Saturday, June 04, 2005

Hooked to the Bookah

"Some people read for instruction, which is praiseworthy, and some for pleasure, which is innocent, but not a few read from habit, and I suppose that this is neither innocent nor praiseworthy. Of that lamentable company am I."
Thus spake Somerset Maugham (in The Book Bag, short story) echoing my own thoughts.

My book reading began with, what else, Amar Chitra Katha, the treasure-house of Indian mythology. I have throughout lived with my grandparents, but they are not the story-telling kind; and these great comics compensated this loss to a considerable measure. My parents would get me a couple of them from the neighbourhood library on their daily walk, and that would account for my enjoyment for the evening.

The Number of Books I Own: Very few. I am a bibliophile all right, but I belong to that sub-class of the specie, called the librari-bibliophile. Most books I read were all borrowed from libraries. I can count on my fingers the books I personally bought. Which may not be surprising, given that I am yet to earn a single rupee. Things may change once I get a job of my own. Which may be soon, if things go well.

Fortunately, I have always had access to decent libraries. There was the Murugan Lending Library (a 10 minute walk from home), the source of my childhood readings. Our school had, not one, but three libraries! One each for Primary, Middle and Secondary Schools. (The latter had in its possession the complete set of the Collected Writings of Gandhi in 15 volumes or something - I am sure it must be the only school library in the whole country that does. Wonder if anybody even touched them.)

The US is verily a book-lover's paradise with its great public library system. The Mountain View Public Library (which I used to haunt) was well-stocked in all departments - fiction, nonfiction, comics, music and videos. Besides just the variety and excellent condition of the books, I loved the entire system - the self-checkout, the email reminders... It (if I may use the expression) rocked.

Needless to talk about the US university libraries. And the inter-library loan. The book which I could not track down in any Madras library, I found at last in the University of Pennsylvania - The Rajaji Story by Rajmohan Gandhi.

Last Book I Bought: Conceptual Blockbusting by James L Adams. (Got it for $1 from a second-hand book vendor at CMU.)

Last Book I Read: The Complete Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham (volumes 1 and 2). Maugham's stories are a wonderful study in human emotions. And great for restroom reading! Most stories are of just the right length for one session; and some, two.

Books That Mean a Lot to Me:

Classified by author.

  • Rabindranath Tagore: My first Tagore novel was Farewell, My Friend, a romantic novel peppered with wit, and with a beautiful ending. Gora, portrayal of a society in transition, and hence still very relevant in today's India. And who cannot be but touched on reading Cabuliwallah?
  • P G Wodehouse: I am, dash it, an avowed Plum fan. Jeeves is well known, but do read Psmith Journalist. Is there anything else? Very good, sir.
  • Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus is a rishi in his wisdom. A poignant story, seen through a child's eyes.
  • James Herriot: Delightful stories set in rural Yorkshire, on men and other animals. Get all of them!
  • Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs and Steel (non-fiction). An effort to find out why the human civilisation is as it is.
Books I didn't Complete: Mainly because they were intellectually too demanding to read on working days. Hope to pursue them at leisure.
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig
  • Godel, Escher and Bach, by Douglas Hofstadter.

A book tag has been doing the rounds on blogs. No-one has passed on the meme to me yet, but I have accepted Yazad Jal's open invitation ("All are welcome") and hence this post.

The custom is for me to tag some bloggers of my own. OK, let's see...

Girish, the ustad
Gocool, Microserf
Ramprasad (will he respond?)

[And, wait, should I mail them about the tag? Or should they come to know on their own? I am new to this game...]

I would like to invite all the readers of this post to do their own versions. Please do. And tell me when you are done!


Gokul Thirumalai said...

Uh-oh. I am an internet convert, and it's been a LONG time since I derived any pleasure from reading books.

I recently posted an entry on what I'm reading though -

I'll have to think long nad hard about this one, else I'll just have to live with being 'it'.

Sunil said...

since you are a Plum fan, i should tell you about WodehouseIndia, a fantastic yahoo group I belong to, that's full of Wodehouse fans (and some very brainy coves). If you're interested in knowing more about it, send me an email directly, and i'll give you the dirt, and hook you up.

charu said...

hey, did you live in adyar? i used to frequent a murugan lending library in adyar - the source of most of my childhood reading :)

Srikanth said...

Sunil, Thanks a lot! I shall soon post my first message to the group. Been a bit tied up... (equivalent of "I need to meet my advisor today!")

Hullo Charu,
Actually, I was in West Mambalam. As we know so well, Murugan, Saravana, etc are pretty common names around Madras!

RamV said...

hey srikanth,
thanks for the invite. will definitely be among my early posts as soon as my blog's up again.

btw, its at

Srikanth said...

Good to see you here, Ramprasad! I did see your relocation note at your old blog. I keep checking now and then.

Girish said...

HI srikanth... jus checkin out blog world after a long time... i am finally at iim-a now.. and inga naraiya velai irukku... edhaanum.. so lemme see how much time i can sneak in for blogging... take care da.. proud of all that u hav been doin.. kalakkara da.


Srikanth said...

Girish, many congratulations! Wonderful achievement man!

Do blog now and then when you have time - am eager to know what sort of work goes on at our premier institutions.

Anonymous said...

hey sri,
guess who ?This is shyam sundar and i hope you do remember me, i saw all your blogs and i should admit these are very well written.Keep me updated as to what you are up to?I am working as a SAP programmer at XANSA.nothing great about me....Seeya man.

Srikanth said...

Hey Shyam,

Thanks for coming by! And how are you? It's benn so long! Write more, man - Where did you go after school, etc. And keep dropping in here.

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