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A fresh opinion needed.

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lotus_quartz

Active member
Long years ago, I did take the trouble of reading books by authors like Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, W.Somerset Maugham, Dostovosky, Tolstoy etc.

The number of books in the library from which I used to borrow was very limited and my capacity to absorb such heavy stuff was also quite limited. So, everything was 'under control'.

Many years passed without reading much, possibly due to availability of cable TV, watching movies on VCR, DVD player etc. Consequently, reading habits took a nosedive.

Now, thanks to voracious reading habits my daughter has developed (Enid Blyton etc.), I have become a member of a big lending library having >50000 books. The racks are full of thick books by Somerset Maugham, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dostovosky, Tosltoy, VIctor Hugo etc.

Now, what I want to know is whether to revive reading such books which were considered top class classics once upon a time ?

Would it be worthwhile to plod through such books by those great authors when there is a clear disconnect in the language, style, lifestyle, technological environment of the era described in those books and our today's life ?

Would these books be interesting enough to hold one's interest from the first page till the last page ?

What I have observed is that not many members even go towards those racks leave alone borrow from them.

Any opinions ? Any recommendations to begin with ?
 

hariharan1972

Active member
You are not alone

Now, what I want to know is whether to revive reading such books which were considered top class classics once upon a time ?

Would it be worthwhile to plod through such books by those great authors when there is a clear disconnect in the language, style, lifestyle, technological environment of the era described in those books and our today's life ?

Would these books be interesting enough to hold one's interest from the first page till the last page ?

LQ,

Even i find this problem. I can't quite read a PGW or Somerset Maugham now. Unwittingly we are part of an era which reads 'India Today' for entertainment & 'Kumudam' for knowledge !

That said, i guess the problem is precisely what you have described. The language, style & life style differences clearly preclude us from enjoying these masterpieces.

Personally speaking, i am finding it particularly easy to read Management / Leadership books, Bio / Auto biographies etc.. I can read thru only select novelists today, particularly Dan Brown. I have also taken a fascination for History & Economics. (one of my ambitions is to do a Ph.D in Eco). Love books on Technology. I have great fascination for Space - infact invested a decent sum in buying book from Amazon.

I can't quite fathom my own reading interests !

To cut a long story short, i think you may be better off not "pushing yourselves" into reading something which you find it difficult to relate. I remember how difficult i felt to read Naipaul. He may be great, but i couldn't relate to what he wrote.

Strangely i don't feel the problem in Tamil. I quite enjoy reading any kind of tamil literature.
 

mrifan

Active member
Which library?

Where is this 50,000 book library? Between me and my friends, we used to read these books (Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy in particular) primarily for bragging rights as to who could take the most mental abuse. It was also like a password or initiation rite to be admitted into the peer group. If one said he liked to read Chandamama, he was slotted into one group, and someone who could actually prove to have read through the entire War and Peace trilogy was looked upon with awe as having the most mental stamina of all. Of course these were already outdated in the early nineties.

I do miss the Amar Chitra Katha comics, I learned a lot of Indian history through those rather than my dry tortuous school history books.

For the modern era, I would recommend John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Clive Cussler for general fiction. Robert Ludlum is the modern equivalent of the Tolstoy mental endurance test. So one may want to stay away from books by that author.

Long years ago, I did take the trouble of reading books by authors like Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, W.Somerset Maugham, Dostovosky, Tolstoy etc.

The number of books in the library from which I used to borrow was very limited and my capacity to absorb such heavy stuff was also quite limited. So, everything was 'under control'.

Many years passed without reading much, possibly due to availability of cable TV, watching movies on VCR, DVD player etc. Consequently, reading habits took a nosedive.

Now, thanks to voracious reading habits my daughter has developed (Enid Blyton etc.), I have become a member of a big lending library having >50000 books. The racks are full of thick books by Somerset Maugham, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dostovosky, Tosltoy, VIctor Hugo etc.

Now, what I want to know is whether to revive reading such books which were considered top class classics once upon a time ?

Would it be worthwhile to plod through such books by those great authors when there is a clear disconnect in the language, style, lifestyle, technological environment of the era described in those books and our today's life ?

Would these books be interesting enough to hold one's interest from the first page till the last page ?

What I have observed is that not many members even go towards those racks leave alone borrow from them.

Any opinions ? Any recommendations to begin with ?
 
OP
OP
L

lotus_quartz

Active member
Thanks for the modern view on old classics.

I too learnt about Indian mythology more from Amar Chitra Katha, Chandamama and later from TV Mega Serials like Mahabharatha and Ramayan etc rather than from school text books.

Surprisingly, as Hindus, we swear by Vedas, Upnishads etc but vast majority of Hindus including tambrams do not have a copy in our homes. Yes, we do have some old shloka booklets etc. but these booklets are associated with thatha-patti stuff and are unconsciously hidden in pooja room and do not fight for space in the bookshelves of our study.

No wonder, many of us (especially including me) can not authoritatively quote from Vedas, Upnishads etc. Probably, the fault lies in poor marketing of such work to the young generation in easy to understand form and in a language in which people are taught in schools.

As far as modern books are concerned, I have read books by Tom Clancy, Matt Reilly etc. Have not read anything by Grisham or Cussler. I feel they do not compare favourably when pitted against Arthur Hailey, Alistair McLean etc. Tom Clancy is preoccupied with submarine life and Ludlum makes big stuff out of Bourne. Still, readable enough.

All time readable and enjoyable stuff continues to be the earthly "James Hadley Chase". I enjoyed reading Chase in 80's and I still enjoy them in 2007.

To an equal extent , Alistair McLean and to somewhat lesser extent, Perry Mason , Agatha Christie, A.A. Fair etc.


Where is this 50,000 book library? Between me and my friends, we used to read these books (Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy in particular) primarily for bragging rights as to who could take the most mental abuse. It was also like a password or initiation rite to be admitted into the peer group. If one said he liked to read Chandamama, he was slotted into one group, and someone who could actually prove to have read through the entire War and Peace trilogy was looked upon with awe as having the most mental stamina of all. Of course these were already outdated in the early nineties.

I do miss the Amar Chitra Katha comics, I learned a lot of Indian history through those rather than my dry tortuous school history books.

For the modern era, I would recommend John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Clive Cussler for general fiction. Robert Ludlum is the modern equivalent of the Tolstoy mental endurance test. So one may want to stay away from books by that author.
 
OP
OP
L

lotus_quartz

Active member
I too had a yearning for exploring the deep pspace. Unfortunately, there was a complete dearth of good books and story books pertaining to space. Telescopes were prohibitively expensive and good quality coloured books with pictures on planets, stars published by National Geographic, NASA etc were simply not available in most places in India. so the whole childhood years were wasted due to inaccessibility to such treasures.

Autobiographies which I could read included Abraham Lincoln, Lee Iaococca. Both were quite readable. Gandhiji biography was academically compulsory sort of so had to be gone through.

Yes, I too have considerable interest in History and also in Economics. Had a secret desire to do Doctorate in Economics from Harvard ! Now, I guess it is a bit too late for all that ...



LQ,

Even i find this problem. I can't quite read a PGW or Somerset Maugham now. Unwittingly we are part of an era which reads 'India Today' for entertainment & 'Kumudam' for knowledge !

That said, i guess the problem is precisely what you have described. The language, style & life style differences clearly preclude us from enjoying these masterpieces.

Personally speaking, i am finding it particularly easy to read Management / Leadership books, Bio / Auto biographies etc.. I can read thru only select novelists today, particularly Dan Brown. I have also taken a fascination for History & Economics. (one of my ambitions is to do a Ph.D in Eco). Love books on Technology. I have great fascination for Space - infact invested a decent sum in buying book from Amazon.

I can't quite fathom my own reading interests !

To cut a long story short, i think you may be better off not "pushing yourselves" into reading something which you find it difficult to relate. I remember how difficult i felt to read Naipaul. He may be great, but i couldn't relate to what he wrote.

Strangely i don't feel the problem in Tamil. I quite enjoy reading any kind of tamil literature.
 
On reading ...

Personal preferences:
Eminently readable: Maugham, Wodehouse, Conan Doyle
T-e-d-i-o-u-s: Hardy, Dickens
Tolstoy, Dostoevsky: Struggled through one volume each - of W&P and C&P.
Could never keep track of Tolstoy's characters - the number of them crawling in and out ... Liked Turgenev a lot better.
Just could'nt connect with Naipaul, or even Rushdie for that matter ...
I like Rushdie's essays and articles - but did'nt much care for his novels.
Maybe one needs to re-read some of these - now that one is older and (hopefully!) wiser.
How about Indian authors?
Personally I like Tagore, Bandopadhyay and more recently Qurratulain Hyder(hope I spelt that right). Q. Hyder I find quite charming.
Economics - yes! Sociology/socio-biology/primatology - anyone ?
LQ - never, quit dreaming/give up on your desires - that's all we got !!!
" ... this brief transit where dreams cross
This dream crossed twilight between birth and dying"
- in the words of one of my all-time heroes.

I too had a yearning for exploring the deep pspace. Unfortunately, there was a complete dearth of good books and story books pertaining to space. Telescopes were prohibitively expensive and good quality coloured books with pictures on planets, stars published by National Geographic, NASA etc were simply not available in most places in India. so the whole childhood years were wasted due to inaccessibility to such treasures.

Autobiographies which I could read included Abraham Lincoln, Lee Iaococca. Both were quite readable. Gandhiji biography was academically compulsory sort of so had to be gone through.

Yes, I too have considerable interest in History and also in Economics. Had a secret desire to do Doctorate in Economics from Harvard ! Now, I guess it is a bit too late for all that ...
 

rxrajamo

Active member
I have read Conan Doyle and Wodehouse. Dickens had to, because my sister did a literature course and I was the designated [SIZE=-1]chauffeur [/SIZE]of the bicycle. So many a day, had to sit outside her class in a nice tree shade (marathadi) and read some of these books.

I love fiction. Have read almost all of Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth, Ayn Rand (is her work considered fiction ?), Jeffrey Archer, Chase, Tom Clancy, Grisham, Michael Crichton, Arthur Hailey , Sidney Sheldon etc (oh man! the list goes on and on :))

In Tamizh books, I love Chandilyan novels, Sujatha, earlier works of Rajeshkumar, Balakumaran, Janakiraman, Jayakandan, Akilan, Asokamitran, Pattukottai Prabhakar, Kalki, Rajaji etc (this list keeps on going too :)))

Also have read some of Apte's works and some other writers in Marathi. But that was long back.

Economics - Naah. I am too good at that :))

Socio-Biology - What the heck is that ?:))

As they say "It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish."

Ramki


Personal preferences:
Eminently readable: Maugham, Wodehouse, Conan Doyle
T-e-d-i-o-u-s: Hardy, Dickens
Tolstoy, Dostoevsky: Struggled through one volume each - of W&P and C&P.
Could never keep track of Tolstoy's characters - the number of them crawling in and out ... Liked Turgenev a lot better.
Just could'nt connect with Naipaul, or even Rushdie for that matter ...
I like Rushdie's essays and articles - but did'nt much care for his novels.
Maybe one needs to re-read some of these - now that one is older and (hopefully!) wiser.
How about Indian authors?
Personally I like Tagore, Bandopadhyay and more recently Qurratulain Hyder(hope I spelt that right). Q. Hyder I find quite charming.
Economics - yes! Sociology/socio-biology/primatology - anyone ?
LQ - never, quit dreaming/give up on your desires - that's all we got !!!
" ... this brief transit where dreams cross
This dream crossed twilight between birth and dying"
- in the words of one of my all-time heroes.
 
OP
OP
L

lotus_quartz

Active member
The only book by Ayn Rand I could read was "Atlas Shrugged". It was so boring I left it half way through and vowed never to read Ayn Rand again !

Chase, Ludlum & Forsyth etc I still read and like.

Wodehouse now reeks of aristocratic haughtiness. Don't read it anymore.
 

kudumi

Active member
Simpsons, South Park

Dear LQ,

How true are your comments on brahmins not having vedas and scriptures at home... I am wondering if we are wrong in the first place. I was even wondering how many of can quote from Gita from memory without Copy and paste, yet claim Gita to be a great book even when asleep.

I used to be one of those munthiri kottai types who jumps into science clubs, debate clubs etc etc. Swami Vivekananda is my favourite. However, I also read Ambulimama, Asterix, Tin Tin. I have almost all the books of Asterix and used to hunt down the streets of matunga for a copy of asterix.
Obelix is my favourite, and Tortuous Convovulus is next best favorite charecter.
Also Ramayana and Mahabharata by Rajaji is a wonderful and easy read.
Deivathin Kural of Kaanchi Mahaperiyava is an excellently compiled work and it clearly shows his grasp on the realities. The volume on arthashaastra is especially ekcellent to read.

If you are interested in astronomy, you can get a lot of telescopes now. I invested a good amount on a 100mm 1meter focal length newtonian reflector, and used it almost everyday I was in India. I tried my luck in astrophot, but without the proper adapters, it simply wouldnt work. Besides there are lots of astronomy softwares which pop out astronomical events regularly.

Also, I would like to take up HAM Radio ( Suresh sir...ithu neenga nenaikkara HAM kedayathu...:))) just joking).

I tried reading Fountain head by Ayn Rand, but could not complete even half. Its really heavy. Canon Doyle is always my favorite. I especially like the TV adaptations of Sherlock holmes. Jeremy Brett has done an excellent job of briging holmes in front of our eyes ( looks old sometimes though).

If you want to do something apart from reading, I would also recommend aero modeling, a bit expensive, but an excellent hobby, expensive though. I do this aeromodeling stuff a lot and have my quota of vizhuppuns( I am a marathamizhan-how can I not have vizhuppun?) from the propeller :).

Last but not the least, I get most of my current knowledge and understand the realities of the world by watching Simpsons and South Park. I especially like the South Park episodes featuring terrence and phillip.
 

navy-eswaran

Active member
dear sirs,
ihave started a book by david baldacci named split second and it is really good, unlike the ludlum i was reading.
regards
eswaran
 

karthisri

Member
Classic is a Classic is a Classic...

A classic is always a classic. One has to read it atleast once (you have to be committed to reading it, otherwise it would be boring). It may not be gripping like today's books, but still....one has to savor reading it. I would strongly suggest that whenever possible these classics should be added to your home library. I have bought books like Oliver Twist, Tom Sawyer, David Copperfield, Emma,Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde..( I think the they come in both hard-bound and paperbacks).

I read/re-read sheldon, grisham, dan brown, forsyth etc. I simply used to love James Hadly Chase during my younger days.

But, if you ask me whether i remember Tom Sawyer and H.Finn going around in the night or Robert Langdon and Sophie chasing San Grail, i would say it is TS & HF.
.. bcoz I feel the characters in classics are one among us...

Thanks
 
OP
OP
L

lotus_quartz

Active member
We spent our childhood days reading about HAM radio, aero modeling, optical telescope etc. but without access and resources to experience it first hand.

One generation down the line, when we can probably afford such things without stretching ourselves but our kids prefer computer games, play station, cartoon network, barbie dolls etc.

How ironical.


Dear LQ,

How true are your comments on brahmins not having vedas and scriptures at home... I am wondering if we are wrong in the first place. I was even wondering how many of can quote from Gita from memory without Copy and paste, yet claim Gita to be a great book even when asleep.

I used to be one of those munthiri kottai types who jumps into science clubs, debate clubs etc etc. Swami Vivekananda is my favourite. However, I also read Ambulimama, Asterix, Tin Tin. I have almost all the books of Asterix and used to hunt down the streets of matunga for a copy of asterix.
Obelix is my favourite, and Tortuous Convovulus is next best favorite charecter.
Also Ramayana and Mahabharata by Rajaji is a wonderful and easy read.
Deivathin Kural of Kaanchi Mahaperiyava is an excellently compiled work and it clearly shows his grasp on the realities. The volume on arthashaastra is especially ekcellent to read.

If you are interested in astronomy, you can get a lot of telescopes now. I invested a good amount on a 100mm 1meter focal length newtonian reflector, and used it almost everyday I was in India. I tried my luck in astrophot, but without the proper adapters, it simply wouldnt work. Besides there are lots of astronomy softwares which pop out astronomical events regularly.

Also, I would like to take up HAM Radio ( Suresh sir...ithu neenga nenaikkara HAM kedayathu...:))) just joking).

I tried reading Fountain head by Ayn Rand, but could not complete even half. Its really heavy. Canon Doyle is always my favorite. I especially like the TV adaptations of Sherlock holmes. Jeremy Brett has done an excellent job of briging holmes in front of our eyes ( looks old sometimes though).

If you want to do something apart from reading, I would also recommend aero modeling, a bit expensive, but an excellent hobby, expensive though. I do this aeromodeling stuff a lot and have my quota of vizhuppuns( I am a marathamizhan-how can I not have vizhuppun?) from the propeller :).

Last but not the least, I get most of my current knowledge and understand the realities of the world by watching Simpsons and South Park. I especially like the South Park episodes featuring terrence and phillip.
 

Scotmami

Member
Hi a newbie here. I agree the old PGW, Dickens and fiction studied at school/ Uni is hard to get back to. I've been reading a lot of the new NRI Indian writers like Jhumpa Lahiri, Cauvery Madhavan etc and find them most interesting.The question of identity or loss of it is the new topic in the globalised world.
 
OP
OP
L

lotus_quartz

Active member
Hope the new generation authors are not shy of their Indian origins. I am yet to read any book by new generation authors.

Nirad C Choudhary who settled in England after Independance was more English than a proper Englishman. Probably, he suffered from slave mentality. Not many Indians could get to read his books.
 

Scotmami

Member
None actually forget their origins.The first generation can't.The famous saying 'you can get a girl out of Chennai but you can't get Chennai out of the girl' is so true.I find the future generations may have a problem especially for families like mine with no other Tam Brams around here.This site is great for me, learning a lot. Lucky I stumbled on it while browsing the net.
I also read all the Man Booker prize winners or the Orange Prize authors like Monica Ali, Zadie Smith.
 
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