I consider myself to be a budding writer, striving to excel in the art of story-telling. My passion was there since my childhood. But not until I read the following books that my desire to write reached its epitome and I plunged myself into this magical world.
1) Illusions by Richard Bach: Illusion creates a mystery in your mind. Anything and everything can have numerous perspectives. Why is that so? Is it because everything is an illusion? A friend of mine suggested that I read “One” by Richard Bach. I loved the book and looked for others by him. When I picked this thin book, I wondered if it’s a fiction or a book of quotations. But fortunately, I bought it. The book of merely 143 pages took me more time to finish it than an edition of 500 words would have taken. There were two reasons. Firstly, I would invariably go in a state of daydreaming after reading two or three pages. Secondly, I was so afraid of completing it that I read it real slow.
2) Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: Wine gets better with age. So, does the great Indian Epic Mahabharata. However, very few authors have tried interpreting the story, patriarchal in nature, from the perspective of its female characters. Novelist Chitra Banerjee is amongst the few who gave the reign of the mega-story in the hands of its most potent women character, Draupadi. The spectrum of Draupadi in Mahabharata is that of extremes. This is probably the reason why Chitra chose her to be the protagonist in her book. While reading the book, the 21st-century woman in me was able to relate to the viewpoint of women from 800 BCE. It took me through a historical journey but kept reminding me that the emotions of human beings are always the same. The same joy, fear of acceptance, need for attention and love are eternal. Superficially our society has changed but how men and women think hasn’t. She also deftly depicts Draupadi’s hidden passion for a man that was not her husbands, yet she remained faithful.
3) Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho: Paulo is famous for writing interpretative literature. And though Alchemist is his most famous interpretative book, Veronica decides to die is my favourite. The reason being it is the most honest interpretation of life explained through the inner feelings of people wanting to suicide. Without being preachy, it’s an exciting narrative and makes you think. When death stares you in the face, you get an unbiased clarity that brings awareness towards the true meaning of life.
4) The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak: This is two books intertwined into one. But every string of one story is connected with the other, and that’s the best part of it. The first narrative is about the life of a lady Ella. The second one is the story of a wandering dervish called Shams of Tabriz, who wanders for a companion that he can deliver his knowledge to, and it was none other than Rumi. I had heard about poems of Rumi but had never read them. This book introduced me to him. I was mesmerized by his philosophies, and it changed the way I saw love.
5) Siddhartha by Herman Hesse: I have always been fascinated by Gautam Buddha and his middle path. But that a German author can so very beautifully explain the ideologies of Budhha’s way was difficult to believe. And to add to it the fact that he had never been to India baffled me further. This masterpiece, written in easy language has many layers of truth. It’s a story of human being’s desire, confusion about life’s reality and instincts that guide him through life. It answers many questions each soul on this earth is looking for through a philosophical plot. Herman Hesse’s grandfather had lived in India for a reasonable period. He was so influenced by its culture and values that he brought them with him back in Europe. Herman grew up listening to the stories of India and Buddhism. The result was this epic Novel that will leave you thinking.
6) Srikanta by Sharatchandra Chattopadhyay: Being born and brought up in Bengal, I can read Bengali, but not so fluently. Hence reading a Bangla author’s book was not in my list. However, when I came across a translation, I jumped in as I had heard a lot about Sharatchandra, the legendary author of Bengal. The story and his writing style compelled me to read this book’s Bengali version, too, which I did. I was totally impressed by the unbiased writing style of the author. He was there watching everything but not really judging anything. He left them for the reader to decide. But more than Srikanta I loved Rajlokhhi. She was the true picture of an Indian female lover. One who can keep loving even after an informal breakup where she knew that she could never marry Srikanta. Though in a modern context, this might sound impractical, I felt it isn’t. True love never dies. Women play an essential part in his books. In this book too apart from Rajlokkhi, there are other women like Ananda di, Abhaya and Kamal Lata who create a lasting impression on my mind. Sharadchadra proved in this story that he was much advance in his thoughts, especially about women. The magical world of love and passion that Sharadchandra created in his book left me thoroughly impressed by his writing, and I became his fan even before I completed the book.