Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.


faults in the clouds of delusion

Friday, September 28, 2007

Book (for want of a better name) Tag

Tagged by Szerelem. (Don't you guys have anything better to do?)

Total number of books owned:
(It's all the same freaking book, man.)

Last book bought:
- Maharanis: A Family Saga of Four Queens - Lucy Moore
- Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Central Asia - Karl Ernest Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac

Last book read:
Probably The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang. Long overdue and horribly good. Literally.

Currently reading:
(Oh god. In no particular order...)
- The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor - David Landes
- A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead - Dennis McNally
- The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet's Lost Paradise - Ian Baker
- The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam - Barbara W. Tuchman
- Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar - Simon Sebag Montefiore
- The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857 - William Dalrymple
- Genes, Peoples, and Languages - Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza
- Selected Short Stories - Rabindranath Tagore (translated by William Radice)
- Maharanis: A Family Saga of Four Queens - Lucy Moore
(Yes, I am a multi-tasker. Yes, you may say I have ADD.)

Books plan on reading next:
Whatever I buy next. Oh, and Doubt: A History of Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson. It's shameful -- I've owned this book for nearly three years and am still excited about it but never found the right occasion to read it. Weird.

Five books that mean a lot to me:
Another strange question. What exactly does "mean a lot" mean, anyway? Here's a set of five that I have fond memories of / that marked important things that happened to me.
- Stories for Five Year Olds. I have no idea who edited this wonderful anthology. All i remember is that it was soft-cover, green, and had a big 5 on the cover, which had dozens of kids crawling all over it. It was really a great collection and as evidence I offer up the fact that neither Stories for Six Year Olds nor Stories for Four Year Olds could hold a candle to it. I have long wondered what became of it; I would really like to see this book again. (Runners-up in this category - Moldovan Folk Tales; Masha Nikiforova's somethingsomething.)
- The Book of Knowledge. This was a ten volume encyclopedia that my grandfather brought back to India from England in the 1920s. My mother and her siblings grew up on it and then, as the eldest grandkid, I got to inherit it. (Later, we sent it back to Calcutta for my young cousin's benefit.) I spent hours squatting on the floor next to the bottom shelf it had been kept on (side by side with the eight volume Children's Dictionary, of similar vintage, which had one volume missing.) The science, geography, and history sections in this Book were interesting all right, and in fact almost every section had something to say for itself, but the stories! Oh, the stories. They were from all over the world and nearly each one was a doozy. I loved each volume of that huge hefty book, hard bound, soft glossy fragile pages, to pieces.
- The Mahabharata, by C. Rajagopalachari. In retrospect, my interest in psychology and human behavior can be traced all the way back to this masterpiece. The content is unparalleled, of course, but the presentation - wise, low-key, unintrusive - has you completely gripped. I had my copy of this book from when I was five right till I was twenty-five or so. I even wrote my first term-paper in b-school about it, jointly with my roomie who I introduced it to - he stayed up the night reading it, gripped.
- The Structure of the Universe, by Jayant V. Narlikar. I have posted about this before. If the Mahabharata was what got me into psychology, and that's an if, this book is what got me into science.
- War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy. No, not what you think. I don't remember the plot of this book, I don't even remember the names of any of the characters. The story behind this inclusion is a little more twisted than that. My first job in Bombay, a devious HR manager landed four of us in the situation of having to find an apartment to live in with exactly three days notice. The place we found was almost completely unfurnished, and a two hour slog to work each way. We had to leave for work at 7 and found ourselves returning close to midnight each day. One of my roommates and I decided that this wasn't the life we wanted, and so we did one of the few things in our power to improve it. We resolved to read and so, the next Sunday, went out and got ourselves a few books. I bought War and Peace, and a few others. Still, that was just the easy bit. Turning the key to step into an empty concrete shoebox at midnight, having battled the stench of guttural sweat for two subhuman hours at the end of a twelve-hour day, we just hadn't the strength to make progress on our reading. But we tried, a few pages each night. The next week I contracted a high fever. These were the days before cell phones. I didn't have the strength to go downstairs to look around for a doctor. My roomies were all out of the house all day. For three days I lay on a thin cotton mattress, in August heat often with no electricity, trying to force my eyes to focus on the pages of War and Peace. In all of those three days I read no more than five pages. And then, the fourth day, under the influence of some OTC drugs that my roomies had brought back, the fever abated. I hadn't known how much better I was suddenly feeling until that evening, when I realized I had read five hundred pages that day.

Now that's a good book.


I don't normally pass tags on but there's always a first time. My good friend Mock-Atlas Drugged-Turtle ... you're it.


Blogger Space Bar said...

Aha! Another one! :D 500 pages of War and Peace in a high fever has to be the strangest trip ever. There's a post in there all by itself.

9/28/2007 1:54 PM  
Blogger Veena said...

We knoe, we know, TR-da has no patience for fiction anymore. But wait, look carefully at the "currently reading" list again. Hmmm.
Well, what did you expect? :)

9/28/2007 4:08 PM  
Blogger Szerelem said...

No we have nothing better to do!
At least it got out a post...oh and your read list - so many in there I want to read! See you should share book lists more often.

9/28/2007 6:13 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

space bar:
you're right! might have been a good idea to have had the internet back then, eh?

heh, good catch :-D now i need to state that i got it at cal airport before a flight, that i read and re-read the wonderful introduction several times, and that the only story i've read so far is 'postmaster'!

hmm, now is that a veiled dig? in response to which i ask - didn't i recommend a book to you recently and you responded you had enough to read already?

9/28/2007 8:40 PM  
Blogger MockTurtle said...

We had a deal. Besides which I don't even have a blog anymore.
Besides which I haven't read anything worthwhile in ages. Besides which you don't tag the turtle with stuff like this. If I can't be mocking, I can't be blogging. Ask me about books I can't stand and I'll go on for hours.

9/28/2007 10:39 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

you can't say i hadn't warned you :-D and you do have a blog. you have two blogs.

tell you what. you get to change the questions as you wish -- make it hated books instead of loved books, books you've burned instead of books you've owned, whatever. you even get to pretend it's cb or stella or someone doing the talking. now how's *that* for an idea -- low hanging fruit or what, i say!

your perennial muse.

9/29/2007 11:13 AM  
Blogger gaddeswarup said...

I have not read landes but the review and comments here which you may find interesting:

9/29/2007 12:09 PM  
Blogger gaddeswarup said...

sorry, the whole link did not come through. The last bit is:

9/29/2007 12:24 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

thank you - an interesting and comprehensive overview.

9/30/2007 9:12 AM  
Blogger km said...

So no one reads "How to win friends and influence people" any more?c

10/01/2007 1:06 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

you itchin' to be tagged, brotha?

10/01/2007 10:28 AM  
Blogger gaddeswarup said...

I am a bit surprised at the few regional language books mentioned. We used to read Telugu books and Bengali, Hindi books in translation. Since those were the ones I read when I was young, they are still the most influential boks for me. What do you think of Sesh Prasna, Sreekanth, Mahesh by Sarat or Nirmala, Godan by Premchand? I too rember Tagore's stories fondly. It is possible that there is some difference in the reading habits of rural regional language educated students and the urban students.
Pl.let us know when you finish 'The Last Moghul'. I bought it but now I am sold on Amitav Ghosh after reading "In an Antique Land" and try to get some more of his books.

10/01/2007 10:47 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

that's an excellent point. the amount of regional-language reading i've done is a fraction of the total. that's not to say i haven't enjoyed it when i've read it - i absolutely loved sunil gangopadhyay's prothom alo and sei somoy when i read them a few years back, and i finished srikanta a few months ago. but somehow these just don't feature in the mix to that extent.
i'll let you know when i finish the last mughal. it's gone a little on the backburner since maharanis is so well written.

10/01/2007 8:57 PM  

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