Meanwhile in December….

So, I’ve been busy boozing baking, like it was going to be deemed illegal. Oh don’t raise your eyebrows, the rate at which things are being judged  immoral, illegal , illegitimate and what not, I wouldn’t be surprised if some Supreme Court judge finds baking soda to be against the tenets of some now obscure religion, baking could indeed be banned, you know 🙂

Anyway, December was one of most hectic months that I’d seen in a long time. Baked almost fifty cakes, sold half of them and played Santa to many a friend. Kids fell ill, one after another, thankfully. Office was crazy as usual, the change over from one legal entity to another did nothing to lessen the daily madness. None of these was a deterrent to my life mantra, “Come what may, I will read.” A few that I managed to devour in the odd moments out of life as usual..

‘Open : An Autobiography’ by Andre Agassi

andreHis fate was sealed even before he was born. Andre’s father had decided his youngest , whether boy or girl, would be the world number one in Tennis. From the day he was born, tennis was all he was allowed to even think of. Hard as it is to believe, the boy grew up to hate tennis, but he didn’t or was not allowed to know any other way of life. After a spate of local wins, he was sent   to the boot camp style tennis academy in Florida where he turns into a total rebel.

The book is less about tennis and more about life, in general. How parents can build or break their kids. The terrible sense of meaninglessness and bewilderment is what young Andre seem to plod on with during his teenage and youth years. It is as if he is searching for something all along, not knowing what exactly it is that he is searching for. This is the story of how he finds the answer finally.

It is also about the guardian angels in his life – the elder brother, the friend for life, the coach and last but never the least, his trainer Gil – they are the ones that need to be mentioned above all. Andre’s life and success as we know it, were built on these pillars. But for them, the story would have  had a totally different end. This was my take away from the book – that a single person believing in you, unwavering, can alter your life for ever. And yes, the story also covers his first marriage to Brooke Shields and then the calmer and stable one with Stefanie Graf. What is most heartening about the couple is the seamless understanding that they seem to have about each other and the way in which they bring up their kids. Both of them would rather not have their kids playing tennis.

True respect for the man comes when we read about his philanthropic activities, especially the ‘Andre Agassi College Preparatory School’ The school is located in one of the most economically challenged areas of Western Las Vegas. Having not completed his education, Agassi started the school with the belief that “the best way to change a child’s life is through education.” Rated as ‘High Achieving’ within eight years, I am sure this is going to be his lasting legacy,what he would be known for in future.

Verdict – Go get it, doesn’t matter whether you like tennis or not

5/5

‘Revolutionary Road ‘ by Richard Yates

One of those classic cases where too much expectation leads you to a  deep disappointment. The book is touted as a classic and was on my reading listrevolution for quite some time. The story revolves around Frank and April Wheeler, the quitessential all American couple – Frank with a job that he is complacent about but that pays him well enough for a home in the suburbs, a wife who can afford to stay at home and the customary two kids. The characters, their behavior, what they want to and what they actually do, their conversations, everything sounded artificial. Maybe that was the point of the story, anyway, found that this was a tea that I would have thrown out half way down, but for that masochistic streak that refuses to let me close a ‘classic’ half way through 🙂

Verdict – Will not recommend to anyone…..at least until I find some hidden meaning in there

3/5 – for the style, loved that

‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ by Paul Torday

salmonThe best antidote to an exhausting month, this was a Christmas gift from a fellow book lover. Like a hot cup of sulaimani chai after a heavy lunch, this book kept me company and solace on Christmas day and the next. Simple life of ordinary people, told in a straight from the heart language have always enamored me, and this wasn’t any different.

Dr. Alfred Jones, a timid fisheries scientist, who leads life in the shadows of his intimidating investment banker wife , would never have thought how his life would change after he gets a request to head a project that sounds not just foolish, but insane. A sheikh from the arid deserts of Yemen wants to start Salmon fishing in his country. And his only back up is his belief that Allah will perform a miracle if He so wills.

The story is also a satire on English politics, or rather politics everywhere. People who have no clue about ground realities are in charge of projects, their only concern is the image that would be presented to the world. I loved the way the story was told and how Dr. Jones’ life is transformed along with the Salmon project.

Verdict – A pleasant sunny read.  If you look for goodness in people, stories splashed with subtle humor, go for it.

4/5

December must have been the only month last year where I read less than a book per week. I had taken up a challenge to read 70 books and completed about 80. On that high, have set a bar of 100 for 2014, and have also promised myself to review all 100. Wish me luck folks!

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About wanderlustathome

Dabbling in numbers for a living while dreaming of words all the while.

Posted on January 6, 2014, in 4*, Autobiography, Biography, Fiction, Life, Memoirs, Real Life Stories, Sports. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I have always been an Agassi fan and I really want to read Open but only when I can truly focus on reading it. I haven’t read Revolutionary Road but have seen the movie. Both Leo and Kate are fantastic. It’s depressing but oh so real at least in the movie.

  2. I am not a big fan of tennis; in fact, I don’t understand the game at all – but Open does sound lovely. Have heard a lot of good things about the book, too. Will add it to my TBR list.

    I am glad you enjoyed Salmon Fishing In The Yemen. I found it a simple and sweet story, delightfully told. And an epistolary book is always fun to read. 🙂

    Kudos to you for completing 80 books in 2013! I struggle to even finish 48. 😀 This year, though, I am trying to write a different story in that regard. 🙂

    Good luck with your 2014 reading goals!

  3. I felt more than a bit sorry on reading about the way tennis was forced on Agassi by his parents. I would have had a miserable life, had that been done to me. 😦

    Most of the world only notices the success of successful people. Very few know the true story behind it!

  4. This is what I love about you…crazy baker and see how much you’ve read and reviewed too 😀 I am trying to get there…soon 😉

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