Booknomics

Publishing, Print on Demand, Self-publishing in India from Pothi.com Team

May 10, 2019
by Neelima
0 comments

That’s the Word For It: Contronym

Have you ever thought about why fast means quick and at the same time means to immobilize? When a word or phrase means its opposite as well, it is called a contronym. Slang employs this kind of inversion of meaning, take for instance the word ‘sick’ or ‘wicked’ now used to convey something awesome or cool.

Here’s a list of contronyms.

Check out this usage of the word:

Sometimes, just to heighten the confusion, the same word ends up with contradictory meanings. This kind of word is called a contronymSanction, for instance, can either signify permission to do something or a measure forbidding it to be done. Cleave can mean cut in half or stick together. A sanguine person is either hotheaded and bloodthirsty or calm and cheerful. Something that is fast is either stuck firmly or moving quickly.— Bill BrysonThe Mother Tongue1990

May 3, 2019
by Neelima
0 comments

That’s the Word for It: Parsimonious

Parsimonious refers to frugality and it also means making a minimum number of assumptions. The sports reference is to not conceding goals.

Here are some mentions of the word in literature.

“Earthly nature may be parsimonious, but the human mind is prodigal, itself an anomaly that in its wealth of error as well as of insight is exceptional, utterly unique as far as we know, properly an object of wonder.”
― Marilynne Robinson

“You have read Darwin,” I said. “But you read him misunderstandingly when you conclude that the struggle for existence sanctions your wanton destruction of life.” He shrugged his shoulders. “You know you only mean that in relation to human life, for of the flesh and the fowl and the fish you destroy as much as I or any other man. And human life is in no wise different, though you feel it is and think that you reason why it is. Why should I be parsimonious with this life which is cheap and without value? There are more sailors than there are ships on the sea for them, more workers than there are factories or machines for them. Why, you who live on the land know that you house your poor people in the slums of cities and loose famine and pestilence upon them, and that there still remain more poor people, dying for want of a crust of bread and a bit of meat (which is life destroyed), than you know what to do with. Have you ever seen the London dockers fighting like wild beasts for a chance to work?”
― Jack London, The Sea Wolf By Jack London

 

April 26, 2019
by Neelima
0 comments

That’s the Word for It: Obstreperous

The word obstreperous comes from ob– which means in the way plus strepere, a verb that means to make a noise or to rebel against something. So the adjective works well especially with unruly children, politicians, rebel groups and certain kinds of families.

It’s fun to see the way this word is used in books:

“He’s got a wife,” I said. “Quite a nice wife, and two obstreperous children—boys.”
― Agatha Christie, The Clocks

“In an age of increasingly mechanized production, the genesis of scientific knowledge remains an unyieldingly, obstreperously hand-hewn process. It is among the most human of our activities. Far from being subsumed by the dehumanizing effects of technology, science remains our last stand against it.”
― Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013

 

April 19, 2019
by Neelima
0 comments

That’s the Word for It : Zugzwang

Zugzwang is a situation usually found in chess where one player is put at a disadvantage because they must make a move when they would prefer to pass and not move. It’s a weak position but helps the other side to win. I found the word on Twitter in the Brexit context.

Here are some instances of this word in literature:

Zugzwang. It’s when you have no good moves. But you still have to move.”
― Michael Chabon

“Who’s straight? I’m not. I am bent gouged pinched and tugged at, and squeezed into this funny shape. Each life is a game of chess that went to hell on the seventh move, and now the flukey play is cramped and slow, a dream of constraint and cross-purpose, with each move forced, all pieces pinned and skewered and zugzwanged… But here and there we see these figures who appear to run on the true lines, and they are terrible examples. They’re rich, usually.”
― Martin Amis, Money

April 12, 2019
by Neelima
0 comments

That’s the Word for It: Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude is a complex emotion. Toddlers openly express the feeling while adults conceal it. The wry smile at someone’s misfortune reflects feelings that exist in the emotional spectrum. Sometimes schadenfreude erupts as a result of rivalry and sometimes it is justice based. The word schadenfreude was first used in English in 1853 by RC Trench, the archbishop of Dublin,  in On the Study of Words.

Some instances of the word used in books:

“To feel envy is human, to savour schadenfreude is devilish.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer, On Human Nature

“When I was little, I used to pour salt on slugs. I liked watching them dissolve before my eyes. Cruelty is always sort of fun until you realize that something’s getting hurt. It would be one thing to be a loser if it meant that no one paid attention to you, but in school, it means you’re actively sought out. You’re the slug, and they’re holding all the salt. And they haven’t developed a conscience. There’s a word we learned in social studies: schadenfreude. It’s when you enjoy watching someone else suffer. The real question though, is why? I think part of it is self-preservation. And part of it is because a group always feels more like a group when it’s banded together against an enemy. It doesn’t matter if that enemy has never done anything to hurt you-you just have to pretend you hate someone even more than you hate yourself. You know why salt works on slugs? Because it dissolved in the water that’s part of a slug’s skin, so the water on the inside its body starts to flow out. They slug dehydrates. This works with snails, too. And with leeches. And with people like me. With any creature, really, too thin-skinned to stand up for itself.”
― Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes

April 5, 2019
by Neelima
0 comments

That’s the Word for It: Satisfice

I first heard this term at a BYOB Party recently. Satisficing is a decision-making strategy or cognitive heuristic, a portmanteau of the words satisfy and suffice. It was introduced by Herbert A. Simon, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics, to explain the behavior of decision-makers when an optimal solution could not be determined. Satisficing describes something that meets the minimum requirements of a goal, performing something at a satisfactory level rather than at the maximum level possible.

Besides being used in business terminology, satisficing means to pursue the minimum satisfactory condition or outcome.

Here are some places where the word has shown up:

Satisficing is one of the foundations of productive human behavior; it prevails when we don’t waste time on decisions that don’t matter, or more accurately, when we don’t waste time trying to find improvements that are not going to make a significant difference in our happiness or satisfaction.”
― Daniel J. Levitin, The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

“In reality, though, most of the time we don’t choose the best option—we choose the first reasonable option, a strategy known as satisficing.”
― Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

March 29, 2019
by Neelima
0 comments

That’s the Word for It: Tergiversate

The word tergiversate was first used way back in 1590. But the word came back in full force and in 2011 it was named the Word of the Year by Dictionary.com as it represented the changing attitudes of the time.

Here are some instances of the word being used:

“I had a feeling once about Mathematics – that I saw it all. Depth beyond depth was revealed to me – the Byss and Abyss. I saw – as one might see the transit of Venus or even the Lord Mayor’s Show – a quantity passing through infinity and changing its sign from plus to minus. I saw exactly why it happened and why the tergiversation was inevitable but it was after dinner and I let it go.”

― Winston S. Churchill, My Early Life, 1874-1904

“Ages of prolonged uncertainty, while they are compatible with the highest degree of saintliness in a few, are inimical to the prosaic every-day virtues of respectable citizens. There seems no use in thrift, when tomorrow all your savings may be dissipated; no advantage in honesty, when the man towards whom you practice it is pretty sure to swindle you; no point in steadfast adherence to the cause, when no cause is important or has a chance of stable victory; no argument in favour of truthfulness, when only supple tergiversation makes the preservation of life and fortune possible. The man whose virtue has no source except a purely terrestrial prudence will in such a world, become an adventurer if he has the courage, and, if not, will seek obscurity as a timid time-server.”

― Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy

March 14, 2019
by Neelima
0 comments

Interview: Anvita and Anika Agarwal

Today, we feature two young authors. Anvita and Anika are sisters, currently studying for their 8th and 6th-grade exams, respectively. They are two-and-a-half years apart and separated in temperament by several yugas. They were twelve and ten, respectively, when they started reading the abridged translations of the Puranas in 2017. Their interests are reading, music, binge-watching Netflix, and painting. For a year they also published monthly book newsletters. Their favorite pastime, however, is driving their mother up the wall in any free time that remains.

Follow them on Twitter @SistersWhoRead and their blogs anvita.abhinavagarwal.net and anika.abhinavagarwal.net.

A Year With The Maha Puranas is a book by these girls, a compilation of reviews of the abridged English translations of the Mahapuranas written by Sri Bibek Debroy. These reviews were written over the course of a year. The book includes the authors’ favorite stories from the Puranas, including interesting bits and different versions of commonly narrated tales. We talked to the girls about the writing process.

A Year with the Maha Puranas

 

Tell us the process of framing this book. How did you do your reference and how did you share your work between yourselves? Since you read multiple Puranas, how were you able to keep track of the multiple shlokas, stories and explanations?

We never planned on writing a book. We never even wrote the reviews with the purpose of including them in our book. It was just meant to be put up on our blog. Once we were done with all the reviews, our father came up with the idea of compiling the reviews into a book. Our references were taken from the abridged translations by Sri Bibek Debroy and in a few circumstances, from the original translations of the Puranas as well. We didn’t share our work with each other. Since we have only included two-three favorite stories each, whoever wrote the review of the Purana first got to pick their stories first. Only in a few of the Puranas, you will be able to notice that we have repeated a few stories. As we were reading the Puranas, we would highlight the parts we found interesting and make notes as well to keep track of the shlokas and stories.

Now that you have understood the gist of the Puranas, do you intend to read them all in detail?

We hadn’t actually thought about it, but it very well could be a future project. As the short versions of the Puranas were a very good read, one can only imagine the joy of reading the Puranas in detail.

Tell your readers about some of your favorite stories from the Puranas.

This is a hard question to answer. There are so many stories I would like to share with you, but if we had to select a few, they would be:

-How Ganesha’s head was cut off (Brahmavaivarta Purana)
-Sita who was an illusion (Kurma Purana)
-How Saraswati, Lakshmi and Ganga became rivers (Brahmavaivarta Purana)
-The Ketaki Flower (Shiva Purana)

How do you balance academics, research and writing?

We didn’t try to rush ourselves. While reading and reviewing the Puranas, we would give ourselves enough time – about two weeks to complete each Purana, which meant that we would have two weeks to read and review the Purana. As each Purana was only about 80-100 pages each, it took us only a couple of days to read and understand it. This left us one week to write, edit and complete the review. We spent at least one hour each day, reading the Puranas and then we would write the review on the weekend. This left us with plenty of time for our other hobbies and academics. As both academics and writing are important to us, we try to give ample time to both.

What are you reading now?

We have read a couple of books recently. My sister Anvita, has recently read Draupadi: The Tale of an Empress’ by Saiswaroopa Iyer and the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. I read the Magisterium series by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare and am currently reading ‘The Vedas and Upanishads (For Children)’ by Roopa Pai.

Which writers have influenced you the most?

The writers who have influenced me are Roopa Pai and Rick Riordan. Roopa Pai has the knack of making her stories simple and entertaining. She also interacts with her readers which makes you want to read more. Rick Riordan writes fascinating books that are packed with action. His ideas are simple yet he spins these into bestsellers. For example, using Greek myths to create such an amazing series was something very original and also helps you learn about the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians and the Norse gods. I am really inspired by his creativity.

My sister likes the writings of Saiswaroopa Iyer and Eoin Colfer. She likes Eoin Colfer’s sense of humor, his originality and his fascination with Irish myths. She likes Saiswaroopa Iyer for many reasons, particularly the author’s choice of protagonists for her books – strong female characters who are both flawed and have their strengths. It taught her how flaws could be corrected and turned into strengths. Apart from this, she also likes Saiswaroopa Iyer’s unique style and the suspense that lasted till the end.

Are you working on any new books?

As of now, we are not really working on anything new, but we might think about new projects in the future.

Was lovely talking to you, Anika and Anvita! All the best for your exams and future projects!

We also spoke to Abhinav Agarwal, their father.

What’s your favorite Purana in the book?

I would say the Bhagavata Purana would be it, but it’s a favorite of many. The other would be the Skanda Purana, which is also the longest Purana, at eighty-one thousand verses, making it longer than even the Mahabharata! I am reading the unabridged translation these days.

What’s your advice for young readers today? Not many of them know about the Puranas.

It is indeed a tragedy of sorts that not only children but many parents also have grown up so disconnected with their literature. My advice for young readers and their parents would be this: make books and reading a part of your lives. Read books, buy books, go to bookstores, shop online or at physical stores, talk about books, discuss books, write about books, write your own book(!), go to old bookstores like Blossom and interact with other book-lovers. Remember the famous lines from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:

“We are said to be what our deep, driving, desire is. As our desire is, so is our will. As our will, so are our acts. As we act, so we become.”

As a specific example, if you are a young reader, start with Amar Chitra Kathas. There are, literally, hundreds of them! Ask your mother, father, or elder brother/sister, to read them to you. Follow the pictures and words. See which other Amar Chitra Kathas contain stories from the Puranas, and from which Puranas. Hope this helps.

Thanks Abhinav for sharing your thoughts!

March 8, 2019
by Neelima
0 comments

That’s the Word for It: Adjudicate

 

The word adjudicate comes from the Latin root ‘judex’, the word for law. This word is part of legalese and is also used in terminology associated with construction, background investigations and emergency response.

Here are some instances in literature where this verb has been used.

“To me, the thing about friendship that makes it so singular is that it’s a relationship that’s central to our identity in that it doesn’t necessarily benefit us in any tangible way. It’s a relationship we don’t have to pursue – if we decide to stop being friends one day, nothing will happen, no one’s there to legislate or adjudicate it. It’s two people who every day choose to keep it going, and in that way it’s very powerful because it’s one you choose to work on, and you choose to without any agreement; it’s an unspoken bond.”
― Hanya Yanagihara

“Men have been adjudicating on what women are, and how they should behave, for millennia through the institutions of social control such as religion, the medical profession, psychoanalysis, the sex industry. Feminists have fought to remove the definition of what a woman is from these masculine institutions and develop their own understandings.”
― Sheila Jeffreys, Gender Hurts: A Feminist Analysis of the Politics of Transgenderism

 

March 1, 2019
by Neelima
0 comments

Interview: Nitheesh Reddy Gaddam

We spoke to the poet Nitheesh Reddy Gaddam.

Nitheesh Reddy Gaddam was born in Mamidipally, Telangana. He currently works as a software engineer in Atlanta, USA. He is popularly known as niteesh_writings on Instagram. His writing style is unique, particularly due to his original technique of writing on pieces of torn paper.  His first book Two Hearts & Two Bodies Part 1 was released on June 25th, 2018 in USA and Jan 15th, 2019 in India. More about the poet here.

 

Tell us about your writing process.

My writing process is simple. I always carry a pen and paper. Every time I feel sad or happy, I put my feelings on a piece of paper and I attach all those papers on my wall.

Two Hearts & Two Bodies Part 1When you started posting your poems on Instagram, did you expect such a positive response?

Since my childhood I have loved storytelling, I always like taking people to another world with my stories. It was in March 2017 that I first posted my writing on Instagram. I didn’t post it to get likes or to impress people. I posted it only to know how to use Instagram. I posted a few of my writings for a few days. My friends and the people around me laughed at my writing but I didn’t care because people are only there to make fun. In November 2017, I wrote a small story Love, Lust and Pain in four parts and that is when people started appreciating my writing. I got many messages from people from India, Nepal and Pakistan. After a few months,  students from NIFT Kannur asked me to write an article about sexual harassment of women in their college. After I wrote the article, people started respecting my writing. A few days later, I wrote a small story about how Indian parents sacrificed their dreams and goals so that their children could have better lives.  That is when people started loving my writing and started respecting me. But there are a few people who always make fun of my grammar. I don’t give up because poetry and stories are not only about great grammar. They are also about feelings, emotions, happiness, sadness, love, pain, life, tears.

                           I turned

                           my tears into letters,

                           my pain into words,

                           and my love into poetry.

Why do you write on torn bits of paper?

My heart is broken into millions of pieces and I’m fixing it by writing on each torn bit of paper. It was in June 2017. I was at a coffee shop. After I drank the coffee I held the coffee cup in my hand for a few minutes. I wrote a poem on it and posted it on Instagram. I felt it was something different and unique. I started going to the coffee shop everyday not for coffee but for the coffee cup. I used to tear the coffee cup into pieces and write on them. It is always better to put your words on a piece of paper than typing it on smartphones or laptops.

You write a lot about broken relationships and dealing with depression. Tell us more about why these topics appeal to you.

I always write about what’s been happening in my life. Human emotions should be real, not fiction. I write about relationships because I don’t want people to make the same mistakes that I had in my life. Because of my stupidity and immaturity, I lost many people in my life. I never had anyone to tell me what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong. Life teaches me everything and I’m still learning. I sometimes write about depression because most educated people think sadness is nothing but depression. But people should understand the difference between depression and sadness. If you want something and you don’t get it you feel sad for a few days and that is called sadness but depression is a disorder that can kill people sometimes.

What do you do when you are not writing poetry?

I play cricket, spend time with my dog, watch movies or travel.

Who is your favorite poet or writer?

Veturi Sundararama Murthy gaaru and Sirivennela Seetharama Sastry gaaru.

Tell us about your next project.

I am working on finishing the script for my upcoming film. I also started writing a fiction novel titled Go Alia Go about the soccer player Alia.

Was great talking to you, Niteesh!