Yes Please – Amy Poehler

Just finished reading this book by Amy Poehler and it looks like a half hearted attempt. Neither were the incidents entertaining nor were they funny. I am just bound to compare it with Tina Fey’s Bossypants and it was such a good book – genuine, witty and funny. This book has nothing.

I am disappointed as I like Amy’s comedy but the book just does not cut it.


I Dare – Kiran Bedi

As a matter of fact, when you think about Kiran Bedi, that is the first word which comes to mind, Daring. She is a woman of so much substance that I am afraid , no other will be able to match her up soon. She takes up every challenge and converts it into success. She does what she is told is not possible and she does it in such style that naysayers have to bite their tongue.

As for the book, it is not very well written. I have a problem with the style where events are described, time of happeneing not withstanding. I prefer the chronological order, specially in books meant to be factual or at least for the most part factual. This book is not. The woman we are talking about is so extraordinary here that I feel the book was not able to potray all that she is as well as it could have. The subject is immensely interesting but the presentation is a little lackadaisical. Nonetheless, if one wants to read and know Kiran Bedi, this is the document to pick up.

It certainly has inspired me, as I am sure several other girls and told them that there are no limits. There are only those limits which we create for ourselves.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera

It is funny that I always thought Milan Kundera was an Indian person and this book about politics and bureaucracy. Whereas my first assumpton failed badly, the second was touching the truth somewhat.  Well, Milan Kundera is a Czech who had been expelled from the country when Russia captured it and has been living in France since. The story is formed with the background as the Czechoslovakia which was captured by the Russians and the resulting spread of communism, its threat, the expulsion and execution of intellectuals. Among all this is, at the centre of it, is a sad love story of philandering Tomas and agonizing Tereza. Tomas’ sexual appetite is not fulfilled by one or two. He has to explore the minutest differences that women have while making love. Tereza knwos this and outwardly she tries to be fine but her heart wishes Tomas to be only her’s alone. She has weird dreams about it and cries. Sabina is a particular mistress of Tomas who is also a friend and an artist and finds a romantic love in betrayal of everything that connects her to her former life. After Tomas leaves she is with Franz, a professor, who is trying to escpae from her superficial wife whom he respects but not loves, into the cult and the dreamworld that he has created with Sabina. The day when he leaves everything for Sabina, she leaves him because she can do nothing but betray.

The book is a philosophical musing about eternity and the meaning of our actions if they were to be repeated again and again and again. He says that since our actions happen only once, they can have no meaning as such, because what has happened is as good as it might not have happened at all. It is here that he poses the paradox, sort of, that despite the fact that our actions have no meaning at all as such, even the smallest of them impact our lives in tremendous ways. We keep longing for lightness, for what we not have and when we have got it, there is a sorrow, a sort of guilt that remains for leaving the heaviness.

The gist that I got is that the lightness implies being not able to care or to care, depending upon each person. But, if one does not care, the person is constantly riddled with the pressure and the guilt forcing him that he should care. And if he cares, he is constantly craving for not caring. In either case, the state of lightness becomes unbearable. Although I enjoyed the melancholy sweetness of the novel, a sad love story painted with the russian invasion of czechoslovakia, I am afraid to say that I think that I have not fully understood it. I will have to read it again to get a real good grasp. On surface, I understand the philosophy that the author tries to expound, that one’s actions are neither good nor bad and cannot be judged because they are never to be repeated and hence are of one time nature and inconsequential. So, we must not have much value attached to the actions that we take and yet these seemingly insignificant things affect our lives in most insignificant of ways, deciding whether the happiness exists or not. There is lot of soul searching in here, things abt communism, religion,kitsch, purpose of life etc. It is a rich book and a good book for thought. I shall have to read it again and I think I will do.

The Second Sex – Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir is a French existentialist and this work- The Second Sex- of her is a philosophical treaty on the concept of “feminity” and that how a woman is defined. Where does the concept of “eternal feminine” came into being. When does the patricarchal societies become the norm and why? Why has woman been relegated to the status of the other in a world where without her equal contribution, the species would not even go further. Despite the fact that woman as human being is a sentient being, her position among all the females is the worst, sometimes even worse than the slaves and minorities and other opressed groups. She states the unique phenomena and realtion that exists between the opressor(man) and the oppressed(woman) is the cause. The slaves can all gather together against the masters, exploited against the eploiters but not women against men.

She also discusses the Freudian psychoanalytical viewpoint and contends that the analysis may not hold value because the woman’s sexuality is seen from the male point of view, as someone who is deprived of penis and thereby, explains the things as castration complex or Oedipus complex or Electra complex. She says that the feminine sexuality should be studied independently and from a female’s point of view. She also stresses the importance of expectations that we confer upon the sexes that make them behave in a certain manner.

All in all, it is the ultimate Feminist Manifesto :). It should be read by feminists and the chauvinists. It is a balanced and critical and seemingly scientific work which spells out the arguments very nicely. Given that I am colored in some shades of feminism , I was able to enjoy and appreciate the work and at the same time learn about some of the very fundamental points of contention, starting right from the contribution of the sperm and the egg.

It’s Not About The Bike – Lance Armstrong

This book describes the true story of Lance Armstrong from his childhood to the cancer and his battle with it and then with his limitations to become the winner of  Tour De France- one of the most challenging races in biking spanned over three weeks testing physical limits of human body as well as the strength of spirit and mind.

The life of Lance Armstrong is an inspiration to all. It is about never quitting. Never giving up. Giving your best to whatever comes, even when you are dejected, even when there is hardly any hope left. The book reflects this philosophy superbly. It conveys extremely well what it wants to convey. The extraordinary story is extraordinarily told. It is meant to inspire, to coax and it does. Very well.

No wonder I flipped through the pages without stopping once and lost my sleep also just to finish it. If you have ever felt diheartened and thought that why is this happening to me, if you have not the courage to fight anymore, pick up this book. It stirs something deep inside. It shows one thing, the will and determination a person can hve and the difference that can make in one’s lives.

Worth a read!

Yuganta – Irawati Karve

So, I was on a reading spree these past few days and finished a few books, which I will mention here. Seems like January is going to be about book posts only. But I dar say, I wont pick up new ones until I finish the work I have n hand because once I am in a book, I cheat on everything else.

So, Yuganta is a reinterpretation of the Mahabharat charcaters. It is essentially a critical analysis. Basically, it is about finidng faults in the characters is what seems on the outside. But actually, the author has tried to put the actions and the history in social and anthropological context of that time. She has also pointed out incongruencies and tried to tell us that how the present day epic which is Mahabharat came into existence. The actions are justified or criticized keeping in mind the social conditions that had prevailed today.

It makes for a very interesting read but one has to have atleast a cursory knowledge of Mahabharat before reading it. What struck me especially was the special criticism fo Bhishma for his inactions and supposed irresponsibility by taking the responsibilities he could not perform. Draupadi is criticized for the fact that when she was dishonored in the court in front of everyone, instead of begging to leave her alone she was fighting about legalities of whethere Yudhistira had the right to stake her. What I find absurd is that the author here has failed to consider the mental state she must have been in . In such a situation one could not really think straight and evaluate what is best for her. What one could do is fight against injustice and that is what she did. She also pointed that she should not have spoken where so many grown men were present according to the custom of those days. But is that a fault?? I wonder.

Except these things, I liked the way of critically analyzing the epic and mostly the chapters on Karna and Vausdeva Krishna. Arjuna struck me as the most authentic person and Yudhisthira as someone who is heavily burdened by the expectations from him.

All in all, it was an interesting read.