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Archive for the ‘Pop Psychology’ Category


Fire in The Unnameable Country
Ghalib Islam | Fourth Estate | Rs 499

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.55.09 PMThis debut is as exciting as it is befuddling. Ghalib Islam, born in Bangladesh and living in Canada since the age of seven has penned a novel that wraps around an unnamed country that to an Indian reader would appear to point to Bangladesh. But the country is not named. What is named is a colonial past, a terrorist infested present, a mind-reading government department, a man who speaks many languages, a flying carpet and a long birth. It’s ambitious, clever and dressed in magic realism. A reader’s puzzle.

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Field Guide To Happiness
Linda Leaming | Hay House | Rs 299

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.54.45 PMLinda Leaming, originally from Nashville, Tennessee, US made her home in Bhutan sometime in the mid-90s. In between she taught English and wrote articles for women’s magazine, traveller guides and newspapers. “I have now lived in Bhutan all my adult life. My happiness comes because living in this ancient culture forces me to think differently – about time, work, money, nature, family, other people, life, death, tea, kindness, generosity, washing machines, waking up, and myself,” writes Leaming as she unveils her journey to self-discovery. The story comes packaged as a self-help manual.

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Business Unusual
Sharmila Kantha | Rupa | Rs 295

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.54.58 PMIt’s a refreshing to read writers using India’s historical capital, Delhi as the backdrop for a thriller or detective genre books. In ‘Business Unusual’ former corporate functionary, Sharmila Kantha, situates a murder in an upper class businessman’s household that includes a calculating ‘Mataji’, warring sons, servants and hangers on and an unemotionally efficient detective, Ramji. There are also, of course, dead bodies that link the mystery together and a sultry seductress, Lata that enters Ramji’s life at the most confusing time. A fun detective adventure aimed at young adult reader.

(The above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 22 February 2015)

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Unthink
Chris Paley | Coronet | Rs 350

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 3.52.20 PM“Consciousness isn’t designed for understanding ourselves, its for understanding other people,” says behavioural scientist, Christ Paley, in this intriguing little book. This, he explains, is because we live complicated social lives in which we a) don’t do things for the reasons we expect; b) what we imagine we do consciously, is in fact, done by unconscious; c) we understand ourselves through others and lastly, d) we are always in conflict with what we want to do. In short, don’t trust your trickster mind. Trust your consciousness instead. You’ll be happier and more successful. Wise.

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Karm
Aditya & Arnav Mukherjee | Rupa | Rs 195

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 3.52.54 PMThis thriller by Mukherjee brothers is fit for a ‘Don’ sequel starring a young handsome Bollywood hunk, a gutsy female TV news star and her secret admirer, a reporter. Instead of the big bad world, it situates all action in Amchi Mumbai like the first original Amitabh Bachchan ‘Don’ did. It imagines the city in 2019 where suburban trains have ACs, slum remain slums, high-rises pierce the city skies and the rich travel in UFO-like airships. Best part of the story is that it packs an uncomfortable truth – organised crime always wins. A chilling read.

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Urnabhih
Sumedha V Ojha | Roli | Rs 350

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 3.52.41 PMWe live in an age of confusion. This may be one reason why historical fiction is gaining large number of readers. People are tired of facts and truths. They want to re-imagine their ‘realities’ and to find comfort in fantasy. Sumedha V Ojha gives us one such tale. Set in ancient Maurya empire, the novel ‘Urnabhih’ (lit., “cobweb”) traces the story of a dancing girl who gets sucked into a spy ring. Her ‘hero’ and companion in various adventures, Pushyamitra, is a hired assassin and leader of ‘Nagrik Suraksha Parishad’. Scary.

(The above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 8 February 2015)

 

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Nature Chronicles Of India
Ed. by Ananda Banerjee | Rupa | Rs 195

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 4.27.39 PMThis slim collection of essays on Indian wildlife has more on what the naturalists observed during the British Raj than what Indians or others may have in the last 60 years. Should one blame the editor of the compilation for this or the shrinking habitat? In this case, one fears, it’s the former. India has its share of wonderful writers on the subject but it needs a good editor to track them down and share their stories. Unfortunately, neither the publishers nor the editor seem to be too perturbed by their inabilities. Sad.

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The Top Ten Things Dead People Want To Tell You
Mike Dooley | Hay House | Rs 299

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 4.27.53 PMThe most interesting thing about this ‘inspirational book’ is its writer. Why? Mike Dooley was an international tax consultant before he became an entrepreneur by kick-starting a philosophical adventure club. One is not sure what sort of club this is and what its adventures are. But if you read a passage, any passage in this book, you’ll learn that “to live is meaningful”. But didn’t we know that already? Honestly, maybe Dooley should read the Bhagwad Gita, who knows what the dead may convey to him and what we may learn from him. Seriously.

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To D Or Not To D?
Vijay Nagaswami | Westland | Rs 395

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 4.28.06 PMIt’s very difficult to say what makes or breaks a relationship. The same is true of marriage. According to some studies in India, cruelty and desertion top the list of stated reasons for divorce. Other reasons that often feature in courts are adultery, sexual dissatisfaction and fraudulent or forced marriage. Whatever be the case, people do break up. In this book, written for Indians, the author discusses things that can help people put their relationship on track, and things that may help those who have had enough and want to divorce. It’s a wise book.

(The above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 1 February 2015)

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Grey Hornbills At Dusk
Bulbul Sharma | Aleph | Rs 295

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 4.14.21 PM“The Large Grey Babblers… are the only birds I know that can eat and argue at the same time,” notes Bulbul Sharma, a painter, birdwatcher and writer, best known for her books for young readers. Divided into – winter, spring, summer & monsoon – this book re-tracks the author’s rambles through parks and bird sanctuaries in and around Delhi. It also includes her charming sketches of our winged friends. Delhi is known for hosting as many as 450 species of birds, some of them from as far as Siberia. Get to know them, before they disappear.

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The Lost Language of Cranes
David Leavitt | Bloomsbury | Rs 350

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 4.15.30 PMEight years ago, David Leavitt, wrote ‘The Indian Clerk’ a fictional biography of S. Ramanujan’s tryst with G.H. Hardy, the leading mathematician of the western world just before the outbreak of WWI. ‘The Lost Language of Cranes’, first published in 1986 now re-issued, tells the story of human relations and sexual confusion of a New York family – when a son’s confession of being a homosexual forces the father to confront his own demons. It’s a complex and a brave novel, one that is bound to find resonance among Indian readers.

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Don’t Die With Your Music Still In You
Serena J. Dyer & Dr Wayne W. Dyer | Hay House | Rs 299

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 4.15.12 PMThis self-help book is a mish-mash of pop-psychology that prods the reader to listen to one’s own intuition – or song – in order to be happy and successful in life. Written by daughter-father duo it advises us to follow our dharma (interpreted here as passion or calling in life), to keep an open mind, to embrace silence, learn to solve problems, not be resentful and have courage to be what you want to be. It teaches by examples sourced from the writers’ own lives. Pick it up, if that’s what you need.

(The above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 25 January 2015)

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The Ex-Files
Vandana Shah | Penguin | Rs 299

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 9.07.05 PMTechnology has made us believe that we all live in a global village, ground facts however are different. Each nation and each society is bound by its own mores and social inequities. Vandana Shah’s coming of age autobiography about a 3-year-old marriage and a 10-year-long divorce reflects the conflicted India we live in. On one had we have ‘well-to-do’ and ‘well-educated’ people who feel entitled to control women (be it fathers, relatives, husbands, sons), and on the other we have Shah, who’s asking, “Will someone please get up and change this system?” It’s a long battle. Still.

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The Small Big
Steve J Martin, Noah J Goldstein & Robert B. Cialdini | Profile Books | Rs 399

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 9.07.27 PMModern studies in the field of neuroscience, cognitive psychology, social psychology and behavioral economics have given us many insights about how we react and why. The authors of this book have gathered some of these ‘insights’ to help people organize their businesses and manage their employees. These tips warn the writers need to be used judiciously and wisely, “Trying to use too many tools of persuasion at once could actually make it more difficult to achieve the outcome you are hoping for.” In other words, the tips may not work all the time!

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Pathfinder
Angie Sage | Bloomsbury | Rs 350

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 9.07.43 PMEveryone needs magic. Angie Sage re-kindles it in her story of Alice Tod Hunter Moon, a young Pathfinder who leaves her seaside village in search of a lost friend, Ferdie. Rumour has it that Ferdie has been taken by the mysterious creature caked Garmin and Alice needs to rescue him. Set against the backdrop of Cornwall marshlands, this story is part of a trilogy sequel to the adventures of Septimus Heap and Jenna, the princes. For those who love the warmth and humour of Sage’s stories this trilogy is a special gift this season. Enjoy it.

(The above reviews appeared in Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 28 December 2014.)

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Prince of Gujarat
Rajmohan Gandhi | Aleph | Rs 500

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 8.41.56 PM“It was not until 1980s, while I was working on my biography of Sardar Patel, that I discovered interesting facts about Darbar Gopaldas, and the part he played, despite being a prince, in the satyagrahas of 1920s,” writes Rajmohan Gandhi in the preface to the biography on Prince Gopaldas Desai. Darbar, as the prince was known, worked with Sardar Patel and the Congress but spurned high office choosing instead to mentor the next generation of politicians. Three of them became CMs of Gujarat, and one founded Amul, the famous milk cooperative. A fascinating read.

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Teresa’s Man
Damodar Mauzo | Rupa | Rs 250

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 8.42.17 PMYou could view this is a collection of 14 short stories or a powerful commentary of the social life of Goans. Written originally in Konkani by novelist and literary critic, Damodar Mauzo, the stories build on various characteristics of human behaviour to tell timeless stories about the condition of man. Sensitively translated by Xavier Cota, these stories, also recall a life, language and social customs that are fast receding from our collective memory – of evening games of ‘tablam-khel’, local taverns, snakes and lakes, Europe bound families and sand castles on the beach. Arresting.

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Brainstorm
Daniel J Siegel | Hachette | Rs 399

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 8.42.42 PMLos Angeles-based behavioral scientist, Daniel J Siegel, cautions parents against treating adolescence as a ‘time of immaturity’ or as something to be endured. Adolescence, the period between 15-24, is a time we move from ‘me’ to ‘we’. When we realize that we are dependent on others and interdependent as a group. At the same time it is also a period during which we engage in intense emotional and social relationships and everything is new, exciting and worth exploring. Siegel calls it MWe and prescribes it for adults as well.

(The above reviews appeared in Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 21 December 2014.)

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The Last Love Letter
Minty Tejpal | Hachette| Rs 395

“Somewhere, the fairytale romance of marriage wore off and the female character wanted her own identity. Female empowerment is good, but it has its issues,” says Tejpal of his debut book, The Last Love Letter. He’s not fibbing. He is in every page of the book, his own man. Written in a first person narrative, the thinly veiled autobiography, takes the reader through his two divorces and the twists his career took. Women in the book are an addiction and a necessity. But rarely equal. In the end, Tejpal comes across as a man who wanted things on his terms. When that did not happen, things fell apart.

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Once Upon A Hill
Kalpish Ratna | Harper Collins | Rs 499

The story of Andheri’s Gilbert Hill is somewhat akin to the story of Delhi’s Aravali Range. Where there were hills once, we have modern townships and garbage. In Kalpish Ratna, Mumbai’s geological feature – a stand-alone hill once part of a range that stretched from Andheri to Versova – get’s a voice. In a topography that has been completely erased by relentless quarrying, the consequences are there for everyone to experience. Change in rainfall patterns and flooding, is just one part of the story. “Gilbert Hill is the still point in the flux of opportunism and greed,” says Kalpana Swaminathan and Ishrat Sayed aka  Kalpish Ratna. We agree.

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The Fix
Damian Thompson | Collins | Rs 399

In The Fix, Thompson looks at the modern world through the prism of Aldous Huxley’s ‘negative utopia’ – where everyone takes a state produced drug called ‘soma’ that produces intervals of perfect spiritual pleasure. Rest of the time they’re mostly shopping or having recreational sex. “The awkward truth is that acceleration of technological progress can’t be divorced from the fast production of addictive substances and experiences,” says Thompson, arguing that it is not the experience of pleasure, but experience of desire that continues to tantalize us. In other words, there is an addict in each one of us.  What’s your fix? Food, binge drinking or sugar?

(The above reviews appeared in Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 16 September 2012)

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