All posts filed under: Books

Books that have inspired me.

The Time Traveler’s Wife

If you could defy time and visit snippets of your past and future as your current self, would you? It’s not exactly a choice for Henry DeTamble, the protagonist of The Time Traveler’s Wife. Henry’s genetic condition makes him vanish involuntarily from the present, and lands him into his past or future, unaware, in only his birthday suit. His time-travel episodes are filled with adventure, lies and heartache, because even though he can defy time, he can’t change it. Henry DeTamble: “How does it feel? I feels exactly like one of those dreams in which you suddenly realize that you have to take a test you haven’t studied for and you aren’t wearing any clothes. And you’ve left your wallet at home. When I am out there, in time, I am inverted, changed into a desperate version of myself. I become a thief, a vagrant, an animal who runs and hides. I startle old women and amaze children. I am a trick, an illusion of the highest order, so incredible that I am actually true.” …

Teacher Man

Frank McCourt has given a new dimension to teaching in this non-fictional account. He writes about teaching and learning and teaching to learn and learning to teach. McCourt’s journey is rooted in Ireland, from where he seeks to rise in the minds and hearts of the students in New York’s public schools, through his unconventional, inspiring approach to teaching. As he explores his own identity, he accepts that teachers don’t have all the answers, and that is only human. His creative writing class reads and sings cooking recipes, his English class discusses Little Bo Peep! Even when we don’t relate to the Irish life or the NY adolescents, we end up becoming a part of the Teacher Man phenomenon. The racy, decryptable writing makes you belong in McCourt’s classes. His humble, inquisitive approach to teaching makes you want to learn, as though it comes from choice and not force. Great teaching, great writing and very inspirational. If you’re a student, it will give you a new perspective on learning. If you’re a teacher, you’ll want …

The Arabic Language

Arabic has long fascinated culture-seekers and artists from the west. The language is reminiscent of an ancient setting, and has a crude, poetic aura about it. Despite all the unconventional stuff I fancy myself doing, I never thought I’d be learning Arabic someday! It’s an absolutely brilliant language, though the non-artist in me can barely do justice to the creative strokes of the Arabic alphabet. I learnt my first few today (alif, baa, wow…), together with some introductory greetings (sobah-ul-khair, masaa-un-nuur) so often heard and ignored in hindi movies. Here are some interesting facts about the Arabic lingo: Arabic is written and read from right to left. In fact, books and newspapers are binded on the right, unlike conventional reading material. Check out the front cover of my Arabic textbook and notice the right-binding. All letters are connected when writing in Arabic. Unlike English, this does not vary by handwriting. For example, in print like this, the English letters are all disjointed. In Arabic, even in print, these letters are connected. There are a few …

The Last Lecture

I suppose we all have our notion of how we’ll confront death, when the time comes. Carnegie Mellon (CMU) created a platform for its professors to imagine such a confrontation and gave us the invaluable gift of Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture. CMU’s tradition asks professors to imagine the end of their lives and address graduating students, sharing with them their philosophy of life and what they might have done differently if they could do it again. For CMU’s computer science professor, Randy Pausch, things were a little more real. He was diagnosed with cancer and given a few months to live. His Last Lecture was indeed his last.  Randy’s lecture was a keepsake. It did the rounds online and became one of the most inspiring, most viewed videos on youtube [The Last Lecture, view here].  “Under the rouse of giving an academic lecture, I was trying to put myself in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children. If I were a painter,  I would have painted for them. …

Into The Wild

Have you ever let fear deter rebellion, possibilities confine dreams or conformity define life? If yes, Christopher McCandless is probably the greatest inspiration you can find; he is the epitome of courage and bravery, an incredible example of a person who can dare to live exactly the way he wants, unaffected by all things human. In 1990, McCandless, 22, graduated from Emory University, donated his Harvard college fund to charity, and set out to explore the wilderness of the American West, harboring a dream of an “Alaskan odyssey”. A follower of Tolstoy and Thoreau, he chose of a life of isolation and asceticism. In the book, Jon Krakauer follows McCandless’ journey into the wild, and lends this true account his own expertise as an avid mountain climber. Often contrasting McCandless to other adventurers, Jon Krakauer glorifies, objectively, the boy, his life, his dreams and his conquests. During his travels before his self-imposed solitude in Fairbanks, Alaska, McCandless befriended strangers time and again and left an indelible mark on their lives. Again, through his heart-wrenching story, McCandless …

Ignited Minds

With development, technology and partriotism as dominant themes, Ignited Minds, written by India’s ex-president APJ Abdul Kalam, is dedicated to the youth in India. Contrary to my expectations, it has a strong inclination toward science and a lot of technical jargon. In fact, there’s not even a slight touch upon entrepreneurship and business as driving possibilities towards India’s growth. From an economic perspective, a lot of growth factors for the country have been omitted. I suppose that as a scientist-turned-author, President Kalam retained his primary focus on science as a measure of a country’s progress. I don’t deny that it is one. But it kind of limits the scope of the book in more ways than one. Firstly, the book is more of a theoretical listing of India’s technological achievements thus far, rather than a practical guide to lay the youth on the right track to grow India. Secondly and honestly, I found myself skipping paragraphs and pages of scientific descriptions. Maybe I’m a little late in reading this one. Maybe it would’ve made more sense …

Life of Pi

Just when I thought I was growing out of fiction, Life of Pi crawled its way into my hands. I never thought so far-fetched a story could make for such a realistic read. Yann Martel is a very talented writer. The book is based on an Indian boy from Pondicherry, Pi, short for Piscine Patel, who is migrating to Canada with his family. His father, a zookeeper, has on board their cargo ship a bunch of his zoo animals. When the ship sinks unexpectedly, Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with a hyena, a zebra, an orang utan (called Orange Juice) and a royal Bengal tiger (called Richard Parker, funny story behind the name). The story then follows Pi and his struggle for survival in the middle of the Pacific, amid a mini zoo. Life of Pi is about endurance, solitude, hints of humor and a wild imagination, literally. A must, must read. Shivya NathWelcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. …

A Long Way Gone

I just finished reading A long way gone by Ishmael Beah. It’s the true memoir of a boy from Sierra Leone, who witnessed a war in West Africa when he was only twelve, and was forced to become a child soldier. It’s sad, touching and disturbing, and so honestly written that I could picture every scene in my head. It’s a reminder of the insanity of war and the innocence of those involved, both simultaneously. It makes me wonder how somebody could go through such tragedy and have the courage to relive it to tell the world about it. Maybe that’s how bravery is defined. It reminds me, on some very superficial level, of a trip our creative writing class made to the Kranji War Memorial in Singapore. For most of us, who haven’t ever been touched by war, it is so easy to feel detached from the suffering that comes with it. Hearing of people fight and die has become so common place, that we have all been desensitized. And yet, people are indeed fighting and …