Krupa KumarComment

6 Book Recommendations

Krupa KumarComment
6 Book Recommendations

February is the perfect month to pick up a few books again.  Tis is the season of love, so curl up on the couch, start a reading challenge with your significant other and catch up on the books you didn't finish or the ones that have been reading list for a long time. 

If you are looking for recommendations, I’ve reached out to a few of my bibliophile friends from different walks of life to and asked ‘what is the one book you would recommend’ to a friend. Here are is a roundup. I hope you find in here something that will fit your reading bill. 

Botanicum - Kathie Willis & Katie Scott
Raghuram Ashok.

I am a hobby gardener in Urban California. The small patio spaces and large windows inside our home give me ample opportunity to grow houseplants and vegetables. If one's looking for books on gardening, a bookshop may end up to be a breakfast isle in Walmart as one has a million books on the same topic and each one thicker, heavier and more colorful than the other. I constantly look for books that describe care and habitat of the kind of plants I have at home.There it stood. The Botanicum. On a separate rack (due to its size) and the cover filled with illustrative images of plants. The cover looks very different, very non-conformist.

This is no ordinary museum. Imagine if you could wander through every field, wood, tropical rainforest and flower glade in the world. Think what it would be like if you could see the most beautiful, exotic and weird plants all at once. Have you ever wondered what you would see if you could stroll back in time, to the beginnings of life on earth? You can, in the pages of Botanicum.

The above note was an excerpt from Botanicum. When I read this passage on the first few pages, I knew this was going to be my next read.This book is large, as in too large that the stranger next to you on the bus has nowhere to look but into your book, as it's so big & the gorgeous illustrations distract him anyway. The book is aimed at an introductory plant geek and leads him/her from the early origins of plant species to all the modern world plants. It's an easy read for children and young adults too. What stands apart is the typesetting and the subtle color scheme used in all illustrations. Each illustration is large and induces a sensation that you as a reader, are actually holding the leaf or flower in the palm of your hand. I couldn't help reading some parts of the book and running out into the garden to re-look at the same plant that was described in the book in a whole new way.Truly, this book is a botanical garden in your bookshelf.

Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer
Krithika Kumar

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer is a riveting report of the ill-fated 1996 Everest expedition when a blizzard on Mt. Everest took the life of 8 climbers. Having lived the story, Krakauer chronicles the excitement and agony of high-altitude climbing. The prose is simple yet rich, factual yet poignant. More than once, you might draw philosophical parallels to your life: bold dreams, perseverance, ambivalence, bad judgments, good judgments, heroism, and humanity. If you want to know what it is like to be on Everest without having to spend 65000 dollars and risk losing your life, this is the book for you. Krakauer's description brings Everest alive - all 29029 feet of it - and inspires awe and respect for the tallest mountain on earth. 


Like Water for Chocolate - Laura Esquirel
Abinaya Ganesan

“She felt so lost and lonely. One last chile in walnut sauce left on the platter after a fancy dinner couldn't feel any worse than she did." 

Who doesn’t like some romance interspersed with generous installments of the yummiest Mexican recipes? ‘Like Water for Chocolate’, a passionate tale of love lost and regained – is a novel of love, sex, war & Mexican history expressed through an explosion of emotions & flavors.
It’s hard not to fall for this enchanting, laugh-out-loud, novel that takes us through the simple lives Mexican women at the turn of the 20th century. The heroine, a young woman, is forbidden to marry the man she loves. Her mother insists Tita honor a timeworn tradition which dictates the youngest daughter remain unmarried and instead care for her aging mother. Tita, heartbroken at having lost the love of her life to her elder sister, and having to live in the same house as them, secludes herself to the kitchen where her emotions spill over into the food she makes. Served in 12 ‘courses’, the best thing about this book is that each chapter starts off with of Tita’s very own recipe and ends with a hilarious account of how the food affects everyone that has tasted it. Every one of the protagonist’s emotions, from passion to hurt to loss, to romance, is interestingly associated with the flavors, texture, and aftertaste of the food itself, a metaphor like no other.  
Also, the food! Oh my god, I’d skim through the chapters again and again just to experience how beautifully the author had described the food – all aspects of it (the cooking & the cleaning & of course the actual dish itself)

Braving the Wilderness - Brene Brown
Aaron Yip

Brené Brown has devoted her career of research into discovering new vocabularies for us to talk about vulnerability and empathy, and Braving the Wilderness empowers us to understand what it means to belong. Reading this book is cathartic; merely a few chapters in, I uncovered a well of hurt and yearning that I have been unable to articulate for most of my life. Brown’s prescription is equal parts personal understanding and evidence-based social research. Earnest anecdotes follow systemic research, which is subsequently followed by refreshing directness.

“Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you do not belong. You will always find it if you made that your mission. Stop scouring peoples’ faces for evidence you’re not good enough. You will always find it if that is your goal. No one belongs here more than you.”

Some of Brown’s ideas provoke, particularly her perspective on our current political climate. Some of her ideas are illuminating yet raw. But most of all, reading Brown feels like reading a thoughtful, affirming love letter to yourself — and in doing so, you find your own voice.

The Startup - Doree Dhafrir
Krupa Kumar

I read this book a while ago. I waited over a month for my turn at the library it and it was almost worth the long wait. A debut novel by Doree Shafrir is so set in the fast-paced startup world. She smartly dissects so many topics through the plot like millennial office culture, age, sex, finances and more. Though this book fictional, the characters are relatable, the industry culture familiar and other situations real making the read interesting and dramatic. The book will leave you questioning who wields power in the workplace, and of what sort, and to what degree despite that this is definitely a Saturday beach book. 

Curfewed Night - Basharat Peer
Zoya Shakeel

The “Curfewed Night” is a chronicle from the eyes of a Kashmiri growing up in the valley and watching it transform into a hotbed of violent militancy pitted against state oppression. The book captures the emotions of people unwilling to lose their identity. Peer’s  narrative then takes you into the 1990s, Kashmir becomes an endless maze of check-posts with gun-toting Indian soldiers.  As violence spreads, it becomes impossible to distinguish between the terror unleashed by the state forces and that which is inflicted by militancy. As the book unfolds you can hear Kashmir’s cry for help.  This book establishes the responsibility of India, Pakistan and the world at large to solve what now is the oldest existing dispute on the United Nations’ agenda.