#4. Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid – Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)

“Life is a turbulent journey, fraught with confusion, heartbreak, and inconvenience.

This book will not help.”

You cannot expect anything but brilliance from a book that has the above statement for a blurb. The book starts off with a parable of sorts – with a bitterly unhappy ending that teaches you to “never search for a wise man, particularly in your neighborhood, where so few of them live.” The parable is followed by a collection of quotes and important bitter truths that everyone needs to know (but which will not necessarily help everyone – or anyone, for that matter) and wise remarks made by Snicket at “dinner parties and anarchist riots”.

And I LOVED them all. Almost all the quotes are really funny – and yet, they’re also rather thought-provoking. But more than all that, they are comforting – reading Snicket is like talking to a very old, very dear friend. And whether you’re feeling confused or sad or struggling with an overall feeling of doom that one cannot escape no matter one does – this book can make you feel better. It’s sort of like what he says about crying – “Unless you have been very, very lucky, you have undoubtedly experienced events in your life that have made you cry. So unless you have been very, very lucky, you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.” Even if your circumstances have not changed one bit, randomly flipping to a page in the book and reading the quote there can make you smile and that could perhaps make you feel a little more poised to take on whatever’s troubling you. So, I guess that one of the bitter truths proved wrong after all – the one on the blurb that says that this book cannot help you out in a life fraught with confusion, heartbreak and inconvenience.

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Begin at the beginning

“If you feel . . . that well-read people are less likely to be evil, and a world full of people sitting quietly with good books in their hands is preferable to a world filled with schisms and sirens and other noisy and troublesome things, then every time you enter a library you might say to yourself, ‘The world is quiet here,’ as a sort of pledge proclaiming reading to be the greater good.”

— Lemony Snicket (The Slippery Slope)

Thus indited Lemony Snicket in his infinite wisdom. And I agree – wholeheartedly.

For as long as I remember, I’ve loved books. Before I was old enough to read them, I used to eat them – my mother tells me that nothing entertained two-year-old me better than chewing my way through rare first editions cherished by my grandfather. However, those infant years spent eating others’ words only augmented my appetite for literature. (And that last sentence is now officially on its way to a sad sad land where bad metaphors go to die.)

Anyway, the point is – I’ve always loved to read. However, over the past few years my reading habits have deteriorated steadily. It all started when I decided that I wanted to read too many books at once – I’d pick books from several different genres and start reading all of them simultaneously and this worked well till my life as a college student began. But once my life as a college student began, reading somehow took a backseat to –  well, almost everything else and I found that I was leaving more and more books unfinished. And that is just sad, isn’t it?

So, I’ve resolved that I will read a book a week. Starting today. And I will blog about the books I read – I am not going to review them per se – but I shall talk about what I liked/disliked in a book, what I learned from a book or what it reminded me of and anything else that’s interesting enough to be written about.

Also, the following are the rules I’ve set for myself –

  • I guess I’ll be able to manage about 60 pages a day – so a book of 500 pages or less gets a week. More pages – number of weeks gets adjusted accordingly.
  • I will be posting every week – unless there are quizzes or end semester exams or other such occurrences of earth-shattering importance. Corollary to this rule – If, for some reason that is not related to an occurrence of earth-shattering importance, I do not post on a particular week, I shall make up for that by three posts over the next two weeks.

I strongly suspect that I enjoy making rules – I mean, the possibilities for corollaries, clauses and sub-clauses are just limitless. Nevertheless, I shall refrain – what with my degenerating reading habits and all, I might well be on the path of evil (as suggested by the wise Snicket in the above quote) and this penchant for making rules might just spur me on to become the next Fascist dictator – and I have no intention of spending the rest of my life being addressed as “Il Duce” by all and sundry.

Well, anyway, this was the mandatory introductory post. I hope with all my heart that I stick to my resolve (and my rules). Wish me luck. 🙂