Utopia

My ideal holiday is one where I hole up in a hotel room, order room service all day long, and read the stack of books I have brought along with me.

Being an avid reader all my life, it was somehow disconcerting and disheartening to suddenly come across speedbumps that almost threw me off-course. For the past couple of years, I’ve had such trouble reading books that I had kind of given up on them. Most of them just bored me. Nothing, not the story, not the language, absolutely nothing seemed to keep me interested enough to complete the books I brought home from the library. I even joined the local book club in an attempt to revive some interest.

This weekend, however, was as close to Utopia as I could get. Perhaps it’s just a cycle that I was going through, but this time, the books I lugged home on Friday evening kept me engrossed the whole weekend. I just loved all of them, and I count them as successes because they got me lost in their world, and left lingering notes for me to feast on.

Stephen King goes to the Movies: Stephen King reminds me of Ray Bradbury, in the way the words just tumble out. It might be careful work by these two writers, but when you read them, you get this sense of breathlessness, the sense that they are just unable to contain the flow of words, they will just explode if they stop writing. One of the stories was ‘Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption’. I loved the movie The Shawshank Redemption, but reading the story as written by King gave me a different vision, and it definitely didn’t bring Tim Robbins to mind as Andy Dufresne. That was also the night after the heavy rains in Bangalore, so when I stepped out for a cool walk in the night, King’s words circled me like a pet dog wagging its tail, and all at once I was inspired. A long-forgotten idea surfaced and clicked into place beautifully, and I’m excited to see how that story will turn out.

Running with the Demon by Terry Brook: YA novels have long fascinated me. I am a bit taken aback by the violence in many of them (Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner), but I love that age (in stories that is), the confusion, the maturing, oh so many things. Any book that has within the opening para, this wonderful sentence — ‘His voice cut through the cottony layers of her sleep with the sharpness of a cat’s claw.’ — can only get better as it goes along. Such a beautifully written book, though a bit predictable given the YA genre, yet the ending is so perfect, just the type that makes you heave a big sigh of relief after holding your breath through all the battles.

Bodily Harm by Margaret Atwood: Margaret Atwood is easily one of my favourite authors. She makes the story of just one woman so compelling. You can feel the heat of the tropics, the anarchy of her surroundings, the confusion in her head, the desperation of the search for that elusive something — she does it all so well. Every word is so carefully picked, not a comma is out of place, meticulous is the word that comes to mind. Rennie came with me on my walk last night, and I wanted to hold her hand and say that it’s going to be ok.

I’m currently reading the last book in that pile from the library, Solar by Ian McEwan. So far I like it.

I love that I’m reading again, and I love that I love what I’ve read. There’s no better feeling than to come away with the stain of the book on your fingers.

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