Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Books read in 2010

Read in 2010 (105 = 75 + 30; NF 33) 

ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS -- FICTION (19):  (The Collected Stories by Kafka), Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco, Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, Legends of Khasak by O. V. Vijayan (trans. by the author), A New Life by Orhan Pamuk, (The House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoevsky), Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, Death in Venice and seven other stories by Thomas Mann, Nana by Emile' Zola, A Life by Maupassant, Nip the buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzumuro Oe, Embers by Sandor MaraiThe Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges, Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe, Cousin Bette by Honore de Balzac, Lust by Elfriede Jelinek, The Sound of Waves by Mishima, The Alchemist by Paulo Ceolho.

NOVEL / FICTION IN ENGLISH (18): Eve's diary by Mark Twain, The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai, All About H. Hatter by G. V. Desani, Insomnia and Other Stories by Aamer Hussein, The Missing Piece Meets the Big O by Shel Silverstein, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis, Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel, Rumi's Tales from the Silk Road: Pilgrimage to Paradise by Kamla Kapur, A Man of the People by Chinua Achebe, Main Street by Sinclair Lewis, An Accidental God by Sameul Gido, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and other stories by Ernest Hemingway, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junoz Diaz, Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, The Romantics by Pankaj Mishra, The Captain's Doll by D. H. Lawrence, The Financial Expert by R. K. NarayanaA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court  by Mark Twain.

NON-FICTION (13): Anonyponymous: The Forgotten People Behind Everyday Words by John Marciano, Orientalism by Edward Said, Nobel Lectures: From the Literature Laureates, 1986-2006 by Various, A People's History of the United States: 1492- Present by Howard Zinn, Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers by Arundhati Roy, Gandhi on Non-violence: A selection from writings of Mahatma Gandhi edited by Thomas Merton, The Art of Sinking in Poetry by Alexander Pope, William Jones' Ancient Theology by Urs App, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, Always Astonished: Selected Prose by Fernando Pessoa, Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk, Survival of the Prettiest by Nancy Etcoff, Edge of the Empire by Maya Jasanoff.

ENGLISH POETRY (27): The Best Poems of the English Language: From Chaucer to Robert Frost by Harold Bloom, These Errors are Correct by Jeet Thayil, A Necklace of Skulls by Eunice de'Souza, Closure by Kamla Das and Suresh Kohli, Black Candle by Chitra Banerjee Devakarni, The Far Mosque by Kazim Ali, My Sister -- Life by Boris Pasternak, Imperfect Thirst by Galway Kinell, Walking to Martha's Vineyard and The Beforelife by Franz Wright, Odyssey by Homer (trans. from Greek by Robert Fitzgerald), On the Bus with Rosa Parks by Rita Dove, The Darkness around us is Deep by William Stafford, The Wrong Side of the Rainbow by Charles Wright, The Adam of Two Edens, A River Dies of Thirst and The Butterfly's Burden by Mahmoud Darwish (translated from Arabic), Out Here by Ginger Murchison, A Sky Half-Dismantled by Shawn Delgado, Fully Empowered and Spain in Our Hearts by Pablo Neruda (Trans by Alastair Reid), The Flowers of a Moment by Ko UN (Trans by Brother Anthony, Young-moo Kim and Gary Gach), Sonnets by Jorge Luis Borges, Human Chain  by Seamus Heaney, (Garbage by A. R. Ammons), Almond Blossoms and Beyond by Mahmoud Darwish (trans by Mohammad Shaheen), A Slice of Water by Prabakar T Rajan.

Hindi / Urdu / Sanskrit/ Punjabi (5+3): Baanbhat ki aatmkatha by Hazariprasad Dwivedi,
Satta ke Samne by Noam Chomsky (translated by Anup Sethi), Yogasutra by Patanjali, Pratinidhi Kahaniyan by Mannu Bhandari, Valmikiya Ramayana in Hindi (trans./edited) by Ramchandra Verma Shashtri, Ramayana by Valmiki (Sanskrit), Rashmirathi and Sanchaita by Ramdhari Singh Dinkar.

बाणभट्ट की आत्मकथा  -- हजारीप्रसाद द्विवेदी, सत्ता के सामने -- नोअम चोमस्की (अनुवाद -- अनूप सेठी), योगसूत्र -- पतंजलि,  प्रतिनिधि कहानियां -- मन्नू भंडारी, वाल्मीकीय रामायण (हिंदी अनुवाद रामचंद्र वर्मा शास्त्री), रामायण -- वाल्मीकि,  रश्मिरथी एवं संचयिता -- रामधारी सिंह 'दिनकर' 

PHILOSOPHY / RELIGION / MYTHOLOGY (13): Eastern Religions and Western Thought by S. Radhakrishnan, Twilight of the Idols and The AntiChrist by Friedrich Nietzsche, The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali, trans. by Chip Hartranft, Hinduism by KM Sen, Panchtantra by Vishnu Sharma: translated by Chandra Raman, (Discourse on Metaphysics and The Monadology by G. W. Leibniz), The Religion of Man by Rabindranath Tagore, The Analects of Confucius (translated and notes by Simon Leys), Bhakti or Devotion and Life after death by Swami Vivekananda.

MAHABHARATA (by Mahrishi Ved Vyas; tr. by Kisari Mohun Ganguly) (2/18): Adiparva,  (Sabhaparva)

POPULAR SCIENCE (8): (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn, The Character of Physical Law by Richard Feynman), Ben Franklin Stilled the Waves:  An Informal History of Pouring Oil on Water with Reflections on the Ups and Downs of Scientific Life by Charles Tanford, Nature's Robots: A History of Proteins by Charles Tanford and Jacqueline Reynolds, How Animals Work  by Knut Schmidt-Nielsen, Soap Bubbles: Their Colors and Forces that Mould Them  by C. V. Boys, (Five Quarts: A personal and natural history of blood by Bill Heyes), The History of Ink, including its Etymology, Chemistry, and Bibliography by Thaddeus Davids.

Favorite reads of the year (Fiction / Novels /Short Stories)
1) The Adam of Two Edens, A River Dies of Thirst and The Butterfly's Burden by Mahmoud Darwish (translated from Arabic): An exceptional poet from the modern era, the Palestinian poet whose writing  is full of humanity, and the inexhaustible anguish of exile: if he appeals to me so much in translation, perhaps it is worth learning Arabic to read him in the original tongue.
2) Embers by Sandor Marai (translated from Hungarian): A unforgettable masterpiece from mid-twentieth century, that explores the nature of friendship, love, hate and jealousy, in a taut prose; every chapter surprises the reader, and every chapter forces the reader to explore the mysteries within himself.
3) All About H. Hatter by G. V. Desani: One of the funniest books I have read in a while; babu English (or desi English) at its best. Requires a certain familiarity with the language as it is/was spoken by Indians with little or no exposure to the West, except through dated literature. 
4) Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck: A tour de force, an epic novel that provides a insight into the struggle and lives of a depression-era family that moves to California after losing farmlands to obscure and powerful financial institutions. One of the best American novels I have ever read.
5) Orientalism by Edward Said: A remarkable marvel of scholarship, that examines the Orientalists who created an East in literature and philosophy that was moulded, motivated and tinted or tainted by the cultural, economic, political and religious biases of their mother nations.  
6) A People's History of the United States: 1492- Present by Howard Zinn: An alternative perspective of US history that is both illuminating and disturbing, for Zinn recounts the struggle of common man, the hungry laborers, the slaves & African-American, and women to be recognized as equals, their struggle to get the right to vote and to earn respect and recognition as humans and as Americans. Also provides a dark and depressing portrait of actions of American government, capitalists and profit-mongers who systematically wiped out Native Americans and have been engaged in wars (proxy and real) around the world, leading to repression and carnage in foreign territories.
7) Baanbhat ki aatmkatha by Hazariprasad Dwivedi (Hindi): Dwivedi sets this historical novel in the era when Buddhism was waning, Harsha rules parts of North India, and writes it as autobiography of the famous Sanskrit poet Baanbhat. The novel is a literary extravaganza of sorts, and contains many unforgettable characters and lines, and deserves to be read by more people in general and Hindus in particular.  
8) Eastern Religions and Western Thought by S. Radhakrishnan: As a work of philosophy, as a series of lectures about religions, as a work of scholarship that encompasses Western and Eastern schools of thought, these series of lectures by S. Radhakrishnan are perhaps unsurpassed in their reach, detail and clarity. The author presents complex ideas with the authority and simplicity that becomes a man of his learning and erudition.  
9) Hinduism by KM Sen and The Religion of Man by Rabindranath Tagore: Many people ask me if there is a simple text that can explain to them the basic and core ideas, beliefs and practices of Hindus. Perhaps these two texts can do the job, and I recommend Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, Vivekananda's lectures and Upanishads for the seekers who want to get to the core spiritual and philosophical basis of Hindu belief system. (Bad translations are easily available, but true seekers will figure out how to discard the chaff, and get to the wheat of the arguments...)
10) Nature's Robots: A History of Proteins by Charles Tanford and Jacqueline Reynolds: If a biophysicist is asked to explain the meaning of life, he/she will tell you all about how central proteins are to the actual functioning of life processes. This book is a journey through the world of proteins, with an introduction that provides clues about how the understanding emerged historically and the celebrated and forgotten heroes that made crucial contributions to the study of proteins.
11) The Best Poems of the English Language: From Chaucer to Robert Frost by Harold Bloom: Yes sir, it is a mammoth enterprise, for you get to read everyone from Shakespeare to Keats, Wordsworth to Shelley, Milton to Emily Dickinson, and five centuries worth of poetry anthologized and introduced by Harold Bloom.

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