Category Archives: Readers Recommend

Guest Post: The Tragic Pitfalls of Bibliomania | In Public Interest by Abhiroop Banerjee

Biblio – of or that relating to books 

Maniac – A person who has an obsession with or excessive enthusiasm for something (Syn: lunatic, madman).

When my mother brought home a copy of Gulliver’s Travels one hot June evening many years ago, it was simply meant to keep me out of mischief during the summer holidays. Little did she realize then that she’d just doomed her 6 year old to lifelong lunacy of another kind, one that eventually turned him into an incorrigible bibliomaniac. Today, it seems to be a lost cause as he spends his afternoons drifting through time and space with the phantoms from his latest novel, looking up occasionally with glazed eyes at an unfamiliar world, his office work desk.

Deep introspection and careful scrutiny of individuals suffering from this insidious malaise has revealed some truly alarming symptoms. For the savvy readers of Books and a Lot More, I present an exclusive list of results from the ongoing studies for my research paper, The Tragic Pitfalls of Bibliomania. Remember, even one of the following common symptoms is a sure sign of full blown BM!

  1. You may have turned into a crusty old book snob. “People who read Chetan Bhagat are absolute philistines. Second only to Dan Brown fanbois. Why, those clods are sub-human.”Cartoon 1
  2. You never have any extra cash/credit. This may result in you becoming a biblio-bandit. Ebooks are stupid, of course.
  3. You have those crummy, free bookmarks lying around everywhere.
  4. At some point in your life, you have been a Howard Roark wannabe.
  5. You waste 30 minutes on the potty every day, setting up your imaginary bathroom library.
  6. Being asked to lend a book can cause respiratory problems and, should you actually agree, cause you to lend grandiose sentiments of renouncement and detachment from worldly possessions to the simple act of lending a book to a friend.
  7. You’ve never quite forgiven your mother for giving away your almighty stash of Nagraj and Champak to the raddi walla when you were 13.
  8. You buy books from a bookshop 12 miles away because the one nearby puts a tiny rubber stamp on the flyleaf. You have no issue, however, buying cheap library discards with rubber stamps on every centimeter of the flyleaf.
  9. You’ve begun dreading the arrival of the Sunday paper because there’s just too much good stuff to read and you’re not even done with Saturday’s.
  10. You start carrying a book everywhere, including to your own birthday party. Which you’re hosting.  For your imaginary friends.  And the Flipkart delivery man. Cartoon 3
  11. You pause a movie just to make sure you get the name of the book which somebody in the scene is reading.
  12. Multitasking is being able to turn the pages with your chin while holding a book with one hand and hanging on to the Metro rod with the other.
  13. You start living as far away from your office as possible, just so you can read during the commute.
  14. The biggest fear in your life is breaking up because then they might want their books back. The rascals.
  15. Your steamiest fantasy is cuddling up with her and reading Dostoevsky. Together.
  16. You have a regularly updated list of fictional people you want to date. You have actually gone on dates with them. Fictional? Ha, why you can still smell the filter coffee from your last date at the coffee house, in Malgudi.
  17. You actually start believing that you are smarter than the guy on the street because you managed to finish Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes.
  18. You have researched perfume that smells like old books.  And have prepared an ad for the matrimonial section seeking a girl who sleeps on a bookshelf and will fetch her grandfather’s collection of Jughead Double Digests as dowry.  That dowry is cool.
  19. Moving house is impossible because your book rack is heavier than the truck.  Actually, your book rack is your house. Cartoon 2
  20. You wish Indian Railways would add a Library Coach to their trains. You also wish for waterproof books that you can read in the rain and biscuit packets with tiny short stories printed on them because you read biscuit packets (and whatever looks like text on the last 10 Rupee note you have after the other day’s ruinous trip to the bookshop).

Intensive research into what is now a worldwide epidemic has failed to reveal a cure. Bibliomaniacs are a part of society. They could be anyone. They are everywhere. Some are known to be armed with paperbacks and camouflaged by spectacles. Or not. That is the most diabolical aspect of bibliomania. A regular guy walking down the street in front of you could suddenly bend down without warning, pick up a crumpled wrapper and start… reading. There is, simply, no way to know.

The list above is meant to be used as a quick check list to see if, holy printing mistakes batman, you too are a *shudder* bibliomaniac.

Are you one then?

Issued in public service.

About the author of this post: Abhiroop is an avid follower of current events and enjoys debating issues of such burning importance as to whether the graffiti on Delhi walls that forbid sundry passers-by from taking a casual leak on them should also be in Arabic, Gurumukhi and Roman scripts. He lives in New Delhi and has a not so secret affection for cows.

If you’d like to be featured on this website as a guest author, please write in to me at booksandalotmore@gmail.com. Your contributions should preferably be about books, although other topics are also welcome.

Cartoons courtesy jasonlove.com

Readers Recommend #1

Sometime last month, I put up a post on the facebook page (Yes, you need to go and ‘like‘ it otherwise you miss out on all the book related updates!) asking people for their recommendations. So here is the first ‘Readers Recommend’ post. Find below some of the books recommended by readers of this blog:

1. At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

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Abhiroop Banerjee, is reading  At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson. He recommends this book and says, “This book is a rambling, indulgent look at the history of everyday domestic life that sheds brilliant new light on mundane things that we now take for granted, e.g. salt and ice, bathrooms and plumbing, privacy and soap, bedrooms and kitchens, cupboards and chairs, and so much more. While I don’t read much non-fiction, Bryson is a hot favorite because of his insatiable curiosity and the lengths he goes to feed it!”

Quotes from the book:

“I refer of course to the soaring wonder of the age known as the Eiffel Tower. Never in history has a structure been more technologically advanced, materially obsolescent, and gloriously pointless all at the same time.”

“So, if people didn’t settle down to take up farming, why then did they embark on this entirely new way of living? We have no idea – or actually, we have lots of ideas, but we don’t know if any of them are right. According to Felipe Fernández-Armesto, at least thirty-eight theories have been put forward to explain why people took to living in communities: that they were driven to it by climatic change, or by a wish to stay near their dead, or by a powerful desire to brew and drink beer, which could only be indulged by staying in one place.”

Abhiroop lives in New Delhi, loves books and harbors a secret affection for cows. 😛

Buy links for At Home: A Short History of Personal Life by Bill Bryson.

2. I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou

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Maya Angelou is a wonderful poet and one of the greatest voices of contemporary literature. The book has been on my wish list since a long time and I am hoping to buy it soon when I finish with some of the books I have now.

Shreya liked it for the “author’s style of writing making it a great read for an autobiography and her vivid descriptions of her childhood struggle through racism and trauma.”

Quotes from the book:

“Ritie, don’t worry ’cause you ain’t pretty. Plenty pretty women I seen digging ditches or worse. You smart. I swear to God, I rather you have a good mind than a cute behind.”

“But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.”

Shreya Thakur lives in Surat and is currently reading Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

Buy links for I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou:

3. Oh, the Places you’ll go by Dr. Seuss

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Theodore Seuss Geizel was an American poet and cartoonist, widely known for his children’s picture books, written and illustrated under the name Dr. Seuss. ‘Oh, the places you’ll go’ is the perfect philosophical book but at the same time amazingly simple.

Akshay Jain recommends this book, saying,”It’s an easy, fifteen minute read, which inspires us to explore the unknown and live at the edge !”

Quotes from the book:

“And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!”

Akshay Jain is an engineer by education, lives in Ahmedabad and is currently reading Games People Play : The Psychology of Human Relationships by Eric Berne.

Buy links for Oh, the places you’ll go by Dr. Seuss:

I aim to make Readers Recommend a permanent feature on the blog. So, all you need to do is LIKE the facebook page and post a book recommendation along with what you are currently reading on the timeline. If you have a blog too, please do not forget to include the link to your blog! You can also follow me on twitter and tweet your recommendation.