Aug 7

Indian Authors in American Libraries | #ChattyBlogs August Linky

Last week I decided to do a little bookshelf clean-out, and while I was sorting through the books I wanted to keep, and the ones I wanted to pass on, I found myself in a dilemma of sorts. So I thought why not ask for the public opinion on this one, as I am sure many of you bookworms must have gone through this as well.

But first I want to clarify a couple of things, because last week, when I put up a picture of the books I had decided to un-haul on social media, I got some interesting questions/responses via Facebook messenger.


So, as you can see in the picture, all the books that I am un-hauling are by Indian authors. But it’s not like what it seems. I have nothing against Indian authors, and no, I am not doing a country-specific clean out either. It’s a combination of couple of things actually.

From the last few years, I have been actively pursuing minimalism. Which is why, I am a very active library user, and am very picky about the books I actually buy. And even then, I am more likely to buy the kindle version over the physical one. Mostly because I know how difficult it is for me to de-clutter books, and I just don’t want to put myself in that situation in the first place.

Having said that, when it comes to Indian authors, it would take a miracle to actually find them in American libraries, so that’s not an option at all, and then the Kindle version is either non-existent or overly pricey, so I end up getting the physical books when I (or my family) visit India. Which is why those happen to be the only books I need to un-haul, if and when I do de-clutter books (which is a rare thing in itself).

The Books

Anyway, last week when I sorted through the books, and picked out the ones I no longer needed in my collection, clearly I also had to decide on what to do with them. And normally, this is a no-brainer, as for me, an un-haul always means donating to the library.

But in this particular case, I was a little hesitant to donate a couple of these books, and add to their circulation.

Of-course this could just be me overthinking this situation, but I would really like to know what you guys think as well.

Now, like I said, the concern is only regarding a couple of books in here, the others are fine. For instance, there is a contemporary romance companion series in there, and a book by Preeti Shenoy. These books were fine. I wasn’t in love with them, but I could happily give them to the library, as I am sure many others will like them far more than I did, as it’s just a matter of personal taste.

Then there is I Too Had a Love Story. This is a slightly more complicated case, because this has some real bad writing, and even worse editing. So, in this this particular case, the concern is, when there are only very few Indian authors available in American libraries, do I want to add Ravinder Singh to the mix? As that would be a terribly inaccurate representation of Indian literature.

And no, I am not saying that the readers here do not have access to world literature, outside of the libraries. Of-course they do. Especially the ones in my circle, they actively seek out authors from different countries and cultures. But then my circle also has a lot of book bloggers in it, so you see…they don’t exactly fit the average reader profile. Nonetheless, I am okay with giving away this one to the library as well, albeit with a heavy heart.

The Dilemma

The real dilemma is concerning the following two books – Half Girlfriend and Ajaya. One a contemporary romance, one a take on historical fiction. Both extremely aggravating books.

I have done detailed reviews/rants on both these books. You can check them out here (Half Girlfriend) and here (Ajaya), but here is the gist.

I’ll start with Ajaya.

Ajaya is the Indian epic Mahabharata from Duryodhan’s POV, or so it claimed to be. But it’s essentially Mahabharata re-imagined, solely to make Duryodhan look like a hero.

And in doing that, the author killed the essence of this epic tale, and the thing that I loved the most about it, which is the fact that every character in this epic saga had shades of grey – good folks did bad things, bad folks had redeeming qualities, and you could never really slot anyone as completely good or bad.

But Mr. Neelakantan  took  2 boxes of paint – one black, one white, and painted everyone that was in support of his argument (which was flawed anyway) white, everyone against – black, and made a mockery of the multi-faceted, complex narrative, which encompassed a wide spectrum of human emotions and behavior.

In-fact his bias was so strong, and so one sided, that he couldn’t even keep the introduction to the cast of characters objective (example in my review).

Which is why, though I did want to un-haul it originally, I don’t want to add to the circulation of this book in any way, so I will hoard it for the rest of my life, if I have to, but not give it away, as I have a personal grudge against this one, for making a mockery of one of the most amazing Indian epics. What would you guys do with a book like this?

Half-Girlfriend-ReviewThen there is Half Girlfriend. I don’t know where to even begin with what’s wrong with this book. Of-course I have a detailed rant in the review (along with examples), but my biggest issue is how casually the author has chosen to perpetuate dangerous stereotypes in this one.

It annoys and aggravates me that in-spite of being aware of how big of an influencer he is, the author decides to write and promote dangerous crap like Half Girlfriend, where the dominant theme seems to be that consent (for physical intimacy) is not that important, so long as the actions are the result of “true love”(which itself is debatable in this case).

Of-course since I am no longer an impressionable teen, this kind of nonsense doesn’t really affect me (well outside of aggravating me), but I am definitely not comfortable with giving this book to young adults, who are basically the author’s target audience.

So as much as I want to get rid of this book, I don’t want to give it to the library, where some unsuspecting teen might come upon this book, and read this dangerous narrative on consent.

Which is why I am conflicted on what to do with these books. I don’t want to keep them, I don’t want to give them away. And nope, I don’t trash (or burn) books, even if they deserve it.

Which brings me to the question of the day. What do I do with books like these? If you have any thoughts or suggestions for me, do leave them in the comments.


The #ChattyBlogs Linky: A monthly linky which goes up on the first Sunday of every month, and is open for 2 weeks.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Write a chatty/rambly post – it could be a deep, thought-provoking one or even a random ramble. No judgement here.
  2. At the bottom of your post – add the #ChattyBlogs badge, and link to this post (which hosts the linky) to encourage other bloggers to join in.
  3. Add your link to the #ChattyBlogs linky.
  4. Visit and comment on the fellow bloggers’ post in the linky.
  5. Enjoy!


    Chatty Blogs Badge


Note: I have also created a twitter handle for ChattyBlogs & registered the actual hashtag #ChattyBlogs. So, when you do write and link up your posts, please do use the hashtag & I will be sure to RT & share it.


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  1. Quite a dilemma. I suggest, dont give them to a library. Keep them buried in some dark trunk of your home! 😀

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed your post, Shantala. I remember your reviews of some of these books! I had a similar dilemma and was even a little miffed about having to dust them to keep the shelf clean. Then last month, my son wanted to visit a bookshop. Just an hour before we left, I remembered they take back old books and I just randomly grabbed a big bag of books and we took them along. Oh joy, when the bookshop owner took them and gave us store credit of the princely sum of Rs.1000.00 But he refused to take the Chetan Bhagat book 😀

    I remember feeling bad about even donating some of the books, much like those unwanted gifts one might feel bad to re-gift because it reflects on one’s taste.

    So what did you do with the books? Curious to know!
    Vidya Sury recently posted…GirlfriendsMy Profile

    • Ah store credit for books..that sounds perfect. I am kinda confused why he refused to take the Chetan Bhagat book though. ‘Cause as trashy as they are, they do sell out like hot cakes, so I am sure he would have been able to turn them around pretty quick. Unless of-course he has read one of them, then I can totally understand his sentiments. 😛

      I am still looking into options about what to do with these books, but will keep you posted.
      Shanaya Tales recently posted…Indian Authors in American Libraries | #ChattyBlogs August LinkyMy Profile

  3. That’s a tough one, Shantala. I wouldn’t donate to the library. Maybe donate to a hospice fund raising thrift store? The reason I suggest that is typically, it’s adults shopping in those stores and not tween, teens. Put a personal warning on the inside…just a thought. I have never come across such a dilemma in my book clearing. I’ve always donated to the thrift store, given to a friend etc. I haven’t read anything that disturbed me in such a way that I hesitated with where to send it. I also read on my kindle quite a bit now to avoid the book clutter. I still cave into buying used paper back classics though. It’s a hard habit to break LOL.
    lisa thomson recently posted…Book Review-Allow Yourself To Be a Better PersonMy Profile

  4. Haha! I get you! It is better you donate them. Don’t ever keep them with you.
    P.S: I will link up with Chatty Blogs this time 🙂
    Shalini recently posted…At the Sound of the BeachMy Profile

  5. I, personally, wouldn’t want to donate a book that was “that bad”. But I wouldn’t have a problem donating to a thrift store. You never know what even a bad book might accomplish, and donating to a thrift shop would result in a little income for the charity. Yes, I would donate it.

  6. For me, it would have been a pretty easy choice: write a bad review about the book, specially in the case grammatical errors and spelling errors, and hide the book in a corner of the world where no self-respecting reader would find it. I certainly would not donate it to the library. While I do agree that there are people who have different literary tastes, I don’t believe that any reader should be subjected to basic errors like spelling and grammar errors.

    Ajaya seems like a typical book by a typical new age Indian author. I liked your analysis of the painting of characters black and white! It is true that many books by so called “famous” Indian authors don’t have much character depth, and that makes the book very boring and predictable.

    I’m so thankful that you share your honest reviews here on your blog, Shantala. Some books are really not worth the hype, and certainly misrepresent Indian literature to an off-tangent degree!
    Mithila Menezes @fabulus1710 recently posted…Position Vacant: Best FriendMy Profile

  7. How about putting them in the recycling bin, so that they can be pulled and turned into some useful paper product? Toilet paper? ???

  8. That’s a super list!

  9. Here’s a step by step guide of what you can do:
    Have a bhel puri party.
    Make cones of the pages of the books.
    Fill them up with the delicious snack.

    That’s mean, I know but they really are trash.

    You could look here for some ideas too.
    Obsessivemom recently posted…The heart of a festivalMy Profile

  10. The only CB book I liked was, ( forgot the name) where he encounters God!
    I’m so going to link up for the ramble!

  11. Ahh I hear you. About Half Girlfriend and Ajaya, I’m with you in not adding to their circulation.

    I stopped buying physical copies about 2 years back because there is no space and at the rate, I read books, I would need a whole new room to store them. So, Kindle is my choice these days.
    Nabanita Dhar recently posted…#MommyTalks | Being A Mom In The Age Of Social MediaMy Profile

  12. So true!!! In never liked CB books even though CB is a best selling author in India.
    Vasantha Vivek recently posted…An Unposted Letter To My Readers ………. #WTFOW Day 5My Profile

  13. I feel very bad to give away good books and I also feel bad to keep many books and fill up my home. I preserved Sherlock Holmes collection completely and with a heavy heart, I had to sell all old books when I move to some other country. I only heard about Jaya from Devdutt patnaik but not about Ajaya. CBs books are one time read and throw away for me or I will give to someone who doesn’t have a habit of reading and want to read something light.
    Ramya recently posted…#ThursdayTreeLove 21 – Bonsai treeMy Profile

  14. Oh I wholeheartedly agree with you on the CB version of love- that tale is a total misogyny and you are truly doing everyone a favour by burying it in some dark corner of your home – I would say burn it – wont make you a Nazi in Santa’s eyes 😉

    I love reading your chatty blogs and try to include my post in them as well – will try for this weeks if possible!
    SHALINI BAISIWALA recently posted…| Day-6 | Guest Post – Self Acceptance #writebravely | WriteTribe – Festival of Words 2017 |My Profile

  15. Do what I do Shanaya. Swap them. I swap books whenever I have something I want to get rid of. Giving to libraries here isn’t worth it anyway so swapping is my only option. Or selling

  16. I enjoyed every bit of it while reading your post. That is one big dilemma you are stuck with. I usually purchase and read books only after checking the review of the book but in case I end-up with such books (I STRONGLY AGREE with your take on mentioned books 😀 :P) I just tear the papers to serve chiwda by making paper cups or use them in absence of issues to soak up the oil 😛 .

  17. I have my mom’s attic for such books. That’s a wonderful magical place
    Neha recently posted…My rant against the television serials that show nonsense in the name of entertainmentMy Profile

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