More book reviews! I’m sorry if you don’t care about the book reviews.
I read a bunch of Chetan Bhagat’s books while in Kuwait because that’s what my cousin had on her bookshelf. He’s a popular modern author in India. I get why people like him. His books are easy and quick reads populated with characters that feel real. Maybe some of the characters are real. I can’t tell.
Half Girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat
Guy from a lower class meets and falls in love with a rich girl. She loves him too, but after he pushes her too hard to sleep with him, she flees and marries a rich guy she’s known since childhood. They meet years later and she’s divorced and sick.
The author is a character in the book. That’s why I can’t tell if this story is real or not.
One Indian Girl by Chetan Bhagat
A beautiful and brilliant girl from New Delhi gets a job at an investment bank in New York. She meets a boy and falls in love. He’s insecure with her success and dumps her. It’s her first love so she’s understandably devastated. She copes by transferring to the Hong Kong office where she begins an affair with a married man. Realizing that it will never lead anywhere, she breaks it off and transfers to the London office.
Her mom has been badgering her for basically the entire book to get married, so she agrees to an arranged marriage. At the wedding both her exes show up and try to win her back. She chooses nobody (including the guy she’s supposed to marry) and I cheered. It was kind of like that episode of 90210 where Kelly chooses “herself” over Brandon and Dylan.
Cute, but unrealistic.
Revolution 2020 by Chetan Bhagat
Boy tries to make something of himself navigating the typical system of corruption in India. He also loves a girl. Girl loves (and is with) boy’s best friend who is smart and honest and trying to fight the corruption in India. Girl cheats on honest boy with our protagonist. I won’t tell you the ending.
Five point someone by Chetan Bhagat
A boy and his two college friends and their adventures in the most prestigious college in India. Five point someone refers to their grade point average. It’s out of ten, so it’s rubbish. Adventures abound.
The Old Man and his God by Sudha Murty
Short snapshots of different people the author has met throughout life. Some are wonderful people. Some are crap people. Tis life.
Why we get fat and what to do about it by Gary Taubes
Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe
The author was a live-in nanny in the early 80s in London. This book is a collection of her letters that she sent back home to her sister. I love the stories she recounts and the mundane details she brings alive. Here’s an example.
(MK is the mother of the kids she nannied.)
MK: (on phone) Have you nicked the Halliwell’s?
MK: The video card?
MK: What about the big stripey towel?
MK: The one with the green, blue, and red stripes.
MK: I can see it, in your room, right now, hanging on a chair.
Me: (pause) OK, I’ve got the towel but not the rest.
Fast and fun read. Loved it.
On Writing by Stephen King
Oh man. I haven’t read much of Stephen King to be honest. But this book! This book! I just want to take it to bed and learn all its secrets. I’ll tell it all mine too. It’s a fabulous treatise on writing and I wish I had read it years ago. My only sadness came when he told me not to watch television and mentioned Judge Judy by name! Sniffle.
Best of all, he basically gave me permission to read as much as my heart desires and write everyday for the fun of it. Not that I needed his permission, but I appreciate it.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
I read this in the dentist’s office. Super short book, but kind of a painful one to read. He gives spacey, new agey, vague advice….that I found myself thinking about after I read it. The only thing that matters is NOW. This moment. Keep reminding yourself of that.
“Knowing that what is cannot be undone — because it already is — you say yes to what is or accept what isn’t. Then you do what you have to do, whatever the situation requires.”
“…a stoic philosopher in Greece who, when he was told that his son had died in an accident, replied ‘I knew that he was not immortal.'”
Love those stoics!
$2.00 a day by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer
Great book on the realities of poverty through stories of real people. The working poor are trying. They want to work. The problem is it’s really hard to get a full time job making minimum wage and it’s impossible to live on part-time minimum wages. Most people try working two part-time jobs, but logistically that’s hard to coordinate with two demanding employers requiring flexible schedules. They’re also not getting benefits or overtime, even though they’re constantly working.
Industries the poor utilize often lead them into financial ruin because of their predatory practices. Payday loans, car title loans, subprime mortgages, check cashers, pawn shops and their exorbitant interest rates suck whatever they can out of those in poverty. The prepayment penalties made me shudder.
It’s also a story of the organizations trying to help the poor by loaning them money at reasonable rates and trying to get the legislative branch to care and regulate.
The problem is a combination of financial illiteracy and outright fraud against people who can least afford it. Kind of a bummer of a read. Books about poverty are almost always bummers to read. I can’t think of any that I’ve read that weren’t.