Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

The God who loved motorbikes

May 8, 2020

Juggernaut has given free access to their books for the lock down duration. So, I ended up reading Murali K Menon’s The God who loved motorbikes. A fun read indeed!!

By the way, there is more where it came from — including CEO factory, Raya and Good economics for hard times — all for free!! Have fun!!

Udaindha Manoradhangal: Ku. Pa. Raa. padaippulagam 

May 3, 2020

This is a very short book (78 pages) consisting of about eight pieces evaluating the different dimensions of Ku. Pa. Raa as a writer and artist — edited by Perumal Murugan and based on a conference held in Salem. Very interesting pieces that will be of interest to both those who have read Ku Pa Raa and are yet to read him. I did find some of the discussions difficult to follow because of my lack of familiarity with the academic writing style in Tamil. However, the experience of reading the pieces is certainly worth the effort and some of the pieces are quite provocative too — especially the one about him as a poet! Recommended if you are interested in Tamil literature.

Idazh thandha varigal 

April 23, 2020

A book of letters between Ku. Azhagirisami and Sundara Ramasami. An interesting read! I did not know that the song “Odugira thanniyile…” is a folk song.  I always thought that it was a movie song. The book is also very nicely done with fascimile pieces of letters! In any case, the book makes you look for boos by both Azhagirisami and Sundara Ramasami as well as some other writers. Recommended for those interested in Tamil novels and books!!

Reba Som’s Margot: Sister Nivedita of Vivekananda

April 5, 2020

A very interesting book; I have just started reading. As is his wont, Vivekananda is always full of surprises. Here is, for example, his opinion on narrow parochialism clothed as patriotism:

‘Really patriotism like yours is sin! All that I want you to see is that most people’s actions are the expression of self-interest and you constantly oppose to this idea that that a certain race are all angels. Ignorance so determined is wickedness!’

Here is another quote from the book indicating that Swamiji can never be straight-jacketed:

A highlight during the halt at Nainital was Swamiji’s meeting with a Muslim, Mohammed Sarfaraz Hussain, who was an Advaita Vedantist at heart and considered himself one of his disciples under the name Mohammedananda. From Almora a month later, Swamiji was to write to him a letter (…). “…For our own motherland a junction of the two great systems, Hinduism and Islam — Vedanta brain and Islam body — is the only hope”.

In any case, an interesting read so far and expect it to be so for the rest of the book too! From what I have seen in the first thirty odd pages, certainly recommended!

Two books of Yiyun Li

March 30, 2020

I just completed Where reasons end and it is a very good, meditative and remarkable read! I seemed to have missed mentioning in this blog that I enjoyed  Dear friend, From my life I write to you in your life, her autobiographical memoir too a lot. Both the novel and the memoir often become contemplative about books and words and their etymologies. Strongly recommended!!

Ramachandra Guha’s Gandhi: the years that changed the world, 1914-1948

March 22, 2020

A book that I found moving in many places and positive and luminous throughout. I am sure that I missed registering many things; this is a book for repeated re-reads and re-read it will be! Strongly recommended — especially in this age where we need Gandhians in every field of activity!!!

Muriel Spark’s The prime of Miss Jean Brodie

March 20, 2020

A very good read; might read again sometime, I expect. Strongly recommended!!

Tracy Kidder’s The soul of a new machine

March 14, 2020

This book is called a nerd epic by Wired. I learnt about the book thanks to a chance encounter at the tea kiosk with a colleague from electrical who strongly recommended the book to another colleague from policy studies; and, it sounded interesting enough for me that I ordered a copy. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is not just about engineering or the process of building a new computer; it is also an anthropological study of the people involved and that made it doubly interesting for me! There are also some interesting lessons for academics and researchers about leading successful and committed research groups in the book I suppose! A great read and strongly recommended!!

Nell Freudenberger’s Lost and wanted 

February 6, 2020

This novel got loads of good reviews: here, here and here, for example. I am happy to say that it did not disappoint me. In fact, at no point in the novel, I felt that the narrator is not a scientist — it is as if Oliver Sacks wrote  a novel — the descriptions of the academic life, research collaborations etc are some of the best I have read in a novel. Strongly recommended!

Steven Strogatz’s The calculus of friendship

January 30, 2020

This is a gem!! The book is short; but I savoured each chapter for a few of days. With wonderful sketches by Strogatz’s teacher, interesting mathematics and with the intertwining of the personal life of the teacher and the student, it is such a pleasure to read. The subtitle of the book is “What a teacher and student learned about life while corresponding about math”. The readers will learn about both life and math — by reading this correspondence! Strongly recommended — even if you are not keen on maths.