Few weeks back I started gratitude journaling and within a short period of time I identified the recurring theme — books! Reading was my solace when I was struggling to find my foothold in a foreign country. It comforted me during heartbreaks, supported me through depression and remedied existential crisis. Books are the escape from reality whilst enabling us to experience, appreciate and comprehend life to the fullest. I have compiled a part of my gratitude journal as a tribute to the authors, characters, poems and poets I love.
Kalki — Literature is key to experiencing a given language, culture and community. Although Tamil is not my official mother tongue, it is in every other sense. Apart from my tattoo and friends I made through appreciation for Tamil, it has molded my personality and has come to be an integral part of my identity. I distinctly remember the day I chose to read Ponniyin Selvan (my first Tamil novel) instead of Harry Potter. That choice, I strongly believe, has influenced who I have grown into. Thanks, Kalki for instilling in me the love for Tamil literature.
Elizabeth Bennet — Elizabeth Badass Bennet, you have left a profound and indelible impression on me since I was young. Your intelligence and spirited wit, affection that moves mountains, courage to stand your ground and humility in accepting follies have made you my hero. Every time I feel low, I curl up in a blanket and watch pride and prejudice. You have never failed to cheer me up. I am so pleased to have read and reread pride and prejudice.
Emer O’Toole — Thanks Emer for sharing your journey on deconstructing Gender. Your memoir was my primer to sociology and gender performativity. I am extremely sympathetic to your inquiry and it has helped me identify the right tools and theories to stress test my perspectives and crystallize my feminist ideologies. I will not shy away from saying ‘Girls will be girls’ changed my life. I am extremely grateful for running into and hence reading this book.
Fyodor Dostoevsky — Among Karamazov brothers, my favorite is Ivan (don’t judge me). His speculations over disdain for people in spite of his love for humanity and his excessive guilt over manifestation of his ill will, elects him in my most relatable characters list. In addition, the chapters Rebellion and The Grand Inquisitor has changed my spiritual predilection. I used to call myself an atheist until I read The Brothers Karamazov and now I consider myself agnostic. Thanks Dostoevsky for this splendid work which has made me speculate and transform.
Konstantin Levin — Contrary to the popular belief, Anna Karenina is not about love or passion. It is about striking a balance between drifting through life and struggling too much with it. Although Levin is considered uninteresting, if not for him I would say reading Anna Karenina is not worth the trouble. Tolstoy has beautifully explained existential crisis, the limits of rationalism and embracing goodness just for the sake of it through Levin’s journey. Thanks Levin for providing the prescription for dealing with the unbearable lightness of a meaningless life. Your efforts in adding goodness into life rather than being authentic like Anna makes me hopeful!
Kate Tempest — I found Hold Your Own in the poetry section in Barnes&Nobel a couple of years back. This tiny book embraced me with warmth. Some parts felt like a punch in the gut, while some parts made me smile and others made me tear up. In the world of wannabe insta poets, thanks Kate Tempest for composing such sublime poetry.
Howard Roark — I acquired my appreciation for organic design and minimalism from Howard Roark. From the time I got to know Howard was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, I religiously drop by buildings designed by him in the cities I visit. His architectural compositions are spiritual and transcendental experiences. Thanks Howard for being an inspiration. Your will that never compromises on artistic integrity, your disgust for frills and fancies and ability to grasp function as he spirit of design will never cease to influence my creativity.
W. Somerset Maugham — If anyone wants to read a simple yet heartfelt story, I will recommend Of Human Bondage. The book takes you through the protagonist’s journey of comprehending and getting a handle of his emotions and figuring out what he wants in life. Maugham boldly portraits the most vulnerable moments with candor. Thanks Somerset Maugham for writing an honest and genuine novel. Even though your works didn’t age well, Of Human Bondage will be remembered fondly by many!
P.G. Wodehouse — The days I feel low and have to read a book to distract myself, I pick up a Wodehouse. It reminds me of classic comedy movies like Kadhalika Neramillai, Kasedhan Kadavulada or any of the crazy Mohan screenplays. The humor lies in the plot with increasing complications topped by witty dialogues. Thanks Wodehouse for always cheering me up and brightening my mood. Your books make my mind boggle sir!
What do women want? — Kim Addonizio starts the poem with materialistic desires of a woman and fiercely portrays self sexualization. However, towards the end you understand the metaphor at play. The poet used the red dress to denote the personality she wants to adhere to. Thanks Kim Addonizio for this beautiful poem. The wickedness of layering unruly beneath pretty stirs my rebellious spirit!