Books about Friendship on International Friendship Day

After books, friends are the best! This International Friendship day, we thought we would hunt down some books that feature friendship. There will be many more books that we can add to this list, so feel free to mention this in the comments and share this post with your besties.

Quote about friendship

The Interestings is a story that unwinds from the Me-decade, the disco 70s. What happens when some of the friends in a close-knit group end up being super successful?

Quote about friendshipAmir and Hassan fly kites together in Kabul but their destinies are very different. Read The Kite Runner if you haven’t already.

Quote about friendship

Explore the biological, psychological, and evolutionary foundations of friendship in the non-fiction book  Friendship. From tribal life to corporate cubicles, friendship has been an essential part of social life.

Quote about friendshipAn unputdownable saga of friendship set in the backdrop of Naples, Italy in the 1960s. Read My Brilliant Friend and the rest of the Neopolitan novels.

Quote about friendship

A cute and cuddly friendship-special comic book. It’s a book you will adore!

Know the Emperor of Hindi Novels: Munshi Premchand

Munshi Premchand was born on this day in 1880. He is the first writer who made realistic Hindi fiction so accessible to readers. Some of his famous works include Gaban, Seva Sadan and Godaan.

Twelve Facts About One of the Greatest Authors India has Produced

  1. His real name was Dhanpat Rai Srivastava.
  2. His first pen name was Nawab Rai; Premchand came later.
  3. He is called Upanyas Samrat– Emperor of Novels.
  4. One of the characters who makes a repeated appearance in his novels is that of the stepmother.
  5. His first novel has disappeared.
  6. He married too young. The marriage soured quickly and he married a child widow later on. This was revolutionary at the time.
  7. Premchand initially wrote in Urdu- he began writing in Hindi later on in his career.
  8. Premchand was an enthusiastic reader of classics in other languages, and translated several of these works in Hindi.
  9. In 1923, he established a printing press and publishing house in Benares called Saraswati Press but he was unable to run the press owing to financial issues.
  10. Premchand did a cameo as the leader of laborers in the film Mazdoor that he wrote the script for- the film never hit the screens as some influential businessmen were against it.
  11. He wrote largely about social injustices, choosing themes like dowry, widow remarriage, corruption and the freedom struggle.
  12. In 1977, Satyajit Ray made a film based on Premchand’s short story Shatranj ke Khiladi, which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi. Watch the movie here.

Which Premchand story do you love?

Beatrix Potter- The Writer-Illustrator of the Natural World

Helen Beatrix Potter was born on this day in 1866. We all remember her for her remarkable children’s books featuring animals such as Peter Rabbit, Jeremy Fisher, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle but she was also a natural scientist, mycologist, prize-winning breeder of Herdwick sheep, farmer and conservationist. Her family had inherited the wealth that came from the Lancashire cotton mills, the infamous industry that crippled India’s textile economy. The Potters preferred to ignore their past and live a life of upper-middle-class comfort.

Beatrix Potter and her brother Bertram led a life where art and imagination held sway. They were deeply connected with animals and owned several rabbits, squirrels, bats, birds and insects. Potter’s early sketches paved the way for her future as illustrator with no rival. From a young age, she journaled and was privately tutored in astronomy, botany, entomology, etc.

She had a scientific bent of mind and her detailed drawings of fungi reveal her keen interest in pursuing her scientific passion but it was not to be.

Her keen interest in fairytales and fantasy and her wide reading enabled her to start her career as author-illustrator. She was fiercely independent and was enterprising enough to design Christmas cards and sell them.

She also wrote detailed letters filled with the germ of her future stories. One such letter to a sick child featured the famous bunnies Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter – this letter was self-published as The Tale of Peter Rabbit. After multiple rejections by publishers, her book was later acquired by Frederick Warne & Company.

She even patented the Peter Rabbit doll and introduced the idea of character-based merchandise such as wallpaper, games and toys. She authored 30 books and her books continue to sell throughout the world in different languages and were adapted in songs, films and even ballet.

Later in her life, her interests were aligned with the conservation of the Lake District where she lived with her husband.

Books on the Kargil War on Kargil Vijay Diwas 2021

Kargil Vijay Diwas observed on 26 July commemorates the victory of the Indian soldiers over the infiltrating Pakistani troops. On the 22nd anniversary of this landmark day, we have identified a couple of books that deal with the Kargil War and patriotism.

Kargil: Untold Stories from the War by [Rachna Bisht Rawat]Kargil: Untold Stories from the War by Rachna Bisht Rawat

Rachna Bisht Rawat interviews Kargil war survivors and martyrs’ families. Her earlier books chronicle war as well but in this book, since Kargil is so close to home, she is able to provide a crystal clear picture of the captains, grenadiers and brave soldiers who participated in the war effort. The book is a testimony to the bravery of our troops and provides a bird’s eye view of conflict.

Kargil: From Surprise To Victory by General V. P. Malik

General V.P. Malik, former Chief of the Army Staff, analyses enemy action and surveillance hiccups in the mountainous Kargil region.  His detailed account throws light on war strategy and the heroism of the Indian Army.

“Neglect of the military history of the nation reflects a weak strategic culture and a lack of military confidence.”

A Ridge Too Far: War in the Kargil Heights, 1999 by Amarinder Singh 

A deep dive into the battles that were fought in the Kargil Heights and a military analysis of what actually happened in the mountains in 1999, starting from what led to the conflict, the build-up of the Army for the offensive and the battles fought by ten heroic infantry battalions in extremely hostile terrain.

Kargil: Turning the Tide by Lt. General Mohinder Patel

An objective account of the operations of 8 Mountain Division in their efforts to evict the enemy from the Drass-Mushkoh Sector during Op Vijay. Lt Gen (then Maj Gen) Mohinder Puri led the division during the operations and is the author. The Kargil war had a high casualty count and multiple gallantry awards were distributed.

The Kargil Girl: An Autobiography by Gunjan Saxena

Gunjan Saxena was part of the Operation Safed Sagar launched by the Indian Air Force. She  informed the army of key enemy positions, even narrowly missing a rocket missile attack.

 

 

We identified a couple of military narratives at the Pothi.com Store that you could check out.

Vikram Chandra: India’s Trailblazing Scribe

Vikram Chandra was born on this day in 1961. He studied in the US and today lectures at the University of California, Berkeley.

His first book Red Earth and Pouring Rain revolved around James Skinner, an Anglo-Indian soldier. This was the beginning of accolades. He won the 1996 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. He was also recognized for his short story collection Love and Longing in Bombay. He always had his pulse on the plot and worked on film scripts in Bollywood too.

What Vikram Chandra is loved for is his voluminous work Sacred Games featuring the Mumbai underworld and peopled by characters like Sartaj Singh and his Ganesh Gaitonde who jump of the page. His magnum opus is about Mumbai and the layers of possibilities that it has laid on its characters. Sacred Games took Chandra eight years to write and it was later adapted as a popular web television series by Netflix. His non-fiction book Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty  was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

He’s also the founder of Granthika, a great author resource. Since Chandra faced many hurdles while trying to keep track of his characters and their complicated timelines in a setting like Mumbai, an almost living entity, he wanted to find an easier way to digitize narration and simplify the author’s work.

Happy b’day Vikram Chandra!

Novels and the Numbers Game on Pi Approximation Day

Pi Approximation Day is celebrated on July 22 (22/7) and Pi Day on March 14 (3/14- US date). The Pi concept dates back to 4000 years- Euler popularized it in the eighteenth century.

What is Pi?

  • Pi (π) is the ratio of the circumference of a circle and its diameter – it’s an irrational number.
  • Pi(es) are tasty and good to eat.

On this occasion, let’s look at a couple of mathematical books and a book on pie, some of which were discussed at our Bring Your Own Book (BYOB) Parties.

A Beautiful Mind by [Sylvia Nasar] Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar

Sylvia Nasar’s award-winning biography of John Nash, a mathematical genius suffering from schizophrenia. This Nobel Prize winner beat the odds to make fundamental contributions to game theory, differential geometry, and the study of partial differential equations.

 

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers by Paul Hoffman

Biography of Hungarian-born Paul Erdos, eccentric genius mathematician known for his social practice of mathematics using collaborators. He also loved to create jokes and was christened by Time Magazine as The Oddball’s Oddball.

Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadia, Christos H. Papadimitriou

This is a book we learned about at one of the BYOB Parties. Logicomix is an anomaly in the mathematical book space. It’s a fun-to-read mathematical graphic novel.  Logicomix tells the story of Bertrand Russell’s life and by way of this character, Doxiadia describes the 1920s, the golden age in mathematics when the foundations of truth and logic were laid. Russell interacts with characters he would not have been able to see in real life.

A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines by Janna Levin

Mathematicians like Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing are famed for their eccentricities and mathematical contributions but in this book Janna Levin described as one of the ‘chillest astrophysicists who ever lived’ examines the mental health issues these mathematicians faced.

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

This is probably the only famous book by an aunt-niece duo, Mary Ann Shaffer’s only book. She was encouraged to write the book by those who knew her at a book club. Though the book is remarkably ‘English’ as in British English in its tone, the authors are American. The story starts with an author who is struggling to write not her first but her second book. She receives a letter from Dawsey Adams from Guernsey, a town under German occupation. Her correspondence with a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society leaves her intrigued and asking for more. The letters hold the stories of the German occupation and the remarkable courage that individuals display in times of moral ineptitude.

What books on mathematics and pies do you love?

9 Chess Novels on International Chess Day

July 20 is International Chess Day the day that the International Chess Federation (FIDE) was founded way back in 1924. Here are some chess-inspired fiction and non-fiction novels for this occasion.

Buy The Queen's Gambit: Now a Major Netflix Drama Book Online at Low Prices in India | The Queen's Gambit: Now a Major Netflix Drama Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.inThe Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis 

We know the Netflix show but have you read the book by Walter Tevis?  The story delves into the  angst, psychological trauma and introspection of a chess champion.  Tevis was known for his pool hall movies but after a bout of alcoholism that lasted for two decades, he turned to chess and from that obsession came The Queen’s Gambit.

 

Buy Chess Story (New York Review Books Classics) Book Online at Low Prices in India | Chess Story (New York Review Books Classics) Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.inChess Story by Stefan Zweig

Chess lovers on an ocean liner, a chess champion and a chess player recovering from a nervous breakdown. The book is a translation of The Royal Game by Austrian author Zweig who died by suicide after sending the book to his publishers.

 

 

Buy Birth of the Chess Queen: A History Book Online at Low Prices in India | Birth of the Chess Queen: A History Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.inBirth of the Chess Queen: A History by Marilyn Yalom 

A non-fiction book that tells the story of how the Queen came to be. Five centuries ago, the Queen didn’t even exist in this game and this piece grew out of the medieval rise of the female sovereign. Marilyn Yalom, a pioneering scholar in gender studies and a leading cultural historian, has also researched and written about how marriage morphed from religious duty into what it has become today and the perceptions of the female breast in human society.

Buy The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster Book Online at Low Prices in India | The Queen of Katwe: AQueen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster by Tim Crothers 

The inspiring story of a nine-year-old from the Kampala slums in Uganda who with a mentor’s help masters chess. Within a short time, she travels to Siberia to compete in the Chess Olympiad, the world’s most prestigious team-chess event. The screen adaptation by Mira Nair is a must-watch. Tim Crothers is the former senior writer at Sports Illustrated.

Buy All the Wrong Moves: A Memoir About Chess, Love, and Ruining Everything Book Online at Low Prices in India | All the Wrong Moves: A Memoir About Chess, Love, and RuiningAll the Wrong Moves: A Memoir About Chess, Love, and Ruining Everything by Sasha Chapin

A chess memoir that starts in the bylanes of Katmandu. Chess is a world game and the author Sasha Chapin follows his tribe across the globe in search of pure love of the game. Listen to what he thinks about uninhibited creativity here.

 

Buy Grandmaster: A Novel Book Online at Low Prices in India | Grandmaster: A Novel Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.inThe Grandmaster by David Klass 

A father-son relationship with chess at its core. The protagonist Daniel Pratzer doesn’t know that his father was a chess prodigy who vowed to never play the game again. Thirty years later, he needs to break this promise. David Klass is a Hollywood screenwriter and author of several YA novels.

 

Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How the Soviets Lost the Most Extraordinary Chess Match of All Time: Amazon.in: Edmonds, David, Eidinow, John: BooksBobby Fischer Goes to War: How the Soviets Lost the Most Extraordinary Chess Match of All Time by David Edmonds 

Cold War intrigue at its peak and two chess players- Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer meet in a high-voltage chess match.  The author is a philosopher and a radio feature maker at the BBC World Service.

 

 

The Sin Eater (The Nell West and Michael Flint Series Book 2) by [Sarah Rayne]The Sin Eater by Sarah Rayne

A malevolent chess set makes for a riveting suspense thriller: “thirty-two carved figures believed to possess a dark power, but shut away in the forgotten library of a tumbledown Irish castle for many decades.” Sarah Rayne is the author of psychological thrillers and haunted house books.

 

Buy The Defense Book Online at Low Prices in India | The Defense Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.inThe Defense by Vladimir Nabokov

When chess enters the mind,  a player hears ‘combinations like melodies’. Nabokov’s third novel, The Defense, like all his books delves deep into the protagonist’s mind and obsessions. Nabokov himself had an obsession with creating his own chess problems.

 

 

Have you read any novels or essays featuring chess? Do share in the comments.

The Book That Vindicated The Rights of Women

On this day, the Seneca Falls Convention, which launched the woman suffrage movement in the United States, was held in 1848 at Seneca Falls, New York.

The road to enfranchisement of women has been long. By the early twentieth century, women had won the right to vote in New Zealand, Australia, Finland, and Norway. WWI sped up the process. Full suffrage for women was introduced in India only by 1949.

The road to woman suffrage began with a book called A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) by Mary Wollstonecraft, an enlightened philosopher of the eighteenth century.

Her ideals were shaped in the home- she was born into wealth but her father squandered it and this eroded his character. Her brother’s needs and education were always taken care of and this troubled Mary as she had a keen mind, designed for intellectual pursuit. This is perhaps why the idea of fraternity that was the battle cry of the French Revolution appealed so much to her.

She believed that equality bred virtue and education was the foundation of self-reliance. She was heavily influenced by Lockean ideals and Unitarianism.  She transformed from a dissatisfied governess to a writer who clashed pens with Edmund Burke, a thinker who disapproved of the French Revolution. Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Men in response to Burke and A Vindication of the Rights of Women followed.

This treatise deals primarily with the need for women’s education not just in domesticity but in rational thought. Since a woman like a man would face hardships, she could not live her life as the weaker sex, dependent on conduct manuals. Nowhere in the treatise did she mention suffrage although her ideas became the bedrock of feminist movements later on.

 

8 Cookbooks for Chefs and Hungry Readers Alike

Today being Personal Chef’s Day, we browsed through a couple of books that chefs would benefit greatly from. Some of the books on the list are from the Pothi.com Store too- we have a great many titles under the cooking category at the store.

When we interviewed Bridget White-Kumar, author of several cookbooks, we asked her about some pointers while writing a cookbook.

“Writing a recipe book isn’t easy,” she said. “A lot of hard work goes into it since one has to get the recipe right after many, many trials and errors. Once a recipe is written, it will be the guide to be followed by many. Only when one has mastered the dish, can a foolproof recipe be written.”

Cookbooks to Nibble on:

Mastering the Pakodas: The Snack for all Seasons by Sangeeta Khanna

Come monsoon and there is the desire to indulge in pakodas and adrak (ginger) chai. The author of Mastering the Pakodas is a botanist and microbiologist and a hardcore home-made food believer.

 

An Indian Sense of Salad by Tara Deshpande Tennebaum

Many of us see salads as a purely Western concept but the local produce in India offers a green mine when it comes to potential salad ingredients. Tennebaum deconstructs the Indian vegetable and adds a splash of additional nutrition to the Indian meal.

The Dal Cookbook by [Krishna Dutta]The Dal Cookbook by Krishna Dutta

Dal is the staple diet of most Indians. Krishna Dutta examines the different dishes where lentils can be used including khichari, dosas, vadas, pappadam.

 

 

660 curries by Raghavan Iyer660 Curries by [Raghavan Iyer]

This book is an exhaustive compendium of cooking styles from across India. Feast on curries, appetizers, traditional cuisines, biryanis, breads, blends, you name it.

 

Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Nation by [Madhur Jaffrey]Quick & Easy Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey 

70 easy-to-prepare recipes by India’s favorite cook Madhur Jaffrey. Her recipes are great for newbies too. Watch Madhur Jaffrey talk about Indian cuisine and the history of Indian cooking here.

 

Cookbooks at the Pothi.com store

Indian Grandmas' Secret RecipesIndian Grandmas’ Secret Recipes

25 vegetarian recipes by 16 cooks in the age range of 70-95. The recipes span different parts of India.

 

 

Amader Barir Khawa Dawa: Bengali Recipes From My Mother's KitchenAmader Barir Khawa Dawa: Bengali Recipes From My Mother’s Kitchen by Ratna Mukherjee

The author collects a 100 of her mother’s incredible recipes of traditional Bengali dishes- day-to-day fare and festive occasions.

 

ANGLO-INDIAN DELICACIESAnglo-Indian Delicacies by Bridget White-Kumar

An easy and unpretentious guide to delectable Anglo-Indian Cuisine. The author has won the ‘Best Culinary History Book’ awarded by Gourmand International Spain, World Cookbook awards, 2012.

 

Which cookbooks have you indulged in? Do mention in the comments.

Reader Alert! Lessons From How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

This is a book that Pothidotcomers are familiar with. It’s come up over coffee and at the Bring Your Own Book (BYOB) Parties. There are how-to books about everything under the sun but how do you read a book? Do you really need a manual for that? An avid reader would not agree but once you read How to Read a Book by Adler and Van Doren, you will change your mind.

Kinds of Reading

There are four kinds of reading:

  • Elementary- The basics.
  • Inspectional- The book browsing/skimming kind
  • Analytical- Going into details
  • Syntopical- Reading books related to the book you are reading

Reading Rules:

  • Classify the book according to its subject matter.
  • State what the whole book is about with utmost brevity.
  • Enumerate its major parts in their order and relation.
  • Define the problems the author is trying to solve and see whether he has solved them.

So a reader has to sweat over the sentence like the poor writer has or to put it in a more positive light- a reader needs to be more demanding.

How to Read Books of Different Genres

There is a way to read every sort of book from mathematics to philosophy. For instance, reading imaginative literature and reading a mathematics treatise is very different indeed. You can afford to be less analytical while reading War and Peace than when you attempt Euclid’s Book I of Elements. Similarly, a poem is not unreadable if you follow these steps- read it through in one sitting, preferably read it aloud, find the unity in the poem and discover the conflict of images. A poem requires work, but like all other kinds of literature, you must try to glean something from it.

This section of the book is sure to change the way you approach different kinds of books.

Bonus Points

There is a list of recommended books at the end of How to Read a Book– a comprehensive guide of what to read in Western Literature and Exercises and Tests at the four levels of reading in the book.