Book Review: Jonathan Livingston Seagull


Jonathan Livingston Seagull- Richard Bach
Jonathan Livingston Seagull- Richard Bach

I have no idea why people love this book so much. I tried to, I did too, I really did, but god help me if I can understand a stupid seagull wanting to be Houdini.

First and foremost, I have a problem with Richard Bach’s writing. Look at his name, he’s called Bach. You expect great things out of Bach. I’m sure loadsa people just picked this stuff because they had heard good things about the name Bach. Well, then they couldn’t say they didn’t like it, could they? All the classic jazz and peer pressure stuff.

So I’d hear great things about this book, but I wasn’t ever that interested.  But one day I chanced upon it and picked it up from a friend (which reminds me, I must return it, it’s so not worth keeping). The first part went on fine, with poor seagull not wanting to conform to the norms of seagull society and blah blah. Yeah, we all get that sod about individuality and perfection and whatnot. But Bach can turn the most interesting subjects into spiritual tripe with his plaintive writing and over-pondering on bigger picture with help of Chinese mysticism.

Somewhere in part two and three he stumbles onto a mish mash of physics, aerodynamics, living in a higher plane and love, yes love. I get it that there’s an allegory, a larger metaphor here but he just turned the topic and the allegory into a big gob of boring mumbo-jumbo.

I’m anyway not much of a person to read self-help or spiritual books, and this a bit of both. If you are the kind, go ahead, go learn to fly and be high and all that. If you’re not the kind, save your breath, and brains, and time.

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Review: The Alchemist

The Alchemist- Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist- Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is a very simple book. It is also a very brilliant tale, a mesmerizing concoction of the many elements that make a great story- there’s passion, there’s love, there’s danger and adventure. But that alone doesn’t explain why the book has sole more than 65 million copies, why it has been lauded by critics, famous people, teenagers and adults alike, or why, after being first published in 1993 (English edition), it still sells as many copies.

The book’s message lies in its most famous line- “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Now do you see the power behind the book?

Coelho takes your dreams and desires and gives you the hope, the power to believe and the faith that all that you wish will come to you. And it will come to you with the aid of the entire universe, nature and men conspiring with each other to help you fulfill your dreams. Such promises, or the fulfillment of some such in a story can seem immensely attractive. And that is what makes the book such a huge success.

It is in essence a self help book, told beautifully through the story of an Andulasian shepherd who goes on to unravel his destiny and find his treasure studying signs that nature and fate throws at him. Isn’t that how all of our lives run- on signs and indications, on risks and opportunities, on means and ends? And what do we all want while we chase our dreams- a little bit of help and hope. And this book gives you exactly that.

Critics and cynics alike will call this a novel chasing lofty fairytale ideas, but what is life if not chasing fairytale ideas? Optimists and dreamers would definitely love this book. So drop the cynicism and pick up this book for a thrilling journey with Santiago and his dreams.

Read the complete review here.

Review: A Maiden’s Grave

A Maiden's Grave-Jeffrey Deaver
A Maiden's Grave-Jeffrey Deaver

“Eight gray birds, sitting in dark.

Cold wind blows, it isn’t kind.”

Eight school kids and their teachers are kidnapped by three escaped convicts and are taken hostage in a slaughterhouse in rural Kansas. The FBI is trying to negotiate their release with their abductors. Seems like a run of the mill hostage thriller? It would be. Had it not been for the eight school kids and their teacher to be deaf.

The prime criminal is Lou Handy, savage and brutal who threatens to kill a girl every hour if his demands are not meant. Arthur Potter, the FBI’s top negotiator, tries his best over the time frame of around 18 hours to get the hostages out safely. The cat and mouse game is as thrilling as it can get.

The routine hostage-release drama is convoluted and twisted by Deaver to bring out subtle nuances of relationships that develop between the hostage, the kidnapper and the rescuer. The hearing impairment of the hostages lends a subtext to the story overall and Deaver sprinkles illuminating factoids across the pages that bring out the scope of the drama in a more vivid manner.

When I read the book, I found it to be disturbing in some ways. But the twists and turns never ceased to shock. Deaver weaves a thriller so complex and tight, it is amazing to find a love story blooming amidst all the thorns.

Read the complete review here.

Review: The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters

The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters
The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters- Elisabeth Robinson

This is one of the best epistolary novels I’ve read in quite some time. Composed entirely of letters from our protagonist to others, it is an engaging, emotional and heart warming read.

Olivia Hunt, a struggling film producer covers a year of highs and lows and her letters, full of tiny details show us how her life and of those around her is going. While struggling to produce a film version of Don Quixote, she has to cope with her sister’s leukemia and not to mention relationship troubles.

The novel touches a cord somewhere. It’s not a very complex read, rather straightforward and peppered with a sprinkling of humor. But it brings out the dynamics of relationships very well. Not all of us are very attached to our families, but we are still there for them as they are for us. And that is what the novel is all about. You might not like doing things for them, but you still do, with all that you have and when you do, you know you did the right thing.

Review: Doctors

Doctors- Erich Segal
Doctors- Erich Segal

Whenever people hear Erich Segal, they think Love Story, and I don’t blame them. It is his most popular book. But if you have read Love Story and liked it, or disliked it, you should go read Doctors.

Doctors deals with Harvard Medical School class of 1962, and more specifically, with the lives of four doctors. Barney Livingston and Laura Castellano are childhood friends, having grown up as neighbors. They have their own reasons in pursuing medicine and end up in the same medical school. There’s Bennett Landsman, with a very intriguing past and an equally surprising future career, who comes to the rescue of Dr. Seth Lazarus long after they have graduated. The story shows us their years in med school, their career trajectories and how their personal lives shape up.

Throughout the story, you get the feeling that Segal has really done his job of researching all about medicine and the profession before writing about the book. It’s not just the bits of jargon and scientific terms used, it’s in the way he portrays his characters, their lifestyles, their mannerisms, their foibles and fancies, their very lives, which shows that he has studied extensively. His attention to details and specifics comes out very well in this novel.  Armed with all that well-researched knowledge, his adeptness at story-telling and his particular gift of creating moments that affect you, Segal comes up with a masterpiece.

You will learn that doctors too, are after all humans, with the responsibilities of gods. Pick up this tome, for a thoroughly engrossing and stirring read.

Read the complete review here.