When Maya calls

Yesterday was a beautiful day. I went to the Star Mark bookshop to buy a gift for a friend of mine. I bought Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology and after paying for it, I stood in a mini queue to get the book gift-wrapped. The guy standing before me was often turning around to keep an eye on his little girl who was about five or six years old. The queue moved a little and I moved forward and stood in that guy’s position. That little girl came back to me and tugged at my left hand and said, “Daaaddy, I want that booook.” I was pleasantly surprised at this sudden promotion, and patted that little girl’s head. She still didn’t look up to see that I wasn’t her dad. The guy before me turned around and gave me and his daughter a stern look.

“Maya, that is NOT your dad!” The guy huffed. “Your dad is here.”

The little girl looked up at me to see me smiling down at her and she quickly left my hand and ran to her daddy. I laughed out loud and startled a girl nearby who gave me a quizzical look.

The little girl’s name was Maya. It was kind of strange to know that Maya was pulling at me to carry out her wishes. We all are pulled by her in various directions in this life of ours, and only a couple of days back, I was telling a very close friend of mine that Life is Maya! I couldn’t help but notice this little coincidence. When was the last time I said that to anyone? I can’t remember. I don’t think I said that to anyone as far as I can remember.

Anyway, I don’t mind bending to Maya’s wishes if she is that little girl asking for a book. How can anyone say no to that?

I noticed that the father was actually buying a children’s book and I was curious to know if his daughter could read that.

“She reads those books?” I asked him.

“She doesn’t yet. I read those books to her,” he said with a smile.

“You should read out Enid Blyton books to her,” I suggested.

“Yeah, I am thinking of buying her these 5 O’ Clock tales sometime next year.”

“Yes that would be a good choice for her age. I don’t think she is ready for Famous Five yet,” I said.

“Yeah, Famous Five, Five Find-Outers, St.Clares’ — good memories those were,” the father started recollecting. “Cherry Tree farm, Willow tree series….”

“Green meadow family,” I added a book to his recollection.

“Yeah, Green meadow family,” he smiled at me. “It was nice bumping into you.”

“I am glad that we met too,” I said, grinning ear to ear to find a fellow Blyton fan.

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The Mystery of the Hidden House

Ah, my Enid Blyton! How much have I missed you! After about three or four years, I’ve read an Enid Blyton book! For more than a week I was ill and bedridden and during the last few days of my recuperation I grew restless and pulled out an EB book from my bookshelf — The Mystery of the Hidden House, a Five Find-Outer’s Mystery! During the first few chapters, the plot moved at a snail pace, as is the case in many EB books, and I said to myself, ‘I used to enjoy all this, why is this appearing to be slow now?’ For a few frightful moments, I was afraid that I had grown out of Enid Blyton books. But thankfully towards the end, Enid came back strongly and showed me that she was still in charge! I guess I was a bit rusty from not reading her books in a long time. In fact, I haven’t read much fiction these past few years. The first time I read this book was about nine years ago. How time flies!

The Mystery of the Hidden House is one of the best of the 15 books in this series. This is the sixth book and EB introduces a major new character — Ern Goon! This is such a well-written, smashing book and rereading it after nine years reminded me how much I had enjoyed it when I first read it. In Chapter 14, page 96 (Mammoth publication), I found this Blyton gem and chuckled at it 🙂

‘Was there a boy?’ asked Bets. ‘A boy who would be a man now?’

Mrs. Hilton felt surprised at these last questions. ‘Why all this sudden interest in the Hollands?’ she asked. ‘What are you up to? You’re usually up to something when you begin this sort of thing.’

Pip sighed. Mothers were much too sharp. They were like dogs. Buster always sensed when anything was out of the ordinary, and so did mothers. Mothers and dogs both had a kind of second sight that made them see into people’s minds and know when anything unusual was going on.

Leave it to Blyton to compare mothers with dogs!

The following is a fantastic dialog delivered by Fatty to Ern and it had an impact on me when I first read it nine years ago. I read it and reread it multiple times.

The setting: Fatty, Larry, and Pip go in search of Ern who has been kidnapped and is a prisoner in the hideout of a group of car thieves. Fatty rightly deduces this and sneaks in with the others and finds Ern. At this moment, Fatty realizes that a missing-Ern would alert the thieves and he decides to leave him behind so that he could alert the police first, who could then arrest these criminals and rescue Ern. But Ern is not so brave to stay behind. He is already mentally exhausted and scared and just wants to escape.

Chapter 15, page 154.

‘I can’t do that,’ said Ern, almost crying. ‘You don’t know what it’s like, to be a prisoner like this and not know what’s going to happen to you. I can’t even think of any portry.

‘Aren’t you brave enough to do this one thing?’ said Fatty, sadly. ‘I did want to think well of you, Ern.’

Ern stared at Fatty, who looked back at him solemnly.

‘All right,’ said Ern. ‘I’ll do it, see! I’ll do it for you, Fatty, because you’re a wonder, you are! But I don’t feel brave about it. I feel all of a tremble.’

‘When you feel afraid to do a thing and yet do it, that’s real bravery,’ said Fatty. ‘You’re a hero, Ern!’

Fatty, the leader, comes to the fore and with just his words gives Ern the encouragement he needed to stay behind. And, I didn’t misspell poetry, ‘portry’ is how Ern pronounces the word.

Mr. Goon’s misadventures are a riot to read and I often felt sorry for him. Sometimes Fatty goes a little too far.

Enid Blyton is pure magic. I’ve previously written about how much I love her. She passed away in 1968 and I still feel bad that she is not with us. How I wish I could meet her.

I’ve already started rereading The Mystery of the Secret Room! Here I come, Fatty and gang!

My Top 10 Ten Favourite Books

There are so many books out there and so little time to read. I say this so often, and I am pretty sure that I’ll say this for many, many more years. Listing my top ten books is a bit tricky. I am yet to read, what many call, “must-read books.”  How does one choose his/her favourite books? One chooses, I think, based on the feelings or emotions or just the general feel that one gets whilst reading a book.  How about the criteria, the quality of the work or how well the book is written? Quality is important, but it is not the only criteria as I have discovered over many years of reading. For lack of better words, I am going to put it this way — I am a heart person rather than a brain person. So if something has to become my favourite, then that thing should touch my heart in someway. Let me explain. Who is a better writer, Dan Brown or Enid Blyton? Seems to be an unfair comparison. I’ve read about three of the seven or eight books that Dan Brown has written and I have read more than 60 Enid Blyton books. Now Dan Brown’s books are mind-blowing. I have no words to explain how awesome his books are and yet I do not love his books. Why? Because it is my brain that enjoyed his books, not my heart. But when I read EB’s books(yes, of course, she’s a children’s writer), my heart just enjoys them so much! So to me, Enid Blyton is more lovable than Dan Brown.

Enough said. Without further ado, let me present my list (in no particular order).

* The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

* The King Arthur Trilogy by Rosemary Sutcliff

* Kidnapped by RL Stevenson

* Odyssey by Homer

* Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

* The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton

* The Mystery series by Enid Blyton

* The Adventure series by Enid Blyton (and many other EB books)

* The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

* The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (I am holding off from reading LOTR as I think it’s a very precious work to be read now and forgotten later. I am planning to devise a note-taking method to note down stuff as I read through these books).

I have to admit that I did a little cheating in this list. Some of the items in this list include entire series instead of a single book and I’ve also listed some of my “brain books” rather than the “heart books” that I talked about. I wonder what those books are 😉

Apart from these, there are other notable ones that I’ve immensely enjoyed like the Red Wall series by Brian Jacques, The Three Investigators series by Alfred Hitchcock, Leo Tolstoy’s short stories, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving and many others.

Of course, over the coming years this list is going to be updated. But I just don’t see some books getting off this list.

Related Post: I Love King Arthur!

The wonderful world of Enid Blyton

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Enid Blyton has been a great influence in my life. Yes, she’s a children’s writer but still I cannot put down her books. I read my first EB book at the age of 16 which was very late. I feel sad and frustrated for not knowing about her books in my childhood days.

My first EB book was an EB Omnibus consisting of the following stories:

  1. The Yellow fairy book (aka The Queer adventure)

      2.    The First Green Goblin book and The Second Green Goblin book (aka The Green Goblin book)

It was by accident that I stumbled upon this book at a second-hand book shop. I was rummaging through a pile of books when a big red book caught my attention – it was a magical moment – and there started my Enid Blyton journey. I loved that book as soon as I started to read it. At that time I didn’t know anything about the number of books that EB had written and so I had no idea of pursuing her other books. My frenzy for EB started when one of my best friends presented a ‘Famous Five book – Five get into a fix’ on my 17th Birthday. I totally fell in love with that book. That book had a listing of all the Famous Five books – 21 books in total. And needless to say I decided to savour each and every book. After completing my first Famous Five book I went to The Landmark, a bookshop near my house to buy another FF book. As soon as I went into the Kids section I knew that I had hit the jackpot – there in a big rack were stacked many of EB’s books – the Famous Five, Five Find-Outers, Secret seven, Adventure series, Barney Mysteries and much much more. In that shop, EB was the only author who had a whole rack dedicated to her. I am now 23 years old and so far I have read 20 FF books and many other EB books (more than 60 books). I have decided that I will read the 21st FF book only when I am on a happy holiday tour (just like the Famous Five) or at a point in my life when I feel very happy.  I never knew that books could give me warmth and pleasure until I read EB’s books.

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Other than EB what do I read?

I read almost every type of book – history (I love history), self-help books, fiction books for grown-ups, classics, comics, fiction for children and young adults by other authors, biographies or autobiographies (once in a blue moon) and books on science. In a year, 60% of my reading would consist of EB books and more than 25% on fantasy books by other authors (I love fantasy) and the other kind of books would fill up the remaining slots. Other than this I do some internet reading. I don’t read poetry, though I very rarely write some when I am strongly inspired by something/someone.

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 The magic of Enid Blyton:                                                                                                                                               

So what’s so special about EB? I’ll do a small comparison.

Enid Blyton vs. J.K.Rowling

I’ll first try to explain how Rowling is superior to EB and then how EB is superior to Rowling.

Rowling:

Needless to say, the Harry Potter books are absolutely fantastic. A special treat for book lovers. Rowling’s imagination and description are certainly superior to that of Blyton. The books are super fast; contrarily Blyton’s books move on a slower pace (I really shouldn’t say slower because some chapters are slow and some are fast). If you are going to give me a cup of tea while I am reading Harry Potter, it’s going to be a hindrance to my flow of reading. The books are magic. Rowling is really a wizard! (Or should I say witch?)

Blyton:

So what did this lady write in comparison to Rowling’s HP books that have sold more than 350 million copies worldwide? Well, she just wrote books that have sold more than 400 million copies. 400 million?!!!  But the difference is that Rowling’s books sell at a faster rate. So she would catch up. Enid Blyton died in the year 1968, but still 11 million copies of her books are sold every year. Enough with the statistics. I like her books not because of these stats. I came to know of these stats only after falling in love with her. So why do I love her?

Her books give me warmth, pleasure and happiness. I never knew that books can give these until I started reading EB’s books. My heart smiles with content when I read her books. Her books transport my mind to beautiful picturesque villages and towns of Britain. Reading a FF book with a cup of tea in hand is a great pleasure that only Blyton fans can understand.

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In 2008 I came across two Enid Blyton websites that were simply smashing!

They are – enidblytonsociety.co.uk and enidblyton.net. I jumped with joy when I learnt that there are people like me (and even older than me – in fact, Grandpas and Grandmas) in this world who are mad about Blyton.

Sometimes I post messages in the message board of both these sites and I also join some of the discussions in the forums of the Enid Blyton society site. From this site I came to know of the Enid Blyton Day that takes place every year in England. I have taken it in my head to attend this celebration sometime in the future. The members and moderators of these sites are very friendly, good natured people, just like the characters of Blyton.

                                                                                                                                                      

 Update (30/5/2014): It has been more than two years sine I touched an EB book! Reading a lot of other stuff; but EB, I’ll come back to you!