Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Being Good Enough by Rohini Paranjpe Sathe (Book Review: 4.75*/5) !!!


8th Book of 2023


It has been a while since I have not read many fiction books hence, I thought of picking few of them before getting back to non-fiction and self-help books. The 2nd book that I read in a row is Rohini Paranjpe Sathe’s “Being Good Enough”. This 214-pages book is not just a book but I must say it’s a therapy. Yes! This is one of the most well-written works I have read recently and I am guilty enough to say that it was in my shelf for two years and I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up until now. The story is about a girl named Jyoti who has unintentionally walked on a path which has broken every rule set up by her parents in the name of patriarchy and religion. She is been tortured, harassed and suppressed at home and it results in awkward and horrible actions from others even outside. She goes through a traumatic experience continuously but she still doesn’t lose her strength in the process.


The story is very courageous and there are times when you would want to cry out loud due to the traumas the protagonist is going through. At times, you want to shout at her for making decisions she knows will hurt her later. Her dilemmas when she becomes a mother whether she should share about her past with her son or keep it hidden makes you feel pit in your stomach. I am a boy but I could still empathize with her character completely. Rohini’s writing is very solid and commanding. She knows how to drive her narration to make the reader be with the story. Throughout while I was reading, I felt that I was transferred to another world altogether. Every time I kept the book aside, I would find hard to come back in my own world. I know this sounds exaggerated but that’s the zenith level of writing caliber I am trying to convey.


Author’s command on the language is powerful as this is one of the perfect books to understand how to use great vocabulary and do justice with English grammar. Even the way author starts the book without disclosing past of Jyoti which initially confuses you a bit but eventually things start becoming clearer as you are taken into flashbacks. All of this is executed so seamlessly that even when you are jumping timelines, you don’t feel getting mixed up or disconnected with another timeline at all.


Author has used many philosophical elements while explaining us about her protagonist’s mindset as well as through the conversations between important characters. There are many long paragraphs in the book which might make your reading experience little difficult but when I was thinking where author could have broken the paragraph to make them shorter, I couldn’t find one reason why it should have been shorter. There are questions on life, God, religion, patriarchy, cities, death, spirituality, gender, siblings, same-sex love etc. but none of them sounds preachy or forced. All of them are part of characters’ situation which makes it hard for you to disagree with unconventional thoughts that author wants you to ponder upon.


The story will make you smile and cry. The whole section and chemistry between Jyoti and Aman is such a beautiful part in this book that without it, the book would not have been half as good as it is. The way Jyoti’s father and brother tries to push her down against her will tells us a lot about how our society is formed where females are sometimes, tortured in the name of protection. How some men are too horrific to handle are portrayed through the characters of Rathore and Sameer. Every time, I would read their name and Sooraj (Jyoti’s brother), I would get so angry that I could feel short-breathiness even while knowing that I am reading a fiction story. The role of Jyoti’s mother and mausi are so nicely portrayed that even though they have very less part to play but they tell you a lot about our society and women of previous generation. Kudos to author for justifying a dysfunctional family so perfectly.


The climax of the book finally gives the satisfaction that I was waiting for. I am glad that I had a smile at the end rather than another sprint of tears forming in my eyes. Though, after keeping the book aside, I had tears of happiness. As I said in the starting paragraph, this is not just a book but a therapy. All of us go through enough pain in life but when we read a story of this kind, we understand what real pain is. I could very well relate Jyoti’s character with that of Sushmita Sen’s in the web series- Aarya. It’s almost the same journey where a lady goes through a pain again and again after finding a ray of hope which vanishes immediately after it appears. If you liked that series, this book is even better. I give this book 4.75* out of 5. Please go for it!






Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Authors Bhawana Somaaya and Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta read at RSET


The Rajasthani Sammelan Education Trust (RSET) celebrated 'Women in Literature' with Padma Shri Bhawana Somaaya and India’s favourite biographer Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta. 


Two women authors connected by a common thread- the Prime Minister of India. Bhawana Somaaya’s English translation of Modi’s Gujarati book ‘ Aankh Aa Dhanya Chhe’ titled ‘Letters to Self’ released in 2022. Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta’s book ‘Sanjeev Kumar-The Actor We All Loved’, also released in 2022, has a cover blurb by the PM as follows- “he was a natural, one of the most powerful actors.”


The Rajasthani Sammelan Education Trust (RSET)’s Ramniwas Bajaj High School  brought the two women authors together under the umbrella theme 'women in literature.’ Moderated deftly by Principal Florina Fernandes, the session focused on how women have added a unique flavor to literature.  


Discussing the feminine voice, Gupta pointed out that in the history of literature, despite the fact that Jane Austen wrote as a woman, fifty years after her, Mary Ann Evans wrote as George Eliot.The journey over time for women authors has been fraught with challenges. 


Bhawana Somaaya, who has beautifully captured the rawness of Narendra Modi’s writings and the intensity of his emotions in her book, encouraged the young to read. She said, “the young generation have to find their own inspirations. Whatever they choose- be it fiction, thriller, I will be happy as soon as they are reading. When I used to teach journalism, I used to tell all the students that you must read at least 100 pages everyday and you must write at least 1000 words everyday and you must learn 5 words from the dictionary everyday and then try to use them even if your friends say you are a boaster.”


The hour-long discussion in a packed hall drew over a hundred students.  Gupta summed up, “remember that reading is not an academic skill, it's a life skill!” 


Fun fact; not a single child yawned despite it being an afternoon session!


Friday, March 24, 2023

The Drifting Stones by Anis Bari/Nilay Bipul (4*/5) !!!


7th Book of 2023


Well, sometimes National Holidays are really fruitful when you wake up on time and spend the whole day with your favorite act of reading book. I got a mid-week off for the celebration of Gudi Padwa and I found it a perfect opportunity to pick a 320-pages book named “The Drifting Stones” written by Anis Bari and Nilay Bipul. It has been published by Partridge publication. The book basically talks about two main protagonists named Ayaan and Malay right from their college days till their initial professional life. The book also discovers how their friendship changes with time and how life takes a complete turn and changes your overall personality with the kind of responsibilities it starts giving you.


Talking about the writing style, I must say that the book is written in a very simple language which helps you read with fast pace. It’s an easy read. I was able to complete it’s 320+ pages within two sittings itself. Initially, it’s little difficult due to multiple characters for you to pace up but once the characters are developed and you are able to relate with them, you are able to enjoy your reading journey. The book has been spoken in the first voice of both the main protagonists giving their version of their life’s important events. This is a fictional account but while reading you can sense it very well that it has been inspired by the real-life events because there’s few scenes which will make you question why they’re part of the story whereas no scene has been exaggerated. It gives you a sense that you are reading almost biographical accounts of few real people known by the authors or may be, their own story itself.


The book starts with narration of how the college life is and how folks enjoy during the course of 3-4 years without worrying about their future. It speaks about the kind of bond boys develop among themselves that they’re ready to do anything for each other. Through this story, authors also try to throw light upon the fact regarding how tough it is to get into a good college due to our education system. It tells about the pressure that a student goes through when everyone around them including family, family friends and relatives are tracing them to know update about their success in board exams or what college they got admission in. Maximum youths will be able to relate with this section.


Later on, when the professional life begins for the characters involved, you get a gest of how things changes as soon as the college life gets over. Author highlights the fact regarding how the group of friends who would think no one can set them apart doesn’t stay in touch anymore. All the professional challenges as well as the dilemma between working on a start-up or corporate is signified appropriately. The trauma of not getting funds for your startup is discussed which throws a light upon how it’s not a cakewalk to begin a startup which today’s generation thinks is as easy as ordering a pizza online.


The book discusses relationships as well and most part of the 2nd half of the book is about it. Authors also get philosophical at places and I really liked those sections where life is being discussed by getting into the core of the human problems. You will get many quotes here to share in your Instagram stories. Haha! The story talks about break-ups, heartbreaks, emotional setbacks, divorces etc. I liked how authors were able to discuss divorce and our gender-biased laws where girls are favored more than boys. How a man has to end up paying heavy alimony for no fault of his. How laws are being misused and husbands and their family/friends are alleged of acts they never commit. Not many Indian authors have guts to speak about this legal extortion but kudos to Anis and Nilay for bringing this out through a small subplot.


Similarly, authors have been able to talk about various other topics such as organizational politics, work stress, work-life balance, media industry, ground reporting, IT industry etc. which will help you get a bit insight into all these areas.


Now, talking about the drawbacks- I was able to find couple of grammatical and spelling mistakes in the initial 100 pages of the book post which the frequency reduced immensely. I don’t know it got missed in the editing phase. Secondly, I felt that authors were thinking in Hindi and translating it in English while writing due to which many sentences aren’t effective and crisp. Thirdly, I felt that the book could have been summed up within 250 pages or even less as there aren’t much twists and turns for which a reader would stay interested for 320+ pages. The usage of Hindi every now and then is also a turn-off. Lastly, I believe there is lot that could have been done with the kind of characters authors had developed but the story remains plain and simple without much surprising elements except couple of them.


Overall, this is going to be very relatable for the college-going students and new working professionals. The book will resonate with the beginners as it is written in a very user-friendly language with 3-4 good characters who will stay with you even after putting the book down. I would rate this book somewhere between 3.75 and 4. Well, let’s round it off- 4 stars it is.






Friday, March 17, 2023

Wonder Womaniya by Sohil Makwana (Book Review: 3.25*/5) !!!


6th Book of 2023

It has been some weeks since I read and talked about any book. I finally landed upon a book named “Wonder Womaniya” written by Dr. Sohil Makwana. Both- the title and the beautiful yellow-themed cover page of the book grasped my attention. The book is of around 206-pages published by the author himself. The book talks about the girl named Ambika who resides in Jhansi. She is very bubbly and joyful. She loves creating memes, sharing laughter, giving sharp-edged reply to others, being good at friendships, rejects boys’ advances in her own swag and what not. Suddenly, an event in her life changes the course for her. She becomes lonely and co-incidentally gets victim to a disease. How she converts her problems into a cause for spreading happiness is what this book basically talks about.


Talking about the author, Sohil, he has written a duology before Wonder Womaniya which has already been signed up for being adapted into a web-series. I haven’t got an opportunity to read it but this attempt is a simple and easy read which will help beginners get into reading. I liked how he based his story in a small-town so that maximum Indian crowd can relate with. I have myself stayed in Jhansi, where this story is based in, and could identify with many things author portrayed in the story. I just wished if Jhansi could have been described a bit more so that readers could understand what all the city provides- reason why we say books help us travel cities without actually traveling there.


The book is majorly written in both- English and Hindi hence you can’t call it and all-and-out English novel. This is more of a Hinglish attempt which I feel works at certain places but not everywhere. Sohil’s sense of humour and sarcasm is top-notch as there are many conversations and responses which are so sharp and witty that it could not have been possible for anyone lacking the funny bone to write it in the way it’s written currently. I am really impressed with how frequently author has been able to provide humour along with some dark side of it which makes you smile and laugh continuously.


The characterizations are nicely maintained where everyone is given a good description for you to relate with them. The major focus has been given to Ambika which helps you understand the protagonist and her state of mind quite well. I liked how author has developed character of a small-town girl quite strong and smart rather than portraying her a victim. The leap in the 2nd half is executed so well that many girls will find inspiration and solution through it. Sohil has integrated his domain knowledge of medical field very seamlessly in the story and converted it in a plot which lets you know about various kind of physical problems a woman has to go through. Author has ensured that he helps his readers understand the difficult terminologies and not get overwhelmed with the jargons.


Author has also tried speaking in favor of the girls/women in terms of the kind of challenges they have to deal with since their childhood right from eve-teasing, video leaks, lusty looks and remarks, uncomfortable stares, marriage issues, post-marital physical complications, non-co-operation from their partner and in-laws, judgment from society etc. He has almost been successful in speaking about all of these without sounding preachy except at few events.


The book is a short read and will not take you more than a sitting or two to complete it. You will enjoy the humor. You will relate with the cause that Dr. Sohil wanted us to address and empathize with. The story tells about how small-town girls can be strong enough to establish a movement without anyone’s support. The book also speaks about importance of good friendships and relationships in our life. The fragility of modern marriages is also been highlighted. The 2nd half is more powerful than the 1st half.


Talking about the drawbacks, I must say that over-usage of Hindi starts sounding cheesy after a point of time. Secondly, in writing the story from pro-women point of view, boys are regularly been shown in negative light which I believe author could have balanced by keeping few positive male characters too. There are couple of typos and mistakes in the book which could have been avoided. Except Ambika, the other characters could have also been involved majorly in the story. The climax sounds too filmy hence there are few scenes which sounds very over-the-top and you are not able to find them realistic.


Overall, this is a fine read. You will be remembered of the movie- Queen while reading the book. It gives you the same vibes. I give the book 3.5 stars out of 5.






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