Leaves from Our Library

The Almeida Family are a trio of bookworms. While my work revolves around scholarship and learning, my lifelong love affair with books and reading is rivaled only by my husband Llew’s and my daughter Chriselle’s. Though we’re all voracious readers, Llew is a confirmed bibliophile. His book collection, acquired carefully and painstakingly over decades, is his pride and joy. Together we have attended countless book readings and signing sessions in New York City and have struck up conversations with some of the world’s best-known writers such as Toni Morrison, Peter Carey, Amy Tan, Salman Rushdie and one of my favorite novelists, Ian McEwan.

Many years ago, when I was about thirteen and on a long train journey in India, I met a fellow-passenger with whom I entered into conversation. Both of us had our heads stuck in books for hours on end. When we did surface and started to chat, he said to me, “If you love books, you will never be lonely”. I have never forgotten his words. Through the many ups and downs of my life, books gave me immeasurable comfort.

There have been an assortment of books in the various phases of my life. As a child, I read “story books” and “picture books”. As a pre-teen, I devored the adventure stories of British writer Enid Blyton. As a teenager, I went through dozen of Mills & Boon romances. As a college undergrad, I finally graduated to mature literature, my horizons expanding rapidly through those marvelous peeks into unknown territory that lay virginal and waiting to be discovered. Books have given me some of the most pleasurable moments of my life. It is a passion I shared with my mother Edith, a passionate fan of Agatha Christie mysteries, and subsequently, with my husband Llew. Reading to my daughter Chriselle when she was a little girl turned her into a compulsive reader as well. Today, the two of us exchange books and recommendations for reading incessantly. As I have traveled through my life, books have guided me on a quiet personal journey. Through my scholarly work in Anglophone World Literature, I have read books from diverse parts of the world, all of which have taken me on fascinating armchair tavels when I have not been on foreign soil in the flesh.

Though I will read anything I can lay my hands on, I have a marked preference for Biography, Travel Writing and Cookbooks. Yes, I love reading cookbooks and I have taken many an exciting armchair journey by following the culinary tours of emminent chefs. Of course, I also love reading novels (who doesn’t?) Among biographers, one of my favorites is Antonia Fraser and among travel-writers, I have a particular fondness for Bill Bryson who has the remarkable ability of entertaining while educating.

My Favorite Books of all Time:

(Not necessarily in any order of preferecne)

1. Possession by A.S. Byatt

2. Atonement by Ian McEwan

3. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

4. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

5. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

6. Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya

7. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Hadden

8. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

9. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

10. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

11. Montana 1948 by Larry Watson

12. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

13. The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble

14. Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee

15. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

16. The Hours by Michael Cunningham

17. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

18. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

19. Saturday by Ian McEwan

20. The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie

21. Christ in Concrete by Pietro de Donato

22. Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska

23. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

24. The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth

25. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hossaini

26. Clear Light of Day by Anita Desai

27. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

28. The Nowhere Man by Kamala Markandaya

29. Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh

30. The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor

Books I have Read in 2007:

1. Love in the Time of Cholera–Gabriel Garcia Marquez

2. Nature’s Sketchbook–Majolein Bastin

3. Shalimar The Clown–Salman Rushdie

4. Marginality and Identity–Noel P. Gist and Roy Dean Wright

5. Water for Elephants–Sara Gruen

6. Notes from a Small Island–Bill Bryson

7. Ultra-Prevention: Six Weeks to a Healthy Life–Mark Hyman and Mark Liponis.

8. The Inheritance of Loss–Kiran Desai

9. Poor Relations: The Making of the Eurasian Community in British India 1783-1833–Christopher Hawes

10. Bait and Switch–Barbara Ehrenreich

11.The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra

12. Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter

13. Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson

14. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

15. Vegemite Vindaloo by David McMahon

16. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

17. Ten Heritage Walks of Mumbai by Fiona Fernandez

18. Londonstani by Gautam Malkani

19. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

20. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

21. Emma by Jane Austen

22. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

23. The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bill Bryson

24. Favorite Dog Stories by James Herriot

25. What You Call Winter: Stories by Nalini Jones

26. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

27. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hossaini

28. Charles Dickens by Jane Smiley

29. The Best Life Diet by Bob Greene

30. Snobs by Julian Fellowes

31. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

32. Get With The Program: Guide to Good Eating by Bob Greene

33. March by Geraldine Brooks

34. Evening by Susan Minot

35. The Handbook of Style: Expert Fashion and Beauty Advice.

36. London by Lonely Planet’s Editors

37. The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

38. My Love Affair with England by Susan Allen Toth

Books I have Read in 2008:

1. The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

2. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

3. England As You Like It by Susan Allen Toth

4. All About H. Hatterr by G.V. Desani

5. England For All Seasons by Susan Allen Toth

6. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen and Relin

7. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

8. The Kingdom by the Sea by Paul Theroux

9. Brunnelleschi’s Dome by Ross King

10. Cosmopolitanism by Kwame Anthony Appiah

11. What is Global History? by Pamela Kyle Crossley

12. Humanism and Democratic Criticism by Edward Said

13. Eat, Pray, Love by Elisabeth Gilbert

The Wine Mavens Book Club in Fairfield, Connecticut

My love of reading led me to bond almost immediately with fellow bibliophiles in the town of Fairfield, Connecticut, to which I moved ten years ago. Over a decade, I have met with this group, once a month, to select and discuss a title, over amazing food and wines. We do not call ourselves the Wine Mavens without good reason! Comprising women of diverse ages from all walks of life, our group enjoys reading and critiquing books.

Here is a list of books picked out by the Wine Mavens of Fairfield, Connecticut ,as being among the favorites we’ve read through our Book Club:

1. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

2. Cane River by Lalita Tademi

3. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

4. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

5. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

6. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III

7. Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi

8. ACivil Action by Jonathan Haar

9. The Mapp and Lucia Series by E.F. Benson

10. Beach Music by Pat Conroy

11. The Hours by Michael Cummingham

12. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

13. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

14. The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

15. Nickel and Dimed by Barabar Ehrenreich

16. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Alblom

17. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Book Title for March 2007:

March by Geraldine Brooks

Book Title for April 2007

The Bone Setter’s Daughter by Amy Tan

Book Title for May 2007

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

Book Title for June 2007

Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Kris Raddish

Book Title for July 2007

No Book Selected. Beach Party at Southport Beach

Book Title for August 2007

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Book Title for September 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hossaini

The Southporters Book Club, Southport, Connecticut

Book Title for April 2007

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter