March Book Haul

My self-imposed book buying ban came to a crashing halt in March. It all started with going in to my local bookstore to redeem a gift voucher. I went in with the noblest of intentions, and ended up spending more than the voucher was worth.

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From Kitab Khana, Mumbai

Then of course, I went on a trip to celebrate my birthday, which is always a dangerous proposition. I love visiting new bookstores when I’m away from home and almost always manage to spot something I need. The only way to remedy this problem is to merely peek at the books in a detached manner and just admire the store as a physical space. (Not going to the stores is not an option). But I happened to visit the first bookstore in Bangalore with friends who shamelessly encouraged breaking my ban. “Oh, come on! You have to buy that book,” they said. And, well, I did. Along with four others.

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From Blossom Book House, Bangalore

The actual birthday was spent in wonderful Fort Kochi, which is a ridiculously tiny corner of Kerala but still manages to support three independent bookstores. Three! I think very highly of a place that takes its books seriously. So of course I had to visit all three stores. And of course I had to buy books from every one. What better souvenir than a book right? Or, as the case turned out to be, six books.

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From Walton’s Book Shop, Fort Kochi

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From Idiom Bookshop, Fort Kochi

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From Kochi Books, Fort Kochi

Then it was back to Bangalore where I dropped by a bookstore recommended by a friend. Only to look, you understand. With absolutely no intention of buying anything. But then I stumbled upon something that is notoriously difficult to find in bookstores – a collection of Charles Bukowski’s poetry. His prose is easier to find, but I’ve been hunting for a poetry book, any poetry book by him since 3 years. And there it was! Sitting inconspicuously on a shelf. So I added three more books for good measure, ended up having an hour-long conversation with the delightful owner and walked out with a far emptier wallet, a guilty heart but a spring in my step.

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From Bookstop, Bangalore

And then, of course, came the books that were very kindly gifted to me.

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I know this entire post makes me sound like a hopeless addict. But would an addict be able to stave off the urge to buy books for two whole months?*

*Quite possibly. I’m trying abstinence now.

Bookstore Hopping in Tamil Nadu

I was in the process of planning my next vacation when I remembered all the bookstores I went to during my last. Whenever I go to a new place, I feel compelled to make a list of all the bookstores I need to visit while I’m there. While this works perfectly when I’m travelling solo, family vacations prove a little trickier. Bookstore hopping during family vacations still work perfectly for me, but they also mean I have a disgruntled parent in tow.

These are the book stores responsible for my holiday book haul.

IMG_20131231_115240Apollo Books sat perched outside my favourite restaurant in Mamallapuram, Le Yogi (the friendliest staff I’ve ever met). We stayed in Mamallapuram for three days and dutifully trotted the bookstore every single day. While I was trying to decide which books to buy on my last day there, I overheard an intense discussion on politics, war and society between two men from Indonesia and Israel. I ended up buying a secondhand copy of My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell and Insects Are Just Like You and Me Except Some of Them Have Wings by Kuzhali Manickavel. The store has a mix of new books, secondhand books, and books in French, German, Russian and Spanish. You can also go in and exchange one old book for another. 

IMG_20140101_122445I  followed my guidebook to visit the Immaculate Conception Cathedral next door, spotted this bookstore and happily rushed inside instead. According to my guidebook, it’s run by the Aurobindo Ashram and had a fairly interesting collection. My favourite find here was Glimpses of Pondicherry by P. Raja and Rita Nath Keshari. 

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The bookstore near the Auroville Visitor’s Centre was tiny and looked vaguely cave-like, except it was much more cheerful than a cave’s dark drab interiors. It had a large collection of books by independent publishers including an in-house brand.

IMG_20140102_165937I also visited the Romain Rolland Library near the large Bharathi Park and next to the not-so-large Pondicherry Museum. The shelves at the back on the second floor looked like they had been deserted for a while, a suspicion that was confirmed when I walked into a spider web. This sign was in the non-deserted part of the library and almost made me engage in literary vandalism. Instead, I just settled for clicking a photo of the unnecessary apostrophe.  

Tamil Nadu 673A bookstore full of secondhand books that look like foreign remainder stocks. The most expensive secondhand store I’ve ever visited; the bill at the end startled me a bit. But the sunshiney yellow villa is gorgeous and I found three books from my wish list so I just smiled sagely. Horseradish by Lemony Snicket, The Chronicles of Prydain: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander and Terrible Times: The Eddie Dickens Trilogy by Philip Ardagh in case you’re wondering.

I also bought a book at the start of my vacation from the Mumbai airport and one right at the very end from the Chennai railway station. Yes, it’s a disease. No, there is no cure.

Of Cabbages and Kings: November 19, 2012

This weekend, Mumbai entered into shutdown mode thanks to the death of a regional, right-wing politician. Since that (and my raging cold) put a damper to any plans I would have made, I spent two days reading and sleeping and occasionally shaking a fist at an errant nostril. Here’s what I’ve found on the inter-webs over the week:

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Do you think any of these bookworms with the gorgeous houses would adopt me? Not even if I got them a puppy and cupcakes?

Speaking of which, first there was an ATM that dispenses cupcakes and now there’s a book-vending machine? You know who could really use these? A city full of people starved of food and entertainment because EVERYTHING IS SHUT DOWN!

I much preferred The Baby-Sitters Club over those Wakefield hijinks (was I the only one who really wanted to push Jessica under a train?). This is a fun visual ode to Stoneybrook’s favourite artist. I used to be convinced that all young Americans dressed like Claudia and used to read the outfit descriptions with wide-eyed wonder. Bonus: Where are the babysitters now?

A book about writers raving about their favourite bookstores? The best sort of literary inception – a movie I still haven’t watched by the way, due to various unforeseeable, completely justifiable rea – oh who am I kidding, I’m completely pop culturally challenged! At least when it comes to films. And music. I’m about two steps away from shaking my fist at you and ordering you off my fictitious lawn. And here’s a more detailed description of his bookstore love by one of the writers.