Diwali Special: Shining a new light

This Diwali, let these books inspire you to see the familiar world with fresh eyes

THE SHOOTING STAR—A GIRL, HER BACKPACK AND THE WORLD

by Shivya Nath (Penguin Random House, 299)

How many of us have idly wondered about giving up our day jobs and setting off on the road? Shivya Nath embraced that fantasy at the age of 23, when she quit her lucrative corporate job to travel the world. After being on the road for close to seven years, Nath revisits her adventures in this memoir, taking us to remote and beautiful corners of the globe, revealing the secrets to her successful footloose life, her struggles as a freelance professional, and the practical challenges of obtaining visas on her Indian passport.

AND THE OCEAN WAS OUR SKY

by Patrick Ness and illustrated by Rovina Gai (Penguin Random House, 450)

This graphic revisiting of the classic tome on whale hunting by Hermann Melville might be the book to light up your Diwali. Told from the perspective of whales, who have set out to hunt men, this hauntingly illustrated re-telling takes us back to a primal world, where only the fittest survive. With his light but assured touch, Ness teases out the grey truths, as Cai’s shadowy lines and fuzzy shapes complement the riveting plot.

WE ARE THE NERDS—THE BIRTH AND TUMULTUOUS LIFE OF REDDIT, THE INTERNET’S CULTURE LABORATORY

by Christine Lagorio-Chafkin (Hachette India, 699)

Not many of us may understand it, but Reddit is where the internet happens. Or so it would seem from the sheer traffic that goes to this platform, making it the sixth most visited portal in the world. In this monumental study, Lagorio-Chafkin traces the fascinating evolution of Reddit from the time it was founded by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, two student video-gamers who turned into Silicon Valley millionaires, to its present avatar, where it acts as “a mirror of the internet itself", creating incredible connections, harbouring trolls, generating memes and also acting as the cesspool for the dark web.

LIBRARY OF BANGLADESH

(Seagull Books, 499 each)

In the past decade, some of the most affecting literature in Bengali has emerged from Bangladesh, though not enough have been made available in English. The Library Of Bangladesh series seeks to fill this lacuna by bringing out works by some of the most distinguished contemporary writers from the nation, such as Hasan Azizul Huq, Syed Shamshul Haq, Moinul Ahsan Saber and Rizia Rahman. Translated by Bhaskar Chattopadhyay, Saugata Ghosh, Shabnam Nadiya and Arunava Sinha, the novels and short stories help us visualize the gruelling social and political realities of our geographical neighbour.

HIPPIE

by Paulo Coelho (Penguin Random House, 399)

Fans of Paulo Coelho are offered a good hard look into the life of their hero in this dazzling memoir of living on the edge. Flirting with death and drugs young Paulo, a Brazilian with a goatee, sets out on a heady trail that runs through Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Amsterdam, even Kathmandu. In his quest to find his calling as a writer, Coelho sets out on a journey that will become the fodder for his later creative output.

THE GREAT SMOG OF INDIA

by Siddharth Singh (Penguin Random House, 499)

Air pollution is the new tobacco, the World Health Organization recently said. Roughly seven million people die globally by simply breathing the air that surrounds them. Siddharth Singh’s book takes a close look at the scale of the problem in India, especially in and around the National Capital Region, where pollution levels hit the critical mark for most of the year. Singh’s close reading on the ground, his analysis of the danger facing us, and the way forward make this an essential read for the forthcoming smoggy season.

THE SULTANPUR CHRONICLES—SHADOWED CITY

by Achala Upendran (Hachette India, 450)

Described by Samit Basu as the “new star" of fantasy fiction in India, this debut novel takes us into the Sultanpuri Empire, a conglomeration of empires and states that has lived in peace for over 300 years. This harmony, which has come from restricting the use of magic among the chosen few of the realm, is shattered when a rakshasi (demoness) is released by a forbidden spell, and havoc unleashes all over the empire’s capital city.

THIS BOOK IS NOT RUBBISH

by Isabel Thomas and illustrated by Alex Paterson (Hachette India, 299)

With a catch line that promises “50 Ways To Ditch Plastic, Reduce Rubbish, And Save The World", a more timely book may be harder to find. From simple advice like going veggie once a week to more cryptic ones like “Start a Fight at School", this book is the perfect nudge to young readers to take stock of all that’s going wrong with the environment. For grown-up readers, How To Live Plastic Free: A Day In The Life Of A Plastic Detox (Hachette India, 399), put together by the Marine Conservation Society, is a good start. Or if you want a quick handbook, pick up F**k Plastic: 101 Ways To Free Yourself From Plastic And Save The World (Hachette India, 350). It’s never too late to make a start at living more mindfully, and arrest the disaster the world is heading towards.

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