The Book that influenced me most in 2017


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I am an avid reader and am mostly never without a book in my hands. Reading is my pleasure, stress-reliever and a source of great happiness to me. Hence, I don’t like to set a target of the number of books that I will read. That takes away the pleasure of reading for me and makes it a task instead of something that I enjoy.

2017 was a very eventful year for me as far as reading was concerned. I was introduced to a lot of genres and different types of books, thanks to a book group I am in on Facebook. It has really broadened my horizons and made reading even more fun and interesting for me.

The latest Indispire topic #Books2017 is a topic I had to write on. I have been introduced to an author I had never read earlier – Kristin Hannah. She is an American author who has won many awards for her books. A lot of her books revolve around the incidents that happened during World War II. The book written by her that really had a deep impact on my mind and affected me profoundly was Winter Garden.

Winter Garden

Winter Garden

The story starts with telling you about two sisters who are as different from each other as chalk and cheese. One stays at home to take care of her children and the family apple orchard and the other is a famous photo journalist, travelling all over the world. The two sisters are almost estranged from each other due to a very strained childhood with an emotionally unavailable mother, even though they had a very loving father.

The two women come together again when their beloved father falls ill and face their cold and unapproachable mother(Anya) again. The only connection that they have with their mother is a Russian fairy tale that she told her daughters at night sometimes, though always incomplete. On his deathbed, the father extracts a promise from their mother that the fairy tale will be told till the end this time. With this begins the journey into Anya’s past in Leningrad during the World War, five decades ago.

The fairy tale will tell you all – who Anya was, what she experienced in life, the truth behind her cold behaviour. You will be introduced to the completely raw, exposed face of Anna. The story will have you crying, break your heart, but don’t stop reading it. The end of the story is totally worth it. It will surprise you, warm your heart and make you cry again. This book is a must must read. This book was definitely my best read of 2017.

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The Author Who Made Me Fall In Love With Reading!

 

I was 11 or 12 years old when I came across her book in the library. I was entering my teens, going through the confusion of the desire to grow up and wanting to remain a child. Her book felt like a guidebook that I could identify with and it stayed with me in all my teen years till adulthood. Even today, the book is one of my favourites. The book is Little Women and the author is Louisa M Alcott. It was her birth anniversary on 29th November.

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Little-Women-1987-Dilithium-Press-Childrens-Classics-Division-e1448852241949

She was a woman well before her times and her books reflected that. Little Women is a book set in the 1800’s and is the story of four sisters and their journey of growing up from little girls to grown women, their trials and tribulations, their happy and sad experiences. It is a book ahead of its times, it shows a mother who teaches her daughters to be happy, contented and accomplished women whose only aim in life should not be to get a rich husband. She teaches them that a marriage should be based on love and not on material possessions. This book is set in the 1800’s where women were taught that marriage was the ultimate goal of a woman, this book has a mother who tells her daughters that she would rather see them as single, contented women rather than running around looking for husbands or marrying for the wrong reasons.

This book is autobiographical and has many incidents from Louisa May Alcott’s real life. The other refreshing part of the book is that she shows men as real human beings who cry, laugh, feel emotions and are sensitive. The book also shows the beauty of family life, celebrating togetherness and small moments making a home full of love which is better than a big house full of riches and all the luxuries.

This book is my guide and support even today and my go to feel good book and will be forever. I will pass it on to my nieces and daughters, if I ever have any and it will be their lifelong guidebook as it has been for me.

Winter Garden – A Book I Can Never Forget!

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About six month back, I have added a new author to my list of favourite authors. Her name is Kristin Hannah. I have read many of her books but the book that left me speechless is Winter Garden. It is a book that touched me to the core and left me teary eyed by the end. What an amazing way to weave a story! I have read so many books that it rarely happens that I just can’t wait to know what happens in the end. With Winter Garden, I couldn’t put it down till I completed it.

Synopsis of the story

Anya has a warm relationship with her husband but had always been a  cold and distant mother to their two daughters, Meredith and Nina and they have no clue why. The only time she came alive and really connected with her daughters is while narrating a fairy tale, till an incident happens and Anya stops narrating the fairy tale to her daughters. They grow up and Nina moves away to become a journalist while Meredith stays near her parents after marriage. It was only when their father dies and has a last wish for his daughters that the sisters come back together to fulfill his wish.

The wish is – To get their mother to complete the fairy tale. A very silly wish, you’ll say. But it has a whole story full of sadness, tears and a heart-wrenching truth. It is a journey of two daughters getting to know their mother and a woman’s journey of accepting her past and forgiving herself.

This is one book that’s a must read for everyone, irrespective of the gender and whether they love reading or not.

My Favourite Fiction Writer

I started reading as soon as I could recognize words, thanks to my father who instilled the love of reading in me. I have read many books that have touched, made me cry, inspired and encouraged me. But there is only one author who has managed to do all this. Her name is J.K Rowling and the books are her Harry Potter series.

Harry Potter is a boy who has led a very ordinary mundane existence till he reaches the age of 11 years and discovers that he is no ordinary boy, but a wizard. His destiny is extraordinarily intertwined with the greatest wizard of all time who has gone on the path of evil. It is a story of growing up, coming of age and facing your biggest fears. It is a 7-book series in which Harry Potter has the dangerous mission of defeating the evil Voldemort.

Friendship, courage, love, leadership, team spirit are the important lessons that inspire you in the series. This book is a must read for everyone, irrespective of the age.

Also, not only do i admire J.K Rowling as an author, but she is also a strong and gutsy lady. After her separation from her husband, she was extremely poor and had an infant daughter to care for. She was living on state benefits while writing the first Harry Potter book. She had no idea how she would survive the coming years. After she finished writing the book, her publisher submitted the book to 12 publishing houses and it was rejected by all of them. In spite of all the hardships, she didn’t stop believing in her book or give up. Eventually the book was published by Bloomsbury and the rest we know is history. She is the perfect example of believing in one’s dreams.

Book Review: Second Chance at Love

second chance

I had walked into a Crossword outlet and was just browsing around. Suddenly, this title in the New Releases section caught my attention and I got interested in it. The name of the book  – Second Chance at Love by Ruchita Misra. I just picked up the book on a whim and it was a complete impulse buy. Did I know it would be a journey with two characters I would fall in love with? No, not in the least.

Bindiya Saran is a cheerful lively girl, but with a troubled past. Samar ‘Satan’ Chauhan is the strict corporate professional whom no one can please, with an even more troubled past. Their worlds collide when they start working on a project together. And they get what they thought they would never get: a second chance at love. But, little do they know that they have a storm brewing that could separate them forever.

I loved the book from the first page to the last. The characters are shown as real people with real faults, they are endearingly human. The story is told in a beautiful and simplistic manner. Each character has an important part in the story and they are etched into the story beautifully. Samar and Bindiya touched my heart with the real, genuine human beings they are and I identified with them. After a long time, I cried while reading a book.

This book is totally a must read for everyone.

Dream With Your Eyes Open – An Entrepreneurial Journey

Ronnie Book Cover without red - Final

Since quite sometime, I have been thinking of starting something of my own. It was sheer providence that I came across Entrepreneur and UTV Founder Ronnie Screwvala’s book ‘Dream With Your Eyes Open – An Entrepreneurial Journey’.

Whether you are just starting out on your own entrepreneurial journey or have been running a business successfully for years, this book is for you. This book will encourage you and tell you that you can do it by sheer grit, optimism and clear thinking. Ronnie Screwvala also highlights the fact that you will make mistakes but it is important to learn from your mistakes and keep moving. The secret is to not give up under any circumstances.

The book tells you that it can be done, however the importance of dreaming with your eyes open is absolutely essential. Ronnie Screwvala takes you through his journey as a budding entrepreneur to the founder of one of the biggest Media companies in India.

Every step of his journey is fraught with risks, some calculated, some uncalculated. Some were successful and some failed. But each step was a learning which he imbibed in his soul and kept moving. As Ronnie Screwvala said “Most people ask me about my successes, not many ask about my failures. It would give me more to talk about.”

Thinking is going through a revolutionary change in India. Earlier people considered havng a job synonymous with security. This is no longer a truth. Today, the job market is very volatile with companies going for quantity over quality. They want people to work for less money, even if it means compromising quality. This is the sad truth. Hence, as Ronnie Screwvala says,”The future belongs to those who no longer teach talented people how to get a job but how to create thriving businesses as entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs/professionals in a company.”

With all his successes and victories, the one thing that Ronnie Screwvala continuously emphasizes on is the importance of having a strong team to work with you and back you. He couldn’t specify enough on the importance of retaining talent and not losing them as that proves very expensive for any organization.

A strong team is half the battle won is one of the key messages that he conveys throughout the book.

To summarise, this book is a must read for anyone who is apprehensive of taking that one step towards their entrepreneurial journey. As the author says in the book, don’t keep waiting for that huge investment to start your own business. Start with a small investment, make it a success and the big money will automatically be attracted to you.

I strongly recommend this book to everyone who wants to Dream With Their Eyes Open.

The Palace of Illusions

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Image Courtesy: http://bit.ly/1IT0sZj

I remember reading the Mahabharata in school and liking the story, even though I found it very unfair to women.

Recently, I was browsing books in my library and came across a book titled ‘The Palace of Illusions’ by Chitra Banerjee DivaKaruni. When I read the synopsis, I came know that it the Mahabharata as narrated by Draupadi. I got interested and picked it up.

It traces Draupadi’s life from the time she was born to when she became the wife of the Pandavas and the events that unfolded after that. In her childhood days, Draupadi is shown as a headstrong girl who wants to walk in step with the men and learn everything that is prohibited to a girl in terms of education. She doesn’t want to confine herself to learning only the womanly arts but learn the intricacies of ruling a kingdom too.

It traces her childhood friendship with Krishna and his influence throughout her life. It explores her complicated feelings for another man even though she is married to the Pandavas, an aspect of her life which is something she can’t ignore, forget or let go off. An aspect that changes the course of history for all involved.

I won’t reveal anything more about the book. When you read this book, it will open your eyes to truths you must have never imagined.

I am not an emotional reader but this book completely overwhelmed me emotionally. I had to stop after every few chapters to compose myself before I could continue, yet this was one book I didn’t want to put down till I reached the last chapter.

I cried, I felt anger, I understood the characters of the Mahabharata like I had never imagined possible. This is one book which is a must read for everyone, not just Indians.

Chitra Banerjee DivaKaruni has opened facets of the personalities of the characters in the Mahabharata in such a way that you will empathize with each one of them. I am hooked to this book forever.

It Happens For a Reason by Preeti Shenoy

It Happens for a Reason

Vipasha(Vee) has the world at her feet. She is eighteen, beautiful with a promising modelling career and a terrific relationship. She has a troubled relationship with her mother who put her in a boarding school at a very young age. She is not very close to her father either. She continues her modelling career only for the money it brings her and she doesn’t care much about it otherwise. The only thing that matters most to her is her relationship with Ankush, whom she considers the love of her life.

Life takes an unexpected turn when Vee discovers she is pregnant with Ankush’s kid. Ankush looks reluctant to accept the baby and Vee breaks all ties with him and decides to have the baby. Nothing can dissuade her from her decision.

Fifteen years down the line, Vee is living a happy life with her son Aryan and has a flourishing business and is also a personal trainer at a gym. Her childhood best friend Suchi is the rock solid support in her life. And then life takes an unexpected twist again.

Overnight, Vee’s business shuts down and she has an insecure future now. How she copes with it and what happens to her future is the crux of the story now.

The main message in the book that everything in your life happens for a reason, though you may not understand the reason yet. It gives out the message about how someone’s behaviour towards you may have a lot of underlying reasons. Life is all about second chances. The book speaks to you and says that if you face an obstacle in life, it is because it is supposed to take you to the future that will be infinitely better.

I really enjoyed the book and found it very encouraging and inspirational. I totally recommend it.

© Arti Deshpande