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Friday, April 05, 2013

March Reading – Part 1

 

I started the month with a novel which I received from the author for review. It was not a very good read. Next, I managed to read some ACD stories (after a 2 month gap).

Next in the line was a non-fiction book which came for review from BlogAdda. It was the self-help book titled 'F?@K Knows' by Shailendra Singh. It turned out to be a very interesting reading experience. This was followed by several short stories from the big-fat volume titled "World's Great Selected Short Stories".

Next, I picked up a short novel 'Murder in Milk Case' by Candice Speare. I followed this with PKD stories and some stories from one of the Hitchcock series books.

Up next were the novella from the Three Investigators Crimebusters series and a Prof. Shonku story before another set of Hitchcock stories.

More than half the month was over before I picked up my first full length (500 pages) fiction novel of the month – The Sign by Raymond Khoury.

The month ended with more Hitchcock stories, a 3I novella and several O Henry stories.

New authors this month: Several new authors this month - Jayanand Ukey (Novel – When the Signal Turns Red), Shailendra Singh (Non-fiction self help book, F?@K Knows), Candice Speare (Novella – Murder in the Milk Case), Raymond Khoury (Novel – The Sign) and the various authors of the stories in the Hitchcock series.

This month's reading score is the best in the quarter – 40 – with novels, novellas and 35 short stories. One reason for the very high number of short stories is that the ones I am reading from WGS and O Henry are pretty short J sometimes just a couple of pages.

I also ordered the 4th Hitchcock book which I did not have (beside the other 3 books of the same series). I have still not been able to order the Munshi Premchand short story collections although I did manage to download a few of his stories in Hindi.  

 

1. Novel: When the Signal Turns Red by Jayanand Ukey

I did not have any high expectations from the novel but the story and the writing style turned out to be too bland for my taste. A simple love story affected by the recession. The novel could have been much better and I blame the publishers as much as the author for the debacle.

 

2. ACD Shorts: The Last Galley by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

A tale of heroism with elements of war, hope, ambition …

 

3. ACD Shorts: The Contest by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

The story of an unknown man who enters into a singing and musical contest with a man whom he considers as an idiot but whose is being applauded by the crowds

He does not know the man and makes the 'mistake' of challenging him. The identity of the man is revealed to the reader at the end of the story.

 

4. ACD Shorts: Through the Veil by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

A couple visits an archeological site and the lady begins to have some visions of an era gone by. What begins as some flashes become full-fledged memories; and towards the end of the story, even her husband makes an appearance in her vision. They leave the site and get back to their normal life. The visions stop … but their lives are irrevocably changed.

 

5. Non-Fiction Self-Help Book: F?@K Knows by Shailendra

This is a self-help book written in a very different style. The philosophy of life and how to live through it is aptly summarized in the title of the book. The title 'F?@K Knows' is the all-pervasive ANSWER to all those ridiculous 'Why Me?' questions we keep troubling ourselves with … and many more of course.

The book does not have new content. If you have read a couple of 'self-help' books, you would find that the book repeats the general funda BUT there is a huge difference. F?@K. The book reiterates the same age-old fundas in a manner which the generation of today find easy to understand and digest since it does in their language where the F-word makes more appearances than the common word 'the'.

 

6. WGS Shorts: Silence – A Fable by Edgar Allan Poe

A strange tale about the Demon and silence that pervades Hell … and people's lives

 

7. WGS Shorts: The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe

The story has an artist and his obsession for his art and his love for a lady. The story is how the artist is consumed by his art and tries to combine his art and lady love … with horrible results.

 

8. WGS Shorts: A Lively Friend by Guy De Maupassant

A couple makes a friend who comes visiting them at their home. A sweet nice lively fellow; so lively that the couple eventually has to escape from their own home

 

9. WGS Shorts: He? by Guy De Maupassant

The story of a man who is scared of his own loneliness and own self. He narrates his horror experience and how he transformed from a normal fearless guy to a man scared of his own loneliness.

 

10. WGS Shorts: The Death of an Official by Anton Chekhov

What happens when you accidentally sneeze into someone's face? You apologize and the matter ends. But alas, such is not the case with the protagonist of our story, a minor government official. He accidentally sneezes right onto the bald head of a General. He apologizes but the General dismisses it. He understands the accidental sneeze and forgets about it. The protagonist however cannot forget or forgive himself and pays a heavy price.

 

To be continued …

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