Thursday, June 11, 2009

I could drink a case of you

Saheli recently tagged me on that always time-sucking addiction Facebook. While I try to avoid such things on Facebook, as a blog post, it's a happy excuse to have something to write. The idea here is to list 15 books that will always stick with you. I wrote them all down all stream-of-conscious-like, and made certain it was all off the top of my head by drinking a hefty dose of a Grey Goose concoction before starting. And the winners are:

  • The Sun Also Rises- as a woman, I know that I should not technically even approve of this book, but there's something very raw and truthful to it. And since I was once the reigning heavyweight champion of dysfunctional relationships, there's a lot about this book that draws me in.
  • The Little Prince- I can honestly say this book changed my life and me. It was given to me at a time when I was perfectly poised to be shaped by it, and so shaped by it I was.
  • Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man- there's a whole chapter of torrid ridiculous business behind my initial attraction to this book. I have a copy of it from the Shakespeare & Company bookstore in Paris, though I have never been anywhere in France. There are still parts of this book that elude me, but, still, it sticks with me.
  • Tell Me a Riddle, specifically the short story I stand here ironing- I think I stand here ironing might be my favorite piece of writing ever. It's not pretty or flowery. But it resonates like nothing else I've ever read.
  • The Year of Magical Thinking- this one is haunting, so much moreso than The Road. Both are about a kind of inevitability, but Joan Didion's book is somehow more piercing because she's telling her own story. Sometimes you think she is out of her mind, sometimes you think she is a genius. It perfectly recreates what happens when you suffer a major loss and are left behind to live.
  • Henderson the Rain King- I don't even know how to describe how much I will always love this book. There are characters in books that I've been fond of, and then, as I've gotten older, I've outgrown. Never with Henderson. If anything, I was amused by him when I was younger, and now I am convinced we are kin- messy, awkward, ambitious jacka$$es.
  • Beneath the Wheel- while a lot of people are found of Hesse's Siddhartha, for me, this book was a revelation. It was another case of reading it at just the right time in my life, but it stuck with me. Almost any Indian kid can appreciate this story, which is all about the crushing pressure academics sometimes places on young people.
  • My Antonia- I don't know. This book might stick with me for a single line in the novel. The writing is pretty, but also, I guess I am drawn to all of these stories that are about things not working out quite perfectly, quite ideally, but okay.
  • Bartleby the Scrivener- I aspire to dispatch people with a simple "I would prefer not to."
  • The Stranger- this book sticks with me because of the whole absurdist angle of it. There are times when we believe the universe is conspiring against us, but if you read Camus, you start to realize that the most important part is to be in on the joke.
  • Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing- this is another book that changed my life. A auntie gave it to me when my mother complained that I kept getting in trouble for humming or whistling during class. A auntie took one severe look at me and decided I was bored and gave me this book when I was in second grade. I became an avid reader after that. Also, it was particularly perfect that the broseph bore disturbing similarities to Fudge.
  • Metamorphosis- another absurdist tale. I was tied between this and Gogol's The Nose, but it's Metamorphosis that has more of a permanent mark on me. Strangely enough, it reminds me of Office Space.
  • Persuasion- because I have enough alcohol in my system to admit that there is a romantic buried underneath all that cold black coal.
  • The Corrections- because every single character in the book is a mess. And Franzen makes a point of dangling each one out as possibly the one that deserves your sympathy, and then proceeds to tear them down.
  • The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao- technically, I may have read this too recently to claim that it sticks with me, but I doubt it. The thing is, I've searched writing by Indian or Indian-American authors looking for exactly what Diaz ended up providing. Wao has this fresh and new quality, and it encapsulates life in the new world, the real world. I don't think I'll ever lose my appreciation for that, even if I can't properly articulate it with a little too much Grey Goose in my blood stream.

Hopefully that's fifteen. May I make a small request? I know I probably have hardly any readers at this point. But, if you do happen to be reading, and are so inclined, please leave in the comments at least one book that will always stick with you. Or if you care to post an entire list, even better. I'm genuinely interested.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to find my battery charger, so that I can actually post pictures of the cardamom ice cream that will be churning tomorrow.

No comments: