Book 2 of 2023 | The Accidental Prime Minister

So, so many feels while reading this book! I never expected to feel so emotionally charged up at a non-fictional work, and that too a work on politics.

I have so much to say but considering I don’t keep myself up to date with current affairs and these days, its not a safe space to comment about the government anywhere, I’ll only be commenting on what I felt reading the book.

Why I chose this book?

I have been meaning to read this one since a long time. Most Indians have a special, soft corner for Dr Singh ever since he was the PM of India and I being one of them also wanted to know more on this ‘accidental’ PM via this book. If you are clueless about what I am talking about, Dr Singh was part of the Congress Alliance that won the elections in 2004 and since Mrs. Gandhi was/is the Congress party leader, a PM was expected from her familial dynasty. After all, that’s how Congress has functioned over the years. However, due to various reasons, Dr Singh was the chosen Prime Minister, the one we didn’t know we needed.

What is it about?

The book is written by Sanjay Baru, who acted as a media advisor for Dr Singh during his tenure. He was specifically contacted by the erstwhile PM to hold this position that, in his words, the PM created for him. Quoting from the book – “offered him the job with the words, ‘Sitting here, I know I will be isolated from the outside world. I want you to be my eyes and ears. Tell me what you think I should know, without fear or favor.” So, this is an account of Mr Baru’s time with the PM. You can also read more about Mr Baru’s accolades and his background on Google.

What I liked about the book?

I read the book for a reason. I usually find it hard to read non-fiction books and barely read anything on politics, so I had a hard time with this too. However, I would say it was way easier than other non-fictions because this was a topic I wanted to read about. As I moved towards the end, I was invested too much and there were instances where I was overwhelmed with emotion. I have always had respect for Dr Singh, for the way he has conducted himself. However, this book made me way more acquainted with how much of a learned, intellectual man he is and how it is our misfortune that he is not leading the decision making for country. He had served as finance minister in the early 90s government and it is the result of his initiatives that liberalization happened for the Indian economy, which opened a lot of doors for private jobs in India. It is due to those initiatives that many of us from service class background have an amazing lifestyle today. He has always been a growth-enabling, forward-looking person and even in his tenure as the PM, he had many such initiatives in his kitty. The book talks about them during his first tenure (i.e. 2004 – 09) primarily, since that’s when Mr Baru worked with him. He also talks a lot about the challenges he faced because of not being the party leader and the center of party power residing with Mrs. Gandhi and also how he had to navigate the likes of the Left and other parties because this was a coalition government. Despite many hurdles, this was still the highest economic growth rate that the country witnessed (8-9%), even though it was the time of global crisis (2008-09). I loved reading about how much depth Dr Singh had for planning for each of his decisions and policies but what shined throughout the book was how passionate he was about seeing the country grow.

Another thing in the book that I loved knowing was that Dr Singh came from humble beginnings and whatever he is, its because of his academic background and how passionate he is about education being the key to all. It was heart touching and from whatever little peak we got, his family, wife and kids, seemed to have academic backgrounds too.

What I didn’t like?

I wished to read more on his tenure of 2009-14 when he was put in a questionable position due to his cabinet ministers corruption and other scams. However, the book touched upon that very briefly. While I would have thought this to be intentional, its also key to note that Mr Baru only worked with him in the first tenure, so he had an ‘in’ on mostly that.

Overall, I am glad I read this book and I would recommend it to everyone.

Book 1 of 2023 | The Hindu Way

Remember how I mentioned here my objectives for 2023? I didn’t do good at the reading front at all, but I have thankfully picked pace in April. It can also be attributed to the fact that I was reading a lot more out of my comfort zone, e.g. this first read of 2023.

My blogger friend Juliette also pointed that one should refrain from reading books they find difficult when stuck in a rut, but, you know, a) I have a hard time DNF-ing books, b) I am glad that I am reading new stuff even though at a snail’s pace.

Onto this first read of 2023 now (that I actually started in 2022 already but finished sometime in Feb I think :P) :

Why I chose this book?

Simply because I had never read anything from Dr Shashi Tharoor. Google him, his accolades are many and he is a great orator. I have once listened to him in person during the Jaipur Literature Festival and it gets as mesmerizing as people claim it to be.

What I liked?

Hmm, this is a difficult one because I have my thoughts all muddled up on this. I’ll also check if I noted something in my notes while reading this one.

First of all, even though the bar is too high when it comes to his oratory skills, still the comparison is inevitable – his authorship, while being good, is not comparable to his oratory skills.

Secondly, I usually avoid reading book blurbs in detail if my reason to pick the book is already decided. In this book’s case, I didn’t really know what to expect, so, here’s what I noticed this book is about – it basically talks about good things of Hinduism as a faith and, most importantly, how its an all-accommodating and flexible religion. He talks about its not insecure and is the only religion where you don’t have to believe in a certain, tangible God. This is the entire theme of the book and I quite enjoyed reading it, maybe because I am a Hindu but, at the same time, I think it could have been an article or an essay. Also, there is a sequel written to this one as well! 😀 What I am trying to say is – while being interesting for me, the context of the chapters seemed little repetitive, except the first part where he talks about his upbringing in a practicing Hindu household. That was definitely different.

I cannot say whether I recommend this book or not – I have a lukewarm opinion – but you will definitely enjoy it if you are into reading about historical and other aspects of a religion.

What I didn’t like?

I kind of covered that above only, so I guess I have nothing more to add. I am still glad that I read something written by him.

Book 12 of 2022 | Murder Mystery Book Club #1

Right after my 11th book turned out to be such an amazingly fun read, I went into the flow of reading another murder mystery because why not?

A short note on reading habit before the actual review: Remember this post? A lot of you appreciated it and while I barely continued this practice, at least it initiated me into reading articles more mindfully. As for books, I already used to savor what I read but I mostly forget what I read. Hence, going forward, you will see a structure to my book opinions. I also maintain a book journal for my notes now and I love doing that. You’ll also see me writing why I chose to read a book. It will sort of help me take a mental picture of the time I was reading that book in. I want to clarify here that I don’t read for ROI (not that that’s a bad thing) but the note-taking may sound like tedious to some of you and that’s totally understandable, but I do it to savor the book reading experience. Goes without saying that I only do it when I like to.

With that out of the way, let’s get to this book – Murder Mystery Book Club (Florida Keys Bed & Breakfast Cozy Mystery 1 – which is a first in a series of Florida Keys Bed & Breakfast Cozy Mystery books.

Why I chose this book?

Like I mentioned, I was in the flow of reading mystery books, more specifically murder mysteries.

What I liked:

I very much loved this book, just the cozy, sunny Florida setting got me going. I loved it a little less than the previous book, but fun nonetheless. Also, how fun does the idea of running a bed and breakfast sound?

What I didn’t like:

Overall, I liked this book but still there were some things that could have been better. First one being the OTT side characters. Now, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love side characters whose personas are well-defined and the ones who stand out. But, here it seemed forced and kind of trying too hard. Secondly, I didn’t like the encounters that led to the romance so much, it again looked a bit forced to me.

I do still recommend reading this one for a light, cozy read. Maybe on a holiday. 🙂

Book 9 of 2022 | Gunahon ka Devta by Dharamvir Bharati (Hindi Novel) | Diwablog 2

Okay, you may have noticed that I am trying to do a Diwablog series for Diwali, just like loads end up doing Blogmas for Christmas (including me). I thought why not use this opportunity to also work in some long pending book opinions!

A short note on reading habit before the actual review: Remember this post? A lot of you appreciated it and while I barely continued this practice, at least it initiated me into reading articles more mindfully. As for books, I already used to savor what I read but I mostly forget what I read. Hence, going forward, you will see a structure to my book opinions. I also maintain a book journal for my notes now and I love doing that. You’ll also see me writing why I chose to read a book. It will sort of help me take a mental picture of the time I was reading that book in. I want to clarify here that I don’t read for ROI (not that that’s a bad thing) but the note-taking may sound like tedious to some of you and that’s totally understandable, but I do it to savor the book reading experience. Goes without saying that I only do it when I like to.

And now, here are my thoughts on Dharamvir Bharati’s famed novel, Gunahon ka Devta, which also recently got its English translation as Chander & Sudha (I’ll link all books at the end).

Why I chose this book?

Dharamvir Bharati had been an extremely revered Hindi novelist of his time, i.e. the 60s and the 70s. His romantic novel – Gunahon ka Devta – turned out to be a cult classic and I have been meaning to read something from him. So, i thought i’ll start with his most famed.

What I liked:

To be honest, I didn’t like most of it. I wanted to like it so badly because most of the Hindi literature that I like is from this period or slightly before. Not really from today. And i wanted to be known as someone who has read his stuff and loves it. Vain, I know. Still, if I had to pick a few things that I liked, they would be:

1. The old world charm of the Hindi hinterland since it’s based in that part of India.

2. I liked how all the women characters in the book had something strong and unique going on for them. I know many people think that the women characters were stereotypical but I don’t agree with this completely. They may be stereotypical but they all had a characteristic that stood out. Be it Binti, the side-kick cousin or her bitter & orthodox mom or even the super stereotypical Pammi, who is shown as the vamp character by showing her Anglo Indian and ‘easy’. Even the protagonist, she was unique in her own ways.

Oh wait, i should have mentioned what the book is about. It’s essentially a friendship turned love story turned sacrificial love between Chander and Sudha. Chander is a student prodigy of Sudha’s father who is a college professor. He trusts Chander blindly with anything in life and family matters (and that’s how Chander and his daughter are ‘allowed to’ be friends) but there’s not even a possibility of considering him as a perspective groom because of caste differences which was a pretty big deal back then and continues to be in many parts still, especially that area where this is based.

What I didn’t like:

A lot. First of all, I am not a big fan of the sacrificial kind of love stories. Most of the ones that I have read never seem to have a good enough reason for it, so I basically find it difficult to relate to protagonists’ problems. To top it off, I felt that both the protagonists, i.e. Chander and Sudha, had very annoying personalities. Chander is kind of self centred and despite being someone older and well-read in the equation, he exhibits really toxic man-child behavior around Sudha and when not ‘catered to’, he exhibits self-harming behavior. It’s really annoying and I could hardly garner any sympathy. If i was supposed to look for a deeper meaning in Chander’s personality, I failed. Sudha, while definitely seemed a better character than Chander, was just not good enough for me. I cannot place a finger on why I found her annoying, since I may have liked her character in another novel setting. I just didn’t like the fact that she caved in too quickly to Chander’s whims.

That’s really it. I actually really wanted to like it but i didn’t . Below are the links even though I haven’t made a good case for it:

Actual Book

English Translation

If you liked this, check out more of my latest posts:

2,3,4,5th reads of 2022

Hello! I am bringing back book opinions it seems. Let’s see how that goes. 😀

If you are thinking why I didn’t mention book 1, that’s because I had some notes for it which are at my home and i am visiting my dad in Raipur (where he is posted currently). So, more on book 1 later.

Now all these 4 books are special as these are written by one of my favorite instagrammers, Pooja – thewhimsybookworm. I am linking her blog but you can find her on Instagram by the same name. I always knew I would love whatever she writes because of two reasons – 1) i relate to the books she likes, as in i know I’ll like them too, 2) she posts a lot of tiny stories (more like day to day events explained as stories) on Instagram and they are total page turners! My only gripe with these was that I am scared to read horror stories even though I enjoy them, but since it’s by Pooja, there was no way i won’t read them. I was just waiting for the right opportunity. All of these are short stories, so i read them one after the other pretty quickly and, needless to say, loved them to bits! Pooja’s tales, whether these or on Instagram, always engross me in their funny, scary, sarcastic and sometimes even toxic mesh! Below are some highlights from the 4 books for you to savor!

2nd of 2022, The Stranger in the Hotel Room: This is one of her finest works. Before you diss me for writing something like this for an author who has just about 4 short story books published, I’ll tell you why I said this. This book has a very vintage Bengal vibes, where there’s a colonial hotel in which a woman gets stuck, in times when it wasn’t common for women in India to travel alone. Also, the book is narrated from the pov of the author herself as she recalls her mom’s friends’ hangouts with such gossips. Despite being a scary story, it has a light hearted humourous vibe. This vibe stays through the book thus making it a scary but light hearted story. Hence, the tag of being a fine work.

3rd of 2022, A Girl Possessed: the story telling is great but once you know that a story about getting possessed is based on real life events, it always leaves you feeling sad. Especially so when it’s about a young school going girl who had her whole life in front of her.

4th of 2022, The Night of the Flood: this was the creepiest of all, as it was a mix of spookiness & something tangible at play. Totally motion picture material spanning across eras and generations and unrelated characters getting connected.

5th of 2022, Stree – Collection of 3 short stories: all good, endearing tales with woman protagonists. I only didn’t like the last one as i prefer more solid kind of endings rather than open ended ones. It also ended a bit abruptly.

This was it! A women’s day relevant post afterall 😀 do share what you are reading

A favorite book of 2021 – The French Baker’s War | Blogmas 13

Merry Christmas y’all! ❤️

I wasn’t planning to post today as the day is over and it was a busy one. But when I saw so many Christmas-y posts, i thought it isn’t right that even after finally doing so many posts this December for Blogmas, i don’t do one on the last day of Blogmas.

So here it is. A book review of one of my favorite books in 2021 that I found on Netgalley. I am telling you guys, if you don’t know what Netgalley is, you really need to check it out. Also, click on the below image if you wish to buy the book. (If you buy it via clicking on the image, I’ll earn a small commission. 🙂)

While i expected to read a lot more in 2021, one of the things I wanted was to try stuff that I haven’t before. I have never read anything on World War. I lapped this book up as soon as i saw it on Netgalley and I cannot wait till the end to tell you that i loved reading it so much. I am so glad tha this amazing fiction initiated me into reading about World War.

Here’s why you should read it too:

1. Patisserie & the plot: it’s not an unimaginable plot but what i loved is this – the book is set in occupied France in 1943 over a course of two months during World War II when a woman who owns a Patisserie with her husband goes missing. The patisserie becomes a character in the book, it’s given a lot of emotional value by the author and, therefore, becomes a super important character. Of course, i am not going to spoil it for you by giving whys and how’s. If you want to pick this due to the cover and the word Baker in the name, let me tell you that there is a lot of reference to the patisserie, which I certainly enjoyed.

2. Characters: as it is with the patisserie, even all the other characters are very well formed. The book has its protagonists but the author has done a great job in character formation of many side characters. They have a back story that makes you want to know them better. In some books, it gets very annoying to read about multiple storylines but here the back stories of different characters become part of the story and you get attached to them. If you have read the book already, you would have fallen in love with Monsieur Dormund as well. 😊

3. The topic itself: as i mentioned, I haven’t read anything on World War and i am glad I picked this up because this has definitely made me more interested in reading about this topic. If you have read a lot of serious literature or non fiction on this topic, then I am not sure where you stand with this book but, otherwise, anyone is going to love it!

There are two things I didn’t like which I want to mention – a) the flashbacks didn’t hook me as much as the present story, b) the initial pages/chapters spent a lot of time building up and leading up to the next part of the story, which became a bit much. So i would say if I had to divide the book into three parts, the second and third parts of the book were way better than the first.

Overall, I would highly recommend reading this and you can find it on the below link. If you purchase using that I’ll earn a small commission. 🙂

The French Baker’s War