Greetings from Ashoka University, India!
Yes, I know. This post is long overdue. It got caught up in the list of other articles, and only now can I share it.
This is a look back at my favourite books from last year. Each of them moved me in different ways. I hope you pick up one of them and experience the same wonder I did.
How do you live by Genzaburo Yoshino
This Japanese classic is arguably a simple story. But hidden in the basic plot and clear prose are some of life’s most important lessons.
As a writer, simplicity is the gold standard. You don’t need a fancy plot to deliver a powerful story. What really matters is the characters, the writing and the author’s underlying motivations. This is a book on growing up and finding your place in this world, something many of us are still yet to do. Read it, and you might just set yourself on that path.
Living with Tigers by Valmik Thapar
Valmik Thapar is a childhood hero of mine. I grew up on his books about Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan. The tigers Machhli, Noon, Genghis and Broken Tooth (famed tigers in Ranthambore lore) were my imaginary friends, keeping me curious through my formative years. This book collates all those stories into a calming and inspiring read.
Rumours of Spring by Farah Bashir
This memoir showed me the raw power of war literature based on war zones. There is something so visceral about a high-risk, conflict-torn setting that forces the reader to pay attention. That, coupled with an Indian angle and a female perspective made this book incredibly compelling. I also had the privilege of meeting the author at my university, and I was so glad to see her smile, knowing all the troubles she had lived through.
The Black Panther of Sivanipalli by Kenneth Anderson
It is very important to me that I read literature written closer to home. It is very easy to get caught up in books about faraway cities and imaginary worlds and forget the reams of literature about your own backyard. Kenneth Anderson and his adventures happened in South India—my playground. He is a brilliant author, and I feel a strange thrill reading about wild tales in places I’m familiar with.
(The edition I’ve linked here has not been edited well; several paragraphs repeat themselves in some chapters. It just goes to show you the attention books on wildlife receive.)
I strongly believe that speeches are some of the best literary works out there. While most people attribute a speech’s power to the person delivering it, there is a dynamism that stretches beyond the individual. It lurks in between the speech’s very sentences. Laced in the wording are hidden meanings paced for maximum effectiveness. I regularly study speeches to see what literary devices work and borrow those concepts in my own writing.
Lights out by Manjula Padmanabhan
We read this play as part of a literature course last year and suffice to say, it is one of the most harrowing tales I’ve come across. It is a story of how we can be complicit in a crime simply by not doing anything about it. It is a story about rape—the horror of it—and how society reacts to it. Everyone should read this book.
My question to you is, “What is that one book you feel everyone HAS TO read?”
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This Week’s Links
Look deeper -- write -- the wonders of writing | Nicoletta Demetriou | TEDxUniversityofNicosia
A man getting a shave by the side of the road in Delhi, India.
The mirror adds some interesting layers to the shot…
“So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?” - Anthony Doerr in All the Light We Cannot See
Have a creative, energetic and inspiring week!
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Ishan, this is amazing! I love that you study speeches and that mirror shot is fantastic!
I’m not sure I think there’s a book everyone should read, but I think more people from the millennial generation should read Thora Hjörleifsdóttir’s Magma. It’s a short and haunting novel that follows the life of a 20-year-old woman trapped in a fraught relationship.