Book Review


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I listened to the following audio version of this book:


The stories are great, beautifully written, each about one hour long; but the icing on the cake is the way it is read by Mark F. Smith: he has made it a delightful experience to listen to these masterful detective stories.



"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee:

It is a truly fantastic book. A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel published in 1960. Atticus Finch, a lawyer in Alabama, is the hero of the story, who pleads the case of a black man, when the society around him is still mired deep in its racist roots. The story, seen through the eyes of young children (which itself is a novel approach), has depth; the narration is lively; the depiction is so realistic it is difficult to believe it's a novel. Nothing appears connived or made up. I loved it. Also, being a parent, I felt that this book should be a must-read for every parent. The way Atticus brings up his kids and interacts with them is in itself a big takeaway.


You need to have some background of the civil war between the northern states (called the Union) and the southern states (call the confederates) of America, which was caused primarily by differences on the issue of slavery.


Recommended for Age-group: 13 and above



"The Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins

A mystery novel written in 1859, this is a 600-page book that holds the reader's attention from start to finish with undiminished interest and curiosity. The language of the book, for from being archaic, is extremely rich, but quite lucid and captivating. Whether they reflect the prevalent Victorian mannerisms are not, the verbal and written exchanges between the various characters are charming. Every place, every person, every emotion, and every situation is described in great and insightful detail, but never in a tedious, artificial manner. The author demonstrates a tremendous command of written English.


To me, besides the main story, the book gives a great insight into the urban life of pre-electric-bulb, pre-automobile, and pre-most-modern-comforts 1860 London and England. It is funny that the characters in the book refer to their times as "modern". It is especially astonishing that people in this era planned their activity down to the minute and were actually able to stick with their plans, even in the absence of telephones, cars, and airplanes.


This book is an especially must-read for the aspiring writer of English fiction.



The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple

The author claims this to be a history book, and to that end, it does appear to be a very well-researched book. But the author takes a step further and puts in his comments, emotion, and interpretation throughout the book. And that makes the book even more charming.


The book is not a biography of Bahadur Shah Zafar as its title might imply. It is actually a narrative of the sepoy mutiny that erupted during 1857 and the events related to the mutiny before and after. The book focuses only on the Delhi theater of that famous conflict, with a deeper coverage of Bahadur Shah and his life during this time.


The author has relied a lot upon diaries and correspondence written by people during these tumultuous times. He appears to have given a balanced coverage of both the British and Indian sides.


The emotions that this book evokes strongly are depression and sadness - for the terrible cruelty, insensitivity, and bigotry of man. It is no relief to realize that these faults of the human race persist even today with no hope of remission in sight.


The book shows how fragmented India was during 1857 (just 90 years before independence) in a myriad ways with not even a hint of a national identity, as compared to the India of today. Of course, it (the integration) is still work in progress.


This book is a must-read for anyone who is interested in the history of man.



Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson:

It is a fantastic story - a "modern day missionary" type of story in which an American climber, after failing to climb K2, dedicates his life to building schools in the remotest villages of Pakistan, and later of Afghanistan. It is amazing how people get propelled into impossible looking missions. I suppose as a mountain climber Greg was predisposed to take up such challenges.


Reading this book is also a test to find out how "secular" one is.


I couldn't help thinking once or twice: why the hell didn't this guy cross the border and also help my Indian brethren in Kashmir?


Age-group: 14 and above



Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The master storyteller has the ability to shock his readers by his directness. This is a thin novella about an old man's love affair with a young girl.


Following are a few snippets from the book:


That night I discovered the improbable pleasure of contemplating a woman's body without the urgencies of desire or the obstacles of modesty.


I became aware that the invincible power that has moved the world is unrequited, not happy, love.


I had finally discovered love at the age of 90 ... The house rose from its ashes and sailed on my love of Delgadina ... Thanks to her I confronted my inner self for the first time ... I discovered ... that I appear generous to conceal my meanness ... that I am punctual only to hide how little I care about other people's time. I learned, in short, that love is not a condition of the spirit but a sign of the zodiac.


Without Delgadina, I proved that it was not only possible but that I myself, an old man without anyone, was dying of love ... I did not bathe or shave or ... because love taught me too late that you groom yourself for someone ... Damiana thought I was sick when she found me naked in the hammock at ten in the morning. I looked at her with eyes clouded by desire and invited her to a naked roll in the hay. She, with some scorn, said: "Have you thought about what you'll do if I say yes?"






Review by: Abhay B. Joshi (

Last updated: 5 December 2019