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Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Leading characters in fiction" by Nitisha Pande

"Often times when we read, we experience something not short of incredible.
We laugh out loud at a Suppandi joke we’re reading at the train station. We spend sleepless nights over a novel by Stephen King. We are filled with impassioned idealism after reading Rand. We hold back tears while flipping the pages of a Nicholas Sparks novel.

That is the power of words.  It allows us, rather provokes us, to imagine. To let our imagination run wild.What turns a novel from good to great, from forgettable to memorable, is the strength with which the characters are portrayed. Some characters inspire, some make us question, but their most common consequence is, they become a part of our mental imagery. Indelible images are imprinted in our mind of the Howard Roarks’ and Jason Bournes’ of the literary world, which is why avid readers often shirk from watching the film adaptions of their favourite books.  Here’s a bunch of characters that have made their place in fiction, for eternity.

1. Sherlock Holmes
(Adventures of Sherlock Holmes –
Sir  Arthur Conan Doyle)

Detective par excellence, chemist, violin player, boxer, swordsman- these are just a few of the talents Doyle embodied Holmes with.  Even for the non-reader, Sherlock Holmes is the archetypical spy and crime solver. He has cemented his position as the most loved detective in the fiction scene.
Unforgettable Quote: "How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth? We know that he did not come through the door, the window, or the chimney. We also know that he could not have been concealed in the room, as there is no concealment possible. When, then, did he come?"

2.  Howard Roark and Dagny Taggart

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
If you check on Facebook, Objectivism is a religion. It is a philosophy by Ayn Rand,  that proclaims the virtue of selfishness. The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged have long been cornerstones of the fictional world, and copies of these books can be found on the shelves of every young idealist.

Unforgettable quote: “Man cannot survive except through his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon. But the mind is an attribute of the individual, there is no such thing as a collective brain. The man who thinks must think and act on his own. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot not be subordinated to the needs, opinions, or wishes of others. It is not an object of sacrifice.”

3.  Hannibal Lecter
(Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris)

Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter has exquisite taste, is well read, surrounds himself with utter beauty and is the meanest killing machine on the face of the literary earth. Criminally observant, he often sends tickles down the strongest spines.
Unforgettable Quote: “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

4. Lisbeth Salander

She’s the central character in the outrageously popular Millennium trilogy by the Swedish author, Stieg Larsson. A social outcast, a homosexual, covered in piercings, often mistaken for a teenager this pint-sized death-pixie on wheels embodies the “female asskicker,”!
(the Millenium series by Stieg Larsson)

5. Atticus Finch:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

With such moral upstanding values, Harper Lee’s Finch has secured his place as our all-time favourite father figure. 
Unforgettable Quote: “The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience,” he says. Amen.

A librarywala fan 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Paperbacks and Hardbacks V/S E-books

Reading books has always been a habit I’ve followed, rather a treasured hobby. I have always regarded a book as an art object, as an investment. However, the growing presence of Amazon's Kindle & the Nook force me to think about how a person who just can't part with books would feel about one of these gadgets.
I believe, a book lover would always prefer a paperback edition of a given book to the electronic version. And there are numerous to support it.

One, the Kindle or Nook doesn't create a feeling of reading like a book does. Admit it- that anticipative feeling while turning the pages of Jeffrey Archer’s Prisoner of Birth won't be felt as you tap your e-reader to scroll down and read more.
I remember collecting old copies of the Enid Blyton series from my grand mom’s house & devouring on them throughout the holidays. Books remain readable for many years, given that paper has a much longer life span than most digital forms whereas E-book formats continue to change through time.
Plus, you can’t rule out the possibility of documents getting lost in cyberspace. Worse off if the system of a Kindle crashes, you lose your precious books unless you have backup. 
For someone who reads pretty often, a book comes in much more handier than the e-book reader. Books are best companions on travels as they don't have a battery life - whereas, a moment of anxiety on the climax of a gruesome thriller read can abruptly come to a dissappointing halt , in case, the e-books batteries are not charged. 

As for the economy of the e-book reader, not all books are available free on the net, especially the best-sellers. In case they are, you cannot rule out copyright issues. The print versions of books often cost the same as the ones available online & there isn’t even a high cost involved in getting hold of the paperback edition. 

You can always walk into the nearest bookstore, read a few excerpts & buy it if it suits your taste. Or even better, you can rent-a-book from

The smell of a book be it an old, musty book of Shakespeares’s Hamlet or a freshly printed copy of the Harry Potter series is always fulfilling. There is a sense of comfort on the touch of its pages touch of its pages both - yellow & white.
From an author’s point of view too, paperbacks/hardbacks are a more concrete evidence of their efforts as against e-books. Additionally, the potential for piracy of e-books may make publishers and authors reluctant to distribute digitally. Copyright infringement may be involved because copying is involved-sometimes without the author’s/publisher's knowledge.
E-books suit one section of the society really well - students. They are pretty much more convenient  to use, unburdening students from carrying a load of books. They are also beneficial in cutting back textbook price, offering a greener choice as opposed to a thick 1,000-page encyclopedia.
Given that these gadgets are convenient and appealing, they save space & carry the “environment friendly” tag. But as someone who has resorted to the experience of picking up a book to read, would you let these reasons take over your paperbacks & hardbacks.
Make your choice.