Abhaya had a long reading list.
There was his favorite author Mannu Bhandari’s Hindi book Bina Deewaron ke Ghar, a story about the quintessentially jealous husband who encouraged his wife but is in a quandary once his wife is successful.
Krishna Sobti’s Mitro Marjani is another Hindi book that Abhaya enjoyed. The language is lively and filled with enjoyable Punjabi phrases which add to the provative story of an aggressive female protagonist. The story deconstructs the idea of how a woman in a so-called respectable family should be.
It was mathematics, however, that stole the session. The Music of the Primes: Searching to Solve the Greatest Mystery in Mathematics by Marcus du Sautoy is a book suitable for most readers, though Abhaya would have prefered to savor the equations themselves, rather than the explanations. The book gives a history of Euler right up to Riemann’s hypothesis.
Another in depth historical account is An Imaginary Tale: The Story of the Square Root of Minus One by Paul J.Nahin. The story is about i in mathematical parlance- the earliest encounters of i and how various mathematicians dealt with it, some ignoring it, some using it cautiously while remaining perplexed and others boldly going where no one had gone before. It was a struggle of hundreds of years after which mathematicians were comfortable enough with the idea to start using it like any other tool.
Another brilliant book on mathematics that Abhaya spoke about and some of us could relate to was A Mathematician’s Lament by Paul Lockhart. Mathematics should be taught for intellectual pleasure instead of the disconnected method of techniques and notations devoid of any context. This 35 page treatise explains how education is destroying mathematics. It should be fun rather than an impossible problem.
Another book he read was Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel, founder of Paypal. The book is based on a series of lectures the author gave in a course at Stanford. It doesn’t help you start a start up but makes a strong case for starting one. Abhaya wouldn’t called it a ground breaking book, in spite of the recommendations on the blurb from Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
Have you read Part 1 of the Talking Terrace Book Club yet?