Daily Archives: August 8, 2015

The Night Life of Trees by Durga Bai, Bhajju Shyam and Ram Singh Urveti

The Night Life of Trees by Bhajju Shyam Title: The Night Life of Trees
Author: Durga Bai, Bhajju Shyam and Ram Singh Urveti
Publisher: Tara Books
ISBN: 978-8186211922
Genre: Picture Book, Non-Fiction, Mythology
Pages: 48
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Trees are strange. Trees are comforting. Trees have histories and tales spun around them. Trees also have a life of their own which cannot be gauged by humans. Keeping this in mind and all the tradition and myths behind trees of India, tribal artists in conjunction with Tara Books have published a beautiful limited edition hand-made book called “The Night Life of Trees” and I cannot begin to praise and admire it.

The Night Life of Trees by Bhajju Shyam - Image 1

I am not the one for trees and their stories and what they are all about, but after reading this book and soaking in all the illustrations, I want to know more about them, in fact, everything about them. This book is testimony to the living masters of the Gond art form.

Snakes and Earth

Snakes and Earth

There are a total of 19 trees featured in this book and each one is with a story from mythology or seems to be a fairy tale or just is, which is what you will love and cherish as a reader.

All of them

All of them

The images are alongside the description and make for some beautiful viewing. Moreover, the handmade paper is to die for – quite literally. You will fall in love with it.

The Tree of Intoxication

The Tree of Intoxication

The trees in our country are exotically named like the Khirsali, Nagphani, Sembar and so many more after Gods, Goddesses, Serpents and also Birds and Humans.

The Silkworm's Home

The Silkworm’s Home

“The Night Life of Trees” is a treat for everyone to own and keep going back to it. The art will for sure make you.

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Pitch Dark by Renata Adler

Pitch Dark by Renata Adler Title: Pitch Dark
Author: Renata Adler
Publisher: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 978-1590176146
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 168
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

I had heard so much about Renata Adler’s books that there was no way I would not read them or at least one of them. So when “Pitch Dark” came my way, I knew I would love it. There are some books you just know you will enjoy no matter what and for me this is one of them. So you read what your instincts tell you will be a good book and you know that they will never lie. And with this belief I read “Pitch Dark” and loved Ms. Adler’s writing.

“Pitch Dark” is a strange book, in the sense that it has one storyline but told in a non-linear fashion – completely fragmented and yet connects in one way or the other. The book is about a woman and her affair with a married man. I am putting it loosely but that’s what it is at the core. There is this melancholy element that runs throughout the book – of unrequited love without it becoming dramatic or sentimental. It is what it is. Adler’s writing is raw, almost like a tornado that hits you and all you want to do is run and yet stay.

There are three sections to the book. The first one where Kate Ennis is told by her lover that he is leaving her or so it seems. Either way, they aren’t together. The second part of the book is on Kate taking off to Ireland and London to stay away and to get her life together and things go terribly wrong in those places as well. The third and final section is of her coming back and contemplating on getting back with her lover.

There is a lot of angst in the book. There is a lot of pain and at the same time there are so many tender moments like that of a raccoon coming to its death in her house in the first chapter to her knowing that things will never be the same. Adler’s writing is sharp, witty and satirical. It is uneasy. It is also quite a surprise in most places but more than anything else it is a pleasurable read in so many places that time just flies by and you will not know when this book ended. I will most certainly reread it this year.

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The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit Title: The Faraway Nearby
Author: Rebecca Solnit
Publisher: Viking
ISBN: 9780670025961
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

When you read Rebecca Solnit, you are in effect reading a world. I don’t say this flippantly mind you. I say this with utmost earnestness because this is what her writing does to you. It makes you consider the world and what it is made of, what it is not and what it should be. It makes you think, feel and perhaps at some point change your life. I started my Rebecca Solnit journey when I read “A Field Guide to Getting Lost” which I highly recommend to one and all. This book that is “The Faraway Nearby” is all about storytelling and empathy in various forms and emotions as we live along the years.

“The Faraway Nearby” is a meditation of sorts – it quietly urges you to sometimes be alone and sometimes just observe the world as it goes by. I know maybe I am being too philosophical, but trust me when I say that this book makes you think logically and emotionally at the same time, which is a rare feat in itself.

So what is this book about?

It is about Solnit’s mother’s Alzheimer’s and the stories that weave through her childhood and adulthood, step by step as the disease unfolds itself and how those stories have helped her shape her life and destiny. It is also book the far-reaching impact of stories in our lives and how they make us who we are and stay with us right till the very end.

The book uncovers failed and successful relationships. It speaks of illness, mortality and its limitations, and of having an identity which is so prone to change and how to actually make it more stable. Solnit introspects all of this through a legacy of an abundant crop of apricots from a tree at her mother’s former home. The chapters are intertwined with memories, harsh realities and so many consolations in being alive and all of this is linked to the way those apricots are rotting and what she does with them.

“The Faraway Nearby” is an exploration, it is also a kaleidoscope, and it could also very well be just a manifesto on how to live (at least for me). It is not a self-help book. It does not preach. It does not sermonize. It just reflects and speaks of the world we live in and how stories and empathy are heavily dependent on each other.

Here are some quotes from the book to give you an idea of what the book is like:

“A book is a heart that only beats in the chest of another.”

“Books are solitudes in which we meet.”

“The present rearranges the past. We never tell the story whole because a life isn’t a story; it’s a whole Milky Way of events and we are forever picking out constellations from it to fit who and where we are.”

“The object we call a book is not the real book, but its potential, like a musical score or seed. It exists fully only in the act of being read; and its real home is in the head of the reader, where the symphony resounds, the seed germinates.A book is a heart that beats in the chest of another.”

“Pain serves a purpose. Without it you are in danger. What you cannot feel you cannot take care of.”

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Little Boy Brown by Isobel Harris and Andre François

Little Boy Brown by Isobel Harris Title: Little Boy Brown
Author: Isobel Harris
Illustrator: Andre François
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Pages: 48
Source: Personal
Rating: 4/5

I read Little Boy Brown. I finally picked it up and read it. It is a children’s book and yet says so much about the way we live our lives or that is what I took away from it. The book is actually about stepping out a lot more and seeing the world and living instead of being cooped at home. That is exactly what “Little Boy Brown” does one day and has the time of his life. He is all but four and a half years old.

Little Boy Brown by Isobel Harris - Image 1

The book is about childhood and its memories and what will stay and what will be forgotten. It is about Little Boy Brown who is lonely; whose parents have no time for him, and they live in a Manhattan hotel where everything is connected to subways and tunnels and elevators and they hardly get out as they are used to this life. Only the boy can go out and he loves it. So one fine day he steps out with Hilda – the family’s maid and sees her world, which changes the way he looks at things and people.

Little Boy Brown by Isobel Harris - Image 2

I absolutely loved this charming picture book which has so much in it for both, children and adults. There is so much empathy, sensitivity and a look at how different people lead their lives differently. It is about a city that is so fast-paced that it forgets people who lead quiet lives and there is so much to learn from those lives as well. The illustrations by Andre Francois are charming and all done in white and brown which make the book unique and quaint.

“Little Boy Brown” is a book to be read by everyone just to know that life is also about slowing down and smelling the roses once in a while.

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After the Crash by Michel Bussi

After the Crash by Michel Bussi Title: After the Crash
Author: Michel Bussi
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group, Hachette
Genre: Thriller, Literary Thriller
Pages: 400
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

“After the Crash” by Michel Bussi is one thriller you simply have to read this year. Let me write this review a little differently this time. I will give you 10 reasons to read this book and please, please, please read it for sure:

1. A thriller that will have you turn the pages faster than you can gasp for air. You would have to gasp for breath because every page guarantees a twist that you would not have seen coming.
2. There are stories within stories and who does not like a book like that must not be left out there on the bookshelf. It deserves a place in your library and for you to read it and be stunned by the ending.
3. It is about a single survivor of a plane crash and the investigation that carries on for twenty years in France and Turkey.
4. The book is so fast that you will finish it in one sitting. If not, then you will consider doing that for sure.
5. It is very clever. The writing is intricate and it is very detailed which is needed for a book of this nature.
6. The book makes you feel for the character which to me rarely happens in thrillers and this is quite a unique reason to read this one.
7. Two families are battling it out for twenty years over the custody of a child. So how do you work out who she is? This story is set in the days before the DNA testing. There, another reason – an edge of the seat thriller for sure.
8. The story is only driven by characters and some amazing thrills and a couple of chills along the way
9. The scenes of the crash and its aftermath and the break-neck speed at which the plot moves
10. All in all a read that will not disappoint for sure

These are my 10 reasons why you should read the book. Go for it! Order it now.

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