Tag Archives: Aravind Adiga

Book Club Reflection: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

21 May

Because I was the last person to read The White Tiger in my book group we were able to discuss it very soon after. It was a short discussion because it was preceded by learning that SB was moving to another building. We still intend to continue our book club meetings, but this will slightly complicate a meeting location. Fingers crossed that we can continue everything as normal.

We used the Lit Lovers Discussion questions to guide our conversation. I will be reviewing the book in its entirety and the ending will be spoiled. Proceed with caution.

VV choose this book. She was born in India and travels there to visit friends and family. She told us that the plot line of a low-born person rising to a position of power and wealth is a common theme in Indian movies and stories. In that sense, this book’s plot is not original. Though I doubt many of the stories involve murder and such questionable morals.

Did Balram win us over? SB said no and I have to agree with her. He did so many terrible things that his ambition was unrelatable to me. I understand wanting to better your station in life, but the cost was too high. VV understood where he was coming from. It was his ambition that made him stand out from the million other low-born in the country. Without ambition, he would have been like the boy killed on his bike. She didn’t agree with what he had to do but could see what drove it.

Balram’s story is told through a series of letters to the Chinese Premier, a man of very high rank. The fact that Balram thinks he is worthy of addressing such a man and in a very informal manner says a lot about his character. He saw them as equals; both focused on themselves and ambitious to go after something others might see as unobtainable. The informal language and references to his sex life either show a familiarity between them or Balram’s lack of education about proper manners.

SB and I both related more to Ashoke. We understood is complaints with Indian bribery because it was something he learned while studying in the US. In business school, ethics was drilled into our heads in every class. No bribes, no extravagant gifts, etc. Ashoke had learned that and then gone back to his homeland where everything was different. We felt as bewildered as he did.

Balram educates himself by absorbing the knowledge around him. He listens to what others are saying about stealing the car or sending back less money and learns to exploit these to better himself. He listens for opportunities and then chases them down.

Balram repeats this couplet to himself in the latter parts of the book,

I was looking for the key for years
but the door was always open.

We felt that this couplet spoke to him about missed opportunities. If he didn’t try the door to see if it was open, he could be wondering around for years looking for a way to open it. It was better to try to learn he needed to find a key than to look for the key outright.

Balram’s grandmother wrote to him to try to guilt him into sending more money. Instead, he let them die. She pointed out that he was shirking his responsibilities, which he knew he was doing. He resented having those responsibilities in the first place. He wanted to be free and not have his family relying on him for money. VV pointed out that the family he was supporting kept growing. There were children, like Dharam, that he didn’t even know about. As the family grew, they were asking for more money and as Balram’s salary grew and he felt he could use more of it for personal reasons, more of it was being demanded. He would never be free of his family.

We felt that Balram stopped caring about Ashoke when they moved to Delhi. Once he saw the opportunities in the city, he wanted it for himself. The divide between him and his family was now larger than it had ever been before and he got greedy so started thinking of ways to take advantage of his masters.

There were stark differences between the way the characters reacted after Pinky hit someone while driving and when Balram’s driver did. It was hush money for Balram versus paying for ones loss with the driver. VV told us that blaming the driver is more common than we would think. She pointed us to a recent court case in India where actor Salman Khan drunkenly drove over five men and his driver initially took the blame. He has now been sentenced to jail for the deaths (can I say 5 years seems really short?).

The final question asked us if we thought this was a cautionary tale or a hopeful one. SB felt it was cautionary and didn’t offer any venue for hope. VV felt it was a truthful account and gave a good indication of where the country is headed. I think it was more cautionary. If Balram is the future, that’s not very hopeful.

Our next book will be A Widow for One Year by John Irving. I hope the others love Irving as much as I do!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: The White Tiger by Arvind Adiga (4/5)

11 May

I had to pass the ball on picking a book for my work book club. I’ve picked enough, it was time to let someone else make a choice. We ended up with The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, a book one member had already read and enjoyed. It was a Man Booker winner, which can be hit or miss for me. I was the last to read it and went in skeptical, but I really enjoyed the book.

Cover Image via Goodreads

Cover Image via Goodreads

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

Summary from Goodreads:

The white tiger of this novel is Balram Halwai, a poor Indian villager whose great ambition leads him to the zenith of Indian business culture, the world of the Bangalore entrepreneur. On the occasion of the president of China’s impending trip to Bangalore, Balram writes a letter to him describing his transformation and his experience as driver and servant to a wealthy Indian family, which he thinks exemplifies the contradictions and complications of Indian society.

The only other Man Booker winner I’ve read is Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day which I didn’t particularly enjoy. But I know Jhumpa Lahiri has been shortlisted and I LOVED a book of hers that I read. So I went in with some expectations (it would be a very literary novel) but not too many. Add on to that one woman from my book group (there are three of us so this is a big part of it!) who didn’t like it. I understand now that it’s because Balram is such an unlikable character. So despite all that negative energy, I found myself really enjoying this book. I loved the strong voice Balram provided and even though I thought he was a terrible person who lied and betrayed, I wanted him to succeed. Having these mixed feelings made me enjoy the book even more.

I don’t know too much about modern Indian culture. A lot of what I know is from fictional books, a bit of first-hand stories, and news articles. So as far as I know, the characters seemed credible, but I don’t feel like I can comment on that without traveling to India. Unfortunately, this book blog does not have a large travel budget, so I can only say as far as I’m aware. Anyone who would like to contribute to the travel budget, please let me know.

Mr. Ashok was my favorite character and I felt bad for him! He went through some real struggles in his life. His family was corrupted and pressured him to behave badly against his will. He saw the world he lived in worked in as a terrible place and wanted nothing more than to return to a simpler place. He was a lackey for his father and brother. And all the things he disliked about himself made his wife dislike him and eventually leave him. Poor guy! I found him much more sympathetic than Balram.

I could relate to Balram’s desire to rise, but couldn’t imagine stepping on those around me the way he did to get there. His mental process was so flawed that I had problems understanding his motivation. He was consistently written, but it was beyond something I could imagine.

Aravind Adiga Image via the author's website

Aravind Adiga
Image via the author’s website

The two car crashes were very telling of the characters and I enjoyed them a lot. The first influenced my feelings on Pinky and the Indian government system and the moral compasses of the characters. I felt the book started to take a lot of turns after this event that it wouldn’t have otherwise. The second car crash said a lot about what kind of person Balram is. He didn’t want the things that had happened to him to happen to his employee, but he still had no compassion for the dead. He never felt bad for those who died.

The descriptions of Ashok’s family and what they did in India weren’t interesting to me. I could have done with less of them. To me, they didn’t move the story and were the author’s complaints about India. I think his plot did that enough and I thought the additional fluff was unnecessary.

The major theme I got from this book was about ambition. Balram wanted to rise above where he was born and he was willing to step on an anyone to get there. In the end, he ended up being as bad as those he complained about and on whom he blamed his lowly beginnings. It was an example of ‘beat them at their own game’ that didn’t sit well with me. I understand why it had to happen the way it did, but that doesn’t mean I liked it!

Writer’s Takeaway: I loved with Adiga did with Balram’s voice in this book. He had such a distinct voice and personality and I thought he was a great character even if he was a questionable human being. In first person narration, it’s always a good idea to give the speaker a strong voice and I think Adiga did an amazing job with this.

Really enjoyable but with characters that made me question humanity too much, Four out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Aravind Adita – The White Tiger ***Contains Spoilers*** | The life and times of me!
The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga (2008) | South Asia Book Blog
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga | James Reads Books

WWW Wednesday, 6-May-2015

6 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


KingfisherCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I’m hoping to get back to it really soon, though. I’ve sped through a few books so have some time to read this between book club selections.
Still going with A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I’m liking it so far. I hope the story lines start to cross more because they seem a bit disjointed.
I’m enjoying The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. It’s pretty great and I’m sad that it’s only 8 hours.
I began a new book club selection, The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer. The author is going to be in town soon to speak so there will be a few more posts on this book and this author. Stay tuned!
I just grabbed a new eBook, Waiting to be Heard: A Memoir by Amanda Knox. I haven’t read a memoir in a while and the Amanda Knox story sounds like a really good one!

White TigerRecently finished: I finished The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. I didn’t expect to like it too much, but I did enjoy it. My book club discussion will hopefully be tomorrow and I’ll get to see what the other ladies though.
I also finished Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins which was my ebook for the past few months. It was very different from what I normally read and I liked the story but wasn’t a fan of the characters. I’m looking forward to writing a review on it and sorting out my feelings on it.

OceanReading Next: Nothing immediate, especially because I hope to work on ‘Sombra.’ In a few weeks, I’ll be getting a copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman for book club. I’m excited to read my first solo Gaiman work. The only other one of his I’ve read was Good Omens, co-written with Terry Pratchett.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 29-April-2015

29 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


White TigerCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Please don’t be mad. I want to finish this and I will return to it.
Steady progress with Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. I’m close to the end but know that I’m nowhere close to the end of this story. It’s obvious this first book will barely touch the tip of the iceberg in the series.
I’ll be a long time reading A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. It’s been a good journey so far, but I’ve only just begun. Not sure how long this is going to take, but I’m guessing a while.
I finally started The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga! Yes, after such a long wait, I’ve finally started. So far, it’s alright. The narrator has a very strong voice that makes the whole thing really fun.
I’m unable to cook without an audiobook now so I started another on my phone, The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. My amazing friend Katherine suggested this one to me because it’s set in the 1920s and she knows how much I love the 20s. So far it’s really fun. I’m excited to get more into it.

DarklyRecently finished: I finished A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick last week. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was ok. Review coming next week.

Speaking of reviews, I posted two this week. I reviewed Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling on Monday and posted a review for Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell yesterday. Take a look and tell me what you think!

Reading Next: My book club met Monday and our next book is going to be The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer. This is part of the ‘Everyone’s Reading’ program so I’m sure there will be some other posts about this book. I hope I enjoy it!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 22-April-2015

22 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


GameofThronesCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It will come, I promise, but not just yet.
I’ve made some minor progress on Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. It’s getting there, just taking longer than I thought. I’m about 60% done now and 10% of that was in the last week so don’t give up on my yet.
Will making my way through A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. Not a huge fan so far. Science Fiction I like is rare so I’m not surprised by this one, but we’ll see how I like it when I’m done.
New audiobook to announce! I hope some of you will be happy to hear I started A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin! It’s too early for me to say how I’m feeling about it, but this will be here for a long time for me to give out my opinion.

VeryGoodLivesRecently finished: I finished the audio for Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell on Friday. Look for a review coming soon!
I also picked up a copy of J.K. Rowling’s Very Good Lives. It’s a super short book and I read it in about a half hour, but totally worth picking up. I was proud that the man ringing me up at Barnes & Noble didn’t know about the book. I’m such a trendsetter, haha!

A few of you were asking for my review of Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo. I posted it yesterday if you want to see what I thought.

White TigerReading Next: It will be The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. I’ll start it as soon as I finish Scanner so hopefully it’s off this list next week!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 15-April-2015

15 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


DarklyCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. So many of you comment on this each week that I regret I haven’t had time to work on it, but I hope to get to it soon.
No movement on Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. It’s just been a bad week for ebooks I guess. Maybe books in general, I feel like this is going to be a short update.
Minimal progress on Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. Or maybe it just feels that way. With the vacation I took last week, it seems I didn’t get through much.
I started a new book, A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. So far, it’s reminding me a bit of China Mieville and I haven’t decided how I feel about it yet. I’ll have a better update next week.

Recently finished: I did finish a book! Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo was a book club selection and I liked it well enough. You’ll probably see a review coming soon. Stay tuned.

White TigerReading Next: I have The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga on my bedside table. I know, I know. I keep saying it’s next but it really is! I promise I’ll be reading it soon. Stay tuned.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 8-April-2015

8 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


SombraCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It’s on hold for a while as I work my way through some book club selections.
I got Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins back! Nothing major with this one, just moving forward slowly. I hope I can hang on to it for a while and make some more progress with it.
The audiobook is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. It’s interesting but a really long story. The characters’ names a bit hard to keep separate because they’re all so strange and 2000 BC-esque. I’ll have to look up a character list to write the audiobook review.
I’m really enjoying Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo. It’s a lighter story in my opinion, which doesn’t seem to go with the subject well but is still enjoyable.

Recently finished: Fail, again. Nothing new. On the bright side, I posted a review of The Round House by Louise Erdrich yesterday. Check it out!

White TigerReading Next: I’m now very definitive that The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga will be my next book. I promise I’ll get to it soon and I hope to speed through it to get back to ‘Sombra.’


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 1-April-2015

1 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


BreakfastCurrently reading:  There’s been a lot of forward movement on La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I took the book with me on a flight to Texas over the weekend and made a big dent in it. I still have about 200 pages to go, but I’m a lot closer.
I lost my eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins until another copy becomes available. I hope it comes back soon, I’m missing this book!
The audiobook on my phone is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. This is my only audiobook at the moment so I’m hoping to make some big progress on it this week and next.
I got a new book club selection this week! I’ll be reading Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo this month and I know nothing about it. We’ll see where this goes.

round houseRecently finished: Yes, I actually finished something. I got to the end of The Round House by Louise Erdrich on Friday. It was a great book and I really enjoyed it! I’m excited for the book club discussion of it on the 8th.

White TigerReading Next: Yes, I know The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga has been on here for ages, but I finally have my copy of it! Big steps here. I’ll get to it after ‘Buddha’ so it might be a bit, but at least we’re making forward progress.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 25-March-2015

25 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


round houseCurrently reading:  There’s been a lot of forward movement on La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. My goal is to finish this book by the end of the year, and I’m hoping to finish it off this summer if not sooner. It’s slow going to read in another language, but it’s been enjoyable.
I lost my eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins until another copy becomes available. On hold.
The audiobook on my phone is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. It’s slowing down a bit, but I’m still enjoying it. Seven hours into a seventeen-hour story.
The audiobook in my car is The Round House by Louise Erdrich. I’m making great progress on this one and the only problem seems to be that the narrator’s voice makes me sleepy! I have to turn it off for a minute and listen to some rock music if I’m going to stay awake for the drive home. Audiobook problems.

Atomic CityRecently finished: Yikes. Nothing yet again. This is bad, I know. The books I’m moving through are all very long so it’s going to be a while before I finish any of them! This will make for an interesting post at the end of the month. Oh boy.

I was able to do one book review this week, The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. I really enjoyed the story and recommend it to anyone interested.

White TigerReading Next: I’m still waiting to read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. I heard the other two woman in my book club talking about this one and I think it will be interesting to read because it seems very ingrained in Indian culture and I might put my knowledge to the test! And have to Wikipedia a few things.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 18-March-2015

18 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


StonehengeCurrently reading:  I’ve made a lot of progress on La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. My goal is to finish this book by the end of the year, but I suspect that I’ll finish it sooner than that. It’s very tiring to read in another language, but I’m really enjoying it at the same time.
I lost my eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins until another copy becomes available. So you can consider this one on hold for a bit. It’s a shame because I was really enjoying it and the plot was starting to move a lot faster!
The audiobook on my phone is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. The story just took a really interesting turn so I’m enthralled and want to keep it moving. It gives me a good excuse to cook some complicated dishes this week!
The audiobook in my car is The Round House by Louise Erdrich. This is no happy read but I’m in love with the author’s style and it makes my commute really enjoyable.

Atomic CityRecently finished: I finished The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan last week after this post went up. I really liked the writing and I learned more about the Manhattan Project than I ever would have otherwise.

Only one book review this week, The (Forgotten) Laws of Expectation by Nicole M. Jacob. Let me know how my first poetry review went!

White TigerReading Next: I’m still waiting to read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. My other co-worker-reading-buddy has it now so we’re finally moving forward with this one.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!