The Dream of a Ridiculous Man – Fyodor Dostoevsky

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“A dream is a strange thing. Pictures appear with terrifying clarity, the minutest details engraved like pieces of jewelry, and yet we leap unawares through huge abysses of time and space.”

 This is a short story by Fyodor Dostoyevsky written in 1877. It chronicles the experiences of a man who decides that there is nothing of any value in the world. – Wikipedia

The journey of a man from a nihilist to a believer, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man walks us through his suicidal inclinations, a small encounter that changes the course of a lifetime, a sudden sleep, a vivid dream, travel through space and time, a parallel universe, corruption, social constructs, a change of mind and the attainment of ‘truth’.

Dostoevsky writes this story based on his own experience; a dream that changed his view on life and the human condition. He examines the self intensely, asks questions that he seemingly can’t get answers to and when he does, rejects the notion of knowledge being more important than love. He maintains the belief that suffering gives life meaning and changes us, how we interact with the world.

“On our earth we can only love sincerely with suffering and through suffering. We do not know how to love any other way and know no other love. I want to suffer so that I can love.”

This short story is also full of allusions to Christian faith; a figure of grace, references to crucifixion, humanity’s ‘fall from grace’ shows a hint of the fall from Eden, and the realization “love others as you love yourself.”

A work that untangles fold by fold and seeks to talk about a multitude of themes, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man is a compelling story on nihilism, faith and humanity.

~ Saadia

 

 

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Being a better person

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Being a better person,

falling into the skin of a better ‘you’

is what takes most courage,

 

We can be our truest, most authentic selves,

if we rest in the belief

that we are capable and we are enough,

 

we can realize our potential for greatness,

if we don’t hold on to everything that passes us by,

but let the weight go

when it isn’t meant to stay.

~ Saadia

Loss of meaning & Loneliness

Life seems to mean so little,

in our cities of material excess,

the silk curtains that keep the light out

are our cages,

our narrow circles, our shackles.

 

Yet we are happy with false friendships

and falser values,

we register a heavenly day

when the sun has already set,

and so we trudge back to our now comfortable cells.

 

We’ve been deceived by billboards

and the American dream,

in a world of hyper-connectivity,

we are lonelier than we’ve ever been.

~ Saadia

 

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare – Book Review

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Lady Midnight is a young adult urban fantasy novel by Cassandra Clare. The book follows the events that occur in the Los Angeles area in 2012, focusing on the residents of the Los Angeles Institute. ~ Wikipedia

Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Paranormal fiction

Review: The title is apt as it points to the central mystery that is unfolded throughout the book.

Cassandra Clare’s writing style is engrossing and seamless but her plot suffers from repetition of patterns that the reader has already witnessed in The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments. The ideas of being ‘cursed’ and ‘forbidden love’ are used again and again till they become wearisome and bring down the level of the book. Most of the motivations and fears she’d used in her previous series appear again and create patterns that make the story lag. As The Odyssey writes, “Clare writes heroines as strong as they are stubborn, and boys as tortured as they are handsome.” I rated this book 3.5/5 stars.

While the story arc has always been a problem for Clare, her character building is stunning yet again, she makes the reader care for and fall in love with the characters. The side characters have their own quirks, issues and personalities which stand out distinctly. This book has autism and body image issues (possibly BDD) representation.

Julian and his parent’s love for art makes this book more humane and endearing.

“These pictures are my heart. And if my heart was a canvas, every square inch of it would be painted over with you.” 

As with the Infernal Devices, family bonds are shown in a raw and unflinching manner while true friendship is also portrayed beautifully. The loyalty that Shadowhunters show to their own is heart-warming and heartbreaking in equal parts.

“You belong where you’re loved.” 

Clare does not shy away from showing the true dysfunctional, chaotic side to families or the bittersweet relationship of siblings. The way responsibility and confinement of a family are shown makes this book cherished and true to life.

“When you love someone, they become a part of who you are. They’re in everything you do. They’re in the air you breathe and the water you drink and the blood in your veins. Their touch stays on your skin and their voice stays in your ears and their thoughts stay in your mind. You know their dreams because their nightmares pierce your heart and their good dreams are your dreams too. And you don’t think they’re perfect, but you know their flaws, the deep-down truth of them, and the shadows of all their secrets, and they don’t frighten you away; in fact you love them more for it, because you don’t want perfect. You want them.”

Themes:

  • Urban Fantasy
  • Paranormal
  • Family & Friendship
  • Forbidden love
  • Action & Adventure

Get it on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/2xFi7Ti

Happy reading and have a wonderful day

~ Saadia

Lord of the Flies by William Golding – Book Review

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The book focuses on a group of British boys stranded on an uninhabited island and their disastrous attempt to govern themselves.

Genre: Allegorical, Psychological Novel, Young Adult fiction

Review: 

The plot is stagnant for the 1st 130 pages, the middle of the book stretched out unnecessarily. This makes the characters feel under-developed during throughout these pages. It was tedious to get through and the narration seemed monotonous for majority of the novel. I rated it 2/5 stars.

The ending is very detailed and graphic, propelling the story forward all of a sudden and the build up of the moral degradation of the young characters finally culminates in savagery. In my opinion, this should’ve happened sooner to limit the stretch of the tedious chapters that seem to add nothing to drive the plot onward.

I agree with the critics that have claimed the book to be “too abstract”. One only begins to appreciate the allegorical aspects of the book when looked through the author’s eyes.

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”

“The thing is – fear can’t hurt you any more than a dream.”

“He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one’s waking life was spent watching one’s feet.”

“They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling unable to communicate.”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2G0HpzQ

~ Saadia

The Tidy Guide to Publishing your Novel by Rachel Aukes – Book Review

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This book aims to provide actionable and concise tips and processes to publishing your novel.

Review: Aukes starts off the book by delivering information about the various forms of publishing; publishing houses or self-publishing or the ways that lie in-between. This throws light on both the traditional and the new forms of issuing your book. I rated this book 3.5/5 stars.

This book provides information about what you need to keep in mind about imprints within a publishing house, the editor’s part in publishing, the significance of having an agent and the importance of keeping the book rights indisputably yours.

In the last half of the book, the author provides precise, concrete steps to follow while publishing your book.

Buy it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2X8wiue

~ Saadia

The Tidy Guide to Self-Editing Your Novel by Rachel Aukes – Book Review

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This book seeks to provide clear-cut and practical tips to editing your novel.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Review: Following the pattern of the preceding book ‘The tidy guide to writing a novel,’  this book follows a clear, organised method to self editing your novel. This method is divided into headings and sub headings in a chronological order so that the reader may follow this step-by-step guide as they progress. This prevents the reader from getting lost in a theoretical pile and helps in better execution of the information.

This book helps the reader get acquainted with the different obstacles one has to face while editing and the practices that help overcome these hindrances. The author further addresses each heading/ element of editing separately, providing insight on the questions we should ask ourselves while editing and the loopholes we must avoid. The author also mentions snags, overused words and styles one must abstain from.

This book ends with a list of tips regarding replacement and removal of words and the usage of numbers while writing. Further, being a concise, 30 minute read, this book proves to be convenient and swiftly applicable.

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2J6qrk1

~ Saadia

 

 

Top 10 books for Beginners / New Readers

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Here’s a list of books with a lucid/ easy to understand writing style, no complex world-building and yet are deeply impactful. These are perfect for new readers or beginners searching for simple books to start with. Having said that, these are also some of the best books I’ve ever read.

  1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: This book tells the story of a boy struggling to cope with the consequences of his mother’s illness. Written in the most simplest of manners, it is an easy and gripping read (under 214 pages.) This book is a work of art, showcasing how simplicity is indeed the ultimate sophistication.

And if no one sees you, are you really there at all?

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RrKfCd

2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: Set in war-torn Afghanistan, this mesmerizing, fast paced and heartbreaking novel is a rollercoaster of emotions, mostly anger, at a dysfunctional society made more so by war. It weaves together social stigma, sisterhood, loss, love for one’s country, the role of women in the Afghan society, self-sacrifice, hope and trauma. This may seem like a daunting novel but it’ll make you love reading like no other book can.

” One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs or the thousand splendid suns that hid behind her walls” – Al Beruni

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/31MDwre

3. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella: tells the story of a teenage girl suffering from acute social anxiety and depression and how her life changes for the better. This book is written in a simple, easy to understand, fast-paced manner; with inserts of text messages, making it more interesting. Even though it deals with a hard topic, it is a fun read that one keeps coming back to.

“The trouble is, depression doesn’t come with handy symptoms like spots and a temperature, so you don’t realize it at first. You keep saying ‘I’m fine’ to people when you’re not fine. You think you should be fine. You keep saying to yourself: ‘Why aren’t I fine?”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2L0rULz

4. The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling: Written in a charming, imaginative manner, this series is an upward graph for a new reader. I read the 7 books in a week when I first got my hands on it and reread them from time to time. These books have been spellbinding (pun intended) for millions of people worldwide and are on the top of the ‘books you should read before you die’ list.

“Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one that rises against them and strikes back”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ZC0aRw

5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: A beautiful, hard-hitting and coming of age book following Eleanor, a chubby, 16-year-old girl with curly red hair, and Park, a half-Korean, 16-year-old boy; this book deals with different social classes, domestic abuse and young love. It is a one of a kind book which makes the reader come back to it again and again.

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Rn050W

6. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordian: Equal parts fun and profound, Rick Riordian’s writing style is a gift to mankind. His characters are beautifully written, the story arc executed with immense skill and his books are perfect for middle-graders, young-adults and adults alike.

“Wow,” Thalia muttered. “Apollo is hot.” 
“He’s the sun god,” I said.
“That’s not what I meant.” 

Get Book 1 on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ZGybAd

7. The Famous Five Series by Enid Blyton: The most concise and fun adventures are found within the pages of this series, each book around 200 pages. These books leave you refreshed and satisfied with beautiful countryside imagery, delicious food and marvelous exploits.

“The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping-stones. Laugh at them, tread on them, and let them lead you to something better.” 

Get Book 1 on Amazon for Rs 158: https://amzn.to/2ZJtMfV

8. The Outsiders by S.E Hinton: One the best books I read this year, this outstanding coming-of-age novel is equal parts adventure and revealing of society’s brutal follies. Dealing with gang-culture, dysfunctional families, drug abuse and adolescence, this book will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

“Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.” 

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Y4c2eA

9. The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth: A well written dystopia, this triology is based in a society that defines its citizens by their social and personality-related affiliation with five different factions, which removes the threat of anyone exercising independent will and threatening the population’s safety. (source-wikipedia). Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior navigates the dangers of being divergent while trying to survive in her new faction.

When I first read this book, I remember thinking and being in wonder at how perfect Roth’s writing style was. Perfect for a new reader,this book deals with self-dicovery, young-love, society and social issues. A critic claims, “No one can argue that Divergent is not a fun, edge-of-your-seat read. It is easy to get submerged in, effortless to remain engaged in, and impossible not to enjoy even the slightest bit.”

“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.” 

Get the series on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Rw4BdO

10. Heidi by Johanna Spyri: Heidi is written in a freely flowing, imaginative and well-paced style. The character building is effective and true to real life. Even though it is a children’s fiction, it can easily and competently be read by people of all ages with immense enjoyment. It encompasses the themes of Family and relationships, Empathy and Religion (Christianity). It is written in a simple, unaffected manner and calls for several re-reads for the pure joy that oozes out of its pages.

“The happiest of all things is when an old friend comes and greets us as in former times; the heart is comforted with the assurance that some day everything that we have loved will be given back”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Rz5JNT

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Recommendations from other readers:

  1. Fatimah, Kashmir (Instagram: @fatimahbatul.7) : The Harry Potter Series, The Grisha Triology, the Hunger Games, Coraline, Norse Mythology, The Kite Runner, Six of Crows, Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe.
  2. Kat, USA (Instagram @fieldsofliterature) : Jane Eyre, Fangirl, Everything Everything, Pride and Prejudice.
  3. Maira, Pakistan (Instagram @maira.reads) : The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Kaise West’s novels, the Harry Potter Series.
  4.  Abbie Ruis, USA (Instagram @epochnovels): The Wrath and the Dawn Duology by Renee Ahdieh (magic, fantasy, adventure, friendship, romance.) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (well-written characters, banter is off the charts, fighting is kickass), An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir ( political corruption, violence, Ancient Rome), Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (YA historical fiction).
  5. Tanya, Australia (Instagram: @pagestoberead) : The Harry Potter Series, The Kite Runner
  6. Fatima, New York (Instagram @starry_tima) : The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
  7. Miran Gulzar, Kashmir (Instagram: @miran_gulzar): Letters to Young Poets by Rainer Maria Rilke (highly recommended), Old man and the sea by Ernest Hemingway, The Room on the Roof by Ruskin Bond, The Little Prince, Maus (graphic novel).
  8. Ruby, England (http://rubysbooksblog.wordpress.com/) :A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.
  9. Sadiya, Kashmir (Instagram @salazarsaddler) : The Goosebumps series.
  10. Nel, UK (Instagram: @nelwhichcraftsbooks): The Harry Potter Series, The Twilight Series.
  11. Ifreen Raveen, Kashmir (Instagram: @ifreen.raveen) The Famous Five series, Sophie Kinsella’s books.

Happy reading.

~ Saadia