Archive for the ‘Must-Read Books’ Category

TenderLeaves Classics – Books worth collecting at TenderLeaves

Sometimes it isnt enough to borrow a book. There’s always that timeless classic that you want to actually possess, not just borrow and return.

TenderLeaves presents TenderLeaves Classics – we offer for you handpicked selections of timeless books. These collectors’ works are more than worth the investment you put into them – and they’re up for sale at TenderLeaves.

Below are the selection of our handpicked books. Go on, pick one for your bookshelf. To order one of these, just write in to harish@tenderleaves.com

(while you are at it, do drop in at the TenderLeaves stall at the Pune Book Fair for book bargains, fun events and much more. You can read more about the event – or RSVP on our Facebook page.)

Sr. No Name Of Book – Author Amount(Rupees) 10% Off  Net Amount (Rupees) Image
1 M.F Husain – Pradeep Chandra 4500 450 4050  
2 Mapping India – Manosi Lahiri 4500 450 4050  
3 Sunderbans – Biswajit Roy Chaudhary/Roy Biswas 1250 125 1125  
4 Rivers of India – Sunil Vaidyanathan/Shayoni Mitra 2900 290 2610  
5 Dilli’s Red Fort – N.L.Batra 1500 150 1350  
6 Wit and Wisdom – Mushirul Hasan 795 79.5 715.5  
7 Indian Art and Culture – Utpal K Banerjee 2495 249.5 2245.5  
8 Akriti To Sansriti – Harsha V Dehejia 2500 250 2250  
9 Rabindranath Tagore A Pictorial Biograghy- Nityapriya Ghosh 1500 150 1350  
10 Nirad .C. Chaudhuri – Dhruva N Chaudhari 1250 125 1125  
11 Bismillah Khan – Juhi Sinha 795 79.5 715.5  
12 Wild Wonders – Biswajit Roy Chaudhary 850 85 765  
13 Tagore’s Paintings – Sovon Som 1250 125 1125  
14 Indira Gandhi – Suraj ‘Eskay’ Sriram 495 49.5 445.5  
15 Satydev Dubey – Shanta Gokhale 495 49.5 445.5  
16 Chittorgarh – Dharamendar Kanwar 795 79.5 715.5  
17 East Coast – P.K.De 595 59.5 535.5  
18 Mutiny Memoirs – Mushirul Hasan 395 39.5 355.5  
19 The Honest Always Stands Alone – C G Somiah 395 39.5 355.5  
20 Things Indian – William Crooke 795 79.5 715.5  
21 Gupp & Gossip from the Hills – Ganesh Saili 395 39.5 355.5  
22 Walking Through Fire – Randhir Khare 395 39.5 355.5  
Advertisements

Getting irresponsible, and loving it!

Desmond Macedo

Dan Mullagathanny is the pseudonym for Desmond Macedo, an ex-advertising copywriter. Desmond has done creative writing for several years now. Besides Pune and Mumbai, he did an agency stint in Doha, Qatar, as well.

Humour writing is largely a hobby with him. He also runs a humour blog where he encourages humour storytelling. Over 20 people have written humour stories for this blog, many of them writing for the first time in their life. Dan Mullagathanny’s Irresponsible Stories is a collection of his best humour stories.

He is married and lives with his wife in Pune, and occasionally works in Bombay. Tender Leaves caught up with him and wanted to know what keeps him smiling all the time.

Q: Who is Dan?
A: Dan, full name Dan Mullagathanny, is a character from the book Dan Mullagathanny’s Irresponsible Stories, a collection of short, snappy and witty stories. He is ‘a character growing older in a country growing younger’. The name has been carefully chosen – a western first name with a vernacular (Tamil word for rasam) second name.

Sounds quaint, and meant to. 

Q: What’s the story behind the title?
A: Dan is an impudent, insolent fellow – talking without thinking. So happens that what he says is often true.  He has this reckless approach to storytelling: simply shooting his mind off, yet managing to stay logical (some stories have a thin, precipitous line of logic). His tone and style are irreverent and, sometimes, iconoclastic. In a couple of pieces, including the introduction story, Dan, the character, writes about his author – a highly-irregular thing to do. All in all, the book is humour without any apologies. Hence the title – ‘irresponsible stories’.

Dan Mullagathanny's Irresponsible Stories

Q: What made you write this book? Any inspiration? Could be a person, an event, anything.
A: Idleness. I had nothing to do, so I decided to write. Turned out that whatever I wrote was funny. So I continued with humour. That’s how the blog happened, which then happened into a book.

Q: What’s planned next?
A: Don’t know yet.

Q: Give us a list of your top 5 books ever, genre-wise or authors-wise.
Humour
1.      ‘I, Jan Cremer
2.      Alice In Wonderland/Through The Looking glass
3.      Catch 22

Non Humour
4.      A Stone For Danny Fisher
5.      To Kill A Mockingbird
6.      Catcher In The Rye – I like the satire in this book

Most-recommended: tales of crime and horror

Rakesh Khanna

Rakesh Khanna has worked as a Western classical percussionist, a punk rock drummer, a schoolteacher, a data conversion specialist, and a mathematics textbook editor. In 2008 he co-founded Blaft Publications in Chennai; one of the focuses of the publishing house is on translating genre fiction from Asia. He has edited The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction Vol. I and Vol. II, translated by Pritham K. Chakravarthy, and recently worked on Urdu detective writer Ibne Safi’s Jasusi Dunya series with translator Shamsur Rahman Faruqi.

Note: I haven’t included any Indian-language writers in this list because Blaft has been publishing a lot of them, and it’s impossible for me to pick favorites. So I’ve limited myself to American writers I read growing up.

Dashiell Hammett
Most crime fiction fans have heard the name, but for some reason it’s rare to find Indians who have read much of him. Even people who do know him will usually have read only The Maltese Falcon—or maybe just seen the 1941 film (starring Humphrey Bogart and one of the most phenomenal supporting casts ever). Maybe it’s because Hammett doesn’t always make things easy for the reader. His tough guy characters can’t be divided easily into villains and heroes, and they’re always careful not to spill more information than necessary; they speak in tight, clipped sentences spiked with raw prohibition-era American slang.  But if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and do some reading, Hammett is the king.

Red Harvest

His first book, Red Harvest (1929) remains my favorite crime novel of all time, and my copies of the short story collections The Continental Op and The Big Knockover are about ready to fall apart. I hear that someone has recently discovered a bunch of previously unpublished stories, and I’m anxiously waiting to read them.

Jim Thompson
Thompson is maybe the only guy who ever managed to be grittier than Hammett. He’s also best-known today for a movie based on one of his novels, The Grifters—though the movie came out in 1990, 13 years after he died, and decades after he wrote the book.

I highly recommend an earlier 1953 novel of his, Savage Night, about a hitman who is dying of tuberculosis and slowly losing his mind. It’s got a twisted, creepy feel unlike any other book I’ve ever read.

H.P. Lovecraft
He wrote “weird tales”, not crime fiction, but Lovecraft is another classic writer with a gigantic cult following in America and the UK who seems to get much less love from Asian readers. I can think of a few reasons. For one, it can be difficult to get past his overblown vocabulary and formal, faux-Victorian sentence structures; for another, he’s often rather blatantly racist.

The Whisperer in Darkness

His plots typically revolve around a corrupted blood line: all that is pure and white and good in New England slowly becomes twisted and gory and evil, because someone a few generations ago had sex with an Indian or a Polynesian cultist—who was actually related to demonic deep-sea alien fish-things from another dimension—and now the miscegenated progeny are summoning other-worldly tentacled gods to eat everyone and OH GOD THE ELDRITCH HORROR!  I guess I get a special kick out of this because I am of mixed race myself, but can usually pass for 100% white, so I’m like Lovecraft’s perfect nightmare. Iä! Shub-niggurath!  Cthulhu fhtagn!

H.P. Lovecraft is much loved by heavy metal bands—practically every notable group has worked in some lyrical references to Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu—so if you enjoy Iron Maiden and Morbid Angel, you really ought to check this stuff out.  What’s more, all his stories are out of copyright and freely available online!

John W. Campbell, Jr. / Don A. Stuart
As the editor of Astounding Science Fiction from 1937 to 1971, he was one of the most influential figures in the American pulp science fiction scene. But early on, he was also an author, writing under the pen name of Don A. Stuart. His 1938 novella, Who Goes There?, aside from being a really, really good story, seems incredibly advanced for its time in its ideas about alien technology and biology. It’s been made into a movie 3 or 4 times—most notably as The Thing by John Carpenter, starring Kurt Russell—but the story is way better.

The Haunting of Hill House

Shirley Jackson
I don’t think it’s as well known here in India, but the short story “The Lottery” is required reading in almost all American schools. I read it in 7th grade, and it had all the kids in my class chattering excitedly for a while. It was at that point I realized English class could be cool.

Shirley Jackson’s horror fiction was never classified as pulp. She always avoided the obvious; she wasn’t into zombies or vampires or serial killers. There are some haunted houses—The Haunting of Hill House has my vote for the best haunted house novel—but even in that book, the real horror doesn’t come as ghostly apparitions. It comes in the form of small talk, in regular social interactions, in the protagonist’s desperate and failing attempts to seem like a normal and likeable person. I don’t think many writers have ever dug themselves this deeply inside their characters’ heads. Jackson seems to be intimately familiar with mental illness, and determined to let you know exactly what it’s like to suffer from it. Completely and totally scary.

Avram Davidson
I can’t recommend all of Avram Davidson’s work; I’ve tried to read some of his novels and found them sloppy and impenetrable. But his 1962 collection Or All the Seas with Oysters is great fun, packed with some of the wackiest science fiction ideas I’ve ever read. The title story is an absolute must-read about the alien life forms that might live in your desk drawers and your closet. Watch out.

Suparna Chatterjee recommends: 5 must-read detective tales

Suparna Chatterjee

Suparna Chatterjee is the author of The All Bengali Crime Detectives.

Tender Leaves caught up with her and asked her a few questions. Read till the end of the interview to see what detective tales she recommends.

Q: Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
A: I was born and brought up in Kolkata, though in the past ten years I have had the opportunity to live in the United States, France and Singapore before finally moving back to India again. Apart from writing, I enjoy traveling, music, art and meditation. I am a volunteer with the Art of Living Foundation. You will find more about me and my work on my blog.

Q: Can you tell us about your book, The All Bengali Crime Detectives. How did the idea come up?

A: I wanted to write a story about life in Kolkata, and write it in a way that it would make the city and her people seem familiar even to those who have never been there. I have lived in Kolkata for the first 24 years of my life, so I have had the privilege of experiencing the city’s culture firsthand. But the uniqueness and the sheer charm of it became apparent once I started living abroad. In many ways this book was an expression of the bottled-up nostalgia. I have always been a big fan of detective novels, and I thought that giving a crime angle would make the story even more interesting.

Q: What aspects of your book are new and unexpected for the mystery-loving reader?

A: The protagonists are not the smart, savvy, agile, confident detectives that

The All Bengali Crime Detectives

one has come to expect in this genre. My detectives are not “professionals”. They are regular, every day people – endearing, vulnerable, excitable, and full of failings that make one human. Besides, unlike a classical detective story, in this book there are several other sub-plots brewing simultaneously, which are all equally important and which add up to give the readers a flavour of life in Kolkata.

Q: You mentioned in other interviews that life doesn’t tie things up, so you’ve deliberately left some story threads open in your book. Do you think this takes away from the murder mystery format, where the tendency is to tie everything up neatly?

A: The crime, and its subsequent investigation, does reach a logical end. Otherwise, it would make for a disappointing detective story! But some of the other threads have been left untied, as I feel that is a true reflection of life. Not everything always reaches a “logical” end in the same time frame. Life is a happening, and every event, situation, phase is complete in itself.

It’s like, you take a seed, and that seed is perfect, total, complete in itself. But that doesn’t mean it will not sprout and grow. It will become a sapling, which is also complete and perfect in itself. But again, it will grow in to a tree.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Q: Who are your idols in the genre? What other genres of writing do you enjoy reading?
A: Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Satyajit Ray. I also enjoy the works of Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri, Alexander McCall Smith, P.G. Wodehouse, as well as fantasy books like the Harry Potter or the Blart series.

Q: Do you prefer to buy books, or borrow them? Ever lost a book because a friend didn’t give it back? 🙂

A: Both. Many times.

Could you recommend a must-read list of detective fiction? Say, your top 6 favourites?

ABC Murders
Agatha Christie
Hercule Poirot’s genius shines through in this ‘searching for a needle in a haystack’ murder mystery.

Cat among the Pigeons
Agatha Christie
I had read three-fourths of the book, the murders were over and the famous Hercule Poirot hadn’t even entered the story! It gave an interesting perspective. As a reader you were a witness to everything that had happened, which the detective had to piece together and make sense of in hindsight.

The Boy Who Didn't Want to Save the World

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Agatha Christie
Again a very interesting perspective!

The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series
Alexandre McCall Smith
The charming stories of Botswana, and in particular of the ‘traditionally built’ Precious Ramotswe, as she decides to take up the challenge of being the only lady detective in the country.

The boy who did not want to save the world (Blart series)
Dominic Barker
Though not a detective series, I really enjoyed these books for the fast paced action and humour.

Jahnavi Barua recommends a collection of short stories

Jahnavi Barua

Jahnavi Barua is a writer and critic, based on Bangalore. Her first book, Next Door, was a collection of short stories, and was very well received. She recently released her first novel, Rebirth, which captures a tumultuous marriage in the words of a young mother-to-be speaking to her child. Jahnavi’s stories are often set in Assam, her homeland, or populated with Assamese characters. She’s a strong proponent of the art of short stories – unfortunately, shorter-length fiction is not getting the attention it deserves these days. We asked her a few questions about her writing and her interests, and then asked her to list her must-read short story collections.

Q: Do you feel the art of the short story has evolved over the past decades? Modern stories seem to be a different beast from the ones written by, say Saki or Guy De Maupassant.

A: The short story actually evolved more rapidly during its early history than it has in the past few decades. In the beginning there was this prescriptive style of short story telling, where the author maintained a rigid control over the narrative, forcing it into a certain ineluctable conclusion. Consider the stories of Edgar Allen Poe and later O.Henry. Then the style changed considerably, authors relinquished this tight control and the short story became a more relaxed thing where often things could happen at random, where the traditional structure of a beginning, middle and end was often ignored and where, sometimes, nothing really happened at all. Chekov was perhaps one of the first to practise this.

Next Door

In recent years, Alice Munro had perfected this art: reading her stories is like taking a lazy ride on a slow flowing river- you enjoy the water and the sun and the wind in your face; you admire the views and at the end of the ride, although nothing seems to have happened, something profound actually has. You have experienced something!

Q: Do you approach writing a short story differently from longer form fiction? In your case, does the idea come to you first, or the form? 

A: Writing a short story, I find, requires a completely different approach from writing a novel. A short story demands that a lot be said in a small space with few words, while the novel has room for many words, so much so, that one has to be careful not to say too much. The idea comes to me first but almost immediately the form suggests itself.

Q: As an Indian, have you ever had a concept or thought that you couldn’t express in your writing in English at all (but could explain quite comfortably in Assamese/Hindi)?

A: No, I have not had a thought or idea yet that I couldn’t express in English.

Q: Please tell us a little about the association you mentioned at your launch – the association of Assamese Writers in English. Any links to sites/mailing lists would be welcome.

A: The North East Writers’ Forum started in 1997 with the intent of creating a space where writers from the eight North East states, especially those writing in English, could come together and share their ideas, experiences and work. It grew into a highly successful forum and is now a solid platform for writers from the North-East. The website is www.newritersforum.com – all contact details are given there.

A Multitude of Sins

Q: What’s your ‘guilty pleasure’ – genre/non-serious fiction that you read only for fun? 🙂

A: Guilty pleasure! Well, I read history for fun and also anything to do with the world of medicine. At the other end of the spectrum, I also love stuff on gardening and on birds…

So, what short stories do you like? Any recommendations for us?

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage
Alice Munro
This collection of 9 stories has Alice Munro at her best as she tells us the stories of men, women and children entangled in human relationships. In her inimitable style – elliptically, ever so subtly – she tells us many things without seeming to say anything at all.

A Multitude of Sins
Richard Ford
Richard Ford’s is a voice that is robust, hard-bitten, cynical even, but in this collection as he masterfully excavates the chaos of human relationships, he tempers his own style with a unique tenderness.

The Shadow of Kamakhya

How To Breathe Underwater
Julie Oringer
An outstanding debut by a young author. Like many great authors before her, Orringer presents us with breathtaking slices of life, effortlessly and with great visual drama.

Selected Short Stories of William Faulkner
William Faulkner
Faulkner’s stories are deeply rooted in his native soil of Mississippi and reading this collection gives one a clear sense of how place and a sense of deep belonging can colour one’s writing.

The Shadow of Kamakhya
Indira Goswami
One of the greatest Assamese living authors, Indira Goswami’s work is marked by her deep empathy with her subject. this collection is a good way to acquaint oneself with her work.

Six Underrated Indian Books: Anjum Hasan

Anjum Hasan

Anjum Hasan is a writer, poet and critic who has written two acclaimed novels, Lunatic In My Head, and Neti, Neti, and a poetry collection, Street on the Hill. Lunatic In My Head was nominated for the 2007 Crossword Book Award. She’s currently book editor for The Caravan magazine, and her essays and stories have been featured in several anthologies. We especially loved her recent essay in The Caravan about the poetry publisher, Clearing House

Lunatic in My Head

Getting There
Manjula Padmanabhan

A brilliant memoir of one year in the life of a twenty-something artist in Bombay (and the Netherlands). One of the funniest books I have read and, given the extent of the author’s self-exploration, one of the most revealing.

No God in Sight
Altaf Tyrewalla
Moving vignettes of the lives of Muslims in present-day Mumbai. A novel which explores disillusionment and the fraying of religious pieties without bitterness and with high voltage wit.

White Man Falling

White Man Falling
Mike Stocks
Set in a fictional small town in Tamil Nadu and concerned with the goings-on in the mind and in the family of a retired sub-inspector RM Swaminathan. Marvellously funny, highly empathetic and one of the few novels I have read that’s willing to explore the experience of spirituality from the inside.

Eunuch Park
Palash Krishna Mehrotra
At last a book of fiction which writes about contemporary us in a contemporary way! These stories bring out like nothing else I have read the harsh, gritty quality of urban India and the disenchantment of its middle-class youth.

Brunizem


Brunizem

Sujata Bhatt
I think this is one of the best books of Indian poetry. I love Bhatt’s penchant for stories; her curiosity; her love for the world’s tangibility, and her open, intimate, talking voice.

Travels with the Fish
CY Gopinath
A memorable and funny travelogue that takes us across India and the world driven by one agenda – food. I am nostalgic for Gopinath’s suave and yet unpretentious approach to food writing in this era of “haughty” cuisine!

Pradeep Sebastian’s Must-read ‘Books on books’

The Groaning Shelf

Pradeep Sebastian is a bibliophile, columnist and critic, who has been writing articles for The Hindu, Businessworld, Deccan Herald. He recently wrote a book about (what else?) his love of books, called The Groaning Shelf, which has been garnering excellent reviews. We asked him whether he could make us a list of favourite books about books and writing, and he happily obliged. Here goes:

Nabokov’s Butterfly and Other Stories of Rare Books
By Rick Gekoski
In Nabokov’s Butterfly (in some editions titled as Tolkien’s Gown) high-end rare book dealer Gekoski tells the stories of 20 rare books that passed through his hands. The inside lore on trading in rare books is sumptuous but equally fascinating are his meetings with unexpected book collectors like Graham Greene. Gekoski’s specialization is rare 20th century books. Apparently the bookshop Gekoski owns in London stocks only 50 books. But each is worth a fortune.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much
By Allison Hoover Bartlett
An absorbing account of rare book thief John Gilkey and his nemesis, the rare book dealer turned ‘bibliodick’ Ken Sanders, and how he stalked and captured this century’s most relentless and successful book thief. Among the many first or rare editions he stole were Catch 22 ($3,500), Lord Jim ($3,000) Samuel Becket’s No’s Knife ($850), Kerouac’s On the Road ($4,500) and first editions of Winnie-the-Pooh. In all, perhaps books worth $200,000. Her book is also a seductive look at the obsessive world of rare books, collectors and dealers. What her book is really about, she notes, is ‘people’s intimate and complex and sometimes dangerous relationship to books.’

A Gentle Madness
By Nicholas Basbanes
Now in its twentieth printing, Basbanes’ classic history of bibliomania has sold more than 120,000 copies. (One of the most prized possessions in my library is a signed, inscribed – alas, though, not to me – first edition of this book). Today, with five more books about book culture, Basbanes has become a highly respected bookman. A book series that is, in the author’s own words, ‘a comprehensive guide to the literature, history, romance, apocrypha, folklore, and the mechanics of book collecting’.

The Eyre Affair
By Jasper Fforde
If you’re not already a fan of the Thursday Next series, welcome to the parallel literary universe of author Jasper Fforde where that seminal dream of every bibliophile – the desire to step into the universe of a favourite book – comes true. To this literary fantasy, Fforde adds a new dimension: fictional creations are able to escape into the real world. In the bookish universe created by him in The Eyre Affair (also  Lost In a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten, First Among Sequels), literature has become central to everyone’s life. In the first book, The Eyre Affair (rejected 76 times before Penguin finally signed him on), his literary detective Thursday is forced to alter the ending of Jane Eyre! Isn’t the idea that a reader can enter a book, interact with characters and even change the ending irresistible to a bibliophile?

Ex-Libris

Ex-Libris
By Anne Fadiman
A slender, witty volume of 18 personal essays that recount a life-long engagement with reading and re-reading. “A few months ago my husband and I decided to mix our books together,” she writes in the first chapter, “Marrying Libraries”, “by far the hardest task came at the end of the week, when we sorted through our duplicates and decided whose to keep. I realised we had been hoarding redundant copies of our favourite books `just in case’ we ever split up.” She writes of her book addiction wittily, commonsensicaly, joyously. Fadiman’s book-haunted voice should speak for bibliophiles everywhere.

The Library at Night
By Alberto Manguel
Manguel’s celebrated A History of Reading is another classic in this genre. In The Library at Night, he notes that ‘libraries have always seemed to me pleasantly mad places, and for as long as I can remember I’ve been seduced by their labyrinthine logic.’ Manguel is a magnificent, impassioned reader among bibliophiles. His erudition and scholarship are unorthodox, eccentric and capacious, ‘For the cosmopolitan reader’, says Manguel, ‘a homeland is not in space, fractured by political frontiers, but in time, which has no borders …I wouldn’t define myself as a writer. I would define myself as a reader.’

An Empire of Books
By Ulrike Stark

‘The history of the book in India is a history largely untold,’ notes Stark in her book on early print culture in India. Her focus is the Naval Kishore Press of Lucknow (1858), one of the most successful publishers in 19th century North India, and the largest Indian-owned printing press in the subcontinent at that time.  With intrepid scholarship, she traces the long, dramatic journey of the book in India.