When I Fell From The Sky By Juliane Koepcke

9781857885835

24th December 1971 was the day when everything in Juliane Koepcke’s life took an unexpected turn. In this memoir she describes in avid detail how that happened and how she managed to cope with it and get back to leading a normal life.

The LANSA airplane that Juliane Koepcke and her mother boarded in Peru to visit her father for Christmas was caught in a thunderstorm and forced down in the vast and dense Amazon jungle several hundreds of miles away from civilization. She was the only survivor in that crash after falling two miles from the sky into the jungle strapped to her airplane seat. She walked through the jungle for 11 days braving every kind of harshness not meant for any human to survive all alone. Her skills that she had learned from her parents from the time she was a child living with them in the jungle on their various research trips, helped her survive those 11 days. She was rescued after she found a loggers’ hut.

Juliane Koepcke, along with narrating her survival experience, also explained all about Panguana, the ecological research station that her parents founded in the rainforest. She also talked about her own efforts to help Panguana continue to conserve the rainforest and be declared a nature reserve. She also described how terrifying it was to board another flight again and many more in the future not to mention the media spotlight on her everytime she had to board and get off an airplane. This story of survival contains hard facts, survival instincts, a tragedy, the willpower to find a way to live life as normally as possible after the tragedy and much more. A must read, kudos to Juliane Koepcke!

Memoirs Of A Geisha By Arthur Golden

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A historical and debut novel by Arthur Golden about Nitta Sayuri, who tells the story of her life as a geisha.

This fictional story of Sayuri working as a geisha in Kyoto, Japan is set before and after World War II. Sayuri is one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha, who is both performer and courtesan, slave and goddess. The story follows Sayuri from her childhood in a fishing village, where at the age of nine she was sold to a representative of a geisha house in 1929. In the following years she works to pay back the price of her purchase, while being schooled in music and dance, learning to apply the geisha’s makeup, wearing elaborate kimono, and care for a coiffure, along with acquiring a magnanimous tutor and a venomous rival.

Memoirs of a Geisha is a unique, elaborate and triumphant work giving the readers an insight into the worlds of geishas by being a romantic, erotic, suspenseful and completely unforgettable work of fiction.

 

 

Maximum City By Suketu Mehta

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A non-fiction detailed account of the life in Bombay, now Mumbai.

The author gives us an insider’s view of this magnificent city as he was born and lived his childhood here. His family left Mumbai for the US when he was young and he comes back with his experience of returning to the city as an adult, as well as a parent and resident. He accounts for his frustration with everyday day life in a developing nation, describes the slums, delves into the politics of modern Mumbai, the criminal Mumbai underworld, his meetings with murderous gangsters and prominent politicians, and a lot more giving the reader an entire picture of a city which does not have boundaries.

According to me a few aspects were exaggerated and a few were dealt with a tad lightly. Anyone who has ever been associated with Bombay at some point in their lives must read this book as they can easily picture in their minds what the author is talking about. Others too will find it interesting.

On Michael Jackson By Margo Jefferson

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By far the only book written on Michael Jackson that lets the readers think and decide what they want to about him, instead of prejudicing their minds with what they think or know.

Margo Jefferson talks about Michael Jackson’s lyrics and music videos, his family members, the public’s fascination with child performers and freaks, and Michael Jackson’s evolving persona and his alarming appearance. She also criticizes the fact that there was not enough opportunity for talks about his mental illness in his circus-like child abuse trial.

Margo Jefferson does not accuse or completely sympathise with Michael Jackson. She tries to take both the aspects-positive as well as negative and attempts to weigh them with his life and situations that he had to face right since he was a child. She does not pass a judgement on him, which is the best thing that I liked about this book. It is a very short read and a must for all Michael Jackson fans. Believe me you will not be disappointed and at the end you still get to keep you own love for Michael Jackson (and bias, if any) safe.

A Thousand Splendid Suns By Khaled Hosseini

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Another brilliant work by Khaled Hosseini. Amazing character development and the plot is superb. He moulds his characters and then fits them into scenes in a way that even if you hate the bad guy entirely, you do feel sorry for his death.

From the 1960s to 2003, the book concentrates on the tumultuous lives and relationship of two Afghan women, Mariam and Laila. Mariam suffers from the stigma surrounding her birth as she is an illegitimate child, and the abuse that she faces throughout her marriage. Laila is born a generation after Mariam, so is comparatively privileged during her youth until the point their lives converge and she is forced to accept a marriage proposal from Mariam’s husband.

The story illustrates the servant-like treatment of these two women and their subjection to physical and emotional cruelty which was allowed and endorsed. At the same time it tells of their bravery, kindness and self-resilience, their humanness and compassion in the midst of trying to survive in such a brutal and oppressive environment. An extremely uplifting story despite the hostile and negative surroundings of its setting. I was completely engrossed in this book and even felt at times that I was living in Afghanistan. Great work and a must read for all.

Shantaram By Gregory David Roberts

9780349117546

In the early 1980s, Gregory David Roberts, sentenced to a 19-year imprisonment for a series of armed robberies in Australia, escaped from Victoria’s Pentridge Prison and became one of Australia’s most wanted men for the next ten years. Shantaram is a novel influenced by the real events that follow his escape.

The book describes how the main character Lin lands in Bombay (now Mumbai), falls in love, befriends local artists and actors, and is recruited by the Mumbai underworld for various criminal operations. Ultimately, he spends time in Mumbai’s Arthur Road Prison and endures brutal physical and mental abuse. Lin eventually gets released with the help of the Afghan mafia don and begins to work for him. When the don is killed, Lin comes to the bitter realization that he has turned into a person he loathed and decides to build an honest life.

This debut novel is a must read. People who live or have ever lived in Mumbai will be able to relate to it a lot. Once you begin to read it, the ever so daunting 900+ pages will not bother you at all.

The Girl In Blue By P. G .Wodehouse

 

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Your bones will always be tickled reading P. G. Wodehouse. I read his first book in school and after that I never stopped. You can always look for a comic break in one of his books.

The characters in this story are an American corporate lawyer and his kleptomaniac sister, a solicitor, a fortune-hunter, a butler, Jerry West and the air hostess Jane Hunnicutt. The plot involves a Gainsborough miniature called “The Girl In Blue” and is set in a country house. Jane becoming a millionaire, Jerry’s attempts at wooing her and ultimately succeeding after a series of comic trials, mayhem, misunderstanding, hilarity, confusion, laughter and much more are all a part of this bundle.

Nothing is as it appears to be in this entertaining and humourous book.