The First Pharaoh of Egypt

This book made me really think about my reading choices. It is almost 500 pages long, and I realized that if I had more time, I would not have read this book. As counter-intuitive as it might sound, it is true and validated upon reflection.

The Reading Rebellion

We all have fantasies. And I believe if we take them not just on face-value, but identify the underlying need that they indicate, we learn much about us and how to take care of ourselves. So my recurrent fantasy these days is.. to curl up on my sofa by the window with a book in…

The Inheritance of Loss

Through its various characters, relationships and plots, The Inheritance of Loss explores one thing- the power dynamics inherent in societies defined by inequality- whether the inequality between the colonizer and the colonized, or the rich and the poor, or migrant and the native, or the husband and the wife. And more importantly, the consequence of…

100 Years of Solitude

2016 seems to have been a year of unfinished books. The latest to join the list is 100 years of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

The Princess of Egypt must die

This is a novelette centered around Princess Arsinoe II of Egypt. She is known in history as a highly political and influential female ruler, her public life marked by calculated plans and schemes for power. None of this is the topic of the book in question. The novelette is concerned with the making of Arsinoe-…

Jane Eyre

My mother has often mentioned in passing that her father, my grandfather, carried around a copy of Jane Eyre for months- reading small bits, diligently marking quotes or looking up old English words, and fondly carrying the book around everywhere he went.

Ajaya: Roll of the dice

The victor wins not just the war, but all the rights of retelling the story- the chance not only to shape history, but also to shape the narrative that will be known as history. And imagine if the war is touted as the war for Dharma.. what chance does the losing side have, to present…

How to Love

“To love without knowing how to love, wounds the person we love.” I had come across this quote a little while back and found myself nodding. Turns out it belongs to the Zen handbook that I happened to read now, called ‘How to Love’.

In Books: Unfinished Business

I’ve never been much of an avid reader. But I was always a finisher. If you started something, you finished it- it just never even occurred to me that it was an option to abandon a book mid-way. Once you read the back-cover description of a book and decided to give it a read, you…

And the Mountains Echoed

Khaled Hosseini has this unusual gift of leaving you uplifted, and with an unmistakable lingering sense of loss at the same time. Each of his books does that, and the third one even more so because having finished it, I realize I don’t have any more Khaled Hosseini books waiting for me (not till he publishes…

Places that Scare You

For a book that makes such a whole lot of sense, ‘The Places that Scare You’ does surprisingly little for me. Maybe it’s to do with the fact that things it says are things I already understand the importance of (kind of), so it doesn’t exactly ‘inspire’ or challenge. Maybe it’s because I am already putting…

The Power of your Sub-Conscious Mind

It always amazes me how little one is able to say about the things that impact one the most. The thing could be a book/ person/ experience. Perhaps it is because one feels that thing to be precious, and doesn’t want it freely exposed. Or because one is afraid that no amount of talking/ writing…

Excellent Women, Barbara Pym

There are some books, and even movies, that delve into one day in the life of their characters, and project a kaleidoscope of emotions, explore layers upon layers of their personalities and lives, and craftfully invoke a depth that can be attributed much to the author’s imagination and perception.

Who does history remember?

How does history pick whom to remember? Can someone end up ‘going down in history’ just by happenstance? Increasingly I think that somebody has to make an effort to get the mass of humanity looking up from their self-absorbed (rightly-so) lives of daily trials and tribulations, to be interested in the story of a distant…

Bhima’s Perspective

I keep reading Mahabharata in one form or another- it’s like comfort food- easy to digest, having read the stories so many times- and yet nourishing. Bhima- The Lone Warrior, by MT Vasudevan Nair, is written from Bhima’s perspective.

Tales in Colour from Bhutan

We went to Bhutan six years ago- I was 22, fresh out of Business school. When I look back, Bhutan seems to have been very similar to how we ourselves were at the time- small, simple, uncluttered, and with a child-like charm. It was my first international trip, and I was impressed with the neatness,…

A Thousand Splendid Suns.. And so few for women

It is difficult to match the first experience of anything nice. And the expectation from later experiences will always be to match the newness and exhilaration of the first one. Unfair, but true. Successful authors must be painfully aware of this. Authors embarking on a new book after a stupendous success have my respect for…

God Went to Beauty School

I am so scared right now that I may be the single most cold or stupid person out there, who has read this book and not liked it much. Or simply got it wrong. There are rave reviews everywhere, and people have been moved to laughter and tears by this book.. and here I am.

Hausfrau.. Of ennui and self destruction

Hausfrau is a saga about boredom, ennui and self-destruction. It resonates because the protagonist Anna’s anchorlessness and directionlessness is expressed in different ways by so many people these days that it is a sort of pandemic.

Shikhandi and other tales they don’t tell you

In 2011 I had attended a talk by Devdutt Pattanaik at a Learning Conference in Mumbai. Till then I’d only heard that he had created a unique space by interpreting Hindu mythology for application to contemporary business. During his session, among other things he had spoken about Smriti and Shruti. (Smriti is the knowledge/ information…

Anne Frank House, Amsterdam

We walked from the train station to find Anne Frank House. As the GPS showed us getting closer and closer to it, I began to imagine Nazi boots thumping those very cobbled streets in the 1940s. The houses looked disarmingly cozy, the canals picturesque and quaint… A marching army would have looked so out-of-place…

Eat Pray Love…Write

I usually steer clear of anything that comes with a ‘bestseller’ tag. The reason I picked up ‘Eat Pray Love’ was this TED talk by its author Elizabeth Gilbert. (http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius) She talked about the concept of creative genius in a heart-warming mix of vulnerability and sensibility, spirituality and logic. However, the book fails to reach…

The Kite Runner… That lingering feeling

If you’ve ever felt an unbearable longing for a time gone by, or carry a mellow nostalgia in your heart like a beloved’s picture tucked away in your wallet, you’ll relate to The Kite Runner. If it does hit a nerve, it’ll probably be like hot knife rending a deep wound- one you wistfully watch bleeding…