Book Reviews · Reading

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant Book Review

Book: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

#72 on the Telegraph’s 100 greatest novels of all time.

Grade: B

What is the book about?

The story is about Pearl’s life: her marriage, her 3 kids, their ups and downs, until her death.

Verdict:

I really enjoyed this book. I think out of all the books i read so far on this list, this is the most realistic life story so far. Any of these kids can be any one of us today. It was just so relatable, so very real.

Tyler’s writing is so comfortable and flows in such a beautiful way that it was really comforting picking up the book late at night after being locked up with my kids at home and the craziness of this lockdown.

True there wasn’t alot of things or action going on in this story, except life itself. A beautiful look into a family trying to make sense of life.

I honestly think more than the story itself, I loved Tyler’s writing and the comfort of it. I will definitely be reading more of her books in the future.

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Next book on the list:

The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin.

Book Reviews · Reading

All Quiet on the Western Front Book Review

Book: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

#73 on the Telegraph’s 100 books everyone should read.

Grade: B

What is the story about?

The story takes place in WWI, the deadliest and bloodiest of all wars. Paul Baumer and his friends were only 19 years old when enlisted, and they saw, lived, and endured the unthinkable.

Verdict:

Only a person who lived through combat can write such a realistic story as this. Even though it was such a heavy topic, I really enjoyed the thoughtfull conversations and discussions of the idea of war.

Paul explains that after the war, they will be a lost generation. The generation before them saw the war as a mere distraction. Even though they lived through the atrocities of war, they had a life they were attached to before. They had a job, a wife, a house, and maybe kids that they hope to get back to after the war.

The generation after them will only live with the aftermath of war. But Paul’s generation are lost. As they have nothing they were really attached to before the war. All they know is war. After it, what will they do? Where will they go?

There were alot of meaningful discussions and ideas about war and the rationale behind it. Though I didn’t enjoy the visual description of the many deaths and injuries, I did enjoy this book alot.

And i do agree with the statement written on the cover of the book. This is “the greatest war novel of all time.”

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Next book: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

Book Reviews · Reading

Waiting for the Mahatma Book Review

Book: Waiting for the Mahatma by RK Narayan


#74 on the Telegraph’s 100 greatest novels of all time.

Grade: B

What is the story about?


Sriram is an orphan raised by his grandma in South India. He became infatuated with a girl, Bharati, who happens to be one of Gandhi’s pupils. He leaves the comforts of his grandma’s home to join the Mahatma’s calling. Their love story intertwines with the historical facts of the Indian Continent at that time till the country got its independence from the British and the end of Gandhi.

Verdict:


Let me say, I really enjoyed this book. The story flowed beautifully and was very easy to read. Not just that, but it was very interesting too.

Sriram is very likable. He is an impressionable young man who fell for a beautiful woman and followed her into Gandhi’s service. At one point in the story, he wishes that she wasn’t a political activist and just a normal girl so he can easily marry her without obstacles.

This shows you that people can join a political movement or cult (not that Gandhi is a cult, far from it, I’m just saying in general), for different reasons, like a girl, and not just pure belief in the political agenda of that group.

Also when Sriram joined Gandhi, he was so adamant and committed to the non-violent nature of the movement but as soon as both Gandhi and Bharati were in jail, and he didn’t have a clear guide, he got influenced by others and became violent to reach the goal of “Quit India.”

But the best and most meaningful part to me in the story is the end.

I love how when things in the country were not going very well after the British left, Sriram said: “We ought to rejoice that it’s our own people that are blundering, isn’t that so?”

Then after the country’s independence, you can feel the start of the religious segregation. Like when Sriram was confronted by two thugs on the train going to Delhi. They were looking for Muslims to throw out of the train and he was spared because he was a Hindu.

But as the book goes on to describe, you can’t say that it’s this group who are aggressors or the other.

As Bharati explains: “what one community did in one part of the country brought suffering on the same community in another part of the country.”

I also loved how Gandhi changed the names of the refugee kids they took in to unbiased names such as fruit and flower names. “Even a number would be better than a name, if a name meant branding a man as of this religion or that.”

I really enjoyed this book. It was entertaining and was easy to read. It taught me a number of things about India’s history and shed some light on Gandhi’s teaching. But mostly, it made me think.

” Human beings have done impossible things to other human beings.”

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Next book on the list:

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque
Book Reviews · Reading

Cider with Rosie Book Review

Book: Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee


#75 on the Telegraph’s 100 novels everyone should read.

Grade: F

What is the story about?

Cider with Rosie is an autobiography. It is the first part of a trilogy covering Laurie’s life since birth, till he was about a teen.

Verdict:

Before reading this book, it was hard for me to imagine a 200 page story where almost nothing happens at all. There’s a first for everything I guess.

I didn’t realize the book was part of a trilogy until later, which kind of makes sense in a way. The entire book was an introduction to the trilogy.

So if you really like reading a 200 page introduction where things rarely happen, or like to listen to the older generation rambling nostalgically about the good old days, or would like to learn about Laurie Lee’s family, including 5 uncles, the color of his rooms wall or the length of the grass in their fields, then this is the book for you.

The only thing that happened in this book was the attempted rape of a disabled girl by Laurie and his gang. As there was no remorse after that whatsoever, it would’ve been better for him to just stick to the grass length of the hills and the color of mold on his school’s walls.

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Next read:

Waiting for the Mahatma by R.K. Narayan
Book Reviews · Reading

Catch-22 Book Review

Book: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

#77 on the Telegraph’s 100 greatest novels of all time.

Grade: C

What is the story about?

The book follows the story of Yossarian, a WWII American fighter plane pilot, and his many adventures and dilemmas along the way.

Verdict:

Me the first 100 pages or so:

I HATE this book! How will I possibly remember all these characters and their stories! How can anyone read 500 pages of a war satire?!

Me the rest of the book:

What do you know, I kinda like this kid. I kinda get what he’s feeling in this upside down world we’re living in and I must admit.. I am kinda enjoying this read.

I appreciated the moral battleground along with learning combat phrases like “milk run.”

Yossarian was “one good apple that can ruin the rest.” I enjoyed the moral predicament he was placed at the end .. what was the “right” thing to do and how he was tempted to take a “wrong” turn when everyone was telling him it was the correct thing to do. Haven’t we all faced situations like those?

This book wanted to show how messy war really is. Not just by death tolls, but how it distorts reality, how the lines are blurred, how opportunistic and greedy people can really be .. and the hypocrisy of it all.

** Spoiler **

Though a dense book to read, with many characters and many upside down conversations and events, I closed the book with a smile.

I hope Yossarian does reach Sweden and lives it up there with Orr .. living a straight forward, long, and peaceful life.

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Next book:

The trial by Franz Kafka.. looks like its going to be a dense read.

Book Reviews · Reading

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Book Review

Book: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol

# 78 on the Telegraph’s 100 greatest novels of all time.

Grade: D

What is the story about?

Follows Alice’s crazy adventures in her wonder land.

Verdict:

Very disappointed with this book. Had high expectations but it didn’t live up to its rep. I should’ve known .. I don’t usually like anything too whimsical.

You know I’m sure the book has a lot of hidden messages and a lot of morals and lessons.

Just like Lewis Carroll explains when Alice said to the Duchess that she can’t see the moral of her story .. the Duchess replied, “Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.”

So I’m sure Alice’s constant change in size has a moral, and the caterpillar with the hookah has a moral, and the smiling cat has a moral and the queen and her pack of cards have a moral .. even the trial about the tarts, I am sure, has a moral.

But to me, it was too crazy, too whimsical, too scattered, didn’t make much sense, and mostly just annoying.

Without any moral that i can find.

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Next book:

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Another classic that I never read and look forward to reading. Hope I’m not dissapointed again.

Book Reviews · Reading

Oscar and Lucinda Book Review

Book: Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey

#80 on the Telegraph’s 100 books everyone should read.

Grade: F

What is the story about?

I would like to say Oscar and Lucinda, but seeing that they only met page 270, not really convinced.

Verdict:

I usually average reading 2 novels a month, this took me around 4 months to finish. It was such a hard novel for me to finish as I didn’t feel any connection to it at all.

It was very confusing too. Each chapter is short, around 2 or 3 pages max; but each chapter has a different narrator or can jump between regions/time. It takes me awhile into a chapter to figure out what is actually going on or who/what I am reading about.

I almost feel bad for giving this book an F .. almost.

It shows that Mr. Carey tried his best, maybe he over tried. Mr. Carey himself says he was anxious while writing the novel. He says he “would take other books off the shelf to check my chapter length was ok.” Mr. Carey I am sorry to say that even though your chapter length was ok, your book length was not. The entire story could’ve been told in 100 pages or so, not 500.

The best way to describe what I feel about this is like watching an anxious cook who wants to get a Michelin star dish but ruins it by trying way too hard and overdoing it.

I can see that you tried, but i’m sorry to say Mr. Carey, you ruined your dish.

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Next book:

Wide Saragosa Sea by Jean Rhys.