Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Very Bookish Vacation

         Salt in the air, and laughter in my lungs; sand between my toes, and wind in my hair: I really seemed to be having a great vacation in Hawaii, but something just seemed to be missing - and I knew exactly what that was. Books. 

        I'm usually a very meticulous traveller - packing the most important books first (and, invariably forgetting my toothpaste), but this time I was a bit too meticulous, and packed all my books in one bag. Which I'd then, promptly, left behind. 

       Lazing on the beach, rather than having the intended calming effect, seemed to only emphasize my dull feeling of missing something (I could be reading Waltman right now, I'd think to myself). The only piece of reading material I had on me was one of those terribly bland (and incredibly overpriced) magazines I'd snatched up at the airport in desperation. 

       Three days in, and I just couldn't take it anymore. So I snuck my family's ridiculous rental -a salmon-colored convertible ("It's a vacation car!" my Lexus-driving father had exclaimed at the airport)- to the tiny little beach town of Kailua in hopes of finding writing, any writing - be it a fancily written tour guide, or a Guide to Surfing or just any book with words arranged in a coherent order really. 

      But what I found was far more than I expected (though my expectations -of pristine tour guides fresh off the press- were very low). The local book store at Kailua was truly a tropical paradise. 

      Bookends is a small, privately owned business nudged in between a quaint Indian-Malaysian cafe, and an energetic-looking surf store. Though among the extremities of the bright neon colors of the surf store, and the worn brown of the cafe, the book store seemed to fit right in. The three businesses were like inseperable, but very different, best-friends - similar, but unique. 

      The moment I stepped in, I knew that this was the place I was going to spend the rest of my vacation, and I was right. My eyesore of a convertible (a 2001 Chrysler) became a regular sight in front of the store, and soon I stopped carrying that repulsive aura of a tourist around me, and almost blended into the local scene. Almost. 

One narrow segway at Bookends.
The good times..
       Stacked to the rafters with second-hand, third-hand, and fourth-hand books left by tourists from all over the world, Bookends was a store that carried an authentic beach town vibe, while also catering excellently to those wandering tourists who had stumbled upon it accidentally (me). 

       From chattering with Julie, the glasses-toting, flip-flop wearing store owner, to enjoying Hawaiian-Indian-Malaysian food at the cafe next door with the "regulars," my days at the book store were far from anti-social. Actually I thought that Bookends dropped me right into the very middle of Kailua town's eccentric and eclectic population (from the Theo, the Buddhist surfer to Julie the college-student-and-bookworm, the people I met were so very diverse). 

Many people think that reading isn't really a vacation, but even stepping into the book world, and forgetting reality is like taking a break. And when book reading comes with perks like interesting pieces of advice from vegetarian Hawaiian natives, I think it very much counts as a vacation. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Weird(ly awesome) Fictional Feasts

        My dog-eared copy of Pickwick Papers can be found in the very back of my bookshelf, hidden for shame among the shadows; it's yellowing pages peaks from behind an equally antique copy of Moby Dick. You may ask why I must treat this poor, obviously well used book in such a fashion. Why must the amusing Mr Pickwick, with all his antics, be sent into such an exile?
         The answer is simple. Mr. Pickwick makes me fat.
There is so much good eating in the said book that I am certain that I have never finished reading the book without also having emptied my mother's (not-so) secret pastry stash.    

From Enid Blyton's elaborate 3-page descriptions of picnics on the beach, to J.K. Rowling's unfairly short mentions of the delicious Halloween feast at Hogwarts, literature has been the home for many memorable food moments.

Here are some legendary literary foods that have set my stomach grumbling,  

Marcel Proust, Madelienes, and Tea. 

Book: In Search of Lost Time
Author: Marcel Proust

Dipping a madeliene into his tea, the narrator is hit by an overwhelming sense of deja vu, and is carried back into his memory.

This is my time-machine feast. The simple sweet-but-not-really taste of a madeliene provides the perfect background for the
sweet, exotic tast of tea. Nostalgia for the good times is an added benefit.

Herman Melville, the Smell of the Sea, and Clam Chowder

Book: Moby Dick
Author: Herman Melville

Three wind-swept, sea-faring strangers come to Try Pots inn with salty lungs, and empty insides. The description of hot clam chowder with its juicy hazel-nut sized clams served to them takes up an entire chapter.

I don't know about you, but if I had survived for weeks on slimy fish, and cold hard crackers, I would be ecstastic too if I was served a bowl of warm, thick soup.

Johanna Spyri, and Goat's Cheese in the Alps

Book: Heidi
Author: Johanna Spyri

Grandfather spread a thick layer of cheese of Heidi's brown bread, toasted it over the fire and set it down next to her cup of cold milk.
Heidi drank the milk so fast that she forgot to take a breath, and ate the bread in a few quite bites.

This simple, but wholsome meal is, to me, the essense of living as one with nature.

J.K. Rowling, The Three Broomsticks, and Butterbeer

Book: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabhan
Author: J.K. Rowling

Harry's first sip of butterbeer made him feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. Happiness flooded his insides, and he neither knew nor cared why.

Butterbeer, I imagine, is really and truly happiness in a cup.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Book Review (Or Something like That): The Humans by Matt Haig

I first found Matt Haig through a blog post of his: a passionate, yet witty, piece about how book snobs are poisonous to the entire reading community (which is ironic because I was, and probably still am, a huge book snob. If you don't want to be on the recieving end of my extreme-judge-face, don't let me catch you reading 50 Shades of Grey or Twilight), and I loved his serious, but funny, writing.
         When I read of his history of depression and watched his funny videos, I realized that it was not just his writing that was an intriguing combination of depth and humor. Matt Haig is a man who takes you to the depths of his solitude, but makes you laugh all the while. He's funny, and he's heartwarming; he makes me laugh, and he makes me cry- sometimes even at the same time. 

The Humans - Matt Haig

(The synopsis is in italics. Please don't skip this! It's like a book trailer. Made of words. It's a word trailer!!)

Body-snatching has never been so heartwarming . . .

The Humans is a funny, compulsively readable novel about alien abduction, mathematics, and that most interesting subject of all: ourselves. Combine Douglas Adams’s irreverent take on life, the universe, and everything with a genuinely moving love story, and you have some idea of the humor, originality, and poignancy of Matt Haig’s latest novel.

Our hero, Professor Andrew Martin, is dead before the book even begins. As it turns out, though, he wasn’t a very nice man--as the alien imposter who now occupies his body discovers. Sent to Earth to destroy evidence that Andrew had solved a major mathematical problem, the alien soon finds himself learning more about the professor, his family, and “the humans” than he ever expected. When he begins to fall for his own wife and son--who have no idea he’s not the real Andrew--the alien must choose between completing his mission and returning home or finding a new home right here on Earth.

Who could be a more objective observer of humans than an alien from outer-space?

I started reading this book with a belief that it would be just as iconoclastic as my (secretly-anarchist) heart is, but my first impressions (as always) were wrong; as it turned out, this book wasn't really about criticizing the triviality of our society. No, it was far more interested in the deeper lines that govern it (Deeper even than how Botox makes one feel younger, and how fashion magazines are just advertising giants that are as concerned for your self-esteem as they are for last's season Prada bag..).
The objective, out-of-this-world protagonist observer is just confused as I am when he reads the Cosmopolitan: his first piece of written information about our planet. Through a number of what would be considered-awkward-if-he-was-human moments (only made worse by his newly attained knowledge from that extremely important commentary of the fashion world), life on Earth is ridiculed to my heart's content as he questions again and again what the human purpose of life is. But that is the end of the iconoclasm, and the beginning of a book built on thoughts, emotions, and explanations. An understanding of what does and does not make us human. It was so beautiful that even my non-conformist heart was warmed with pride of our species, and a sudden need to say loud and proud that I'm an irrational, contradictionary, condescending, but totally loving human being.

I would have quoted a particularly enlightening passage to emphasize my point, but then I would have ended up with an unreadable-long review :)
This book has been beautiful. A must-read if there ever was one.

This review is also featured on my goodreads page. 

To ensure complete some amount of objectivity, and because I only really had to read the synopsis of this book to know that it is exactly what I am looking for, here are a few others, of the Goodreads community, who agree with me :)

"The world is divided into those who have read this book and those who have not." - Mark Matthews

" [this book] made me laugh out loud, cringe with embarrassment, ache with loneliness, radiate with love." - Jackie

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Grab a Thesaurus...

(No, seriously; I'm Indian)

            Welcome to "One Too Many Adjectives," my brand-new book blog for every logophile out there who's dying in the world of 140-characters, and confusing texting acronyms (If it ever gets too bad, just remember that you are not alone).
           In hopes of providing some relief to ailing bibliophiles, and logophiles alike; on this blog, I'm going to be doing book reviews of new releases as well as classics, Word of the Day posts, Quote of the Day posts, and more, all piled on with an ample amount of adjectives, because, let's face it, longer sentences are just more interesting to read. So, yes, the title of this blog is, indeed, an ironic statement (you can never have too many adjectives if you use them right!).

To prove my point, this is my favorite sentence ever. It was written by Charles Dickens back in 1859, in his book A Tale of Two Cities, about the peasants who stormed the Bastille:
The sea of black and threatening waters, and of destructive upheaving of wave against wave, whose depths were yet unfathomed and whose forces were yet unknown. The remorseless sea of turbulently swaying shapes, voices of vengeance, and faces hardened in the furnaces of suffering until the touch of pity could make no mark on them. 
 I can almost see the sea of tired serfs storming an even more tired building!

Anyway, I'm really hoping to share this blog with many others who enjoy all-things related to the written word. Thanks for reading :)

More coming soon!