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E.L. Doctorow Eats, Shoots & leaves….

…Not really. But that is the sort of juxtaposition that happens when you read Eats, Shoots & Leaves and follow it up with The Waterworks. You end up reading a ripping good yarn through a grammarian’s lens.

Lynne Truss’s book had been lying on my shelf for the longest time, and finally, a month ago, I got around to reading it; with some trepidation, I must admit. I know my its from my it’s, but I don’t really fancy myself as a grammar person. With good reason, as I was to find out when I ventured into Lynne’s world, a world where full stops, commas, semicolons, colons, hyphens, apostrophes and the like seemed to radiate joy, anger and distress; mostly, the latter; with regards to their use and abuse. Most entertaining, I must confess. Possibly, the best book I have read this year – did you know there are some 7 appropriate uses for the comma? Or was that for the semicolon?

As you may have noticed, I have suddenly developed a fondness for semicolons, which is not two words, by the way.

In the meantime, I had paid a visit to Blossoms & Bookworms – my quarterly homage to second hand bookstores, and picked up a dozen books. E.L. Doctorow’s "The Waterworks", among them. Not an author I have read before, but someone I have heard a fair bit of in the past – one of those literary sorts’ is what I had thought. I am about 2/5ths done with the book, and I must say, literary, I certainly find him. Alongside that, though, eminently readable. Unlike, say, a Salman Rushdie – someone, I have, to this day, never been able to appreciate much (btw, the wife picked up Midnight’s Children – one in the dozen, and chances are, the least likely to be read end-to-end). I had also picked up a collection of short stories by Doctorow and I am much looking forward to that once I am done with this book. I think I will pick up a few more of his works as well, in due course. However, one thing I have noticed about Doctorow is that he uses a surfeit of ellipsis’s (…), which, if not for Madame Lynne, I would have paid scant attention to. And, if I have understood Lynne correctly, his usage isn’t always appropriate either. Tut, Tut, Mr. Doctorow.

In other news, the recession has hit – pretty direct impact, as well. But more on that, some other time. Matters of commerce are out of place in a post about books, no?

Lynne, by the way, rails a fair bit about the predisposition of my generation – or maybe, it’s the one after – to use ellipsis and dashes (not hyphens). Guilty, your honour.

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Music, books and other such arbit notes…

Many things on my plate, all of a sudden. All sorts of unconnected deliverables/presentations. Am finding it’s rather difficult to multi-task when your tasks have little in common with each other.

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The last two evenings/nights at home, I have been listening to this World Music CD that I had burnt many years ago – a different era almost. I hadn’t heard it in over 2-3 years, and didn’t even realize I was missing it, when I found it misplaced in a different CD case day before evening. That made me think of the other CDs that were possibly misplaced and I ended up spending a fair while sorting through my limited CD collection, and organizing them reasonably better. That task done, I put on the world music CD, and spent the next couple of hours humming along to French Accordion music, Taj Mahal, and other artists whose names I no longer remember.

Put me in a state of mind that I suppose I can best describe as extraordinarily peaceful. Listened again for a fair while yesterday night. Same effect. It’s always nice to revisit songs that you haven’t heard in a long time. There is something extra-magical about that particular experience.

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Currently consuming a very interesting book, “The book thief” . I don’t normally get books I haven’t heard about earlier, but this was one of those exceptions. Had picked it up at Crossword after reading all the praises in the blurb. And am glad I did. The story’s set in World War II Germany, which is all I shall say for now. Fantastic writing, totally absorbing, and pulls all the right strings. Halfway through right now, and should, in all probability, finish it over the weekend.

Also organized my book shelves/cupboard last week and realized that quite a few books have been sitting on my book shelf in various stages of completion. Close to 20 books – Some of them I wonder why I even bought in the first place, but guess I should at least read the rest before getting any more used/new ones

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Invested directly in the markets today, after many many years. Bought 100 odd shares of K SERA SERA productions. Pure whim. RGV better have a few hits this year. 🙂

Meme time…

What Kind of Reader Are You?

Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you’re not nerdy about it. You’ve read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Book Snob
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Dedicated Reader
Fad Reader
Non-Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Of books and movies…

Read John Battelle’s “The Search”, last week. Engrossing and insightful. Much interesting info on the evolution of Internet Search and Internet advertising.  As is to be expected, at least half the book is centered around Google, but it’s more than just a history of Google. There are other heroes, other stories too – Bill Gross and Goto.com, for one.

Reading a book like this makes one realize just how much things have changed. Much recommended.

I made a list of movies seen and books read last year. 40 movies (including ones on DVD, excluding HBO/Star Movies), and 20 odd books. A bit surprised that I only read 20 books, but I think I have forgotten 3-4. 66% of it was fiction, 33% non fiction. Both counts seem reasonable, though I would like to up the non fiction % a bit. 50-50 seems like a good target to aim for, this year.

I also did a quick rating for the movies and the books, and turns out among the movies I saw, the best ones were Schindler’s List, Judgment at Nuremberg, The Station Agent, Before Sunset, 12 Angry Men, The Motorcycle Diaries, Lage Raho Munnabhai, Omkara, Rang De Basanti and Autograph. As for the books the top two were “Ptolemy’s Gate” and “An Equal Music”. The Mahatma and the Poet, The Corporation, The River Sutra, and one of the books in the Tagore compilation (either Part 2 or 4) were the other honourable mentions.

The worst movie I saw was “Thambi”, the worst book “Sons of Fortune”.