Andrea Wulff’s The Invention of Nature

February 14, 2017

This biography of Humboldt by Andrea Wulff is inspiring and is a must-read. Strongly recommended!

RIP: Prof. Vishveshwara

January 17, 2017

Sorry to hear the passing away of Prof. Vishveshwara. I first met him  (and, I think, Prof. Saraswathi Vishveshwara) on a train journey from Mumbai — which turned out to be unforgettable since, as we were reaching Bangalore we heard about the abduction of the actor Rajkumar, and there were issues about local transportation. Soft spoken and known for his work with the planetarium, Prof. Vishveshwara will be missed.

Venky Ramakrishnan on high-impact vanity journals

January 15, 2017

On the other end is the pressure to publish in Science, Nature and Cell, what I call ‘high-impact vanity journals’. People are taking shortcuts to publish papers in these journals. So that’s also creating very bad pressures.

If you publish in a good, solid journal, if it is a nice piece of work it shouldn’t matter that it is not in some high-impact journals. It’s the failure of the system to evaluate the work rather than where it is published.

From the Hindu.

Sarah Bakewell’s At the existentialist cafe

December 14, 2016

A nice read — mixing philosophy and biographical details of protaganists. Will make you search for some of the books on existentialism and read them. Strongly recommended. Here is a review.

Russell James’ Tenure hacks

November 28, 2016

Read on the recommendation of Xykademiqz. Good read, espeically, if you are an early stage academic. Some of the parts might not be relevant for us in India. However, on the whole, gives a very different perspective to teaching and research.

Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees

November 28, 2016

Once in a while, you come across a book that completely changes the way you think about things. Wohlleben’s book did that to me for trees. For the past couple of weeks, I have been reading this wonderful short book and enjoying every page of it. As the subtitle of the book says, the book is about what the trees feel and how they communicate — discoveries from a secret world; and, what a fascinating secret world it is. After you read this book, the next time you take a walk, you will feel like giving the tree on the side a pat if not a hug. You will also feel the extrordinary urge to make all your friends read the book. Of course, the book will also make you worried and sad — worried about the way in which we carry out the destruction of these gentle giants and sad about the pain they have to go through simply because of our ignorance. A wonderful read and strongly recommended!

John Kaag’s American Philosophy

November 5, 2016

An entertaining read and strongly recommended. A couple of detailed reviews are here and here.

Louise Penny’s A great reckoning

September 5, 2016

A very satisfying and wonderful read. Strongly recommended.


Thi. Jaanakiraman’s Chembaruththi

September 4, 2016

I read Chembaruththi after more than a decade. The book is still gripping; parts of it are still so intense that I had to stop reading; and, still, days after reading the book, Chattanathan and Bhuvana keep popping up in my thoughts (as I noted a while back)!

One of the reasons, I think I enjoy Chembaruththi is the way Thi Jaa describes birds, flowers and scenery. The other is the fidelity with which he reproduces the speeches of his different characters. But the most important reason, I believe, is that in a few sentences Thi Jaa brings up his characters to life on the pages of the book — I read a couple of sentences and I feel as if I had known that person for ages!

A great novel and I am lucky that I can read it in the original and enjoy!

Alan Warner’s Their lips talk of mischief

August 22, 2016

After reading The Deadman’s Pedal, I have become a fan of Alan Warner. Warner did not disappoint me with Their lips talk of mischief. Wonderful writing and thoroughly enjoyed reading the novel!