2016 Last Book Haul and Karachi International Book Fair

Call me a book hoarder or bibliomania! I love books.  I cannot resist the urge of buying

book-haul-december-1

books whenever I pass by any bookstore or book fair. I see books and I feel my legs have got stuck under some heavy object and I cannot move ahead.

This time, it happened when I got an opportunity to visit 12th Karachi International Book Fair (KIBF) 2016 held in the month of December. For those readers who don’t know about KIBF, the five-day book fair is an annual event, which is organized by the Pakistan Publishers Booksellers’ Association (PPBA), with an aim to provide platform for local book-lovers like me.

KIBF is one of the country’s largest book fairs, bringing many publishing and distribution houses together with domestic and international publishers, booksellers, librarians and institutional customers.

Each year many international publishers participate in this event and this year too, publishers from Iran, Turkey, Singapore, China, Malaysia, England, UAE and other countries were part of this international event.

Coming back to my book-haul, I went on the second day of the fair. As I entered Karachi Expo Center, I was pretty excited because I was going to be with my love (read: books). It was a treat to see children and adults sharing same passion for books.

I made my way to hall number three where I went straight into Liberty Books stall. I browsed through variety of books on the shelves and then I decided to take out my list (which I had been preparing for two days) to purchase only selected books. Though let me tell you, I failed to follow my list.

Before coming to book fair, I made a decision that I would purchase less than ten books. However, I believe decisions are meant to be broken (or rules are meant to be broken) whatever, I end up spending more on books in one go and left broke.

I bought 20 books in the month of December which is quite huge after combining all the months’ purchase.

So, let me present you my last book haul for this year which I am sure will keep me occupied in 2017.

  • Swing Time by Zadie Smith

I am going to read this for the first time and I have never read her before. The story is about two brown girls Tracy and Aimee who dream of becoming dancers. One has talent and the other has ideas about rhythm and time. A complicated childhood friendship ends abruptly in their twenties, never to be revisited but never quite forgotten either.

  • The Vegetarian by Han Kang

I got to know about this novel through Goodreads. A story about Yeong-hye and her husband who apparently seem ordinary people but when Yeong-hye seek a more plant-like existence, commits a shocking act of subversion; she refuses to eat meat.

  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Don’t know anything about this novel; the reason to buy this novel is its inclusion in the list of winners of Pulitzer Prize for fiction 2016. The narrator, a Vietnamese army captain explored the legacy of Vietnam War in literature, films and the wars fought today.

  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

First time I saw on liberty books website and that’s it, I decided to buy this one because I was in love with its cover and after reading blurb I thought to myself, need to read this one.  The story revolves around Maurie-Laure and her father who live in Paris near Museum of Natural history. When the Nazis occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo with museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

book haul.png

  • Do Not Say We have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

As soon as my eyes set on this cover which was lying on the shelf at Liberty book stall, I just picked on the spur of the moment. The novel brings to life one of the most significant political regimes of the 20th century and its traumatic legacy which still resonates for a new generation.

  • The Sellout by Paul Beatty

Winner of Man Booker Prize 2016 is the apt reason for buying this novel. According to what I have read in the blurb of this book, the narrator was raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist. His father was killed in a drive-by shooting and the son realized that there never was a memoir as claimed by his father. The son was left with a bill for a drive-through funeral of his father.

  • Thirteen Reason Why by Jay Asher

I saw its cover first on instagram which was shared by one of the bookstragrammars and therefore the book made into my list. The story is about Clay Jensen who found a strange package on his return to home. Later he discovered several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker-his classmate and first love-who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

  • Finders Keepers by Stephen King

King had to be in my list without any doubt. I had in my mind to buy this title for long and finally I bought it. The novel is full of suspense where the main protagonist Morris Bellamy, a reader, consumed by his obsession for America’s author John Rothstein prepared to kill for a trove of notebooks containing at least one more unpublished novel.

  • Where Worlds Collide by David Waterman

I bought this one from Oxford University Press stall. It was just one of those moments when you read something and it captures your attention. Same happened with this book. The reason behind purchasing this book was its survey of contemporary Pakistani writers and their efforts to trace the itinerary of Pakistan in the 21st century.

  • Haruki Murakami novelsharuki.jpg
    1. Wind-up Bird Chronicle: The story unfolds the tidy suburban realities of Okada’s vague and blameless life are turned inside out and he embarks on a bizarre journey guided by a succession of characters, each with a tale to tell.
    2. Norwegian Wood: A story of one college student’s romantic coming-of-age, the novel takes readers to that distant place of a young man’s first, hopeless and heroic love.
    3. Pinball: The story is based on the writer and it’s also about rat. It’s about a quest, a brief love affair, and the three-flipper Spaceship pinball machine.
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I was introduced to Kazuo through his first novel ‘A Pale View of Hills’ which I read few days back. I found his writing fresh and he has an ability to draw interest of his readers with his writing style. The words flow like a river on the pages of his novel. Therefore I got hold of his finest work which was also shortlisted for Man Booker Prize. It is a story of love, friendship and memory, which is charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life.

  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu

I want to read something about strategy and how the politicians and executives use this tool on every level from interpersonal to the international, with an aim to understand the physics and psychology of conflict.

  • The Upstairs Wife by Rafia Zakaria

I read its review sometimes back and it was in my mind to get hands on this one for sure. So, I was enthralled to see this book in the Liberty Book stall.  The story is an intimate exploration of disjunction between exalted dreams and complicated realities.

book haul december.jpg

  • The GoldFinch by Donna Tartt

Obviously I found this title in the Pulitzer Prize List and then next I found in the book fair. The story revolves around son who is abandoned by his father, miraculously survives a catastrophe that otherwise tears his life apart.

  • Taboo by Fouzia Saeed

The title and the cover says it all. My interest to know about the world of prostitution which is considered a taboo in our society instigated me to purchase this book.

  • Keeping faith by Jodi Picoult

I have watched ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ which was based on Picoult’s novel, a brilliant story full of emotions which is why I bought this one. In this story, the author depicts the broken family and how it affects the child’s mind?

  • David Copperfield

I bought this one because it only cost Rs. 50 and other reason is its story which is both fantasy and fact, an autobiographical fiction that stood the test of time.

  • The Fool’s Tale

Less cost so why not! No other reason to buy this one, and after all I am a book collector at the end so yes, I bought it.  The story is a historical fiction, compelling political intrigue and passionate romance to create an intimate drama of three individuals’ bound-and undone-by love and loyalty.

This year, I was no good but next year, I hope to do a lot more reading and less buying. I only hope but no promise because after all I love books…

 

The Book Thief: Yet Profound Love for Books

There are two types of fiction, one where you read through the pages and

the-book-thief

Online Picture

you are lost in a story and it keeps you hooked until you don’t reach the last page of the novel, and then there is second kind of fiction which keeps you haunted even after finishing the book.  I believe that a book gives you a feel of fresh breeze in a suffocated environment! A person devoid of words will live in repression but a literate person will transcend against the injustice and cruelty.  Books are a source of happiness in a depressing world and it encourages you to think beyond the existing world.  ‘The Book Thief’ falls in the latter category.

Published in 2005, the story showcases the events of World War II which is also the backdrop of the novel. Liesel Meminger a prime protagonist of this story arrived at the distraught state to the foster family who reside in Himmel Street. During her stay, she tries to live a normal life despite the horror of Nazis. In the meantime, Liesel developed a strong connection with her foster father Hans Hubermann who introduced the world of books to her. Apparently the first book which she learnt to read was stolen at her brother’s funeral.  She did not know how to read or write but Hans taught her to read.  Liesel also made a friend Rudy who used to like her. Then there was a fist-fighter, Max, who was kept hidden in the basement of her home by her foster parents only because he was a Jewish and Nazis loathed Jews.

Liesel had a profound love for books; her love is illustrated so beautifully in the following lines when she encountered horde of books at a mayor’s library for the first time:

She ran the back of her hand across the first shelf, listening to the shuffle of her finger nails, gliding across the spinal cord of each book. It sounded like instruments or notes of running feet.”

As a reader, I can relate to Liesel’s emotion because I also feel same when I am around books. The ecstatic feeling I have while holding a book is immeasurable.  A person having so much love for books that even the mention of it brings a smile on her face so why Liesel chose to be a book thief? In my opinion the title ‘Book thief’ is not used in negative connotation, in fact it’s a symbolism of freedom against the clench of Nazis led by Adolf Hitler. During second world war, Nazis attacked the art and literature by burning tens of thousands of books. Hence Liesel’s book stealing acts as symbol of freedom and expression against the atrocities of those times.

The peculiarity  of this book is that death is the narrator.  Usually we consider death as callous but here in this story; death is less-threatening. Regardless of its ubiquity in the times of horrific war, the last sentence of death in the novel; “I am haunted by humans” is a true embodiment of compassion.

I want to give entire credit to the author, Markus Zusak who has written an inventive and interesting read. There is no single moment when you feel like bore or lose interest while reading.  Words are significant component of any write-up, and story is the heartbeat of a good novel.  Markus knows how to touch the chords of his readers’ heart. His story has a poignant feel and each word holds an immense profundity. It’s elegant, philosophical and moving. This is one book which you need to read slowly and savor each moment during reading.

I choose to end my review with the last lines of the Liesel (read: the book thief) in the novel:

“I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope that I have made them right.”