From My Book-Shelf

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Freedom at Midnight

by Larry Collins, Dominique Lapierre

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This is the second Dominique Lapierre- Larry Collins book I have read. I love Indian history and this book traces the period between Mountbatten becoming the Viceroy till Gandhi’s assassination.

Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah and Mountbatten are the heroes of this book. Of them only Mountbatten was alive during research of this book so it is fair to say that the book can be biased and we can see that with how Mountbatten has been portrayed.

It shows as if he did his best to avoid a bloody partition but because of the irreconcilable differences between the Congress & the Muslim League, the nation had to be sliced quickly. However, it could also be very easily argued that the British left midway in a hurry which led to the bloodshed in 1947.

The book also says good things about Nehru and Gandhi but castigates Jinnah. That is why the book is still banned in Pakistan. But I will take those praises with a pinch of salt. The book goes behind the plot to kill Gandhi but does not delve into Sardar Patel’s effort to unite India clearly.

However, it is a good read and even though we know how this story ends it will keep the reader engaged. The one thing that stuck with me was how close we were to not being partitioned at all. Some “what if…” to wonder.

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The Lowland

by Jhumpa Lahiri

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I haven’t read a lot of Jhumpa Lahiri but I will pick up more of her books after this one.

The Lowland traces the journey of three people- two brothers and a wife set against the the background of a West bengal on the throes of the Naxalite  movement and the United States.

The book is about loss. All characters try to deal with the death of the younger brother as they try to adjust their lives around this tragedy. The book traces their lives as they go about dealing with their motivations & emotions.

It is well-written and the characters have been well etched out. Worth picking it up.

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Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

by Michael Moss

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Everybody must read this book. Everybody.

This book explores how the three most important components used in processed food today are manipulated to make them taste better and make us want them more.

The three components are: salt, sugar and fat. The author takes us to the biggest food companies in the US who started this trend and how we have a problem at hand with obesity today.

With India being touted as the next big market and the processed foods which are on our supermarket shelves led by these very companies, it is imperative that we read this book and become aware of what we eat.

Nothing will make you watch what you eat like this book does.

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Flood of Fire (Ibis Trilogy #3)

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This is the third and final book in the Ibis Trilogy by Amitav Ghosh. I read the first two back-to-back and their reviews are in the link here- Ibis Trilogy book reviews. This book culminates in the journey of those whose lives were affected by the ship Ibis. 

A good portion of this book is also spent on the battle between China and the British Empire (who used Indian soldiers largely) which have come to be known as the Opium Wars. 

I found this book okay due to the huge plethora of characters and their sub-plots which made it difficult to keep a track of all of them. But then if you have read the first two books in the series, you will want to read the third one for closure.

Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis Trilogy series has redefined the way historical fiction is written and the painstaking research and detail is reflected in this book as well. But I think the third book was not as good as the first two.

 

 

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To Kill a Mockingbird (To Kill a Mockingbird)

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I finally read this book and enjoyed the voice of the innocence of a child that this book takes up to tackle a mature topic of race in America. This classic by Harper Lee explores the racial tensions in a sleepy, Southern town in the US. The book is hugely popular and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, and now I can see why.

It explores the subject of race and the crisis of conscience which one can relate to strongly even now in a world where Donald Trump is running for the American Presidency. And it explores it in a way we view it in daily life- subtly and from our own eyes. It surrounds us in the conversations we have with people and the events occurring around us, but it never directly affects us. Here we see it through the eyes of a young, white girl who cannot grasp these mature topics in her innocent age and her interpretation of things.

It is a very good book to pick up, and I think should be taught in schools too.

 

 

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The Illicit Happiness of Other People

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My sister used to post quotes from this book on her instagram profile and something about the words written in this book attracted me to it. I had never heard of Manu Joseph before.

Ousep Chacko is a journalist whose life is now consumed by one thing- finding out why his 17-year old son Unni jumped from the balcony and killed himself. He meets Unni’s friends, classmates and everybody connected to him and finds out what his son was like.

But one thing eludes him- the reason why his son killed himself.

A friend of mine from college had asked me if I had read any life-changing books in a while, and I told her I hadn’t. When I finished this book, I told her I have read a book after a really long time that made me think hard about my life and can be considered life-changing.

Deeply philosophical and captivating, this book will take you down the rabbit hole and you will need to pull yourself out of it. I sincerely hope this book is picked up by more people over the dull mythological fiction we are gorging on nowadays.

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