15 August, 2017

#SpecialFeature:: 5 Books That Changed My Life, Made Me Wish And Made Me Write Better

*** Special Feature - August 2017 ***

About the Author:
Aarti V Raman is an Amazon India bestselling romance writer who dabbles in romantic thrillers and contemporary romance. Happy Ever After are her three favorite words in the English lexicon. 

Aarti graduated from Mumbai University in 2007 with a degree in Mass Media focused on Journalism which provided her the perfect background for conducting sound research on any project. But she has also worked as a copy editor, social media consultant, commercial content writer-editor while pursuing her goal.
Aarti’s ambition of honing her craft and writing stories, particularly romances that have strong characters and stronger plots that remain etched in the reader’s minds, grew when she sold her first novel WHITE KNIGHT (Leadstart Publishing), in 2012. 

In 2013, her work was excerpted in the Tamil Edition of Mills and Boon novels. And in 2014, her short story “Post-Coital Cigarette” was chosen to be part of the Rupa Romance Anthology “An Atlas of Love” curated by bestselling author Anuja Chauhan.  Her last novel “Kingdom Come” (Harlequin MIRA) has enjoyed a brief stay at the bestseller lists in Amazon India. Her third book “With You I Dance” (Fingerprint! Publishing) released in April 2016 and debuted on the Amazon India Romance Bestseller list. 

Aarti was chosen to be part of the Goa Arts and Literary Fest 2014 in December 2014 and The Hyderabad Literary Festival in January 2015. 

She is represented by Red Ink Literary Agency, India. 

Connect with the Author:

5 Books That Changed My Life, Made Me Wish And Made Me Write Better 

Books, wonderful books, glorious books!

Reading has always been my last great pleasure. In fact, for those reader friends of mine who I have sent a signed copy of any of my books to, it is also my favorite inscription to use. Books, literally, are my favorite things in the world. And the absolute freedom I experience when I dive into a book is unparalleled. I know, I know…I am exaggerating AND aggrandizing, but come on! This is books.

Books were what widened my horizons and my vocabulary when I was a wee young thing and they helped me learn a very important life skill: empathy. You’d think I would say that books taught me the proper use of a comma and the difference between an ellipsis and a semi-colon (they did, of course). But, when you are a twelve-year-old kid and reading about the ravages of what being a war correspondent does to you (The Sky Is Falling) you learn a thing or two about walking in someone else’s shoes. You learn to have and hold and DEFEND an opinion. And you learn to read between the lines.

I could wax lyrical about the virtues of books and the value of reading even one, but I’ll just say this. “Give a woman a book to read and you have a reader. Give her a library card and you change her life.”

So, without further ado, these are but five of the thousands of books I have read over the last two decades. All of them from different genres. I hope, you guys go through this list and escape into the worlds created by these authors, just like I did.

The Fountainhead: Ayn Rand changed my world. No shit. The way she first espoused a theory, THE theory of individualism and took like 600 frigging pages to do it…I was fascinated. For one, that book made me realize (I was around 14 back then) that books can be about more than telling a story. The storytelling as a device to explain a larger, more important concept became crystal clear to me. After that, I could not help but explore every single story I read to find out what other message they had to offer me. Even the lighter romances could manage to give me something more to think about – a prime example is that of Nora Roberts’ Bride Quartet series. On the surface, it’s a very typical romance series about four affluent, white women finding the loves of their lives. But scratch the surface and it teaches you a thing or two about running a business, averting work-related crises, and maintaining the bonds of sisterhood and friendship in tough times.

The Lord Of The Rings: Tolkien changed my world too. Let’s face it, all the kids growing up in the 90s were heavily influenced by the LOTR movies. I am no exception. I will be honest here and confess that I saw the first movie when I was 15 and it was completely mysteriously beautiful. The only takeaway I had? Aragorn. He of the brooding dark gaze (yes, my fascination with brooding heroes predates Mills and Boon) and the yard-long legs. I dragged my mom off to the roadside vendors in Churchgate ‘cuz I had to own LOTR and read the whole thing cover to cover. It was unforgettable. The characterization, the world-building, the battle scenes…I am still in awe and I defy anyone to deny that GRRM took inspiration from LOTR when he wrote A Song Of Ice And Fire.

The Hathaways: This is a historical romance series by Lisa Kleypas and is, hands down, fricking amazing. There is a funny anecdote behind how I stumbled onto reading Lisa Kleypas. I was illegally downloading a ton of Nora books in 2008 (excuse the penniless student) and I stumbled across a historical romance ‘she’ had written titled Midnight Angel. It was INSANELY awesome. I hunted for the second book, Prince of Dreams under Nora Roberts for hours. Both online and at my uni’s vast library. Couldn’t find it. Finally, Google yielded a simple search result: Prince of Dreams by Lisa Kleypas. I read everything she wrote including her contemporary series but it was not until The Hathaway series came along years later, that I appreciated the nuances of world-building and character decisions that Kleypas had invested in. Each of the five couples, Cam-Amelia, Kev-Winnifred, Harry-Poppy, Leo-Catherine, and Beatrix-Christopher are such tremendous delights and fully realized characters in themselves that I honestly can’t pick any one of them as my favorite. Ok, I can. It’s Harry Rutledge *winks*

The Calhoun Sisters and Megan’s Mate: I was 15. In the same expedition that I found LOTR, I found another green-backed cover of a book by a writer named Nora Roberts. The contemporary romance stories were simple enough. Four sisters. A lost heirloom. Four delicious men and oodles of romance. Strong characters. A plot that stretched for four books. And a fifth, if we count Megan’s Mate in the series and we totally do! I fell in love. Straight up in love with the idea of writing about love before CC had finished saying I do to Trent. The book jumpstarted unrealistic expectations about men based on superior language skills, inherent charm and a heart as big as Texas. Thank you, Nora Roberts for making me the writer I am today.

Heart of Obsidian: I started reading Nalini Singh just three years ago. And sure, the Psy-Changeling paranormal series is brilliant writing backed up by some gorgeous characters in love and mind-blowing sex scenes. But, as god is my witness, if I had to wish for one character to be real it would be Kaleb Krychek. Yeah, he is badass dangerous, ridiculously powerful, and homicidally protective, but the way his character has been set up over the course of the series and the story he gets…it is immensely satisfying. You know how some authors tease out a character over the course of a series (the Ron-Hermione coupling, for instance) and the payoff in the end seems a little cold? Nalini’s Kaleb is piping hot. PIPING. I am struck by serious writer envy and even more serious reader love because of Kaleb. I can only hope to write a character as memorable and emotionally impactful as Kaleb.
These are just five of the series of books I can list in this particular post. The authors who I love across genres are numerous and I am sincerely grateful to each and every one of them for sharing their gift of words with me. It is a pleasure, a privilege, and an honor to be part of this tribe of people who managed to touch a young, idealistic girl’s heart and helped turn her into the woman I am proud to be today.

Till next time,
Writer Gal aka Aarti V Raman

About the Book:
Meera Sagar had everything—the perfect job as a principal ballerina (for a prestigious New York ballet company) and a man who loved her as much as she loved him. But tragedy struck on the night before her biggest performance, forcing her to do the one thing she never wanted to do—come back home. To Mumbai.

Now, a year later, Meera is still trying to pick up the pieces, while
fending off marriage proposals from her well-meaning but
traditional Gujarati family, and figure life out all over again. By
starting a ballet school in Mumbai. But she has two problems. One, she doesn’t know anything about running a business. And two, she can’t dance. Not anymore.

Enter . . .
Abeer Goswami. Hotshot junior partner at a South Bombay law
firm and a man nursing a broken heart. When he meets Meera
again, the woman who left him, he tries his hardest to be her friend,to help her . . . and not let the past get in the way.

And then . . .
There is the sexy Zoya Sehgal. Meera’s only friend in the city and the woman Abeer is currently seeing. They say triangles have pointy edges, for a reason. 

Will Meera find a new dream in her ballet school? Can Abeer and Meera find their way back to each other again? And, most important, has Meera danced for the last time?

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  1. With You I Dance has a gorgeous cover and sounds like a lovely romance. Is it only available in India?
    I've never been to Amazon.in before. :-)
    Thanks for sharing a bit of your reading history with the readers.

    1. Hello Martha! Thanks so much for the kind words :) Yeah. I love the cover too. It's one of my favorites. :D Currently, it is available only in India but we are working on something more global too.