who introduced me to the dreamland called books. And not just me but my whole generation, and then the next one too.

Babuji was a Hindi language teacher in the village school. He was a great scholar who knew the Ramcharitmanas and Bhagvad Gita by heart. He had read the Puranas and the Upnishads, which he quoted at the drop of the hat. He was equally fascinated by the scriptures, fiction novels in both English and Hindi, Bollywood movie stories, and God only knows what else. And he was as prolific a writer as he was a voracious reader. He wrote analysis of many scriptures, translations of English books and parody of Bollywood with equal élan. Everyone wanted him to publish but he always scoffed at the idea. May be because he relished being the truly eccentric creative, who created at his own will. No one could dictate (!!) him what to write and when.

Everyone in the family, including our own parents, always said that he was a talent gone waste. He could have achieved so much. I used to agree with them, but today when I think about it I am not so sure. He has left behind his legacy in his children, who owe their love for books and literature to him, his rich library and his freedom to explore. How many of us can claim this?

His library, rather his room itself, was a sanctum sanctorum that not everyone could access. However, I was among the lucky few who could borrow whatever book I liked.

Besides days spent without any adult supervision, the main attraction of our annual summer trip to our native village was those books. I read my first Kalyan there, gorging on all the mythological stories. I read Chandrakanta Santati and lost myself in the world of ayyari. I also read Vardi Wala Gunda, the cheap action thriller that was a rage with the Hindi belt at that point of time.

I remember these so explicitly because I never read them anywhere else. His room urged you to gorge on whatever you could lay your hands on. And he had a vast collection of renowned Hindi writers like Premchand, Dinkar, Gupt, Nirala and Pant too.

Even though I borrowed the books mostly in his absence, he always knew the ones I had read. Whenever I read a book I was not supposed to, because I was too young, he would give me a thump on the back and say, “growing up, eh?” And I wouldn’t know how to respond.

Every time I create something, I feel that he would have been proud of it. But scold me as well that I have chosen English as my medium of expression. He often complained to my father that he should have motivated me to pursue Hindi or

I do not know whether he knew that I have turned a writer. I am sure he would have been proud of me.

A couple of years into my marriage, he gifted me a huge book of Gita saar. It is a tome, which is litearally too heavy to carry. I asked him in disbelief, “you expect me to read this?” To which he replied, “you just keep it in your home, that’s enough.”

That was Babuji, expressing even his love and concern through books.

Adultery by Paulo Coelho: Story of How to Find True Happiness


I just finished reading Adultery by Paulo Coelho. I have merely one word for the book: Incredible. It is only the third book that I have read by him, but as usual it has left me craving for more.

The first half of the booked dragged a bit, like the protagonist. As she delved deep into her mind and moved in a perpetual rigmarole, the book seemed to take the same circuitous approach. Sprinkled of course with Coelho’s insights about human mind, body and soul.

Half-way through, the book picked up pace as the leading lady found the fog around her mind clearing up. But the best was saved for the last 40-odd pages when she delves into her soul and tries to find meaning behind her existence.

I find Coelho’s writing to be abstract and unwieldy at times but the clarity with which he presents the abstractedness of human minds is brilliant. I have read The Alchemist and Eleven Minutes too. With those books as well I found the first half a bit drawn out unnecessarily but at the end the narration left you with a desire to continue.

Adultery is the story of a woman in her thirties, who has been married ten years, has everything that she could want but still is unhappy.

Adultery is the story of that woman in pursuit of happiness. Which translates into a quest to discover oneself and try to understand the reason behind one’s existence.

The book tells you that you must keep testing your limits to understand yourself. You must keep learning from whatever you do. For that is how you will find true love and love is everything to live for.

The love you find need not be, and rather should not be, the carnal love. It should be a love for yourself, for God, for humanity and for everything that you do. If you do something not out of love but obligation or compulsions, you will lose meaning of life and drown deep into the abyss of meaningless existence.

One of the characters in the book says:

We aren’t what we want to be. We are what society demands. We are what our parents choose. We don’t want to disappoint anyone; we have a great need to be loved. So we smother the best in us. Gradually, the light of our dreams turns into the monster of our nightmares. They become things not done, possibilities not lived.

And that is not what God planned for you. God wants you to live your every dream. God wants you to be happy and satisfied.

God wants you to learn to love till you are one with the Universe around you and find true happiness.

Book Review: 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know

10 ultimate truths girls should know

10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know by Kari Kampakis is a book written for the teens and tweens as well as their mothers. The book claims to be a Christian way of bringing up daughters but is for anyone who is interested in bringing up her daughter the correct way.

The seeds of the book were sown when Kari wrote a speech when she was invited by a counselor friend of hers to speak to a group of girls. The talk struck a chord with the girls and she was invited again the next year. Sometime later, she wrote a blog 10 Truths Young Girls Should Know that has been shared on Facebook over 75,000 times and pinned on Pinterest over 28,000 times. The popularity led Thomas Nelson to come out with the book titled 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know.

The book expands her basic 10 guidelines for young girls from the blog post in form of 10 commandments like

  • Kindness is more important than popularity
  • You were born to fly
  • Trust God’s plan for you

I especially liked the chapters on confidence and perseverance because I could instantly connect with the ideas. The chapters tend to get preachy and longish at times but after finishing a chapter it’s just the messages that remain with you. I also liked the discussion questions at the end of each chapter and the small quizzes interspersing the content. These can be good starting points for initiating discussions with your own daughters.

If you are a teenaged girl getting confused by your own as well as your peers’ behavior, this book is for you. If you are a young girl who wants to chart out the correct future path for yourself, this book is for you.

If you are a mother who wants to bring up good, caring and loving daughters, this book is for you. If you are a mother who feels your daughter has a problem but you don’t know how to broach the subject with her, this book is for you.

I call this book a great resource and handbook for every mother who has to raise daughters.

Year 2015: 3 Books in First 10 Days


The first Sunday of 2015 was a special one for me. My maid decided to take an unannounced leave. Our plan of a sumptuous lunch of fish curry and rice went down the drain. As I washed the utensils, I tried to think of something simpler to cook for lunch, which would not be too much of a letdown for my daughter. Suddenly my husband came rushing to the kitchen, waving the newspaper excitedly in his hand. He insisted I wipe my hands and read it immediately. Though reluctantly, I did so. It was the #BrunchBookChallenge Part 2 announcement. I read the ad through and resumed my work, my brain already working at a feverish pace.

30 books to be read in a year, 2and ½ books per month, as they put it. Could I manage it? Will I have the time? How many books had I read in the past year? Five, ten or fifteen? I couldn’t be sure. Moreover, most of the books I read were repeats, books like Prizes, Doctors or As the Crow Flies that I read often because they are my favourites and I pick them up when I am feeling especially happy or sad. I hardly read five or six new books last year. So buying and reading 30 books would be a daunting task.

Then I realized that it was a voluntary challenge for me to accept. It was an opportunity for me to resume my avid reading habit. If I could not complete the challenge, there was no penalty for it. Moreover, I was already reading a book I had started two days ago. So may be that was the good omen. So I decided to take up the challenge and plunge in it head on. Till now I have already completed three books and here is a lowdown on all of them.

Revolution 2020

2nd January was the first working day of the year. After a late lunch I felt like reading a book. A book that I had not read till now. On souring my bookshelves I came across Revolution 2020 by Chetan Bhagat. I had tried reading it way back in 2011 when my husband had bought it but could not go beyond 10 pages. Anyway, for lack of anything better, I started reading it and managed to complete it. The writing style was simple to the point of being not called any style at all. It seemed to be written for being developed into a film. It was more of a plot outline rather than a complete book. The only thing that kept me going was I wanted to know what happened in the end. And not by straight away reading the last 2 pages!!

Half Girlfriend has also found its way into my bookshelf. Let’s see when I will be able to complete it.

The Omen

The Omen by David Seltzer was the second book I have read this year. You might be surprised that I haven’t read this thriller masterpiece till now. Well, I knew the book by reputation but as I was prone to bad dreams till my college days, I chose not to read it. However, as they say, all is well that ends well. I finally read the book, in one sitting, so engrossed I was in it. Robert Thorn’s search for Bugenhagen was especially gripping.

Be Careful What You Wish For

This Part 4 of Clifton Chronicles by Jeffrey Archer was true Archer from cover to cover. I had not read it till now thinking that I would read parts 4 & 5 together, but that was not to be. When I went to order books from Flipkart to start on my 30-books odyssey, this was the first book I ordered. And now I can’t wait for the next one, which is claimed to be the final book of the series.

The book had me in its grips from page one, when I started by hoping that Sebastian was not killed. And the last page has left me craving for more. Kudos to Lord Archer for not letting his fans down ever!!

 I will keep you posted on the books that I read. Meanwhile, you can let me know the book you are reading now. Or better still, why not join the HT BrunchBookChallenge Part2.

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