Category Archives: My Soulmate Is A Book

Life is hard. Men are crap. Books are bae.

I have opened my  bookshelf after a long time. I’ve been reading on the fly the way I eat on the fly because books are as much my sustenance as food is. I’m really looking at my books and they’re scattered (though neatly because me) in so many places. I tuck away comfort and wisdom in lots of different corners of my life, just ready for me when I need them the most. So now for the questions.

What graphic novels do you suggest I drop some hard-earned money on? It’s been over ten years since I was formally introduced to this aisle. And I’ve learnt, as with so many other things, I straddle two worlds that shouldn’t have boundaries but do. Comic afficionados don’t seem to read other things, as such. And avid book enthusiasts don’t seem to actually consider comics real books. Huh, why? Graphic novels are books that are also beautiful. I am in a great place. I have tasted and know some of what I like but I’m still open to so many more delightful things in this medium. I don’t enjoy classic superhero stuff. I’ve read and enjoyed Sandman, Fables, Transmetropolitan, Lucifer. And I’ve grown away from boy-coming-of-age stories like Blankets and Y:The Last Man. Where should I take my eyes next?

Which one of you told me about Sharp Objects and swore it wasn’t as disappointing as Dark Places but maybe even better than Gone Girl? I intend to buy it and if it doesn’t live up, I will hunt you down and do a Gillian Flynn on you. I will not be a Cool Girl.

Have any of you read Kamila Shamsie or Alexander McCall-Smith’s books other than Mma.Ramotswe? Anybody? Anybody? Huh, huh? Damn. But they’re respectively joy and comfort in paperback form.

Have any of you read Crazy, Rich Asians (the book)? Is it a bit like The Joy Luck Club, in that it’s enjoying a moment because it’s about Asian people and representation matters? I hated The Joy Luck Club TBH. I mean, I get the value of a book talking about Asians, yes. But it was so depressing and angsty and worst of all – monotonous. Memoirs of a Geisha was better but then again, I read it as a teenager and now that I know about white saviour complexes and co-opting narratives, I may think differently. Reading as a woke adult means thinking about these things too. And if it’s just about representation, American Born Chinese (a graphic novel) does a decent job putting Asian faces into literature. Lovely illustrations, too.

Who still remembers and loves Milan Kundera? I feel like he and Murakami were neck to neck in the hipster reader stakes a decade ago. I went the Moody Euro way while popular taste went with Weird Japanese. Am I standing alone with Identity, Ignorance, Slowness, Laughable Loves and The Unbearable Lightness of Being?

And now I’m just going to randomly name books and authors that I fell in love with at first page and have never wavered since.  The Fault in Our Stars. Richard Bach. The Time Traveller’s Wife. Louis Sachar. S.E.C.R.E.T. Dream Angus. Erma Bombeck. The Kite Runner. Spider Jerusalem.

Does anybody know why PG Wodehouse books dropped their old cover art style of orange spines, white frames and outlined colour drawings for these pastel-ey full page watercolour thingys and can I get a little commiseration please? I miss the good old days. 



If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Watching Sunsets


If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.


An Old Book


If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

BOOK REVIEW: Turtles All The Way Down – John Green

Turtles All the Way DownTurtles All the Way Down by John Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s possible that John Green enthusiasts already come steeled to deal with heavy duty emotional toil, given that his past books place teenagers in cancer, fatal accidents and parental neglect. Still, this book is a different kind of monster and it’s a shock when you encounter it. The last time I felt so desperately bleak was when I read 13 Reasons Why and that’s a book that really should be restricted reading. Should this book come with trigger warnings? Yes. And here they are: Mental illness, OCD, Child abuse. These are spoilers but I think the need for trigger warnings trumps the need to entertain the reader.

My complaint with John Green is his stock characters. Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns were both about the same confused, entitled girl and a confused, enamoured boy. This book arguably gives you again the starring duo from The Fault in Our Stars except instead of cancer, one has OCD and the other has some kind of parental neglect-triggered anxiety. There is even the high-strung best friend you feel sorry for, except this time it’s a girl and she’s poor, not blind.

Still, if you like your familiar characters and can handle teenagers in horrific situations, this book reads quite nicely, showing off Green’s strengths. Say what you will, but the man is good with his words. The conversations feel familiar but never trite. All his characters seem overly obsessed with literary references but they’re vulnerable and grey.

True to his formula, the book does not end on the expected happy ending but still on a positive note. Also, if you’re wondering what the title means, you get the reference in the last quarter of the book (again on formula, just like Paper Towns and The Fault In Our Stars). Maybe teenagers and other audiences for YA novels need a certain level of formula, especially to deal with the kind of gristly themes Green takes on. And in that, he manages to pull off another successful story that warms your heart, makes you cry a little and wish the world were kinder and then get up and move on.

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BOOK Review: A Column of Fire [Kingsbridge no.3] – Ken Follett

A Column of Fire (Kingsbridge, #3)A Column of Fire by Ken Follett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book for an honest review and my first thought was about its physical form. 919 pages are crammed into tiny font on thin paper in a voluminous paperback that makes it really uncomfortable to hold and hard to read. If this had been a standalone book, I would not even have picked it off the bookshelf. But I read and enjoyed ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ and the slightly less romantic ‘World without End’. As book 3 in the series, I had to start this one and once I did, true to Ken Follett style, it had me gripped.

‘A Column of Fire’ is set in the 1500s in a Kingsbridge now torn by conflict. Here’s where you get to see how religion goes from being a spiritual guide to a dangerous political machine. In the past two books (and centuries), monarchs battled over land, property and wealth. In this one, they begin to battle over something even bigger – people’s belief and loyalty. Protestantism and Catholism go head to head in vicious, intolerant massacre. Overlaying these are the political machinations of the surrounding regions like France, Spain and Scotland.

History buffs will enjoy the references to the major Queens of England. Kingsbridge, having grown from the little village of the 1100s of The Pillars of the Earth, is evidently a bustling city by the 1500s and it produces several people who go onto play key roles in the fates of these kings & queens (Mary of the Scots, Elizabeth of England, Felipe of Spain, James of England). The Pope & the Catholic Church come across as just as powerful political forces as each of the monarchs.

These fictitious characters play major roles with Mary, Elizabeth and the others being support characters. That said, the Kingsbridge books have started to feel less and less about intimate stories of ordinary people and more about chronicling history in a fictional setting. While ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ was about small, unimportant people (of their times) like a stone mason, a woman of the forest and a monk, ‘A Column of Fire’ deals with the decisions and tribulations of successful traders, landed peers and political advisors.

I also saw a few modern phrases/references slip in which seemed incongruous to the timeline of the story. For instance, Page 99 had a mention of ‘a few Native Americans’ when I’m not sure if they were called that in the 1500s before the colonisation of America.

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the previous two (especially the first!). The plot seemed more important than the characters and I found it easy to skip past entire pages. Given how long the book is, at some point of time it became about identifying what parts of the story were going to meander into things I’ve read about in history already, rather than where the plot itself was going to take me next. I do however want to mention that this is an extraordinarily clear-headed look at the exploitation of women & other races by a white male author. It’s also good to read a book that doesn’t pull any punches when it addresses the unfettered greed for power by the Catholic Church as well as the Protestant community, when it addresses history.

If you are new to the Kingsbridge series, don’t worry about not having read the previous two. Each book in this series stands by itself, being that they’re each set 200 years apart. But going through them in order allows you the additional enjoyment of watching regular lives turn into history and then legend and then be forgotten.

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Sex Stories

The crazy fucking of true crime
The elaborate lovemaking of literary fiction
The steady sex of drama
The quickies of comedy
The romantic touches of tragedy
The slow strokes of horror

Every story is a sex story with its reader.



Dreamdust will always smell like ink and paste

The library is where all dreams begin, sculpted in paper cuts

Turn the page. 

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Flinch, Harriet

It’s a good thing June’s here. April was awful. May was better, in comparison, but not actually good. I’ve spent the first ten days of June realising that I survived my personal goal of two months of the Anti-Flinch ban. What have I learnt? That flinching is not all bad.

I read ‘Harriet the Spy’. A 11-year-old girl writes her thoughts and (sometimes snoopy) observations in a notebook. Her friends find it and read the book, hate what they read and proceed to attack her systematically. The family and system gets involved, take away her books and force her into therapy. Only a writer who has been gagged will ever understand the horror of that. I have experienced this before, when I was much younger and worse off and it was bloody.

Since the horrible incident in March, I’ve been silenced and lashed with statements like ‘Everyone thinks you’re a man-hater’ and ‘You’re just being silly, honey’. I’ve barely been able to breathe and not realised it. And the words stuffed back into me, turned into something poisonous (just like with Harriet) that made me sick. I was being suffocated.

Come first of June, I switched off my phone in a lot of pain. It hurt so much, too much to make sense of what why where who. Literally a minute later, I could suddenly breathe. I slept well for the first time in months. The next morning when I awoke, I reached for the phone. And then I thought, this feels so good, let me have just a little more. The phone stayed off 13 hours. I am not talking about freedom from social media notifications but freedom from a different sort of poison. Till I dared switch off my phone, I didn’t realise exactly what I was fearing.

I interrupt sleep, work, social occasions to respond immediately, fearing violent reactions from a few people in my life. I keep my phone on through the night, sometimes getting up at 4AM, just to show, ‘I’m there for you, 24 x 7′. In those 13 hours I realised, none of those people do the same for me. What’s more, in the past few months, they’ve been dismissive of my problems, lied to me, blamed me for things that have nothing to do with me, just not been there and shrugged it off with the excuse of ‘I’m having problems’. It was adding starvation to suffocation.

Perhaps this is my own fault. There is an ego-stroke by way of feeling needed, a grandeur in being the saviour. That same ego notices that it is being battered by being made to feel terrible for being there. No more. I can give this up, like I can give up other potential addictions. And I do those by quitting cold turkey. If that is like a flinch reaction, hallelujah, the anti-flinch ban has been lifted.

Shutting my phone off was the first step to throwing off both suffocation and starvation. Lifting my anti-flinch ban has let me just move away from situations that are detrimental to my wellbeing. I bring my best to people (as much empathy, respect and hope as I can muster). And when they let me down or disappoint me, I move on. That’s labelled as reckless, cruel, impulsive and other things that made me mistake them for wrongful. But I need to be able to do this because if I don’t, I am trapped in situations with my unexpressed emotions turning poisonous.

My flinch reactions help me move out of detrimental situations or ones that have outlived their purpose. I am not a thoughtless, impulsive person. Quite the contrary. I invest a lot in people, situations and actions. Which means, if I do not give myself the permission to cease when I say stop, I imprison myself. My flinch reactions are inconvenient to other people, not to me. Especially when these are people who demand from me what they do not feel the need to give, it’s time to take my power back. I’m reclaiming the flinch.

June has been neither lonely nor sad. I’ve slept better than I have all year. I’ve rested easier. My garden grows well and I’m feeling easier in my mind. I can suddenly read again. And now, I’m writing.


If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

BOOK Revi: Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

ewThirteen Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this book after hearing everyone talk about the television show (which I still haven’t seen). The Wikipedia entry promised that this would be dark and it wasn’t lying. It’s nowhere close to Gone Girl but I’d say Gone Girl’s Amy may have been something like this book’s Hannah Baker when she was younger.

The things that happen to Hannah expose the brutal gendered violence and hostility meted out to women all over the world, even in privileged groups like white urban America. Slut-shaming, fuckboy manipulation, bullying, stalking, harassment, rape…all of these find graphic mention in the story. These are important issues that do not get addressed enough and worse, are invalidated by even the legal systems across nations.

The blurb already tells you about the dead girl’s suicide note via cassette tapes. There is a whiny, accusatory tone throughout, which I suppose stays true to this being a diary entry style confessional about a suicidal (now dead) teenager. There is a very specific point where Hannah’s narrative goes from shocked victim to mentally unstable. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing since it seems to indicate that depression could be caused by external events rather than being an illness of its own kind.

It’s not very clear why Clay is part of this story at all, given there’s absolutely no foreshadowing or indication that she even knows of his existence. Similarly, Tony is a bit too deus ex machina. All the characters other than Hannah and Clay appear one-dimensional. I’m not sure that this is a deliberate attempt to establish an unreliable narrator. It just seems like poor characterisation. Even given the first person narrative, it’s interspersed with enough of Clay’s point of view to balance out the other characters. The book does not do this.

I guess in sum, I’d say this book could have been better but considering there isn’t one mainstream one addressing these issues among teenagers in an easy-to-read way, this is as good as it gets. It’s quite readable.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

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