Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Alchemist - Book Review

Gauri Trivedi's endeavors in making books our best friend is commendable. Her space My Best friend is a book has her reviewing books (fiction/non fiction) and inviting guest reviews. Besides this, her culinary adventures are chronicled in Pasta and Paratha.
It gives me immense joy to join her book-fest and spew out reviews of the books I read !
The first review to join her space is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

REVIEW -The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho's books have always held a mystical allure transporting me in to a magical realm. Calling out to the gypsy in me, his books cast a spell. Be it Veronika decides to die, The witch of Portobello or Brida, Coelho breathes life in to his characters; makes sure that the story stays with you for a long time.

The Alchemist raises a few notches than the other books by instilling positivism; making people believe in self. For he says that's the only way to realize one's destiny and true calling !

Story :-

The story is about an Andalusian Shepherd boy named Santiago setting out to find what his dream is all about. His recurrent dreams of a hidden treasure near Pyramids in Egypt forces him to sell his flock and explore the path that would enable him to not only find the treasure but also leads to self-realization.

What sets him on the journey is the encounter with a wise old man, who calls himself Melchizedek, the King of Salem. It is this man,who imparts many a valuable lessons and advices him to stay grounded with the soul purpose of realizing his destiny.Spurred on by the old man's words, the boy leaves his home and crosses the colourful Tangiers market en route to Egypt. On the way he experiences a whole lot of memorable moments, meets interesting people and gathers wisdom that further propels him in to finding his true-self. He begins to understand the signs of omens, listens; interprets his heart's messages and follows unflinchingly towards his goal.

And in the desert, Santiago meets his soul-mate, the love of his life who further motivates him to follow his dreams.And finally he meets the Alchemist who empowers him to realise his destiny. The boy discovers the truth behind the treasure as well as his personal legend, he understands that the true treasure is not the destination itself but the journey made, the wisdom,experiences & the knowledge gained !

The book strikes a chord with us because Coelho reiterates that it is the simplest things in life which gives us profound lessons on life as well as immense happiness.The review would be incomplete without mentioning a few quotes that buoys us up and resonates even after finishing the book :-
  • If a person really truly wants something, all the forces on universe would conspire in making sure that he gets it.
  • When you play your cards for the first time, you are almost sure to win, because there is a force that wants you to realise your destiny; it whets your appetite with a taste of success.
  • It's not what enters man's mouth that is evil, it's what comes out of the mouth that is
  • There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve - the fear of failure !
Final Word :-  The book is so beautifully written and reveals so many insights; it's an experience that is best read, re-read & savoured. It comes as no surprise that the book has been translated in to so many languages. Go ahead and revel in this magical journey !
Book - The Alchemist
Author - Paulo Coelho
Genre - Allegorical/Psychological Drama
Year Published - 1988
My Rating - 9/10

Friday, February 24, 2012

Down the Road - Book Review

Down the Road, a collection of 28 stories by 16 authors is a candid shot of campus trials & tribulations meant to evoke nostalgic moments. Does it manage to do that- yes, many stories had me sporting a bevy of expressions and transported me back to the good ol' school/college days. The stories cover a gamut of emotions ranging from the first crush to first kiss, making friends, spinning trouble & getting caught , falling in love, teacher/professor worship, bunking classes, ragging, bidding adieu and is sure to touch more than a chord or two !

The book has both seasoned as well as first-time writers exploring their choice of topic with innate sensitivity & subtle sense of humour.Edited by Ahmed Faiyaz & Rohini Kejriwal, the book divided in to 5 sections. Attendance is compulsoryFestivals, Elections & placements, Lights Out,Looking Back , Essays are the broad section heads under which the various facets of campus is essayed.

The editors have contributed 8 & 2 stories respectively and the other authors who have graced the pages with 2 stories each are Ira Trivedi,Paritosh Uttam,Sneh Thakur & Malathi Jaikumar. The remaining 10 are contributed by Aashish Mehrotra, Naman Sariya,Vibha Batra,Sahil Khan,Sonia Sarfi,Aseem Rastogi,Prateek Gupta,Ranjani Iyer,Chinmayi Bali, & Kunal Dhabalia.

While a few stories were quick & easy reads with a not-so compelling take on it, a many of them definitely made me to stop, think & chew - the review will not be complete without listing my favorites:-
  • Soroicide by Paritosh Uttam - Delving deep in to human nature, the story stayed with me for a long time.
  • The Music Room by Ira Trivedi - With heart tugging emotions, the tale is all about the bitter love story between a student & his music teacher.
  • Learning and Unlearning by Rohini Kejriwal  - Written with spot on sensitivity & tenderness, the story is a cherished read 
  • Bellow Yellow by Chinmayi Bali -  The story handles dark emotions with a surprising delicateness 
  • An Accidental Start by Kunal Dhabalia  - Loved the subtle humour & the fine writing by the author.
  • Setting by Ahmed Faiyaz - Nice read; made me wonder how the protagonist will behave hence forth
The final segment of essays has Sonia Sarfi & Aseem Rastogi commenting on the Indian writer's new found love for their take on campus life as well as the depiction of the same by the Mumbai film industry over the years.

A quick note on the authors- an eclectic bunch, the tale-spinners have woven a multitude of emotions in a variety of narrating techniques. Kudos to all !

Final Word :- The book published by Grey Oak & priced at INR 195/-  is refreshing, warm & exciting. A good addition to my ever-expanding book-shelf.

This review is part of the Book Review Program at  Blogadda. Participate now to get free books!