Friday, March 22, 2019
It had felt hotter the Sunday before than it was last Sunday at Abids. But it was hot enough to feel the need to wear a cap. Though it was uncomfortable being out in the hot sun the haul I made was pretty cool. I picked up four books one of which was a cookbook.
The ‘Holi’ Haul
On Holi I had to go to the Institute because an international training was going on. Going to work on a holiday is something no one is happy about. I consoled myself saying I would drop in at MR Books on the way home if I could leave early. Luckily I could leave right after lunch and raced to MR Books. After an hour’s browsing I found a good copy of ‘JJ: Some Jottings’ by Sundara Ramaswamy, and bought it after reading the endorsement by K. Satchidanandan on the front which said: ‘One of the masterpieces of modern Indian fiction.’ I would have anyway bought it because I had read one of his books recently and knew how good Sundara Ramaswamy was.
Friday, March 15, 2019
Last Sunday was one of the hottest days so far this year with the temperature touching almost 37⁰ C that had me thinking twice before venturing out. But the pull of Abids is so strong that I decided to go wearing a cap on the head and a water bottle in hand. It was a good thing I went because I found five wonderful titles.
Friday, March 08, 2019
Of the couple of books that I have bought multiple copies over the past few years ‘The Summing Up’ by Somerset Maugham is a title that regularly appears at Abids, in second hand book stores and elsewhere. Last Sunday I spotted a nice copy that was priced pretty cheap at Abids and bought it. I got it for just thirty rupees.
Friday, March 01, 2019
There’s no better way to judge if it’s summer yet than to be out in the open for a couple of hours. Last Sunday just a few minutes in the open at Abids and I was convinced that summer has begun in Hyderabad. The temperatures have touched 35 degrees C and in another couple of weeks it will be somewhere around forty degrees or more. Then it would be hellish to be in the open for more than a few minutes. However, I did not want to think about the coming weeks and went about looking for books. I ended up finding three good titles.
Friday, February 22, 2019
All signs that summer is not too far away are around us: it is warmer, the sunlight is no longer mild, and there's the change in vegetation. It isn’t really summer though but it felt that way at Abids last Sunday. Luckily, I had taken along my cap which made it bearable to be out in the open.
Friday, February 15, 2019
There have been no posts here on this blog since the past couple of weeks because I was involved in conducting a training course for senior officers at our Institute and then I myself underwent a training course at New Delhi soon after. It left me with no time to write about all the books I had picked up in the meantime.
The Birthday Gift
Before I left for New Delhi, in fact on the day I was leaving Hyderabad I got a book as a birthday gift from a friend in Mumbai who had asked to choose a title I wanted to read. I received a new copy of ‘Milk Teeth’ by Amrita Mahale. It was a hardcover copy and I left it at home because I planned to read it sometime in the future.
The Haul at Delhi
During my previous visit to New Delhi in November I had been to Jackson Books in Pahargunj and picked up four titles. This time I again went there and managed to find three wonderful titles. I found a nice copy of ‘Milkman’ by Anna Burns that I did not expect to find so soon. Then I saw ‘The Big Knockover’ by Dashiell Hammett that I added to the haul. The last find was a beautiful copy of ‘Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life’ by Karen Armstrong. I had picked up ‘Through the Narrow Gate’ by Karen Armstrong some time ago and after reading it had found a copy of ‘The Spiral Staircase’ that I am yet to read. Impressed by ‘Through the Narrow Gate’ I picked up ‘Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life’ that I hope to read soon.
The Sunday Haul
I was back home at Hyderabad on Friday night and a day after it was Sunday which meant book hunting in Abids. I had been looking for a copy of ‘YOUNGUNCLE COMES TO TOWN’ by Vandana Singh that I wanted to present to someone in my office but I couldn’t find it then. The person is no longer coming to the office so there was really no need for me to buy it when I saw it last Sunday at Abids. But I bought it hoping I’d meet that person again sometime soon. Another reason was that I was getting this copy for just ten rupees.
A long time back in 2013 I had picked up a title by Janwillem van de Wetering (Tumbleweed) that I discovered to my delight was a crackling read. Soon afterwards I happened to find ‘The Japanese Corpse’ by the same writer. Though I wanted to read more titles by van de Wetering I couldn’t find any subsequently. However last Sunday I spotted ‘Outsider in Amsterdam’ by Janwillem van de Wetering. I got it for eighty rupees and I felt glad I found another good crime title.
All of them finds add up to nine books so far this month.
Friday, January 25, 2019
The Sunday before last I was in Chennai where I managed a decent haul of ten titles that did not seem to have prevented me from going to Abids last Sunday. The weather in Chennai (or anywhere else, for that matter) is nothing like the beautiful weather in Hyderabad, I once again realized. It was sunny, warm and bright last Sunday as I went around the book bazaar in Abids picking up four wonderful titles.
Friday, January 18, 2019
In the ten years that I’ve been attending the Hyderabad Literary Festival here at Hyderabad it remained the only lit fest I’ve attended. I’ve never been to any other lit fest in the country though I wanted to go to the Jaipur Lit Fest. I never got the chance to go to Jaipur all these years but last week I attended the Lit for Life 2019 literature festival of The Hindu at Chennai. Apart from attending the many sessions and listening to some of the wonderful writers talk about their books and other issues, I also managed to attend the Chennai 42nd Book Fair and also dropped in at a second hand book store and returned from Chennai with a haul of ten books.
The Haul at the Chennai Book Fair
An online friend whom I’ve never met and wanted to meet at Chennai informed me that the Chennai Book Fair was on. It was wonderful news for I had a lot of time on hand on the day I reached Chennai. The venue of the Book Fair, YMCA Grounds at Nandanam, was not too far from where I was staying and after lunch I started for the book fair. I had read that that there were more than 700 stalls of which, I discovered, there were fewer than a dozen stalls stocking books in English. In the handful of stalls selling second-hand books I managed to find three titles.
The first title I found was a copy of ‘Master Georgie’ by Beryl Bainbridge that I got for a hundred and fifty rupees. The next find was a beautiful copy of ‘The Dain Curse’ by Dashiell Hammett that I bought along with a copy of ‘Tar Baby’ by Toni Morrison for two hundred and fifty rupees. It was more than what I would normally pay for second hand books at Abids in Hyderabad but since it was a book fair I did not think twice.
The LFL Haul
At the LFL, I had decided beforehand, that I would buy the latest titles of Amitabha Bagchi (Half the Night is Gone) and Anuradha Roy (All the Lives We Never Lived) and get them signed by the authors. I had read ‘Above Average’ by Bagchi only recently and was quite impressed enough to think of buying his latest title that is getting rave reviews everywhere. Though I have almost all of Anuradha Roy’s titles I haven’t read any till date, though I know they are all outstanding works. I managed to buy these two books and also get them signed. What I had not planned was buying a copy of ‘Virtual Realities’ by Neelam Saran Gour that I bought after hearing her talk.I also got it signed by Neelam Saran Gour who, later next day , was awarded the Hindu Prize for fiction.
Amitabha Bagchi doesn’t appear anything like the person shown in the photograph on the book. He had a ponytail and a long beard and many people couldn’t recognise him until he was introduced by the moderator.
Another Chennai Haul
I had long been thinking of visiting Chennai’s Moore Market, where I was told, were booksellers who stocked used books. At last I was there last week but since it was festival time the market was closed. But I wasn’t prepared to give up. I had read about Govindaraju’s ‘Rare Books’ in RA Puram which was where I was headed soon after finding that I wouldn’t find a single title in Moore Market. ‘Rare Books’ turned out to be some kind of a garage store with thousands of books stacked haphazardly. There were books, magazines, tattered tomes, and loose papers scattered around. From this mess I managed to extricate three titles. The first find was a hardcover copy of ‘The Gutenberg Elegies’ by Sven Birkerts that was in my ‘must-buy’ list. I had read about this title somewhere and so remembered it.
The visit to Chennai yielded ten titles and with these my total haul in the first fortnight of the first month of the new year comes to eleven.
Friday, January 11, 2019
The haul at Abids on the first Sunday of the year was just one good title and I am perfectly okay with it. The reason is I had bought 250 books in 2018 and this year I want to keep that tally to something under hundred if I can.
This Friday I am at Chennai until the 15th. I came to know that the Chennai Book Fair is going on and will end on the 20th. I am looking forward eagerly to drop and see what I can pick up there.
Friday, January 04, 2019
After adding the five titles that I picked up on the last day of the 32nd Hyderabad National Book Fair on Christmas Day, the total number of books I picked up last year comes to a perfect 250. I do not think I have bought so many books in the previous years. I guess it is a record. While it makes me happy that I possess so many books it also makes me worried that there’s not enough space for more books in the future unless I begin culling my collection.
While I appear to be ambitious in buying books I am not so in reading them. Last year I have read only 85 books, some of which I am yet to finish reading. Out of these eighty five books listed below are some that I enjoyed reading.
‘Disgrace’ by JM Coetzee
‘Havanas in Camelot’ by William Styron
‘The Story of a Brief Marriage’ by Anuk Arudpragasam
‘I Feel Bad About My Neck’ by Nora Ephron
‘Dreams in a Time of War’ by Ngugi Wa Thiong O
‘The Great Gatsby’ Scott F Fitzgerald
‘Ants Among Elephants’ by Sujatha Gidla
‘Woman in the Dark’ by Dashiell Hammett
‘We Need New Names’ by Noviolet Bulawayo
‘The Forgotten Waltz’ by Anne Enright
‘African Laughter’ by Doris Lessing
‘Through the Narrow Gate’ by Karan Armstrong
‘Home Fires’ by Kamila Shamsie
‘Longing Belonging’ by Bishwanath Ghosh
‘Out on the Rim’ by Ross Thomas
‘The Long March’ by William Styron
‘Among the Believers’ by VS Naipaul
‘A Bend in the River’ by VS Naipaul
‘Above Average’ by Amitabha Bagchi
‘Matilda’ by Roald Dahl
‘Sydney’ by Jan Morris
‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ by William Maxwell
‘Goat Days’ by Benyamin
‘Missionary Stew’ by Ross Thomas
‘Republic of Caste’ by Anand Teltumbde
‘Arabian Sands’ by Wilfred Thesiger