December 11, 2018
December 10, 2018
Anuradha, a voracious reader, enjoyed reading The Uncommon Reader: A Novella by Alan Bennett. The premise of the book is adorable- what happens when a monarch becomes a book addict? There will be consequences, of course. With unmistakable British humor, Bennett traces the lifecycle of the reader. A reader is consumed by a book and utterly changed by the time the book is digested. “Consciously and unconsciously, books shape the voice in your head. It changes the way you perceive reality. In this case, the Queen ignores her royal duties and I am sure many of us have ignored our duties as well, especially when we are caught up in a book!” Anuradha said.
The readers in the room sighed in collective agreement.
Manya spoke about the bestselling book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. The story revolves around Christopher John Francis Boone, a boy who knows his facts and has a photographic memory but can not comprehend emotion. “The plot changes every 50 pages and is readable in one sitting,” Manya said. She also read out a delightful passage from the book:
“The psychologist at school once asked me why 4 red cars in a row made it a Good Day, and 4 red cars in a row made it a Quite Good Day, and 5 red cars in a row made it a Super Good Day, and why 4 yellow cars in a row made it a Black Day, which is a day I don’t speak to anyone and sit on my own reading books and don’t eat my lunch and Take No Risks. He said that I was clearly a very logical person, so he was surprised that I should think like this because it wasn’t very logical. I said that I liked things to be in a nice order. And one way of things being in a nice order was to be logical. Especially if those things were numbers or an argument. But there were other ways of putting things in a nice order.”
More books in Part 4.
December 7, 2018
December 6, 2018
Historically speaking, the identity of the author is irrelevant when it comes to critiquing the book. Memoir fraud could benefit readers. Books like James Frey’s memoir of recovery from addiction to alcohol and crack cocaine may resonate with individuals who read the book to understand more about the deaddiction process. Sometimes autobiographies represent not an individual but a group of individuals and so a little bit of tampering with veracity is justifiable. Karl Ove Knausgaard’s multivolume work My Struggle seems to be true as well but autoficton could very well be fictional, authenticity only a matter of how real it seems to the reader or how well the writer makes up the truth.
“But that was then, and this, to put it mildly, is now. The rules have changed. The ethics of authorship are completely different. In academic discourse, hybridity is out; intersectionality is in. People are imagined as the sum of their race, gender, sexuality, ableness, and other identities. Individuals not only bear the entire history of these identities; they “own” them. A person who is not defined by them cannot tell the world what it is like to be a person who is. If you were not born it, you should not perform it.”
December 4, 2018
December 3, 2018
Ralph spoke economics at the BYOB Party this time. The book he focused on this time was Investment Philosophies by Aswath Damodaran, a well-known academic and practitioner in finance.
It’s a very interesting book, a reference textbook for management students too. There are some very descriptive exercises which I didn’t do as I was intimidated by the prospect. It’s the perfect guide for investors who want a better understanding of investment strategies including indexing, passive and activist value investing, growth investing, chart/technical analysis, market timing, arbitrage, etc. It’s no book for a novice and is based entirely on empirical studies. No gut feel or magic wand here.
You can follow Damodaran’s YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLvnJL8htRR1T9cbSccaoVw
The economics trend continued with Devanshu who talked about The Price of Inequality by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz. Turns out inequality doesn’t help the privileged either in the long run. Stiglitz does an in-depth study of what leads to inequality- unpredictable markets and faulty political systems. Adam Smith was discussed as is the case when economics is brought up. Indira mentioned an insightful book called The Growth Delusion by David Pilling, a revelatory and entertaining book about the pitfalls of how we measure our economy and how to correct them. If you are looking for the equivalent of Strunk and White of Economics, look no further than the book Economics in one Lesson by Henry Hazlitt- another good book to understand the economy. To understand the story of runaway capitalism, watch The Lorax.
More books in Part 3.
November 29, 2018
What are the traits that a writer has? Is there any genetic peculiarity, any mannerism or habit that grants the label? Karen E.Bender creates a list of qualities like the love of language and sensitivity, an openness to the imagination, stubbornness and the ability to be deluded.
“A delusion is problematic if you’re, say, refusing to acknowledge that a certain person actually does not like you, or if you’re sinking into debt, or if you’re hearing voices. But in creating art, in sitting down in front of a blank page and saying, “I am going to write a novel,” or a story, or anything that does not have a clear outcome or map, delusion (or, perhaps deep suppression of the incredible difficulty of this undertaking) can have a use.
Makes you wonder about the truth behind most writers. To be fair, not all writers have similar experiences or personalities. Can a broad yardstick be used to define nearly all writers of our time? Perhaps not but a writer or at least the world’s perception of one is a stubborn bull who loves words and is sensitive to nuances that non-writers do not write about. Inspiration aside, a writer is somewhat consistent in his pagely ambition.
November 27, 2018
November 26, 2018
This November, we hosted the BYOB Party along with The Takshashila Institution at Church Street in Bangalore. The ambience of the Institution was perfect for heated book discussions.
Apurba kicked off the BYOB Party with a book by Charles Allen called Plain Tales From The Raj: Images of British India in the 20th Century. Apurba identified with Allen’s book as the book spoke about British cantonments, the kind where she had grown up with clubs where seating arrangements were hierarchical. This oral history of the British Raj threw light on the Anglo-Indian community in India and the prejudices they faced.
Another book, Apurba picked up was Plain Tales from the Hills by Rudyard Kipling. It’s available on gutenberg.org as well. Apurba enjoyed Kipling’s observations on life in colonial times. These musings were of a time gone by with rulers who have shed their crown. One must read it keeping this in mind, says Apurba. She added as an aside that there is a park called the Kanha National Park where everything is named after Kipling. You can read more about this park where Jungle Book comes to life here.
M.N Rajeev continued with the theme of the India that remains unknown to Indians when he spoke about a book called Zorami- A Redemption Song by Malasawmi Jacob. This is the first novel ever written by a Mizo (a tribal community in North East India) writer in English. The book tells the story of Zorami the protagonist in the unfolding context of Mizo history, particularly the Mizo Uprising. So little is known about the roots of the Mizo tribe and its history (including that of the uprising in the famine) and strangely there is very little curiosity about this part of the world. The book opened up a region in Indian geography that most Indian readers confine to a single phrase in a textbook. The book is an interesting piece of what could be called faction, an intricate mixture of facts and fiction, the most ideal way to understand history. M.N. Rajeev read out an intriguing excerpt from the book.
Chapter 29: A burned-out stub
“Dinpui, Dinpui, min lo nghak rawh! Min kalsan suh! Wait for me. Don’t leave me!” Sanga mumbles.
A startled Zorami puts down the book she has been reading and gazes at her sleeping husband.
She sits up and shakes him awake. “U Sang, what is it? Who are you calling?”
He sits up and rubs his eyes. She puts a hand on his shoulder and asks, “What is troubling you?”
“A sad dream.”
“Who is Dinpuii?”
After a long silence he tells her.
Dinpuii is the girl he loved. He can’t forget her, though he has tried.
Zorami feels like she’s hurling down into a black abyss.
And then she feels nothing. No anger, no grief, no emotion at all. Only a heavy deadness. “No wonder there’s no spark of romance in our life together. He’s only a burned out stub, poor guy!” she thinks.
At last, in a flat, lifeless voice she manages to ask, “Where is she now?”
More books in Part 2.