HydRAW 2022 AugustReads

Write-ups and book reads of our members in August, 2022.

The monsoons do not deter us from reading. In fact, it looks like the rains retain our reading rhythm. The streams of our mind ever eager to roam in lush literature have no resistance or avarice to the thunders and perforce roll on to avail the upliftment of the soul that books proffer. Arun Kumar, the numero uno HydRAW reader’s August book count of 16 is equal to the sum of the counts of #2, Fizza Younis of 10 and #3, Mahboob Hussain’s 6. Included in this compilation is Fizza’s beautiful review in which she resolves to read more of Elif Shafak in the future.

First the write-ups and then the lists.


Muralidharan Parthasarathy (on Stumbling Blocks: Priming You) : The book addresses the most crucial issue job stress that overshadows a person’s prime years and makes him wonder at the evening of his life whether trade off was suicidal. The author is very concerned about scores of youth who suffer silently. The book offers many tips to overcome the stress and face a hostile workplace. The following are the tips to maintain work-life balance:

  • Recognize that there is no such thing as a “perfect” work-life balance.
  • Look for a career that you enjoy.
  • Make your health a top priority.
  • Don’t be frightened to unplug your devices.
  • Take sometime off.
  • Set aside time for yourself and your family.
  • Establish work hours and boundaries.

There are many books on this issue in the market, but the need for one more book is always there because job stress is immortal.

Arun Kumar (on Four Strokes Of Luck) : This book contains 10 stories that being about various facets of life in and around author’s observations.

Manohar Grandhi (on What Happened To You) : This is a conversational kind of book between Dr Bruce Perry and Oprah. The book talks about the reason why people with depression behave the manner they live. It explains how childhood trauma effects adult brain. The core premise of the book is that everyone asks you that what is wrong with you but instead we need to ask the question what happened to you? The book has quite a lot of case studies of Dr Bruce patients and how they got cured not by medicine but by working on counselling by Dr Bruce Perry.

This is a comprehensive book for case studies of the author. But then the book ends with the core message that no matter ‘what happened to you’, you can change and the brain is highly malleable the concept of neuroplasticity but then the change that needs to happen is you need to shut down the lower parts of brain (reptilian brain) and activate the higher parts of brain (pre-frontal cortex) etc. This book will be loved by people who are interested to know how the brain works and trauma patients’ behaviour traits.

Fizza Younis (on 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in This Strange World) : It is a story set in the 1960s/70s in Turkey. A part of it takes place in the provinces but most of it happens in Istanbul. It’s the most devastating book I have ever read, but I loved it anyway. It’s not for you if you’re a sensitive person and easily offended because Shafak has pulled no punches while talking about sexual violence and various other social issues, which I think are not limited to Turkey but are relevant to the world at large. The story might be set in a different time, yet many of these problems have persisted and are thriving in our contemporary world.

The story starts with a dead body. A woman is found dead and her body thrown in the pile of garbage, in a rubbish bin. The rest of the book tells us who she was and what happened to her.

Leila, or Tequila Leila as she was known among her fellow sex workers of Istanbul, is dead. Now, her mind is reliving all the important moments of her life even the ones she thought she would never recall. It is that the human brain remains active after death for a maximum of 10 minutes and 38 seconds. And this story takes place inside Leila’s head during that time.

She was born into a religious family. But she could never accept her father’s God because to her, He seemed cruel towards women. She never really understood why she couldn’t accept her religion without question like her two mothers, but as she grew up she never got the chance to explore it. Too soon, her life took a tragic turn.

Sold to a brothel, she became a sex worker on the streets of Istanbul, a city that was forever stuck between the past and the present, while constantly changing too. In this city, she made four friends. Women came from different parts of the world and had different backgrounds, but somehow all ended up in this city. She also thought about her only male friend who followed her to the city and remain loyal to her until the very end. Then she met a student who wanted to change his country. He fells in love with her and they got married. It was talk of their community; the first woman to leave a brothel in a bridal gown.

The story takes many turns from the start until the end, but essentially, it is a rale of human suffering. It shows how culture and religion not only take away women’s freedom but also kill men’s spirits. This story is for all people who have been judged or ignored by society. It is about outcasts and misfits. And it’s also about love and friendship.

Shafak’s writing is beautiful. And it will bring tears to your eyes. It was especially very hard for me to read about the cemetery of the companionless. As if you can bury the ugliness of the world with the dead bodies of being unwanted.

The story is fiction, but many incidents are historically correct including the murders of sex workers that happened in Istanbul, the 1968 US-fleet protests, and the 1977 Taksim Square Massacre. Shafak also claims that many of her characters are based on real people and their tragic lives published in various newspapers from that time.

I find this book to be very depressing but as a reader, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s brutal, sad, and tragic in the best possible way. The story will tear your soul apart and make your heart go out to the victims of sexual violence and those who are discriminated against based on their gender, skin color, religion, origin, or physical disability. I found it interesting how using Leila’s friends, Shafak has touched on multiple social problems in this one book.

It’s my second book by Shafak. Previously, I read Forty Rules of Love, and I will be reading more of her works in the future, that’s for sure.

Aishwarya Lakkakula (on Three Monkeys) : This Telugu novel is a satire on our education system. It is a story of three young thieves. The characters in the novel are uniquely named including the three protagonists Kapeesh, Markat and Vanar- the Sanskrit synonyms of monkey. It is humorous and a must read for the students.

Sanjay Churiwala (on Nudge): The book is supposed to be on similar lines as Thinking, Fast and Slow. But, Ifound it nowhere near that book.

Usha Sreedharan (on Tomb Of Sand) : The novel is based on protagonist, 80 years old woman Ma. She goes into depression after the death of her husband. Her two children Bade and Beti and grand son Siddharth are talking good care of her. She is isolating herself because of old age, talk to walls, crow and taking care of statue of Buddha. The crow and Buddha are significant by the end of the novel. The narration gets momentum after the death of Rosie Bua, hijra. Crossing the border both mother and daughter into Pakistan, a reason, Bua belongs to that country. Simultaneously stating she too lived there, confronting the unresolved trauma of her teenage experience of partition. Ma reclaims her true identity is in the arms of her first love and become Anwar Chanda. Geetanjali’s effort is substantial in erasing division and advocating humanism and caution to government for creating tight restrictions and tension between the countries.

(on To Kill A Mocking Bird) : The main theme of this novel is to bring attention towards racial prejudice in the south of America. The novel is narrated by Scout, a 6-year old. She along with brother Jem are raised by widow father, Atticus. He takes children into the court room for better understanding the society, learning beyond the institution of classroom study. The ingrained minds of innocent children come cross the derogatory terms. Atticus is defending case of Tim Robinson, a black man who is charged of raping a white woman. Though on cross questioning, he is found innocent but white jury convict him guilty.

Santanu Sasidharan (on The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding) : It is a compilation of stories in which our protagonist Hercule Poirot saves the day by solving the cases in his usual ingenious ways. The way of writing keeps the reader guessing until the moment the conspirator is revealed by the author. A nice and quick read.

Dhruva Nalla (on The Art of War) : It’s a book written by a Chinese general, it describes what kind of qualities a general should have and how a war can be won with minimum damages. Final chapter use of spies is my favourite chapter; it is about the importance of spies and how they can play a crucial role in reducing the war casualties.

(on To Kill A Mockingbird) : The novel is told from 6-year old Jean Scout’s perspective and it’s about how she and the people react to the racism towards blacks. Her father is a lawyer who is fighting for a black man raping a white woman. The main theme of the book is racial inequality that exists in U.S in those times. The novel’s perspective of a 6- year old makes it interesting. How a child looks at serious issues in society?


Muralidharan Parthasarathy

  • Stumbling Blocks: Priming You Vol 1 by Arnab Dasgupta

Arun Kumar

  • Four Strokes Of Luck by Perumal Murugan
  • The Song From Somewhere Else by AF Harrold
  • How The Mango Got Its Magic by Sudha Murty
  • Windmills Of The Gods by Sidney Sheldon
  • Have You Met the Anglo-Indians? by Anastasia Damani
  • Have You Met the Parsis? by Anastasia Damani
  • The Boy Who Loved Birds: Salim Ali by Lavanya Karthik
  • The Girl Who Climbed Mountains: Bachendri Pal by Lavanya Karthik
  • Anna’s Extraordinary Experiments With Weather by Nandita Jayaraj
  • Lights… Camera… Action: The Life And Times Of Dadasaheb Phalke by Rupali Bhave
  • Her Name Was Freedom by Anu Kumar
  • Tine And The Faraway Mountain by Shikha Tripathi
  • Cold Justice by Vish Dhamija
  • The Coward And The Sword by Jugal Hansraj
  • His Holiness The Dalai Lama In 100 Anecdotes by Arthy Muthanna Singh
  • Gandhi In 150 Anecdotes by Arthy Muthanna Singh

Manohar Grandhi

  • What Happened to You by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Perry
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton
  • Abundance by Deepak Chopra
  • Friends Forever Mysteries Forever by S l Nandana.

Fizza Younis

  • The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh
  • Until the Ink Dries by Jordan Elizabeth
  • Much Ado About Dukes by Eva Devon
  • The Governess Chronicles Book 2 by Emily Windsor
  • 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak
  • Elva of the Seas by Jordan Elizabeth
  • Queens Don’t by Chessa Andersen
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Puma Years by Laura Coleman
  • Better Witch Than Never by Catherine Waltan

Aishwarya Lakkakula

  • Three Monkeys by Malladi Venkata krishna Murthy

Sanjay Churiwala

  • Nudge by Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein

Neena George Kunnath

  • The Power of Self Debate in Business Decisions by Joseph Sudip

Santanu Sasidharan

  • The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie

Dhruva Nalla

  • The Art Of War by San Tzu
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Sudheendra Fadnis

  • The Way Of The Superior Man by David Deida
  • Rational Male by Rollo Tomassi
  • The Red Queen by Matt Ridley

Usha Sreedharan

  • Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Mahboob Hussain

  • Clean Architecture by Bob Martin
  • The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Ready To Fire by Nambi Narayanan and Arun Ram
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Philosophy : Who Needs It by Ayn Rand
  • Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction by Susan Blackmore



Hyderabad Readers And Writers

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