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Don’t judge a book by its body count

September 29, 2013

This week, I finally finished the book I’ve been reading for the past couple of months. Shantaram is an amazing novel, about an amazing man, and at 930 pages, has lasted me a good few weeks of twenty minute commutes on the train. My fellow passengers will breathe a sigh of relief, however, to know that I will no longer spontaneously burst into floods of tears, sigh dramatically, or indeed be so engrossed in what I’m reading that I am likely to miss my stop entirely (staring in perplexed wonder at an unfamiliar platform, confused as to why it’s so dark), or at least only realise I need to get off with about three seconds’ notice. This is their cue to help me stuff the Kleenex back into my bag, gather up my belongings and forcibly shove me, sniffling, off the train.

The book has been making me a tad… emotional. Avoiding spoilers, the guy had quite a life, and the book tells of his time in the Mumbai slums, at war in Afghanistan, months in prison and too many gun fights to mention. People die, a lot. Just when you get emotionally invested in a character, he gets shot or maimed or ends up in some gruesome traffic accident. Shantaram is betrayed by friends and lovers alike, succumbs to heroin addiction, and in short, gets pretty miserable. And I, during my twenty minute bursts of reading all this, get increasingly depressed and appalled and despondent, and wonder why I didn’t just stick with Game of Thrones. At least they take a break every now and then from the killing and maiming to introduce a couple of dragons to the plot, or a good joust.

So now I need some new reading material, that will put me in a happy frame of mind, ready to face the day, rather than a world of cholera and rats and the surefire certainty that a main character will die within the next paragraph. A romance perhaps (one that doesn’t end up with the love interest running off to Goa or marrying some rich dude called Jeet). Maybe an action adventure (as long as all the heroes survive the war they’ve helped fight, and don’t end up in a frozen cave for four months with only rancid goat meat as their final supper). I’ll steer clear of crime novels for the meantime, as I feel I’ve learned more about the counterfeit and smuggling business than is legally advisable, and likewise, the horror genre isn’t top of my list right now. Something lighthearted, preferably with fluffy animals, and large type.

I would of course thoroughly recommend Shantaram, particularly if you’re interested in India (although it’s kind of frightened me about going there!) or just like to get all your emotions bubbling up to the surface five minutes before your working day. And I hope I haven’t given away too many spoilers. Just don’t trust any of the characters, or expect them to last more than three chapters.

So if anyone has any suggestions for light, but engrossing, reading material, please do share. But for the sanity of my fellow Network Rail passengers, keep it cheery.

From → Blog

One Comment
  1. Lucy permalink

    Care of Wooden Floors. An easy read and a good page turner!

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