Eternal forgetfulness of the speckled mind

My latest books wish list has only 3 entries. For a compulsive bibliophile, this is a shocker. Only 3 books? Shouldn’t I have more? I did and do. But I’m forever making lists and losing them.

This is my umpteenth list of books to buy ASAP:

1. David Crystal – The Language Revolution
2. Rana Dasgupta – Tokyo Cancelled
3. Arun Joshi – The Strange Case of Billy Biswas

Losing all the wish lists isn’t very helpful. Some of those lists hold some precious reading gems that I may have come across them in my eclectic reading. For example, my previous (or not so previous list – I don’t remember) contained this graphic novel “The Bloody Streets of Paris.” But this list doesn’t.

I really want “The Strange Case of Billy Biswas” by Arun Joshi, but I can’t seem to find it in any bookstore. I have meant to read David Crystal since he came to Madras last year but didn’t know from which book to start. After reading Sunday’s Lietrary Section of the paper, “The Language Revolution” seems like a good place to start. [Aside: I’m not earning my millions yet so the price tag is a big consideration. All books that are ultra-expensive are reserved for when I earn my first million.]

Yoda Press, a niche independent publishing house from Delhi, is doing some good work on culture studies has come out with some interesting books like “How to be the Goddess of your Home” by Judith E. Walsh, which looks suspiciously like a self-help book but is rather a socio-economic commentary on 19th Century women in Bengal. Interesting nah? From the same press, I’m still waiting for the still to be published “Tramjatra: Imagining Melbourne and Kolkata by Tramways” edited by Michael Douglas (definitely not the actor).

My list doesn’t end there. I have half-baked collections of Haruki Murakami, Jasper Fforde and Philip Pullman. Murakami is a prolific writer so I have no illusions of ever having his complete works. But still “Kafka on the Shore” should have been a part of my collections by now. Instead, when I walked into the bookstore the last time (2nd March, 2005 to be precise) I picked up a travelogue by Vikram Seth “From Heaven Lake: Travels through Sinkiang and Tibet” ignoring all the voices in my head which wanted “The Motorcycle Dairies” by Ernesto “Che” Guevara and its twin “Travelling with Che” by Alberto Grenado. What sort of a sane person ignores the 2 books that she has been eyeing for months and instead picks up a 3rd book that is completely out of her mind till the last minute? I have no clue. Some times even I can’t fathom my own mind.

My Jasper Fforde trilogy is again incomplete. I have book 1: “The Eyre Affair” and book 3 “The Well of Lost Plots.” I need book 2: “Lost in a Good Book” to complete the sandwich. Have I made an effort to get that? No. Another series of books that I have been meaning to get but have yet to get down to getting it is Philip Pullman’s “His Dark materials Trilogy.” I have read them and loved them. But I want to own them. All in the same edition. Yes, that’s my condition. What’s of small consideration is that I have the other trilogy “The Sally Lockhart Mysteries” – all the 4 books in the same edition.

The author that I like best when it comes to conspiracies is thankfully NOT Dan Brown but little-known Italian journalist-writer Arturo Perez Riverte. His “The Dumas Club” is a fantastic mystery that I still am yet to recover from. Again, I have read it, but I haven’t bought that yet. This is only 1 book. He has written many other books. I haven’t read “The Fencing Master” yet.

Keeping Riverte company is “The Complete Poems of Vikram Seth.” I have lost count the number of times that I have tried to buy it and have failed. The last time I refrained from picking it up because the cover looked hastily cut leaving a tiny fringe of extra paper and lamination forming a very pretty skirt on the 3 sides of the cover. That was enough to put me off. I mean, if I have waited so long for this book, I might as well wait for the frill-less cover.

To my credit, I did try to find one book on my t-buy list since last year. And that is “Kinki Lullaby” by Issac Adamson. To Odyssey’s [the friendly neighbourhood bookstore] credit, they did not have it. That leaves me with the commercialized bookstore capital Landmark as well as the exact opposite Giggles, the biggest little expanding bookstore!


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