A few questions

A few questions have been doing the tap dance in my head of late, and I need some suggestions. So, I thought to have a word with you guys.

~ Most of you, who read my blog, are avid book readers, like me. I’d like to know if you buy all the books you read, or borrow them from a library, or buy used books or thrift editions, or is it a combination of all of this. Do you have an equally avid book reader in your family/friend circle with whom you can swap books? Book reading can be an expensive habit, so how do you cope with it?

~ I need suggestions on Alexander McCall Smith books. His books have been staring me in the face at bookstores, and I am unable to take a decision about them. I have read good reviews for these books on various book blogs, but would like to know from you. Have you read any of Alexander McCall Smith’s books? How is the writing style? Did you like them? Do you think I would like them?

~ I have some critically acclaimed books sitting on my shelf, which I’ve not been able to get past the first few pages. Like Blind Willow Sleeping Woman and To Kill A Mockingbird. I feel I SHOULD be reading these books, because so many people have read and loved these books, but I end up losing interest either because I don’t understand what the author is trying to say or the subject is extremely dry. I do have this lingering feeling that I should put in more effort in understanding the book. Has it ever happened to you? Do you suggest any techniques for reading such books?

~ Of late, I’ve been having the feeling that I want to try out a ‘food story book’ – as in a book which tells a beautiful story, but which has food woven into it. Food plays as important a part in these books as the story. Have you read any such books? Do you have any suggestions for me?

~ Have you read stories which have letters and diaries and book conversations or journals woven into it? Like 84 Charing Cross Road or The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society or Daddy Long Legs? I absolutely adored these books, and need more suggestions about similar ones.

Tell me, will ya?



Filed under Discussions, Reading Ramana

22 responses to “A few questions

  1. I use to buy all the books I read. I agree that it is indeed a costly affair, but once you finish the book, the amount of elation you get compensates for that. I do exchange books with my friends.
    I have also felt bored with some of the critically acclaimed books and it required tremendous effort from my side to somehow complete them. I had to go through the same pages five or six times to get myself to the author’s frequency and understand the contents.

    • priyaiyer


      Yes, I agree – the joy of buying a book is unparalleled. Can totally relate to that. But now, budget and space constraints are making me think whether I really need to buy ALL the books that I read. Trying to think of alternatives.

      I really need to figure out a way to read some of the critically acclaimed books on my bookshelf. 😦

  2. Hi hope you had a lovely Diwali! Well I mostly buy books. I concede that it is a costly habit but I love to own books 🙂 I don’t buy them based on the best seller list or anything however….my internal rating machine should tell me that this one would be good otherwise I wouldn’t pick it up. Each month I put aside a little for books. I do borrow though usually from the British Council library!

    • priyaiyer


      Hey! I had a wonderful Diwali, and hope you had, too! 🙂
      Same here about the internal rating machine.. I have to FEEL that I will like a book before I buy it.
      I am not a member of any library here. Trying to find out if there’s a lending library near my place, but my book-loving contacts in Bangalore being limited, it’s rather tough finding out. 😦

  3. Ah so many questions… I predominantly borrow books either from library or from frnds.But i also make it a point to buy a few books every month..these are normally classics/best sellers. I have read 2-3 books of Alexander Mc Call Hill and liked it. His brand of home-grown humor is very charming.You should start with the No 1 ladies Investigator series to see if you like his kind of writing.Julie and Julia would be my reco for the food book.I love books that are written as letters..am looking for suggestions too. Nirupama Subramanian’s Keep the change is written as dairy entries.I found that enjoyable too.

    • priyaiyer


      Hey! Thanks for the detailed reply.
      I have to find a library near my place, but I doubt whether I can finish the books on time. 😦
      I should try out Alexander McCall Smith. I saw part of the movie No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, and liked what I saw. 🙂
      Will read up on the other books that you suggest.

  4. Hi
    First time here. I buy, borrow, download and get books any way possible. Problem with own book is that you won’t feel an urge to start reading them… To kill a mocking bird is an extremely good book. I would recommend it to any kind of reader. And about stories with diary or letters woven into it… One fine specimen is Bramstoker’s Dracula… 🙂 … I had read a book on real letters written by the great artist Vincent Vangogh to his brother Theo. If you can get it from some where, please read it… it is very heart touching. Why dont you join this site Shelfari.com (or are you there already?) it is a nice platform for readers to discuss books.

    • priyaiyer


      Hey! Welcome here!
      I usually get books as gifts or buy them. I rarely borrow books. I don’t download many books either.
      I am there on Shelfari.com.
      Thanks for your suggestions. Will read up on them. 🙂

  5. Priya, these are all excellent questions, but I will only answer a few of them, lest my comments go on and on!

    Your first question is about book acquisition. I order books (new and used) from Amazon, find books (new and used) at bookstores and thrift shops , and also get free(!) books from authors, agents, publishers, and tour directors. Last but not least, I head to the public library on a regular basis for books.

    Please read The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. I think you will love this series. I did!

    For a wonderful book with food, may I suggest Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel?

    • priyaiyer


      Regarding the first question, it’s usually buying books for me – either from proper bookstores or used books ones. I really have to start looking for alternatives. 🙂
      From what I saw of the movie The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, I liked it. Will try to get hold of at least one book from the series. Have heard a lot about Like Water for Chocolate. Will read up about it.
      Thanks a ton for the detailed comment. Appreciate it. 🙂

  6. givingreadingachance

    1. Combination. I buy – but it became less this year, I found one used book site and love it
    2. I think i have Alexander McCall Smith books, I will have to try them and tell you 🙂
    3. i have To Kill A Mockingbird – never read it. and i have Austen, SIlas Mariner and loads of books I have not read. I don’t know much but, you have to push really hard to get through these books. Sometime back I read God of Small Things, when i started it, i hated it. But later on I pushed myself to finish it and eventually loved it. 🙂
    4. Priya, I absolutely LOVED ” Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel” and got my copy from Flipkart.com. It has food, magic realism and love AND it is Mexican ( i think )- just my type of books 🙂
    5. I would like to know about the suggestions. 🙂

    • priyaiyer


      As I said to Suko, I have to find out alternative ways to balance my books budget. 🙂
      Do let me know about the Alexander McCall Smith books. I guess I have to push myself a bit, too, for reading those classics lying on my shelf, unread, since ages. Discussing them with like-minded friends would definitely help, I feel.
      Wow! Another reader recommending Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel! I really have to read about this book now! 🙂
      I love epistolary books, too. Would like to read some more of them. You can try out Cecelia Ahern’s A Place Called Here, Jean Webster’s Dear Enemy, Matt Beaumont’s ‘e’, and Helene Hanff’s The Duchess Of Bloomsbury if you want to read epistolary books. Think you’d love them.

  7. Praveen

    I haven’t read any Alexander McCall Smith’s. Sorry!

    I do buy books, some of the “must haves”. Thanks to lending libraries like Just Books, sometimes borrowin helps. One doesnt need to buy books always. At times it can be an expensive hobby. Check out their place sometime.

    Hope u had a great Diwali.

    • priyaiyer


      Hey! I had a great Diwali. Thank you! 🙂
      I’ll check out Just Books. I need some place where they lend me books for an indefinite period of time, and deliver books at home and pick them up. Possible, or too much to ask for?

  8. I buy books – I luv owning them and more bcoz I hv nt found a good library here, close to place, good collection etc.. etc.. My aunt and sis read a lot too, but can’t swap as we stay in different places. I do share with a friend here sometimes. We have similar interests too 🙂

    Food books – Like Water for Chocolate is good. I loved reading Monsoon Diary and Eating India.
    Here r the reviews in case u want to check out 🙂

    • priyaiyer


      Well, I love owning books, too, and I am yet to find a library here to match up with my requirements. So, as of now, I do buy most of the books I read. It’s not a good idea, though – at least not for ALL the books.
      I wish I had someone close by with whom I could talk endlessly about books, and swap books too. Would be such fun!
      Will read the reviews – thanks for sharing the link!
      Yes, I do stay at Bangalore. Will check out the library link, too. Thanks a ton!

    • priyaiyer


      Oh, yeah. You did send me some links long back. Had completely forgotten about it. Think it was Just Books only. Not sure, though. Shall dig them out. Thanks! 🙂

      On an unrelated note, read your article. A nice read, that!

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