It's a good time of year to be talking about books isn't it? Maybe you're heading out to India or Sri Lanka and thinking about your beach reads, or you're doing dry January and suddenly have more time on your hands. Here’s what the team came up with when asked for their ‘read it, loved it’ list.
Selected Poems, Dom Moraes / As an English-speaking Indian I’ve always had an interest in writers who pioneered contemporary English writing in India, and in Indian poetry too. Dom Moraes was one of the first India poets to write in English - and was definitely ahead of his time in his writing style and topics he touched on. This book is a good place to start if you’re looking to get a feel for his work.
Rach’s recommendation this month comes with a little intro:
“I mostly read books about ancient Greece & Rome which I find very interesting but put most people to sleep. So maybe this could help people with insomnia…” (or, we’d like to add, you might even get some enjoyment out of it.)
Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar, Tom Holland / Rome's first emperors (the most famous being Julias Caesar, Augustus and Nero) are often thought of as brutal and tyrannical monsters. Which they 100% were, but they also initiated a period of peace and insane cultural growth within the Roman Empire. Deft and very easy to read, the book doesn't skirt around the cruelty and horror of their rule and doesn't shrink from the reality of what they were. Interesting if you are interested in ancient history, politics and depravity.
Haroun & The Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie / Haroun & The Sea of Stories is a children’s book but it’s also a little more than that. A cool, fantasy adventure about a kid who lives in a sad town that’s forgotten its name. Haroun goes through many adventures that help bring stories (and happiness) back to their lives and helps them remember the name of their home.
Beastie Boys Book, Adam Horovitz & Michael Diamond / Beastie Boys Book is an incredible and inspiring account of three best friends that formed one of the coolest punk-hip-hop groups, Beastie Boys, who have been a big part of my life since I was a child. It’s such a fun book that’s well written and really well designed.
I Am An Island, Tamsin Calidas / At times this was a gruelling read but it’s one of those books that lives on with you long after you’ve put it down. A telling of Tamsin’s own experiences of moving to the Scottish Hebrides and full of beautifully-structured narrative I found it crept into the corners of my heart making me feel things that I didn’t always have words for. One to take time over.
Small Bodies of Water, Nina Mingya Powles / If an exploration of how one finds home in different bodies of water isn’t a Soul & Surf read, I don’t know what is. And of course I really enjoyed it. It’s more a collection of essays than a novel but it really spoke to my own sense of connection to the water - any water - and gave me a new lens through which to explore my own experiences.
O Alquimista (The Alchemist), Paulo Coelho / I just finished O Alquimista (I read it all in Portuguese – it took me 6 months but I did it!) by Paulo Coelho which I’m sure must be one of the most-read books on the planet. All about your personal destiny, Maktub and all that. It’s been around a while but I think it’s a must-read – for the few who haven’t already read it that is.
The Slave, Anand Dilvar / The Slave is a story of a man who is paralysed in hospital but is fully conscious and unable to communicate with anyone to let them know. All he has to live with is his own thoughts. It’s about the choices you have in how you deal with things and the way you let negative thoughts control the way you see your life. I highly recommend it.
This Divided Island, Samanth Subramanian / I’ve been reading ‘This Divided Island’ – an Indian journalist’s delve into the civil war. And I’m not sure it’s a great topic to be reading as we enter the main season in Sri Lanka. It’s harrowing. Plus I can never look at an orange-robed buddhist monk in the same way again.