Flowered Bytes by Anand Narayanswamy: Book Review

Title: Flowered Bytes

Author: Anand Narayanswamy

Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir

Flowered Bytes by Anand Narayanswamy is a collection of musings, memories and viewpoints threaded together by the author’s unique perspective and experiences.

Book Blurb

Flowered Bytes is all about stories, which captures your mind. The book is not a big novel with lengthy pages but it includes crisp, concise and succinct short stories with a wide range of themes.

About the Author

Anand Narayanaswamy works as a freelance writer, blogger, reviewer and social media influencer and is based in Kerala.
Anand is the recipient of Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award from 2002 to 2011. He has his own blog and has worked as a social media influencer for several brands.

Review

Flowered Bytes reads like the memoir it is supposed to be, with incidents and impressions making their way into the book. It is a collection of 16 anecdotes, succinct and driving home the point without much meandering.
There is some very sensible advice in Building a Healthy Lifestyle. It’s true that a positive attitude along with proper diet and exercise works wonders.
The author mentions the songs that are close to his heart in Relax your Body explaining how music can be therapeutic.
My Memorable Vacation Trip talks about visits to his native place and how various modes of transport gets him there. Flights, trains, rickety bus rides take him to the peaceful destination that he escapes to every year to unwind.
Combating Women Violence, Honest Civil Servant, Dream of a Clean India are some of the chapters that talk about social menances and how these can be countered.
There is a mention of career and the ups and downs he faced in his chosen field but he persevered against all odds and even against the advice of the people around him. It is inspiring to read about his conviction and how walking in faith and hard work eventually lead to success.
Optimism for the Future, Overcoming Fear with Confidence close the book on a positive and upbeat note.

What works well

The writing style is candid and the stories/incidents are honest. It is a narrative that is from-the-heart and gives a real glimpse into the author’s life and beliefs.
Since the book is a collection of musings, you can pick the chapters at random to read. I also had no issue going away and getting back to the book because it did not affect the flow of my reading. Every story/chapter is complete in itself.
The book cover is interesting and attractive to look. In fact, it was the cover that prompted me to pick the book to read because I was intrigued about the content.

What does not work so well

The book is a collection of incidents and opinions but at times it seems to jump from one topic to another. It would have worked better if the book were divided into sections like personal musings, travel anecdotes, societal issues etc.
The title of the book does not give anything away. Even after reading the book I was not clear about the meaning of the title. This leads to a certain disconnect of the content and the presentation to the reader about that content.

Verdict

Read Flowered Bytes for a relaxed, candid read about the author’s life and viewpoints.

Download the book from the virtual library at the Blogchatter website. Free for a limited time.

Three Thousand Stitches by Sudha Murty: Book Review

Title: Three Thousand Stitches

Author: Sudha Murty

Genre: Non fiction, Memoir

Book Cover of Three Thousand Stitches
Three Thousand Stitches by Sudha Murty

The book, Three Thousand Stitches is a collection of non fictional pieces, snippets from the author’s own life and from other people whom she encountered.

These are 11 true stories, many of them Sudha Murty’s experiences as the chairperson of the Infosys foundation. A few talk of her childhood and early adulthood and of her educational background.

The stories have an overarching theme of empathy and service to the society.

The title story, ‘Three Thousand Stitches’ is a moving account of the Devdasis and their plight. Their rehabilitation was the first social service/impact project Sudha Murty took on and she talks of her initial failures quite candidly. However, the difference the foundation makes in the lives of this marginal group is noteworthy and Sudha is presented with a very touching memento that reflects the gratitude of the Devdasis towards her.

How to beat the boys‘ is a spell binding account of Sudha’s engineering days where she was the only woman in the entire college. It is clear that she was a trailblazer and an independent thinker from her formative years.

Three Handfuls of Water‘ is the most vivid account of her early life, her childhood memories of her grandparents and their religious beliefs. When Sudha visits Varanasi in her adulthood, she feels as if she is fulfilling her grandparents’s wish of pilgrimage to this holy land.

Cattle Class‘ is a hard hitting reality of economic snobbery and way Sudha metes out justice in her own way.

No place like home‘ talks of expatriate women and their difficult, abuse riddled lives and highlights the freedom that we enjoy and the little liberties that we sometimes take for granted in our own country.

I Can’t, We Can‘, is the account of many individuals and their families who have been adversely affected by alcoholism and the way Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) helps them rebuild their lives.

A Day in the Infosys Foundation‘ was the account I was waiting to read, my curiousity sufficiently aroused to wonder what constitutes the day of the head honcho of the Infosys Foundation managing the Corporate Social Responsibility.

I liked the simple narration of the book. There is an honesty that shines through the telling of the stories. With an undercurrent of an emotional strength and the desire to uplift others, the writing touches the reader with its sincerity.

Peiskos by Reema D’souza: Book Review

Title: Peiskos

Author: Reema D’souza

Genre: Non fiction

The book Peiskos is a collection of unusual and beautiful words with little stories woven around each word. These stories bring out the beauty of each experience that the word evokes.

Review

There are so many words that bundle together fleeting emotions to make up an experience that is difficult to express in just one word. The words in the book hold a wealth of meaning, they present a bunch of emotions that stir in a person when he encounters a thing or a situation.

The title of the book is one such word. Peiskos means the feeling one has sitting in front of a fireplace enjoying the warmth. It is not the mere warmth but also a feeling of contentment that one gets.

There are 26 such lovely words in the book. It is not enough to give their meaning in one word, phrase or sentence. So Reema has gone ahead and written little tales that bring out the meanings and the emotions so well.

What works well

It is a very diverse collection of words that showcases emotions like love, wistfulness, confusion, exhilaration so that the reader gets a well rounded reading experience.

The origins of the words are given too. There are words that have origins as diverse as Latin, Greek, Spanish, Japanese, French, Filipino, Welsh, German and Scottish. I was pleasantly surprised to find a few words from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. It just shows how fluid our languages are, in taking words of different provenance and making them our own.

There were a few that found resonance with me. Gigil is the irrestible urge to hug someone because you love them. Jouska is a hypothetical conversation that you play out compulsively in your head. Latibule is a place of safety and comfort and reminded me of childhood hiding places. Hiraeth, Opis, Retrovailles were other words that intrigued me.

On the other hand

The stories that accompany the words feel a little vague. Some are like a ramble of a person. Sometimes the gender of the person is not clear and sometimes the difficulty in situations is only hinted at. More detail in these stories would definitely help for them to stick in the reader’s mind. It would also have helped if there were different voices for the stories or at least a different setting.

About the Author

Reema D’souza is an Indian blogger and poet. An engineer by day, but when the sun sets to make way for the night, she writes. Writing poetry and fiction give her the much needed escape from reality. Most of
her writing is inspired by nature and life experiences.
While she’s not writing, she prefers to read. Music is another of her interests.

Verdict

If you like collecting words that are not part of an average person’s vocabulary and are drawn to complex emotions, then this book is for you.

Read it for nostalgia and exquisite emotions.

Download the book here.

Taboo: A Book Review

Title: Taboo

Author: Thomas Piggott

Genre: Non fiction, Memoir. 

Publishers : Wallace Publishers 

Synopsis 

Set in the Midlands during the 1970s, Taboo tells the harrowing true story of the brutal abuse Thomas Piggott suffered and the childhood that was so heartlessly stolen from him as a result. It also follows him into adulthood, highlighting how the pain and the emotional damage caused by these attacks blighted his relationships, his career and his life in general, long after they had stopped. 

Review

Taboo is a book that delves deep into the mind of a child abuse victim and traces the ramifications of that traumatic experience into other areas of his life. It talks candidly of abuse, depression and mental illness. A true story, it can inspire other sufferers to speak out and seek the justice and the care that they deserve. 

Thomas Piggott wrote the book to share his story. He wanted to exorcise the ghosts of his past and come to terms with the negative influences that nearly destroyed his life. He also wanted to lay to rest his painful memories and to encourage other victims to talk about their abuse and to seek help so that they do not have to spend years feeling guilty and humiliated. 

It is a poignant memoir and the sincerity with which Thomas narrates his life’s events makes the reader sympathise with him. The book and the narration of the events is peppered with aphorisms and the learnings that he has culled from his experiences. 

Beginning right from his childhood and leading on to adulthood, Thomas describes the abuse and how the trauma later on leads to depression and mental illness. His marriage falls apart, as does his sanity.

An Acute Psychotic Experience brings forth fully the demons that he has had to battle. It is an eye opener in that it helps the reader to understand the despair and the helplessness of someone who is suffering from mental illness . 

The book is in a conversational style, which means that sometimes in the middle of the scenes, the writer digresses. It also seems like there are journal entries that have been put in the book, making certain events seem disjointed. 

The author’s time at the mental hospital takes up a large part of the book and in talking of his experiences as well as of the people he encounters, it makes for an interesting read. 

When the story ends where it does, there is plenty of hope that the author hands out, yet I wished there was more about his struggle to come to terms with ‘real life’ after spending time at the hospital for mental illness. 

In the end, there is hope and faith and a belief in the human spirit that can overcome all odds. In spite of being on medication, Thomas keeps his chin up and tries to redeem his life and dignity as best as he can. 

Verdict 

The book is a sincere and sensitive portrayal of child abuse and mental illness and the effects it has on the psyche of an individual. In talking of experiences that are considered Taboo by the society, the book attempts to destigmatise them. It exhorts the victims to come forward, talk about their experiences and to seek help so that they can be healed. 

The grammar in the book is jarring at times and the flow of the narrative is punctured by digressions into the author’s viewpoint. 

I rate this book 3 stars. 🌠🌠🌠 

I received a copy of the ebook for an honest review.