Being an avid reader, the probability of finding more than two books on my ‘currently reading’ shelf, at any given point of time of year, is always one. Currently, I am reading four titles in parallel. This urge to read titles in parallel comes from yet another deep-seated urge to know maximum in minimum possible time. This deep-seated urge comes from the insecurity that while I read one book, the “world” would have read hundreds of titles and I will be left behind. I do not like being left behind. I like to take charge and to explore the unexplored before anyone else. This deep-seated insecurity has led me to read many many many titles. I recollect that this year I have read around 50 books. Should I list them all? I will. Some titles I might not recall verbatim, so I will have to make references to my library card history, ibooks library, kindle library and goodreads [on which I got active just recently]. However, this post is about the four titles I am currently reading.
1. The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte (Volume 1 of 4) by William Sloane: My father introduced me to Napoleon Bonaparte in my childhood days. He made up a story around it, may be to get me out of the inferiority complex of being a little shorter in height in school days. “Bona” in colloquial Hindi means – “of short height or dwarf”. I think you can now guess the little false story. I had read “The Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte” by Robert Asprey in my college days. The book is concise account of the great emperor and is full of effusive praises. It captures his journey from Corsica to Austerlitz i.e. his rise as the King of the French. This year, I felt need of looking into the life of the great emperor with academic precision. And mostly I was interested to know about the milieu of the time when Napoleon did a coup d’état. Hence, the current book! William Sloane’s book is dispassionate account of the King of the French. The author, with his beautiful prose, walks us through the life and times of Napoleon. He has presented the French milieu at the time of Napoleon, and the events that led to his rise. The first volume is more about the milieu than the emperor himself. Men are not born great, they reach the greathood in testing times. This book is an ample proof.
2. Essays in the Art of Writing by Robert Louis Stevenson– This is a book on a technical subject matter, as a patent attorney would put it. To me the book is like Stevenson revealing secret of his brilliant writings. He gives rare insights into the choice of words, the rhythm of a phrase, the pattern of the phrase and the content of the phrase. He has proven with academic precision that writing verse is easier than writing prose. I hope I internalise this book and actually reduce learnings from it to practice. The book is written in a style which is distinctive of Stevenson. I know about the author from Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. It is only now that I have come to know of his other works, and recently downloaded his Essays on Travel on ibooks.
3. de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme by Miguel de Cervantes (Translated by Charles Jarvis) – Many might be able to guess that the book I am referring to is The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha. The spanish phrase that I have hyperlinked to the book text translates to English to mean “whose name I do not wish to recall”; the phrase is in the opening sentence of the story. The spanish phrase is quite popular, I knew it even before I knew whence it came. I found out that the translation that I am reading of this great Spanish work of literature is not the best one. But this is the only one available on Google Play. I am currently on 7th Chapter of Part 1. The book is engaging, witty and humorous. I wish I could read it in the language it was written, to laugh some more. When the sources of laughter are limited, or if your life has expunged all that caused you to laugh, get to this book. Never for a second will the smile disappear and regular laughters are certain!
4. Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins – First of all, I am reading paper edition of this book and not an ibook or e-book or Kindle or Google Play edition. I picked it up at a book shop because of the title, because of the subtitle and because of the fact that the title, subtitle and the chapters under this title and subtitle were all written by Richard Dawkins. In the book, Richard Dawkins is telling Keats that science and its increasing knowledge has not killed poetry or other fine arts; have rather given more for imagination. An honest confession: I felt same even before I picked up this book. But Dawkins has his own combative way of telling this to people. It is a very interesting book. And I am mostly reading it for inspiring myself to write ‘scientifically conducive poetry’. For example in my poem (if you want to call it so) “Ringing Hollowness“, I have this line: “Its shrill shakes my heart and soul to their bosons”. I have been writing scientifically conducive poetry much before I picked this book, for example, the one I posted recently, which I had written last year, around 2-3 months after discovery of Higgs boson.