Category Archives: Uncategorized

‘Before I Go To Sleep’ by SJ Watson

When a friend of mine recommended this book highly, I jumped at the chance to read it, especially because it had been ever so long since I had a book-related conversation with anyone and I was dying to try out recommended books.

The premise is intriguing. Due to unfortunate circumstances, Christine loses her memory or rather, her ability to recall short term memories. She wakes up every day with no memory of who or where she is. Her husband and caretaker is her only constant source of support, who helps her remember every thing she needs to know to get her through the day. Every single day. Sounds pretty interesting, right?

But that’s where it starts and ends. While the foundation is great, enough to get you hooked on to an all-nighter, the writing falls short in more places than one. There are enough times you feel the author could have milked more out of the situation, there are a lot of times you think the terror passed away too quickly. And that is where the book starts to lose its compel. When pivotal moments keep getting proven as nothing of consequence, you start feeling disinvested in the story and wonder what’s gonna happen at all. What has the potential to be a cracker of a thriller, fizzles out and ends up as a sad reminder of what could have been.

Although, all is not lost yet. Every part of the story makes sense and ties back in to the central plot, making for a clear narrative experience. The beginning, focusing on Christine’s terror and how she copes with her memory loss, is depicted in an extremely realistic way and is sure to captivate the reader like no other.

Do try it out if you are looking for a completely new reading experience and storyline. But do not go in with high hopes, they can prove disastrous.


Reading Challenge

I’m embarking on my most ambitious project yet- Aiming to finish a ‘100 Books to Read before you die’ list before the end of the year. While previously, I scoffed at such lists, priding myself on not falling prey to such superficialities, I stand humbled and corrected now. 

While my reading habits have taken a turn for the worse during four moderately busy years in college, I never imagined I would be in a place where I found myself struggling to complete a book in a month. Exasperated at myself and with loads of free time on my hands now, I decided that the best way to regain the lost hours was to immerse myself in reading. For those interested, this is the list I’m focused on getting through.

I have to say, it has already helped me remarkably. I surprised myself by completing two books in two sittings (‘Bridget Jones’s Diary‘ by Helen Fielding and ‘On the Road‘ by Jack Kerouac) and while they aren’t huge novels to get through by any means, it still represents great progress for me. 

I hope the Reading gods stay with me.

‘Person of Interest’ Fandom

The one TV show that forever had my heart in my mouth has got to be ‘Person of Interest‘. Utterly different in every way from the rest of its kind, PoI set a bar as far as intelligent TV shows went. I remember being mildly interested going into the pilot episode of the series. The premise was intriguing; an all-seeing, all-pervasive machine modeled on the lines of Big Brother, saving the country, one bad guy at a time.

The episodes’ prelude goes thus-

“You are being watched. The government has a secret system: a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know, because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people; people like you. Crimes the government considered ‘irrelevant’. They wouldn’t act, so I decided I would. But I needed a partner, someone with the skills to intervene. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You’ll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number’s up… we’ll find you.” If THAT didn’t pique your interest, I doubt anything will.

So yes, first season in and the show had me hooked. The scripting is really good (Credits to Jonathan Nolan), the actors are absolutely fantastic and bring much credibility to their roles. Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson, Sarah Shahi, Taraji P Henson and Amy Acker are the force behind the show.

But never mind the brilliant storyline by Nolan, never mind the brilliant actors; what managed to hold your attention was the fact that it managed to convey perfectly a sense of urgency and paranoia that had set in among the general public post 9/11. The creators have said that they realised having tapped into a public nerve on the increasing lack of privacy in the world. And that is the success of the show: the sheer possibility that the show indeed does mirror life today.

After a couple of episodes, the format becomes familiar. The machine sends the social security number of a person in danger to Finch. Finch gathers the team and they have to determine whether the number is a threat or a victim and then take action. Sleek gadgets, plain old fashioned recon and stellar action- the episodes are a treat for action lovers. And just when you start to think that is all there is to the show, there enters Root, played to perfection by Amy Acker. The character singularly changed the foil of the show and took intellectual entertainment to a whole new level. With her introduction, we start to witness some brilliant mind games.

The 11th episode of the fourth season ‘If-Then-Else‘ is arguably my most favorite. Heart-wrenching, chilling and highly suspenseful, the episode is an example of one of the best screenplays I have ever seen. It features the machine analyzing hundreds of thousands of possible scenarios to fix on the best case scenario that will keep its human agents alive. All in the span of a nanosecond. No, even lesser than that. An episode that showcases the truly limitless power of the machine, it is one of the most fascinating episode formats you will ever get to see and shows the technical and creative mastery of the team behind PoI.

The fifth and final season’s finale ‘Return 0‘ was telecast a fortnight ago and received almost perfect ratings. A cocktail worth your time and interest, Person of Interest is a must-watch if you’re a lover of action thrillers.

How They Do It (Writing Tips from the Best)

Each of us has our own way of working. While some of us work best leisurely, some of us produce our best under pressure. But here is a compilation of writing practices the best novelists of our era say they swear by.

Let’s start with Lord Jeffrey Archer. Archer is a cut above most novelists, since it wouldn’t be misleading to say he introduced a new style to writing. A gentle, soft, mildly sarcastic tone that is the staple of his novels. No outrageous writings, no long-winding, verbose sentences. Who can forget the matter-of-fact prose which keeps you hooked and later makes you wonder how he managed it. The first of the tips is from this gentleman-

1. Discipline

“For example, I write from 6-8am, 10-12am, 2-4pm, 6-8pm. I keep that routine up for 40-50 days and handwrite every word. I then take a break and go back to it again a month later.”

That’s commitment for you.

The next one from the lady who made our childhood absolutely magical. J K Rowling’s story from a penniless woman living off state benefits to a billionaire author is one of the most inspiring stories ever. And here’s what she has to say-

 2. Re-Write

JKR re-wrote the first chapter of Harry Potter fifteen times before she finally declared herself satisfied. Write. Again and again and again till your text is tight and cannot get any more perfect.

The man who keeps you guessing and in perpetual fear of your favorite character being knocked off-George R.R. Martin has many tips to offer.

3. Read, Read and Read

“The most important thing for any aspiring writer, I think, is to read! And not just the sort of thing you’re trying to write, be that fantasy, SF, comic books, whatever. You need to read everything. Read fiction, non-fiction, magazines, newspapers. Read history, historical fiction, biography. Read mystery novels, fantasy, SF, horror, mainstream, literary classics, erotica, adventure, satire. Every writer has something to teach you, for good or ill. (And yes, you can learn from bad books as well as good ones — what not to do).”

4. Details

“…I want to read books that are richly textured and full of sensory detail, books that make me feel as if I am experiencing a story, not just reading it. Plot is only one aspect of telling a tale, and not the most important one. It is the journey that matters, not how fast you arrive at the destination.”

We move on to America’s favorite author, the master of aphorisms, Mark Twain, whose books have irrevocably shaped a whole generation.

5. Audience

“I conceive that the right way to write a story for boys is to write so that it will not only interest boys but strongly interest any man who has ever been a boy. That immensely enlarges the audience.”

Well said, don’t you think?

Also, this was a man who was against the usage of adverbs. Along with Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain was one of the writers who advocated reduced usage of adverbs and adjectives.

6. Kill the Adverbs and Adjectives

“..When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them – then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.”

JKR also believes in this concept and has said she wishes she could go back and slash all the adverbs from her earlier books.

7. Work on Your Writing

Even if you’re not working on a novel or a blog post, get some writing done every day. Learn about new techniques of writing like E-Prime and use writing prompts to practice every day. As Vladimir Nabokov, the author of ‘Lolita’ says, you need to get to a point where you think-

“Ink, a Drug.”

And finally, to end things, a quote by Jeffrey Archer on one of my most favorite authors ever!

8. Write on familiar topics

“Don’t do vampires, wizards or ghosts because they’re in fashion. Jane Austen wrote about family life in a small village and gave us six of the greatest novels ever written.”

Get your writing caps on and write the right way, all you amazing people!