The Saturday eReader: Eleanor & Park

Putting into words how I felt after reading Eleanor & Park is one of the most personal things I have opted to write since The Silence of the Goats. That is why I have avoided it all these months. Even now, as I get ready to write this recommendation, I am trying really hard to control myself from getting overtly lyrical because it is one of the first books in a long time that has moved me so much.

Still, it wouldn’t be fair for me to romanticise it too much because your experience might be completely different. My only concern is that my gushing may ruin the experience for you, as has happened to me many-a-times from reading reviews and recommendations.

Trust me? Read no further and go download this book RIGHT NOW!

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Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: Love in the time of the Walkman and double A batteries

The first thing that runs through Park’s mind when he sees Eleanor is that she looks exactly like the kind of person this would happen to. ‘This’ being getting rejected by every person on the bus who has an empty seat next to them.

Everyone that is, except Park who is most definitely not in love at first sight or even the local do-gooder. Just a social Inbetweener trying to keep the peace.

Also, Rainbow Rowell would have no story if these two teenagers didn’t end up together on that seat of that bus because everything of note to the pain, pleasure and chronic confusion of first love starts right there.

This is probably when I say that this is no ordinary love story, but I won’t. If you recall falling in love with someone at the age of 16, you know it’s immensely ordinary, but that is what makes it extraordinary.

Like the first time Park reaches out and holds Eleanor’s hand and she “disintegrates”, that is one of the most intense, moments in the novel. You forget, in the process of growing up, how intimate early hand holding can be.

Or when Eleanor refuses to borrow Park’s Walkman (it’s set in the 1980s, by the way), instead just emptying out its batteries, and Park goes home and calls his grandmother to tell her that he doesn’t want any presents for his birthday… Just a large supply of double A batteries.

I downloaded Eleanor & Park on a Saturday night with a glass of wine and read it until the early hours of the next morning. I don’t know if it was nostalgia or the wine but I wanted to fall asleep hugging my Kindle that night. It has one of those innocent yet intense first-love stories you just wish was yours, because what makes it so perfect is the knowledge that it will eventually have to end.

Eleanor & Park is a YA novel about young love. But it tells a story that would resonate with audiences across genders (yes, despite all the hand holding) and age groups. It would be one of my top recommendations for anyone looking for a relaxing read that takes you on a wistful journey down… Oh no, I’m gushing, aren’t I?

Anyway, I sincerely hope you will read this book and then return here to share your impressions with me. I would really, really like to know what you think of it!

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Why Kindles totally rock & a small announcement

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My sweet and faithful Kindle device is a third generation model that I bought when smartphones still hadn’t infected the masses, and iPad Minis were still a distant dream.

It’s a slim, sleek device that’s just the right size to emulate a physical book, and so light it’s actually better than lugging one around! It has a keypad that, even back then I thought, was rather pointless because I never really made notes in my books. It has a battery life of over a month which, you have to admit, was and still is revolutionary!

I have spent around five years fighting the ‘real’ vs virtual books debate. But nothing’s been more rewarding than watching my bookshelf (the physical one) get less cluttered.

The first time I felt love, actual real, true love, for my Kindle was when I realised just how discrete it was about what I was reading. I had actually started reading 50 Shades of Grey on my commutes to work and when I was done, I followed it up with real erotica – Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin. In fact, Nin is perhaps one of my best downloads to date as I keep going back to her writing every time I want a little date with bold characters who fearlessly embrace the carnal side of life, art and desire.

It also wasn’t long before I realised that Kindle editions of certain books were cheaper to purchase with the added advantage of instant delivery. This made me even more of a reader – one who found herself downloading two books – a long novel and a short single – every Sunday (more on this awesome practice soon); I often drunk-downloaded (it’s a real thing!) titles fresh out of drunken conversations so that I had something stimulating to read before passing out.

Having a Kindle also meant that I didn’t have to wait for the latest titles in the series I followed to release in India, which usually took at least a few weeks to a month. I received pretty much all of Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series on their release dates, at midnight, GMT.

The Kindle has opened my worlds up to multiple possibilities and I’m glad that more people are embracing it these days. It has been a wonderful companion to me these last five years and I’m sure it will be just as good to/for my fellow readers out there.

That being said, there is still merit in owning hardcovers and paperbacks. I mean, there’s only so much space on a Kindle for autographs. Beyond that, physical books still have their pride of place on a shelf, because when you truly make a connection with an author and her/his writing, it lasts forever. Like true love. My first two copies of the Ibis trilogy by Amitav Ghosh (third one’s in pre-order… I can wait) is testament to that. Why, my Harry Potters are so worn and weathered from annual readings, but I never once considered purchasing them in e-carbon ink when they finally released in e-book format.

In that sense, I think the Kindle is perfect for impulse purchases, bestsellers and fast-paced reads that you’re only going to read once. They’re also perfect for the books you’d rather not brandish the titles of for whatever reason. But they’re never going replace the ink, paper, how-many-trees-do-you-think-died-to-make-this-physical book. Not your favourite titles anyway. But yes, your Kindle will help you save time, money and a whole lot of space (especially when you lug  89 or so weightless books on holiday) like a boss!

Use it wisely, treat it well and you will never long for anything to read at a moment’s notice ever again.

A small announcement:

Starting this week, I’m going to be listing two book recommendations that make for perfect reads on the Kindle. I’m hoping to publish this list every Saturday – that’s tomorrow! – so it will hopefully be in time to make your weekend reading list.

These recommendations will come straight from my own reading history and will feature some personal notes and comments so you know I’m not just rewriting descriptions off Amazon or Bestseller back covers.

I hope this helps all my friends who’re always looking for first-hand recommendations. This ‘series’ is also for those special folk who just recently purchased Kindles and are looking for fun, easy book ideas so they can spend all their time focusing on their new style of reading.