‘A masterpiece’ The Age
‘An unputdownable page turner by a master storyteller’ The Weekly Times
This book is almost 6 cm (2.5 inches) thick, has 933 pages and is printed in the teeniest type. You would have to put it down, often, to rest your aching arms!
This remarkable book can be read as a vast, extended thriller, as well as a superbly written meditation on the nature of good and evil. It is a compelling tale of a hunted man who had lost everything — his home, his family, and his soul — and came to find his humanity while living at the wildest edge of experience.
Have you guessed the book yet?
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.
Have you started to read it?
Have you finished it?
Forgive me Shantaram Stalwarts!
I would count myself as an Indiaphile when it comes to books, I’ve read and loved among others The Far Pavillions by M.M. Kaye, Passage to India by E.M. Foster, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais, the writings of Vikram Seth. So how could I not want to read this epic tome that splashes the spicy colour and mystique of India across its pages?
Gifted to me in 2005 by friends, I knew nothing of the book apart from the fact that they had attended a Roberts event and that the sentiments imparted in person and through his writings were soothing to their souls.
I started reading immediately.
Now, seven years on, the gift card still in place as a book mark, I find that I had reached page…wait for it, 48. Impressive? NOT! I was only one-third of the way through Part 1. Then there was Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and finally Part 5.
Should I feel less than a capable reader because I failed to even make a dent on this book?
Here’s another confession. This time seeking forgiveness from Stieg Larsson devotees.
Another epic tome, 672 pages, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
My dismal effort to enmesh this novel in my reading repertoire, a scant 30 pages.
The Prologue set up a premise that intrigued me: an 82 year old receiving an exotic framed flower on his birthday. Not just this birthday, but every birthday for the past 30 years. I fully empathise with the aged detective – the ‘Case of the Pressed Flowers’ had been nagging at him for years, the one case he couldn’t solve.
I would not have been so patient with not knowing for all that time, the source of these flowers and what they meant. But how contrarian am I? I could find all the available answers to this premised conundrum if only I had persevered.
So, do you have to finish a book that you don’t find engaging?
I guess it really depends on the outcome you want to achieve. If the book is selected for your book group, you should give it an attempt. I’m sure that you would like all group members to trust you and give any book you selected a reasonable crack.
But I would qualify this by saying, we are privileged to have stacks of books to choose from across the genres and the ages. If you find that a book does not satiate your literary juices, leave it and go on to the next one on your short-stack.
Life is too short to read books that don’t embellish your existence or soothe your soul.