16 January, 2017

Rhea Verma, Lawyer and JODI friend.


There is literally nothing better than reading a book that you think of through the day. And you WANT TO GET BACK TO in the middle of what ever it is you are doing. Which is why we asked our resident smart girl Rhea Verma, serious lawyer and very un-serious human being to drop a few names that we will all be happy to know.

For anyone who thinks their family is dysfunctional -

Glass Castle. Jeanette Walls’ memoir of her deeply dysfunctional family and a magnificently tough childhood and upbringing. The unconventional upbringing made me question a lot of ideas I held of family, values, right and wrong. It’s about a uniquely imaginative family and path/philosophy two parents set out on that is eerily unsettling but altogether heartening.

For anyone who loves a good period epic -

Winds Of War and War & Remembrance. Winds Of War and War & Remembrance is a two book magnum opus by Herman Wouk about a family with the backdrop of the Second World War. Historically, the way it covers the war, geopolitics, strategy etc could easily make it one of the best nonfiction books but showing the war years unfold through the eyes of a US Navy family lends a very personal experience to the whole read. War, love, drama, romance, betrayal, history…Wouk has got it all.

For when you need to rewind, rethink, re-center -

When Breath Becomes Air. Paul Kalanithi, a brilliant neurosurgeon pens this beautiful memoir after being diagnosed in the last stages of cancer. The essential discourse in this book is about death. What kind of a relationship can one have with the idea of death? Only a neurosurgeon with a literature/philosophy background could have used the words Kalanithi has used to describe his journey, and in the process lift many cobwebs we have on our relationship with death, closure and most importantly love. His wife’s afterword in the final pages is exceptional.

For anyone who enjoys a good coming of age story -

I Know Why The Caged Birds Sing. Maya Angelou is my absolute favorite. In fact I would suggest you read any/all her books. The poet in her and her passion for literature makes for some of the most beautiful writing. She is one of the few names that come to my mind when it’s the storytelling and not the story that is the hero. Again a memoir, and a very hard hitting one. With all that is thrown at her in life her take away is so basic and inspirational. Humor, intelligence, compassion and resilience (and of course story telling). Boss woman.

For anyone who is willing to dwell on what their mind really looks like -

Speaking of boss woman it’s time for some Sylvia Plath and some Bell Jar. Again a memoir and I agree this may not be a book for all. But, for all those who have struggled with dark spaces of the mind, they will find a certain kinship in this book. This book gives clarity and perspective to helplessness. Just being aware of a struggling mind is the take away, and what a take away.

For anyone who loves a dad with dad jokes -

I mean. Who doesn’t. Shifting gears to the complete other end of the spectrum is Shit my Dad Says. This book is an oddity with the general vibe of this list but its hilarious af. Justin Halpern has basically collated all the shit spoken by his dad and secured them in the pages of this hysterical book. Just read 2-3 pages a day and you’ll be sorted. His dad is a Vietnam War veteran (cliché military man) interacting with today’s day and age and trashing it continuously. He is crass, inappropriate (and how), to the point, and I would never want to come in his way (but stalk him nonetheless). It’s a laugh out loud book.

If you like art. And even if you don’t.

Maus. My all time favourite graphic novel. Spiegelman’s art is gorgeous. It’s an ode to his parents and their history. He narrates his parent’s life during the Holocaust years using animal cartoons as analogies and actually addresses some of the most powerful emotions and experiences with the most simple of drawings. He also juxtaposes his own struggle with his father as a remnant of his father’s journey through the holocaust years. A fantastic read.

For anyone who loves a good man -

Especially a good man who is wronged. Mrityunjaya. My grandmother had suggested I read this book and it was one of the best things I did. Shivaji Sawant has basically done something Hindu mythology overlooked- justice to Karna’s role in the Mahabharata. He was a hero in every sense of the word. His integrity, morality, loyalty, love, even things like his ideas on women, relationships etc- Karna was a breath of fresh air. The only character in Mahabharata that I found to respect completely. It also brought to the fore the distorted role of right and wrong attached to pandavas and kauravas. Read away.

For a concise understanding of what India really is -

Finally, as a person who thrives on the non-fiction genre it is my duty to round up this list with at least one such recommendation, Inspite of the gods. Inspite of the Gods by Edward Luce, was one of the earliest post-independence narratives I read of India that made me realise the diversity and complexity of our nation. More importantly, after reading this book you look at how we are building a nation and culture today that is hurtling towards cynicism and hell bent on bringing everything down to a binary discourse. Let’s not.

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