Naga Chokkanathan

What happens when a young fellow decides to move from a small city to a very large city?

In this age of globalisation, It sounds like a simple thing to do. There are websites, social media, phone numbers, apps… you need to click a few buttons and that’s it. You will be in a new city.

But the reality is not that simple. Systems come secondary and suddenly human emotions take over. While everything can be planned, it is not easy to predict and manage the various relationships you have.

That’s what Kevin finds when he tries to move to Chicago from his small town. He has his parents, siblings, relatives, friends, colleagues and a girl friend to handle, while making this move. He carefully plans and executes it, but it doesn’t go as per his plan and this novel describes his confusions and reactions very well.

It is a short novel, you can finish reading it in 90 minutes or less. But it captures a snap shot from today’s youth, which is much different from the picture Social Media world shows us. Even though Kevin handles it very well, we see how things can go wrong and how it is all part of learning.

I liked this novel a lot, just felt the last paragraph was too short: I see a follow-up novel which details this important portion!

You can read more about this novel here.

***

N. Chokkan …

26 01 2017

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“Pocket” (http://getpocket.com/) is a great app, I recommend it to everyone. Saves lot of time (and frustration) + it makes sure your reading habit is not compromised even in the age of Social Media.

How do I use it?

1. Whenever somebody recommends a good article: Click “Share” => Send to Pocket (Works on PC/Mobile/Tablet), Keep doing it throughout the day

2. Later, when you have time (let us say you are in a bus or a queue or having lunch alone), open Pocket App, look into each article added in earlier days:

a. Do I want to read it now? (For example, reading a technical article when you are in a crowded bus may be NOT OKAY)

If yes, open and start reading : no distractions, system remembers upto which portion you read so that you can continue next time. They even have a “Read” feature where you can “listen” to an article

If no, move to next article

b. After reading 100 words.. Is the article good? Do you want to continue reading it?

If no, delete and move to next article

That’s all. You can read 1000s of words every week, if you follow this with good control.

“Feelings Doctor”

I think these two words I found inside this novel summarise the whole story. It is written as a first person account by a nanny who takes care of a small kid born to wealthy parents, and eventually gets caught in the fight between them.

 

Unfortunately, every character in the story needs a feelings doctor. Some of them visits the feelings doctor almost every week, taking medications to control what they are going through. The youngest character in the novel uses these words in a very painful moment.

This novel by C. Y. Brown talks about the impact money makes on people’s lives. How they are ready to give up anything and everything just to get more of money.

Of course, not everyone is like that even today. But their number keeps increasing and this novel describes one such example.

The story is well written, and you keep turning the pages. Eventually it ends without any twist in the tale, which may disappoint some people.

My personal favorites from this novel are the happy moments the heroine shares with many of the characters around. Almost all of them disappoint her eventually, but the reader will definitely feel for her and wish her peace of mind at least after the novel has ended!

You can read more about this novel here: http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelves/book.php?id=95173

Christmas is around the corner. We see Christmas theme in everything: Stores, paper advertisements, websites and so on.

Unlike many other popular festivals, there are tons of books about Christmas. Most of them are not religious in nature, they capture different slices of this festival and the way it is celebrated.

Eric Dana Hansen’s “Ian, CEO, North Pole” is a novel about Ian, an elf working for Santa.

Yes, Santa maintains a large facility in North Pole where many elves are working and Ian is one of them. He is a hard-worker, but finds it difficult to fit in any department there. He keeps switching from one place to other.

After couple of iterations, he finds the right job for him matching his strengths, interests. But before long, he is forced to switch again, but this time it is a positive switch.

Eric Dana Hansen has taken this simple story and given it a very pleasant treatment. After a few pages, you feel like sitting with Ian all the time, understanding his thoughts, working hard with him, trying to learn everything about Christmas and Santa.

Yes, the novel manages to pack lot of information about Christmas without boring the readers. I wouldn’t call it a business novel as it doesn’t provide any ‘lessons’ explicitly, but it does gives you a lot to think about your own life, career.

Looking forward to read more stories of Ian!

You can read more about this book here: http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelves/book.php?id=30201

I must admit that I bought this book (Saint George: Rusty Knight and Monster Tamer) mainly for its cover. It looked so good (like a comics book cover), I wanted to find out what’s inside.

This book is a collection of funny short stories about Saint George: a strange character who sleeps for a week and then works(!) for a week, taming monsters.

Yes, it is a dangerous job; but George has a secret weapon against those monsters which help him tame them easily. Everyone respects him because of this unique skill, and he is recruited by the King, as a minister for the Environment.

But, what is that secret weapon and how did George get it? You should read the book to find out, at least the first chapter. After that I am sure you will complete rest of the chapters: George may have his own (funny) weaknesses, but he manages to win every challenge thrown at him.

While John Powell’s wonderful, comical descriptions of each character make it an enjoyable read. The text is easy to follow for the target audience, illustrations accompanying the text are simple and neat.

George is not a contemporary character. But, the author intelligently uses modern descriptions and examples to describe the ancient world. This style suits this book because of its humorous nature.

One word of caution: You need to have some background about England, its counties to understand some of the jokes. My daughter (12 years) found it difficult to follow.

You can read more about this book here: http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelves/book.php?id=88763

I learnt about Haiku poems in my college days. Their short form and the unique way of expressing everyday moments was fascinating. I even tried writing few Haiku poems in Tamil. I sent one of them to my favourite writer Sujatha and asked him, ‘do you think this fits under the Haiku Grammar?’

Why should I ask this question to Sujatha?

He wrote a fantastic book on Haiku. So, I wanted to know if I had understood it right.

Sujatha sent a simple response, ‘If you had actually experienced what you had written in this poem, it is Haiku. Else, it is not.’

Jack Cantwell’s book “Life Expressed in 25 Words or Less” brought back those memories of Haiku writing.

Technically speaking, Jack’s poems can’t be called Haikus, because they don’t fit the meter for Haiku. But, he has set up his own rule (25 words or less) for writing these poems. Even though the meter is different, the impact created by these poems remains the same.

A few people run away the moment you mention ‘poetry’ to them. But Jack’s poems will keep them hooked because they are so small, simple and straightforward. But at the same time, you will have a lot to think after reading them. They will remind you some incident from your own life, and you will start writing your own word picture (an excellent term I found in the book.)

Jack has shared the background stories about how some of the poems in the book were written. I liked them, but reading poems directly (without the background stories) was a better experience!

You can read more about this book here: http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelves/book.php?id=88810

I started reading ‘The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy‘ mainly because I love Japanese Fairy Tales. I have visited Japan once and liked the people. Even though life was fast-moving (I only saw the cities), most of the people I met had very relaxed personalities and interacted with others with care and affection.

While this book is not a fairy tale, the blurb gave me a similar feel-good experience that I usually feel when I read anything about Japan. Claire Youmans has done an excellent job capturing that spirit and creating a thrilling story around it.

In fact, this story starts with shades of another fairy tale (about straw hats) I had read earlier, and it keeps repeating throughout the story in different ways. This is mainly a good Vs bad fight and talks about kind souls who help the protagonists in their mission, However, it doesn’t stop there, both kids and adults can enjoy it. The story weaves details about Japan culture nicely, providing enough introduction to readers from other countries.

One aspect I liked about the novel: it has many moments which are kind-of short stories or experiences which are enjoyable on their own. For example, the episode about the lucky straw that the Sparrow-Boy gets.

I loved the first part and will look forward to reading the second part. Thank you!

You can read more about this book here: http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelves/book.php?id=93932

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The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Organization He works for / belongs to.

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