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May 01, 2015

Cool Words For A Hot Month

Text by Nittal Chandarana

10 books that are perfect for the summer – one you shouldn’t admit to have not read

Scenario A: Seaside, cocktail in hand, hat on head
Scenario B: On the Eurostar, traipsing through Vienna, having your own Before Sunrise moment
Scenario C: Cabin in the woods, bonfire, lanterns galore

If you questioned why there’s no book in either summer vacay scenario to make it perfect, you are our kind of person. Which is why, we make it easy. Verve hands you a summer reading list to match that holiday mood.

1. The Read: A Gathering of Friends
Author: Ruskin Bond
Why: Bond has compiled a collection of his finest stories. Grasshoppers, dark forests, hills, lonely train rides have all come together just in time for his birthday (May 19!). No one captures the Indian landscapes and sensibilities as well as he does. Plus, how can you not love someone who says something as simply profound as – And after all the wars are over, a butterfly will still be beautiful.

2. The Read: The Last Illusion
Author: Porochista Khakpour
Why: We can’t stop raving about this one. Borrowing from the ancient Iranian myth of a boy being brought up as a bird, feral child Zal is condemned to the same fate. How he conforms to the real world, does he ever get entirely normal – are some things the book is made of. And then, there’s the backdrop of the 9/11 blasts. A cracker of a book!

3. The Read: The Black Hill
Author: Mamang Dai
Why: One of the best writers from the beautiful North-East region of our country, Mamang Dai’s books (and poetry) are liberally flavoured with native thoughts and experiences. Besides, there are tribals, missionaries, the mountains, and in the heart of it all, a love story. Must read.

4. The Read: Unbound: 2,000 Years of Women’s Writing
Curator: Annie Zaidi
Why: An anthology of women’s writing right from 300BC to the more recent past, Unbound is touted to shatter stereotypes and acquaint the reader with dynamic female voices in literature. Curator speak: “It will change your life!”

5. The Read: Summer Requiem
Poet: Vikram Seth
Why: It’s Vikram Seth. We take whatever he writes, no questions asked. And it’s poetry. This is his new standalone book of poems released after 25 years. Plus, it will get you warmed up to Seth’s writing for A Suitable Girl, due 2017.

6. The Read: Trigger Warning
Author: Neil Gaiman
Why: If there was anyone who doesn’t care two hoots about rules, it’s Gaiman. In the introduction, he proceeds to explain the rules of putting together a short stories book and then claims to have broken them all. We are glad, though. Thrown into this jumble are poems and stories – magical, real and ugly. With each part you read, you are left baffled by Gaiman’s genius.

7. The Read: The Patna Manual of Style
Author: Siddharth Chowdhury
Why: Because we are lovers of brash books and unapologetic writers. Besides, there’s no one else who could get us to read something wherein Patna and style are mentioned in the same breath. 

8. The Read: The Tusk That Did the Damage
Author: Tania James
Why: Poachers, ivory trade, an irate calf and an elephant’s narrative. The book raises so many questions. And you’re left with the feeling you experience when you encounter any man versus nature narrative — nothing surpasses human folly and cruelty.

9. The Read: And Then One Day
Author: Naseeruddin Shah
Why: It’s one of our favourite autobiographies. Shah constantly emphasises that he is not a writer but his writing is delightfully quirky. The book highlights his childhood — a lot of which shaped his desire to become an actor, his phase of struggle and his talented wife, Ratna Pathak Shah. The best part — there’s no maudlin. His struggle is written about like any other pleasant part of his life.

10. The Read: The Art of Stillness
Author: Pico Iyer
Why: Touted as a must-read in today’s technology-driven world. Also, it has gems like You don’t get over shadows inside you simply by walking away from them’ and ‘Heaven is the place where you think of nowhere else.’

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