BTT: Vocabulary

This is something I've always been curious about, which is why I suggested this question on Booking Through Thursday. Thanks Deb for posting this question. :)

I’ve always wondered what other people do when they come across a word/phrase that they’ve never heard before. I mean, do they jot it down on paper so they can look it up later, or do they stop reading to look it up on the dictionary/google it or do they just continue reading and forget about the word? (see links to other responses here.)

That question itself pretty much sums up the things I've tried to do when faced with a word I've never seen before. Right now I usually try to guess the meaning from context or just ignore it so I don't have to stop reading. It's so very distracting to have to put down whatever you're reading to find a dictionary or switch on the computer.

I used to keep a dictionary beside me while reading, but having to open an enormous dictionary to find a word while in the middle of a book is very annoying. Pocket dictionaries aren't of much use either because they often don't have words I'm looking for. On one occasion, I even tried jotting down the words on a piece of paper, but ended up with far too many words on the list to have any reasonable chance of remembering more than a very few of them.

Using the define: operator in google helps find the definitions of some unusual words, especially obscure ones or slang words that aren't easy to find. Wordnet dictionary is another good way to look up words because it defines words in clusters rather than individual words. That way I can read the definition along with synonyms which makes remembering the words easier. The problem with using either of these is that they require that the PC remain on all whenever I'm reading, but they're dead useful when I'm reading something on the computer.

Review: Bleachers (John Grisham)

Bleachers is about a high school football team (American football, of course). Eddie Rake, the legendary coach of the Messina High School football team is now dying. Rake was responsible for transforming the team into an unbeatable unit during his 34 year reign as coach. Neely Crenshaw, one of the best players to have played on the team, and his old teammates gather at the football stadium and talk about the days when they played on the Messina Spartans team as they wait for Rake's death.

The team's less than cordial relationship with the coach forms the central theme of the book. As they talk about their days on the team, most of the players are unable to make up their minds about whether they loved their coach or hated him. Eddie Rake never makes an appearance in the novel and yet Grisham paints his character vividly through the conversations of the players.

Some time ago, when I reviewed Grisham's book, The Brethren, I mentioned that he would be better off writing his usual courtroom dramas. However, now that I've read Bleachers, I have to take back my words. The whole book revolves the team's reminiscences and almost nothing else, yet it managed to keep me interested throughout. I liked this book and if Grisham keeps on writing books like this, I won't miss those legal thrillers all that much.
Rating: 7/10

Review: Miracle (Danielle Steel)

Three strangers, Quinn Thompson, Maggie Dartman and Jack Adams meet each other amid the destruction caused by a storm that hits northern California. Quinn, a retired businessman has recently been widowed and is still grieving the loss of his wife. Maggie recently lost her son and soon after that her marriage fell apart and is now divorced. Jack Adams is a carpenter who comes to repair Quinn and Maggie's homes after the devastation caused by the storm. This book is about how these three strangers go about building a relationship of love and friendship among the ruins around them.

I have never been a fan of romance novels, which is why I have avoided Danielle Steel novels so far. For some reason that I can't put my finger on, I've always expected not to like Steel's novels. I picked up this book just to try reading a DS novel which is why I didn't have very high expectations of the book. And the low expectations is perhaps why I ended up liking this book.

Steel does go overboard with describing Quinn's regret at not having paid enough attention to his wife when she was alive, and for such a short book (180 pages of large font text) a lot of space is reserved for this. But the relationships between Quinn, Maggie and Jack was handled very well and halfway through the book I started liking these characters. The ending did seem a bit awkward, but on the whole, the book wasn't all that bad.

I am still surprised at the fact that I liked this novel. I was expecting a badly written mushy romance, which is why novel might have seemed a little better than it actually is, but I'm definitely going to give DS novels another chance and this time I'll try to keep an open mind.

Rating: 6/10

Books: March 2008


  1. Bleachers (John Grisham) [7/10] (review)

  2. Bel Canto (Ann Patchett) [8/10]

  3. The Anastasia Syndrome and Other Stories (Mary Higgins Clark) [6/10]

  4. To Cut a Long Story Short (Jeffrey Archer) [9/10]

  5. Lucky Jim (Kingsley Amis) [1/10]


5 books

5 authors (3 new)

1455 pages (291 p/book)

6.25 avg rating


  1. Bel Canto (Ann Patchett)

  2. To Cut a Long Story Short (Jeffrey Archer)

Don't Recommend...

  1. Lucky Jim (Kingsley Amis)

The Year So Far

20 books

15 authors (7 new)

6813 pages

Six Word Memoir

Gautami from My Own Little Reading Room tagged me for this meme. It's been something like three weeks since I was tagged and I still haven't been able to come up with a six word memoir. These are the rules:

  1. Write your own six word memoir.

  2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.

  3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.

  4. Tag five more blogs with links.

  5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

I thought about this for a long time and still couldn't come up with anything. Summing up your life in six words is very, very difficult, especially if you're not really gifted with words.

Well, I had to post something, so I decided to cheat and borrow some famous quote. First, I thought of my all time favourite quotes about education, "Born intelligent. Then education ruined me!" and "Didn't let school interfere with education". But those are too well known. And not exactly true either. It would be too presumptuous of me to assume that I was born intelligent ;-) or that school did not actually play an active role in my education. Then I came across this line from an Alice Walker poem, "Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise". But then again, except when waiting for exam results I don't really follow that line. :D

So here I am, still thinking about what to write. Nearly two hours have passed since I started writing this post. I've tried typing those six words a few times and nothing really sounds right. And when it does sound right, I end up with too many words!

Okay, I finally got one:

I'd read memoirs rather than write!

There, I've done it. Whew! It does feel like cheating because it's not a real memoir, but I haven't got an alternative. There's no other way I can finish this meme today. As for the tagging part, I'll tag Aravind. (I really can't find five people to tag.) But everyone's welcome to do this meme if they haven't done it already. And please do leave a link if you've done the meme yourself. It's great to read some of those six word memoirs.

BTT: Literature

After a three week break because of exams, followed by problems with the computer, followed by a few days of illness, I'm finally back in the blogosphere. Answering this week's BTT question seems to be the perfect way to get back into blogging mode. :-)

  • When somebody mentions "literature," what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?)

  • Do you read "literature" (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must?

  • Whenever literature is mentioned, I am always reminded of books written in the 1700s or 1800s or even early 1900s. Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Fyodor Dostoyevsky are some of the names that I usually think of when I think of "literature".

    As far as reading literature is concerned, I must admit to not reading too much of it. I have read a few books that could count as literature, but I generally prefer reading recently published books. I always find reading modern fiction easier than reading "literary" works.