Tell Me Your Real Story – Book Review

Title – Tell Me Your Real Story

Author – Savita Nair

Genre – Poetry

12 sept 2018 (2)

Savita Nair had featured as a guest author at our book meet last month. Poetry is not one of the genres I frequently visit, but the writer’s description of her writing journey and her love for composing poems based on her observations of the world, intrigued me to give this one a go. Nair had read out three poems from this book at the meet, along with the backstory of what led her to writing them. Her thoughts and usage of language compelled me to order the book when I reached home – and Amazon delivered it soon enough.

So, I have spent the better part of the last three weeks pouring over some poetry. That’s the thing with poetry – you can’t review it the same way like you would for prose (fiction or non-fiction); it would just end up being slapdash if you don’t take your time through it. “Tell Me Your Story” is a collection of fifty-seven poems – a mixture of heartbreak, celebration, romance, skepticism, sarcasm, fun, disbelief. Nair describes her book as “urban and chic, cynical and syrupy”, and the reader is taken on a ride on the poetry bandwagon. Some of my favorites from the collection include “Mid-way Musings” , “Our Failings” , “The Freak and the Faulty” , “Leaving Things Unsaid” , “To The Heroes” , “Take Control” – each of the poems strikes a different chord. As Nair rightly points out in the blurb, the poetic journey helps you discover a little about yourself, as well as the poet.

“There was a slot called Mediocre, and happily I settled in. Some run the race, others admit with grace, that mediocre lies Within” , go a few lines from “Mediocre” , “Mid-way between Home and Nowhere, we got off at a stop called Stranded”, begins “Mid-way Musings” , “Slow Burn” tells us about a kettle simmering with anticipation – Nair’s brilliance shines through in her incorporation of figures of speech. Rhyming appears to be her forte and many of the poems follow this format. Personally, rhyming gets to me after a point, so I didn’t read the book in sequence. Cover to cover doesn’t always work for poetry. Phrases like “finding solace in the din” , “being optimistic isn’t a remedy, but being morbid is a crime” , “settle for nothing but restless” , “choose to stay silent, than make empty noise” – show you the writer’s exceptional talent in keenly observing the happenings in the world, reflecting on those observations, and putting thoughts into words. From the hilarity of “An Ode To The Common Cold” , to the difficulties of a working woman managing home and career in “A Lady’s Got To Do Some Straight Talking” , the tribute to the armed forces in “To The Heroes”,  and the melancholic “Falling In Love With The Rain”, the collection covers a multitude of emotions that anyone can relate to, at varying frames of mind.

And having had the opportunity of meeting Nair in person, the vividness with which she describes herself and her writings is displayed in her book as well. It is difficult to review books like these because each poem affects you in a different way – sometimes you might not be in the frame of mind to read one, but another one feels so much at home. Then you go back to the first one a few days later, and appreciate the sarcasm or disbelief it portrays. And this can be said for good poetry in general – it makes you go back to what you have chewed earlier, and digest it properly in the second visit. I re-read many of the poems and came back with something new each time. The poems are short and leave a lot to dwell on. The collection is lovely, and while retaining and showcasing her individuality, Nair still manages to relate with the reader. The collection is heartfelt, thought-provoking, charming, fun. A must-have in any book collection. I had initially purchased this copy as a gift, but later decided to procure one for my own collection as well – to keep reading and relishing one’s changing state of mind. For those interested in audio books, Savita Nair has herself read the poems aloud – and having heard her recitation at the book meet, I can vouch for the fact that the audio book will also be a treat.

The one single grouse I had was that the poems are numbered in the index page, but not in the rest of the book. And with a collection numbering fifty-seven of them, it becomes difficult to search for a particular poem.

Rating – 4/5

Can You Read This?

“Literacy is the most basic currency of the knowledge economy.”

~Barack Obama

Today is International Literacy Day. It is a joy to read, and even more so to connect with fellow bibliophiles. The picture below is a collage made by marathoner, author and founder of our book club here, Lt. Cdr. Bijay Nair (Retd.). What started off as a bunch of runners who came together to share their common love for reading and discussing books, snowballed into a full-fledged book club which attracted even non-runners/athletes who attended and loved the book meets. We don’t discuss just running or exercise related books, though running was what brought us together. Founder Nair prepared this collage of some of our many meet-ups, as a reminder of the value books play in our lives. In a twist to Joseph Addison’s words, Nair quotes – “Reading is to the mind what running is to the body”. And we have been blessed to find like-minded souls from the runner-reader tribe. “A child without education is like a bird without wings” , goes a Tibetan proverb. Education is a gift no one can take from you – perfectly highlighted on a day that pays tribute to the importance of literacy. Pick up a book today, and be grateful that you can read it.

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Image copyrighted by DYRT

Bibliophilic Endeavors – Book Club Meet

Another month, another meet. Our book club DYRT (Did You Read Today) just wound up our monthly get together this evening.

Our guest author kickstarted the session by introducing and reading from one of her books, as well as providing snippets about her writing and publishing journey. Savita Nair is an advertising copywriter by profession, whose genre as a published book writer is poetry. She describes her poetry as “straight-talking prose” that anyone who has dealt with the chaotic madness of modern day urban survival can understand and relate to. Her poetry can be described as a mix of romanticism, thoughtfulness, stoicism, pragmatism. Her poems are for those who enjoy poetry that doesn’t shroud itself in fancy analogies and jargon. Nair revealed she began writing poems at the age of seven, and cites Dorothy Parker as her primary inspiration. Her work reflects her state of mind – complex, candid and fearless. For the book meet today, Nair articulated six poems from her collection titled “Tell Me Your Real Story” – a fusion of angst and heartbreak, celebration and romance, disbelief and skepticism, sarcasm and fun. The poetry bandwagon takes you on a ride that is urban and chic, cynical and syrupy. A wonderful orator as well, Nair has herself read the audio versions of her books. She presented four autographed copies of Tell Me Your Story to randomly selected readers present at the meet.

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The author session was followed by the book review segment. We started with “Sambhaji” by Vishwas Patil, a book originally written in Marathi, but reviewed in English and Hindi by one of our members. A story of the unfortunate journey of the emperor Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj who spent most his life being compared to his father Shivaji Maharaj. The politics behind the throne, the defiance against various forces, the epic wars of Shambhuraje against the British, the Portuguese, Aurangzeb – all in all, a detailed narrative of Shambhaji’s history.

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The little bookworms followed this in-depth analysis of historical facts with some more world history. Some of the children of our members accompanied their parents to the meet, and reviewed their reads as well. Starting with Anne Frank’s “The Diary Of A Young Girl” by a ten year old who was fluent and fabulous as she described her analysis of Anne’s life through her diary entries. A thirteen year old carried forward the reviewing session with Ashwin Sanghi’s “The Krishna Key” – a historical and mythological thriller set around two timelines, five thousand years ago at the time of Lord Krishna (the Blue God), and a child in the present who grows up believing he is the final avatar of Krishna. An exhaustively researched plot which provides an alternate interpretation of the Vedic Age, and can be relished by conspiracy buffs and thriller addicts. Another articulate thirteen year old followed this with a delightful review of John Green’s “Paper Towns” . An attentive, intuitive and funny story about Margo Spiegelman whose adventures are the centre of attraction at her high school. She goes missing one day, and her friend Quentin Jacobsen sets about in unravelling the mystery, which in turn takes him on a splendid road trip across America as he follows the clues left for him. The storyline and plot are simple, but Green’s storytelling bumps the narrative up a notch keeping it funny and poignant, with relatable characters.

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The floor was then left open for the debate session which followed the book reviews. The topic for today was “Freedom To Choose Books” – should parents select books for children or should kids be allowed to choose what they want to read? Various perspectives were put forth, siding with both hemispheres of the argument. The age of the child, external influences from schools and peer groups, presence or absence of older/younger siblings, the child’s grasp over the language of reading, reasons for reading (pass the time or improve vocabulary) – many factors play a role in whether children should pick their own books or parents need to intervene in their literary choices. A well-rounded discussion where there was no right or wrong, with the emphasis on the context of reading in children.

The venue for this month’s meet being the YMCA, the merry bunch of bookworms wound up our monthly undertaking by donating books to the organization. The customary photo session and snacks brought an end to the evening’s agenda. Until we meet again next month. 🙂

2017-10-22

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DYRT – Book Club Meet

“A book is kind of like a river, I simply jump in and start swimming.”

~Melody Carlson

It was time to start swimming with fellow bibliophiles, as the weekend ushered in our book club’s monthly meet-up. For the uninitiated, our reading group was started by a bunch of us runners who loved to read and discuss books, and were looking for people who shared similar interests. What began as a group of runner-readers connecting over common passions, led to family and friends joining in, and ultimately had outsiders attending the book meets as well. Books connect us in myriad ways. Many of the book club members are runners and athletes, but all genres of books are discussed – not just running or sport related ones.

Our book club is referred to by the acronym DYRTDid You Run Today was the name of our running group, which we use interchangeably for Did You Read Today, and we also have a sister writing group for budding authors called Did You (w)Rite Today.

Coming back to our book meet, the session started off by introducing the guest author – a technology professional turned writer who has three books to his credit. Vijay Raghav’s literary career began as a poet in 2012 when he published his first book, ‘The Peak Of All Thoughts‘ – a bouquet of essays written in a mix of prose and poetry. Raghav then came out with his debut novel in 2013 titled ‘Fall‘ – an emotional roller coaster of love, envy, deceit and mystery. The book he selected for today’s reading session was his newly published compilation titled ‘The Curve Of Chance‘. Released in February 2018, the book comprises four intriguing short stories entwined with threads of chance and probability. Set around the city life, the tales are a mix of fact and fantasy, dealing with timely coincidences and untimely encounters. Through our author sessions, we try and introduce readers to niche books and writers who might not be popularly known around the world. It gives readers a chance to explore books they might not have come across otherwise. If you like exploring new authors, check out Raghav’s books.

After the author’s reading session, it was time for book reviews by our reader members of two selected books for today’s meet – Burmese Days by George Orwell, and Zero To One by Peter Thiel. We usually encourage a mix of fiction and non-fiction so that different genres can be explored, which cater to varying reader tastes. ‘Burmese Days‘ was the first novel by George Orwell, published in 1934 and based on his experiences as a policeman stationed in Imperial Burma in the 1920s. John Flory, the 35-year old hero of the novel, was characterized around Orwell himself, and the book presents a devastating picture of British colonial rule. It describes corruption and bigotry in a society where natives were considered an “inferior people”. Peter Thiel – one of the founders of PayPal – brings to us ‘Zero To One‘ which gives a new perspective on what basis one should start a company, and how businesses should be run. A recommended book for startups and entrepreneurs that sheds light on the fundamentals of starting a business, with Thiel emphasizing on research and innovation and providing anecdotes and statistics to share his insights with the reader.

A fourth book that was the highlight of the evening is titled ‘Fighter‘ – about ex-navy officer cum marathoner and golfer Cdr. Ravi Malhan who succumbed to cancer at the end of last year. His wife Rekha Malhan presented the book which she published in memory of her late husband. Cdr Malhan was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx and underwent total laryngectomy, which left him unable to speak in his last days and consequently resorting to share his thoughts through the written word. ‘Fighter‘ is a compilation of all his journal writings and musings, and proceedings from the sales of the book are being donated to cancer charities. The founder of our book club, who is also an ex-Navy officer and marathoner, read excerpts from the book.

We concluded with an autograph session with the guest author of his books that were available for sale at the venue. All in all, another well spent bookish evening for all the bibliophilic attendees who could make it for the meet.