April 24, 2018
by Neelima
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Readers can’t Digest-Week 181 (18-April to 24-April)

1. Ocean Vuong, well-known poet, nets global deals for debut novel

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2. Hackers Now Targeting Author Accounts on Createspace

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3. Chetan Bhagat to shift from longtime publishers Rupa Publications to Amazon with a multi-book deal

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4. Man Booker International Prize Announces Its 2018 Shortlist

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5. Kanye West is publishing a book in ‘real time’ via Twitter

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April 23, 2018
by Neelima
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Reincarnation and Book Factories @ BYOB Party in March 2018 (Part 4)

Image result for Many Mansions: The Edgar Cayce Story on Reincarnation amazonSudhi had planned to talk about a Dan Brown bestseller but then he changed his mind and picked something unique- a book called Many Mansions: The Edgar Cayce Story on Reincarnation by Gina Cerminara. Many times in life we wonder why things happen to us. Cerminara traces the story of how Edgar Cayce, the miracle man of Virginia Beach healed many using the theory of reincarnation as a crutch. An example Sudhi gave was of a woman who was partially paralyzed. Apparently, she was happy in a previous life when she witnessed a murder. The very thought resulted in her predicament (the karma argument) or so went the belief. “This book is good for those who like to read metaphysical psychic stuff,” Sudhi said.

Image result for where the wind blows patterson amazonSrikanth, a 10th grader, arrived to speak about a book by James Patterson called Where the Wind Blows.  The story starts with a young veterinarian whose husband has been murdered. Kit arrives to solve this case and another murder that cropped up. The search leads to a tale filled with biology gone haywire and children with wings. It’s an exciting read and easy to finish as the chapters are about a page or two long. There were a couple of James Patterson fans at the Party.

If you are interested in how Patterson Inc. works, you must read this article in the NY Times. Here’s a snippet:

“The way it usually works, Patterson will write a detailed outline — sometimes as long as 50 pages, triple-spaced — and one of his co-authors will draft the chapters for him to read, revise and, when necessary, rewrite. When he’s first starting to work with a new collaborator, a book will typically require numerous drafts. Over time, the process invariably becomes more efficient. Patterson pays his co-authors out of his own pocket. On the adult side, his collaborators work directly and exclusively with Patterson. On the Y.A. side, they sometimes work with Patterson’s young-adult editor, who decides when pages are ready to be passed along to Patterson.”

Many other series were discussed including those of Agatha Christie and the obvious Harry Potter. If you want to know how to write a series, you can check out a series we have written about it, quite a long one- with four parts- 1, 2, 3, and 4. We’ve also made a Visual Friday infographic on series that are faves; you might want to have a look at it if you are a series buff.

 

Visual Friday: Five Must-read Books About Planet Earth

April 20, 2018 by Neelima | 0 comments

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April 19, 2018
by Neelima
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Pronouns @ Link Wanderlust

The pronoun dons an important role in grammar. It shows you the who and this gives agency to whoever it is you are talking about. Stephanie Golden has been a copyeditor for many years and she’s overseen many changes in the way language has been used from simplification to a vocabulary that keeps feminism in mind. Yet, she was pleasantly surprised by the Chicago and Associated Press decided to accept the use of ‘they’ as a singular pronoun.

“Paula Froke, the AP Stylebook lead editor, gives two reasons for embracing ‘they’: ‘recognition that the spoken language uses they as singular’ and ‘the need for a pronoun for people who don’t identify as a he or a she’. The first ‘they’, as in ‘Everyone can decide which personal pronoun best matches their identity’, is what people have been doing for centuries anyway; most of us already use it without thinking. But the second usage, which raises fundamental questions about identity, society and the nature of reality itself, has met furious resistance.”
Altering language is one way of tackling gender biases at the grassroots. It may sound odd in the beginning but over time it can become the norm and what’s the harm if it uplifts people whose identities have been quashed because of the pronoun they don’t belong to? Read We need the singular ‘they’ – and it won’t seem wrong for long by Stephanie Golden.
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April 17, 2018
by Neelima
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Readers can’t Digest-Week 180 (11-April to 17-April)

1. Three judges for the Nobel Literature Prize have resigned

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2. Malala’s father strikes memoir deals in multiple territories

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3. Forthcoming biography of Formula 1 driver Kimi Räikkönen generating big buzz

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4. The Fall of Gondolin, ‘new’ JRR Tolkien book, to be published in 2018

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5. James Comey’s memoir to launch next week

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April 16, 2018
by Neelima
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Translations and Collaborators @ BYOB Party in March 2018 (Part 3)

Image result for Six Acres and a ThirdAmruta loves translations and she often mentions how difficult it is to get a good translation. There are several translations available but most of the books have a transliterative approach. “A good translation is the second original,” she said. The BYOB Party at IISc had heated debates about the effectiveness of translation. Fakir Mohan Senapati’s classic Oriya novel Six Acres and a Third is a brilliant translation. This relevantly unknown author changed the course of Odiya literature. To understand the scope of his writing, Amruta offered a comparison that every Indian could identify with – Fakir Mohan Senapati is to Odiya literature what Tagore is to Bengali literature. The plot of the story is layered and revolves around an evil landlord Ramachandra Mangarag. What makes Senapati’s novel ‘s style close to that of magical realism, although it is a realist novel, is the alternating perspectives he uses, including that of the horse, the villager and the foot-soldier. He uses the second person to bring the reader into the conversation; so reading this classic becomes exciting and far from the tedious experience that many people described reading classics engendered. His satirical verve makes the story a joy to read. The book talks about British colonialism; the naivety of the general public; the problem of power, wealth and ownership; linguistic relevance and Oriya cultural presence.

It was also interesting to read about this unknown literary genius and the reason behind his name is a story in itself. If you wonder how Senapati became Fakir, read this review in The Hindu.

Apurba was greatly saddened while reading The Collaborator by Mirza Waheed. This autobiographical account of Kashmir in the 1990s tells the tale of a Gujjar village, the relevant absence of religious fundamentalism until much later and how jingoism is irrelevant to ordinary people. In fact, everyone is merely trying to lead a simple life. The army man too is trying to do his job. Even militancy grows like a tumor; the way it changes one’s mind is a cumulation of various causes and effects. The discussion veered to the presence of violence and the people who really suffer, ordinary people who do not want to lose their families to futile violence. Here’s a brilliant review of this book by Kamila Shamsie.

You can read an interview with the author here.

More books in Part 4.

Visual Friday: Write and Wrong – Ctrl C

April 13, 2018 by Neelima | 0 comments

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April 12, 2018
by Neelima
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Nursery Rhymes @ Link Wanderlust

In her essay Nursery rhymes: How murder, theft and fake news found their way into the tales we tell our children  Flora Watkins explores how the good old nursery rhymes that children are taught are verbal missiles of sorts, complete with murder, lust and cruelty.

“Indeed, after analysing nursery rhymes in the late 1940s, the writer Geoffrey Handley-Taylor pronounced that about half had ‘unsavoury elements’, including murder, cruelty to animals, decapitation, physical violence and ‘stealing and general dishonesty’. “

Many nursery rhymes are dissected. Humpty Dumpty is supposedly a riddle whose answer is ‘egg’; Lavender’s Blue is a tale of seduction, Ring a Ring o’ Roses is not about the plague as is commonly taught and Hey Diddle Diddle is probably just a nonsense poem. This is not to discourage you from reading rhymes to your children or in classrooms but to make you aware of the connotations of these lyrics. If you are a nursery rhyme buff, it would be a good idea to read this story, if only to make you more aware of the stories we tell our children.

 

 

 

April 10, 2018
by Neelima
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Readers can’t Digest-Week 179 (4-April to 10-April)

1. Debut author Weike Wang wins PEN/Hemingway for her book Chemistry

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2. The Rathbones Folio Prize Shortlist Is Announced

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3. Fury as Man Booker bows to pressure to list Taiwan as Chinese province

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4. Publisher of ‘Things Fall Apart’ faces collapse as court orders its sale

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5. Amazon is Shutting Down Its Crowd-Sourcing Platform, Kindle Scout

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April 9, 2018
by Neelima
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Nuclear War and the Periodic Table @ BYOB Party in March 2018 (Part 2)

There was a bit of doom and gloom in the BYOB Party.

Image result for Has Man a Future?amazonArchit got the famous book Sapiens by Yuval Harari. We’ve talked about the book many times. It made sense that the book he bought with it was Has Man a Future? by Bertrand Russell, one of the world’s most eminent philosophers of the twentieth century. The book was written during the Cold War when the world was on the brink of nuclear war. What struck Archit as scary was that book is relevant even today.  Even today, disarmament hasn’t turned into a collective objective with guns entering classrooms and nuclear warheads raising their heads in political banter. The possibility of a nuclear war is not exaggerated.

Image result for sapiensamazonAlthough Sapiens means Wise, the term is at best ironic. In the book, Sapiens, Harari explains how man evolved and hasn’t become wiser. He seemed to have been better off in the pre-agricultural era when he was a hunter-gatherer.  This was the only time in recorded history that he was aware of the food that he ate and the true nature of his surroundings. An argument grew around this- can anyone know everything? Doesn’t the very reason for stratification and division of labor stem from the fact that knowledge is shared property? Since there is a discrepancy in the time required for evolution to occur and the lightning speed of the human brain, inequality is the norm. Human beings have always tipped the scale and so this whole idea of an equal society in pursuit of happiness is silly. Sapiens is an important book simply because of the arguments it encourages. Part 2 of the book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, is equally horrific in the way it lays bare mankind’s stupidity.

Amrutha talked about a six-part sci-fi story set in a dystopian world where only Korea remains, the rest having being destroyed by nuclear war,  and mentioned how human beings are reborn as their prehistoric ancestors. Can anyone tell me which book this is? All my google searching didn’t help.

Image result for the periodic table primo levi amazonRitu was spurred to get a copy of a book she read long ago when she was young and later again when she was older. The book called The Periodic Table by Primo Levi is a series of short stories which tells the author’s own story- his experience being an Italian Jewish chemist during the World War era, a particularly unfortunate time to be Jewish.  Each story in the book is named after a particular element, which very cleverly becomes heavier and heavier towards the end of the book.  The book begins with so much promise but towards the end, the author must face the concentration camp. Although the ending is sad, it feels like dusk, Ritu says, beautiful and filled with color but with the heaviness of the ending day.

Amrutha read this book too and wondered how teachers could make a subject like chemistry so boring. “You need to include one of these chapters in the school curriculum,” she said. That’s a nice thought.