Back in April, Ugly, But Bearable came out with a list of books he wished he had read earlier. I fully intended to be a responsible tagee – the type that responds promptly and with startling insight, building on the solid foundations laid down by the knowledgeable tagger; adding value, raising eyebrows, inciting discussions.
And then MH came out with his list. Suddenly, ‘Billy Bunter and the Big Top’ at #1 didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore. The mind, bloody kaamchor that it is, pounced on this slight hesitation and decided to occupy itself with other mundane things – jobs, football and correct flossing technique.
No more, I say. My job is what it is. The vuvuzelae have vanished noisily into the night. And I’ll brush instead, thank you. On to the list.
Danny, The Champion of the World by Dahl, Roald:
I read it when I was 13, about eight years too late. Who knew books could be funny, gripping, sad and inspiring all at once. No book has thrilled me as much, before or since.
Science Fiction by Authors, Various:
Yup, the whole genre. I’ve always wanted to exude sci-fi coolth, but could never get around to reading the stuff (H2G2 doesn’t count). I should have forced myself to read that 700-page Peter F. Hamilton book that was lying around at home. At the very least, I’d have really strong forearms.
Cricket: Basic Techniques for Beginners by Shukla, P.D.:
In the summer of 1997, I was selected to play my school’s first ever Inter-School match. I was the opening bowler for the team, selected partly because I was the tallest person in my class, but largely on the off-chance that my thin wisp of a pre-pubescent moustache would blossom into an intimidating Merv Hughesian marvel in time for the big match. I was keen to put in a good showing, so a day before the match I found myself poring over Shuklaji‘s masterpiece in the library. Chapters 1 and 2 dealt largely with the history of the game, dating all the way back to the humble origins of cricket in India (circa 1983). In chapter 3, you got to the really fun stuff – seam and wrist positions to get the ball to swing. And no mention of bottle-caps or Vaseline; this guy was the real deal.
At the Azad Maidan the next morning, I came running in to bowl with the seam pointing towards the slips, the shiny side to the right (or was it the left?), and a hole in my brand new sneakers. Two hours later, I walked off the field with figures of 3-0-41-0.
I should’ve read that bloody book earlier. Maybe Chapter 7 had specific instructions on how to bowl to a 19-year old tattooed ‘school-boy’ who could hit you for six over extra-cover.
Fundamentals of Physics by Resnick, Halliday and Walker:
My father would’ve liked that.
The Fountainhead by Rand, Ayn:
I finally read this when I was 25, and only because I lost a bet. The only parts of the book I actually liked were the architectural descriptions. The rest of it – the short, pithy sentences, the one-dimensional characters, the very concept being bandied about – all of it made me a little sick. If I had read the book before I became old and jaded, I’d probably be employed on Wall Street, be the proud owner of a 9mm semi-automatic and would be spending my weekends drawing tiny moustaches on pictures of Obama.