Book Recommendation-Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh

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The partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 was one of the bloodiest, brutal and harrowing events to have taken place. Hindus and Sikhs fled from their homes which are now in Pakistan; Muslims fled from their homes which are now in India.
India was to be a Hindu and Sikh state and Pakistan to be the Islamic state.
People were killed in large numbers. Trains started out filled with Islamic people in India and reached corpses in Pakistan. Trains which started in Pakistan to come to India with Hindus and Sikhs faced the same fate. Men were killed. Indian or Sikh men in Muslim areas were stripped naked and their penises were cut off. In Hindu and Sikh areas, men were stripped and every circumcised penis was killed.
Women were taken a hold of and abused and raped. Hindu and Sikh women were paraded around naked in Muslim areas before being raped by a number of men in front of a throng of onlookers. The same fate fell on Muslim women in Hindi and Sikh areas.
People killed their own children before killing themselves too. They would spare their children and themselves the horror of the Partition, where Hindu, Muslims and Sikh forgot humanity.
Nobody knows which side started the mass atrocities. But neither side stopped. Both were led by people aiming to do worse to the other side than what had been done. Fanatics with the twisted thinking to rationalise killing.
Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan revolves around a little village on the India-Pakistan border, Mano Majra. Mano Majra is in the summer of 1947, when the partition’s atrocities were underway.
Train to Pakistan is written very well. It is an old book, written in 1956(WOW!). It has various elements which were present in older books.
Train to Pakistan’s imagery is beautiful. Khushwant Singh’s Mano Majra is one of the fullest, most complete and fleshed out setting in any book I have ever read. The Fault in Our Stars, All the Bright Places, and The Shadow of the Wind have beautiful stories, but they don’t feature set locations where the story takes place, such as a city or a town.
Everything about Mano Majra is explained.
How people wake up in the morning, their morning rituals, the work they do, how and when they eat food, the interactions they have with each other and when they sleep. The structure of the village, what is at the centre, the lanes leading up to it. The world surrounding the village. The railway station, the rest house near Mano Majra, the fields near the village and the tonga used to transport people to the nearby town of Chundunnugger, where there is the police station.
The host of characters in and around Mano Majra, coming in all throughout the story are as full as Mano Majra. They are interesting, riveting and exquisitely written. You hate some, and love some. They’re all real. And depending on mind sets, everyone will love and hate different characters. That’s the power of this book’s writing.
The characters are riveting in portrayal but polarising in reception.
I curse my writing skills here. Because at times when I want to be more expressive, my skills are insufficient in completely describing my feelings.
Going on a tangent, the thing about life is that at times, things happen to people which are not fair. Maybe because they don’t have enough exposure, or maybe because there were people who were more cunning and enterprising. Such situations have happened to all of us; more often than we would like to admit. And we face these more often than the good ones.
The people in Train to Pakistan often find themselves in such situations, through no fault of their own. Due to most of our upbringing revolving around action movies and heroic caricatures of characters, we feel something heroic could have been done. But the truth is, in such situations, we all often lack the awareness, courage and spontaneity to do so.
And the ending!! I loved the ending! Another facet of life, is that in desperate times, we take desperate measures. Those desperate measures reveal who we are. The ending was perfect, so beautiful. It summed up everything, perfectly.
Like I said, my skills aren’t at the point where I can frame and tell you how much I loved the ending.
Train to Pakistan is a terrific novel. I loved it. It is a story about the Partition, people, and morality of people. It’s a book which everyone will find to be enlightening and a very fluid read.


Train To Pakistan has been the best book I’ve read in 2017 so far, which comprises of four books right now(This, A Painted House by John Grisham, I Will Marry George Clooney(by December)  by Tracy Bloom, The Shakespeare Curse by J.L Carrell), this is by far the best. And this book will continue to be one of the best of 2017 as well, no matter how many more books I read this year.
An amazing book!
Happy Reading!

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The Importance of seeng things through to the End

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As artists, we have the uncanny ability to make a new piece of art from just about anything. We could be seeing a weird man on the street, taking rubbish and Voila! We have a new character to act out. We may see two men standing five steps from the dumpster eating an ice cream who nonchalantly throw the wrappers on the road. That’s a new painting. We listen to a song and there it is! A new character to write a story about. As artists, we tend to get inspired by just about anything we perceive, provided we give it time.
But most of the times, we start and then we throw. We don’t finish. For one of many myriad reasons, such as losing inspiration, or finding it to be too repetitive or clichéd or just seeing it’s too similar to our previous works. And then, we either leave it half complete, or just throw it away, whither one suits the art form.
I’ve done it myself. Ever since I’ve started writing, every time I’ve become disenchanted with a story or the story becomes too boring to write or too demanding or I lose inspiration, it becomes a habit to leave the piece and move onto the next one; rather than scratching out what doesn’t feel good and moving on. For every story I’ve written, I have maybe one or two stories I haven’t completed.
It’s important to see our things through to the end. Not just for the betterment of our art, but for the betterment of ourselves as well.
Whenever we start a piece, we give an unspoken word. So by not finishing the piece, we break our word. And a man is only as good as his word, as many great men in movies and TV shows say.
This carries into our lives as well. There are so many times we tell somebody, “Yeah I’ll do this”, but when the time comes, we laze about and blow it off.
That’s not because we don’t complete our pieces. It is one of the side effects along with not completing our pieces. It is a side effect of our habit to leave things hanging, to not do them or leave them in between, as it suits us.
Most of the times, we don’t even know such a thing is going on with us. We think we’ll do better on the next piece (we often do). We think the person would understand our predicament and wouldn’t mind (even though we completely failed to understand that person and also our own limits).
While I have stated this in terms of artists at the start, such things happen with everybody. Be it a software engineer, who can laze about and complete their code later, a marketing salesman who can make a presentation later and so on and so forth. The advantage artists have, at times, is we do our art usually because we love it. A software engineer loves his coding, no doubt, but when your art is also a hobby, you tend to work with more passion and freedom because there is no pressure of your monthly income depending on it. So artists have the opportunity to improve one of their habits, of not keeping to our word by completing our pieces. No matter how boring they get, or how bored we have gotten, or how we may have gotten de-inspired and don’t find the strength to finish the piece.
Such a change won’t happen in one day, nor a week. It’s a habit we’re trying to change here, one that possibly has been there for a long time now. But if we work hard, our habit will change.
So the next time you think of leaving a piece, and do it, that’s a positive step. And if anybody who reads this and thinks of this article once before finishing the piece when they wanted to give it up, that’ll be a little victory and the goal of this piece will have been reached!


It feels so important to share little things like these; because when I’ve never had people to tell me such things which I deem important. So I’ve started finding these out on my own. And I have an impulse to share them with everybody, so that maybe somebody can benefit from such musings or find the answer to some problem of theirs!

Happy Reading!

Book Recommendation- The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

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I came across The Screaming Staircase at the book fair, near a staircase which was screaming. Heheheheheh.Okay on to the recommendation now.
The Screaming Staircase has been one of the most enjoyable reads of this year. Beating out the likes of Alice Sebold, Eva Ibbotson, Charles Duhigg, Harlan Coben and many more. It’s not that The Screaming Staircase has a prose as powerful as A Thousand Splendid Suns or Sleeping on Jupiter, or philosophy as deep as Paulo Coelho, or insanely amazing and powerful dialogues. It’s, just a book I took up, and then proceeded to ignore the world for hours till I finished it. I had so much fun reading this book. I literally did not put this down. I went past my own bed time just to read another chapter. A book may not be very good objectively, in terms of its plot or characters or whatever, but if a book pushes you to such things, it’s a good book for you.
Just because I’ve said The Screaming Staircase doesn’t have the best prose or plot or dialogues that powerful, doesn’t mean they are no good.
The first winning point is the concept of The Screaming Staircase. In the world of The Screaming Staircase, in England, a new problem has emerged. There are ghosts that are there in the world. All the little creaking you heard at night, all the weird sightings at night. You guessed it. Ghosts. Ghosts have emerged in this part of the world and it’s up to specialised teams, made of children (because they can sense ghosts very well. And not five year old. But more of ten and eleven and early teenagers if I remember correctly.).
At the top of the book, you will see Lockwood and Co. written very magnificently. Lockwood and Co. is one of the various ghost hunting agencies in the world. It has the narrator Lucy, George, another member and the leader, Anthony Lockwood.
Another winning point about this book is the chemistry of these three together. George is the well, nerd of the group. He likes to study all cases (as in, cases of catching the ghost), read deep into the history of the case and the place (the location of the ghost haunting) and be prepared for anything. Lucy is the newbie. She doesn’t read all that much and is more hands on. Anthony Lockwood, better known as just Lockwood, is the charismatic leader of the group. He is smart, hands on, knows how to play people and get his way and always steps up to a challenge.
The three of them mesh together and form a team you root for the whole time. All three characters feel like real life persons as well, with their back stories fleshed out and their reactions being what we would most probably do in such a scenario.
Another winning point of the book is the world. Jonathan Stroud builds up a world from scratch. He details every little aspect. The types of ghosts. How the problem started. The counter measures taken by the government. The agencies and their history. Such as Lockwood and Co. and the various other agencies in existence for a long time. The weapons used against the ghosts. The tactics used at the place of the haunting. The origin of the haunting. Every little thing you could think of is there. Jonathan Stroud left no detail when describing the world.
There is however one gripe I had with the book. Like we all know, every thriller or book of this sort (I can’t put a finger on the genre), there is a mystery and then a huge climax. Sadly, the climax and the huge mystery deals with humans, rather than ghosts. There was a big battle, yes, but the main mystery was with humans. It’s tough to articulate it. But if your premise is a ghost world, then your huge issue should be related to ghosts, not an accident and a cover up by humans. That was a gripe for me.
Now, onto more winning points. Another winning point is the ease with which it is read. Like I said above, it is a book I could not put down. There aren’t any complicated plot twists or any tough words. It is a breeze to read through and a joy. It’s a simple book.
The Screaming Staircase is a book I would tell everyone to read. It’s just a simple, fun book that you’ll love from the moment go.


It’s beeeeeeeennnn a long time since my previous Book Recommendation. I’ve read a couple of books in the past week, but I can’t think of why I would like to recommend those books. I’ve read Chocolat by Joanne Harris and The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, and I’m going to be doing thorough re-reads again in order to capture their essence which I believe I missed on my first read of both the books!

But The Screaming Staircase is one hell of an amazing book. I loved it thoroughly, and while it is termed as a kids book by many people, I’d rather read this book than many other adult writers. Kids books have such hearts and souls and fun. They draw you towards them!

To everyone, do try and read this book if you get a chance. It will be money well spent! TIll my next post, Happy Reading!

Book Recommendation-The Almost Moon

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The Almost Moon is a short two ninety page novel. It’s simple to read, not very complicated. I finish books like these in two-three working days strictly (That was meant as a joke to keep up the tradition), yet somehow it took me almost two weeks to finish The Almost Moon. It’s not because I didn’t enjoy the book, but I’ve been unable to fully appreciate reading for quite some time now when compared to writing or video gaming, especially when I’ve been tired. But with The Almost Moon and now “Last Chance Saloon” (Which seems as a book good enough to command its own Book Recommendation), I think I’m coming back to the groove.
The Almost Moon is a book I have never come across before. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book like this before. It’s an entirely character driven affair. The whole story is set by the impulses, whims and thinking of the characters. They are irrational, fearful, scared, angry, scarred. There are no huge moments, no huge sequences where the characters become larger than life or so on, the usual schbang. There are just the characters, their pasts, which drives the present. And the past is there in massive abundance.
This is why I have never read such a story. Not a lot of story takes place in the present. Most of the story is set in the past. The past of the character(s), primarily of Claire Knightley, the protagonist, and everyone with her (the past they share with Claire for most part).
At the start of the book, bit of a spoiler here, though this does happen at the first page and the whole plot is set upon this, so not as big a spoiler, Claire kills her mother. Claire then talks about her past. All her little things, her scarring, her sufferings and all the things she went through. All her thoughts, all the oddities she encountered in her family and at times herself. The prejudices and habits she grew up with. Then it is up to you to justify Claire’s action. To judge whether she was right or wrong.
Claire’s tale is a highly jolting and beautifully articulated one. Every aspect you can possibly think of about a girl’s life has been covered. And some things that can only happen to people with a very weird parent.
Honestly, despite the fact that Claire killed her mother, I felt sympathetic towards her. The way she talks about her life, made me think had I been in her place, I would have done the same thing she did, but sooner. It’s the strength of the prose that lets you get there.
This is a fantastic piece of prose. All the while I was reading this book, I was reminded fondly of Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy, a book which I regard as having maybe one of the smoothest and well written prose, up there with A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. There are so many similarities in the prose between The Almost Moon and Sleeping on Jupiter, besides them having celestial objects in the title. They are gripping and just so beautiful. So effortless with characters so comprehendingly complicated, with the irrationality and complicatedness showing in their split second decisions.
I frankly don’t know what else to write about this book. It’s one of those things I am at a loss to describe. It’s a beautiful book that you should read. It takes some effort to get into the groove but is completely worth it.


 

Thank you note to a friend who gave you onion and garlic flavoured Gum

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Dear inconsiderate ass of a friend and awful human being. I hope my letter reaches you in great health. I mean that of the letter, not you. I hope when the letter reaches you, you are being terrorised by a group of honey bees who’ve recently realised you give people onion and garlic flavoured gum. I pleasantly hope you still have the skills required to read the letter.
I want to thank you. No really, i do. In spite of the fact that you are a bad person to whom horrible things should happen. Such as stubbing your little finger on every furniture item you own. Or getting all comfortable in your sleep, with a blanket on top and then having the sudden urge to get up and pee.
I have to thank you. First off, for making me realise that there is another atrocious thing added to the list of things that want to make me puke.
Second, for making my taste buds realise they can still function after such a horrible torture. Though they still recoil at the thought of you garlic and onion flavoured gum.
Third, for making me realise that people are usually either truly stupid, cruel or mischievous yet truly creative for thinking of such things.
And finally the fourth. For allowing me to realise that i can be so pleasantly passive aggressive and tell you to die a horrible and terrible death without feeling guilty.
You my friend are scum. One of the worst types of scum ever to set foot and distribute gum to innocent people who long for some because their busy life doesn’t allow them to remember such simple pleasures and only remember them when they see it. So when they see you and your gum, they would love one. Little do they know, that their saintly gum distributor is actually Satan in disguise.
Let me ask you. How do you live with yourself after doing such a thing? How? And I also question how could you do such a thing to a friend like me? One of your best friends. How do you sleep at night? Oh I’m sorry. I think i articulated that you won’t at the start of the note.
Sadly, since it’s my first time being so passive aggressive and so severely iodinated, i think this is my limit. I would like to end up by summing up and saying, I hope your arms fall off the moment you finish this letter.


Another attempt at a funny piece! I found this topic while randomly scrolling through the net! Fun!

Happy Reading!

Chats-The one with the Two Friends

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1: You have all these songs. But you always skip them on shuffle. Why the hell don’t you delete them?
2: I’ll always keep these songs
1: What the hell? Why?
2: She sent me all these songs when we were together. It’s like, a reminder of her, my connection to her.
1: These songs that you rarely listen to?
2: Well yeah. These songs are what started us off. It was our shared love for Imagine Dragons that brought us together. We were crazy. Up till midnight sending each other songs. Discussing them. Watching the music videos, analysing their meaning. We were crazy kids back in the day.
1: AHHAHAHAHAHAH!! Seriously? Music was what made you two crazy? You sweet, sweet innocent child of mine.
2: Yeah, trust me. Had it not been for those songs, I don’t think I would have ever had a proper way of communicating with her.
1: Seriously?
2: Hell yeah! Had it not been for our shared love of music, we never would’ve gotten so close. That’s what I used to do. Send a song whenever the conversation dulled and then we had something to talk about. And just like that, we used to talk about the universe and its infinite expanse, life and sadness and about us. Somehow, those songs went through us and we weren’t afraid about talking.
1: Wow.
2: And we sent each other all kinds of songs. Rock, pop, English, Hindi, old Bollywood classics, new age Hindi Rock, EDM, you name it, though I never liked the songs she sent. But I never told her, because me liking those songs made her happy, and I didn’t care about anything else or more.
1: Those songs mean a lot to you, don’t they?
2: They do. Each of those songs is her. Every song she sent has her in it somewhere. They preserve her. Because after somebody goes away, it’s what they left you that reminds you of your time with them. I mean, I hate listening to some of these songs, but I love them as well because when I listen to them, I feel with her. Telling her about the songs, how much I like them and seeing her face light up with a grin. Excitedly agreeing and then going off on how much she liked the song. There are her emotions behind some of these songs that these songs assume new meaning and depth.
1: Do you miss her?
2: Yeah, I do. I really do. That’s why I’m glad for the music. It helps you be with people long after they are gone.
1: I’m still confused. Why music? Even after music, you had so many mementos, moments, photographs. Things more tangible. Why music you hate?
2: Because music will always stay with me. Even when I’m ninety. So when I’ll be far away from home or maybe even have dementia at seventy four, I could hear the music and know she’s still watching over me and smiling at me and maybe coming to meet me or waiting for me to meet her.
1: Sucks man. The universe sucks. It’s an absolute whore for taking her. I mean, of all the worthless, good for nothings, it decides on her. What blasphemy.
2: Well, can’t blame it. I mean, the universe has a job as well. It has to be impartial towards it. It cannot care about the consequences and implications. It just cannot care.
1: Which leaves people devastated. For no reason, except the universe is a bitch.
2: Well, still. You can’t bitch and whine about the universe. You can’t possible wage a war against the universe. I mean look at it. It’s huge.
1: So? I say we do it and beat the universe to a pulp.
2: Yeah? Entropy will annihilate us even before we try. Gobble us up and throw us back out.
1: I say screw Entropy man. Screw Relativity. Screw Heisenberg/ We beat up the universe, one atom at a time.
2: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. And how do you suggest we do it?
1: Well, there was this crazy king once, who went to war with Poseidon. So, in order to show Poseidon up, he had his army stab the water. Stab the goddamn water. And that’s what we will do. We’ll stab the air, ourselves, other people, tress, grass, al atoms. To take revenge. Let the universe feel our wrath.
2: BWAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh my god. You can’t be serious?
1: I am. Because that guy was a genius. Because he let it all out. You can’t let the universe take away whatever it wants and then let it hope that it gets away with it. That there will not be r implications or consequences. The universe has to deal with them as well.
2: But it’s futile. Because the universe doesn’t have time for us.
1: So what? You’re saying that we let the universe get away with it and sit idly by?
2: Yes and no.
1: What?
2: We need to let the universe get away with it. We have to allow the universe to not care. Even if it did it in purpose. Because the universe cannot care. Because if the universe started caring, there wouldn’t be any fair thing to do and it would throw itself, and us in a state of perpetual chaos and eventually destroy itself. And it is imperative that the universe outlast us. So as to be a caretaker of everything it encompasses.
1: So, we let it get away with it?
2: Yes. But we don’t sit idly by.
1: What do we do?
2: Now, this is something I truly believe in. You sit back and look up at the clouds. You look hard, really hard. And if you try hard enough, you’ll maybe see a silver lining. A small little reason to be happy and forgive the universe.
1: Why? Why forgive the universe?
2: Because the universe gives us sadness and happiness both. And hating the universe for the bad parts will bring us no good. Instead, we should be thankful to the universe for the good time it gave us and be happy. Live and let live, right?
1: Yeah, but still. It sucks what happened. I mean, it wasn’t right.
2: The universe is unbiased. It sees no right or wrong. It just sees what needs to be done. Even if we feel it’s wrong. We need to let the universe have one, even if it screws up. Be kind, because everyone, including the universe need it.
1: Yeah. Maybe even in taking away the universe gives us something. It gives us nostalgia. Things to live by. Memories.
2: Yeah. Makes sense. And it’s not easy to be pissed off at the universe. I mean, it did make me and her meet right?
1: Yeah, that’s true. But think about it. When it comes down to it, wouldn’t you rather sit with her and chat rather than chatting with me?
2: “Just smiles and continues working”


To everyone who loves talking about the universe. And i know a lot of “The Fault in our Stars” fans and people interested in science will be the ones to grab onto this! Do sound off in the comments below about your feeling regarding the Universe and its infinite grandness!

Book Recommendation-The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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The Shadow of the Wind. A book by Carlos Ruiz Zafón in our world. A book by Julian Carax in the world spun together by Carlos Ruiz Zafón in this novel.

The Shadow of the Wind, both the books that you get to know about, the one you read whole written by Carlos Ruiz Zafón and the one you get to know about by Julian Carax are both books that seem of a different era of writing. A different style of writing books altogether. You don’t find books like these anymore. You will fall in love with the one by Carlos Ruiz Zafón because of how well he has written it. The words. The way Zafón strings together his words and the perfect way with how each character’s words feel real. His ink drips with the beauty of the Barcelona it is set in. His words give rise to the characters who are running around, bathing in the storms and rains and snowfalls and sunlight and bullets of that Barcelona. And the words and phrases he uses! Bellicimo. Beautiful. Words fail short for the masterful way he strings his words together. ‘A secrets worth depends on the people from who it must be kept.’ ‘The violet streaks of sunlight from between the clouds. ‘As if I believed that with that kiss I could deceive time and convince it to pass us by, to return some other day, some other life.’ As the tale goes on and on, you want more. More of the words, more these characters running around for their quest. You want to know their stories, the ones who are alive and also the ones who are dead, or about to die. Because as long as we remember someone, they never die. Even if we remember them in the dusty recesses of our mind.

The book, Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón centers around Daniel Sempere, a boy of ten who finds the book “The Shadow of the Wind” by Julian Carax in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books; feeling as though the book by Carax was waiting for his, maybe even before he was born. That night, he goes back home and reads the book full, well into the next morning. He has never heard about the author, Julian Carax. Nor has anyone else. All that is known is his books have a high price in the book collectors’ collection due to a legend related to all books by Carax.

Intrigued, Daniel sets off to uncover the legend of Julian Carax, who he was, or is, and what happened to him ,as his last steps are shrouded in mystery, and so his life.

The book by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a thriller, a drama, a love story, a coming of age and a documentary about the Spanish Civil War. Whew! Most authors can barely manage a good thriller and this guy multitasks his genres. The book by Carlos Ruiz Zafón easily sneaks its way into one of the best books I’ve read. Like I said, nobody writes books like these anymore. It’s rare to find such dedication to a book and such detail and insane characterization as well. This book is almost perfect. Had it not been for a single hiccup in the story, the book would have been perfect (for me). Well up among my two favourite books, The Fault in our Stars by John Green and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini.

Now as for the hiccup. In most stories, especially thrillers, only the keen readers, whose singular quest is to find out the identity of the killer or the plot twist before its reveal and read and re read every page to be sure of the details find out. But in The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, the revelation of the twist is not grand. Because the chapters preceding it give you all the information you require to guess the twist and when it finally comes, you’re like “Cool. I know. Cool. Had to be it” rather than “Oh My God! Are you kidding me? No No No” sort of a feel.

The Shadow of the Wind is a rare book. Very few writers now a days write even stories remotely close to this one. Fact is, most of us writers now a days limit our imagination to an acceptable limit that we feel is fine. Carlos Ruiz Zafón lets it run wild and lets all those words fall on paper. We write a bit in fear of exceeding that limit. Zafón has set no limit and hence writes fearlessly. This is one book I would recommend to everyone. This book is a must read. One of the most amazing tales ever spun that deserves all praise showered on it.


It has been a long time since my previous book recommendation, that being of The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. This is sadly because the quality of books I’ve read in the past couple of months has been abysmal to say the least. Books that seemed great but were anti-climatic, or books that were just too darn stupid. Finding books that really make sense and feel great are becoming tougher and tougher to find. The Shadow of the Wind and The Gift(by Cecelia Ahern)(Never thought i’d like a Cecelia Ahern book) have been the two good books I’ve read in the past month or so, despite having read about six books.