They say when it rains, it pours. I am in the middle of a full-fledged deluge.
Let me go back to how this all started.
My love for reading developed early on, when I was still in school. I would exchange books with friends and classmates who were fond of reading, and we would often have our own mini book clubs during recess. My love for thrillers and romance stems from there. Sidney Sheldon and Jeffrey Archer used to be my favourite reads. I would barely manage through Daniel Steel, and Mills & Boons’ were like crossing over to Taliban territory without protective security cover. Then my dad introduced me to Arthur Hailey and Alistair Maclean and I was in a different world.
School got done and College took over. Horror of horrors, the only books in my hand would be Krishna Arora, La Rouche or Sudhir Andrews (my Hotel Management course books).
Throughout my graduation and then post-graduation, I would forlornly look at my previously thumbed but orphaned novels. Later, my job in sales gave me an opportunity to be on the streets during the day, and taking advantage of that, often, I would pop into whichever bookshop I came across.
Unfortunately, a high-pressure job and either being in meetings all day or preparing for one the rest of the time gave me little time or energy to read. (Not really, the truth is that between dining out, salon treatments, shopping expeditions, books got the raw deal and were relegated to the bottom of the must-buy list.) So purchasing books wasn’t an advisable proposition.
I would still walk into the bookstore and try and soothe the vacuum in my life. Sigh!
The smell of books was intoxicating. I felt a different high. I would run my fingers along the spines of the books, pull one or two out from the shelf and lovingly caress it. But like a jilted lover who silently pines for his beloved, I would sigh and kiss the books good-bye and come out of the store empty-handed. I would gather whatever was left of my broken heart and walk away wiping an invisible tear. To cheer myself up, I would march into a cosmetics store and buy the newest shade of lip gloss, followed by a tall glass of thick chocolate shake with whipped cream and chocolate chips. Yes, that is what it would take to patch up the shattered pieces of my heart together. (Never mind that the combined expenses for those two were double that of a single paperback!)
For long afterward every time I spotted a bookshop, I would run toward it like a dog chasing the car he had no intention of driving. Sure enough, after some mindless barking (read gazing at books) I would retreat nursing a hurting heart. Sometimes, rarely though I would buy a book to reward myself after closing a particularly difficult deal. That is when the guilt of the purchase of a book would have to be compensated for by an even taller beverage and a fancier brand of lipstick.
Over the years, the rolling stone has gathered quite a bit of moss – Sidney Sheldon, Arthur Hailey, Melissa Hill, Niamh Greene, Chetan Bhagat (Did I just commit the heinous crime?), Anuja Chauhan, Jackie Collins (now Chetan Bhagat looks like petty errant behavior, isn’t it?!) etc etc.
Unfortunately, now that I am a penniless writer I have no money to purchase books. (Don’t you dare give me that eye roll. I refuse to consider the millions stashed away in Swiss banks!)
But when it rains, it pours. I’ve been lucky enough to recently fall into the company of generous, good-hearted Samaritans (read author friends like Neil D’Silva, Devika Fernando, Neelam Kumar, who I am now trying to flatter into giving me more books through this blog post) who took pity on this book beggar.
Add to that Kindle’s free app with some classics being available as free download. (Doesn’t the word ‘free’ have a magical, magnetic quality about it?) Add to that I went ahead and joined a book club. Hello, Douglas Adams, Alice Munro, Murakami, and all those other authors I had never ever heard of.
With a total of 22 e-books from Kindle, 10 paperbacks, and 3 more in queue (already requested for) from my book club, I had just recently resolved to not procure any new books until I finished the current supply. That’s a whopping total of 35 books. (That’s more than enough compensation for the drought in the dark ages!)
But just as I made my half-year resolution, someone opened the flood gates again.
My publisher friend Dipankar Mukherjee tagged me on Facebook in a post about a book (That’s News To Me – A Presswallah’s Journey by Manjula Lal) that promises to be an interesting, hilarious read. I am now besotted with wanting to read this book. I walk around the house in a daze, sometimes being subjected to a whack on the head by my parents who mistake me to be a zombie from World War Z.
The tally just rose to 36. Oops! But before you give me that look, let me say a few things in my defense.
These are circumstances beyond my control. One can’t fight fate, after all. It isn’t my fault this happened. I am only human. And I go back to my resolve of no more books.
As a reminder, I repeat to myself, “No more books until I finish the current lot.”
Psstt… Did you hear about the book Defiant Dreams – a collection of short stories from different authors, published by Readomania.
The tally just rose to 37. Double Oops!
Now you may ask me what’s so special about the book.
- The title!
“That’s News To Me – A Presswallah’s Journey.” It’s an instant sucker for gossip mongers like me who thrive on wanting to read and understand each industry from an insider’s view. (Ever read ‘Almost Single’ by Advaita Kala? You’ll know what I’m talking about.)
- This hilarious but thought-provoking book blurb pulls you in further.
“Dogs can be trained to fetch newspapers for their masters. Should a journalist be treated as a retriever of news by his masters? Told with verve and wit, this is the story of Manush, a talented, independent-minded journalist who tries to stick to the core values of his profession while keeping body and soul together. Out in the field, he enjoys the adrenaline rush of getting scoops and the challenge of solving real-life mysteries. Back in the office, he has to tackle toxic bosses who don’t give a toss about talent and are insecure about their own jobs. And at home, there is emotional distress from a marriage only in name. As the action shifts from a magazine in Noida to a newspaper in Delhi to a website in Gurgaon, the world around Manush changes while he continues his dogged pursuit of career goals and fascinating women. Will forces out of his control make him go into a free fall? Will friends and family give him the respect he deserves? Or will he realize redemption lies elsewhere?”
- The Author – Manjula Lal – is a journalist with Tehelka, one of the most well-known publications in the country, known for their bold scoops and exposès on the murkier waters of the world. With a career spanning 30 years, and a repertoire of publications like the leading national dailies, she knows her industry in and out. Clearly, her’s would be an honest albeit fictional take worth reading.
If that aren’t enough reasons for you to pick the book, let me give you one more. It promises to be a tale of the underdog against the corporate world, the big bad boss and the demon called ‘society’s expectations’. He is one of us, isn’t he?
I think I may take another year to plow through my current stack.
What do you think of my ‘too many books’ predicament? How many are too many? Have you ever been in a similar situation, where the number of books waiting to be read exceeded even the days in a month?