What’s the Best Book You’ve Ever Read? #AmReading

Best BookWhat’s your ‘best book ever’ — this was a question I came across in a reading group. A lot of readers named the Potter series, some listed romance and scifi titles, and the rest came down hard on them, for not appreciating ‘the classics’ and ‘literary’ books.

To me, the word ‘best’ is subjective, in a relative world. What’s good for me could be utter trash for someone else. I’ve read all the Potter books, liked the first and couldn’t resist finishing the last few– but thought they could all use editing.

They are by no means the ‘best’ for me, but my ‘best book’ changes year to year. Right now, it seems to be ‘All the light we cannot see.’

What’s important is that there are books for every kind of booklover, and even those books we look down upon secretly ( I’ll admit to not being fond of E L James) are important and useful: because they get people reading/ engaged in stories. The very experience of immersing oneself in a story has far-reaching psychological and physical benefits, so I’m not going to trash any book at all.

We can all agree to disagree on what the ‘best book’ for us is, and leave it at that. The Potter books brought a lot of joy to a lot of people, and that in itself propels it to some kind of ‘best of’ list, I think.

From time to time, ‘best book lists’ crop up, like this one. Or another, of books you must read before you die, like this one. While opinion may differ on whether they’re the best– these lists can be an easy way to access good books– with so many books published each year, we’ll never read all the books in the world that we’d like to.

So what is your ‘best book ever’? Do you read books for enjoyment, insight, knowledge, escape? Would you recommend a book, or a list of books you’ve liked in recent years, so we can all add to our tottering TBR piles?

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Does Your Religion Define You? #WATWB

We are the World BlogfestWe are the World Blogfest is here with its fourth edition.

To spread peace and humanity on social media, a few of us have worked together to create the We are the World Blogfest.

The cohosts for the June 2017 WATWB are: Belinda WitzenhausenLynn HallbrooksMichelle Wallace, Sylvia McGrath, Sylvia Stein.

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As a rule, I stay away from religion, but after the recent spate of lynchings in India, Hindus lynching Muslims and Muslims lynching Hindus, I find I need to speak of it.

I’ve done so here, (and the Prime Minister has now condemned the lynchings) but today in the spirit of “In Darkness, Be Light,” I’d like to share human stories of Hindus helping Muslims and Muslims helping Hindus in times of trouble.

All humans, no matter what religion, race, gender, nationality, tribe, caste, ethnicity, share two facts: death and birth.

Here’s a story of a Muslim village helping a Hindu couple with the last rights of their son.

“We had no money for the funeral of our son…whole night we sat and cried beside our dead son thinking what to do,” Biswajit’s mother said.

“In the morning, our Muslim neighbours came forward and carried the body on a bamboo cot to the Manikchak cremation ground which is around 8km from the village,” she said, adding, “They also chanted Hindu mantras – “Bolo Hari Hari bol” on the way to the ground.”

Interestingly, Sheikhpura is a Muslim majority village with just two or three Hindu families.

And here’s another, of Hindu women, helping a Muslim woman with her delivery, at a temple dedicated to the Lord Ganesh.

How Many Books Do You Read in a Month?

Reading has always been my big refuge in times of trouble.

The past few weeks, I haven’t really been myself– burnt out and exhausted from writing, life, travels. So naturally, books have come to the rescue.

Read a bookI started with Washington Sqaure by Henry James, and since I always read more than one book at the same time (for various times– during commutes, by the bedside, in the kitchen and so on) I also picked up two others: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien.

What’s your reaction to shocking #news?

News
Feel Secure, Feel loved

When I’m exhausted, I try and stay away from news. Reading about the abysmal things humans are capable of can be very draining. But after a while, I feel the need to know what’s going on in the world around me. I know the world is a bad place, but once in a while, an article tells me of an aspect of ‘humanity’ I didn’t know about at all.

I recently read about rape videos being sold in Indian villages. While the very Idea is abhorrent, the details are even more chilling: these can be accessed by anyone, for very little money and disseminated through messaging services like Whatsapp, the raped women are clearly identifiable, and the acts brutal and horrifying.

“Al Jazeera found several videos that appeared to depict rape for sale across the state. They cost from Rs 20 to Rs 200 (30 cents to $3) and are transmitted to a customer’s mobile phone in a matter of seconds. The faces of the women are visible in these films. Their voices are clear. The attacks on them are brutal.”

Would You Bless This Story of Young Love? #WATWB

We are the World BlogfestWe are the World Blogfest is here with its third edition.

To spread peace and humanity on social media, a few of us have worked together to create the We are the World Blogfest, and the cohosts for the April 2017 WATWB are: Emerald BarnesEric Lahti, Inderpreet UppalLynn HallbrooksPeter Nena, Roshan Radhakrishnan,

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In the spirit of “In Darkness, Be Light,” here’s a link to a love story that has warmed hearts and brought smiles to everyone who has heard of the couple.

We are the World Blogfest“Lalita, a 26-year-old resident of Kalwa, Mumbai, was supposed to get married to a different man in 2012. But the ceremony was cut short when Lalita’s cousins attacked her with acid, owing to personal enmity.

The acid burnt most of Lalita’s face, due to which she had to undergo 17 surgeries at the Bombay Hospital and Masina Hospital in Mumbai.

As her treatment continued, Lalita, around two months ago, received this particular call from an unknown man named Rahul Kumar. As luck would have it, the two met, fell in love, and decided to get married.”