This book has no plot, no gripping action and when you put it down, you don’t feel any sense of achievement. It’s rather tiring, and exhausting to the point you open Netflix and start watching some meaningless show.
The Catcher in the Rye is a long monologue about Holden Caulfield and how everything in his world is pitted against him. As monologues go, we get to see only Holden’s justifications, and his explanations about his actions leave the reader dissatisfied.
The book begins with Holden Caulfield, our phony protagonist, and frustrated teenager, getting expelled from school because he cared little for school to the point of not attending an exam. The school management and the Principal, already tired of his behavior, ask him to leave. Holden, the rich entitled teenager he is, decides to spend the next two days in New York before going home. In these two days, he drinks a dozen jugs of alcohol, hires a prostitute, goes on a date with his ex, just to tell her rude things, gets into brawls and eventually becomes depressed and decides to leave his family to make his ‘own way in the world of adults’.
Holden treats everyone as Phonies and despises himself for becoming one. The book deals with the themes of transitioning into adulthood, the loss of innocence, the universal frustration that is crippling teenagers, and the idea of finding your place in the world. Holden clearly has no idea where he fits and lacked the guidance to move forward. He wants to hold on to his childishness, but he is also aware that the world doesn’t work like that. He wants to move forward, but he never gets over the death of his little brother, and living in a dysfunctional family makes things only worse.
He thinks hiring a prostitute (and he asks her to talk to him and do nothing else) and drinking gallons of alcohol would make him an adult. He believes doing adult things like having sex and drinking, would make him an adult. He never realizes that he’s trapped in his childhood.
Holden is a rich kid with a skewed view of the world, and a whiny brat. Sure. I believe we all were entitled and whiny in our teens. But, that’s the point of this book. It’s about Holden’s battle with the world and finding a place in a world that doesn’t care about his brother’s death, his abuse, his parents’ relationship, and a hundred other things Holden clings on to and worries about. That’s the underlying message: You have to move on, irrespective of what happens, and how fucked up your own world is because the bigger world will not let you remain the child/adolescent you wish to be. There’s this beautiful piece of writing that describes the loss of innocence and sums up Holden’s thoughts.
When Holden’s sister Phoebe asks him, what is it you want to be when you grow up, he says:
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes - A book that should be read again and again till its message is truly unveiled.
When I was reading Harry Potter for the first time, I deliberately kept postponing reading the last few chapters, as I didn’t want the book to end. At the same time, I also wished to finish the book as soon as possible.
I felt like, “This book must end, I can’t take this emotional turmoil anymore and I am not ready for it’s message.”
My curiosity got the better of me and I decided to keep going. The last page left my eyes moist, legs trembling. The world around me seemed to slow down. Adoration, disgust, hopefulness, loneliness, love, peacefulness and shame are some of the emotions I felt while reading this short novel.
The story of this book is simple. There is a guy in his thirties named Charlie and he is mentally retarded. He works in a bakery and has always wanted to become smart. So he let a few doctors perform an operation that was earlier performed on a mouse named Algernon after its reported success.
Few months post operation, Charlie becomes a genius and gets to the point where he can speak a dozen of languages.
Trying to understand what was done to him, Charlie starts learning and even finds a flaw in the research analyses. He reaches to the conclusion that he’d eventually become much worse condition than what he was, just before dying.
One day, the mouse on which this operation was performed dies... so shall Charlie dies as well? Was he back to his retarded state? Please do yourself a favor and read the book.
Honestly, this book made me think of my priorities. We all live in a therapy culture, where a few of us are very fortunate to have everything we hoped for and we live like couch potatoes while the others aren’t lucky or gifted enough to have what they want but still lead a happy life.
A lucrative job, beautiful partner, May-September romance, a big home etc. are a few dreams most of us possess in our gigantic economic machine and some of us work hard to fulfill them. But our life isn’t complete by this and there is a lot more to it. At one point Charlie says, “I realize emotional problems can’t be solved as intellectual problems.”
In another section, after Charlie becomes a genius, he laughs at people who are less intellectually gifted. What moved me was his confession in his diary stating, “Only a short time ago, I learned that people laughed at me. Now I see that I joined them in laughing at myself. This hurts most of all. A 35 year old child (mentally retarded) may not know how to feed itself or what to do about it, yet it knows hunger.”
I almost lived the life of this man for the past few months. There’s nothing wrong in that, but everything will lead to remorse, guilt and regrets. If you want to do something for someone, do it because you love them, not expecting anything in return, not even a thanks.
Be it your wife, girlfriend, child, mother, father or friend. All of them shall die someday and that should make you love them even more, but most of us are caught and trapped by life’s nonsensical pleasures and pains.
“I don’t know what’s worse: To not know what you are and be happy about it, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.”
Flowers for Algernon: Thank you for this message. If you are a person, I’d hold your hand longer than necessary, look into your eyes and I’d repeat my thanks and appreciation a hundred more times.
I have never had a good opinion on self-help/management books except “Think and Grow Rich” and “The Magic of Thinking Big”. I don’t blame the books or the authors, maybe it has always been my fault because I kept reading the books without applying their offered principles. It was like learning a tip and thinking about how simple it would make my life but moving on without giving it a try.
This week I had a chance to read the book Corporate Avatars by Disha Chhabra. In the beginning, I was reluctant to even open the book, as I learned that the author is from an Indian Institute of Management, complete credit to Chetan Bhagat. After a few pages, I became too reluctant to put the book down.
One of many things I still love since my childhood is reading fantasy stories. Glorified Kings, wars, slaves, and magic amaze me. However, most of the books I read were penned by foreigners. Though we Indians have our own Chandamama stories and Amar Chitra Katha novellas excluding Puranas and historical fiction books for many reasons, not many writers in India have attempted to tell a story of a king who was born of their imagination but I would say Rise of Sivagami is a grand beginning.
In the past, it was books being adapted to be filmed, but now it is vice-versa as writers are attempting to create a backstory from movies. S S Rajamouli, a renowned film-maker while he was directing Baahubali movies (The Beginning & The Conclusion) asked writer Anand Neelakantan to pen the story of Mahishmathi.
Writing a prequel to the story of the movie Baahubali: The Beginning which was a spectacle is not an easy task as it is not just another random story. Anand Neelakantan, the writer of Rise of Sivagami must be applauded as he wrote the history of Mahishmathi in just six months, without missing many details. I was personally awestruck when I read, Sivagami saying, “I swear, I will destroy the Kingdom of Mahishmathi!” I kept on reading the book and the pace was brilliant. Despite its flaws and too many characterizations, Rise of Sivagami stands up to the grandeur of the Baahubali movies.
Every time I pick up a book to read, I always pray to god that I shouldn’t end up hating myself and the author. I had many such experiences but, there was this book titled “Everyone has a Story” by Savi Sharma. Thanks to my cousin who said this was the best book she read this year, apart from “This was a Man.” She also stated that the author is going to be the face of the Indian writing!
I took her advice seriously, bought the book only after reading the prologue and trust me it is well written and is one of the best prologues I had ever read from an Indian author. Thanks to the prologue, I decided to read the book.
In one stretch, I moved from chapter to chapter and voila the book was done in two hours. The cover of the book suggests it is an inspirational one. Now I am so inspired that I want to express what everyone should know before buying this book!
To begin with, “Everyone has a Story”, has a basic plot of a routine Bollywood film with too many twists and some great philosophical dialogues. Meera, the protagonist is in a search of a touching story which would move millions of hearts, sees this handsome guy in a cafe, instantly realizes that she found her story. The only question that boggled my mind was, how come an author realized that she found her perfect story as soon as one sees a person?
Leaving that for a moment, Meera’s boyfriend named Vivaan, wanted to quit his job and travel around the world. Okay, you must have read Thoreau, Emerson or Bill Bryson, but the way his character was paced is irritatingly stupid. The way Vivaan and Meera talk in their conversations looked like they were reading each other's WhatsApp statuses.
There is a moment when Vivaan tells “If traveling was free, they would never see me again”. Okay! You have read enough quotes in social media Ms. Savi, but don’t write them as your words, trust me it is really irritating. On the contrast there is a character named Kabir who happened to be a love failure with a heartbroken past and most of the boys would connect to him.
Ms. Savi might have read enough Paulo Coelho and James Allen books as she played with their quotes and added some quotes from Tumblr and Facebook to make it into a book. Everyone in the story talks like veteran philosophers, with long dialogues, page length stories and of course more inspirational quotes (Oh please!)
Though it lacks realistic sense, I want to appreciate the author, for writing a book like this with some bottom level philosophy and a typical Bollywood drama. She has great marketing skills, the way you promoted your book on Amazon and Facebook, really helped her to reach that Million Copies Sold mark. Her writing is simple, honestly, I felt magical at places and it would attract many novice readers. I must admit that she has a great potential, but she must make sure that she has a great story that moves millions with good character depths. I would like to buy “This Is Not Your Story” by Ms Savi and am personally waiting for it, expecting it to be a bit more reasonable. I want to be that lucky buyer who can win a writing workshop with Ms Savi Sharma to learn some marketing strategies from her.