Life Without Limits

Life Without Limits

Life Without Limits

Life without Limits is a beautiful book written by an extraordinary person. Nick Vujicic is a man who was born with no arms or legs. He overcame the disability to live not just independently but also as a spiritually rich and confident individual. He has become an internationally successful motivational speaker to millions of people and also an inspiring role model to some. His central message is that anyone can find a purpose for their life despite all odds.

Nick tells his story of physical disabilities and an emotional battle fought by him as a child, teen and young adult .He shares how God has built his faith and how he has found his own purpose in life. He found the confidence of building his own productive life with no limits.

Nick offers advice for personal relationships in order to realize the fulfilment and happiness of one’s life. He also teaches one to build confidence in one self, to build trust in others and also helps in gaining strength to move forward in the journey of life. He encourages the reader by showing how he learnt to accept what he could not control and instead focused on what he could.

Nick says in his introduction “When you give up on your dreams, you put God in a box”, but this book isn’t about God, it teaches you to never give up on yourself no matter what the circumstances may be. This book is about changing the inevitable. Yes, if you are a believer it will draw you closer to God and prove to you again and again that God has a plan for you. Nicks words will move you with hope and his actions will encourage you to go forward. He says we can change our lives the way we want too and also proves that there is a way through every tough and depressing time.

Do you need a change in attitude? Do you need to set new goals? Do you need help with overcoming your limits? This book has it all.

Karen Martin

II HESP M

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The Lowland

The Low Land

The Low Land

How does one describe the Lowland? Amy Tan would say, “It’s the sort of book, which once you finish makes you want to grab the next person you see and say ‘Read This’”. I feel differently though. A more accurate description of the mastery that Jhumpa Lahri exhibits when it comes to emotions (or rather a lack of them) is found in my best friend’s reaction to my complimenting the book. She said, “Page 111 last paragraph. How can she say something like that like that?” That says volumes about the book that no accomplished critic can. The book in short can be thought of as something that redefines an individual’s outlook on emotions. The author seems to follow a neutral, slightly melancholy and almost nonchalant tone and creates a mood of confusion, which is done so beautifully that one is left questioning one’s own capability to feel. The story is set in a timeline that immediately follows the Independence and the subsequent Partition of India. It documents the birth of communism in India following the Naxalbari incident. While conventional wisdom would dictate the physical presence of only one protagonist, for almost the entire book, barring bits and pieces, the presence of another long dead protagonist haunts the readers every step of the way. On an almost parallel line,Jhumpa Lahri develops the female protagonist (the wife of the ghost) in an incredibly fascinating manner as a woman who is as the Hindu (recently put it in to aptly describe the out-going Prime Minister) “A man (read: woman) who fell down and forgot to get up” The story is steeped in the traditional culture of spousal inheritance though the reasons for the same happen to vary at times. At the end the reader is left with an old man who has made peace with his past, a young mother full of anger and unresolved abandonment issues, an innocent child and an indifferent woman seemingly stuck in limbo. What a masterpiece Jhumpa Lahri turns this into.

Uttanshi Agarwal

II HESP M

Nine Lives – In Search of the Sacred in Modern India

Nine Lives - In Search of the Sacred Modern India

Nine Lives – In Search of the Sacred Modern India

William Dalrymple, a Scottish-born historian, writer and Indologist. Nine Lives, is essentially a collection of linked non-fiction short stories and was first published by Bloomsbury in Great Britain in the year 2009.

Dalrymple’s approach to the book is narrative, with greater emphasis on and importance given to the characters and the stories of their lives, rather than his experiences of the same. Dalrymple himself writes in his introduction to the book that he decided to “keep the narrator firmly in the shadows, so bringing the lives of the people I have met to the fore and placing their stories firmly centre stage”. From the caption of the book, ‘In Search of the Sacred in Modern India’, one can infer that Dalrymple acknowledges that India is in fact, a modern nation, and that to find the famed sacred element of the country, one must search and not merely look. He pens down nine stories in this book, ranging from that of an extremely self-disciplined Digambara Jain nun voluntarily starving to death, to a Tibetan Buddhist monk who surrendered his vows to take up arms in order to fight the invading Chinese, to the Tantrics and Baouls inhabiting West Bengal, worshipping their deities in their own unique ways, and living their lives on their own terms. Each life in each story is intended to represent a different form of devotion, or a different religious path. Each story is also intended to give the reader a glimpse into the ways in which that form or path has survived in the fast-changing Indian landscape that one encounters today.

The most striking aspect of this book is perhaps, its objectivity. Dalrymple, unlike so many travel writers today, seems to understand his readers’ requirements and capacities, and lets them think for themselves. Not once in the book does he let his opinion slip through into his writing, though one might credit this to the fact that every story ends before the cracks can begin to form. He certainly knows how to keep himself in the background, thereby avoiding unnecessary interruptions in the story, and giving the reader the illusion that he/she is interacting directly with the characters in the story, making himself invisible, as any good writer of stories should. However, while keeping the book thus impersonal, he certainly doesn’t make it sound like an encyclopaedia of religion and god in India. Dalrymple knows where the scales tip, and maintains a delicate balance of factual information and personalization throughout.

He believes that while so much has changed in India, the questions that the holy men of today ponder are not far off from those that plagued the minds of saints and seekers of salvation in the ancient times. While he acknowledges the development and economic boom that has taken form in India, he is of the opinion that this boom might just be fragile and uneven. Within less than an hour of many cities, one can encounter scenes very different to the metropolitan atmosphere in the same cities, and it is in these places ‘suspended between modernity and tradition’ that most of the stories in this book are set.

Dalrymple asks the following interesting questions that more or less summarize the book: “What does it actually mean to be a holy man or a Jain nun, a mystic or a tantric seeking salvation on the roads of modern India, as the Tata trucks thunder past? Why does one individual embrace armed resistance as a sacred calling, while another devoutly practices ahimsa or non-violence? Why does one think he create a god, while another thinks that god can inhabit him? How is each specific religious surviving the changes India is currently undergoing? What changes and what remains the same? Does India still offer any sort of real spiritual alternative to materialism, or is it now just another fast developing satrap of the wider capitalist world?”

To conclude, I’d like to borrow a word that is favoured by many book critics of today and proclaim this book as ‘unputdownnable’. As Indians living in India, we come across various kinds of holy men and women travelling through the same places we frequent day in and day out, but more often than not, we see through these people, without ever bothering to wonder where they might be headed or what made them to take up the lives they lead. William Dalrymple chooses to pause and examine these very people at close quarters; without ever giving his own opinion on these happenings, he manages to leave his reader reeling and looking at this country and its people in a new light and with renewed, even if slightly confused, emotion. In other words, Dalrymple is a master storyteller of others’ lives and an expert at raising the ordinary to the extraordinary. William Dalrymple, one of the best travel writers I have read describes devotion and the sacred in modern India, and I quote: “The water moves on, a little faster than before, yet still the great river flows. It is as fluid and unpredictable in its moods as it has ever been, but it meanders within familiar banks”

Nirupama Rajan

II PPES O

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights is Emily Bronte’s first and only published novel. It was published posthumously under the pseudonym Ellis Bell. Wuthering Heights is the name of the farmhouse on the North York Moors where the story unfolds. The book reveals the hazardous impact of jealousy that individuals and communities wreak upon each other.

The lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this novel a masterpiece of English literature. This book also speaks of the death of romantic notions. The relatively happy ending does not come from love or fiery romance. I consider it to be anti-romance, gothic novel, agreeing with the author’s view.

Catherine, the female protagonist’s rejection of Heathcliff spurs the book’s events. She has a high sense of self worth and holds herself in high regard. Heathcliff, the central character of the book is possessive, controlling and manipulative. Much of the tragedy of Wuthering Heights comes from pride. The reader can see the outcome of pride through the course of the book when the characters choose misery and inaction over humiliation.

There are many other ways to read this book. The texts support so many interpretations and focal points. If Bronte had written a simple story with clear cut heroes and villains and a moral lesson, I doubt the book would survive through the course of time and be regarded as one of the best books of all times. Though written in the 19th century it can be related to the present times in many ways and also would’ve had a different revelation in the 19th century. It is interesting how the book conflates madness and illness while at the same time passes a judgement on the sufferers of both. This attitude is also a product of the era in which the book was written. I found the book to be interesting only due to the contradiction to the present era.

Wuthering Heights is a perfect novel for a long weekend. It is a novel about what happens when a man does not get the women he wants and how one man’s action can change everything, for the best or worst. There’s a lot of melodrama, madness, illness, hate, and possibly, ghosts (something that gets you to keep reading) though Bronte leaves it to the readers whether or not to believe. The book also gives us an insight to popular culture. At the same time the book makes you feel good about yourself, sine you’re certainly wiser, more humble, less shallow than any of the characters.

This book is a must read because of the theme, plot, brutality of the characters, lovely literature, and the author’s vision. 

Jasmine Somaiah

II HEPP N

 

And the Mountains Echoed

And the Mountains Echoed

And the Mountains Echoed

“You want a story and I will tell you one”. With these words, Khaled Hosseini pulls the reader through this heart-breaking and emotionally resonant novel about finding a lost piece of yourself. This #1 New York Times bestseller was published in 2013 and is the first of Hosseini’s 3 books that deviates from his original style of writing, from focusing on a single character to a collection of inter-woven stories.

The story begins with 10-year old Abdullah and his 3-year old sister Pari. Having lost their mother, Abdullah forms an immensely close bond with Pari, often acting more like a parent than a brother. He is willing to do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. One day, the siblings’ journey to Kabul with their father; completely oblivious to the fateful event which will tear their lives apart and will tie the various other narratives together.

This novel not only revolves around parents and children but also around brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, victims and wars. It explores the way families nurture, sacrifice, wound, honour, love and betray one another. This story is gut wrenching, heart-rending and agonizing. “Kabul is… a thousand tragedies per square mile.”

Shifting the settings from Kabul to Paris, San Francisco to Tinos (a Greek Island) while crossing generations, this story is a moving epic of heart-ache, hope and unbreakable bonds of love.

Although there are dozens of quotes that strike a chord with the reader, I would personally like to quote this one from the book.

“I learned that the world didn’t see the inside of you, that it didn’t care a whit about the hopes and dreams, and sorrows that lay masked by skin and bone. It was as simple, as absurd, and as cruel as that.” 

Having truly loved the author’s style of writing and his seemingly effortless narration, I would recommend this book as a must read for everyone.

Vibha Bhat

II PPES O

The Help

The Help

The Help

 The Help is a debut novel written by Kathryn Stockett, a former Jackson resident who wrote it after graduating from college, while working for a magazine publishing and marketing house in New York. Stockett worked there for nine years.

This novel weaves an extraordinary tale around the ‘coloured situation’ in Jackson, Mississippi, America during the 1960s; when black maids were hired to raise white children. Stockett takes you on an emotional roller-coaster ride of the depressed feelings, sense of helplessness and utter cold neglect that these black maids faced while working for their Christian white employers. Stockett helps the reader understand what hardships the Help actually had to go through during those days of such cruel social discrimination through the eyes of two very brave women employed in those times. This was a time when they went as low as to start an ‘initiative’ for separate bathrooms for the black maids. The three points of view, one white and two black, transport us to a period when Patsy Cline was famous and Mr. King was making waves with his voice raised against such atrocities. However the book also covers the good among the bad – when some of these white employers also displayed deep compassion and humility, enough to thank these brave women who stressed over the simple fact that they may not have separated all the pleats on the boss’s dress!

The plot of this book covers a passionate social interest– the history of discrimination against colored skin, and how the blacks had to struggle to get their freedom and equal status in society. Stockett’s account is a first person narrative by a white child raised by a black maid and two other black protagonists who were employed in the same area as maids. Stockett muses, “How could a white write in the voice of a black woman? A white who would otherwise fail to describe a relationship that intense and influential, grossly stereotyped in American history and literature,”

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important,” With these words Aibleen, one of the many suffering maids, made me re-read this book. These sentences may hold no significance to anyone, but for Stockett I think, it summed up her whole story.

There’s Aibleen with the ‘powder prayers’, who is still mourning her young son’s tragic death, while trying to distract herself with her seventeenth white charge baby, Mae Mobley. She is the ‘voice of a black woman.’In spite of her sorrow, Aibleen’s caring and loyal nature towards Mae and Lil’ Man Ross, confused four and one year olds respectively, of Elizabeth Leefolt (the employer) is plainly visible. I was sucked into the painful vortex of emotion between the maid, children and the mother.

There’s the ‘sass-mouthing’ Minny who had to deal with a violent, alcoholic husband and five children of her own. Yet she puts on an extremely brave and strong front towards life. Minny is one of those people who Stockett portrays as a ‘no-nonsense’ character, and this could clearly be seen with her exasperation with her strangely kind white employer Celia who opted to sit with her in the same table for lunch.

Lastly there’s Eugenia Phelan or Miss Skeeter, as people called her. She’s the person who is the most important of the three protagonists because on a quest to find her own maid’s sudden disappearance, she chances upon this new idea leading to the direction for writing The Help. Skeeter, is the literary strength behind this story and her strong compassion to make a change is clear.

The dark side is traced in the characters of Hilly Holbrook, Elizabeth Leefolt and many others like them who thought that they were doing their maids a favour by hiring them. On the good side there’s Celia Foote, Eugenia Phelan, Lou Anne and to some extent Skeeter’s mother Charlotte. These were women who always acted kindly with their Help. Thus tracing the good and bad attitudes of women in the same society, the author wants us to realise that as women we are the only ones to bring about good or bad for womankind!

This plot is contemporary to the civil rights movement happening in America; when blacks were being shot at indiscriminately and the black people were vulnerable to any attack on them. Thus scared, the maids lived in constant fear since they all travelled a distance from a black neighbourhood to a white one for work – and anyone could shoot them down at any moment. However the protagonists Aibleen, Minny and the other maids still risk it, courageously crossing boundaries and helping Skeeter write Help because they realised that if they didn’t speak up now, they wouldn’t speak up ever!

While reading this account, one is met with a detailed insight into human feelings and senses of respect. A very sound look at how respect for womankind and the concept of feminism like this can unite all women against atrocities in society. Stockett, through the voice of Eugenia, brings these thoughts and beliefs out very clearly and through a lot of emotional intent. Eugenia is portrayed as the one who didn’t care what colour the women in uniform were because Aibleen and Hilly were the same in her eyes.

The Help is thus a confidence booster for a woman’s soul – not only then, but also now. It makes you believe in yourself no matter what – in the words of Aibleen as she taught little Mae Mobley one needs to remember, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”! I may have repeated this, but I put it here again so that you can be compelled to get up right now and get your hands on a copy ofThe Help, because I would do that if I were you!

Prerna Nautiyal

II-HESP ‘M’

 

Rich Dad Poor Dad

Rich Dad Poor Dad

Rich Dad Poor Dad

Rich Dad Poor Dad is one of the bestselling finance books with the tagline “What the rich teach their kids about money, that the poor and middle class don’t”. The author, Robert Kiyosaki is an entrepreneur, educator and investor. He is a passionate outspoken advocate for financial education. His Rich Dad philosophies and messages challenged status quo.

The Rich Dad is the writer’s friend’s dad, who has earned smartly even though he does not have the best degree. He didn’t even finish eighth grade. He was one of the richest men in Hawaii. He was confident of what he did and strongly believed that losses make you stronger and should be taken.

The writer’s father, the poor dad was highly educated with a PhD. He was a teacher by profession and believed in good education and thought the key to success was through degrees. The poor dad was not poor because of his earning, which was significant, but because of his actions. The book is about the lessons the rich dad taught the writer over 30 years, from when the writer was 9 till he was 39. The writer contradicts the stereotypical beliefs on investing and finance.

Kiyosaki also writes that contemporary education does not expose children to what they need to know about money. He feels children should be taught how to make their asset column strong. He also raises the issue of people’s emotions. The rich dad says that people aren’t true to themselves, and that actual power is to use your emotions to think with your brain.

Things to learn are:

  • You don’t need to have a high income to become rich
  • The rich don’t work for money, they make money work for them
  • Everybody has a financial genius in them
  • Build a strong asset column
  • Know your taxes
  • Financial IQ consists of knowledge of accounting, investing, understanding markets, and the law.
  • See opportunities that others don’t
  • Acquire skills from your workplace
  • Overcome your fears
  • Take risks

Kiyosaki’s style is informal and user friendly. He does not use complicated financial jargon so that readers unfamiliar with the business and economical worlds may easily understand the author’s message. The book is extremely useful and valuable and the writer’s teachings can be applied in the readers’ life. The book is well written and simple. The author has covered all common mistakes people make with respect to money. The author stresses on financial literacy and says it should be a part of our education system. The author doesn’t tell us what to do, he tells us to find ways to do it. The destination is the same, the road taken differs. The writer quotes Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” and says that he didn’t stick to the conventional route and that is what has made all the difference in his life. Readers looking for a good financial future must read this book as it really leaves a strong, effective and transforming impression.

Nidhi Sangli

II CAMS K