Category Archives: Book Review

Know This Book: ‘Premendra Mitrer Shrestho Golpo’ By Premendra Mitra

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Another book that I read this year was Premendra Mitrer Shrestho Golpo (Best Stories of Premendra Mitra). As the title suggests, this book is a compilation of short stories by Bengali writer Premendra Mitra. Honestly speaking, I had difficulty appreciating most of the stories mainly because they have been written in an abstract manner. The stress of the writer is on depiction of the environment, human expressions and emotions, whereas the plot is secondary. But certainly, the description is flawless — all stories help you in experiencing life in varied colours. This is a characteristic of nearly whole Bengali literature irrespective of genre — it evokes emotions in you that you yourself weren’t aware of.

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Know This Book: ‘Kiriti Roy’ By Nihar Ranjan Gupta

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I had survived the first COVID wave last year with art as my only recourse. And to survive the second wave, I took refuge in literature, particularly fiction. With rising number of COVID cases, general indifference and influx of bad news and negative communication, the need for a strong distraction grew immensely. I knew that only nicely written detective novels or stories have the ability to engage the mind and keep it away from external influences. Another genre is horror; however, I am not very aware of literature in that genre, and have read only short stories. Anyway, coming back to detective novels, I had a good experience in the past from Saradindu Bandyopadhyay, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and innumerable stories published in Anandamela. Problem with detective stories is that there is no scope of re-reading. Once you have read a particular story, you already know who the culprit was and all the nitty-gritty of the crime. So another reading of the same story has no charm and nothing new to offer. I keep it in my mind that the first reading is going to be my only reading of the story and therefore try to give my full attention to it.

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Know This Book: ‘Krishnamurti For Beginners: An Anthology’

The most important book that I read this year was titled ‘Krishnamurti For Beginners: An Anthology’, published by Krishnamurti Foundation India. I had purchased this book sometime around 2006 when I was in Ahmedabad, and had already read it once or may be twice. This was my third reading of this book. Krishnamurti rarely fails us and always impresses us by his insight into problems and issues we come across in our everyday lives. After a biographical sketch and an outline of Krishnamurti’s philosophy by Radhika Herzberger, this book presents a collection of Krishnamurti’s writings, diary notes, speeches, dialogues and conversations. He does not belong to any religious sect or philosophical school; instead, he has a direct and straightforward way of looking at things, and through every piece of writing or conversation he encourages you to look at ‘what is’ instead of ‘what should be’. According to him, this conflict between ‘what is’ and ‘what should be’ is the root cause of most of the problems. 

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Book Review: ‘Invitation to Draw’ By Jean Van’t Hul

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In my conversations with parents concerned about their children’s future, I always advise them to make their children invest in arts and books. Here I use art in the broadest possible sense, which includes fine arts as well as performing arts. If you indeed love your children, you must think of their future, and provide them with something which would support them whole life. 

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Book Review: ‘Every Day Is Earth Day’ By Harriet Dyer

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I frequently receive books on climate change for review. Each one of them presents the subject from a different perspective and addresses different aspects of the problem. After reading my reviews, most of the time my readers put this question to me — “What are we supposed to do?”, and ask me reference of any book which might be able to answer this question. They want to contribute in the fight against climate change but they do not have any idea how to go ahead with it. The book Every Day is Earth Day: Simple Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint by Harriet Dyer answers precisely this question. The most noteworthy feature of this book is that it does not deviate a bit from its focus and successfully delivers what it promises. It is a hand-manual for citizens to help them reduce their carbon footprint by making few changes in their lifestyle. The book is loaded with data and facts, excellent graphics, and sound suggestions and advice. There are no typographical errors. The book has been compiled very nicely and you will sense the commitment to the cause on part of the writer and publisher. As such, I do not have any criticism or negative feedback for this book; so I will give you a brief summary of the book.  

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Book Review: ‘301 Things To Draw’ By Editors Of Chartwell Books

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If you want to be successful in any form of art, you need to practise it regularly in order to hone up your skill. Otherwise, any gap in your practice would slide you back and erase whatever little progress you had made. This way you would find yourself forever beginning from scratch and never making any considerable progress. But easier said than done. If you are an artist, you would know that making a piece of art is easy when you are in mood or it is your hobby, but it loses its charm when you have to perform on demand. And here the demand is ‘regular practice’. Sometimes you do have the will and discipline to get up and sit at your working table, but have no idea where to start — what to draw and how to start with it. Note that here the first stroke is the most difficult step, for once you have overcome that hurdle, then the art would by itself pull you into it. Thereafter it becomes easy. But the first step — the artist’s block as it is called — is the most difficult phase. If you ask me, personally I do not consider it to be any issue. While sketching, I start drawing whatever object is lying in front of me.

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Book Review: ‘Beyond: Discoveries from the Outer Reaches of Space’ By Miranda Paul, Illus. By Sija Hong

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Everyone has a vision for the future — how to change the world and how to make it a better place to live. We are nobody to challenge anyone’s personal views, but some ideas look more sound and workable. For example, Nehru was of the opinion that the progress of India can be achieved primarily by science and technology. Post-independence, Prof Sarabhai envisioned harnessing space technology for India’s progress and growth. Indeed, if one looks forward to a bright future for oneself, society, nation or the world, then there doesn’t seem to be any other way than to invest in scientific temperament. Note that by scientific temperament I do not simply mean scientific and technological innovations and inventions, instead I use the term in a rather broad sense which implies looking at the world logically, critically and sensibly.

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Book Review: ‘Words Of Change — Climate’ By Christina Limpert

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Today I am sharing my views on the book Words of Change: Climate — Powerful Voices, Inspiring Ideas by Christina Limpert which I have received for review. This book is a collection of quotes by climate activists from different walks of life and is purportedly meant to encourage and motivate people to think seriously about climate crisis and to join the movement demanding necessary action. Before I give my opinion about this book, I would like to say few words which should help you in appreciating the motivation and scope of this book. When we talk about climate change, a question arises in nearly everybody’s mind — If climate crisis is such a big problem, why aren’t governments doing anything in that direction? Why such widespread and general apathy towards the biggest problem of our times? Yes, I do mean it — one single climate calamity can erase years of development and progress, pushing us several decades into the past. 

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My Association With Sri Ramakrishna And The Kathamrita

My copy of Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita as told by Sri M.

Today is the birth anniversary of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa (18 February 1836 — 16 August 1886). Although I had heard about him since my childhood, I didn’t know much about him. I always thought him to be similar to several other saints and divine personalities that this land has produced. I became more and more interested in him after reading Swami Vivekananda literature, who used to refer to his Master time and again. I got one small book containing compilation of quotes by Sri Ramakrishna, and was immediately touched and moved by the utter simplicity of his words and thoughts. It is remarkable to even think that such complex ideas of Indian philosophy and spirituality could be explained and elaborated in such simple words.

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Book Review: ‘Goodbye Phone, Hello World’ By Paul Greenberg

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Good Bye, Phone Hello World: 60 Ways to Disconnect from Tech and Reconnect to Joy by Paul Greenberg was the last book I read in 2020 and the first one that I am reviewing in 2021. In my opinion it is an important and an urgently needed book. That is the reason that I decided to start the book reviews this year with this book.

Good Bye Phone is about how we are losing out on our lives, our own interests, in small small bits and pieces, for the sake of something which is not even worth it. The focus of the whole book is to convey the urgency to get rid of smartphone addiction. In the first few pages of the book, the writer highlights the various ways in which smartphone is robbing you of your life. And remember that he is not just talking about the effect on your health or effect on your relationships. He tells you how seriously it is affecting your whole life and how you are being deprived of the various beautiful things which really mean to you.

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