An eclectic bookshelf,nurtured by three very different individuals, is bound to be quaint. The bookshelf at home has books written in English,Bengali,German and other tongues understood only by mathematicians and machines. There are corners of immaculate cleanliness and other corners laden with dust and reeling from neglect. My eyes scan every book and linger for a moment longer on each book plunged and squeezed in with good intentions and left untouched for no particular reason. Here is the list of books that have been both intentionally(yes there are books that I've been curious about but somehow the barrier set by the average mental block is indomitable) and unintentionally left out.
'Understanding Physics' by Issac Assimov- In school I hated physics not because I had anything against the subject but because of unavoidable circumstances. It was a bizarre combination of the Indian education system's obsession with 'learning by rote' and the fact that my mother is a teacher of college level physics.I was intrigued to find a physics book written by Assimov and this is why I sometimes yearn to read it. The pictures of energy levels of electrons add to the mental block. I hope to clear this hurdle and I am seeking help from Stephen Hawkins and Gary Zukav('The Dancing Wu Li Masters' or physics coated with eastern philosophy for dummies).
A collection of short stories by O Henry - I love O Henry and his sense of pun and irony. I sometimes pull the volume out,read one story and slide it back. The book remains untouched till the next time I see it. The neglect is unintentional but regrettable.
Two volumes of short stories by Guy de Maupassant- Too melancholic! I needn't say anything more.
'Gitanjali' by Tagore - I read about fifteen poems translated to English by Tagore. The emphasis on God was a little too much but the soothing verse offered solace. I feel ashamed when I see Tagore's scrawling handwriting in the Bengali script next to the English translation. I need to learn how to read in my own mother tongue first.
'Shirley' by Charlotte Bronte- A book my mother picked up at a book fair. The line 'As unromantic as Monday mornings' made it quite clear that it had nothing in common with 'Jane Eyre'. I may read it, sometime in the distant future.
A collection of five novels by Dickens- The only one I've touched is 'A Tale of Two Cities'. Even the facebook group 'I am a maniac for classic literature' failed to stir my interest in 'Hard Times' and the rest. I really don't know how to deal with Dickens and it simply breaks my heart.
'Mother' by Maxim Gorky - A book my mother bought at a Soviet bookshop when she was a young girl. She admits that she bought it only out of curiosity at a time when Bengal was enraptured by the 'promise' and fervor of communism. She never read it and the book summary makes me a little frightened.
'The Diary of Anne Frank' - I feel an inconsolable lump in my throat whenever I think of Anne Frank and start to read the first few entries. I don't know how to deal with Anne Frank either and it also breaks my heart.
After all this I still unashamedly buy and sell books as though they were shares!