Book Reviews

Beyond my Blinkers – Subir Adhicary

By Aakanksha Kulkarni


I am a judgmental, cynical reader. I judge books on their cover, color combination, feel of flipping the book, font size, font type – blame it on the Designer Architect brain! So well I did the same with Beyond my Blinkers. Why is there a texture on the cover , it’s taking away from the main illustration, the main illustration – why the color. Oh I shouldn’t have picked up the book – I don’t like the font of the author name at all. And the biggest litmus test of all – random page flipping and random reading of a paragraph out of context. Well the book failed on all counts.

Thank god, for overtime I have become a mature reader, so as to understand that even Maugham used to take up the entire book to get to the end to impress, hence I thought of giving the book a shot. Subir Adhicary and his book does surprise and not shock. The book is a collection of anecdotes from the author’s life, that he puts forth in a lighter tone. It reminds me of Mother Pious Lady by Santosh Desai. What Desai did vis a vis India is what Adhicary tries to do in his book For Delhi and a few other parts of the country.

Author’s writing style is conversational. He writes like we talk, but I don’t think the author was trying to create a literary masterpiece of impeccable language or writing style. It helps make the book very easy to understand and read. He writes about things that all of us face and gives it a simple humorous touch. Now who doesn’t want to lighten up the life we all lead. To give you an example –

“ No no, Sir,’ I protested vehemently. “It’s not Krishna’s Dwarka. It is the DDA’s Dwarka. A living hell, Sir. No Water, no streetlights, no multiples, no security, no hospital. Only chain snatching, car jacking, promises and taxes,’I said. And you claimed to have stayed there for the last five years? ‘Yama Asked, with apparent awe and astonishment. ‘Yes, My Lord.,’I managed to say. Yama thought about this. Then, he said, ‘ Well as you have already served your time in hell, you need not revisit it’  

He has such gems throughout the book, in all his stories. Though he gives his audience very less credit for their brains, at a lot of points I feel he overexplains the joke or simplifies it too much. One would surely want to know the reason why ? Though his conversational style and the kind of book that he has written justifies it.Regardless, he makes you smile on a lazy Sunday and peps you up. It almost seems as if one is hanging out with friends over a cup of coffee and talking of life, things and vikings!

Overall a real fun read. The book is the result of wisdom attained by one who knows the joys of observing the world from a distance, if only at an arms length.

Delightfully carefree, but always very perceptive.

Good Reads link –



Book Reviews

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – by Mark Haddon

By Amrita Sharma

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.jpg

A 15 year old autistic boy investigating the murder of a dog!

That didn’t sound too promising to me at first glance.

But Christopher, our protagonist, wants to write about something “real” as he cannot lie.

And he cares about the dogs!

So, even though his teacher Siobhan tries to discourage him, Christopher decides to write about his investigations into the death of a dog

“Readers care more about people than dogs.” Siobhan tells Christopher. “So if a person was killed in the book, readers would want to carry on reading.”

Guess what, Siobhan.  You were mistaken!!! Readers would want to carry on reading this mystery novel, only to discover that the murder is not the only mystery here. Even though the dog is the only one murdered, it is not the only victim.

As he gets closer to the truth, Christopher begins to investigate certain personal mysteries and the reader finds not just an answer to the initial mystery of the dead dog but also a new understanding of life with autism

“Lots of things are mysteries. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer to them. It’s just that scientists haven’t found the answer yet.”

This novel is an account by narrator, Christopher Boone, of how his world is turned topsy-turvy by the death of his dog. He ventures on an adventurous and dangerous quest and manages to get the “murder mystery solved” halfway through the novel. But, instead of restoring order, this solution leads to the unfolding of such events that threaten the carefully maintained world of Christopher.

Christopher suffers from autistic spectrum disorder called Asperser’s syndrome which is a neurobiological disorder. He’s a mathematical genius and a whiz at science.  But human emotions are particularly complex for him. He hates being touched, even by his parents. He hates the colors brown and yellow, and if one foodstuff touches another while it is on his plate, he cannot eat it. He needs to have the world just-so…. or he will scream, hit, or moan for hours. He is at a school for “special needs”. This means he is taunted regularly by his peers, misunderstood by copious adults, and is mostly reliant on his friendship with Siobhan, the teacher who is guiding him through the writing of this autobiography.

 ‘All the children at my school are stupid. Except I’m not meant to call then stupid, even though this is what they are. I’m meant to say that they have learning difficulties or that they have special needs. But this is stupid because everyone has learning difficulties.  Because learning to speak French or understanding Relativity is difficult. And also, everyone has special needs. Like Father, who has to carry a little packet of artificial sweetening tablets around with him to put in his coffee to stop him getting fat, or Mrs. Peters who wears a beige-colored hearing aid, or Siobhan who has glasses so thick that they give you a headache if you borrow them, and none of these people are Special Needs, even if they have special needs

For Christopher, the desire for order and stability is a necessity of living. It is easy to feel sympathy and compassion for Christopher. We feel disappointed when those close to him fail to take his needs into account, even when they are trying to help him.

He needs an ordered and stable life to be happy and safe. But, come to think of it.  Don’t we all??? We, just like Christopher, would dislike being lied to on such a scale as he is here. Many of us would switch off, or like to, when faced with trauma. We often are in a position to not see what is staring at us in the face ~ or on the faces of others.  Christopher must learn to work with, and work through his abilities and disabilities, in order to accomplish the goals he sets for himself. He picks his way through, using a logical reasoning. He gets through truth and lies, fact and fiction, relationships with his parents and relationships with the outside world

And yet, the relationship of Christopher’s parents with their child and what being Christopher’s parents does to their relationship, is a fascinating subject and I think Haddon has handled it well. I felt the anguish of the parents trying to deal with a boy who doesn’t want to be touched or hugged even when in a distressed state.

As we peep into the life of his parents through Christopher’s eyes, we cannot but empathize with them. I can relate to the difficulties Christopher´s mother has with him and admire the way his father deals with the situation. Christopher was loved by his parents. But life isn’t easy, money is not plentiful and opportunities are limited.

This book is beautifully and thoughtfully presented too. You will find diagrams, drawings, letters and mathematical problems amongst the text. Small diagrams are used to better explain some of Christopher’s theories on life, the universe and everything, and these again are a simply yet clever way of keeping the book flowing.  You will probably learn a lot too, as I did. I now know much more about Science, logic, Sherlock Holmes and nature than before I had read this book. The title of this book is actually inspired from one of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Stories- Silver Blaze from The memoirs of Sherlock Homes.

Christopher’s’ investigations will cast some light on their world and on yours, perhaps. Full of faults and limited like all of us, people in this book appeared very real and very human to me as they went about coping with the world and all its stresses and trials.  As Mark Haddon said in an interview I found on the Guardian website.

It’s about how badly we communicate with one another. It’s about accepting that every life is narrow and that our only escape from this is not to run away (to another country, another relationship, a slimmer, more confident self) but to learn to love the people we are and the world in which we find ourselves.’

Refreshing, enlightening and ultimately heartwarming, this book is neither a murder mystery nor a book about aspersers. It’s a story about people, with a different perspective.  Looking at life from a different perspective enables us to realize that our circumstances can be different, yet life per se is essentially the same for everyone. We all carry our own personal Cross which was handed down to us by our circumstance. At the same time, we are also struggling with our individual weaknesses… (Physical, mental, social and psychological)…which put a limit to our ability to bear the cross

A lucky few, like the boy and his father in this novel, manage to overcome this. The mother is overwhelmed by the situation and still we find that we cannot help but sympathize with her because she DID try her best. Only trouble was that her best was not good enough.



Crafting Delight

Book Reviews

The Stranger in the Woods – Michael Finkel

By Vidurr Sharrma

Michael Finkel

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by author Michael Finkel.

Is a story of a man who at the age of 20 suddenly disappeares into the woods. “One day, just another day, Christopher Knight drove his car gave up and then his legs drove him to the jungle.”

Christopher Knight disappeared in the woods of rural Maine shortly after completing his graduation from high school & spent his next 27 years in the forest until he was caught by police. Nobody knows why he did that, why he exiled himself from society, why he did not want to be the part of world, to have family!

The story majorly narrates with elucidating his daily struggles for food, how he managed to break into houses to steal food and all the essentials he needs to survive in the tough jungle. His life was complete isolation and he was literally prepared to live in the woods and die in the woods. Unfortunate for him, in one of his acts of break Ins into camp sites, his hour of luck ran out and he was arrested. As he was quite famous for his regular heists, the story spread like a fire and this is how journalist Michael Finkel came in contact with Knight and ultimately it led to the writing of this book.

I really admire the hardwork which the author has  pulled in to collect Knight’s whole experience in the woods – showing us a different side of a life where a man left all the social pleasures and lived in complete isolation.

Well recommended ! 4 stars.

Book Reviews

The Giver – Lois Lowry

By Shabbir

The GIver

What does the perfect society look like?

Its an important question without an answer. Which is strange because the question is extremely basic.

We are humans and we ought to know what’s the best way to live in groups. Only we dont.

The Giver explores the question in a very unique way. Through describing a safe, efficient society set in the unknown future. Through telling first about everything that’s right with it, and then everything that’s not. Told with a simplicity children can understand (it is in fact a children’s book, and like all good children’s book, not limited by the reader’s age), it’s one of the stories that gets you thinking, about a question which has no answer. Maybe to bring home the realization that some questions just do not have an answer.

Book Reviews

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Review by Joseph Rai


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – a book about the joy of reading and letter writing. How can it possibly go wrong?

Just imagine that a book you once possessed has landed in the hands of another discerning reader. To your utmost surprise one day, you get a text message from the reader saying that he/she is in possession of your book and wants to connect. Of course you had scribbled your phone number in the book for reasons lost to you by now.

This sort of forms the premise of the magnificent epistolary romance/historical novel set in World War II.


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