Whenever I have a reader’s block, I tend to take comfort in the already read material – especially the ones that I have enjoyed multiple times. Mostly I settle on classics, calming novels or the ones that I read in a young age and still have an impression on me. It could be Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Maeve Binchy’s Tara Road or Jeffery Archer’s Kane and Abel. Every time I re-read the authors and books, I love the oldened anticipation, and then I love the surprise how the point of reference has changed over the years. While ago, I found a vintage edition of Kane and Abel and read the book again after years – 18 to be exact. It was such an interesting experience to see what my perspective was about the book, characters, scenario at that time versus the second time around. Back in time, it was a coming of age read for me, so my self was not mature enough to grasp ideas; reading about places living in another part of the world, about a different culture and in a language that is not the mother tongue. The same book held such different meaning years later. I cherish my lack of understanding from that time and enjoy the comprehension I have of the books today. I would read those books over and over! But some books…
Fortunately, or unfortunately some of the books that I could not complete I don’t remember and few of them are well-known literary works. They are nicely written books and for the record, a book review is not the intention here. Lack of interest is merely due to genre or content that does not seem interesting appealing at that certain time or stage of my life. I love psycho-thrillers – would love to read more about serial killers than I do but when it was paired with the architectural narration in The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, it so caused the aforementioned block. It is a well-acclaimed book, well researched work and with all my desire to read the character of Mr. Holmes, my lack of interest in the engineering/ architectural side of the writing really played a role in skipping those parts and finally putting the book down. I am looking forward to the movie that is anticipated in 2018. Leonardo DiCarpio has secured the film rights so something nice is in making!!
The other book that made me want to read something else is I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. I specifically will go in detail for this book because I enjoyed the book till I realized how other readers will be looking at it! Overall the book starts well, wanes towards the middle and then recovers itself in the last chapters. I enjoyed it in the beginning because it was relatable for me. As far as I am concerned the book was written for those with my ethnic background and had a childhood in the eras I had mine (give or take few years, I am Malala’s parents’ generation – I finished my Masters the year Malala was born). I understand all the things said in the book and even though chronologically out of order, with names and events strewn all over of people and politicians and political parties, I was able to make a connection. To me, it seemed like I am the right reader for this book. And that brought the realization: how is everybody else who is not familiar with that culture, history and land taking this book? Since the book is written for an international audience, how well it is faring with that? This prompted me to check reviews and it seemed although an overwhelming number favored the book, there were some reservations about it being a boring account, sporadic writing and too much history. Looking at the book independently with no cultural, emotional ties attached I do realize that the writing style is quite “all over”. The analogy for me is very clear: if I were to read a Russian non-fiction and on every page a new name is thrown with a new anecdote to explicate the culture and political mess, I would lose track of all those people and referring back to them would be quite arduous – unless I am a real historian and can run crosschecks and google the history for elaboration.
I read the book when it was released but it has recently been selected for two book clubs that I attend and I had a chance to span it over again. Polite people run the clubs so curbed the criticism since I was there. When I brought up the style and structure in the book club, the attendees did agree that reading and getting through it was a challenge. The book was hit in both clubs and as I hear in many other clubs. The current are dream-ratings for a first time author – 4.05 in Goodreads, 4.6 in Amazon, and 4.4 at Barnes and Noble. That way a desirable book but people do read the 1 and 2 star ratings as well so my post is mainly to go over those ratings and basically separate them from her real belief. I do agree with the prevalent lack of coherence throughout the narration but even if the writing style did turn you off, let that not reflect on her cause. If you did find it laborious to remember all the names that came up on every other page and then reference was made back to them pages later, even if the history of Pakistan was recounted in a non-chronological not very understanding manner, the person did take a bullet for a cause. And I agree when people say that it is an account of her father’s rather than hers (she is a minor after all and did not live in the era that sort of paints the background for the events). Please do not forget that the agenda behind the book was not to sell a James Petterson whodunit but it was a “chance to tell” everyone how the society has been a victim of many vicious elements. There are so many things that you will learn from reading this book. I have also heard that young reader’s edition is a better read so you can opt for that if the reviews still scare you. Even if you are not a reader or a selective reader, do consider reading more about her, her work, her projects and her ideology. Many girls her age (and many women maturer than her) would be going for other things at the height of fame that Malala has achieved, but this remarkable lady continues to stick to her beleif and holds the great stance of education in women!
Not exactly the topic of this post but relevant to the subject: To account for controversies and discredits that people like Malala face and countries like Pakistan happily provide, here is a great article from Raza Habib Raja. I loved his point of view of how this aspect is taken in Pakistan.