Saturday, March 29, 2014

Book Review: Aisle Be Damned by Rishi Piparaiya

Title: Aisle Be Damned
Author: Rishi Piparaiya
Publisher: Jaico Books
Pages: 216
Price: Rs 250
Genre: Non Fiction / Humour
Rating: 9/10
Format: Paperback

The moment I saw this book, I was immediately taken in by its unusual cover page and the title. Both do justice to the theme of this book. ‘Aisle Be Damned’ is a work of non-fiction that finds humour in every aspect of air travel. The humour is not forced. What really works in this book is that the author has pulled out some common observations which anyone with air travel experience can relate to. I finished this book in one sitting and laughed a lot till the end. Every person who has done a bit of air travel will get the humour in this book.  

By virtue of being a frequent traveler, the author offers loads of wisdom and suggestions on how to make the most of your air travel, peppered with plenty of humour. He has thought of everything, right from the baggage trolleys to airport, the boarding strategies to seats one must opt for, trivia and funny anecdotes related to air travel from around the world, and several such pieces that will tickle your funny bone. He tells you stuff like when are the business tycoons likely to travel, how can you get your economy class ticket upgraded to business class, how to choose your seat well, how to handle immigration officer, etc.

The author confesses at one point that several publishers found this book niche, but air travel has become so common that I am certain there is a huge target audience for this book.

It was a fun book to read, except perhaps the last chapter [Commerce, Literature and Zen] which looks a little forced. The book is perfect without that extra chapter. You must pick it up if you are feeling a little down or feeling stressed, this book will instantly perk you up. This can also make a nice gift. The only prerequisite for enjoying this book is a little experience of air travel. It is one of those books which you can pick any time [even after you have read it], read random lines again; and it will still give you a few laughs.

Here are few funny lines from the book:

[During Immigration] He will languidly open your passport, look at the photograph, look at you, then look back at the photograph. You can see the nuts and bolts in his brain rasping, straining to draw some correlation to the grotesque face in the photograph and the pasted smile standing in front of him, but there is none…….He lets it go though – it’s not the right time or place to empathize with you on the shortcomings of your gene pool.”

 “I am always on a first name basis with anyone from Sri Lanka, neither of us being able to pronounce the other’s last name.”

“There is a sign above the basin that says the water is not for drinking. Okay, thanks for letting me know. Because I usually love to drink water from bathrooms.”

“An experienced pilot earns well over $100,000 and flies about 800 hours a year. That’s $125 an hour for essentially playing Flight Stimulator. He has no monthly goals, no boss and all his colleagues are hot. The job calls for some travel yes, but stay is at luxury hotels, meals are included and life is one long MTV Grind party.”

Note: The text in italics have been quoted from the book.

Review Book courtesy: Jaico Books 
Image source: Jaico Books 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Catching-Up Post

When I started receiving review copies, I must admit, I was overwhelmed initially. I was like ‘Whoa! I am getting free books to read all the time!’ But let me tell you, it is a vicious circle [atleast it was for me]. Allow me to explain why. In January this year, I emptied both my bookshelves into one of the balconies for the much-needed airing. [Before the baby arrived, it used to be one of my favourite activities.] That whole week, I spent a lot of time with my books – categorizing them, removing the stuff that I had read and would never read again, putting the rest back on the shelves [surprisingly despite removing more than 100 books, the shelves are still overflowing].

Not the Sunday secondhand book market;
 just a view of my balcony 

When I was going through my books, I realized what an amazing collection I had; and many of those books have been with me for a couple of years now. In reading review copies, I could not make time for my own collection. I must also confess that while I was reading review copies, I never stopped buying books.

To give you a perspective, I read 49 books in 2013. Out of those 49 books, 33 were review copies. And the truth be told, I would not have read many of those 33 books, if they had not landed at my place for review. When you get a lot of review copies, you feel compelled to review at least a few. Many times those books are not according to your taste, so you come out not liking the book; and the whole experience is unsatisfactory. When I review, I attempt to articulate what I liked about the book and what I did not like, because eventually, every person has an individual taste. For example, I love Sophie Kinsella's books and yet I don’t generally like to read chicklit. But I don’t miss her books because I have so much fun while reading them.

Anyways, I decided at the beginning of this year, I would stop taking any more review copies for some time. First of all, I need to review the books which I have read but never got around to reviewing. Secondly, I still have several review copies which I want to read and review. And the third aspect is my own collection, which I certainly want to read pretty soon.

Apart from that, I would like to start reviewing children’s books also. I have discovered this whole new genre after having baby. Since I am a passionate reader, I am doing everything to ensure that my son grows up to be one too. Reading is part of our daily routine. I never imagined I would enjoy children’s books so much. The biggest revelation is that they appeal as much to the grownups as much they do to the kids. There is a huge collection of interesting and attractive books for every age-group now. One can choose books from Indian publishers as well as foreign. Just take Alphabets for example; the variety of books available on just Alphabets is unimaginable. There is Alphablock, ABC3D, Eric Carle’s ABC, Eating the Alphabet, The Sleepy Little Alphabet, Alphabeep, Alphabet City; and I can go on and on.

Trust me, hunting for suitable and interesting books for the little one [and for myself] is one of my favourite pastimes. I can do that for hours. Our kiddie books’ collection is growing day-by-day and I enjoy them as much as my little one does. I have mentioned a few favourites here and here. Watch out for more reviews soon.

Another thing I wanted to bring up is that when I was in the process of sorting my books, I was also reading about minimalistic lifestyle. I would like to just say that finally I was convinced that I need not keep every single book that I purchase. I must let go to make space for new. So, believe it or not, I cleared over 100 books from my home. But I haven't given up on my dream of a home library or reading nook. It will take a couple of months for sure because right now [actually since January 2014], I have been de-cluttering my home bit-by-bit.

Did I tell you, I have started reading e-books? And frankly, they are not that bad. I have read just 2 books so far but I had a decent experience. Moreover, e-books align well with my new mantra of minimalism.

That’s all from me at the moment.