Saturday, January 17, 2009

Books 2009-2020


Halan, Monica (2018): LET'S TALK MONEY, Harper Business 2018

Harari, Yuval Noah (2018): 21 LESSONS FOR THE 21st CENTURY, Penguin Random House 2018

Singh, Sarbpreet (2019): THE CAMEL MERCHANT OF PHILADELPHIA - Stories from the Court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Tranquebar / Westland Publications PL, 2019

Patil, Vishwas (1988/2019): PANIPAT - Translated from Marathi by Nadeem Khan, Eka / Westland Publications 2019

Tharoor, Shashi (2019): THE HINDU WAY - An Introduction to Hinduism

Hariri, Yuval Novah (2015): SAPIENS - A Brief History of Humankind, Vintage Books London


De Rohit (2018): A PEOPLE'S CONSTITUTION - Everyday Life of Law in the Indian Republic, Princeton University Press

Bryson, Bill (1997): A WALK IN THE WOODS, Black Swan 1998

Joseph, Tony (2018): EARLY INDIANS - The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From, Juggernaut

Taseer, Aatish (2018): THE TWICE BORN - Life and Death Along the Ganges, Fourth Estate India

Morton-Jack, George (2018): THE INDIAN EMPIRE AT WAR - From Jihad to Victory - The Untold Story of the Indian Army in the First World War
- Blogpost here

Schipper, Mineke (2017): NAKED or COVERED - A History of Dressing or Undressing Around the World, Speaking Tiger

Hosseini, Khaled (2018): SEA PRAYER, Penguin RH

Ramakrishnan, Venki (2018): GENE MACHINE - The Race to Decipher the Secrets of the Ribosome, Harper Collins India, 2018

Jacobson, Howard (2010): THE FINKLER QUESTION (audiobook)

Das, Gurcharan (2018): KAMA - THE RIDDLE OF DESIRE

Iyengar, Sheena (2010): THE ART OF CHOOSING, Little Brown, London 2010

Pillai, Manu S (2018): REBEL SULTANS - The Deccan from Khilji to Shivaji, Juggernaut


Raghavan, Srinath (2018): THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE - A History of the United States in South Asia, Pelican Allen-Lane (Random House)

Devadas, David (2018): THE GENERATION OF RAGE IN KASHMIR, Oxford University Press

Peretti, Jacques (2017): DONE: The Secret Deals that are Changing our World, Hodder & Stoughton

Bagchi, Subroto (2009): THE PROFESSIONAL, Penguin Portfolio 2009

Lal, Ankit (2017): INDIA SOCIAL: How Social Media is Leading the Charge and Changing the Country, Hachette India 2017

Tully, Mark (2017): UP COUNTRY TALES - Once Upon a Time in the Heart of India, Speaking Tiger 2017

Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr (1963): ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH, Penguin Books

Paz, Octavio (1995): IN LIGHT Of INDIA - Translated from Spanish by Eliot Weinberger, The Harville Press, London

Murakami, Haruki (2009-11): 1Q84 - Book I, II and III 

Poonam, Snigdha (2018): DREAMERS - How Young Indians are Changing Their World, Penguin-India

Vittal, N (2018): MODI'S MIRACLE - Shift to Right, Sage

Erum, Nazia (2017): MOTHERING A MUSLIM - The Dark Secrets in Our Schools and Playgrounds, Juggernaut

Livio, Mario (2014): BRILLIANT BLUNDERS - From Darwin to Einstein, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2014

Haskar, Aditya Narayan Dhairyasheel (1998 translation): SIMHASANA DVATRIMSIKA - Thirty-Two Tales of the Throne of Vikramaditya 

Shafak, Elif (2010): THE FORTY RULES OF LOVE -- Never knew that the the man behind the genius of Rumi was a dervish called the Shams of Tabriz...and of similarities with Vedanta.


Bar-Zohar, Michael and Nissim Mishal (2015): COMMANDO - The Death Defying Missions of the Israeli Special Forces, JAICO -- makes you wonder how so many SF guys ended up as prime ministers in Israel...

Farivar, Masood (2009): CONFESSIONS OF A MULLAH WARRIOR, Atlantic Books London -- answers the question - 'How exactly are zealots created?'

Higashino, Keigo (2012): THE SALVATION OF A SAINT, Abacus Publishing - a whodonit with the finer points of making coffee.

Rajan Raghuram G (2017): I DO WHAT I DO, Harper Business, 2017 - mostly a collection of old lectures. Denser than expected.

Bhattacharjee, Kalol (2017): THE GREAT GAME IN AFGHANISTAN - Rajiv Gandhi, General Zia and the Unending War, Harper Collins India, 2017

Aroor, Shiv and Rahul Singh (2017): INDIA'S MOST FEARLESS - True Stories of Modern Military Heroes, Penguin Books

Pamuk, Orhan (2017): THE RED HAIRED WOMAN, Penguin Random House India (This time it's Rustom and Sohrab, from Shahnama, the Persian classic...but how come Mr. Cek's lawyer failed to include the son's pic in his detective report? :/  )

Bagchi, Subroto (2017): SELL - The Art, the Science, the Witchcraft, Hachette India (A quick, easy read, with some nuggets strewn along the way)

Doniger,Wendy (2017): THE RING OF TRUTH: And Other Myths of Sex and Jewelry (Dense - in an academic kind of way)

Mairowitz, David Zane (1990): KAFKA FOR BEGINNERS (Graphic Novel - brilliant illustrations and narrative)

Mukherjee, Neel (2017): A STATE OF FREEDOM, Penguin

Singh, Kushwant (2017): EXTRAORDINARY INDIANS - A Book of Profiles

Higashino, Keigo (2014): MALICE, LittleBrown UK (Wheels within wheels that gets a bit tiresome towards the end - despite detective Kaga)

Dalrymple, William (2013): RETURN OF A KING: The Battle for Afghanistan, Bloomsbury Publishing (Another brilliant piece of scholarly story-telling!)

Dalrymple, William and Anita Anand (2016): KOHINOOR - Story of the World's Most Infamous Diamond, Juggernaut Books

Dubey, Amit (2017): RETURN OF THE TROJAN HORSE, Platinum Press, Time Group Books, 2017

Sapru, Abhay Narayan (2017): THE BECKONING ISLE - The Real Special Forces Story, Wisdom Tree / Chlorophyll Fiction

Bar-Zohar, Michael and Nissim Mishal (2016): MOSSAD - The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service, JaiCo Publishing House, New Delhi

Barker, Eric (2017): BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong

Allen, Charles (2003): A MOUNTAIN IN TIBET: The Search for Mount Kailas and the Source of the Great Rivers of Asia, Abacus 2017

Nilekani, Nandan and Viral Shah (2015): REBOOTING INDIA: Realizing a Billion Aspirations, Allen Lane-Penguin India

Thompson, Craig (2011): HABIBI (Graphic Novel)

Clydesdale, Greg (2016): WAVES OF PROSPERITY - India, China and the West: How Global Trade Transformed the World

Kalidasa (circa 170 BCE - 634 CE): RAGHUVAMSAM  - The Line of Raghu

Surendran, C.P (2015): HADAL (ISRO Spy Scandal repackaged)

Kshemendra (990-1070 CE): THE COURTESAN'S KEEPER (Samaya Maatrika) - Tanslated from Sanskrit by A.N.D. Haskar, Penguin Classics  (What a brilliant piece of work! - makes you see Sanskrit language in a new light :) )

Brittlebank, Kate (2016): TIGER - The Life of Tipu Sultan, Juggernaut-Delhi


Tharoor, Shashi (2016): AN ERA OF DARKNESS - The British Empire in India, Aleph-India, 2016

Aiyar, Pallavi (2013): PUNJABI PARMESAN - Dispatches from a Europe in Crisis, Hamish Hamilton / Penguin 2013

Haskar, A.N.D (2014): JATAKAMALA - Stories from Buddha's Previous Births, Harper Collins India

Sanyal, Sanjeev (2016): OCEAN OF CHURN - How the Indian Ocean Shaped Human History, Penguin Random House 2016

Orwell, George (1945): ANIMAL FARM 

Greene, Graham (1969): COLLECTED ESSAYS, The Bodney Head Ltd.

Banville, John (2005): THE SEA

Sharma, Ruchir (2016): THE RISE AND FALL OF NATIONS - Ten Rules of Change in the Post-Crisis World, Allen Lane India

Pillai, Manu (2015): THE IVORY THRONE - Chronicles of the House of Travancore, Harper Collins India

Mukherjee, Siddhartha (2016): THE GENE: An Intimate History, Allen Lane / Penguin; NYT Review

Hemingway, Ernest (1926): THE SUN ALSO RISES, AudioBooks

Davidar, David (2014): A CLUTCH OF INDIAN MASTERPIECES - Extraordinary Stories from the 19th Century to the Present, Aleph, 2014

Raghavan, Srinath (2016): INDIA'S WAR - The Making of Modern South Asia 1939-1945, Penguin

Fosryth, Frederick (2010): THE COBRAGPutnam & Sons (Kindle)

Rinpoche, Sogyal (2012): TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING, HarperOne

Fosryth, Frederic (2015): THE OUTSIDER: My Life in Intrigue, GPutnam & Sons

Levi, Scott (2015): CARAVANS: Indian Merchants on the Silk Road

Ninan T.N (2015): THE TURN OF THE TORTOISE - The Challenge and Promise of India's Future, Penguin India

Bryson, Bill (2015): THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBING - More Notes from a Small Island

Yamamatsu, Yukichi (2015): STUPID GUY GOES to INDIA (Indo e Baka ga Yattekita, Translated by Kumar Sivasubramanan, Nihonbun Geisha Tokyo / Blaft Publications PL, Chennai
- Review in the Hindu

Karnad, Raghu (2015): FARTHEST FIELD: An Indian Story of the Second World War, Random House India


Rajdou, Navi and Jaideep Prabhu (2015): FRUGAL INNOVATION - How to Do Better With Less, The Economist, 2015

Gawande, Atul (2009): THE CHECKLIST MANIFESTO: How to Get Things Right, Penguin Viking 2009

Pamuk, Orhan (2004): ISTANBUL : Memories and the City, Vintage Intl, 2006

Radjou, Navi, Jaideep Prabhu & Simone Ahuja (2013): JUGAAD INNOVATION, Random House India

Kaplan, Robert D (2012): THE REVENGE OF GEOGRAPHY: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate, Random House, NY

Tripathy, Salil (2014): THE COLONEL WHO WOULD NOT REPENT - The Bangladesh War and its Unquiet Legacy,

Bagchi, Subroto (2013): ZEN GARDEN - Conversations with Pathmakers. Portfolio/Penguin, 2013

Doniger, Wendy (2009): THE HINDUS - An Alternative History , Penguin / Viking 2009

Sharma, Robin (2008): THE GREATNESS GUIDE 2

Singh, VK, Maj.Gen. (2007): INDIA'S EXTERNAL INTELLIGENCE - Secrets of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Manas Publications, New Delhi, 2007

Kumar, Rajeev (2014): INTRAPRENEURS @ MJUNCTION - The making of an e-commerce giant, Rupa India 2014

Hemmingway, Ernest (1932): DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON

Morrison, Tony (2008): A MERCY

Murakami, Haruki (2006): BLIND WILLOW, SLEEPING WOMAN

Mehta, Vinod (2014): EDITOR UNPLUGGED: Media, Magnates, Netas and Me

Mukherjee, Siddhartha (2010): EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES

Singh, Daman (2014): STRICTLY PERSONAL - Manmohan & Gursharan, Harper Collins India

Rushdie, Salman (2001): FURY 

Johnson, Faith (2013): FOUR MILES TO FREEDOM - Escape from a Pakistani POW Camp, Random House, New Delhi-- Surprising to know that Chuck Yeager was going around in full USAF uniform, interrogating IAF POWs!

Hesse, Hermann (1930): NARCISSUS AND GOLDMUND -- Into the mind of a compulsive wanderer in the middle ages... the portrayal of the great plague is haunting.

Rushdie, Salman (2005): SHALIMAR THE CLOWN -- Like a patchwork quilt with some outstanding bits here and there, but, on the whole not quite Rushdie enough..

Morris, Ian (2014): WAR - What is it Good For? , Profile Books, London, 2014

Gawande, Atul (2014): BEING MORTAL - Medicine  and What Matters in the End, Penguin, 2014


Guha, Ramachandra (2014): MAKERS OF MODERN ASIA - I was keen to know more about leaders like Ho Chi Minh but this was more about political context than personalities. Disappointed. Here is a  review from the Economist

Bellow, Saul (1953): ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH - A wonderful 'bildungsroman' - coming-of-age story set in the depression years of Chicago.

Atwood, Margaret (2000): THE BLIND ASSASSIN - Two sister's coping with a family business that has run aground..

Guha, Ramachandra (2012): PATRIOTS & PARTISANS, Allen Lane, 2014

Krishnamurthy V (2014): AT THE HELM - A Memoir, Collins Business, 2014 - A common thread runs through BHEL, Maruti-Suzuki and SAIL...

Ashtavakra Gita: Discourse by Swami Nirmalananda Giri

Sanyal, Sanjeev (2012): LAND OF SEVEN RIVERS - A Brief History of India's Geography, Penguin Global, 2012

Hemingway, Ernest (1961): SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO and Other Short Stories -- I liked the last one the best - "The Short Life of Francis Macomber" (is there a better description of a lion-hunt?)

Mantel, Hilary (2009): WOLF HALL - The gory life and times of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII

Orwell, George (1938): HOMAGE TO CATALONIA -- Franco's Spain, and the Civil War unveiled.

Murakami, Haruki (1982): WILD SHEEP CHASE - All the essential Murakami ingredients are there - cats, music, food, surreal experiences.... plus an odd sheep, a blood clot and a girlfriend with exquisite ears.

Grass, Gunter (): PEELING THE ONION - My first peek into life during war-time Germany... great narrative but it still leaves you with the impression that Grass is not being entirely truthful..

Philip Roth (1959): GOODBYE, COLUMBUS: A mixed bag..."Defender of the Faith" left an impression..

Deepa & Raja Kodikal (2000): LIFE OF BHAGAWAN NITYANANDA, Kohinoor Printers, Mumbai

Philip Roth (1997): AMERICAN PASTORAL: A neat little window into the world of leather workers (esp. glove mfrs), cattle breeding, Jewish middleclass, anti-Vietnam War protests, and, surprisingly, Jainism!

Chatwin, Bruce (1977): IN PATAGONNIA, AudioBook

Achebe, Chinua (1958): THINGS FALL APART, AudioBook -- very evocative use of language -- a book about Okonkwo and the white man's "Pacification of primitive tribes of the Lower Niger"...

Satrapi, Marjane (2006): EMBROIDERIES, eBook -- chai & granny's gossip in Tehran

Brookner, Anita (1984): HOTEL DU LAC, AudioBook

Pattanaik, Devdutt (2013): BUSINESS SUTRA -  A Very Indian Approach to Management, Aleph Book Company

Murakami, Haruki (1988): DANCE DANCE DANCE, AudioBook

Naipaul, V.S (1979): A BEND IN THE RIVER, AudioBook -- brilliant narrative

Gladwell, Malcom (2013): DAVID AND GOLIATH - Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants, Little Brown

Mahfouz, Naguib (1981) : ARABIAN DAYS AND NIGHTS: A Novel, AudioBook

Ramo, Hoshua Cooper (2009): THE AGE OF THE UNTHINKABLE, Little, Brown & Co.

Allen, Charles (2012): ASHOKA: India's Lost Emperor, Little Brown & Co.

Singh, Natwar K (2012): WALKING WITH LIONS: Tales from a Diplomatic Past, Harper-Collins India

Boo, Katherine (2012): BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS - Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, Hamilton-Penguin, India

Manto, Saadat Hasan(): BITTER FRUIT - The Very Best of Saadat Hasan Manto - Edited & Translated by Khalid Hasan, Penguin, 2008

Raman, B (2007): THE KAOBOYS OF R&AW, Lancer Publishers, 2007 - eBook here -

Sapru, Abhay Narayan (2013): IN THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS, Chlorophyll -- Good to see the Para's telling their stories..

Levy, Adrian and Cathy Scott-Clark (2013): THE SIEGE - The Attack on the Taj, Penguin -- blogpost here.

Dawkins, Richard (2009): THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH - The Evidence for Evolution, Bantam Press, 2009

Churchill, Winston (): BLOOD, TOIL, TEARS & SWEAT - Collected Speeches, Penguin

Sharma, Ruchir (2010): BREAKOUT NATIONS - In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles, Penguin India


Pattanaik, Devdutt Dr.,  (2006): MYTH = MITHYA: A Handbook of Indian Mythology, Penguin India 2006

Joseph, Mathai (2013): DIGITAL REPUBLIC - India's Rise to IT Power, Power Publisher's Kolkata

Aurelius, Marcus (CE 121-180): MEDITATIONS

Khan, Mumtaz Ali (Sri.M): APPRENTICED TO A HIMALAYAN MASTER, Magenta Press (2010)

Suzuki, Shunryu (1970): Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, e-Book narrated by Peter Coyote

Naipaul, Vidiadhar Surajprasad (1961): A HOUSE FOR Mr. BISWAS, Kindle-Ed

Munshi, Porus (2009): MAKING BREAKTHROUGH INNOVATION HAPPEN, Collins Business, 2009

Rushdie, Salman (1995): EAST, WEST, Vintage, 1995


Wei, Zhang (2008): THE ANCIENT SHIP, Harper Perennial Modern Chinese Classics, 2008

Gladwell, Malcom (2008): OUTLIERS, Kindle


Faulks, Sabastien (1993): BIRDSONG (Kindle Ed.)

Okakura, Kakuzo (1912): THE BOOK OF TEA (Kindle Ed.)

Gopinath, G.R, Capt., (2010): SIMPLY FLY, Harper Collins India, 2010

Devadoss, Manohar (2007): MULTIPLE FACETS OF MY MADURAI

Ropp, Paul S. (2010): CHINA IN WORLD HISTORY, Oxford University Press, 2010

Tully, Mark (2007): INDIA'S UNENDING JOURNEY, Random House India, 2007

Hoover, Thomas (1988): THE SAMURAI STRATEGY (Fiction/Thriller), Kindle Edition 

Hazarika, Sanjoy (1994): STRANGERS IN THE MIST - Tales of Watr and Peace from India's North-East, Viking-Penguin India

Verghese, BG (1990): WATERS OF HOPE: Himalaya-Ganga Cooperation for a Billion People, Oxford-IBH, Delhi, 1990. 

Corbett, Jim (1944): MAN-EATER'S OF KUMAON, Oxford University Press, New Delhi --- Full Text from Internet Archives 

Stepan, Alfred, Juan J. Linz and Yogendra Yadav: CRAFTING STATE NATIONS - India and Other Multinational Democracies, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2011

Austin, Granville (1999): WORKING A DEMOCRATIC CONSTITUTION, OUP, Oxford India Paperbacks

Twain, Mark (Samuel L. Clemens): WHAT IS MAN? AND OTHER ESSAYS, Kindle E-books

Hanif, Mohammad (2008): A CASE OF EXPLODING MANGOES, Random House -- This was a let-down...I wonder what the reviewers found so funny in this book. Also, is Maj.Kiyani now Gen. Kayani? 

Hoover, Thomas (1980): THE ZEN EXPERIENCE, Kindle Edition -- Quite an eye-opener - especially the portion on 

Jalan, Bimal (2007): INDIA'S POLITICS - A View From the Back-Bench, Penguin Global (Note at Jalan's website)


Bhagat, Dhiren (1990): The Contemporary Conservative, Viking/Penguin Books India, 1990

Galbraith, John Kenneth (1975): Money - Whence It Came, Where It Went, Bantam Books, New York, 1975

Hemmingway, Ernest (1952): The Old Man and the Sea - Another book that improves with age :)

Gonick, Larry (2009): Cartoon History of the Modern World, Part-I - Brilliant! Can't wait to get my hands on Part-II and the rest.

Ananth, Sashikala (1999): Vaastu - The Classical Indian Science of Architecture and Design, Penguin-India, 1999

Haskar, Aditya Narayan Dhairyasheel (2000): Shuka Saptati - Seventy Tales of the Parrot, Harper Collins, India, 2000

McDonald, Hamish (2010): Ambani & Sons - The Making of the World's Richest Brothers and their Feud (Formerly titled as The Polyster Prince), Lotus-Roli, 2010

"Kazuma Tateisi: The Story of OMRON & Ninety Years of Driving Innovation"

Nilekani, Nandan (2008): Imagining India: Ideas for the New Century,  Penguin India / Allen Lane

Stein, Burton (2005): The New Cambridge History of India - Vijayanagara,  Cambridge, 2005

Ahamed, Liaquat (2009): Lords of Finance. Windmill Books

O'Hare, Mick (2006): Why Don't Penguin's Feet Freeze?, New Scientist / Profile Books (Collection of Q&A from the "Last Word")

Ghosh, Amitav (2010): River of Smoke (Ibis Trilogy - II), Wiki article

Diyanni, Robert (2008): One Hundred Great Essays (Third Edition)

Talbott, Strobe (2004): Engaging India - Diplomacy, Democracy and the Bomb

Gaarder, Jostein (1995): Sophie's World

Tolstoy, Leo (1877): Anna Karenina

Bowles, Paul (1949). The Sheltering Sky

Shourie, Arun (2010).We Must Have No Price: National Security, Reforms, Political Reconstruction

Yoro, Takeshi (2003). Baka no Kabe - The Wall of Fools.
(Is it the translation that makes Japanese scholars appear to be so full of themselves? or is it just the way they are? This is the sort of book that makes you wonder about `bestsellers` in Japan... Yoro`s book does have some gems though - tucked away under loads of drivel.)

Ellul, Jacques (1965). Propaganda - The Formation of Men`s Attitudes. Vintage Books, NY
Excerpt - here.

Diamond, Jared (1997). Guns, Germs and Steel - the Fates of Human Societies. W.W. Norton & Co. New York.
Wiki-page - here; Google videos - Part 1/3.

Daviron, Beniot and Ponte, Stefano (2005). The Coffee Paradox - Global Markets, Commodity Trade and the Elusive Promise of Development.

Easterly, William (2001). The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economist's Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics.

Spiegelman, Art (1986). Maus -I: A Survivor`s Tale - My Father Bleeds History
Spiegelman, Art (1991). Maus -II: A Survivor`s Tale - And Here My Troubles Began

Weston, Anthony  Hackett(2009). A Rulebook For Arguments, 4th ed

Mauss, Marcel/translated by W.D. Halls/foreword by Mary Douglas. Norton(1990). The Gift : The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies


Dostoyevsky, Fyodor (1880). The Brothers Karamazov  - my first book on a Kindle (what a boon for those who want to read bulky classics! :) )

Davis CB, Wilburn KE Jr., Robinson RE (1991), Railway Imperialism, Greenwood Press, New York, 1991

Odagiri Hiroyuki and Goto Akira (1996), Technology and Industrial Development in Japan - Building Capabilities by Learning Innovation and Public Policy, OUP-New York Press, 1996

Murakami, Haruki (2007), What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Drea, Edward J (2009), Japan's Imperial Army - Its Rise and Fall (1853-1945), University of Kansas, 2009

Frank, Andre Gunder (1998), ReOrient - Global Economy in the Asian Age, University of California Press, 1998

Mokyr, Joel (1990), The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity & Economic Progress, Oxford University Press, 1990

An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguro
Story of Masuji Ono, former artist of the floating world (pleasure quarters), who becomes a member of the Cultural Committee of the Interior Department in pre-war Japan. Also Official Adviser to the `Committee of Unpatriotic Activities`...


December 2009

Exploring Japanese Literature (Murray, Kondansha)
Short-stories by Yasunari Kawabata, Yukio Mishima and Juichiro Tanizaki

In A Free State (V.S. Naipaul)
Loved the story `One Out Of Many` and `The Circus at Luxor`.

November 2009
Persepolis - The Story of A Childhood (Marjane Satrapi)
This is one graphic-novel I wanted to borrow for a long time now. Recently I got to know that it was available online, for free! It was a quick, good read. Now I want to know more about 'dialectic materialism' (Marx, Descartes), Ashraf Darvishian (Iranian Dickens), Iron Maiden and Kim Wilde, and, of course, the neo-colonial games (1935-1979) that led to the 'Islamic revolution' in Iran.

After the Quake (Haruki Murakami)
A couple of months ago I had sworn not to pick up another Murakami. But as Oscar Wilde said, "The best way to resist temptation is to yield". This was a collection of stories distantly related to the Kobe earthquake. A quick read - the last two stories were the best.

My Brother, Ant (Betsy Byars, illustrated by Marc Simont)
A wonderful little bed-time storybook for kids!

October 2009

The Pianist (Wladyslaw Szpilman)
Story of a man's survival in Warsaw (1939-45), saved, in part, by Chopin's Nocturne in C Sharp Minor. A one-day read after a long time - thanks to Typhoon 18/Melor, which hit Tsukuba today morning (8 Oct 2009)!
Lost Japan (Alex Kerr)
Lots of interesting insights on the transformation of Japan during the past 40 years. See this post for details.

September 2009

The Canon - A Wirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science (Natalie Angier)

August 2009

South of the Border, West of the Sun (Haruki Murakami)
Please see this post.

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (Haruki Murakami)
This must be the most surreal, other-worldly book I've read this year. Totu Okada is taking a break from being a salary-man, and lives a sedate life with his wife Kumiko. Trouble starts when their cat disappears. Desperate to find the cat (named Noboru Wataya, after Kumiko’s obnoxious brother), a sorority of clairvoyants come into the picture (Creta & Malta Kano), followed by a mother & son pair (Nutmeg & Cinnamon Asakasa) with similar talents, and a precocious teenager in the neighborhood - May Kasahara.If anything stands out in this book, it is the link with the Russia-Japan wars in the Mongolian border areas - especially the intelligence foray across the Khalka River in Outer Mongolia by Corporal Honda, Sergeant Hamano, Lieutenant Mamiya and Yamamoto, the intelligence officer. I am still haunted by the description of Yamamoto being skinned alive by Boris Gromov's 'specialist'...
Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami

Murakami's are now beginning to feel like one of those Bollywood formula movies. The main characters love western classical music; somebody loves cats, cars and the right way of killing with bayonets. This story was an overdose of surreal metaphors and incestuous teenagers.
Kafka Tamura runs away from home, ends up in a private library. Mr. Nakata talks to cats and goes about looking for an 'entrance stone' with a truck-driver named Hoshino. Fatelines cross in the last few pages...long-winded and disappointing.
Little Book of Famous Insults (Edited by Betty Jo Ramsey; Illustrations - Fitz Kredel)
My favourites -
"Do not insult the mother alligator until after you have crossed the river." -- Haitian Proverb
Iphicrates, the Athenian general, was the son of a shoemaker. When a descendant of a Harmodius reproached the general for his ignoble birth, Iphicrates replied, "The nobility of my family begins with me; that of yours ends with you."
"Canning in office is like a fly in amber. Nobody cares about the fly: the only quesion is, 'How the devil did he get there?'" -- Rev Sydney Smith

A Stream of Windows - Jagdish Bhagwati
July 2009

A Hundred Verses from Old Japan (Hyaku-nin-isshu)
Please see A Few Tanka Verses.

Short-Stories by Ryonosuke Akutagawa

May 2009

Fooled by Randomness (Nassim Nicholas Taleb):

My first book from the Tsukuba University library... a good thing to read when you're exasperated by all those probability assignments on continuous random variables.

April 2009
Anil's Ghost (Michael Ondaatje):

Disappointing... I'd expected something better after 'The English Patient'
March 2009
Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez):

Ariza, in the evening of his life, finally wins the confidence of his childhood sweetheart, Fermina Daza (widow of Dr. Juvenal Urbino). To think there may actually be people out there who are so compulsively obsessed with winning a woman's love, across a span of 50 years maybe be romantic to some. To me the very idea is disconcerting. But what a story!

February 2009
The Last Mughal (William Dalrymple):

Please see this post.

January 2009

Where The Rain Is Born - writings about Kerala (edited by Anita Nair) :
What a wonderful collection of articles! Some of them were quite thought-provoking -

  • Charlis & I - Shashi Tharoor - The amazing social transformation in Kerala over the past 50 years, seen through the eyes of ST and his childhood friend, M.C. Thekkote, IAS.
  • Fool's Paradise - Ammu Joseph - setting the record straight on the freedom allegedly enjoyed by the women of Kerala.
  • കര്കിടകം (Karkitakam) - M.T Vasudevan Nair - Dignity, self-respect and one day in the life of a hungry schoolboy. Wish I could read / listen to the original in Malayalam!

LINK to BOOKS 2008 -


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