Books I Really Want to Read, in no Particular Order

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1. Nine Chambered Heart, by Janice Pariat

It’s the life of a young woman, told from the perspectives of nine people she has loved or who have loved her. The prose is exquisite, and it’s an intriguing, novel idea.

  1. The Story of a Brief Marriage, by Anuk Arudpragasam

The title is a zinger. It stuck in my head when I read it. Plus, it won the Dhaka Litfest prize, which ought to be an attestation of its merit. But there is a problem with award-winning books, and that is this: sometimes, however meritorious a contribution they are to Literature, they are simply not the sort of book one likes to read, being dull, disturbing, or some combination of the two. Or maybe I’m just embittered from having suffered through Midnight’s Children.

  1. Temporary People, by Deepak Unnikrishnan

I read an excerpt, and it was really good- very stirring and all that. But I read the New York Times review, and it said that the book has people turning into suitcases. I’m not sure I’m ready for people turning into suitcases in the books I read. It also compared the book to Midnight’s Children. Now maybe that’s because they unconsciously compared him with the other Indian author they know, but is that a risk I’m willing to take?

  1. Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, by Tishani Doshi

It’s poetry, and I like poetry, but I don’t know if I can stomach a whole book of it.

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

I was too young when I started reading it the first time, which might sound odd, because it’s a children’s book, but it’s a different sort of children’s book. For one, it’s pretty profane. For another, it doesn’t sugarcoat anything- poverty, depression, bulimia. Everything is delivered with the protagonist’s trademark brand of irreverent humour.

  1. The Things You Can Only See When You Slow Down, by Hyemin

The title is extremely appealing. I never hurry up to go anywhere, to the irritation of those going someplace with me, but I’m not a callous boor who delays people either, so I don’t see what the matter is. After all, the possibility of a cyclone suddenly appearing and veering us off course is highly unlikely, and I don’t see why we must account for it. (A sudden traffic jam, on the other hand, is highly likely, but it doesn’t support my ideology, and therefore I shall stoutly deny its likelihood.) But jeez, am I out of my depth here? I’m reading for fun, not to better myself.

  1. How to Travel Light, by Shreevatsa Nevatia

This book is extremely well-written and interesting, which what I found when I read an excerpt in the newspaper. It can be summed up thusly: A man diagnosed with bipolar disorder is banished to a mental institution by his family. On the other hand, my tolerance for depressing/disturbing books is low, and a book about mental illness promises to be both.

  1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

The title sounds wonderful, but after having read the first few pages, I have come to the conclusion that it is extremely bizarre. The universe appears to be whimsical and highly inconsistent, and personally, I like it when all the scores tally. Still, that title is a pippin. (Wodehouse-era slang is the best kind of slang, not like the kids these days, with their woke world that is lit.)

  1. The Portrait of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

I started reading this frightfully good book a long time ago, but various other responsibilities interfered, and I was obliged to put it away. It took me twice as long to read it, because every few pages I’d disagree with one of the characters, and so I had to write it down and tell him exactly why he was completely mistaken.

  1. Emma, by Jane Austen

I started loving Jane Austen after I read Pride and Prejudice, WHICH IS NOT A ROMANCE NOVEL, for heaven’s sake, I shall shake my fist at anybody who suggest that it is. Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility were both top-notch, and I look forward to reading Emma. Though I’m slightly irritated that her protagonist is once again an Attractive Lady, I don’t think it’ll disappoint.

How to Tell BTS Apart: A Practical Guide for Beginners


Relax. Maybe get up, and drink a glass of water or something.

Anyone who’s ever seen a K-pop music video knows that it ain’t no walk in the park to discern who’s who.

First, there are a LOT of members. The boy group Seventeen doesn’t literally have seventeen members, but it has nearly that many. And I don’t have any idea how many girls there are in Girls Generation, because they don’t stay still long enough for me to count.

BTS, on the other hand, is doable. I mean that it’s possible to tell them apart, as there’s only seven of them. (Get your brain out of the gutter, jeez.)

And lucky for you, I’ve decided to be altruistic and put this step-by-step guide out:

Namjoon, AKA Rapmonster

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Namjoon’s the easiest to tell apart. You don’t even need a hack. (Though the dimples help.) Moving right on.
Jungkook, AKA JK/Kookie
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When in doubt, look at the front teeth. They’re unmistakable, and they look like they belong on a bunny.

Seokjin, AKA Jin

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Jin has slanting eyebrows, like the ones you draw on cartoon characters to make them angry.  They’re easy to spot, even under his hair.

Jimin, AKA Chim Chim

Pouty lips? Nope, all the members have them in the videos.

Double eyelid/big eyes? Nope, that too.

Process of elimination it is.

Yoongi, AKA Suga/Agust D

Yoongi’s one of the three rappers, and he’s the only one that has a speech impediment of sorts- it’s unmistakable, especially in Not Today, or as he would say, “nhat too-dey”. It’s not because of the Korean accent in English, either, because it’s unique to him. When you hear him rap, you get why they call it “spitting fire”.

Hoseok, AKA Hobi/J-Hope

That smile! It speaks for itself. Now you know why Hoseok’s stage name is J-Hope.

Taehyung, AKA V

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Taehyung is arguably the hardest of all,  because there is no specific feature by which you can identify him. If this was a video game, recognizing him would be the boss level.
His features seem to alter completely every time his hair changes colour. The green haired boy in the first and the blonde in the second are the same person. IS YOUR MIND BLOWN? ‘Cause mine sure as hell was.

Death of the Artist, by Karrie Fransman (and friends) five artists came together to write a graphic novel with the theme ‘Death of the Artist,’ nobody knew that one would be dead before the book was in print.

(Oops. Spoiled it. Just kidding, it’s in the Foreword.)

Karrie Fransman and her four friends- Vincent, Helena, Jackson, and Manuel- get together for a week to create. The artist inside each of them is dying- the essence of his life gulped by the banalities of everyday life.

Whatever limitations one might assume would be imposed upon the story due to the graphic novel format are gloriously defied.

Linear plotline? Nope. Each artist gives themselves up to telling a part of the story, and you, the Reader, must string the daisy chain together. Only the story isn’t as innocent as that sounds. (Can’t say I didn’t warn you, ’cause I just did.)

Consistency? Aw, hell no. Each artist uses a different medium (painting, photography, comic art) and has a distinct style. Some were ugly and terrifying  slightly unappealing at first glance. However, much like eggnog, pretzels or anything with bitter gourd in it, one simply has to acquire a taste for it.

It is easy to judge these people, who have bared themselves in the telling of this story. They are in turns self-absorbed, awkward, cruel, selfish… Then dawns the realization that they are us. (Suspend eye-roll and judgement at this sentence till after you read the book, please.)

The search for eternal youth.

The despair of disappointment.

The greed of desire.

These themes merge and overlap, sometimes coming to the surface to color specific characters or their actions. This book would appeal to both artists and philosophers, though perhaps one could argue that all artists are philosophers.

There is but one thing more: the ubiquitousness of drugs and alcohol rather plays into the stereotype. Contrary to popular belief, they do not make you more creative- in fact, they are more likely to fuel your distraction and eventual destruction, which is the fate of one unfortunate artist among them. In other words, DRUGS ARE BAD. STAY IN SCHOOL, KIDS. Be hug dealers, not drug dealers. Peace out.

Image Credit: Karrie Fransman

I Try to Draw BTS V’s Most Iconic Moment


As usual, I had a terrible time coming up with the title for this blog post. It vaguely struck me that ‘Taehyung’s Snapping Turtle Impersonation’ might not be a very relatable title as few people know or care about snapping turtles, and fewer still would relate it to the above moment in the music video.

To be sure, I cannot (truthfully) proclaim that the above moment is the most iconic, either. It definitely stuck in my head. If you think about it, it’s pretty odd. Why is he biting the air? Is the air supposed to be a metaphor for something else? Is everything a metaphor in K-pop music videos? Anyway, I have seen one other fan art piece of this specific moment, though, so I’m sure that’s an indication of something. Maybe this is a whole sub-genre, and I don’t know about it because I’m barely on the Internet. Sure, that sounds far-fetched, but for all I know (or rather, don’t know) it could well be true.

This actually took me some effort, because I generally lack the patience for sketching. It’s so much work, it really is. That’s why my sketches tend to be pretty darn lame, and I stick to cartoons, which take about half a minute so long as you have a fairly steady hand.

Anywho, I persisted with this, as the numerous erasures attest:


Drama by Raina Telgemeier


Image Description: A page from Drama, wherein the protagonist lies on her bed

As somebody snarkily reminded me, this blog was once about books.

Raina Telgemeier’s Drama has been on my TBR list forever, languishing, because there was no chance whatsoever of me being able to procure the book to read it. If you didn’t already know, I live on one half of an island shaped like a saddle, the coordinates of which are extremely clandestine. (Although they may be unwisely revealed at any time by three completely batty taxi-drivers.) On the other side of the island lives a vicious Cyclops. There are no libraries or affordably-priced book stores here, and I cannot complain about this enough. (I have a vague hope that if I groan about it loudly enough, it will fall out of the sky someday.)

Then came a Special Occasion, where I was given the power to purchase exactly one book, and I was torn between this and Telgemeier’s other graphic novel, Ghosts. (It is a truly Herculean feat to spell that surname correctly each time, try it if you want to subject your mind to cruel mental strain.) After much agonized deliberation, I chose Drama over Ghosts. I have not yet read Ghosts; therefore, to this minute, I have not a clue whether I made the right decision. Nevertheless.

This is an extremely light read. Amazon says the key demographic is eight year olds. I would now like to formally declare the following: I am not eight. I’m in my late teens. However, the comic books they write for people my age tend to be quite dark, and I just wanted a light, fluffy read, like a Saturday morning pancake. So I picked a book geared at eight year olds. Judge me.

This was an even lighter read than I expected, an ideal comic book to accompany you to the poolside. The Amazon reviews are partially composed of parents on various parts of the homophobia spectrum, because two of the male characters develop crushes on other male characters. Even if you’re eight, I really don’t think being exposed to the fact that people are different and that not everyone has crushes on the opposite gender is going to confuse the hell out of you. It’s a book about middle schoolers, and middle school in general is (or isn’t, depending on whether or not you’ve hit puberty) confusing.

My overall conclusion is that it’s a pretty good book. It’s not special, or ground-breaking, but it checks all the right boxes: fun, light, great illustrations, watertight plot.

This book isn’t the right one if you’re looking for a comic book that utilises the medium in innovative ways to tell a story, or one that breaks boundaries. It’s an enjoyable read, and it’s good qualities don’t extend beyond that.

Ultimately, I got the most happiness out of the drawings, because all those minor touches which speak of the thought that went into its creation are what I live for.

So if you’re eight, or eighteen but can’t handle sad stuff, this one’s for you!

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I’m Terrible At Coming Up With Titles For Things

I’m so rubbish at coming up with titles for things. I swear, if it had been up to me, Midnight’s Children would have been called Several Overlapping Tales Set in A Crucial Period of History, or something equally long-winding and ridiculously uninteresting.

I just can’t seem to come up with short, catchy titles that beat with the pulse of the story or essay or poem. Well, poems are not so bad. You can pick up a phrase from one of the lines and make it the title, and people will applaud your poetic sensibilities at capturing the “pulse” of the poem, rather than catch onto your ineptness at titling things.

But titles aren’t even that important, you say. It’s the content which really matters, you tell me consolingly, and untruthfully.

Titles do matter. They’re the first thing you see when you read an article or a blog post or a book. It shapes your first impression of the work you’re about to read. That’s why clickbait is so annoying, because it eventually turns out that the article isn’t about what you thought it was about, and now you’re disappointed and frustrated that you read till the end.

That’s why my lack of this very useful, necessary skill frustrates me to no end, because everything I write, even if it’s good, ends up with some weird, verbiose title. And it’s no good telling me to shorten them, because then they end up odd and abstract. Is there a WikiHow article for this? A ‘How to Title’ series of video lessons on YouTube? A titling expert who’s willing and able to impart the secrets of his trade for the very reasonable and affordable price of $5.99?


Dear Male Relative, Your Sexist Joke Isn’t Funny AT ALL


You posted the above image on a WhatsApp group we have in common. I bet you thought that was funny, didn’t you? Hilarious, just like that one tweet where some guy proclaimed, “The last time I listened to Ariana Grande, I almost died, too.”

This tweet is just as vile as that one, and deserves just as much scorn.

Now, I have to wonder why you posted this on a group where the male to female ratio is 1:1 and the dumb jerk to regular people ratio is 1: 5. And since there are exactly six people on the group, I don’t think it’s too difficult to figure out who that one person is.

Empathy is a challenge for you, so I’ll make it easy and tell you how seeing that makes me feel. It makes me mad. It sparks my rage, and sorrow, too, because the gender wage gap is my reality, and the reality of half the world’s population. There are people working to lessen it, and there are  people who are inadvertently helping by ensuring their own judgements are free of stereotype. And yet, change is slow.

As a woman who will shortly entry the workforce, this is not funny at all. As a person who believes in equality, it is appalling to see the underprivileged being mocked for their lack of privilege, by someone with privilege.

This is not about a joke having crossed a line. This is about who has the right to make a joke like that. A poor person can point and laugh at his poverty to other poor people. Here, everyone recognises the humourlessness of the situation because they’re dealing with it. It wouldn’t be okay for someone who wasn’t poor to joke about poverty. You may have the skull of a coconut, but surely this analogy is quite transparent?

I know that you aren’t sexist. I know that because you grew up around me, and it’s abudnantly clear that I am in no way inferior to you. I know that because you have seen the women in our family treated on par with the men. Perhaps the lack of discrimination in your sphere of existence lessens the seriousness of problems such as this one.

Whatever it is, this kind of joke is incredibly hurtful. It rubs salt on an already throbbing wound. It’s only a testament to how long we have known each other that any respect I have for you has only taken a massive hit rather than become virtually nonexistent.

I had no intention of making this a series, but I guess sexism isn’t going to stop doing it’s thing in my life any more than it will in anyone else’s. I was cushioned against its impact for many, many years, but evidentally, not any more.

The K-Pop Boy Band That’s Stealing American Hearts (and Awards)

Image Description: All seven members of BTS pose with the award

I was going to bring you a live update of the frenzied voting for the Billboard Music Awards- specifically, the Top Social Artist category, for which BTS was nominated. There were some insane things going on. Conspiracy theories were furiously exchanged about the tricks that Beliebers had up their sleeves. Rousing speeches about how the odds were stacked against BTS amassed hundreds of likes in the comment sections of BTS’s music videos, even as Twitter polls showed that BTS had 200 million votes, and the only plausible contender, Bieber, had 21m. Tensions were high, folks. The ARMY literally could not. And it only encouraged them further when BBMA’s Twitter account groaned that the incessant voting had lead to their servers crashing.

Of course, now that BTS has won, that blog post is irrelavant.

Instead, we now have history in the making. A K-pop group has won a mainstream Western award, which clearly says something about the dedication of the ARMY. There ain’t no fan like a boy band fan, as Out magazine observed so rightly. Fans of BTS, though, are crazier than fans of Justin Bieber and the erstwhile One Direction, combined. They are ‘a force of freaking nature’, to quote Saga, that beloved comic which is not about superheroes.

As a direct consequence of their win, which comes shortly after the Shorty Award they took home recently, Western press is falling all over themselves trying to explain BTS to the laypeople in North America.

Consider Rolling Stone, for instance. And Vogue. No, not Teen Vogue. Vogue Vogue. How incredible (and incredibly predictable) is that?! Lists like ‘5 Things to Know About BTS’ which started cropping up after they were nominated have mushroomed after they won.

Teen magazines will probably follow suit, if they haven’t already. Imagine posters of BTS members tucked into Seventeen, along with Justin Bieber. That’d certainly be something.

It won’t be too much of a surprise if more people in North America have their hearts captured by outrageous costumes, synchronized dancing, and general cuteness- i.e., the potent force that is K-pop.

One small step for BTS, one giant leap for K-pop.

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The Top 10 Comments on Every K-Pop Music Video



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Image Description: BTS V in a concert
  1. OMG, __________ is bias-wrecking me so hard right now. (New hair colours are nearly as potent in improving someone’s appearance as plastic surgery. It’s a fake fact.)
  2. Let’s get this to *insert viewing goal here* views! C’mon guys, WE CAN DO THIS! (The irony of droves of people spending time and energy in making a rich band even richer never seems to occur to anyone.)
  3. Honestly, after listening to their music, it’s impossible to like other groups because they’re literally the best in K-pop right now. Nobody else compares. (This comment is most is guranteed to be found on almost every popular band’s MV. Again, the irony.)
  4. Congratulations *insert fandom name here* on winning *insert award name here* ! This is why we’re the best fandom!! (Yes, do congratulate yourself. I’m sure you can put ‘helped BTS to win Shorty Award’ on your resume.)
  5. I showed this to my friend who hates K-pop two days ago. Now, he sings along to every song, and he’s not even Korean… LMAO. (This would be cool, if I thought you were telling the truth.
  6. New ARMY/V.I.P./EXO-L here! Who can tell me their names? (Scroll down, dammit. How lazy are you? You’re neither the first new person, nor the only one, and someone always posts a comment of the #7 ilk.)
  7. Hello new people! Welcome to the fandom. Here are the members, in order of appearance: *insert long list of names, places in the video, physical and character description* (Thank you for your service, and in return, I will tell you the truth about your life: you have far too much spare time on hand. But still, thank you.)
  8. Man, I don’t even like K-pop, but this song is so dope. (You poor fish. You don’t know it now, but in five days you will know everything there is to know about this group.)
  9. I was singing this in the office/bus/locker room and my boss/teacher/friend heard me and started singing along lol. Gave me a heart attack. (If I hooked you up to a lie detector, that’d give you a real heart attack. Stop making up scenarios for likes. This may have happened to someone at some time, but it definitely didn’t happen to you. Now leave.)
  10. Hi! *insert name of another fandom* here to support *name of this fandom* ! (Sigh. We all know what you’re here for, so here it is: a pat on the back. Good job, Marley.)

Pages From the Sketchbook: BTS (방탄소년단) V, Jin, Jungkook


The last time I blogged about BTS, I’d listened to one song, and I wanted to know more about them… Now, I’d probably say they’re my current favourite band- no, artist, out of all genres/languages/ethnicities/gender orientation/towns of birth.

This was inspired by the Blood, Sweat and Tears MV. From top, they are based loosely on Taehyung, Jin, and Jungkook.

I did try to make it look like Taehyung when I started out, but I ended up with something completely different, so first, I complained loudly to a patient friend. And after that, I went with the flow and didn’t even try with the other two.

Someday, I will aim for (and acheive) a resemblance, but that’s NOT TODAY. (Get it? Get it? Haha, I’m hilarious! Okay fine, sorry.)