Book Review: Like The Flowing River by Paulo Coelho

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Spirituality, Healing

“The landscape changes, so make the most of it.”

In a world full of novels, short stories are generally considered as underrated crafts of literature. However, Like The Flowing River has always been all praise and wisdom.

Paulo Coelho writing a book on his thoughts and reflections has been the most enchanting experience ever. Like The Flowing River, with its many short stories, sweep you into a world where miracles are reality and wisdom is sunshine. It consists of tales from his life that are full of philosophies, legends and journeys, always brimming with hope and optimism. 

His personal tales are proof of his raw clairvoyant heart and inspiring, thought-provoking philosophies. The legends and stories, that he has collected from around the world, are full of quaint morals and uplifting emotions. He brings the world of spiritualism to life through this book, which ticks all the boxes of a fantastic, light-hearted read, that can give you all the love that you have been searching for yourself and more.

Lastly, I’m going to keep this short, because if one thing that Like The Flowing River has taught me, is that short and stout endearing writings are significantly more powerful than any long, interminable prose.

A handful of my favourite quotes:

  1. At the moment, my life is a symphony composed of three distinct movements: ‘a lot of people’, ‘a few people’ and ‘almost no one’.
  2. Perhaps I’m giving too much thought to things that have less to do with thought and more to do with action.
  3. …when something undesirable grows in my soul, I ask God to give me the same courage mercilessly to pluck it out.
  4. An action is a thought made manifest.
  5. Any action committed in anger is an action doomed to failure.
  6. We will forget that each centimetre of earth has its mysteries that only the patent hand of the gardener can decipher.
  7. The fool who loves giving advice on our garden never tends his own plants at all.
  8. We each of us have our personal legend to fulfil and that is all.
  9. I simply believe that a book has its own journey to make, and should not be condemned to being stuck on a shelf.
  10. This means that the book has travelled just as its author’s mind travelled while he was writing it.
  11. It was such an intense experience that I lost all fear, and afterwards saw death as my daily companion.
  12. …because all of us, sooner or later, are going to die. And only those who accept this fact are prepared for life.
  13. Sometimes the world asks us to fight for things we do not understand and whose significance we will never discover.
  14. Love creates bridges where it would seem impossible.
  15. In the soul of man is the soul of the world, the silence of wisdom.

Book Review: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Genre: Romance, Psychological Fiction

“..the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets.”

In a middle school fancy dress competition, I dressed up as Arundhati Roy. Little did I know that five years later, this book was going to change my life; that I’ll ever be picking up a book that accurately fulfils ‘the promise of a story.’

Rahel and Estha, the fraternal twins, come back to their hometown, Ayemenem, and meet each other after what feels like a Long Time. Arundhati Roy guides the story through this town of Ayemenem where Rahel’s and Estha’s childhood history cajoles a tale that whispers the secrets of their family, the casteist air of the city, the political bearing of the atmosphere and the hidden specks of exploitation and discriminatory mishaps that seed in a city’s existentialism.

Arundhati Roy then introduces The God of Small Things and explains the readers how the God of Small Things is always happy and cheerful, even in troubled situations, due to ‘the relative smallness of his misfortune’ or due to the considerable minuteness of a problem. And how, it is this smallness of a misfortune that, in turn, results in big, undeniable consequences.

The ending makes Rahel and Estha, now thirty-one, realise that they are just as ill-fated as they were years ago when they were young, with only each other to count on, always looked on by The God of Small Things, only to end up in a situation that their mother, Ammachi, had ended up in when she was their age; a situation that lead to their ruins, that caused a calamity in their family. A situation that centered around love; a love that was punishable, forbidden and unrequited.

The God of Small Things is a wholesome book that you can only dream about. A story that connects the dots of all the realms of reality. A funny, epitomising tale of two child-like hearts discovering the world. A daunting, eccentric tale of unexpected love stories. A tale that breathes the horrors of Life and the consolation of Death. A book that fills you up with a flourish of colours and emotions. A book that sets you free.

A handful of my favourite quotes:

  1. It’s curious how sometimes the memory of death lives on for so much longer than the memory of the life that it purloined.
  2. The source of his brittle elation was the relative smallness of his misfortune.
  3. She’s living her life backwards.
  4. It was a time when the unthinkable became thinkable and the impossible really happened. 
  5. That it really began in the days when the Love Laws were made. The laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much.
  6. People always loved best what they most identified with.
  7. Thats what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.
  8. …she recognised nothing around her. Only her fear was familiar.
  9. There are things that you can’t do – like writing letters to a part of yourself. To your feet or hair. Or heart.
  10. If he touched her, he couldn’t talk to her, if he loved her he couldn’t leave, if he spoke he couldn’t listen, if he fought he couldn’t win.
  11. And once again, only the Small Things were said. The Big Things lurked inside unsaid.
  12. Change is one thing. Acceptance is another.

Book Review: The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Genre: Historical Fiction

“…I would often wonder if indeed there was more to existence than what logic and and my senses could grasp.”

– Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

India is a place that has cradled many epics and legends, but the two most loved epics of this culturally rich peninsula have always been the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Both the epics recite countless tales of heroism with its legendary heroes, the vices of vengeful characters and the aftermath of every befallen curse. The Palace of Illusions is a wondrous book that captures the tale of Mahabharata, but there is a difference- Chitra Banerjee chose to write Mahabharata from the eyes of the most underrated, prominent character – Panchaali (or Draupadi.) Yes, a tale of male heroism and folly through the eyes of a strong female; a female who was destined to change the course of history, a female who was born with a prophesy to cause the great war of Kurukshetra and a female who lost before she could even love.

“Wasn’t power singular and simple? In the world that I knew, men just happened to have more of it.”

Chitra Banerjee dauntingly voiced out one of the major things that we always noticed, but never gave a thought to – the minimalistic portrayals of strong women in Mahabharata. This book points out that females were not only a specimen to care for their husbands, but also, they were much more powerful in their approach and independent in thought than most other characters. An epic with women in the forefront. 

The book tours the readers from the suspicious and unprecedented birth of Panchaali, the princess of Panchaal, who always looked at the world with the eyes of an unfiltered critic. The readers then swim into her endlessly strong friendship with Krishna, who was loyal to her till the end, with the trust that they eternally shared; her personal lives with her five husbands, and how she supported and strengthened them through their highs and lows; her mystical attachment to Karna, a saga of its own and her journey from a girl who loved to hear the story of her mysterious birth, to the woman who loved her palace that was full of intriguing illusions, is what this ocean of a book, a tale of tales, has to offer. 

It is a greatly crafted piece of art, an epic crowning the strong females of Mahabharata, a book that I would happily read to someone who says that Mahabharata is all about the masculine Pandavas and Kauravas, to give them a piece of enlightenment that the reason why women survived the great war of Kurukshetra was because they lacked ego and were far more virtuous than the men, each with her own distinct identity, that further created history.

A handful of my favourite quotes:

  1. Each story will come in its time.
  2. And shut up as I was in this mausoleum of a palace, how would history even find me?
  3. This made him a fair ruler, but not a beloved one.
  4. So that what you started in milk could end one day in blood.
  5. Remember that, little sister: wait for a man to avenge your honour, and you’ll wait forever.
  6. Love comes like lightning and disappears the same way. If you’re lucky it strikes you right.
  7. But my believing is not important, nor yours. Thats not why stories are given to you.
  8. Doesn’t the imagination always exaggerate or diminish truth?
  9. “Ah forgiveness,” Dhri said. “Its a virtue that eludes even the great. Isn’t our existence a proof of that?”
  10. Nothing has more power over us than the truth.
  11. No matter how skilled they were at battle, ultimately it would not help them because they were forever defeated by their conscience.
  12. But truth, when its being lived, is less glamorous than our imaginings.
  13. I wanted to believe that sometimes good may happen without bad biting its heels.
  14. There’s so little in life that’s worth it.
  15. No one can shame you, he said, if you don’t allow it.

Book Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Genre: Romance, Fiction

“I only became black when I came to America.”

– Ifemelu

Americanah is a very intelligently put gutsy novel that animatedly talks about the contemporary American life through Nigerian eyes. Ifemelu dives into how the military and protestant way of life in old Nigeria compels her to fly to America, only to make her realise how difficult it was to even dream as a black person in America. There is a birth of a new Ifem as she discovers the passions of an American lifestyle, being entitled to carry her race and her African identity as a badge of an outcast from Brooklyn to New Haven; the start might have struck her like sour grapes but she soon catches up and leads us on a breath-taking adventure on becoming an Americanah. At the same time, she compares and contrasts the two different lives that she had been living, one in Nigeria and the other in America, and brings to light the dark, unchecked realms of both of her worlds, keeping the readers alerted and alive through till the showdown until she gets back to Nigeria, to her homely roots, her reincarnated Americanah self, sinking into her old Nigerian fairytale, to fulfil an incomplete wish.

Apart from the political hubbub of Nigeria and the black under-privileges of America, Adichie tells us a love story. A love that transcends time, a love that surpasses long distance and miscommunications, a love that seeds from self-affection, a love that honours brilliance of two minds and souls, a love that has got a hundred lives, a love that might have definitely touched YOU once and made truth of its presence some time.

The book makes you gasp at astonishing realities that Adichie has so bluntly expressed, it makes you suffer at the struggles of settling down in the American livelihood, it makes you believe in the good behind all the hustle and it makes you laugh.  The end ends the subtle mood swings on a perfect note, and the reader is left feeling respectful for the endearing adventure they have had, as much as the properly strung ending. It’s a book that you would never forget, a life you got to live in the most unexpected of ways.

A handful of my favourite quotes:

  1. ..her relationship with him was like being content in a house but always sitting by the window and looking out.
  2. I like my hair the way God made it.
  3. There was something immodest about her modesty; it announced itself.
  4. ..you were praised for humility by people because you did not make them feel any more lacking than they already did.
  5. She laughed, too, whenever he said,”I am an agnostic respecter of religion,” and she would tell him how lucky he was to be married to her, because even though he went to church only for weddings and funerals, he would get into heaven on the wings of her faith.
  6. You can love without making love.
  7. She believed in other people’s happiness because it meant that she, too, might one day have it.
  8. They tell you in the guidebooks what to expect when you’re gay or if you’re a woman. Hell, they need to do it for if you’re recognisably black.
  9. Racism is absurd because it’s about how you look. Not about the blood you have.
  10. If the “slavery was so long ago” thing comes up, have your white friend say that lots of white folks are still inheriting money that their families made a hundred years ago. So if that legacy lives, why not the legacy of slavery?
  11. She still admired him, his moral fibre, his life of clean lines, but now it was admiration for a person separate from her, a person far away.
  12. You do not marry the man you love. You marry the one who can best maintain you.
  13. It’s very hard to be a clean public official in this country. Everything is set up for you to steal.
  14. There are many different ways to be poor in the world but increasingly there seems to be one single way to be rich.
  15. Love was a kind of grief. This was what the novelists meant by suffering.

Book Review: By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept By Paulo Coelho

Genre: Romance, Fiction

This book is proof that Paulo Coelho is the only author who can turn spirituality into poetry. Right from the beginning, you see a sunrise of a poetic love story that sets very cleverly at the end.

“Legend says that the River Piedra is so cold that anything that falls into it – leaves, insects, the feathers of birds – is turned to stone.”

By the River Piedra is a book about love- love for an old school sweetheart, love for breathing in the miracles of life and love for the feminine side of God and religion. Pilar finds herself meeting her childhood lover after eleven years only to find him so spiritually awakened. Love is not on her mind when she first meets him but the rains of small miracles work their magic along the way. She discovers his world and in this world, the readers discover their faith; this faith is something you may not have ever expected to seek, for it is a faith of the enlightened. 

This book underlines the patience behind every spiritual belief, flushes positive vibes through its readers and is calm in its demeanour just like the River Piedra; it turns our doubts about love and belief into solid stones of truths. It makes us pray and believe that even when we are swept off in an endless cyclone of despair, miracles persevere and reach out to those who have the guts of believing in the unseen.

And even if the cyclone prevails and changes your horizons, this book will help you recover your faith.

A handful of some of my favourite quotes:

  1. Seek to live. Remembrance is for the old.
  2. All love stories are the same.
  3. I noticed that his voice hadn’t changed. But his words certainly had.
  4. Everyday God gives us the sun and also one moment in which we have the ability to change everything that makes us unhappy.
  5. 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.
  6. I was there because suddenly life had presented me with Life.
  7. The song was right: it must have been the lunatics who invented love.
  8. “Let’s lie down on the ground and feel the planet’s heart beating.”
  9. But it’s better to lose some of the battles in the struggle for your dreams, than to be defeated without ever even knowing what you’re fighting for. 
  10. The Gods throw the dice, freeing love from its cage. And love can create or destroy-depending on the direction of the wind when its is set free. For the moment, the wind was blowing in his favour. But the wind is as capricious as the Gods-and deep inside myself, I had begun to feel some gusts.
  11. ..and the universe always conspires to help the dreamer.
  12. This was a silence that spoke for itself.
  13. The moment we begin to seek love, love begins to seek us. And save us.
  14. We are our own greatest surprise.
  15. …all wisdom was the result of listening to one’s own soul.
  16. We are all a part of that same miracle.
  17. These pains are not the kind that hurt.
  18. God hides the fires of hell within paradise.
  19. What I remember is that love returned in the form of another man, new hopes and new dreams.
  20. Dreams mean work.