Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a musical genius and left his imprint on the world of music. As a child prodigy, he often performed with his sister, Nannerl. She was a good musician in her own right. What was it like to be a sibling of one of the greatest composers who ever lived? Based on research and honed by imagination, a fictional account of Nannerl’s story, The Mozart Girl, is here to entice young readers. Those who love reading the historical genre will surely love this one!
As we read the book, it is evident that Nannerl, as much as she loved her younger brother ‘Wolfi’ Mozart, did have pangs of jealousy toward him. As the story unfolds in the home of the Mozart family, this situation plays out. The duo is due to visit Bach, on a long tour and she wants to be at her musical best.
The book has imagined entries from Nannerl’s diary, which gives an insight into her dreams. She wanted to be successful and wanted to be known. She desired fame and fortune. She was unapologetically ambitious. But, her brother Wolfi, young in age and high on talent, eclipsed her.
It also evokes in the background customs and mores of the times it is set in. Nannerl’s corset hurts her and she is grumpy about it…this simple fact hints at a deeper psychological aspect, that of a girl feeling confined and not able to express herself. She also helps her mother out with household chores. Her father gives grammar lessons only to Wolfi, and teaches his how to compose symphonies, while she is supposed to play the piano, and not violin. Her apparent happiness at getting a room of her own during her visit to Paris just shows how much she yearns for freedom and mental space from her family.
The reader feels her pain and disappointments. While her parents love her and take care of her, the gender discrimination comes through in the smallest of actions that they unknowingly do.
However, does she stand up to these issues and still find her way to overcome these obstacles? How does she manage to do that? She attempts to write a symphony…. but does she finally get a chance to perform it?
The flow of the words in this story is rhythmic, almost like the notes of music! The way music pervades the lives of the children involved in it, was also something that struck a chord with me. Nannerl is creating her own symphony in her head, in secret, and how a simple action of rubbing her brother’s back to pat him to sleep when he is ill, provides inspiration for her slow piece is something that I find amazing.
This book goes on to show how we are shaped by the realities of our time and by the experiences we have. Wouldn’t we have been different, for good or for bad, if the significant people we interacted with during our formative years, had done things differently?
This book led me to question- would Nannerl have been recognized as much as a genius as Wolfgang Mozart if only she had an equal opportunity to learn, train and perform as her famous little brother did?
As the story goes by following the famous children through Europe on their performance travels, we see Nannerl’s internal growth. She grows in confidence and boldness. Albeit in little steps, her assertion of her own individuality and her talent, in a world dominated by patriarchy and over-attention to her younger brother, she insists on her own identity. Does she succeed? This is exactly what the reader wants to find out. This is exactly why the reader somehow just can’t put the book down!
The book also opens our eyes to the women of the past. As modern readers we realize that their talents may not have had the platform they deserved due to the society and thoughts of the time. It forces us to look at genius with a different eye. If her father had given her equal attention would she not have been as popular as her brother? No one can deny his talent. But, was her talent compromised or subdued unknowingly?
The genre of historical fiction is a fascinating one. The Mozart Girl, aka Nannerl, steals the show this time!
Title: The Mozart Girl
Author: Barbara Nickel
Publisher: Second Story Press
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction for kids
Age group: 8 to 14
Stress. This is the word that is the bane of our existence today. It is the cause of a number of lifestyle diseases, mental health issues and can negatively impact our holistic well-being . Yet, we grapple with stress management techniques! Why is achieving the stress solution so difficult in the age of information overload?
Dr. Chatterjee is all set to simplify stress management. In an authentic voice born out of his medical practice and informed research, he presents four pillars on which you can build a stress-free life.
In The Stress Solution by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee you will read about a multidimensional approach to stress management. After all, stress solutions need to address more than one area of our lives.
I would like to use the analogy of a car here. Just like a car wouldn’t get going without all the four wheels working well in harmony, we can’t handle stress without adopting a multi-pronged approach.
The book focuses on purpose (how having a sense of purpose can help you deal with stress), relationships (how to nurture and develop them), Body (how physical wellbeing is linked to stress free living) and Mind (this section deals with mental well-being but more specifically talks about the tech menace that is so rampant today).
The Stress Solution is written in a lucid manner. I love the use of terms that really stick in your head and ensure that you remember concepts from the book. For example, he talks about MSDs or Micro Stress Doses that basically refer to little things that add to the stress we experience in day to day life. He elaborates on how to LIVE (Love. Intention. Vision. Engagement). In a sense, he dresses the concepts in a way that one can remember the key point.
We live in a world where stress does not merely stem from one source. We live in an ecosystem of stress! The book considers all these different angles. It then tackles topics such as time management, need for solitude, having a good morning routine, giving due importance to key relationships, eating healthy, exercising, sleeping well, handling tech addiction that somehow seems crazily pervasive nowadays, reconnecting with nature, decluttering your surroundings, breathing correctly, meditation and much more.
For me, the one of the most crucial part of this book was the section on relationships. Have you tried the 3D greeting with your partner? This is a little 15 seconds secret revealed in the book…Similarly in the section that talks about good eating habits and the relationship of food to stress, I found the Eat Your Alphabet Chart really easy to use and implement.
Twenty-first century living is harming our minds. We’re filling our heads with stressful information, bombarding ourselves with noise and light. Infinite distractions vie for our attention. We think nothing of continually drowning our thoughts in news articles, status updates, health blogs, text messages, notifications or emails. This information overload is playing havoc with our mental health.
It is at such times that we need to step back and reassess the situation. Are we living in a way that is indeed best for us? Are we allowing stress to overtake our lives in a manner that will prove harmful to us in the long run?
The Stress Solution by Rangan Chatterjee is a book that speaks to us in a language that we understand. Filled with authentic information and observations, and very practical tips, it’s your resolute guide to living a stress-free life!
BOOKS BY RANGAN CHATTERJEE
Title: The Stress Solution
Author: Dr. Rangan Chatterjee
Genre: Health, Non-fiction
When you’re a child, thinking out-of-the-box comes naturally. Backyard Adventure by Amanda Thomsen is a book that is filled to the brim with ideas and tips to reclaim the childhood that ‘should be’. As gadgets and structured lessons fill our children’s lives, a book like this is a reminder to slow down and savour beautiful moments that will go on to make the foundation of a child’s life.
The book is filled with many pictures and short snappy ideas on fun projects that children can do in their own backyard. These are real images of things done by real children and hence will definitely be inspirational.
Some of the projects may require a little bit of help from adults, if the children wish that is! There are some big projects such as building a fort or tepee, or a hideout with straw bales and tree branches, or a cardboard castle, complete with instructions. Then there are other executable ideas such as making creative sandboxes. There are instructions and suggestions on how to set up ‘tinkering’ areas such as a science lab or a musical studio, again by using easily available material. Children are also encouraged to make a ‘giant mess’ in some specially designed experiments. For those with a green thumb there are hints as to what they can grow. Some of the ideas involve messing around in the wild, or doing science experiments, again often messy! Another set of tips revolve around how kids can capitalize on their backyard space in the dark! (hint- it has to do with glowing objects!)
The materials required for these projects are simple things that one uses at home. In fact, most of the things are recyclable and these projects are all eco-friendly in that sense. Children can make use of waste and old stuff to indulge in these!
In all, the book is filled with easily executable ideas. Older kids (tweens) would be able to do these by themselves while younger ones would need some help from adults.
Some ideas for backyard fun that appealed to me:
Take a pick from your favourite ideas and bounce them off on your kids. You will soon discover that the backyard is a blank canvas…. paint your fun the way you like! And who knows, backyard adventure may not just stop with the kids!
Title: Backyard Adventure
Author: Amanda Thomsen
Publisher: Storey Publishing
Genre: Self-Help, Non-fiction
Perhaps of all things in the world, power is the most coveted. Leaders rule nations and understandably they wield power. They have the power to effect changes. They have the power to create and to shape narratives. However, what happens when these individuals propagate falsehood? At the heart of it lies delusion- a false belief. Delusional Politics is an ambitious aim to understand and chronicle this phenomenon.
Based on over four decades of work in the diplomatic field, Hardeep Singh Puri offers an insightful look at how the most powerful people in the world can be delusional and how their policies impact the future of the countries they rule.
There are many examples of delusional politics in the world – both currently, in recent history as well as from instances that occurred way back in time. While it is interesting and insightful to glean through these, Puri narrows the focus of the book to delusional politics concerning three case studies – United Kingdom post Brexit, USA post-election of Donald Trump and the story of India.
The book examines the delusional thinking and decision making of Trump against the background of several examples such as backing out of the Iran deal, relationship with North Korea, rejecting the Paris Accord and so on. It tries to critically look at Brexit and its aftermath. But perhaps most interestingly, it looks critically at the post-colonial reconstruction of India, and brings it right into modern politics.
What is interesting about the very premise of the book is that it talks about people in power, who do not necessarily have any kind of apparent ‘shortcomings’. How then can they, and a team of powerful and ‘intelligent’ advisers make decisions that may not ultimately prove good for people? “I was astonished and alarmed to know that behavioural science or psychology does not focus on how seemingly normal persons, without any known history of mental illness, can display delusional behaviour in their actions on a regular basis. The people around them come to accept this as normal. Such behaviour then tends to be rationalised as part of a ‘belief’ devoid of objectivity and facts” he writes. It is interesting to observe this in action as one reads the book.
We live in a post-truth world. We live in a society where data is used to form narratives and create them, rather than use facts. Delusional Politics paints a picture of how the narratives presented to us today are constructed. Don’t the complex algorithms of the social media platforms we use lock us into a tunnel vision? Isn’t it easier now than ever before to play with the complete lack of objectivity that people have today? The book illuminates how we the people more often than not become victims of delusions propagated by those in power. To add on to this problem, people who share ideological clusters stick together and share beliefs based on emotions rather than facts.
Singh makes an interesting comment in the section on global governance- if all individuals in the world had a choice they would most likely choose peaceful coexistence as opposed to war. Then, why are nation states leading the world into an existential crisis? He looks at crucial aspects of global governance. With over four decades in diplomatic relations it is natural that he should analyze the role of the UN against this concept of delusional thinking, which he does. The section on terrorism and how delusion informs the approach to it is also quite insightful.
Against the background of these unexpected and surprising events he talks about how the media got it all wrong. The fourth estate has suddenly lost the credibility it has enjoyed in the past. This is the background to the book. His critical look aims to provide a macro view of world politics. It is an ambitious search, but an increasingly important one nevertheless!
Singh’s subtle humour adds its own special charm to the experience of reading Delusional Politics. It is true that Mr. Singh has the benefits of hindsight as he assesses these conditions. Despite that, it is a great lesson to understand the very high costs of delusional politics, and the disaster that can happen when a delusional politician is not able to “See through the final play in this game of chess”.
I feel that this book is as much about the common people, about you and me, as much as it is about delusional politics and the delusional politician. A delusional politician can make decisions that prove costly to the country, and lead to decline of the mightiest empires. But, can we really blame it all on those in power? This is why is it important for us to understand delusional thinking….because important decisions on security, trade and policy are often made by people who show signs of delusional thinking and decision making. Delusional Politics should be everyone’s concern!
Title: Delusional Politics
Author: Hardeep Singh Puri
I first met Ashtar Tashi at an intimate gathering of a group called “House of Entrepreneurs”, a platform for sharing business stories and helping others in their journeys. Tashi struck a chord with every member of the group. Her willingness to share lessons from her healing practice, was evident. When she handed us a copy of her book, “Keep Shining”, I knew it was a deeper dip into the many internal observations and lessons she has mustered over years of spiritual healing practice. “It’s my belief that all of us have the ability to go deep within and explore our highest potential to shine our brightest,” says Ashtar. This belief thus lends the book its name.
Here are excerpts from our conversations that stemmed from the varied thoughts presented in her book and motto, “Keep Shining”.
In Keep Shining, you speak a lot about energies. How could one stop negative energies from impacting us? Could you give our readers couple of simple suggestions that they can implement easily?
Everything around us has energies. The smallest particle of atom to the largest being on the planet holds its own brand of energy. All of nature’s elements and every breath we take, is energy. So, we are nothing but energy. Even our thoughts, words and actions carry energy-positive or negative, but energy all the same. Many people are sensitive to energies and feel them a little more strongly than others. Many experience the impact of energies but can’t really recognize or put a finger to what or why they feel a certain way when energies impact them.
Negative energies are felt as discomfort, uneasiness, a sense of sadness and malaise, and sometimes when deeply percolated into our auras, the negativity takes form of disease. To help stay away from these negativities I would definitely recommend what I follow myself..
First and foremost, every day on waking in the morning, sit up in bed and say a prayer of gratitude. This helps open up your heart and soul to receive more blessings from the universe
Don’t seek approval from others for everything. Invariably, most people tend to be judgmental and if you keep seeking approvals and validations you are giving out the message of not trusting your own self. That makes you vulnerable to being judged and put down for your own efforts. Such experiences shall deplete your energies more.
Believe that you are perfect the way you are. There is Perfection in Imperfection. So, whatever your flaws or frailties, live with them. Of course, make the efforts to change that which does not resonate with you, but stop beating yourself for characteristics that otherwise define who you are. Nobody is perfect and no one should be perfect either.
Don’t spend time with people and in places that don’t make you feel comfortable. We as humans are inherently intuitive. When you walk into a place where you feel uneasy, or meet people who make you feel uneasy, take that as a sign to move away. Do not hang out with people (even though they may be close friends) who enjoy indulging in idle gossip, demeaning others, being disrespectful, back biting etc. All these are sure energy downers and being around these negative energy magnets you will surely feel low and create anxiety and negativity for yourself.
Each chapter in the book talks about one aspect of life- for example, Drawing boundaries, emotion of fear, and so on. Which of these topics/aspects personally resonates with you the most?
All chapters have been written through my life experiences. I have shared what’s closest to my heart and my life learning. Many are direct personal experiences as you would have read and some are also via my clients who have sought guidance and help from me.
The chapters of Self-Love and Fear resonate the most with me since these have been my true-life transforming experiences. I did suffer a lot with lack of self-love, inspite of having so many people who loved me. It took a lot of inner work and introspection for years, for me to realize that I did not need approvals and I had to muster up the courage to walk alone on my terms and still know how special I am and need only to love myself.
The fear aspect was deeply ingrained via some childhood misconceptions and I carried the fear within me for years. I realized how much it was harming me by draining me emotionally besides being tiring for the mind and body. I then took the steps forward to deal with it.
In both the situations I realized that I had to do the work of healing, repair and resolving, by myself. Alone. It was my battle and I had to fight it and win it, all by myself.
As we all know, morning routines and how we start the day is crucial as it sets the tone for the day. How do you start your mornings?
I wake up with a smile for sure. And the first things I do are look at the skylight in my room and say a prayer of gratitude. Gratitude for the comfortable and restful sleep and the blessed opportunity for a brand-new day where I look forward to sharing my love and light with many more people.
Only after doing this little ritual do I step out of the bed. I also chant the Gayatri Mantra (the Mantra of Light) facing the east and when I splash water on my face, I chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. I ring the gong at my altar every morning to send out good energy vibrations and blessings to the universe and all its beings.
In “Keep Shining” you talk about abundance and how gratitude opens the doors to whatever we seek in life. However, how can one ensure that asking for abundance does not stem from greed?
Gratitude is the essence of the human soul and is embedded in our DNA. We sometimes may forget it but it cannot be wiped out. Hence, when we experience abundance and express gratitude, it is obviously coming from that space within us that feels and knows that we are blessed with something, due to the benevolence of a higher grace.
But greed is what appears when gratitude is forgotten. Some people may “ask” from greed and it will be given as well (remember the universe doesn’t judge or refuse anything to us) but it will be given for a short period of time. When it is asked for, again and again with the hidden motive of greed, one day it will stop coming. The universe is “smart” that way. That’s the way it works. It will wait for us to fall flat on our face and perhaps learn some valuable lessons.
The aspect of greed changes the inner quality of a human being. Many things that otherwise come easily, greed would slowly make them difficult to come by and the abundance shall stop. Human beings may or may not acknowledge this happening but it is the truth.
You also talk about guardian angels in the book. Do you feel that people must do something to ensure that the connection with these angels remains strong?
Guardian angels are around us at all times. They wait for us to ask them to help us in our times of need. They nudge us with a gut feel or intuitions sometimes when something has to happen. They do this to make their presence felt. To keep the connection strong, all you need to do is to keep calling on them and asking for their help and guidance.
So, whether it is a task that seems challenging and you need your wits about or it’s a new creative idea that you are seeking, ask your guardian angels to come around and assist you. The only energy you need to have while seeking guidance from them is faith that they can be trusted and will help. And they do!
After reading your book, I felt that as an adult I need to unlearn and relearn a lot! I think it is important to introduce many of the concepts you have spoken about to children. Are you planning to write about these ideas specifically for children?
Yes, after writing Keep Shining! Find Your Happiness Quotient, I too felt that the young generation also needs answers to so many questions. They are sometimes too skeptical and unsure about whom to ask. It maybe from the fear of being judged or sometimes they feel they shouldn’t ask certain things at all and life will figure itself out.
One day while I was in the swimming pool with my teenage daughter and was sharing thoughts about life, she suggested I write a book for youngsters. Thus, the idea germinated and I started work on it.
It’s a book that is aptly called “Life Lessons on Piggyback”. It will have chapters on different issues that come up as questions in the minds of the young. From a topic such as Who is God, how to handle guilt and anger, Dealing with comparisons, and much more, the book holds the hands of young readers and walks them through the maze called life. I shall be completing it soon and sharing it with the world!
What suggestions would you give potential readers about getting the maximum benefit out of the book, Keep Shining? Any tips from you on how to approach the book?
The whole idea of writing the book was not to preach but rather share my own life stories and experiences. The real concept was to reach out to millions of people in the world, knowing that each one of us faces the same or similar issues. Frankly, when we know that we aren’t alone we can try and not be harsh with ourselves. We would then be able to understand the real truth behind our issues so we can deal with them and resolve them.
The approach to this book is nothing but to just flow and read what you feel you need to read first followed by what you may need to know about next and so on and so forth. I have many people writing to me telling me how much the book has helped them It feels like a friend is sitting across and talking to them. I feel humbled with such feedback. I have others who say they bought the book thinking they want to understand only one aspect of their life but land up reading all 19 chapters because each chapter resonates with them. The book is written the way I speak. Simple and lucid and the concepts are explained in a simple manner.
Indeed, Keep Shining is a book that will touch your life just as a friend would. You know that you will not be judged, because the friend has been through the same challenges. It’s that kind of warm fuzzy feeling of being loved, for who you are.
Title: Keep Shining!
Author: Ashtar Tashi
Publisher: Balboa Press
Genre: Self-help/ Healing
When you think of writing exercises for children you don’t really expect them to be moving around, looking and things or manipulating them. But, Rip All the Pages- 52 Tear-out Adventures for Creative Writers by Karen Benke does not recommend the usual stuff. Yes, it is a book that has creative writing exercises for children. But, what these lead to is another exciting adventure.
The physicality of the reader’s interaction with this book is something that really stands out. As you navigate the book, you rip a page, deal with it and then move on to the other. There is also a sensory aspect to the activities mentioned. For example, one of the activities is ‘detonate a memory with flammable words- I remember’. Such activities add a sensory dimension to the act of writing.
Each page has a specific writing exercise. Words of encouragement are woven very neatly into the exercise. This is helpful and motivating to the writer.
There is a ‘call to action’ after most of the writing activities. Many ideas are given on how the writer can display the work…..and quite a few of these are out-of-the-box ideas. For example, in one activity, the child is required to write down sentences on how people can be kind. Then, they need to tear these into little chits and ‘leave a trail of kindnesses. In another, the child has to talk a walk and write in the intermittent pauses. Yet another involves nibbling a snack while writing and taking binoculars and writing from a different perspective. Activities such as these make writing a pleasure, and they also make writing purposeful. Needless to say, they make writing an element of fun.
The writing exercises in the book call for shorter pieces of writing that include slogans, poems, free associative writing, writing words, writing with colour, writing about deep feelings, concocting words and phrases by just bringing them together randomly and so on.
Rip all the pages is a great book to use for:
And as you ago about the journey of implementing these writing exercises for children, it helps to keep the author’s parting advice in mind, “Keep your heart brave and your mind curious”!
If you are interested in creative writing for children, you may also like to read this: https://www.bookedforlife.in/books-and-ideas/writing-is-fun-and-yes-we-mean-it-a-new-writing-activity-book-by-jeanne-perrett-brings-a-dose-of-fun-to-creative-writing-for-kids/
Author: Karen Benke
Publisher: Roost books
Genre: Children/ Activity
Age group: 6-12
Natasha Mehra Must Die is the first book in the Doomsday Trilogy by Anand Sivakumaran. It is an extremely fast paced thriller based on a mythological legacy spanning two millenniums which culminates in the present.
As the title succinctly suggests, someone is out to obliterate every female named Natasha Mehra regardless of age and nationality. The protagonist, Natasha Mehra (of course!) is a college student who is spunky but a social outcast of sorts due to her past experiences. She catches on to this deadly plan and rounds up all Natasha Mehras. Unanticipated friendships spring up despite the arduous circumstances. The plot gets even more intriguing with a two millennia old secret organisation, an assassin and a Natasha Mehra (obviously!) who has the sight of precognition. At this point in the book, it does not matter that you do not believe in the concept of precognition, how much violence people get away with, without the police anywhere in the picture or the graphic images the gruesome murders evoke. By then, you cease to bother about these trivial matters. The only thing you care about is what happens next!
For a racy thriller, the characters are very well defined. Most of them have shades of grey that make them realistic and easy to visualise. This book defies the notion that the first book of any trilogy sets the ground and eases into the storyline. Anand Sivakumaran thrusts you headlong into the eye of the storm. You continue with bated breath up to the end, until the last few pages calm you down just enough to eagerly wish that you had the second book in the trilogy in your hands. Like many reviews have declared – truly unputdownable!
Title: Natasha Mehra Must Die
Author: Anand Sivakumaran
Publisher: Fingerprint Publishing
Celebrating the spirit of a true poet on his centenary calls for a dip into nostalgia. It calls for looking at the elements in his life and in his work that made his craft transcend time. Kaifiyat honours poet Kaifi Azmi, who was one of those rare public figures who truly walked his talk. His intense verses seen in the context of his life prove the age-old adage right- The pen is mightier than the sword!
Shabana Azmi, Kaifi’s daughter has written a moving forward to the book. It paints a very poignant canvas against the background of which, the reader can appreciate Kaifi’s poetry in the context of his roles as a family man. His daughter’s tribute brings out the man behind the lyrical, strong and timeless poetry. It also shows how the poetic and the political merged in his life, and just grew stronger as years went by. The afterword by his wife seals the book by honouring the man who as a true poet saw himself as a vehicle of social change.
The introduction to his life and works that precedes the translations in the book also give an insight into his childhood and early experiences that moulded his worldview. Kaifi won numerous awards and state honours for his work. His life and his work resonated strongly with each other. He was also a renowned lyricist. While his film lyrics are found in Devanagari in Meri Awaaz Suno, all his non-film poetry is found in his collected works, Kaifiyat. This specific translation however has a selection of his poetry on women and romance.
Contemporary themes and concerns found expression in his work. His poems spoke out strongly against what was wrong in society and politics. His was a voice against oppression. Today, we live in times where it has become norm to create narratives. People have allegiance to whatever narrative works for them without ever bothering to look at something from varied perspectives. Today, the reputation of the fourth estate has been openly destroyed. It is in such times that a society turns to voices that rise above contrived narratives. This collection reminds us of the duty of the poet or artist in society- to speak up against narratives and to speak up against anything wrong.
Can one expect the richness of Kaifi’s poetry in Urdu to be evident in the same manner in English, no matter how much linguistic prowess the translator has? The translations do bring out the beauty of the verses. The original verses in Urdu are also printed alongside.
Reading his words immediately makes the novice understand how language can be powerful. You never know what surprise the poem will throw up- In Sarojini Naidu he calls her ‘both blazing flower and fragrant ember’ thereby playing with the words mischievously. Woman is a fiery feminist piece that tells the woman to walk beside the man,
« Break the idol of custom, step out of restrictions of conservatism
Cast aside the frailties of luxury and the whim of delicacy
Walk out of the circle of honour drawn by the spirit
If love becomes a prison break free of love too ».
Strong imagery and lyrical words thus pervade the entire collection.
Kaifiyat also has a selection of Kaifi’s film lyrics. Most of these songs are well known and popular gems of Hindi Cinema. They are so familiar as they are a part of our collective culture. However, when one reads these words as verses and poetry, one is able to go beyond their soulful music and appreciate the beautiful lyrics as well.
To the Reader: If you enjoy reading poetry, and specifically translations from Urdu, you may also like to read our story on Meena Kumari’s poetry: https://www.bookedforlife.in/books-and-ideas/meena-kumari-the-poet-a-life-beyond-cinema/
Translated by Rakhshanda Jalil
Mia is a young girl and she knows that she is born out of her parents’ hearts. Mia sets off to find her biological mother, that is, her ‘tummy-mummy’. The story follows this journey. But, as she goes through this process she uncovers the immense love that her ‘heart’ parents and her extended family holds for her. Her ‘heart parents’ lovingly support her search at every step, gently walking with her on the path where she seeks to know the truth.
Explaining the concept of adoption to a child requires understanding, open and heartfelt communication. Very often adults may be at a loss of words. The book gives words to the very sensitive topic of explaining adoption to a young child. The terms “tummy-mummy” or “heart-parents” immediately give a voice to these unique relationships. The illustrations by Ruchi Mhasane do justice to the deep feelings of love and belonging that pervade the book.
In My Heart, quite perceptively opens up the reader to the fact that there are many different kinds of families. Some connections are those of the heart. It is a story filled with love and poignancy, and the joys of familial bonds.
This book is a wonderful addition to any child’s library, as well as for schools. Adopted or not, all children need to know that ultimately, families are bound by heart!
Title: In My Heart
Author: Nandana Dev Sen
Illustrator: Ruchi Mhasane
Publisher: Puffin books
Age group: 3 – 6
The romance of retired life often comes shattering down when faced with reality. How can one thrive in retirement? Eric Thurman’s book, Thrive in Retirement offers simple secrets to being happy for the rest of your life. Post-retirement years beckon. Life will be, we hope, a constant party….and the joys of doing what we love and always wanted to do will come to us unbounded. Yes, this is the happily ever after that many seniors dream about. But, is it all that enticing as it looks to be? Is it that simple to thrive in retirement? And is it all that rosy?
Enter: a reality check.
There are a few critical factors that will matter most to your life after retirement. Thrive in Retirement by Eric Thurman addresses what those factors are, and also offers practical tips on how to actually make your retirement dreams come true.
The author urges readers not to romanticize retirement. It may sound harsh, but the ground realities are where one starts with. This is not to say that he is negative about retirement. All he purports is to think realistically about it.
The book is filled with several case studies and references from actual people, mostly friends and acquaintances of the author. However, one of the major positives of the book is that the voice and personal opinion of the author looms large. And this, I think, is the strength of the book. This makes the book highly personal. It also makes it more relatable.
This is not to say that the book is just a personal narrative. No, it is much more than that. It is a practical guide. The very first task the reader has to do is be aware of five areas that are vital in old age and then assess himself or herself within those parameters. These areas are Mind, Body, Relationships, Soul and Finances. Then, the author talks about three P’s: Purpose, Pleasure and Peace. You can increase happiness by adding Purpose, Pleasure, and Peace, and the book is full of practical suggestions to accomplish this. While this may echo what one finds in a self-help book, the suggestions here are tweaked for the senior age group. For example, what are the things that would give a senior a sense of purpose in their retired life?
Till death do us apart
The book talks about death- an issue that most people are uncomfortable about. He starts off with talking about his wife’s death and then suggests why it is important to prepare for death in order to live! This is one of the sections of the book that I admire greatly. He talks about how one can be prepared for death- by repairing relationships, getting closure, deciding on factors like painless death and so on, and a host of other practical tips. He also discusses the epidemic of loneliness and offers suggestions on how one can form a compass of relationships. The descriptions of how loneliness can feel are heart wrenching! He outlines the issue of money and financial security. These are hard topics, but what seniors really need to focus on the most.
The appendices have some guided forms that clarify certain issues. The first form contains a list of relevant legal and practical information which would be useful to family and would smoothed stuff out. Another form contains a template for messages that communicate messages to loved ones. Yet another is a list of wishes that you want to convey. These are practical ways of bringing ‘closure’.
These are just some of the ideas. The book is filled with many more suggestions, peppered with many motivational quotes and personal examples from the author’s life.
Thrive in Retirement by Eric Thurman takes a realistic and honest look at retired life. It encompasses the good, the bad and the ugly elements of the same. It is a book that gives hope and happiness and encourages the reader to look forward to retirement. But, at the same time it does not sugar-coat this stage of life.
Title: Thrive in Retirement
Author: Eric Thurman