Sunday, July 11, 2010


I have been planning to write something about my reading habits today. Like any kid, I used to read the "The famous five', Tin tins, Archies, and some Agatha Christie's in my childhood. Being raised in India, I took pleasure in reading 'The Panchatantra', 'The Chandama', Pai's comics when I was young.

 It gives me lot of reassurance that I was a normal teen, as Mills and Boon romances were prized possessions then. The 'tall, dark handsome' guy swooning the lady would be the main topic of discussion for girls during school breaks. I still remember the desperation to hunt for more of these romances those days.

Slowly, Irving Wallace, Sidney Sheldon, Grisham, Robin Cook etc; got added to my repertoire. I infact got stuck to some of these authors for long time. I loved reading Grisham's and Wallace's a lot, Robin Cook was never a favourtie though. I would sometimes read reviews of  some new authors and read their books. I did read books of Indian authors as, R.K. Narayan, Kushwanth Singh, Vikram Seth, V.S.Naipaul etc. Even then, I was not reading a wide range of books, specially non-fiction. The first biography I read was of Dalai Lama three years back. It was an absorbing read.

When I moved to Malaysia, I got this wonderful opportunity to join a book club. It was a totally new experience for me, since we do not have any such concepts back home. I have at least never heard of existence of any such clubs at least.

The book club meets here on the first Monday of every month and discusses a book.  The range of books is varied. The book club has an in-charge, who makes a list of all suggested readings for the coming months. Sometimes it is an award -winning book, sometimes a biography, sometimes its a book suggested by members. Members take turns every month to lead a book. Generally the lady who takes the lead, prepares a questionnaire on the specific book, which is then discussed.The person who takes the lead also brings along something to nibble for the rest, which I do look forward to.

The past one and half year association with the book club has definitely impacted my reading habits. I have read authors whom I have never ever read or would have had the chance to read otherwise. Belinda Starling, Christopher Tsiolkas, Raimond Gaita to name a few. Some biographies will forever remain cherished in my memory specially the latest read 'Romulus, my father'. My favourite books have been 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society' and 'The Book Thief'. Both provide a beautiful insight into some people strongly resorting to books for strength in times of war and hardship. Some books such as ' The last Chinese Chef, 'The Poisionwood Bible' etc have increased my knowledge on various cultures and life styles of countries such as Chine, Congo etc.

I have benefitted immensely as I have started reading books written by authors from various countries, such as Australia, Germany, Canada etc. Secondly each member views the same book from a completely different perspective. So  my outlook has improved. Many a time,some books are just loved by one member while all the other members dislike the book, which is again an interesting aspect. Being a member of book club also has increased my visits to the library, hence exposing me to a beautiful world of a new range of books. I stumbled on some very good biographies. 'Three cups of tea', 'The Desert flower'  ' 'Mao's last dancer' etc.

 I am curently reading 'Written on the body', the next suggested book for discussion. I just look forward for the first Monday of every month to discuss a new book.

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