List making


I have spent the last couple of days doing some crazy list making on the web. You see, I got this wild idea to try and document for posterity some of the books I have read in my lifetime.
So, with the aid of my borrowing record at the public library and a newly acquired Goodreads account I began to jog my memory for the most impactful books I have read.

Why do this- you may ask. Well, firstly I have never kept a reading log and now seeing my kids being encouraged to do so at school prompted me to try the same. Secondly, I wanted to examine my reading habits and thirdly, I wanted to make a list that my kids could use as a resource for their own reading journey.

The list is still a work in progress, but as I do this I am having fun seeing some patterns emerge, namely:

  • The ‘classics’ have shaped my reading preferences a lot- Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Jane Austen and the like in historical fiction have regaled me over and over.
  • I like my humor dry with a touch of snark – P.G. Wodehouse and Calvin and Hobbes style!
  • I do have a thing for completeness as in devouring an entire series or array of books offered by an author I happen to like- in childhood it was the Enid Blyton era- Famous Five, Secret Seven, Malory Towers and so on. Once I got started on comic-books such as Tintin and Amar Chitra Katha, I kept wanting more and more of the same. This was the case too with the Malcolm Gladwell phase and the Jhumpa Lahiri phase not too long ago.
  • Crime, mystery and adventure evidently intrigued me as a kid- the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes series speak on that account.
  • I sure had a lot of questions about life in the teenage years- some of which Ayn Rand answered, some Robert Pirsig, some the ‘Zen and the art of’ series- the rest I am still grappling with.
  • Design magazines and comic books made for a welcome visual relief from the heavy tomes of college and postgrad years.
  • Science fiction, fantasy, paranormal and horror are genres I have sadly never explored.
  • I like art in books- especially comic books and the genre of illustrated children’s books.I appreciate how it adds to the whole experience of enjoyment of the text.
  • And finally, the most striking observation I made- in the last decade I have somehow veered away from fiction and emphatically plunged into non-fiction.
    What’s up with that, I wonder- is it a natural progression of my proclivity towards questions about life, a shift in attitude or a reflection of increasing cynicism? I hope it is not the latter, I would prefer to believe that I now examine the realm of possibility in the poetry texts I read- a childhood love I am fondly revisiting.

That’s it for now. You can check out my ever-expanding bookshelves here, feel free to share your book recommendations!

Image courtesy of  Books  by Chris ( CC BY 2.0 )

Children’s picture books that evoke nostalgia- a few of my favorites


Given that I am in a particularly nostalgic frame of mind these days ( for instance this recent post-link ), what better way to indulge this emotion than to do a round-up of some of my favorite picture books that in their own ways evoke this wistfulness….

Here are a few gems:

The Little House (public library)
By Virginia Lee Burton

This book published in 1942 tells the story of a little house in a rural area, that was pledged to never be sold and to be preserved and passed down to the generations coming thereafter.
The years pass, seasons change, the landscape of the surrounding countryside undergoes modernization, eventually transforming into a bustling city whilst the little house retains its old-worldliness, seemingly lost amidst the towering buildings surrounding it. Forlorn it remains, until the day that it is discovered by its rightful descendant and is then restored to its former glory.

I am drawn to this book because it evokes in me memories of holidays spent in our ancestral home in a small town in India, of that home being a rooted place in my recollection of an otherwise nomadic life and of the aching loss I feel, now that the house has met its fate in the inevitable urbanization of that area.

A heartwarming story relevant to today’s changing world, and detailed illustrations make ‘The Little House’ an engaging read.

The Relatives Came (public library)
Story by Cynthia Rylant , Illustrated by Stephen Gammell

A family visit over the summer- lots of hugs passed around, big families, simple pastimes, communal eating, makeshift beds on the living room floor, kids playing with cardboard boxes……all delightfully illustrated with colored pencils.
And finally, an end to the summer and time for the relatives to return to their home. The house suddenly seems large and empty but the hearts are assuredly comforted at the thought of the following summer when the relatives would come again.

This charming book harkens back fond memories of childhood visits and of a simple time wistfully gone.

The Paperboy (public library)
Story and Paintings by Dav Pilkey

The story begins with the early morning delivery of a stack of newspapers to the house of the little paperboy; and meanders languidly around his routine of waking up, fixing himself breakfast, folding up the newspapers for delivery and setting out on his paper route. Accompanied by his lovable dog, the little paperboy bikes on, delivering the papers on a route he seems to know by heart, enjoying his solitude and contemplation. The changing hues of the morning sky and the gradual rousing of life in the neighborhood  are beautifully captured by the illustrations in acrylics.

A simple story about a time that has passed and a once ubiquitous routine that has faded away.

The Hello, Goodbye Window (public library)
By Norton Juster and Chris Raschka

A story told in the voice of a little girl who gets dropped off at Nanna and Poppy’s home when her parents are at work; and a world viewed through the lens of a child’s eye and mind and literally through a window at the front of the house. A window of hellos and goodbyes, and observations of the charming details of everyday life.
The most remarkable thing  about this book are the illustrations which seem to be drawn as if in the hand of a child, the fuzzy details and scribbles highlighting the things which seem most remarkable from the child’s point of view.

A lovable account of a day in the life of a little girl.

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (public library)
By Simms Taback

An overcoat that is refashioned and recycled into many forms, adopting many new lives, put to a great many uses, ending up as something far removed from its original entity. I love the twist/ moral at the end, which exhibits the crux of all creativity.
Beautiful artwork done using watercolor, Gouache, pencil, ink and collage injects vividness into a universal story.
This book reminds me of my childhood when every old thing in the house found a new use and hardly anything was thrown away. The sheet music to a song at the end – ‘I had a little overcoat’ (Hob Ich Mir a Mantl) is a wonderful bonus.

These were a select few of my family’s favorites- books that I have enjoyed reading myself as much as reading them to my kids. What are some of your fond memories/ nostalgic books?
Please share..

*Image courtesy of  I ❤ 2 read
for the love of reading….. 
by Kate Ter Haar ( CC BY 2.0 )



Lined up
crisp, at attention
row upon row
stack upon stack
eager to be perused.

boxes of minutiae
neatly arranged
records of a life
a story asking to be told.

displayed on the mantle-
glimpses of the yesteryears
and yet the today
being lived
attempting to be encapsulated.

a shrine
a symbol
a lamp lit each day
a brief glimmer
of belief.

a whimsical chair
fashioned out of
a desk
a reading light.

what of it all?

be the medium.

*Image courtesy of  342/365:Books  by  Magic Madzik  ( CC BY 2.0 )