Book Reviews- December 2019

  1. Ikigai by Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia
    ‘Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.’ This saying is apt for this book. It has a pretty cover, which I admit attracted me to buy it. The book seems like a project compiled by a student. It aims to tell us about the concept of Ikigai or a sense of meaning or purpose in life. It describes this in the context of the elderly people living in the village of Ogimi on the island of Okinawa in Japan, many of whom are able to live a happy and healthy life well past the age of 100. According to the book, it is because they have found their purpose or ‘Ikigai’ in life.
    The book discusses other concepts about finding a meaning in life, like Frankl’s Logotherapy and Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow and even shares some physical exercises from Eastern concepts like Yoga, Tai Chi, etc. The most original part seems to be the interviews with the cheerful centenarians of Okinawa.
    What I learnt from the book was the concept of Ikigai and the four questions on how we can find it in our life. These questions are- What you love to do? What you are good at? What the world needs? and what you can get paid for? The one thing which for you can answer all these questions would be your Ikigai.
    If you’ve read some self-help books and are also aware about the blue zones of the world, you might not find anything new in this book.
  2. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    Golding writes a ‘stranded on an island’ fiction but it’s not meant to be a feel good book. It rather truly depicts the harsh realities of life. A group of young British children are left stranded on an island when their plane crashes. Two of the eldest of them vie for the position of the leader but they have different priorities. One boy’s priority is to keep the fire burning so that someone sees the smoke and they get rescued. While the other boy’s priority is hunting pigs for meat. Which one seems to be more logical- becoming the master of the island by hunting pigs in every nook and cranny or trying to get rescued no matter how bleak the chances of rescue are? What if the quest of leadership divides the group and takes away all hopes of rationality with it? What if the lust for meat then turns into a lust of blood and the school children lose their innocence and become savages madly killing one another? The story provides an answer for all these questions. You might want to pick it up if you are interested in reading about such a scenario.
  3. Twilight in Delhi by Ahmed Ali
    Twilight in Delhi is a nostalgia inducing fiction for any Indian, in which we meet a family living somewhere in old Delhi, in the early 20th century, whose patriarch is Mir Nihal, a man in his sixties who has a hobby of flying pigeons. It’s a story of an ordinary family dealing with their happiness and sorrows, marriages and deaths and old age. At the same time, in the backdrop, the coronation of the British King George is happening, and many people turn up to witness it. Mir Nihal tears up while recollecting his childhood memories when the mutiny of 1857 took place. All the elder people keep muttering bitter words against the Britishers. At the same time, the younger generation are working in British offices and learning to embrace a western lifestyle. The book does a brilliant job in providing us a glimpse of Delhi- it’s seasons, it’s life before India’s independence from the perspective of a common family.


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