Opinion & Featured Articles

Just Delivered: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms George R.R. Martin

Alright, this is not a review because I am yet to read the book.

If you are into Game of Thrones, this is something you should not skip (just making an educated guess). The book is a prequel to The Songs of Ice and Fire series and is a collection of the following three novellas:

1) The Hedge Knight
2) The Sworn Sword
3) The Mystery Knight

Just the thought that the Targaryens still hold the Iron Throne gives me goosebumps.

The illustrations by Gary Gianni are top notch.

Just got this book from Amazon, and this post is basically a shameless show-off of my excitement 🙂

If you have already read the book, do share your thoughts on it.

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Opinion & Featured Articles

My New Bookcase

 

ul

Alright, here is my new bookshelf. The store calls it Aberdeen Bookcase. This one is somewhat modern. My other bookcases are quite traditional library like things.

I have three more shelves and all squeezed in a single room due to space crunch. For good or for worse, they cannot accommodate any more stuff.  That’s when books started piling up on the floor.

The homeless books piled on the floor now finally have a shelter. Still leaves me with a bit of space in the shelf and a lot of space on the floor to pile more books 🙂

How do you like it? Would love to see some pictures of personal libraries of fellow bibliophiles.

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Opinion & Featured Articles

Treasure Hunt at Local Book Fair

Book fair

Merry Christmas and a very happy new year in advance.

During this time of the year, we have a local book fair hosted in my part of the city. This is a kind of warm up to the International Kolkata Book Fair (world’s largest non-trade book fair). Bought myself a few bookish presents 🙂

Okay, here’s the lot:

Great Cases of Interpol by Reader’s Digest Association

A top notch collection of real life cases with photos and illustrations. “Not to be read in a single sitting” as my favorite editorial duo Mr Wagner and Mr Wise often suggests for anthologies. Too generous a ration of crime may defeat its intended purpose.

Great Cases of Interpol by Reader's Digest Association

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Okay, I admit I haven’t read it.  It has become a bedtime partner since yesterday and seems like a modern Dickensian work. Bought it for what would be about $2.00 in US currency. Can’t stop congratulating myself. The deal itself was worth the delay. Dash it, it wasn’t.

strange

Reader’s Digest Illustrated Story of World War II

Being a history buff, I am rather happy that I bought this one. Definitely not for scholars and provides just an overview of WW II, but makes an interesting presentation with lots of rare pictures.

world war 2

A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proofby Roger Clarke
That’s my favorite subject again. Not just a piece of fiction but some real life facts on a creepy topic. Not sure how this would turn out, I have not read any non-fiction work on the supernatural. Keeping my fingers crossed.

a natural history of ghosts by roger clarke

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad

Any bookish party is incomplete without vintage, fragile penguins. So here they are. Haven’t read them, but they are already my favorites.

So what do you think of the lot? What have you bought this Christmas?

penguin

 
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Opinion & Featured Articles

Top 5 Fantasy Worlds to Visit

 

fantasy

Note: Back again from a disturbed slumber. Hope you are still there.
—————————
You always wanted to be there. You always dreamed of being there. You’d leave all you’ve got just to be there, once and for all.

If you were offered a one way trip to the spectacular, fantastic places you discovered in the books, where would you go? Would you be a wizard, a warrior, an Emperor or a damsel in distress?

Here are a few options in no particular order:

cimmeria

Conan’s Cimmeria

“It was so long ago and far away …
Cimmeria, land of Darkness and the Night.”

Robert E. Howard:

For an eternal savage longing to wield his sword, the sinister continent of Cimmeria is the place to be. Thanks to Tolkien and his faithful sidekicks, 20th century had had its share of fruity elves and Rivendellesque places. If you are a peerless warrior or a real badass, you want to wake up in the frozen wastes of war-like Cimmeria.

westeros

Westeros

You can hate it or may love it but the blood soaked, treacherous land of Westeros cannot be kept out of the equation. Accusations are GRR Martin just re-imagined Britain roughly around the time of the War of the Roses. He simply studied a period of history and ripped it off. Well, he did it damn good. Westeros is certainly more alive and believable than a lot others of its kind. If you are a strategic statesman born in the wrong age, plan a time travel to Westeros for a game of thrones. You win or you die.

barsoom

Barsoom

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom could be in the list simply because of the number of rip offs it inspired. Right from Lin Carter to Michael Moorcock, Barsoom has inspired a generation of writers as deeply as it has affected the imagination of the readers. The ridiculously unbelievable yet immensely entertaining and evocative world building is just irresistible. So what if I am worthless in this world? My future lies in a world away.

narnia

Narnia

Lewis’ Narnia is widely considered by critics as one of the most consistent and internally sound example of world building. It does seem to have its own philosophy and preaching, but Lewis somehow makes it easy for the readers to escape to Narnia with a kind of homely magic that we do not commonly find in the Lord of the Rings or even Harry Potter. And of course, the landscape of Narnia comforts you with an optimism that is rare in the real world. Let the peaceful among us find shelter in Lewis’ magical realm.

lord of the rings

Middle-earth

Let them say you walked with the giants and dwelt in the Middle-earth. Tolkien’s Middle-earth has stood the onslaught of a number accusations including but not limited to being cold, barren and boring, and written in wooden language. Nonetheless, it has transcended over others to become a piece of art. The rich and detailed world building is simply awe inspiring. Anyone who doesn’t like it is clearly an Orc.

So what’s your favorite fictional world? And what role would you like to play there?
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News from the Book World / Opinion & Featured Articles

The 100 Greatest Novels of All Time: A List by The Guardian

 

Sometime back we shared 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime: A List by Amazon on The Book Haven. Here is another list by The Guardian and this one is quite different from Amazon’s list. What’s your take on it?

Check out the list on The Guardian.

  1.  Don Quixote Miguel De Cervantes
    The story of the gentle knight and his servant Sancho Panza has entranced readers for centuries.
  2. Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan
    The one with the Slough of Despond and Vanity Fair.
  3. Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe
    The first English novel.
  4. Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift
    A wonderful satire that still works for all ages, despite the savagery of Swift’s vision.
  5. Tom Jones Henry Fielding
    The adventures of a high-spirited orphan boy: an unbeatable plot and a lot of sex ending in a blissful marriage.
  6. Clarissa Samuel Richardson
    One of the longest novels in the English language, but unputdownable.
  7. Tristram Shandy Laurence Sterne
    One of the first bestsellers, dismissed by Dr Johnson as too fashionable for its own good.
  8. Dangerous Liaisons Pierre Choderlos De Laclos
    An epistolary novel and a handbook for seducers: foppish, French, and ferocious.
  9. Emma Jane Austen
    Near impossible choice between this and Pride and Prejudice. But Emma never fails to fascinate and annoy.
  10. Frankenstein Mary Shelley
    Inspired by spending too much time with Shelley and Byron.
  11. Nightmare Abbey Thomas Love Peacock
    A classic miniature: a brilliant satire on the Romantic novel.
  12. The Black SheepHonoré De Balzac
    Two rivals fight for the love of a femme fatale. Wrongly overlooked.
  13. The Charterhouse of Parma Stendhal
    Penetrating and compelling chronicle of life in an Italian court in post-Napoleonic France.
  14. The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas
    A revenge thriller also set in France after Bonaparte: a masterpiece of adventure writing.
  15. Sybil Benjamin Disraeli
    Apart from Churchill, no other British political figure shows literary genius.
  16. David Copperfield Charles Dickens
    This highly autobiographical novel is the one its author liked best.
  17. Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë
    Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff have passed into the language. Impossible to ignore.
  18. Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë
    Obsessive emotional grip and haunting narrative.
  19. Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray
    The improving tale of Becky Sharp.
  20. The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne
    A classic investigation of the American mind.
  21. Moby-Dick Herman Melville
    ‘Call me Ishmael’ is one of the most famous opening sentences of any novel.
  22. Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
    You could summarise this as a story of adultery in provincial France, and miss the point entirely.
  23. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins
    Gripping mystery novel of concealed identity, abduction, fraud and mental cruelty.
  24. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland Lewis Carroll
    A story written for the nine-year-old daughter of an Oxford don that still baffles most kids.
  25. Little Women Louisa M. Alcott
    Victorian bestseller about a New England family of girls.
  26. The Way We Live Now Anthony Trollope
    A majestic assault on the corruption of late Victorian England.
  27. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
    The supreme novel of the married woman’s passion for a younger man.
  28. Daniel Deronda George Eliot
    A passion and an exotic grandeur that is strange and unsettling.
  29. The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoevsky
    Mystical tragedy by the author of Crime and Punishment.
  30. The Portrait of a Lady Henry James
    The story of Isabel Archer shows James at his witty and polished best.
  31. Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
    Twain was a humorist, but this picture of Mississippi life is profoundly moral and still incredibly influential.
  32. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson
    A brilliantly suggestive, resonant study of human duality by a natural storyteller.
  33. Three Men in a Boat Jerome K. Jerome
    One of the funniest English books ever written.
  34. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde
    A coded and epigrammatic melodrama inspired by his own tortured homosexuality.
  35. The Diary of a Nobody George Grossmith
    This classic of Victorian suburbia will always be renowned for the character of Mr Pooter.
  36. Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy
    Its savage bleakness makes it one of the first twentieth-century novels.
  37. The Riddle of the Sands Erskine Childers
    A prewar invasion-scare spy thriller by a writer later shot for his part in the Irish republican rising.
  38. The Call of the Wild Jack London
    The story of a dog who joins a pack of wolves after his master’s death.
  39. Nostromo Joseph Conrad
    Conrad’s masterpiece: a tale of money, love and revolutionary politics.
  40. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
    This children’s classic was inspired by bedtime stories for Grahame’s son.
  41. In Search of Lost Time Marcel Proust
    An unforgettable portrait of Paris in the belle Ă©poque. Probably the longest novel on this list.
  42. The Rainbow D. H. Lawrence
    Novels seized by the police, like this one, have a special afterlife.
  43. The Good Soldier Ford Madox Ford
    This account of the adulterous lives of two Edwardian couples is a classic of unreliable narration.
  44. The Thirty-Nine Steps John Buchan
    A classic adventure story for boys, jammed with action, violence and suspense.
  45. Ulysses James Joyce
    Also pursued by the British police, this is a novel more discussed than read.
  46. Mrs Dalloway Virginia Woolf
    Secures Woolf’s position as one of the great twentieth-century English novelists.
  47. A Passage to India EM Forster
    Forster’s great love song to India.
  48. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
    The quintessential Jazz Age novel.
  49. The Trial Franz Kafka
    The enigmatic story of Joseph K.
  50. Men Without Women Ernest Hemingway
    He is remembered for his novels, but it was the short stories that first attracted notice.
  51. Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Celine
    The experiences of an unattractive slum doctor during the Great War: a masterpiece of linguistic innovation.
  52. As I Lay Dying William Faulkner
    A strange black comedy by an American master.
  53. Brave New World Aldous Huxley
    Dystopian fantasy about the world of the seventh century AF (after Ford).
  54. Scoop Evelyn Waugh
    The supreme Fleet Street novel.
  55. USA John Dos Passos
    An extraordinary trilogy that uses a variety of narrative devices to express the story of America.
  56. The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler
    Introducing Philip Marlowe: cool, sharp, handsome – and bitterly alone.
  57. The Pursuit Of Love Nancy Mitford
    An exquisite comedy of manners with countless fans.
  58. The Plague Albert Camus
    A mysterious plague sweeps through the Algerian town of Oran.
  59. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
    This tale of one man’s struggle against totalitarianism has been appropriated the world over.
  60. Malone Dies Samuel Beckett
    Part of a trilogy of astonishing monologues in the black comic voice of the author of Waiting for Godot.
  61. Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
    A week in the life of Holden Caulfield. A cult novel that still mesmerises.
  62. Wise Blood Flannery O’Connor
    A disturbing novel of religious extremism set in the Deep South.
  63. Charlotte’s Web EB White
    How Wilbur the pig was saved by the literary genius of a friendly spider.
  64. The Lord Of The Rings J. R. R. Tolkien
    Enough said!
  65. Lucky Jim Kingsley Amis
    An astonishing debut: the painfully funny English novel of the Fifties.
  66. Lord of the Flies William Golding
    Schoolboys become savages: a bleak vision of human nature.
  67. The Quiet American Graham Greene
    Prophetic novel set in 1950s Vietnam.
  68. On the Road Jack Kerouac
    The Beat Generation bible.
  69. Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
    Humbert Humbert’s obsession with Lolita is a tour de force of style and narrative.
  70. The Tin Drum Günter Grass
    Hugely influential, Rabelaisian novel of Hitler’s Germany.
  71. Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
    Nigeria at the beginning of colonialism. A classic of African literature.
  72. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Muriel Spark
    A writer who made her debut in The Observer – and her prose is like cut glass.
  73. To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee
    Scout, a six-year-old girl, narrates an enthralling story of racial prejudice in the Deep South.
  74. Catch-22 Joseph Heller
    ‘He would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.’
  75. Herzog Saul Bellow
    Adultery and nervous breakdown in Chicago.
  76. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez
    A postmodern masterpiece.
  77. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont Elizabeth Taylor
    A haunting, understated study of old age.
  78. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy John Le Carré
    A thrilling elegy for post-imperial Britain.
  79. Song of Solomon Toni Morrison
    The definitive novelist of the African-American experience.
  80. The Bottle Factory Outing Beryl Bainbridge
    Macabre comedy of provincial life.
  81. The Executioner’s Song Norman Mailer
    This quasi-documentary account of the life and death of Gary Gilmore is possibly his masterpiece.
  82. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller Italo Calvino
    A strange, compelling story about the pleasures of reading.
  83. A Bend in the River VS Naipaul
    The finest living writer of English prose. This is his masterpiece: edgily reminiscent of Heart of Darkness.
  84. Waiting for the Barbarians JM Coetzee
    Bleak but haunting allegory of apartheid by the Nobel prizewinner.
  85. Housekeeping Marilynne Robinson
    Haunting, poetic story, drowned in water and light, about three generations of women.
  86. Lanark Alasdair Gray
    Seething vision of Glasgow. A Scottish classic.
  87. The New York Trilogy Paul Auster
    Dazzling metaphysical thriller set in the Manhattan of the 1970s.
  88. The BFG Roald Dahl
    A bestseller by the most popular postwar writer for children of all ages.
  89. The Periodic Table Primo Levi
    A prose poem about the delights of chemistry.
  90. Money Martin Amis
    The novel that bags Amis’s place on any list.
  91. An Artist of the Floating World Kazuo Ishiguro
    A collaborator from prewar Japan reluctantly discloses his betrayal of friends and family.
  92. Oscar And Lucinda Peter Carey
    A great contemporary love story set in nineteenth-century Australia by double Booker prizewinner.
  93. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting Milan Kundera
    Inspired by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, this is a magical fusion of history, autobiography and ideas.
  94. Haroun and the Sea of Stories Salman Rushdie
    In this entrancing story Rushdie plays with the idea of narrative itself.
  95. LA Confidential James Ellroy
    Three LAPD detectives are brought face to face with the secrets of their corrupt and violent careers.
  96. Wise Children Angela Carter
    A theatrical extravaganza by a brilliant exponent of magic realism.
  97. Atonement Ian McEwan
    Acclaimed short-story writer achieves a contemporary classic of mesmerising narrative conviction.
  98. Northern Lights Philip Pullman
    Lyra’s quest weaves fantasy, horror and the play of ideas into a truly great contemporary children’s book.
  99. American Pastoral Philip Roth
    For years, Roth was famous for Portnoy’s Complaint . Recently, he has enjoyed an extraordinary revival.
  100. Austerlitz W. G. Sebald
    Posthumously published volume in a sequence of dream-like fictions spun from memory, photographs and the German past.

 
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News from the Book World / Opinion & Featured Articles

The Deadly Bookish Tank

free-book-tank-library-weapon-of-mass-instruction-raul-lemesoff-9

To celebrate World Book Day on 5th March, Raul Lemesoff — an artist from Argentina — has created what he calls “Arma de Instruccion Masiva” or Weapon of Mass Instruction. This is a travelling library he intends to use to combat ignorance and spread knowledge. For this campaign, Raul has visited remote, impoverished towns in Argentina where almost half the children do not have the privilege of going to school.

What exactly is this weapon? It’s a 1979 Ford Falcon that has a rotating turret, a pseudo gun and about 900 books, which include poetry, novels and biographies. Raul offers books for free and his only request to people is to read the book he has given them. Isn’t that great?

Apart from promoting knowledge and education, this symbolic campaign also aims to “to contribute to peace through literature.” Awesome work Mr Lemesoff.

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