Thursday, July 19, 2007

I Confess

I like to think of myself as somewhat intellectual - not necessarily the JNU type, but as someone who lives for and loves mental stimulation, and takes in a wide range of topics as areas of interest. That is true to some extent, but I do have a darker, shallower self too. It tends to be more active when I'm stressed at work - not that that's any excuse - in the form of what I read.

All the most undemanding, comfortable, old friends type of genres and authors get dusted off at this time. Chicklit, naturally, is a big part of this phase, and I really enjoy Jill Mansell whose characters are always fun and not much given to agonising over anything. I like Shiela O'Flanagan too, and I really enjoy the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella though I do wish her heroines would show a tiny bit more of grey matter. Georgette Heyer is also a favourite, for her wonderful mix of adventure, mystery and romance, and her heroines usually tend to be more substantial in terms of character.

GO - Girl's own - literature is another soother for me. I love Elinor M. Brent-Dyer's Chalet series ( should since it inspired my first book) and these effortlessly transport me back in time to an era where all that mattered was another schoolgirl's rivalry/ jealousy, homework assignments and exams (come to think of it, not much different from work, eh?). Anne of Green Gables, Betsy-Tacy and their friends, Katy and what she did, all of them have the same resonance - of a simpler, less harried world in which relationships were not only important but nurtured with time and patience, where kids could run around freely with little worry of either traffic or human predators, and time itself seemed to move less slowly so they could enjoy each day to its fullest.

Adventure/ thrill is another genre I'm partial to at these times, from the swash-buckling stories of Rafael Sabatini and Anthony Hope (Prisoner of Zenda is an old favourite book and movie) to the more modern Biggles single-handedly hunting down huns and assorted villains. Nancy drew sometimes gets a look in though by and large I don't like her, and the Hardy Boys and Three Investigators are visited more often. I just finished a Hardy Boy story set in the Canadian North-West - how can you not like stories with adventure out in the wilds of wherever, in which the villains get captured with a left/ right hook to the jaw instead of a 'wicked automatic' and immediately start fighting amongst themselves and spilling the beans ( no torture needed here)?

Romance is a genre that I do take to now and then, though my appetite for pure romance a la Mills and Boon is dying down - maybe I'm growing up. I prefer M&Bs that have adventure/ detection as a central theme. Barbara Cartland's novels have recently been re-released by an indian publisher so I'm rreading a few of those, though I tell myself it's for the historical detail. It can hardly be for character analysis - all her heroines are in the same mould of being super thin, petite, with over-large eyes for their faces and very fair, spiritual, all interested in the East and reincarnation and abused in some way, while the men always have angular faces with strong chins, are outstandingly handsome and accomplished, usually well-read as well as well-traveled to exotic places including the East, and also very rich and with many mistresses/ lovers panting after them while they have never given their hearts to anyone...Danielle Steel, I blush again to confess, is another of the romance-authors I live, though her heroines have a little more spirit. However they too are typically cast in the same mould, and sometimes I wonder if it isn't the very sameness that attracts me - no surprises, happy ending...

Last of all but definitely not least of all, the humour section of our library gets dusted off. There's the autobiographical books of Bob Hope - screamingly funny, and laugh-out-loud - don't read them in public if you get embarassed by people staring at you strangely! William and his shenanigans are always good for a little bedtime reading to stop thinking about work/ computing numbers in your sleep. Wodehouse's entire oeuvre comes into this category as well. And I love both Cheaper by the dozen and Belles on their toes (don't see the movies with Steve Martin, they are a travesty). Daddy Long Legs is another book that falls between GO and funny.

There, now it's out. Now I can go back to my intel-prententious self (until 21st and Harry potter the 7th, of course)

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