Some of Dilip's Favorite Books

I love to read and just wish I had more time to leave behind work and other commitments and delve into great fiction, science fiction, history, philosophy, current thought, and much more. I can't hope to capture obvious greats like the classics here, but I thought I would put together a list of some of my favorite books, and then start a list of other interesting books, particularly ones that I'm reading now. I'll also include books that I have written reviews for. I hope to periodically add to this page. Do drop me a line if you have any comments or want to suggest books to read. Thanks for visiting! --Dilip

May 2004: It's just a start, but I have begun putting together a page with extended quotes from these books.

Some of My Favorite Books

Book cover Title, author, year of pub. (year I read) Description
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, early 1800s (app. 1977) If you haven't read this "children's book" as an adult, definitely do so. It is full of puns, parodies, and political satire that make this delightful tale, and that of its sister story, Through the Looking Glass, so much more interesting.

In late 2000, I picked up an annotated version by Martin Gardner, which I greatly enjoyed. Also, in July 2001, I devoured in two sittings a clever modern version, Jeff Noon's 1996 Automated Alice, where we find Alice transported to the year 1998.

Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse, 1922 (1991) This is an easily accessible but tremendous book of self-realization. The spiritual journey of Siddhartha demonstrates Buddhist and Hindu notions of coming to terms with suffering and finding unity in the universe.
The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff, 1982 (app. 1984) This is one of my favorite books - it uses Winnie the Pooh to explain the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism, which extols "life as play", and Taoism to explain the exploits of Winnie the Pooh. Unfortunately, the follow-on book, The Te of Piglet, was disappointing.
Ishmael, Daniel Quinn, 1995 (1999) This book gives unique perspectives on what it means to be human and how we can look at our history in a different light. It was an amazing read for me!
The Golden Gate: A Novel in Verse, Vikram Seth, 1991 (2000) The plot of the novel itself was not particularly remarkable (dealing with a set of friends and their relationships in Silicon Valley), but what makes this one of the most interesting books I've read is Vikram Seth's genius in writing the entire book as 690 sonnets with rhyme pattern A-B-A-B-C-C-D-D-E-F-F-E-G-G! Even the chapter titles and introduction and biography rhyme!
2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur Charles Clarke, 1968 (app. 1997) I love fine film, and one of my favorite films is 2001 (and its even better -- I loved its positive message -- follow-on, 2010). The book was written after the film and I mean no insult to the book by saying that in this rare case, the film was so well made that it surpasses the book in telling its story. It's a real testament to Arthur C. Clarke's vision that the science fiction technology of space travel as he depicts it here still seems plausible and not dated. I finally got around to reading the book in the late 1990s, after seeing the film many times, including on a special laser disk with many extra features (such as the entire book which one could read page by page by advancing frame by frame on the television!). I've enjoyed all science fiction I've read by Arthur C. Clarke.
The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age, Stanislaw Lem, 1976 (app. 1983) Stanislaw Lem is perhaps my favorite science-fiction author, and this is the best book of his I've read. It's a collection of short stories of robots who compete to outdo each other, and includes stories of exciting and accessible topics like an artificially intelligent poetry machine and dragons of improbability.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, 1979 (1983) This is a zany, very addictive, page-turner of a fantasy/science fiction tale of our hero Arthur Dent and his crazy adventures in the galaxy after he is plucked away from the Earth just before the planet's destruction (as it is in the way of a cosmic freeway). Hilarious, it will leave you wanting to run to get the remaining three books in the "trilogy".
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien, 1937 (app. 1972) This is perhaps the classic science fiction / fantasy story. It's about Bilbo Baggins, a contented little rabbit-like creature, who resists the invitation of the wizard Gandalf the Grey to go on an adventure, but is swept on his way along with 13 dwarves. These dwarves are looking to return to the home of their ancestors in the Lonely Mountains and find the dragon Smaug, who has stolen their treasures. We meet many fascinating characters along the way, such as other elves, huge spiders, and a creature Gollum who challenges Bilbo to riddle contests with life-and-death stakes, and from whom Bilbo wins an important ring. Older children will enjoy this as a fairy tale; it is also popular with adults, and I should re-read it sometime to better appreciate its complexity. This is the first book of a trilogy, Lord of the Rings.
Watership Down, Richard Adams, 1974 (1978) This is an epic story of a group of rabbits who are trying to save themselves against human encroachment. It doesn't give a heavy-handed environmental message, but is an engrossing story, complete with a fictitious rabbit vocabulary.
Diary of a Madman and Other Stories, Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol, several editions of his early-mid 1800s stories (app. 1984) Some credit Nikolai Gogol as being one of the creators of the modern novel. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of his short stories best of all his works. The stories are bizarrely humorous and depict bureacratic pre-revolutionary Russian life, poking fun at the mores of the time.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank (posthum.), 1947 (app. 1997) This is one of the most wrenching and sad, yet lively and hopeful books that I've read. It is the diary that a 13-year-old girl starts weeks before her family goes into hiding from the Nazis. A must-read.
The Glory and the Dream: A Narrative History of America, 1932-1972, William Manchester, 1974 (app. 1975) In my early teenage years, I read many histories, and this was probably my favorite. I found this book to bring real excitement to American history -- not only did William Manchester bring his masterly writing skills to narrate important historical events, but also he made it multi-faceted, including social trends, fads, and contemporary thought. It was hard to put down this two-volume book!
... A New History Of India, Stanley Wolpert, 1977 (1982) I have read several histories of India, but Stanley Wolpert's is the one I found to be the most objective and interesting. I read the second edition, but apparently this has several updated editions, including more recent history. Also, I have separately read that recent archaeological work has shown indigenous art from 40,000 BC, but Wolpert's work only goes back to 8000 BC; I wonder if in his newer editions he discusses revised notions of the "Aryan invasion" which may never have happened.

Other Noteworthy Books

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Book cover Title, author, year of pub. (year I read) Description
POTUS Speaks: Finding the Words that Defined the Clinton Presidency, Michael Waldman, 2000 (2000) This book by one of President Clinton's chief speechwriters 1992-1999 is an articulate narrative of the policy, and the politics shaping it, of the Clinton presidency. It is an exciting behind-the-scenes look at the tremendous amount of research that White House staff must do, especially for the speechwriting staff for a president who gave in a typical year 550 speeches, vis-a-vis 320 for Ronald Reagan and 88 for Harry Truman. I would think it would give anybody renewed amazement at the sheer intelligence and tremendous oratory of Bill Clinton.
Obama: From Promise to Power, David Mendell, 2007 (May 2-June 3, 2008) In the midst of the 2008 US Presidential Election and the local candidate visits that I had been photographing, I thought it would be good to read more about the candidates, particularly Barack Obama, the major candidate least known. I finished reading this insightful book just hours after Senator Obama had enough delegates to be the Democratic Presidential nominee. Review pending.
Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House, Richard Wolffe, 2010 (December 16, 2010 - January 12, 2011) Journalist Richard Wolffe wrote Revival book to give an insider's perspective of the Obama White House based primarily on notes from January-March 2010, one year into the administration, with ample background from his coverage of the campaign. Wolffe had access to many in the White House, including the President and Vice-President. He describes President Obama's inner circle as including "revivalists" who seek to keep the campaign's idealism going strong, and "survivalists" who focus on compromise that realpolitik suggests is necessary to get things done. I enjoyed reading the book and especially the insights it provided about behind-the-scenes personalities and details of navigating politics and public opinion in policy-making and governing. Clearly Wolffe thinks highly of this administration, and there is little criticism or opposing viewpoints.
Outline of History, H.G. Wells, 1920 (app. 1973) A master storyteller, H.G. Wells captivated me even as a pre-teen to go through this two-volume history of the world. I'd like to read it again as an adult!
Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda, 1946 (app. 1973) Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) was one of the first pioneers to bring eastern philosophy to the west, along with Swami Vivekananda who had come to the west in 1893. Yogananda was invited to speak at the Congress of Religious Liberals in Boston in September 1920 and founded the Self-Realization Fellowship, also in 1920. In his autobiography, he uses a straightforward writing style to discuss issues of spirituality, respect and love of world religions and traditions, yoga, meditation, and self-realization. I recommend this for anybody interested in spirituality as an easy and thought-provoking introduction to eastern approaches to metaphysics.
Gandhi's Passion, Stanley Wolpert, 2001 (December 26, 2006-January 21, 2007) Stanley Wolpert's A New History of India, which I've mentioned above, is my favorite Indian history book. I was excited to find that he has now also written about Gandhi (and has a book about Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, that I'd like to read; Wolpert also edited the 2006 Encyclopedia of India). I'm teaching a new course on Gandhian non-violence in 2007, and picked this as my textbook. It is a good, readily digestible, book that does a fine job of surveying Mahatma Gandhi's biography. It provides a reasonable base with which one can go on to other sources to explore Gandhi's philosophy and influences.
Nonviolent Soldier of Islam: Badshah Khan, A Man to Match his Mountains, Eknath Easwaran, 1999 (December 2001) This is a captivating biography of the saintly and enlightened Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1891-1988), who fought with passion and nonviolence along with Gandhi for freedom. Also known as the "Frontier Gandhi", he was named "Badshah Khan", or "King of Kings" by the Pathans (or Pushtuns) of colonial India's Northwest Terratories (now the NW border of Pakistan and SE Afghanistan). His life is remarkable as one of the most effective to understand and act on the teachings of Gandhi, his colleague and mentor. Commandingly gentle at 6'6", he was inspired by Gandhi to channel his people's long-standing violent clan warfare and fierce codes of honor to a unifying nonviolent movement of achieving independence from the British, forming the world's largest nonviolent "army" of 100,000 Khudai Khidmatgars, or "servants of God"). His life story should be well known by all, and is an inspiration to how people can live together peacefully. I found Badshah Khan's story so compelling, that I read this book cover-to-cover (almost 250 pages) on one day, my birthday in December 2001.
War Talk, Arundhati Roy, 2003 (Dec. 20&30, 2003) I admire Arundhati Roy's activism for peace & human rights, particularly the work she has done with the Friends of River Narmada, helping the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Movement) fight for villagers who are losing their historic homelands to flooding from a large dam on the Narmada River. I was happy to see this new book in the library in December 2003 as her treatise on peace. It was a fast read, consisting of a series of page-turning essays about issues such as struggles of everyday people, globalization, terror & imperialism, the rise of Hindu fundamentalism in India, and nonviolence & civil disobedience. I highly recommended War Talk to anyone interested in considering root causes of discontent, and approaches to a more peaceful world. Arundhati Roy shares her thoughts eloquently with well-referenced footnotes.
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, Azar Nafisi, 2003 (Dec. 1-19, 2003) The author, now at the School of Adv. Intl. Studies of my alma mater, Johns Hopkins Univ., taught at the Univ. of Tehran till she resigned in 1995 due to radical Islamist pressure. From 1995 till she left Iran in 1997, a group of 7 young women - the poet Manna (and her husband Nima), religious Mahshid, young Yassi, wild Azin married to an abusive man, calm Mitra, and two students who had both experienced jailing by the Islamic Republic, Sanaz and Nassrin - met at her home for secret weekly studies of forbidden books, such as Lolita, Pride and Prejudice, and The Great Gatsby. Though sometimes I found too detailed the forays into analysis of the literature, Azar Nafisi's beautiful English is a pleasure. I loved her descriptions of her students, including Islamists such as Mr. Nyazi and Mr. Bahri; colleagues; and her "magician", another professor who left teaching after the 1979 revolution. The book is a reminder of the value of artistic and intellectual freedom that many who have it may take for granted. It was a powerful experience to see personified the power of jailing, murder, and impositions great and small that the theocracy had on the Iranians - and their counter-power by simple acts of defiance.
India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age, Gurcharan Das, 2002 (Jan.-Sept. 2003) Summary pending.
Eating India: An Odyssey into the Food and Culture of the Land of Spices, Chitrita Banerji, 2007 (December 15, 2007 - January 2, 2008) The US-based author, a Kolkata-native and author of books related to Bengali foods, returns to Bengal and then on to other regions of India to explore their various cuisines. It should be an engaging read to others who share my interest in history, which Ms. Banerji nicely presents in the context of the assimilation of foods from many cultures, particularly Islamic and Portugese, over thousands of years in India. As part of a course on Gandhian non-violence, I teach a quick capsule summary of Indian history, but I found some new insights here. As a vegetarian, my only reservation was the, to me, unappealing coverage of animal-based foods.
Chasing the Mountain of Light: Across India on the Trail of the Koh-I-Noor Diamond, Kevin Rushby, 2000 (Dec. 19, 2005-Jan. 25, 2006) I found this book in the library just before leaving on a trip to visit India. The author searches the historical trail of the world's largest diamond, the 106-karat (originally 186-karat, but Queen Victoria reduced it to increase its brilliance) Koh-I-Noor. From its origin around 1000 B.C., he follows the mythology and history of this gem through his travels around India and visits with historians, diplomats, peasants, diamond merchants, and others. From the diamond's mythological beginning as a gift from the Sun God through adventures and spoils of war, it now sits in the Tower of London. It made for interesting readingSummary pending.
Suburban Sahibs: Three Immigrant Families and Their Passage from India to America, S. Mitra Kalita, 2003 (Dec. 22 & 24, 2003) I found this book within a month of its publication. The author is president of a group I joined in 1997, SAJA. I found interesting the true stories of Pradip ("Peter") Kothari, activist and Republican candidate, wife Nandini, and daugthers Payal & Toral; Assamese high-tech workers Sankumani & Shravani Sarma and their young boys Siku & Abhijat; and economically struggling Harish & Kapila Patel and their daughters Kajal & Zankhana (and the Gujarati Hindu family strains when she marries 7th-grade educated Punjabi Sikh cab driver Bittu). They are all recent immigrants to Middlesex County, NJ, which, including Edison (with 20% of the residents Indian), is one of the largest communities in the Indian diaspora. I enjoyed how the families in their own ways celebrated the Hindu new year Navratri and dealt with separation and the building of new lives. Issues of context for coming to "Amrika", H1B visas and the dot com boom & bust, political empowerment, family ties, dating, and economic & educational values make this an engaging and promising first book by Washington Post reporter S. Mitra Kalita.
Playing with Fire: Pakistan at War with Itself, Pamela Constable, 2011 (Late Dec. 2011-Jan. 31, 2012) I read a writeup of this, the most recent book by Pamela Constable, Washington Post reporter on South Asia, in mid-December 2011, in an alumni magazine (we both went to the same school). I've been wanting to read more about Pakistan (really about Pakistan's founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah; I admire Stanley Wolpert's writing, and should read his Jinnah of Pakistan), so took advantage of the year-end holiday period to sign out of the library Playing with Fire. The book describes modern Pakistan as a country struggling with corruption, domestic terrorism, economic disparity, and the role of religion, existentially fixated upon India. On a very positive note, I was delighted to learn in the epilogue about Abdul Sattar Edhi, a humanitarian working to better the plight of the poor in Pakistan.
In Search of Lost Roses, Thomas Christopher, 1989 (2000) Given that I have a love of roses, this was a lively read into the history of old roses as kept alive by modern day "rose rustlers" and others who seek out old varieties and revive their stories. Each chapter discusses another modern unsung hero in the garden, and we learn more interesting details about the history and cultivation of roses.
Orchid Fever:A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy, Eric Hansen, 2001 (2001) Chapters fly by like fiction as they give interesting glimpses into the passionate interests of orchid growers. Eric Hansen describes CITES trade regulations which have, ironically, caused arrests of conservationists who tried to rescue these beautiful flowering plants from the paths of construction; journeys to rainforests; intrigue at orchid shows; obsessive and secretive orchid collectors; aphrodisiac orchid ice cream; and many more fascinating tales and fun botanic facts (e.g., the smallest orchid is microscopic; the largest, Grammatophyllum speciosum, can weigh over a half ton and measure forty feet in circumference - several collectors have been crushed to death by it!).
Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession, Susan Orlean, 1998 (December 2002) I'm not an orchid afficionado, but I enjoyed Orchid Fever so much that when I stumbled upon this book, I thought I should give it a read; I didn't enjoy it as much, though the author has a lively writing style. Her story is about a man, John Laroche, who was convicted of poaching wild orchids from the Florida Everglades' Fakahatchee Strand. His character is stranger than fiction; he is compulsive and dives very deep into his passions then suddenly abandons each in turn - be they for turtles, Ice Age fossils, tropical fish, or orchids. The book explores the interesting personalities of other South Florida orchid enthusiasts, as well, and gives an interesting peek into Florida history and fraudulent real estate dealings, as well as contemporary and historical Seminole culture.
Anatomy of a Rose: Exploring the Secret Life of Flowers, Sharman Apt Russell, 2001 (2001-2002) This is a charming book with poetically written very short chapters on fascinating thoughts and facts about flowers - the aesthetics of botany.
An Obsession With Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair with a Singular Insect, Sharman Apt Russell, 2003 (April 7-19, 2004) (see extended quotes) I enjoyed her Anatomy of a Rose so much that I picked this newer book up by Sharman Apt Russell. Her style of presenting science in an approachable and literary style makes for fun reading. Perhaps because of my interest in roses, I found the rose book of hers more interesting, but still enjoyed reading about the fascinating habits and qualities of butterflies.
Second Nature: A Gardener's Education, Michael Pollan, 1991 (December 2002) I have not read a more eloquent writer about gardening than Michael Pollan, contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and a former editor for Harper's magazine. I loved his style as he waxed eloquently about the philosophy of gardening. At its best, the book describes Michael's personal experiences, such as with his famous grandfather with the passion for gardening, as well as with his own father who so neglected gardening that he let his front lawn be a neighborhood eyesore. His connection with the farmhouse he has bought and in which he defines his garden is also engrossing; he makes us think about society's changing relationship (philosophically, politically, and pragmatically) to gardens, plants, and nature. The book was, to me, a little less delightful with his belaboring his defense of gardening on his terms vis-a-vis nature, though I admired the garden ethic that he developed.
Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times, Jennifer Worth, 2012 (June 28, 2013 - July 7, 2013)
Slowly Down the Ganges, Eric Newby, 1966 (1988) Eric Newby is my favorite travel author. I sometimes find his occasional sarcasm and cynicism irritating, but overall his books are full of humorous experiences that the author and sometimes his wife Wanda find themselves in. This is probably my favorite book of his, where he recounts his and Wanda's "enthralling and hilarious voyage down India's sacred river". I've also read and enjoyed The Big Red Train Ride (1978, read in 1991) and A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush (1958, read in 1989), as well as Round Ireland in Low Gear.
Full Tilt: Ireland to India With a Bicycle, Dervla Murphy, 1965 (1997) I found this true tale about the brave author's sometimes harrowing ride from her home in Ireland to India to be a fun adventure. She has much to say about her time especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the kind people that she met along the way.
Spokesongs: Bicycle Adventures on Three Continents, Willie Weir, 1997 (2000) I love reading about bicycle touring adventures, and Willie kept me smiling as I read about his long journeys in India (one story about Indian hospitality had me roaring in laughter!), South Africa, and the Balkans.
101 Countries: Discovering the World Through Fast Travel, P.J. Parmar, 2003 (2004-July 22, 2005) (see extended quotes) In the summer of 2004, my parents had some visitors who turned out to be the parents of this author, and they gifted his book to them. It was a a fun and light-hearted read. P.J., born in Canada, raised in Chicago, and living in Denver, loved travel since a child, and says "his favorite place in the world is the one where he has not been yet". The book is about his adventures traveling on a whirlwind tour through five continents in a sometimes rugged and always independent and unique manner. Summary pending.
36 Views of Mount Fuji: On Finding Myself in Japan, Cathy N. Davidson, 1993 (March 17-June 6, 2005) (see extended quotes) For years, I have been fascinated by Japanese culture, particularly the subtle aesthetics seen in flower arranging, gardens, Zen poetry, and other art, and also exhibited in the elegant minimalism of everyday life. After taking a graduate Japanese Cultures course, enjoying many Japanese friendships, and developing an interest in films of Yasujiro Ozu out of which I designed and taught a course, I finally visited Japan in March 2005, and on that trip began reading this book by a professor from Duke University here in Durham, NC. I enjoyed the author's down-to-earth style and her way of hilighting cultural differences in generally the most positive of lights. She and her husband made several trips to Japan initially as visiting faculty members; their exemplified insights into topics such as Japanese psychology, interpersonal communications, dealing with death, and the importance of conformity and the group vs. the individual made for interesting reading.
Travelers' Tales Tuscany: True Stories, James O'Reilly and Tara Austen Weaver, editors, 2002 (October 8, 2006 - December 4, 2006) (see extended quotes) I started reading this charming book on the plane enroute to Italia in October 2006. It's a nice collection of short travel and exploration stories from many authors, including well-known writers from publications like The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Harvard Review, The Village Voice, and Harpers. After a short but lovely visit to Italia, the tales rang true to me in giving a small portrait of the soul and character of the Tuscans and their lovely towns and countryside.
The Lightning Field: Travels In and Around New Mexico, Robert Eaton, 1995 (October 14 - November 11, 2007) (see extended quotes) I began this well-written collection of essays on my first visit to New Mexico, a charming and beautiful state. In an understated and modest fashion, the author shares his inspirations about the culture, history, and geology of different New Mexican regions. Reflecting on almost twenty years of living in the state, he shares his experiences such as working for the National Park Service, living and working at isolated Chaco Canyon, relating to the Navajo and other Native peoples, and visiting an isolated Benedictine Monastery in the mountains. It made for interesting reading; I only wish it included a New Mexico map.
Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and the Rise and Fall of American Soul, Craig Werner, 2004 (2010) (see extended quotes) I love 1970s soul music and was delighted to find this book. The author, a cultural historian, picks three exemplar musicians, each having grown up in the gospel music of the African-American church in the Northern U.S. of families who left the segregated South. It covers the late 1950s through the beginning of the twenty-first century and helped me put this powerful music into context. The book is difficult to put down and keeps one reaching for music of this hope-inspiring era where the songs conveyed powerful messages echoing the nascent civil rights movement.
Matilda, Roald Dahl, 1988 (app. 1998) Matilda is an unbelievably precocious and compassionate 5 1/2 year old girl. She has parents who are totally self-absorbed to the point they don't even notice her gifts, and in fact discourage her intellectual pursuits. She also has challenges with the cruel school principal, "The Trunchbull", but has the good fortune to have a lovely kindergarten teacher, Miss Honey. Though this is marketed to ages 9-12, it is a very fun book for all ages.
The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan, 1989 (1997) Along with the film, I found this to be an extremely touching and intricate portrait of the relationships of four mothers with their daughters. The mothers all have immigrated from China to San Francisco forty years earlier in 1949, and have shared and grown with each other in their new homeland.
Of White Ashes, Constance Hays Matsumoto and Kent Matsumoto, 2023 (summer 2023-November 23, 2023) In May 2023 I heard a compelling National Public Radio story about this book and was intrigued. It's historical fiction about the Japanese-American experience on both sides of the Pacific during and after World War II. The main character, Ruby, of Japanese background but born and brought up in Hawaii, faces much personal loss and suffering, including years-long internment. Koji, an American citizen raised in Hiroshima, lives through the bombing of his city. I loved the rich character development and fascinating historical perspective. It leaves me wanting to learn more about the family history from which the book borrows.
Pastries: A Novel of Desserts and Discoveries, Bharti Kirchner, 2003 (May 14-24, 2004) I stumbled on this book in May 2004 by an author whose vegetarian cookbooks I've seen, and, especially as I'm a self-published vegetarian cookbook author and enjoy cooking and teaching cooking, this work of fiction sounded like a fun read. It was and I could hardly put it down! Reminiscent of the 1998 film, You've Got Mail, Sunya Malhotra, aged 29 and baker/owner of a small bakery in Seattle called "Pastries", is faced with the competition of a chain bakery that opens up nearby, deepening her personal crisis with her Japanese-American boyfriend having left her for a Japanese girlfriend. She ends up enrolling in a baking school in Japan, helping her to connect to the Sunya Buddhist tradition that her long-lost father named her after. I was really taken by Bharti Kirchner's realistic style and storytelling, and can't wait to read more of her works!
Darjeeling, Bharti Kirchner, 2002 (June 16-20, 2004) After reading Kirchner's Pastries: A Novel, I fell in love with her writing so much that I just couldn't get into another author's book I started on gardening, so picked this up. It was another winner - though I think I enjoyed Pastries more, Darjeeling touched me deeply and uniquely. The Gupta family establishes a tea plantation in the 1800s in the mountainous town of Darjeeling, India. Thakurma, the widow grandma, is the family's guiding hand and her widower son, Bir, runs the business. Bir has two children. A love triangle ensues with both of the daughters, poised and attractive Aloka and the younger Sujata, when they intersect with tea taster foreman Pranab. Pranab loves Sujata but marries Aloka. Aloka doesn't find out about the affair till much later, but Thakurma, realizing the explosive situation that can sully the family's honor and the business itself, sends Sujata immediately off to relatives in Canada. To diffuse the situation that trusting Aloka doesn't fully realize, she and Pranab immigrate to New York. Though I struggled to understand the selfishness and lack of personal responsibility of Pranab, I otherwise found this to be compelling and an always-inviting read. On to more of Bharti Kirchner's so-well knit-together stories!!
The Namesake: A Novel, Jhumpa Lahiri, 2003 (Oct. 19-21, 2003) On Aug. 30, 2003, just as I reached my library seeking books, Public Radio began a compelling interview with Jhumpa Lahiri about her upcoming second book (I also saw her on the Oct. 16 Newshour.) I borrowed The Namesake days after its release and couldn't put it down. I thoroughly enjoyed it much more so than her Pulitzer-winning first book. Lahiri's matter-of-fact style that doesn't belabor the obvious draws one in to the lives of the Gangulis - Ashoke & Ashima, Calcutta immigrants to Boston in the early 1960s, their son Gogol, and his younger sister Sonali, or Sonia. In a train wreck, Ashoke's life is saved because instead of sleeping, he reads a book by the Russian Nikolai Gogol. When Gogol is born in 1968, the "good name" the great-grandmother mailed never arrives, so he gets a "pet name", causing him anguish later - "Gogol" is neither Indian nor American, nor even a first name. He changes it at college to "Nikhil". Though it is not especially sad, The Namesake surprised me by bringing tears several times. It is a story of the power of a name; the immigrant experience; the search for love, context, and identity. It made me a committed fan of Lahiri's.
Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri, 1999 (Sept. 2003) While waiting for the release of Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, I devoured in two days this Pulitzer-winning set of 9 short stories. My favorite is the last, "The Third and Final Continent", about a humble man who leaves India in 1964 for England and then a career in the U.S. The story of his first days in the U.S. renting a room from an 86-year-old woman, and his even more humble wife's arrival is endearing. I enjoyed "Mrs. Sen's" about a woman who takes up after-school care of a boy. Some stories express problems of young couples, such as Shoba and Shukumar in "A Temporary Matter" who cease to effectively communicate after losing a child at birth, the extramarital affair Dev has with the meek Miranda in "Sexy", and the differences in Sanjeev and Twinkle that play out when they buy their first home in "This Blessed House". In the sad title story, Mr. Kapasi, a clinic's language translator, doubles as a tour guide and finds out about the unfaithful marriage of his visiting charges Mr. & Mrs. Das and their children, all born and raised in America.
Arranged Marriage, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, 1996 (2000) This collection of eleven stories focuses on Indian women and cultural issues they face as they transform their lives. In all but one story, the protagonist immigrates to the U.S., and in all of them the women face new challenges and changes. I found the book to be sobering and pessimistic; if only we could have a world where everybody has opportunity and is treated with respect.
Brick Lane: A Novel, Monica Ali, 2003 (Feb.20, March 1 & 3, 2004) This story is about Bangladeshi Nazneen who, at age 18, is sent to London's Tower Hamlets community after an arranged marriage with 40-year-old Chanu, and her subsequent growth & self-discovery. They and their children, Raqib, Shahana, & Bibi, struggle and consider returning to Bangladesh. There are colorful characters, like Nazneen's uneducated sister Hasina, whose tough life we see through letters; Dr. Azad and his dinner visits for "intellectual" talk with Chanu; Razia, victim of an abusive husband till he is accidentally buried under seventeen frozen cow carcasses (while working a second night job delivering meat) and whose son Tariq becomes involved with drugs; usurer Mrs. Islam, always sick and carrying a big bag of remedies, and her thug sons; and charismatic leader Karim of the "Bengal Tigers", engendering Muslim solidarity and reacting to a post-Sept. 11 world. Issues such as prejudice of a minority community toward the majority (and vice-versa), gender roles, fate, religion, and the balance between independence and sacrifice in marriage are realistically portrayed in this matter-of-fact and readable story that kept me caring about Nazneen and the twists and turns of her life.
Junglee Girl, Ginu Kamani, 1995 As I was leaving the library stacks with tomes such as biographies of Bill Bradley and Mohammed Ali Jinnah as my 2000 year-end reading, this brightly colored book jumped out at me. It promised to be a good read by espousing a less traditional, "liberated" view of Indian feminism, but when I started to read it, I found it to be rather crude, at least for my taste. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the first of the stories, which describes perhaps a true encounter of the author, who was born and had her childhood in India and then grew up in the U.S. In this story, she returns to visit India, and shares a train compartment with a woman of about the same age. She uses the story to suggest how her perspectives had changed after leaving India.
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, Edwin A. Abbott, 1880 (1983) This is an excellent book which, in a fun storybook format, gives one insight into geometric dimensionality, as well as humorously satirizes Victorian England class hierarchies. The two-dimensional Flatland is inhabited by sentient shapes who have more power as their number of sides increases. A square explores this world, as well as lines in one-dimensional, and the solipsistic point in zero-dimensional lands, then describes how a visiting sphere can see through Flatlander's safes and appear first as a point then bigger and bigger, and then smaller and smaller circles. It's a great read even if you're not interested in math, while another related book, Sphereland (Dionys Burger, 1960) is also interesting but more relevant for those with a mathematical bent.
Mathematics and Humor, John Allen Paulos, 1980 (app. 1984) I love innocent humor and have a degree in applied math, so I devoured this unique and fairly readable exploration of the logic and math underlying jokes, written by a mathematics professor.
How to Dunk a Doughnut: The Science of Everyday Life, Len Fisher, 2003 (Jan.-Feb. 2004) This book addresses common phenomenon, such as how long it takes a cookie to dissolve when submerged in coffee or how tools work, and explores the mathematics and science behind not just how but why. It has a relatively light tone that may appeal to the curious reader even without a strong mathematical background.
Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, Kiran Desai, 1998 (April 19-May 5, 2004) (see extended quotes) I saw this book recommended in my library on a shelf of fiction related to botany, and picked it up in April 2004. It takes place in a quiet village in the south of India, Shahkot, and focuses on a rather odd family. Sampath, the main character, is a low-energy good-for-nothing, but then his mother shows signs of otherworldly-tuned craziness, as do others in her ancestry. Very unproductive (actually, counterproductive) as a post office clerk, he is fired when he acts outrageously at the manager's daughter's wedding and, finally frustrated about not at all fitting in to the family or society, Sampath travels to the countryside, finds an abandoned guava orchard, climbs a guava tree, and takes up residence there. People mistake him as being a sage when they gather nearby and he makes pronouncements that they are shocked he could know about (he still remembers secrets he stole from letters to residents). The style of outrageous village gossip and fun and silly situations reminds me of the stories of R.K. Narayan.
My Father Had a Daughter: Judith Shakepeare's Tale, Grace Tiffany, 2003 (Sept. 1&2, 2003) I began this book on Labor Day 2003 and found it so interesting and clever that I almost finished it in one sitting. It is a fictitious story of Judith, a real daughter of William Shakespeare. Young Judith is portrayed as a fiercely independent and intelligent girl, with poetic gifts of her father. She convinces her twin brother Hamnet that she can weave imaginative spells to cause events such as having their beloved father return from London to Stratford-upon-Avon for more frequent visits. After a family tragedy, Judith is disturbed to find draft notes of a play, Twelfth Night, which appears to her to turn the tragedy into comedy, and that her father is preparing for his grand new Globe Theatre. She steals away to London, pretends to be a boy, and becomes a player at the Globe, intending to show the world the truth of the tragedy and to humiliate her father. Her adventures and fast wit in this quest and back in Stratford make for very enjoyable reading. The author emailed me to look in May 2004 for her Will, "a longer novel about Shakespeare himself".
Bright from the Start: The Simple, Science-Backed Way to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind from Birth to Age 3, Jill Stamm, 2007 (January-March 24, 2011) I enjoyed reading this at a time when I have a daughter who is two years old. A researcher of early brain development, Dr. Stamm writes a very readable and fun book that takes scientific studies and presents them for parents. It was, for me, validating to read that much of my parenting instinct, such as interactive reading, not introducing television, and communicating compassion through toys, is recommended by research.
Who Moved My Cheese?, Spencer Johnson, 1998 (Nov. 30-Dec. 17, 2004) My Dad recommended this simple but powerful parable. Mice Sniff and Scurry and "little-people" Hem and Haw live in a maze, content eating Cheese at "Cheese Station C". One day all the Cheese is gone - they have not paid heed to the diminishing supply. How they adapt to this unexpected change is an insightful tale that can apply to any maze we are in, searching for whatever Cheese fulfills us, and helps to visualize "New Cheese" in expecting something better as we deal with change in our relationships, work, or life in general. Do we sniff out new opportunities, scurry to get things done, cautiously learn to conquer our fear and then slowly move on to new realities, or just get hemmed in and not react to change? It was an easy but useful, fun, and interesting read.
Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?: Inside IBM's Historic Turnaround, Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., 2002 (Dec. 2002-Jan. 2003) Since I work for IBM, I thought that this history of the company from our recently retired CEO would be worth reading. It gave me an interesting peek into what it takes to run a large company and I liked seeing the behind-the-scenes perspective into my company.

Books That I Would Like To Read

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Book cover Title, author, year of pub. Description
The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey, Spencer Wells, 2002 I saw a fascinating film based on this book on Jan. 22, 2003. Spencer Wells, a 33 year-old geneticist trained at Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford, explores why it took humans 2 million years to spread across Africa, but just 50,000 to move to the rest of the world. His research, based on tracing the male Y-chromosome, suggests a common ancestor 60,000 - not millions as was believed - years ago, implying humans all are cousins at most 2000 generations apart. He suggests that Africa suffered droughts during the last Ice Age, forcing some humans to two major migrations, one along the coast through India and onto Australia, and the other inland through the Middle East and into Central Asia and from there to the rest of the world. I enjoyed watching the scientist's meeting folks in a village in S. India, finding genetic evidence of the Africa-Australia migration; the descendant of a man in Central Asia who, by Wells' theory, is the super grandfather of Europeans, Asians, and Native Americans; the Chukchi people of northeast Siberia, direct cousins of Native Americans; and others. I can't wait to read the book!
A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson, 2003 (Aug. 12, 2005-) I started reading this September 30, 2003. It appears to be a non-scientist's fun and very readable history of the universe. I'm looking forward to reading this!
Roses: A Celebration, Wayne Winterrowd (ed.), Pamela Stagg (Illustrator), 2003 I found this shortly after it was published in Oct. 2003 and am anxious to read it. It promises stories by 33 rosarians accompanied by gorgeous illustrations.
The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World, Michael Pollan, 2001 I picked this up from the library at the end of 2001, but just didn't get a chance to get to it over the holidays - but I am anxious to return to it. It seems to be a fun look at people's relationships to plants - do they use us as much as we use them? There are four chapters, exploring our interactions with apples, tulips, marijuana, and potatoes.
Paths of Desire: The Passions of a Suburban Gardener, Dominique Browning, 2004 I found this book in the library on May 17, 2004 and it looked like it would be a fun read.
Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex, Olivia Judson, 2002 I saw this book in May 2005 and it looked like it would be light, interesting, and educational to read. Olivia Judson, journalist and evolutionary biologist, educates us about animal mating through an "advise column", responding to letters supposedly from sagebrush crickets, iguanas, and other creatures. Apparently also in May 2005, it was made into a television show and broadcast as three 1-hour episodes in Canada and England.
1776, David McCullough, May 2005 As a preteen and teenager, I had a voracious reading appetite for history. I also have enjoyed many shows on American Experience on public television, including some stories by twice Pulitzer Prize winning historian David McCullough, who also has hosted the series. Though some academics see his compelling storytelling talents as perhaps not well-written history, I want to read at least one of McCullough's books, perhaps this one or his 2001 John Adams or 1993 Truman.
Spice: The History of a Temptation, Jack Turner, 2004 I found this book while surfing the web on Feb. 7, 2005, as related to The Migrant's Table: Meals and Memories in Bengali-American Households, and it sounds like a compellingly fun read on the history of spices.
Curry: a Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, Lizzie Collingham, 2004 I saw this book in my local public library; it looks like it would be a fun read about the history of Indian food and how many dishes are a reflection of historical influences and fusion from different conquering sources.
The Migrant's Table: Meals and Memories in Bengali-American Households, Krishnendu Ray, 2004 In a preview of new books from Temple University Press, this volume caught my eye on Feb. 7, 2005. It promises to show how native foods help immigrant families feel grounded, instantiated to Bengali-Americans.
The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, Eric Weiner, 2007 I heard, on NPR radio's January 2, 2008 Diane Rehm Show, an interview with NPR foreign correspondent Eric Weiner about this new book of his. He described foreign correspondence as going into difficult situations and reporting on those in the most difficult of circumstances. He decided to write a positive book searching for happiness around the world.
Nonviolence: 25 Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea, Mark Kurlansky, 2006 The day after September 11th on 2006, I heard a few minutes of an NPR radio interview with the author on the Diane Rehm Show. The book is just out and is one I'd love to read about the power of nonviolence to bring about positive social change, including missed historical opportunities.
No More Killing Fields: Preventing Deadly Conflict, David A. Hamburg, 2002 I saw this author interviewed on The Charlie Rose Show on October 7, 2002. He is a self-proclaimed idealist who has studied in detail the origins of war. In this book, he offers principles of nonviolent problem solving, committed and strong international cooperation, democracy, civil societies, and fair economic development to guide us toward a more peaceful future.
The Future of Peace: On the Front Lines With the World's Great Peacemakers, Scott A. Hunt, 2002 Scott Hunt interviews peace advocates such as The Dalai Lama, Dr. Jane Goodall, Buddhist monk Maha Ghosananda (known as the "Gandhi of Cambodia"), and others to look at the causes of war and ways to move toward peace.
A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, David Fromkin, 2001 Some years ago, I enjoyed a graduate Middle Eastern Culture class that I took, and in May 2005 when I heard about this book, I thought I should pick it up. Starting with the early twentieth century, the book discusses England and France in WWI and the end of the Ottoman Empire, and the seeds sown for modern conflict in the Middle East.
Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present, Michael B. Oren, 2007 On January 29, 2007, I heard an interesting radio interview with the author on the Diane Rehm Show. This book traces America's historical involvement in the Middle East starting with the newly formed U.S.' war against the Barbary pirates. From reviews I looked at, Michael Oren, and American living in Israel, is described as a clear and interesting writer; his 2002 book Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East seems inviting.
Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace, Sumantra Bose, 2003 I saw this book in the library in December 2003, and hope that it might shed some light and offer some hope in resolving the decades-old conflicts in Kashmir.
Circling the Sacred Mountain : A Spiritual Adventure Through the Himalayas, Robert Thurman and Tad Wise, 2000 I saw an interview on The Charlie Rose Show with Robert Thurman, a close friend of the Dalai Lama and Buddhist scholar, in 2004, and it inspired me to read some of Thurman's work. This particular book sounds appealing, chronicling the mental and physical adventure when Thurman and a past student, Tad Wise, take a group to explore Mount Kailash, considered the holiest of the Himalayan mountains, while teaching Tibetan Buddhist principles.
Dominion. The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy, Matthew Scully, 2002 A former speechwriter for President George W. Bush argues the animal welfare case for treating animals with respect and dignity.
Life of Pi, Yann Martel, 2002 I saw Yann Martel interviewed on PBS' The Charlie Rose Show on December 13, 2002. Yann spent some time in India and was struck by univeralistic and open religious traditions, and the respect for animals. In this book, the main character, Pi (short for Piscine, French for "pool") Patel, spends 227 days drifting on a lifeboat with Richard Parker, a 450-pound friend of his who happens to be a Bengal tiger. The story is supposed to be fun, magical, and reflective.
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell, 2002 Somebody at work recommended this book September 2003, and I'd heard the phrase "The Tipping Point" without knowing about this book. The author uses case studies such as Paul Revere's ride and the children's show Sesame Street to show how some small ideas can quickly ripple and achieve critical mass to have surprisingly major impact. Transmitted knowledge is memetic, based on atomic "memes" of knowledge that together form a larger whole of understanding, and the book builds a popularized notion of memetics.
Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins, 1999 This is supposed to describe a principle that businesses can be good for the environment, and discuss how companies can become more profitable while improving the environment and decreasing unemployment.
The Origin of Mathematics. V. Lakshmikantham and S. Leela, 2000 While in Southern California in February 2004, I read an interesting article about the history of ancient Indian mathematics, predating Egyptian, Greek, Mayan, or Sumerian. It should also be an interesting read about early Indian philosophy and culture.
Vedic Ecology: Practical Wisdom for Surviving the 21st Century, Ranchor Prime, 2002 I saw this book at a lovely bookstore in Boone, NC in October 2004 when I was in the mountains enjoying foliage scenery. Ranchor Prime, an expert on environment and religion, looks at ancient Indian philosophy for answers to contemporary problems of overconsumption, overpopulation, and environmental destruction. He shows examples, such as an interview with Vandana Shiva and the model of the group Friends of Vrindavan, of environmentatlists who use Vedic principles to move toward sustainable solutions. The book has lovely artistic images and citations from books of philosophy.
The Great Indian Novel, Shashi Tharoor, 1993 I have heard that this is a clever exposition of post-Independence Indian politics, cast as a retelling of the Hindu epic Mahabharat.
The Last Song of Dusk, Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi, 2004 In this first novel by Shanghvi set in 1920s India, beautiful Anuradha Patwardhan leaves Udaipur to marry the equally dashing and handsome doctor Vardhmaan, whom she had never before met. The fairytale marriage due them brings them a lovely child Mohan, but then the story darkens with the child's death in an accident, as well as the birth of a strangely silent second child, Shloka. Even when the couple adopts a 14-year-old orphan, Nandini, their spirits are only briefly lifted. The novel even includes Gandhi coming to meet the family.
Madras on Rainy Days: A Novel, Samina Ali, 2004 I picked this book up from the library on May 17, 2004. It reminds me a bit of Brick Lane (see above), and is a story about a woman named Layla who grew up in the United States, but returns to Hyderabad (India) to have an arranged marriage to a man named Sameer.
A Marriage Made in Heaven: A Love Story in Letters, Vatsala Sperling and Ehud C. Sperling, 2000 Somebody early in 2003 recommended this true story about a divorced American man in Vermont, Ehud, who places a matrimonial ad in an Indian newspaper. The book is a collection of over 60 letters between him and biologist Vatsala, which led to their traditional Indian wedding in 1996.
For Matrimonial Purposes, Kavita Daswani, 2003 I saw this in the library in late September 2003 and its blurb makes it sound interesting. Anju at age 26 worries her Bombay family that she is as yet unmarried. She moves to the U.S. to live with relatives in New Jersey so that she can pursue graduate school and look for "Umrican"-style love.
Babyji, Abha Dawesar, Feb. 2005 When I was visiting Washington, D.C. in late May 2005, this book was reviewed in the May 20 Washington City Paper with a "best bet" entertainment recommendation for the author's local appearance and reading. Set in Delhi, this is a coming-of-age story of 16 year-old Anamika, who excels as a physics student.
Desilicious: Sexy, Subversive, South Asian, Masala Trois Collective (ed.), 2004 This sounds like a spicy and interesting compilation that a friend recommended summer 2004.
Transmission, Hari Kunzru, 2004 I saw a recommendation for this humorous novel, compared in its handling of the dangers of technology to the classic 1984 "cyberpunk" Neuromancer by William Gibson, in am email in late January. Programmer Arjun Mehta leaves India on an assignment to work in the U.S. and befriends tatooed bisexual Christine, who helps him adjust to the new culture. Things go wrong, Arjun is laid off, and, in desperation, he schemes to secretly release a computer virus, and then hopes to be viewed the hero when he finds a cure to it.
Transplanted Man, Sanjay Nigam, 2002 I saw this book in the library December 2002, and also found it on the Utne book club reading list for March 2003, where it is described as "a physician-novelist weighs in with a lively tale of a bright young doctor in a clinic in Manhattan's Little India, and the immigrant eccentrics he encounters every day."
Desis in the House: Indian American Youth Culture in New York City, Sunaina Marr Maira, 2002 In late October 2004, I stumbled on the web upon a citation to this book by Sunaina Maira, professor of Asian American Studies at the Univ. of Massachusetts. She examines second-generation South Asian American youth, particularly through study of their college party culture in mid-1990s New York City.
The World Next Door: South Asian American Literature and the Idea of America, Rajini Srikanth, 2004 (forthcoming) In mid-2004, Temple University Press sent me an introduction to this forthcoming fall 2004 book of theirs. The book looks at the diaspora of S. Asian writers such as Sharbari Ahmed (an email friend of mine), Tahira Naqvi (a close friend of my parents), Meena Alexander, Indran Amirthanayagam, Amitav Ghosh, Amitava Kumar, Shani Mootoo, and Michael Ondaatje, and assesses their messages of connectedness and global linkage. Included is analysis by scholars such as Amartya Sen and Bruce Robbins, as well. Rajini Srikanth is an Associate Professor of English at the Univ. of Mass.
Insect Dreams, Marc Estrin, 2002 While searching for Transplanted Man (above) on January 3, 2003, I found that my favorite magazine, Utne, has started a monthly online book club, and this book is the current one. When I was in college, I read (in the original German) Franz Kafka's Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis), a story of Gregor Samsa, a salesperson with such a regimented and meaningless life outside of the commuter train schedules he memorizes that he turns into a giant insect. Important questions such as of defining a person's worth vis-a-vis their profession, personal freedom, and societal responsibilities, are raised. In Insect Dreams a different end to Gregor is projected, as being sold as a circus curiousity and having interesting adventures across the globe.
Wifey, Judy Blume, 1983 I heard an interview on National Public Radio 9/15/04 with Judy Blume, who had been awarded the 2004 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contributions to American Letters. She is a prolific children's writer, but has a few adult novels, including Wifey. This novel is about a housewife, Sandy, married for 12 years to Norman with two children. After the children leave for summer camp, Sandy starts questioning her daily routine and exploring her hidden passions.
The Years of Rice and Salt, Kim Stanley Robinson, 2002 I was intrigued by the discussion on National Public Radio on 4/14/02 of this "alternative history" book - what might be if some things in the past were different? If the Great Plague were more devastating, what would the world be like if the Industrial Revolution then took place in non-colonized India, and China and an Islamic Empire grew to be the major superpowers?
Hey Mom, Can I Ride My Bike Across America?, John Seigel Boettner, 1990 I love bicycle travel books, and saw this one mentioned in early December 2002 in a mailing from Adventure Cycling, a group that I am a long-time member of. The book is supposed to be a true story of a married couple, both teachers, taking five 12 and 13 year olds on a cross-country bicycle trip.

Books That I Have Contributed To

Book cover Title, author, year of pub. Description
Voices from the Garden: Stories of Becoming a Vegetarian, Sharon Towns and Daniel Towns, editors, 2001 Upon Sharon's invitation, I submitted a story of my own experiences, which became a chapter in this book that was released on Nov. 15, 2001. Other vegetarians should find this to be an inspiring and fun book, getting glimpses into the lives of people like Howard Lyman, Erik Marcus, and Ingrid Newkirk.
Vegetarians and Vegans in America, Karen Iacobbo and Michael Iacobbo, 2006 (forthcoming) As part of a project to document the vegetarian movement in the U.S., the authors contacted me and arranged an interview in 2005. Their book is expected out at the end of June 2006, and they are planning on using several quotes from our interview.
Tasty Bytes: Best-of-the-Internet Vegetarian Recipes, Cynthia Holzapfel, editor, 1997 Cynthia solicited early internet contributors, such as from newsgroups like I contributed a pasta recipe with a roasted pepper and eggplant sauce.
Quality Information and Knowledge Management, Kuan-Tsae Huang, Yang W. Lee, and Richard Y. Wang, 1998 One of my jobs in the late 1990s at IBM was working on a large knowledge management and intellectual capital tool for the reuse of business assets. The executive, Kuan-Tsae Huang, who owned the widely deployed tool was kind enough to acknowledge my contribution in his book.

Books That I Have Reviewed

Click on the image of the book to read my review

Book cover Title, author, year of pub. (year I read) Description
Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating, Erik Marcus, 1998 (1998) This is an important book to read to understand scientific and ethical bases for vegetarianism and veganism.
McLibel: Burger Culture on Trial, John Vidal, 1997 (1998) I just couldn't put this book down about how a large multi-national company, McDonald's, sued two individuals for distributing a pamphlet claiming that the company serves unhealthy food, promotes unsound environmental policies, and exploits animals and people in the blind pursuit of profit. The resulting 'McLibel' trial lasted 335 days, making it the longest legal action of any kind in British history.
Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven : Over 200 Recipes for Uncommon Soups, Tasty Bites, Side-By-Side Dishes, and Too Many Desserts, Mollie Katzen, 1997 (1997) This is a cookbook by Mollie Katzen, one of the best known vegetarian cookbook writers. In the 1970s in Ithaca, NY, she was part of the Moosewood Collective, which helped to popularize fine vegetarian dining. Mollie has also hosted several vegetarian cooking shows on Public Television.
Foods that Fight Pain: Revolutionary New Strategies for Maximum Pain Relief, Neal Barnard, M.D., 1998 (1998) This describes how understanding the foods that we eat is important for optimal health and to avoid pain.
Sunshine Rider: The First Vegetarian Western, Ric Lynden Hardman, 1998 (1998) An older teen interested in vegetarianism would enjoy the adventure of this unique book.
Victor, the Vegetarian, Radha Vignola, 1994 (1997) This book, as well as Victor's Picnic, would be great for vegetarian children perhaps ages 4-8.

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