2019-18

 

Time as a Metaphor of History: Early India

Time as a Metaphor of History: Early India

by Romila Thapar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In her thoroughly conclusive lecture note, historian Romila Thapar calls upon the hypocrisy of former colonial Indologist who discard the idea of circular notion of time in ancient Indian text.

As she argues about the notion of time and recording of history in ancient India, she touches upon the topic of dharma, Kaliyuga and philosophical aspects and implications of adopting multiple (linear and circular) frameworks of depicting time. This heavily cited book draws points from not just Hindu but also Buddhist and Jain cultures in India and Sri Lanka.

A compelling yet tough read!


Metamorphosis and Other Stories

Metamorphosis and Other Stories

by Franz Kafka
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Simple concept. Simple setup. But what a narrative. Kafka defines the meaning of the term 'alienation' as we experience it in our daily lives.

The story of coping with change, self-identity, self-esteem and family life. Kafka keen and observant eyes don't miss a single detail.

An extraordinary command in language and human perception. This is what makes this story worth reading and re-reading. A masterpiece!


The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1)

The Three-Body Problem

by Liu Cixin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Liu Cixin rightly points out the capacity of science fiction stories: to create new universes. In this book, he weaves a story that has cosmological, quantum and political concepts moving in synergy. The story also points at the greatest virtue of humankind ie. curiosity.

Cixin's vision of a harmonious world (which he shares in the author's transcript) is enlightening and inspiring.

A profound and fun read!


The Image of the City

The Image of the City

by Kevin Lynch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kevin Lynch's thesis is a spectacular piece of research that attempted to theorise the idea of city forms. Very few researchers have managed to intervene in the abstractness that research premise offers and come up with such powerful yet simple connotations. It is no wonder that this book is helping city planners develop a better layout for the new city sectors. The book also describes the effect of a city landscape on its inhabitants.

An extract from this book was a pre-read for our course 'Narratives of a Place: Bridging Future + Past' which I enrolled as a part of International Open Elective 2018. This lead me to read the entire book.

All in all, a good read for people interested in city planning, navigation, city forms, cartography and civic policies.


 
 

Design as Art

Design as Art

by Bruno Munari
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Humorous, insightful and an engaging read. A must read for anyone who confuses between art and design. The author presents a viable case with respect to industrial and visual design. The chapters are not essentially list based and the book is worthy of many re-reads. Some of my best quotes are as follows:

"Anyone who uses a properly designed object feels the presence of an artist who has worked for him, bettering his living conditions and encouraging him to develop his taste and sense of beauty."

"When one studies something characteristic of a people it is wise to look at its best side, at least if one wants to learn anything."

"Errors in construction do not arise from the aesthetics aspects of a thing, but from neglect of the natural and logical techniques of construction."

"Subtract rather than add"


Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ray Bradbury's book is a fine example of a society that lacks imagination, critical thinking and memory. His text, which is less intense than George Orwell's 1984, succeeds in painting a universe which might serve as a precursor to the well known Orwellian dystopia.

Inspired from historic events like the burning of the library of Alexandria, Hitler's exploits to erase literature and others, the book raises the critical question of importance of reading and writing books in the context of digital media that has emerged in the recent decades. It is also a tale of freedom of expression and free will, of how instituitions mould the print media to realise their political agenda.

On a deeper note, it scratches the purpose of living a fulfilling and memorable life, elaborating the idea of 'touching' others with one's actions. Its poetic in that sense and reveals the frame of the author who constantly questions the role of authority and civilians in the building a community. That these events, however subtly, still exists in our society and Fahrenheit 451 is a burning reminder of the danger that looms over liberal thought and expression.


 

2016-17

 

Futurism: The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Futurism: The Museum of Modern Art, New York

by Joshua C. Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the few books that gives an in-depth knowledge on the painting philosophies and techniques of the modern masters. Futurism started in Italy as a successor of Cubism and Surrealism, and propagated the embrace of speed, industrialization and an abstinence of old traditions. The books discusses this philosophy in detail and goes into the analysis of iconic painting, architecture and sculptures made as a part of this movement. Famous works include that of Balla, Russolo, Marcel Duchamp, Carra, Boccioni, etc.


Ways of Seeing

Ways of Seeing

by John Berger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

John Berger brings a new perspective to the reader on the known and conspicuous changes that have occurred due to the advent of digital photography and printing, how it has taken a toll on the viewership of original paintings. This book is a continuation of his BBC TV series 'The Way of Series'. The book and show raise many interesting topics like the idea behind the portrayal of a woman in western paintings, the idea of possession and how it got represented in western paintings, etc.

Definitely worth a read. But please watch the TV series before it.


India Becoming A Journey through a Changing Landscape

India Becoming: A Journey through a Changing Landscape

by Akash Kapur
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book is a appreciative/critical take on the situation that India is in today from a point of view of a person who spent majority of his life in India, considerable part in the West, returning back again in search of social stability and career opportunities at the same time.

In this book, Akash Kapur takes very basic examples some heavy and to a point depressing to empathise the nature of growth in India is closer to the phrase "All that glitters is not gold".

The book raises several aspects that contribute to Indian growth as well as its depredation; many political, some social and economical. Akash describes India's advent as a 'roller-coaster' ride that might be in full-throttle and is exciting but at the same time seems to have lost its control.

"The first step to solving a problem is realising there is one". Maybe through his words, Akash tries to wake up his fellow citizens and realise the nature of country's development and act accordingly.

Beautifully put forward! A must read for every individual who seeks/is contributing in the country's future.

The Art of Creative Thinking

The Art of Creative Thinking

by Rod Judkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rod Judkins means it when he says that there is no particular order to read this book.
You can start from any chapter you wish and Rod navigates you through his book based on how you think at the end of each chapter. That is, according to me, one creative way of writing a book.

If you find yourself in a dilemma in your creative pursuit or are facing a writers' block, give this a try.
Amazing book to read and own a copy of. Definitely recommending everyone.

Socrates' Defence (Little Black Classics, #52)

Socrates' Defence

by Plato
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"But now it is time for us to leave: for me, to go to my death, And for you to go on living. Whether it's you or I who are going to a better thing is clear to no one but the god." One thing is pretty clear, Socrates defies customs, shuns pretence and shallow character till his last moments of life. Such rigid is his resolution that he is not afraid to quietly resign from his vocal state. By linking his goals with divinity, Socrates had not only made his purpose worthwhile but also undying.

An introduction to oratory and debating skills. Numerous techniques and nuances of fine spokesmanship is displayed in the book.

The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye

by J.D. Salinger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Have you ever been in a state of complete confusion; your personal anger and anxiousness lashing out in various forms. Happens to everyone once in a while.

Note: This is not a teenager's book, it's a book about a teenager.

About, how loneliness and depression slowly creeps in your life. About how one's quest to find the meaning of his surroundings can uncover bitter truthfulness and how death of a loved one can deeply and psychologically effect you.

Holden is the teenager in you, in me, in everyone. Trying to find the answer to the question "What's the point of all this?" Many times his seemingly rebellious acts makes him believe that he can take care of himself. But all that blows up in the face of reality. Then again he realises that and turns to literature to find answers.

Sounds familiar? This happens to all of us. In this post-Facebook era, one can find a Holden in oneself everyday. JD Salinger wrote this subtle piece outlining the constant state of turmoil an individual can be in and the subsequent depression it brings along.