Category: Book Reviews


So, I’ve been ignoring this part of my blog for a while for the simple reason that I haven’t been reading much lately. My life is revolving around caring for a sick mother, enjoying time home and behaving like a child when I’m not weaving a million plans for my future.

This blog post is about to be really simple: The Immortals of Meluha. Read it.

Although that’s pretty much all I want to say about this book, it struck a chord with me because it chooses names for Hindu mythology and swaddles them with a story that should be in all our hearts; the story of a man and the divinity within him. Some of you may be upset at the author’s take on things but I beg you to look past your beliefs and into the gist of the story. For it summarizes, in my opinion, what world religions have to say… that humans are close to God/made in an image of God/hold God within themselves.. not going into the logistics of it of course because I could have a full blown blog about why those things mean essentially the same thing.

So stop reading this random post by a random girl on the web.. and go open the book you just read about! Ciao!

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I just finished reading another book – The Winner Stands Alone, by Paulo Coelho. I have always liked all his books and this one fell right on the good track as well.

This is a book making the reader realize that being famous or rich is not an end in itself and that our society, although said to  be progressive, is leading people to riches, fame, success and yet taking everything away. It is stripping people of love, security, friendship in return for crisp notes of money, pretence of happiness and satisfaction, good business contacts and massive amounts of monetary profit. Afterall, money can’t buy a true love or a best friend. It can not buy peace of mind, happiness and content. Rather, it gets one stuck in a rut of always wanting more,doing better, climbing just one  more hill while the things and people that make our hearts jump are walking away right in front of our eyes.

It makes one really give life a thought and introspect to find the true contentment and happiness, showing that money, success and fame can’t give anyone everything they need.

It’s a great book that everyone should read because it is time we realize this on our own with the help of a good author and a good story.

I am quoting this from one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors. Paulo Coelho’s “By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept” is a simple but awe inspiring book.

Everytime I read this, I feel like sharing it… and hence, I am blogging about it today.
“Pitiful is the person who is afraid of taking risks. Perhaps this person will never be disappointed or disillusioned; perhaps she won’t suffer the way people do when they have a dream to follow. But when that person looks back – and at some point everyone looks back – she will hear her heart saying, “What have you done with the miracles that God planted in your days? What have you done with the talents God bestowed on you? You buried yourself in a cave because you were fearful of losing those talents. So this is your heritage: the certainty that you wasted your life”

Pitiful are people who must realize this. Because when they are finally able to believe in miracles, their life’s magic moments will have already passed them by.”

 

I’m not going to justify my liking for it. All I’m going to say is that living my life the way I do, I think that this is a vital truth of life and this world. If I read on from where I quoted this, it talks about our inner child and how that child understands the magical moments and miracles of life. It talks about the sadness that sometimes suddenly grips us because deep down we know that our day’s magic moment has passed and we failed to do anything with it… it is all about letting that inner child stay with us because if we are in touch with this child, we are in touch with life.

That moment doesn’t come back but it brings with it joy. So, to me, not taking risks is a bigger risk than taking any because who knows what we are missing on right this moment? Yes, it may not be all good, but would you rather live with the regret of not knowing?

Just live and do what your heart says… because that is what counts in the end.

Paulo Coelho, has managed to get my attention once again. One of his most famous and most inspirational works is The Alchemist, and although it was not the first book by him that I read, a quote from it guided my life for quite some time.

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

This line has kept me going at times when I believed failure was awaiting me and it has helped me make some big decisions in life. Although it guided my life for a while, I lost it somewhere while running this crazy rat race. In fact, this quote and “signs” helped me be certain of my decision to study in USA…

I had entirely forgotten about this quote and my thoughts were leading my life in a strange direction. But, something that happened today brought it all back on track and helped my mind reconcile in that quote’s truth.

It is my twenty-first birthday tomorrow and I was supposed to write a Physics exam tomorrow. I was sitting here dreading the exam and solving some problems for practice. I’ve been hoping and wishing that this exam was canceled and it was just a stupid desire of a child who hasn’t grown up. The child in me still wanted to celebrate a birthday without having to deal with real life. Well, guess what? My wish came true and I don’t have to face real life because a classmate messaged me on Facebook to ask if I saw Dr. Dave’s last email. Somehow, I had managed to overlook it and would have kept studying if he hadn’t mentioned it.

The universe, which includes circumstances, turned to my side and the e-mail stated that the exam tomorrow is now optional. Considering my average for the first three tests is 98%, there is absolutely no need for me to take this exam. Afterall, the universe did help me achieve what I wanted… 😀

I know it’s a very minor incident according to most of us, but it is special to me because it brought that quote back to me and returned to me the hope that I lived with… the hope that helped me believe and succeed. It is the little things in life that are miraculous and while one waits for the big ones to happen, one loses the most precious ones….

To end it in Paulo Coelho’s words:

“It is the possibility of having dreams come true that makes life interesting”

… and it has just made mine a little more brighter

Mayada

We often think of Iraq and generalize the public on the view that we have of the government. This summer, I had the chance to read a very interesting account of a lady’s life who represents majority of the Iraqi population and her experiences with government under Saddam Hussein. Mayada, by Jean Sasson, is one of the books that gives you the feel of being in the shoes of the main character and this is complemented by the fact that this story is 100% true.

Jean Sasson, having travelled a lot of the world, made a trip to see Iraq and Iraqi life with her own eyes. She spent time in children’s leukemia wards and had the chance of seeing Iraq from the point of view of the general population instead of the sight travellers get from a massive hotels windows.

 It is there that she met Mayada Al Aksari, the daughter of one of the most influential families in Iraq who, later, found herself suffering in torture cells set up by Saddam… The details of the days she spent with other innocent people facing pain and the fear of death each day and the tale of their endurance brings tears in the eyes of all readers. I believe that this book is a must read for all of us and thanks to Jean Sasson and Mayada’s friendship and sisterhood, it gives us a chance to feel a fraction of the pain Mayada felt and to bring close to our hearts the stories of many who suffered by the hands of a tyrant.

It brings us back to the oldest and the most important lesson –  Faith leads a long way, even in the face of death… Hope creeps into the walls of the darkest cells flooded with hopelessness and love pulls even the most broken person back towards life.

I just finished reading another book, adding another one to the “already read” list. But, this book had a profound effect on me.

A Thousand Splendid Suns – by Khaled Hosseini. Another good book describing the latest years in Afghan cities such as Kabul and Herat. I have read Kite Runner (another book by the same author), but I was more moved by A Thousand Splendid Suns.

The book is named after some lines of poetry, describing the love that one feels for one’s country, the beauty of Kabul and the respect one’s homeland always holds on one’s heart no matter where we may be. The author quotes –

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”

This book describes the times of war and gives me a lot to be thankful for. I am thankful that my life is so different from people who went through the various political and religious uprisings in Afghanistan. I am thankful that I am not the girl who had to watch her father’s torso ripped out by a blast and that I am not the boy who’s parents died in refugee camps. Life would be different in a world where living was only a day-to-day struggle to follow the strict rules of a certain group… where the ancient relics are destroyed in the name of religion and where places where our memories created over the years, are ruined in a ball of fire. People’s hometowns turned into a place where the streets of our childhood were turned into nothing but rubble, where the people we loved are left as nothing but a distant memory, where parents find solace in running panicked through streets finding the bits of pieces of their blown up children and where little kids find their friends sock-clad foot around the corner of the street they once played in. It hurts to read of innocent families and their huge losses over something they hear only over the radio. It pains me to feel even so distantly, the apprehensions they felt every time they heard the whistling sounds of a rocket in the air – holding their breaths and awaiting to find out if it was their turn to die.

We complain about the small things in life forgetting that there are people out there suffering way more than we are. I sit here and complain about waking up too early or being sleep deprived, about being in pain some days or about not being able to go out one evening… without realizing that there are people who spend months in their houses, eating bare rice with salt to survive and hoping that the next minute does not bring their death.. people who grieve the deaths of their loved ones without having to even look at them one last time and people walk the beautiful streets of their childhood stricken with fear listening for the sounds of close gunshots, whistling of rockets and shatterings of windows…

I am grateful for the life I have and for my wonderful friends and family.