Search. Find.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Boys to Men

little men1Little Men by Louisa May Alcott is a heart-warming story of 14 little boys and the amazing experiences they share on their journey to adulthood. There is no central character in this book and the first chapter helpfully informs us that the sole purpose of the book is to describe lively events that take place when people of such young age are involved.

Shy, timid Nat (recently orphaned), arrives at a boarding school with a letter of recommendation from Mr. Lawrence. Warm, well fed and medicated for his terrible cough, Nat finds a sharp contrast to his earlier lifestyle. Mr. and Mrs. Bhaer who run the boarding school observe that his soul has retained its innocence despite such harsh circumstances and make every effort possible to make him feel loved and useful.

Little Men–The Movie

Naughty Tommy befriends Nat on the first day of school who takes an instant liking to him. Looking up respectfully to the bookish Demi and finding a confidante in Demi's twin sister Daisy, Nat starts settling in and looking forward to studies as well as making new friends. Trouble brews when he invites his friend Dan to the boarding school. Mr. Bhaer, though worried about the influence of this rough, insolent lad on his well mannered boys, gets swayed by Nat's earnesty and agrees to take Dan in.

Thus begin bull fights with cows, smoking, gambling and many such vices that shake up Mr. Bhaer and make him regret his decision. Every time Mr. Bhaer feels like giving up on Dan and sending him away, his patience and love is tested a little more. 

little menWhat I really love about this book is that moral lessons have been taught so well in it. They don't seem preachy but at the same time they convince you to tell the truth more often, be polite, considerate, take care of others and most importantly about the power of love and patience. Every boy has some special talent which sets him apart from the rest and that's the reason why the characters stay with you long after you’ve finished reading the book.

I've read this book at least a dozen times. Every time, I've fallen in love with bad boy Dan, hated stingy Jack, found Tommy adorable and felt jealous of pretty Bess. This is NOT a children's book. It is just disguised as one to trick adults into reading it as a light novel while subconsciously reminding them of all the goodness that lies within them.

Read more:


Guest Blogger – Manasi Dhanorkar

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


May i Hebbe your attention


Celebrating the Ayurvedic Way of Eating!

Sukham Ayu Ayurvedic cookbookSukham Ayu, the latest cookbook by award-winning authors Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain, is a celebration of ayurvedic way of eating. With easy to prepare flavourful recipes, Sukham Ayu is one of the most accessible tools to learn about self-healing food. Filled with gorgeous photographs, fresh flavours, and practical advice, the book presents the reader with delicious recipes against a backdrop of the rhythms of nature and food as medicine.

sukham ayuFrom slow-simmered curries with layered flavours to quickly sautéed dishes, these delectable recipes explore the wide world of ayurvedic cuisine beginning with a platter of sweet dishes followed by healthy soopas, an incredible range of aromatic vegetable dishes, tastefully spiced dals, home style breads and rice dishes, irresistible snacks, colourful salads and chutneys to soothing juices and thirst- quenching drinks. 

Carrot Soopa from Sukham AyuMuch more than a wonderful cookbook, Sukham Ayu serves as a concise introduction to ayurveda: the book opens with a primer on the three doshas or constitutions.  Readers will learn how to identify their ayurvedic type; Roti spread from Sukham Ayudetect imbalances; select foods, and, most importantly, put the power to heal in their own hands. The recipes demonstrate how to vary ayurvedic meals to nurture each of the ayurvedic types.

Sukham Ayu both inspires and empowers; awakening the senses and unlocking the alluring world of ayurvedic way of eating. It is a great addition to any cookbook collection.  

A quote from Sukham Ayu:
You are what you eat, claims the popular adage. Add to this the knowledge that what you need to eat is not elaborate menus with unavailable and exotic ingredients, but simple home-cooked food using regional and seasonal availables that suit your constitution. This is the quintessence of an Ayurvedic diet in a nutshell.

Read more:


Guest Writer - Ammini Ramachandran

About the Writer:

Ammini Ramachandran is the celebrated author of ‘Grains, Greens and Grated coconuts’. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Slow Food USA, and Culinary Historians of New York. You can view her work at her site She lives in Pleno, Texas.

Readers Inc: Attn: Fellow Book Addicts!

Readers Inc: Attn: Fellow Book Addicts!: "If any of you fellow book addicts have LOVED a book and would like to review it on this blog, please mail it to If we fi..."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Modern-day Crusades

000ae30b_mediumThe Shade of Swords by M.J. Akbar is a powerful guide to study about Islam being a warrior class where, ‘permission is given to fight against those who wrong you’ and is known as a ‘soldier’s religion’. Jihad is only a state of transition, from being mortal to immortal.

Akbar delves into the farce associated with religion and systematically breaks the barriers to know what lies beneath the aggressive nature of the Islamic. He then describes its role in the modern settings, with the current day politics. Akbar mentions in the beginning of the text to avoid the trap of being ‘politically correct’. His style of writing is crisp and keeps an expeditious momentum throughout the book. In today’s world, religion is a very tricky subject and Akbar has dealt with it astutely.

shade of swordsJihad was first seen in the battle of Badr, where Prophet Muhammad prayed to Allah to save his believers from infidels. Hence during crisis, the only undertaking a Muslim has, is to lay his life and become a martyr, of which is glorified in the Quran. It explicitly accounts the benefits a martyr attains when he ascends to heaven. “Martyrdom is the Muslim's duty, victory is Allah's responsibility.” So, does Islam justify violence? Yes. Against those who ignore to embrace it.

The fight between Christ verses Muhammad has still not come to an end. Muslims do not believe in trinity, but the parallel religions have divided into just that many, three - Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Akbar describes the shift between the earlier crusades and the recent Osama bin Laden.

Quran does not teach to kill, but the deconstruction of texts almost always invites misinterpretations. So when it’s say, ‘Defeat is only a setback in the holy war. The jihad goes on’, it is always open to interpretations.

Read more:


Jahnavi Sanghvi

Friday, February 4, 2011




1One word which suitably describes the book is brave! It is bold, courageous and out and out. It is well documented and honest. The president of CBS News, Andrew Heyward told Goldberg says, “of course there’s a liberal bias in the news. All the networks tilt left. We all know it- the whole damn world knows it- but that doesn’t mean that we have to put it on air!” Well Goldberg did.

He could have said all the things he said in the Wall Street Journal and a lot more, without using his name, but he had the guts to attach his name to what he believed.

Alan Keyes discusses media bias with Bernard Goldberg
The reaction at CBS was predictable: Goldberg, who had worked his way up to the top of CBS news, winning several Emmys, was almost fired, given no assignments for several months, and then marginalized to bouncing from one forgotten news magazine to another for four years, until he retired in 2000.

exposeHowever, outside the media world, and even with a few quiet voices of support inside the media, Goldberg gained a national voice - all for saying what everyone else could see and yet what the media continues to deny.

The book is quirky and is heaped with sarcasm and is hence an interesting read. Goldberg has written his mind without as such sparing anybody, breaking ranks and naming names.

Liberal Media Bias - Bernard Goldberg on O'Reilly Factor
However, the book blatantly attacks not just the liberal bias but certain former colleagues of Goldberg’s as well. At times the criticism comes across to be greater than required, almost as if the book is a platform to get back at them. However the book is an invaluable aid and helps in carefully contemplating the implications of what we see in the media. We can use the knowledge gained in this process to challenge the media themselves.

Read more:



Sanhita Sinha Chowdhury

Thursday, February 3, 2011


51G7yXYmX4LPicking up this book to review wasn’t instant or even natural for me. The stories of partition heard from my grandparents had never left me feeling pleasant. Needless to say I was apprehensive about the book…but only till I opened it. The text enthralled me from the introduction itself. And the 50 stories followed.

Manto's narrative art sweeps the readers along with the flow of events; he lets them suffer, fear, believe. He is a disturbing writer who shocks the reader with his candidness, sometimes with his crudity. mottled dawnyWhether he writes of sex or the life of prostitutes, on social or on political issues, the stories are full of fire. The writing is simple and in that sense extremely powerful but in a few stories disconnect can be felt because of the lack of details.

His magnificent style of collecting visuals and putting them on paper justifies the use of the word ‘sketches’ in the title. With each story tugging at your heart in its own way, Manto almost recreates what must’ve prevailed in those days.

Generations later, the stories managed to move me the way they did. Each story is interestingly structured and sensitised me about the issues that haunted those times, some of which still exist in varied degrees and some which seem completely irrelevant today.

The partition has gone down in history as one of the most revolutionary and significant events in the subcontinent. Its knowledge is important. The frenzy then may not be replicated today in all its fervour and intensity, but the today’s reality of India, her communities and her people sometimes comes close and that renders the text relevant for most media personnel today.


The stories fired me up. They consumed me, overwhelmed me, jolted me and bared me…

Reading the book changed me somewhere and I believe if a book can do THAT for any reader, it has achieved its purpose.

Read more:


Guest blogger – Tapshi Dhanda



Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Attn: Fellow Book Addicts!

If any of you fellow book addicts have LOVED a book and would like to review it on this blog, please mail it to If we find it interesting enough, we’ll post it!



It’s a Numbers Game

9780520238305It’s informative, entertaining, empowering and definitely engaging. Joel Best in this book has managed to put across a subject that had all the potential to become drab and boring, in a way, that makes the reader feel smarter than he/she might be. And that is the most astounding part about the book; it makes the study of statistics and NUMBERS enjoyable and comprehensive. The contents are compiled in a logical, neat, easy to understand manner. At places there seems an overdose of examples, but they only make the book more interesting and feasible to understand.

Our culture depends on numbers and treats them seriously. Even when we suspect that our statistics are flawed, we realise we can’t get along without figures. Our world today is too complicated to comprehend without resorting to numbers; we need statistics to make sense of what’s happening and to make choices. Best confronts us with the lunacy of statistical goof ups, some serious manipulations that might be made to distort views and the melodrama in numbers preferred by advocates and often media as well. lies and statisticsHis examples are well researched upon and easy to relate to. His immaculate and smart decoding of all statistics, at times brings you face to face with your own incompetency in statistical knowledge. That is when you realise, it’s not our statistical illiteracy but our lack of observation of the apparent, obvious flaws in the statistics we are being fed, that is the handicap.

Figures may not always be valid or meaningful and this book is a brilliant guide to learn to tell the difference between ones that are and aren’t. the book widens your view and scope of interpreting and analysing STATS, to get the actual dimensions of the story that the numbers are conveying.

Read more:



Guest Blogger – Tapshi Dhanda

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Different Lolita


ReadinglolitaOPTReading Lolita in Tehran is not just another book about suppression of women. The unique style of writing by intertwining fiction and reality adds a distinct freshness to the story, making it a moving testament of the power of art and its ability to change people’s lives.

Azar Nafisi’s luminous tale offers a fascinating portrait, a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women’s lives in revolutionary Iran. It looks into the injustices andlolitacruel torture that women have to silently bear with; it ridicules the education system existing at that time, which was obsessed with the color of one’s lips and the subversive potential of a single strand of hair rather than being concerned about the quality of education, it mocks the laws which distorts man-woman relations by trying to make half the population invisible.

Stealing the words of Humbert, the poet/ criminal of Lolita, Azar Nafisi asks the reader to imagine the seven students and her against the tyranny of time and politics, to imagine them as they have never dared to imagine themselves: in their private and secret moments, in the most extraordinary ordinary instances of life, listening to music, falling in love, walking down shady streets or just reading Lolita in Tehran. And then to imagine them with all this confiscated, driven underground. The desperate truth of Lolita’s story is reality for the women of Tehran: Confiscation of their lives which have become a figment of someone else’s dreams. Nafisi refers to these women as double victims because not only their life but also their life story is taken away from them”

However Nafisi’s new memoir is a riveting story of hope, disillusionment, and hope rekindled.

Read more:


Sanhita Sinha Chowdhury

From Cave Paintings to SMSs..

wilbur.schrammWilbur Schramm intended for The Story of Human Communication to not be “limited to one medium or one country” but serve as “an introductory course on human communication”. This book describes developments in communication that span millennia, cultures, and nations.But a mere introduction it is not. Schramm will take you beyond an introductory understanding of mass media, evaluating & analysing its origins, its raison d’être, its dynamics and the symbiotic relationship between communication & progress.

The language simple and complicated jargon is rare. His expositions are concise and coherent. His ‘suggestions for further reading’ and ‘questions to think about’ at the end of every chapter ensure that the book is more than just statements of facts and theories.

Untitled-1By using a chronological narrative, Schramm parallels the development of communication with the progress of civilisation, demonstrating that there is a definite co-relation between the two. He uses devices like time capsules to ‘set the narrative in historical continuity’ and enable the reader to put the developments in perspective.

In his concluding chapter Schramm raises the issues of ‘the increasing pace of information, ‘opportunity versus overload’, privacy and artificial intelligence. His concerns were based on the technologies present in the late eighties but two decades later we find that those concerns are still relevant and disturbing.

More interesting reads by Wilbur Shramm:


Jerusha Chande

The Reality of Journalism

9781412954570The mind of a journalist comes forth as an extremely heavy title and I was apprehensive about choosing it for the book review. The first page discusses the irony of a young college graduate choosing a profession, journalism, which pays him meagerly, compared to his other options. Having made the same decision for myself, I was engrossed. It goes on to highlight the various reasons which bring a person to this profession and I could identify with each.

mind of a journalistThe book refrains from painting a rosy picture and provides an insight into the problems and challenges that a journalist is faced with. What makes it a gripping read is the fact that the author’s observations and theories have been substantiated by his own personal experiences and also that of other journalists. These real life instances add more weight to the issue being discussed and make it easier to relate to and understand what exactly the author is trying to convey.

Another plus point of the book is the fact that it is not just about the ideals, values and ethics that one should uphold, because the truth is that it is not practically possible to do that all the time. The dilemma that journalists are faced with everyday has been given prime importance and examples of journalists who have sometimes been forced to go against what they “should” be doing and been troubled by their conscience for the same, have been provided.

The reality of everyday journalism has been effectively brought out. For a person who is completely new to journalism, this book is an eye opener, because it introduces them to the harsh reality and takes away from the protected picture which dwells in their minds.

Read more:


Sanhita Sinha Chowdhury

Back to the Future

3001thefinalodysseyEven though 3001: The Final Odyssey was published in 1997, many of Clarke’s predictions seem plausible, though no one can really know for sure unless they live to see it.

For those without a basic understanding of science, the book does not get too technical, other than in a few instances. The language is simple enough for readers to be awed by what the future might be like.

For those interested in science and technology, Clarke manages to paint a very believable picture of what the future might be like. Because his predictions are rooted in existing technological advances, the universe he creates seems quite real.

However, Clarke’s insight into relationships, thought processes and philosophies is lacking. He simplifies things too much.

Clarke does not describe human relationships in any detail. He just breezes through his3001 marriage to Indra, and the birth of his children and grandchildren. We don’t get any idea of the impact of all that technology and standard of living will have on human relationships. Or maybe he’s trying to imply that in the future he’s painted, relationships will not be worth much.

Many of the problems faced in the world today are dealt with too simplistically. Clarke wants us to believe that in a millennium there will be only two religious belief systems – Theism and Deism – that have a very subtle distinction. It seems a little incredulous that a population that will have increased by at least ten fold will be so harmoniously divided into two religions.

Faults aside, Clarke does manage to give readers quite a realistic peek into what the world might be like a millennium into the future.

Read more:


Jerusha Chande

In Conversation With

img_mortimer_in_characterThe book is a collection of twenty six interviews, most of which appeared in Sunday Times, the Daily Telegraph magazine and radio times. The interviews are of the rich, the famous and the controversial, ranging from the judge who ordered a death sentence to a frustrated music vocalist.

The interviews deal with the present lives of the interviewees, their past and controversies. The interviews are in the form of conversations. The people interviewed are the sought after personalities of that time like Lord Denning, Graham Greene, Mick Jagger, David Hockney, E.P Thompson, Angela Carter.

john-mortimer-joh-001-2006‘For my money the best interviewer there now is’ said Terry Coleman in the Guardian about John Mortimer who was a playwright, a novelist and a former practicing barrister of his time and an interviewer and the writer of this book.

A smooth talker and an intelligent questioner is how Mortimer turns out to be in this book. He’s an interviewer who can handle a range of personalities and ask them hard questions without being offensive. mortimerThe best of quality of Mortimer is that he gives enough space to the interviewee to answer the question the way he/she wants to. He also gives them the liberty to evade difficult questions. But like a clever interviewer, frames up the same question in another way and throws it as bait, which is mostly taken by the interviewee.

Mortimer has done a commendable job by making the interviewees reveal their secrets. A must read for those who want to learn the knack of good interviewing.

Read more:


Preeti Chauhan

Rahul Bhattacharya – Crossword

the-sly_emailer_ copy

The Weaker Voice

gen2370_thumbIn Waves in the Hinterland, Naqvi talks about the barriers that Dalit women – uneducated, poor, schedule caste, female – broke through to be journalists. It would have been very easy for these women to just accept that they were dealt bad cards in life. But they chose to gamble (and win) using those cards. The issues of being a woman – the sexual innuendoes constantly thrown, the derogatory once-overs and the condescending attitudes are ubiquitous. But if these women, who are far more disadvantaged than I, can do it, I have no excuses.

weaker voiceNaqvi’s chronicling of Mahila Dakiya (MD)’s story serves as a lesson in elementary journalism. Very simply she addresses the problems that MD faced in its lifetime and emphasizes many basic premises – “the written word is permanent”, conversion of oral narratives into the written form without compromising on meaning or essence, writing simply, interviewing skills, the difference between a writer and a journalist, “ethics and perils of journalism” and language versus not so much dialect but colloquial speech. Even more practical are the Nirantar Workshop Reports that detail exactly how they dealt with these issues.

With the stories of MD and KL, Naqvi manages to allay my cynicism to a certain extent with respect to the journalism industry. The journalism seen in MD & Khabar Lehriya (KL) is true, honest journalism which Naqvi quotes, “is not guided by commercial interests … But the paper, like all the others before and since… has an agenda: To empower the women … to give them a voice, to strengthen their fragile literacy skills, and give them power to construct their own wor(l)ds”. She makes you believe that even in an age of commercialisation, true journalism can still make waves – in the hinterland or the urban jungle.

Read more: