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Beiträge von Anji
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Anji "SereneZoey"

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Girl Most Likely To...
Girl Most Likely To...
von Susan Donovan
  Taschenbuch

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2.0 von 5 Sternen Disappointing!, 5. Juli 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Girl Most Likely To... (Taschenbuch)
I think I have seen too many Hollywood romantic comedies to appreciate anything in this book. There is hardly any novelty in the story; I bet all the money in my pocket that you can predict, beyond an ounce of doubt, 90 percent of the story after about the first 50 pages... I think romantic comedies are terribly tough to write... they need to be engaging yet light, heart- warming yet funny... Romance is so full of clichés that it is difficult to come up with something truly original, something you haven't already read or seen a hundred times over... Susan Donovan is an average writer... she doesn't have an especially nuanced or captivating style of writing... not to say it's insipid, but it isn't inspiring either... If you are looking for something intelligent, this is definitely not the book to choose... It is funny at times, but not hilarious... In fact, after a point, it gets too repetitive and redundant, which, together with some, I believe, unnecessary twists in the story, makes the narrative sluggish... Give this one a miss... If you are looking for a good light- hearted romantic comedy, I would rather recommend Cecilia Ahern...


The Uncommon Reader
The Uncommon Reader
von Alan Bennett
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 8,99

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Smart and funny!, 5. Juli 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Uncommon Reader (Taschenbuch)
Alan Bennett's hypothetical take on the Queen of England's all-of-a-sudden obsession with reading, and its repercussions on her life, is concise and hilarious.
The plot revolves around how the Queen, quite unexpectedly and to everyone's utter dismay, develops a hobby- Reading. Alan Bennett traces the rather soporific life of the Queen and how it transforms subsequent to her new passion. In fact, he is audacious enough to claim how reading makes the Queen a much better human being, how it turns her from inconsiderate to compassionate, especially when it comes to her interactions with the lesser mortals! Bennett doesn't spare the British prime minister either, and labels him ignorant. Amidst some genuinely side- splitting anecdotes, the author, through his protagonist, provides an interesting account of life as a monarch, hinting occasionally at the stringency and absurdity of the royal protocol. Together with insights into how and why reading brings people together, coupled with a rather shocking climax, the book makes an engaging read.
In fact, it is so small, it wouldn't take an average reader more than an hour to finish. Undoubtedly, one of the funniest books I have read!


The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye
von J.D. Salinger
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 6,99

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4.0 von 5 Sternen A humorous social satire, 5. Juli 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Catcher in the Rye (Taschenbuch)
I read this book during a recent tour around Germany. And I remember sitting in railway platforms and inside trains and laughing out loud, at the expense of being mistaken for a mentally disturbed person. But I couldn't help it. The Catcher in the Rye is a refreshingly hilarious, albeit somewhat upsetting, account of 16- year old Holden Caulfield's confrontation of life. It provides an amusing insight into the mind of the teenager, and his brand of wisdom.

This book is about Holden's struggle to make sense of the world, to find his place and purpose in life. After being repeatedly kicked out of schools, the boy is lost, unable to fit in this world, and thoroughly disillusioned with the people around him. Consequently, he is depressed. He is a smart, principled and righteous boy, who never hesitates to admit his own shortcomings (doesn't 'bull' with himself, as he would say), but who cannot seem to learn how to be happy. He chronicles his experiences and thoughts as he suffers through and eventually recovers from his misery. A crucial part of the second half of the book is Holden's relationship with his kid sister. Their interaction is adorable and heart- warming.

The narrative is humorous, simple, original and at times sarcastic. And the choice of euphemism is endearing. The teenager, for instance, hates pretentious, dishonest people, and chooses to call them 'phonies'. Plus, I guarantee you, everytime Holden says 'It killed me', you will inadvertently start smiling. Some of the quotes in this book are priceless, and they are sure to set you thinking. Take this one for instance- 'You take somebody that cries their goddamn eyes out over phony stuff in the movies, and nine times out of ten they are mean bastards at heart. I'm not kidding.' You do tend to feel at times that Holden's character might be a tad bit too self- righteous for his age, maybe even bordering on arrogance. But the book is so engaging and the narrative so comic, that you would probably overlook these aspects.

In this day and age, this book (originally published in 1951) is an honest and straightforward take on the fictitiousness of society and people's tendency to be fake. It's almost a social satire, and a terribly interesting one at that. This is the first J.D. Salinger book I have read, and I am definitely going for more.


Fatelessness (Vintage International)
Fatelessness (Vintage International)
von Imre Kertesz
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 11,99

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Fatelessness- heart-breaking yet inspiring, 15. Juni 2010
'Fatelessness' is a translation of 2002 Nobel Laureate Imre Kertesz's arguably most acclaimed piece of work. The book is a seemingly quasi- autobiographical account of a 14- year old Hungarian Jew's life during the Holocaust. It traces the journey of the unassuming and carefree Georg, who, for no fault of his own, ends up inside a train to Auschwitz. Life then takes him further on to the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Zeitz. How the boy holds himself together and finally makes it back home is the plot of this disturbing yet thoroughly engaging book.
The Holocaust stories, now told and retold several times through different media, may not be new to you. What is however amazing about this book is the way the author recounts his experiences in a factual and almost stoic manner. He has done away with melodrama, and at times seems to recite his story with the sole purpose of documenting a phase of his life that is, to the outside observer, so difficult to surmise, to comprehend, that it borders on mythical. This almost detached rendering of everyday struggle in the concentration camps makes the saga all the more heart- breaking. The style is laudable as well. I didn't think it was possible to write prose in a way that is simplistic, but also complex, all at the same time. Yet, here is a sample. Some sentences have to be read several times over in order to fully grasp what the writer is trying to convey. During the course of Georg's story, one comes across several interesting reflections (some will set you thinking), that are extremely quotable. One of my favourites is, 'I would never have believed it, yet it is a positive fact that nowhere is a certain discipline, a certain exemplariness, I might even say virtue, in one's conduct of life as obviously important as it is in captivity.'
The incidents towards the end of the book are equally compelling. For instance, Georg's conflict with his uncles on the approach he should take towards his future, or his inability to convince them that what he wants most is not to forget the past, but to accept it as part of his destiny, perhaps even learn from it, to remember and appreciate his resilience, his perseverance, his optimism, his will to survive. Georg's unshakable faith in reason was perhaps what kept him sane and gave him the strength to battle adversities and pull through at the end. There is great irony reflected in the fact that Georg probably wasn't even qualified for a concentration camp; a Jew by birth but not by choice, who cannot even understand Yiddish, who is not the least religious, was punished for a heritage he did not choose for himself.
There is a lot to learn from this book. Kertesz's message is one of perseverance, never to give up on life. And to find purpose and consequently happiness, in whatever life brings your way. You need to choose to be happy, to be happy. He also mentions fleetingly, through his protagonist, how we make our own destiny. What we choose, the decisions we take, how we conduct ourselves and how strong we are, decide what kind of life we eventually receive. This book is about surviving all odds, purely by virtue of one's strength of character, and coming out triumphant.


The Fountainhead
The Fountainhead
von Ayn Rand
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 6,99

5.0 von 5 Sternen Amazing Book!, 20. Mai 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Fountainhead (Taschenbuch)
'The Fountainhead' is the story of maverick architect Howard Roark's rebellion against societal conventions, his integrity as an individual, and his eventual claim to fame. It's a beautifully written book. It's gripping, unabashedly idealistic, and heart-wrenching at times. The best part of the book is Howard's resilience- How far he goes to defend his beliefs and principles in the face of unmitigated adversities, and still not succumb to the stereotype.
Through this book, Ayn Rand proposes the philosophy of 'Objectivism', which essentially says that man owes his greatest allegiance to himself. One can truly and sincerely serve mankind only by conscientiously serving himself first, not materially but for lack of a better word, spiritually. One's responsibility in society is not to follow conventional dogma to avoid confrontations and please others. One's purpose in life is to exploit his/her individual potential the best way he/she can and in the process, achieve true happiness and content. Ayn Rand believes that if each one of us thought this way and placed ourselves, and our own perception of ourselves before the others, society as a whole will make monumental progress. It's an interesting philosophy, albeit a tad bit controversial.
This book is one of my all- time favourites. I simply could not stop reading it. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in reading something that's not only interesting, but also forces you to think and rethink your own attitude towards life. The heart- warming love story in the backdrop further adds to the charm of the book.


Love in the Time of Cholera
Love in the Time of Cholera
von Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  Taschenbuch

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3.0 von 5 Sternen Love in the time of cholera is not about love, 17. Mai 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Love in the Time of Cholera (Taschenbuch)
This review is more of a critic than a review.

This book was highly recommended to me by friends, acquaintances and book clubs. It is a supposedly powerful love story involving two principal characters- Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza, and a strong supporting character, Dr. Juvenal Urbino. It is well- written and quite interesting to read. However, I still don't understand why Newsweek called it 'a love story of astonishing power'. This book is not about love. Its about anything but love. Its about courtship, teenage infatuation bordering on obsession, its about arranged marriage, the significance of sex, promiscuity, extra-marital affair, companionship, mutual respect and affection.... anything but love. If you have read the book and are interested in a critical review of the plot, read on to know why I think Gabriel Garcia Marquez has misunderstood love...

If Florentino Ariza truly and sincerely did love Fermina Daza, and wanted to wait for her until eternity, what sense do I make of the fact that in the meantime he had absolutely no qualms about sleeping with every woman who came his way. How, in the name of everything holy, is true love a justification for being a heartless pervert. In fact, in my opinion, Florentino's last affair makes him a paedophile... a fourteen year old? I mean, for heaven's sake! Unrequited love, no matter how deep, profound and heart- breaking it is, does not give you the license to turn yourself into a pervert. Florentino had 172 long term relationships and countless other one- night stands, while he was waiting for his true love to come to him. And what is even more appalling is that at several instances during the course of his sexual escapades, Florentino admits to the fact that while he is physically intimate with another woman, he is able to forget Fermina, and that her thought comes rushing back to him as soon as this other person has left his company. Is that supposed to indicate true love or is that reflective of an immature Casanova who is still caught up in his teenage infatuation, which as I mentioned earlier, is bordering on obsession... and obsession, which apparently only sex, with as many women as possible, can cure. What a conceptual fallacy! And the fact that he refused to marry any of those innumerable women, that he quit the relationships the moment things got serious, only corroborates his immorality. True love is as much a test of your perseverance, resilience, and will- power, as it is of your integrity and loyalty. I actually don't know how to define Florentino's feelings for Fermina.
When the two eventually get together half a century after their tumultuous teenage affair, we are led to believe that Florentino's love for Fermina is finally requited (and consummated as well). Once again, I disagree. They were just two very old people, lonely in life and in desperate need of companionship. Fermina's is a very shrewd character. She comes across as an opportunist. She knew Florentino would do anything for her, and it really seems like she took advantage of his naiveté and procured a companion for the rest of her life. It is obvious that Dr. Juvenal Urbino's death had driven her into a sort of depression, which is not at all uncommon among the elderly. When you lose someone who has arguably been your best friend for 50 years, you are going to be devastated. And it is going to be difficult to stop yourself from falling into an abyss of loneliness and despair. Florentino pulled Fermina out of that abyss and gave her a reason to smile and continue living life to the fullest, as he had always imagined he would. Fermina was fortunate to have found a true friend at that age, or better still, a friend with privileges, but thats all Florentino was. She might have loved him as a friend (it was all too convenient) but she did not love him the way love is supposed to be.

I don't think Dr. Urbino was in love with Fermina either. He was enchanted by her, so he pursued her in a very gentlemanly way, and finally, Fermina, with no one else to marry, agrees to wed Urbino. The book says, they found true love in Paris. I beg to differ. They were a young, newly married couple, in Paris, of all places, where neither of them had anything else to do besides spend the entire day in the company of each other; there were no household problems to deal with, no in- laws to handle, and no one to disturb them... it was a holiday, and they were, I guess, relaxed and without a worry in the world. And since they were young and still virgins (I guess Urbino as well), obviously, they had a lot of intercourse, and obviously, they enjoyed it, there being no reason not to, and mistook all that pleasure for love. They faced the true test of their love when they returned home, and had to deal with the real world. And thats when their own world started to fall apart, to salvage which, they actually had to go back to Paris. The had to escape reality to rekindle their affection (I am not going to call it love). With time, they got used to each other. I presume they developed a sort of mutual respect and understanding, which might have gradually metamorphosed into adoration. If Urbino really did love his wife, he wouldn't have gone ahead and had two extramarital affairs; not one, two! Call me old- fashioned, but I seriously don't understand how one can have a sexual relationship with another person when he/ she is supposedly in love with someone else. Fermina and Urbino must have liked each other a lot, and must have grown fond of each other, but they were not in love, never ever!

I have been in love that was unfortunately, unrequited. So, I can dare presume that I know and understand Florentino's feelings for Fermina, just like Hildebranda did. And if I was to be Florentino, I cannot, for the life of me, imagine having 172 relationships just to be able to forget the love of my life (if thats what that is)! What I would rather do, is wish this person all the happiness in the world (because I am one of the few remaining of that endangered species that still believes true love is selfless), get married to someone that I adore and respect a lot, but may not necessarily be in love with (although I think it is possible to be in love with two people at the same time, but maybe not to the same extent), and live my life with honesty and integrity. But I am a woman; I am sure guys think differently.
You cannot choose who you fall in love with. Hildebranda fell hopelessly and helplessly in love with a married man, and hers is probably the only character in this book I can sympathize with. This book is not a love story. Its a drama about life, in its various hues and colors, but not love.


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