From James D. Watson, author of one of the most definitive books on the structure of DNA, The Double Helix, comes a self-help book. Might seem like a disaster, considering the idiosyncratic persona that Watson projects in that book, which focused on two years in the life of this Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist. But Avoid Boring People is a book for those on their way up, as well as those on the top who don’t want their years as leaders to be meaningless. There’s much that is entertaining and historically revealing here. While some of Watson’s advice is wise (“never be the brightest person in the room”), some is obsolete, but his character sketches and humour make the book worth reading.
Avoid Boring People:
By James D. Watson,
Knopf, 368 pages,
This book has everything you need to know about the iPod. For its fifth anniversary, Steven Levy, technology reporter of Newsweek magazine and an Apple enthusiast, deconstructs “the most familiar, and certainly the most desirable, new object of the 21st century”. Levy combines reportage with a techie’s insight about the iPod’s place at “the centre of just about every controversy in the digital age”. Levy explores how the iPod is affecting social connections. He has had access to the main players in the iPod story, including Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and CEO, whom Levy has known for years. Borrowing one of the qualities of the iPod itself, The Perfect Thing shuffles the book format. Each chapter stands on its own—a researched, witty take on a different aspect of the iPod.
The Perfect Thing:
By Steven Levy,
Simon & Schuster, 304 pages,
Originally written in Malayalam (Njan Laingikatozhilaali), this book is a candid, first-person recounting of the life of Nalini Jameela, a sex worker and social activist. After it was first published, Jameela made headlines in Kerala, her home state, where people were offended by her matter-of-fact way of describing 30 years of her life as a sex worker. The book has been translated into five regional languages. The story of Jameela begins from the time she earned money for her family as a child labourer and goes on to describe the circumstances that led her to become a sex worker. Now, she works for the rights of sex workers in Thiruvananthapuram.
The Autobiography of a Sex Worker:
By Nalini Jameela,
Westland, 143 pages,
In her autobiography, Unbowed, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Wangari Maathai, paints a humble portrait of her rather exceptional life in Kenya. The first African woman to win the Nobel, Maathai takes readers to her oppressive childhood in Kenya, after which she went on to become a veterinarian. She is famous for Kenya’s Green Belt Movement (1977), which mobilized thousands of women to plant trees in an effort to restore the country’s indigenous forests. The most important chapters in the book deal with the issue of climate change.
Unbowed: My Autobiography:
By Wangari Maathai,
Arrow Books, 336 pages,
Another memoir by a Nobel laureate. The Caribbean-born author of Indian descent is famous for his intellectual rigour and sharp, critical voice. V.S. Naipaul’s 29th book, A Writer’s People, is about other writers such as Derek Walcott and Mahatma Gandhi; his childhood in Trinidad; his short career as a journalist and his own struggles as a writer wanting to present a true picture of the world. As expected, the knighted author is scathing in his criticism of intellectual life in India.
A Writer’s People: Ways of Seeing and Feeling:
By V.S. Naipaul,
Picador, 256 pages,
Courtesy: Landmark bookstore