My Surprise Book Haul

On a relatively sultry monsoon afternoon, mum and I had just gotten done with our myriad bank and other utilities work. Surprisingly, for once, we managed to get done with everything pretty early. With some time to kill, she decided to stop by Pigpo on our way home. I was elated! Pigpo? Always! Every trip to Pigpo is mostly like a gift for me, not because we tend to leave with delectable goodies, but it gives me a ticket to head to one of my favourite bookstores in town, The Bookshop in Jorbagh.

With COVID protocols in place, mum and I had to wait outside for a few minutes. Thankfully, most of the times, people visiting this bookstore have been mindful of other guests. Of course, who doesn’t want to spend hour after hour staring at all the titles, touching lightly upon the ones that seem alluring and possibly losing oneself in an excerpt?

Once in, I went a little loco. Impromptu trips to the bookstore are the best and here are the ones I picked:

The Bookshop gave me this lovely tote bag which I love to carry around for errands. I love the colour, the fabric and the eco-friendly feeling!

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong

Earlier this year I read Gut: The Inside Story of our Body’s Most Under-Rated Organ by Giulia Enders and I found it to be surprisingly interesting. It was quite informative with ample ‘potty’ humour peppered through the book. More so, as we age, in fact, as I age, I have realised the importance of eating well and eating right, ensuring a balanced diet and a well-functioning system on the inside. If you’ve seen Piku, you will know what I mean. This book delves into the gazillion microbes in our body. In fact, every living being is made of bacteria and microbes and not all are harmful to us. Yong talks about the microbes that live in us, make us who we are, impact our identities and even protect our health. I had been eyeing this book for quite some time but finally succumbed to it on this day.

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

In the blistering heat of Delhi, a book cover of papery snow was indeed mesmerising. The simplistic cover grabbed my attention, and the blurb bowled me over. The author talks about a journey he took in 1973 with a field biologist to the Tibetan plateau. Brr! The expedition was to study the wild blue sheep but they also wanted to spot the snow leopard, an elusive animal in this part of the world. The book promises to transport me to the Himalayan mountains and I, for one don’t mind travelling in the mind’s eye. Actual travel to the mountains will definitely take more cajoling. A book about the outdoors, the ethereal Himalayan mountains, snow-packed terrain and wild animals – sign me up!

Silver Shoals – Five Fish That Made Britain by Charles Rangeley-Wilson

Being a Bengali you’d think that I’d have a natural inclination towards consuming fish. On the contrary, am not very fond of fish. Especially in curries! On the other hand, I’m always up for some fish fry with chips and tartare sauce. :D That’s just me. Anyhoo, I’ve always found myself gravitating towards fish in art, design or literature. And when my eyes clapped on this book, I knew I had to pick it up. The best part about such bookstores is that you really don’t know which hidden gem you’ll find. Am sure the owners/ shopkeepers curate their collection, but they definitely do not mimic those cookie-cutter bookish enterprises. This book talks about how the lives of man and fish are entwined. Five fish are focused upon, namely, cod, carp, herring, salmon and eel. From the lives of the fishermen to the public they feed, I am so excited to be reading about history, about nature and how it affects us all.

The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities and Meaning of Table Manners by Margaret Visser

This is quite a mouthful when it comes to the book title. My love for food has obviously stemmed from childhood, but the yearning to truly take a deep dive of my own account sprouted in my late teens. Over time I’ve graduated towards reading non-fiction literature on food, food history and anything related to these. No doubt, I had to pick this up when I stumbled across it at the bookshop. As the title suggests, the book looks at the many ways we eat. And it doesn’t stick to just this century. From ancient Greeks to cannibalism, from taking of the Eucharist to even origin of tableware – I have a lot of expectations from this book. The subject is fascinating!

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Earlier this year, I lost my dad to COVID. It was a really tough time for me and my family. After having lost my brother nearly a decade earlier, I had lost myself in work and in pursuing other activities. I had not addressed the grief and the pain that tore me on the inside. This time I told myself that I would try not to shirk from the thoughts that came up, and that I would always talk freely about my dad and my brother with anyone and everyone. With the mere action of including them in my writing, my daily conversations, I want to always remember them, hold a candle to them and their lives, and hopefully, may their souls shine somewhere bright. To put myself in the right mindset, I had taken to researching about grief literature. And this book came up on quite a few lists, including a recommendation by @scheckeats on Instagram. To be honest, because I was so impatient to get my copy of this book, I took a look online. However, the eye-watering price it was marked at made me pipe down. But this day, I spotted it behind the person at the counter as I was paying and quickly asked how much it cost. Coming in at a pretty decent price, relatively, I laughed and asked it to be added to my pile. I mean, I wasn’t going to let this opportunity go by. I was so stoked to have quite unexpectedly gotten myself this book. It capped my bookstore experience brilliantly.

I am taking part in Blogchatter’s #MyFriendAlexa campaign for a month starting September 15. I will be tweeting my posts and sharing others under the hashtags #BetweenPages and #RumReads, respectively.

Featured image: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

27 thoughts on “My Surprise Book Haul

  1. I contain multitudes is now on my TBR. Loved the list that you have compiled.
    Dealing with grief is a complicated process. Everytime you remember , it seems like a fresh new wound.
    Be strong and have faith…


  2. What a beautiful post, Ramya! Thank you so much for sharing your book recommendations and recent purchases. I love how you choose to talk about your late father and brother and keeping their memories alive.


  3. The books you picked seem wonderful. I haven’t read any of them, but would definitely check them out the next time I visit a book store. And I totally agree—impromptu visits to book stores are the best.


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