Not many novels generate as much curiosity as this title did when I was handed the book by my cousin. Mark Haddon’s novel was an unknown entity but a curious one at that. I plunged into the book without any expectations. After all, I have been let down by authors who have marketed their words with extreme talent only to have read their final product as a formulaic repetition of a classic situation.
Mark Haddon’s novel is different. A first person perspective, this book is told from the eyes of an autistic teenager who views the world in his own simple, logical way. While the story begins with a murder and the wrongful detention of the protagonist, the tone becomes more personal as the story weaves its way through the life of Christopher.
Without divulging too much there is a level of serenity in the way Christopher looks at the world around him. There is a peace and obvious innocence to what the world means and interspersed with humorous situations that emanate from his disability (all respectfully), this novel is a wonderful read that stayed with me much after I read it. And gauging from the title, it is quirky.
Last night Jon Stewart was on TV and up to his usual antics. The show is an interesting mix of parody and facts and I love the satire. Well, on this evening a book promo happened. I love his book promos, when you compare this with Oprah’s fawning, patronising Book Club, Stewart has certainly got his chickens lined up. The evening’s author in question was the head of the Human Microbiome Program in New York – Dr. Martin J. Blaser, MD, and the book “Missing Microbes. The subtext to the heading said “How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues”.
While I am sure Pfizer and Novartis would be scurrying to limit the damage that this book may cause them, I relate to the author’s work and his description of an antibiotic epidemic that has overtaken the basic need for good health and created a dangerous dependency that has given rise to new diseases. Allergies, asthma, types of cancer are among the illnesses that have grown in part due to the decline in our immune system brought about by the rampant use of antibiotics.
The reason why I relate to this work – my parents. Being the child of doctors I have been brought up with my fair share of pills, but Dad and mom were careful to limit their use and conscientiously ensured that our fevers and other viral illnesses were treated with natural remedies than pills or in extreme cases we rode out the virus. I remember Dad also saying that it’s better to limit the use of antibiotics to ensure our immune system remains strong. Missing Microbes endorses this theory.
While circumspect in his view on using antibiotics, Dr. Blaser made it clear that children exposed to a drug regimen may have greater chances of being susceptible to viruses and illnesses as they approach their teens. The book appears to have an interesting touch to relating these facts that he has gathered in his research to the everyday lifestyles that we take for granted. You could call it a medical version of “Freakonomics“. So heeding this good deed on Jon Stewart’s show, I would look forward to the book’s release in India. An apt read for these times of quick fix medications and so called ‘discoveries’.
I love reading. And books were so much a part of my life growing up that I even considered being a librarian. I even started cataloguing the book collection at home when I was in middle school. With my own set of library codes I built up a list that is now lost. Not to worry, it was never of any archaeological significance. In the midst of the Big Bang Theory, Mad Men and Game of Thrones, I now sit with “Dongri to Dubai” – a book that chronicles the rise of the Mumbai Mafia, Dawood Ibrahim in particular. Racy, dramatic and written in a sort of guerilla documentary style, one gets a pretty clear idea of the machinations involved in creating one of the most powerful mafia and terrorist networks in the world.
Books are a tradition in our family and have greatly influenced us. In fact, Dad was influenced by A.J. Cronin‘s novels to become a doctor. Going back to our family collection of books, I was searching for some books that I hadn’t read from our library when I came across my first full novel that I had read back when I was in second standard. It was a small 188 page book called “The Rockingdown Mystery” by Enid Blyton. It had characters who would stay with me forever, among them the orphaned Barney and his pet monkey Miranda. This book was the first in a series of adventures that Barney and his friends embarked on once Barney got himself out of the clutches of a travelling circus. Enid Blyton knew how to spin stories that thrilled, touched and gave you the pleasure of adventure that you could literally feel.
With this I gathered my thoughts to recall my favourite books and following are the one’s that really made my day (arranged in no particular order):