Books and Nostalgia- A Book Lover’s Tag #MondayMusings

I was wondering what to write for #MondayMusings when I came across Anamika from Bespectacled Mom’s post on # A Book Lover’s Tag. Along with Anamika I had also been tagged by Esha from Soul Talk to write this amazing post but I was kind of procrastinating. Anamika’s post nudged me to do it right away.

Before I write the post let me write few words on Esha, who is not only a fellow blogger but also family friend. We know each other since last thirty years and she has been a big influence and inspiration during my adolescence. We were neighbours and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration if I say that I used to idolise her. I felt and still feel that she is one of the prettiest women I have ever come across. Apart from a pretty face she also has a beautiful soul.

Life was simple back then with no television or smart phones. Our only entertainment was books and we used to read a lot. Her house used to be full of books and I used to borrow books from her house and read. I still have couple of books from their library with me. She inculcated in me the love for literature and during our long evening walks she used to talk about the books she had read and I used to be her mesmerised audience. I would also like to mention about her maternal Aunt whom we both loved dearly. Her Aunt encouraged me to write poems. I used to secretly write poem and show it to her. She used to review and edit them. Many of those were later published in my college magazine and elsewhere. While Esha is the reason for my love for English Literature, her aunt is the reason for my love for Bengali Literature especially Bengali poetry. I am getting nostalgic and emotional so let me just reply the questions that Esha asked.

Do you have a specific place for reading?

No, I can read anywhere and everywhere.

Bookmark or random piece of paper?

As per convenience. I obviously prefer bookmarks however I misplace them quite often and then I use whatever I can put my hands on as bookmark. They can be as bizarre as my hair- clutch, electricity bill/gas bill (after putting it inside a book I confidently forget about it and then when the due date of bill payment comes I turn the house upside down searching for it), birthday cards, another thinner book, my mobile phone and most shamefully my kindle (when I take a small washroom break). Yes, I use my kindle as a bookmark J

Do you eat or drink whilst reading?

I usually never eat. However I enjoy drinking my Darjeeling tea while reading.

Music or TV whilst reading?

No. They distract me. When I am reading at home I prefer silence however when I am outside then noise is unavoidable.

One book at a time or several?

Ahem!! Unlike Anamika I am not that loyal rather slightly polygamous in this respect. I read at least 2-3 books simultaneously. I know it is blasphemous to many book lovers but I usually have one book for morning and one book for night. I keep the serious book for morning when I can concentrate and the lighter book for evening when I have to read amidst chaos. Also, as I do book reviews, I often get books which I have to read reluctantly under compulsion. Few books are so disgusting that I start reading another good book just to forget the trauma and detox myself. So if I am reviewing Half Girlfriend by Chetan  Bhagat, I would definitely read a Elif Shafak or Kahlil Gibran simultaneously just to detox myself.

Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

As I said, I can read anywhere and everywhere. Long ago when I used to live alone in Hyderabad, Eat Street near Hussain Sagar Lake used to be my favourite place for weekend reading. I used to go there grab a chair, order coffee and start reading. I also miss my college days when I used to read in the huge Central Library of my University. Kolkata Central Library and Ramakrishna Mission library were also much loved places to read. In Mumbai I love to sit and read inside the bookshop in Prithvi.

Read out loud or silently?

Silently. However poems are often read aloud.

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

If I like the book then I wouldn’t even skip a single alphabet, let alone a page. However if I lose interest midway then not only do I skip pages I actually skip the whole book. Nonetheless, if I have committed to review a book then even if I hate the book I read and finish it with honesty. In many cases I seriously do wish to skip though.

Break the spine or keep it like new?

Breaking the spine is criminal offence for me. I keep my books more carefully than my jewellery.

Do you write in books?

No never. I use the notes section at the back of the book in case I feel like writing something. I write with pencil there.

What books are you reading now?

I am reading the Kohinoor by William Dalrymple and re-reading The Fault in our Stars and The Shining.


What is your childhood favourite book?

Very difficult to choose one but I think it is the Bengali classic Chander Pahar (Mountain of the Moon). I was hit by the travel bug after reading this book. I still love to re-read it.

What is your all-time favourite book?

This is the toughest question. It is impossible for me to choose only one book. I am a book polygamist and I have a harem of favourite books. I fell in love with numerous books in my life. As a child I loved Chander Pahar, in my teens I fell in love with another Bengali classic Na Hanyate (this is the best love story I ever read and interestingly this is a true love story between a Bengali Girl and a French Poet).

I was a student of Comparative Literature and thanks to my subject I was exposed to books from all over the world.  In college it was 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, followed by Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and Anna Karenina gave me company in University. There is an Arabic book called Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Sadawi, I think each and every woman should read this book.

I am a huge fan of diaspora writers and I absolutely love to read Rohinton Mistry. Family Matters by Mistry is almost my autobiography and each time I read it I am in tears. I fell in love with the description and narration in God of Small Things. I know many people love to hate Arundhati Roy however I feel she is one of the best Indian writers. And yes, how can I not mention Amitava Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri and Khaled Hosseini. I can read them every day for the rest of my life.

There are many more but I better stop. Thanks Esha Di for tagging me in this beautiful post. It was a privilege to write this post. Linking this to #MondayMusings hosted by our dear Corrine.

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10 thoughts on “Books and Nostalgia- A Book Lover’s Tag #MondayMusings

  1. the bespectacled mother says:

    It is great to know that you have known Esha for a very a long time. Once she told me about you and her.. She IS a beautiful soul. She is inspiring as a person and how she has been raising her son.
    Coming back to the questions and answers, I am happy to give you the nudge to do this post, although indirectly 🙂 While Esha and I may be the only monogamists I know, I know a lot of polygamists who read more than one book at a time and you would know scrolling down my comment section. You were quite audacious to read Half Girlfriend. I got over Chetan Bhagat with 20-20 revolution which I couldn’t read beyond the first 2 pages. So even I skip books. I liked Fault in our stars. Family matters, I have to add it to my TBR. And Khaled Hosseni. Even his name’s mention brings tears to my eyes. Such moving were his books. I have been wanting to write to him a long letter expressing my bonding with his characters especially Amir Jan’s dead mother in the Kite Runner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Balaka says:

      Reading half girlfriend was no less than third degree torture. The only CB book that I could somehow tolerate was 2 States, although the movie was horrible. Rohinton Mistry is an author who writes with conviction. I like all his books but family matters happens to be the closest to my heart. It is sad that due to political pressure his novels were banned in Mumbai university. Try to read Mistry’s Fine Balance if you have not yet read. I have a friend who lives in Fremont and he met Khaled hosseini couple of times there as he also lives in Fremont. Kite Runner is also set in Fremont. Meeting him is definitely in my bucket list as well. It was great writing this post and sharing our thoughts. It was great to know you a bit more. Thanks for this beautiful comment.


  2. Esha M Dutta says:

    Awww. Reading your post has made me so emotional, Tina. I am actually going back in time and recalling those days in Salt Lake, now, as I write this comment! So many memories of those two years I stayed there! There’s something unique about having a shared history from a time that was so crucial in our lives, wasn’t it? One thing that amazes me is that life was so simple back then and it took so little to be happy. Perhaps I need to do a post on it someday!
    Anyways, I’m so glad Anamika’s post did for you, what my tag didn’t and you eventually wrote this fun post! 😀 Loved reading it. It was funny… “polygamist” for a book lover and “detoxing” after reading CB! I’ve never read a book I’ve detested so much (except for my Pol Sc textbooks in college) but, I can imagine the abominable feeling you’re describing! (I’m not mentioning anyone here btw 😉 But, then there are so many amazing writers. Kafka, Marquez, Chinua Achebe and Tolstoy are, of course, timeless. I so miss the Kol book fair. Do you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Balaka says:

      Remember once we went together to book fair…and do you remember watching the movie “fast forward” in an almost empty hall…and that Vostok shop in front of KB block…those were the days…and I sooo miss Kutty Pishi…load shedding e baranday Bose galpo…I wish I had a time machine to go back in time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Suger says:

    My all time favourite book is ‘Anne of Green Gables’ as cliche as it sounds. Something like that attaches to you as a child and never lets you go, I think. The book itself gets wound around the nostalgia of being a kids and all of a sudden it’s untouchable and an incomparable experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Surbhi Prapanna says:

    it was an interesting read, I enjoyed this Q and A session. and like you, I can read anywhere, anytime. reading works as a great stress buster for me. (Sorry for reaching late on your blog, it was a confusion, and I had visited 2 posts next to mine). looking forward to reading more from you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Balaka says:

      Thanks Surbhi. I can understand the confusion you had. You have to comment on posts above you. Ideally the immediate 2 above you. And then you can comment on as many posts as possible. Thanks for visiting and commenting.


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