Pico Iyer and Roberto Bolano

June 29, 2019

Enjoyed reading Pico Iyer’s Autumn light. A very good read and recommended.

I could not immerse myself and read in one go Roberto Bolano’s The Savage Detectives. In spite of it, I found it a very good read and I would have enjoyed lot more if I read it over a shorter duration. Recommended!

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Robert Caro’s Working

May 19, 2019

Is a very good read! Here is an NPR review.

Sally Rooney’s Conversations with friends

May 5, 2019

Enjoyed this novel too a lot! Strongly recommended. Here is  a review from The New Yorker.

Normal people by Sally Rooney

April 19, 2019

The book came with great recommendation from Maureen Corrigan:

Normal People is a nuanced and flinty love story about two young people who “get” each other, despite class differences and the interference of their own vigorous personal demons. But honestly, Sally Rooney could write a novel about bath mats and I’d still read it. She’s that good and that singular a writer.

I am happy to say that the book lives up to the high praise heaped on it! Strongly recommended.

Here is another review by Heller Mcalpin at NPR:

Although frequently heartbreaking, Normal People isn’t bleak. The brave determination of Rooney’s characters to reach out and try to catch each other with no guarantee of success — and to open themselves to “moments of joy despite everything” — is ultimately hopeful.

I am already off to read Conversations with friends.

Big Bhishma in Madras: In search of the Mahabharata with Peter Brook

April 9, 2019

A light and at times uneven read. Enjoyed reading it nonetheless!

Padmanabh Jaini’s Coincidences (Yogayoga)

April 5, 2019

A very good read! Ram Guha’s recommendation is here.

A R Venkatachalapathy’s “Thamizhk kalakkalanjiyaththin kadhai”

March 6, 2019

This short and very readable biography of the Tamil encyclopaedia is very good. A review of the book by Perumal Murugan is in Kalachuvadu here.

I enjoyed the book and have no hesitations in recommending it to anybody who can read Tamil. However, at some points, I could not help but feel that A R Venkatachalapathy was a bit unfair. One example is the way Kalki is credited. Apparently Kalki suggested the chief editor’s name; but ARV attributes the credit to choosing Thooran as editor to Avinashilingam Chettiyar. Apparently, Kalki also suggested the Treasurer who swindled. But, in this case, ARV is silent about Avinashilingam Chettiyar’s ability in identifying the right person for the right job. There are similar comments about Ma Po Si and  S A P Annamalai which I thought were less than charitable. These are minor quibbles though.

As Perumal Murugan has suggested in his review, a more detailed book or an expanded edition will be very welcome and the current version is certainly a good placeholder till that happens.

A couple of books!

February 25, 2019

Kingdom of the blind is the most recent from Louise Penny. Louise Penny does not disappoint — as usual. However, having read the other books in the series, some of the surprises (about Amelia for example) was not a surprise for me at all!

Gene machine by Venki Ramakrishnan is a great read — especially, for early stage researchers and PhD students. It is a book that I have been enthusiastically recommending to colleagues and friends, and, will probably go back to re-read at some point. Strongly recommended!

A few recent reads

February 13, 2019

The order of time by Carlos Rovelli is a must-read. I bought it since it made to the top 10 of the Physics World book list. I am glad I did. Thoroughly enjoyed — it is technical (physics), poetic and philosophical at the same time. Strongly recommended.

Achuvai Perinum by Arunn Narasimhan; this is the first fiction of his I read; enjoyed it.

An Ordinary Man’s Guide to Radicalism: Growing Up Muslim in India by Neyaz Farooquee is a good read too!

Origin of Idli

December 2, 2018

Here is Vir Sanghvi:

This led KT Achaya, the eminent food historian, to suggest that the idli may have had a foreign origin. Achaya normally managed to suggest that almost all modern Indian food had its roots in South Indian dishes, references to which could be found in ancient Tamil literature. So, when he abandoned South India’s claims to having invented the idli, the world of food was a little taken aback.

When I told this Achaya theory to one of my friends from “deep” south, he advised me not to go around telling all the nonsensical things that I read in books to others!