Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Political freedom and London

March 2, 2018

London supplied answers without asking questions. There were no restrictions on who could come into the country: no passports or visas required, no need to prove that you had means of support. Nobody could be forced into military service. Nobody could be jailed merely for saying or writing something against the establishment. Nobody got extradited on political grounds. Freedom turned London into Europe’s beachcomber, collecting refugees washed up by waves of political change: (…) Britons took patriotic pride in the country’s role as “an asylum of nations,” a beacon of liberty.

Maya Jasanoff in The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a global world. I am aware of the contribution of immigrant scientists to the growth of American scientific establishment during the second world war. I was not aware that Britain has its share of immigrants too.


Tamil: a biography by David Shulman

February 27, 2018

Recently, I have seen that Princeton university press has been publishing biographies of texts such as Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali yoga sutras. So, it is not surprising to find the biography of Tamil. If texts have a life of their own, so are languages. And, if anything, as the biography of Shulman shows, probably, languages have a more varied, interesting and complex lives.

The book has been reviewed by the other Tamil scholar I like and respect, A R Venatachalapathy; see here. Having read the book, I see that Venkatachalapathy is bang on. When it comes to Tamil modernity, even though some of the points that Shulman makes are valid and probably worth pursuing, the Tantric origins that Shulman tries to identify seem a bit far fetched to me too — even though, such Tantric colours can indeed be seen in some of Thi Ja’s works. Having said that, I do see why Shulman wants to structure his piece like a kriti; and his piece does indeed make marvelous music! And, like any good singing, more than once, I felt that Shulman could have elaborated a little bit more!!

Like any master piece, Shulman’s book is full of ideas and concepts and more than once made me go looking for some of the texts — especially, also because I hate reading Tamil in English with diacritical marks — in fact, if I have one suggestion for improving the book, that would be to give at least the poems quoted also in Tamil script — it would have made the reading experience so much more better. The book also derives its values in giving an hitherto unseen perspective and, at least for me, in introducing some texts that I have not known at all (such as the Tamil translation of Soundarya Lahari by Kaviraja Pandithar).

Overall a remarkable read and strongly recommended.



Bird by bird

February 17, 2018

By Anne Lamott is a book about creative writing. A good read! Recommended if you are interested in books, reading, writing and writers!


February 14, 2018

Alistair MacLean. A good read!

Words, Caravaggio. They have a power.

January 26, 2018

Michael Ondaatje’s The English patient was in my reading list for quite some time now. Enjoyed thoroughly and strongly recommended.

Two recent reads

January 17, 2018

A colleague of mine lent his copy of The myth of the holy cow. Interesting reading — especially, the piece by Ambedkar at the end of the book in the navayana edition I read.

I completed reading Sheldon Pollock’s Rasa Reader. A remarkable read even though it is a bit of a slow and at times difficult read. Enjoyed thoroughly; I am sure I will go back for at least sections of the book if not to re-read. Strongly recommended!

Here is a review and an Indian hard copy edition from Permanent Black is available which is not very costly!

Sue Grafton: RIP

December 30, 2017

Sue Grafton passes away. Read plenty of her books by borrowing them from Evanston Public Library!

Craig Harline’s A world ablaze

December 25, 2017

The interview of Craig Harline with Robert Wright in the (which, by the way, I recommend) is what set me go looking for the book A world ablaze: the rise of Martin Luther and the birth of the reformation. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It brings alive the person of Martin Luther on the pages during the most-crucial period of his life. The book reads like a suspense novel. It discusses the subject matter with sympathy and humour. This is one of the best books I read this year and has made me go looking for other books on Luther and reformation. Strongly recommended!

Recommendation: two reads and a fabulous podcast

November 22, 2017

Recently, I read Little fires everywhere by Celeste Ng. A very good read and strongly recommended. I understand that Ng’s first book Everything I never told you is also very good; I have added it to my ToRead list.

Of course, the latest in the  Inspector Gamache series — Glass houses — of Louise Penny is a fun read and strongly recommended, as usual.

The fabulous book podcast from BBC 4 called A Good Read by Harriett Gilbert is a must-listen to anybody who loves to read! Strongly, strongly recommended!!

Search in secret India

October 12, 2017

Of Paul Brunton was in my reading list for a while now and I managed to read it recently. Enjoyed reading it and certainly worth reading once.