July-August 2013 For limited circulation A JustBooks Publication
Volume 4 Issue 4 www.justbooksclc.com blog.justbooksclc.com
Romantic Twist Page 5 Book Review
Page 6 Author Profile
Page 12 Just Kids
he general perception is that romance is not an intelligent read. Never mind that some of the classics in English Literature are romances, some of them deeply serious love stories, like Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which writer Rupa Gulab, one of the romance writers and readers, calls her favourite. Little wonder then that Harvard graduate and bestselling American romance author Julia Quinn chose to publish her books under a pseudonym while in medical school. Ditto for Eloisa James, yet another Harvard grad and the author of bestselling romance fiction in the USA. Thankfully, Indian romance authors do not see a need to change their names. Mumbai journalist Aastha Atray Banan wrote a Mills & Boon (M&B) novel after winning an online contest. She wanted her mushy romantic tale to free her of the intellectual tag that came with being a ‘journalist.’ Advertising person Milan
Vohra, better known as the first Indian M&B author of The Love Asana, candidly admits that she has found romance “quite a lot of fun to be writing.” What The Market Says In the US, romance fiction sales stood at $1.358 billion in 2010. Exact figures are difficult to come by in India but a 2009 survey by NCAER/NBT (National Council of Applied Economic Research/National Book Trust) on National Youth Readership of readers between 13-35 years reveals that fantasy, classics and comics are the most preferred in fiction while romance and graphic novels are the least preferred. That’s a rather surprising figure when you talk to people in publishing as they all seem quite gung ho about romance. Renuka Chatterjee, Chief Editor, Westland Limited is not able to provide any sales figures but tells us, “Everyone loves a good romance — and romantic novels do well here as they do elsewhere.” And Renuka can prove her point.
W e s t land has entered into a co-publishing arrangement with Grey Oak publishers, who focus on romantic novels. In fact, industry sources say that Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, incidentally a vampire romance, largely boosted the turnover for Hachette India in 2009. It goes to show that romance does well in India too. Mita Kapur of Siyahi, a literary consultancy, would love to represent romance fiction but would recommend better quality of writing. “It [romance] is popular but I don’t think we have romances being written the way we understand them or that meet the quality of writing elsewhere in the world,” she says. “I would like to see romance being written in a more contemporary language – smart and snappy. Some mush but not all of it, so it’s more palatable.”
Continued on Page 2
From the Editor’s Desk
he most sought after novels at JustBooks libraries are romance novels. It’s not surprising as that seems to be the worldwide trend. As per the Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2013, Romance fiction generated $1.438 billion in sales in 2012. Compare that to $717.9 million generated by Religion/Inspirational, $728.2 Million generated by Mystery, $590.2 million generated by Science fiction/fantasy and $470 Million generated by Literary Fiction. Romance was the top-performing category on almost all the best-seller lists in 2012. Romance fiction sales are estimated at $1.350 billion for 2013. Surely, it can’t be just Mills & Boon romance novels that are generating all these sales! There are many established publishers who now have their own romance imprints. Romance genre itself has many avatars, its sub-genre’s like Historical, Paranormal, Fantasy, Time Travel, Suspense, Comedy and Erotica are the popular ones. RWA (Romance Writers of America), a group of more than 10,000 romance writers and other related members, gives annual RITA award to romance novels in 11 different categories to promote excellence in romance genre. With such a big market share and readership, one would expect Romance to get its due. In our lead feature we look into why people like to trash romance novels and judge people who love to read them. While the debate will continue about Romance being gold or trash, we will make sure romance lovers get their share in our libraries! Many exciting events are being conducted in various branches of JustBooks. Recently, Ketan Bhagat, author of debut novel Complete/Convenient, was at Pune and Bangalore regaling our members with titbits about his family and big brother, Chetan Bhagat, along with his journey as a writer. The June-July edition of Books & More magazine is available in all the JustBooks branches. Hope you got your copy. As always do send your contributions and suggestions on the newsletter to firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy reading.
July-August 2013 Continued from Page 1 Mita also wishes there were more writers doing absolute romance which isn’t the case now in India. Trash or Gold Despite Siyahi showing interest in representing romance novels and many readers showing a preference for it, why does romance still get bad press? Milan Vohra feels it’s got a lot to do with conditioning. “You’ve got to be secure to not look to safe, accepted crutches to define your own sense of worth. I disagree that an elitist view of what literature is should define what is good or not,” she says, adding that there are no good or bad genres, just interesting or not interesting reads. One of the reasons for the bad press is probably because most romance novels follow a prescribed formula. Boy meets girl. Girl hates boy but finds herself attracted to him. Boy and girl are thrown in situations that invite proximity, denial, sex and swooning, and so on... “It’s probably the same reason why people turn up their noses at soaps and sitcoms,” says Renuka Chatterjee. “I wouldn’t label anything that gives you some moments of pleasure, a chance to escape from your daily routine into another world, to laugh and maybe cry, as trashy,” she notes. Not all romances fall in the predictable plot category. “A romance novel isn’t just Mills & Boon,” agrees Renuka. “I think, for instance, both Gone With the Wind and Wuthering Heights are two great romance novels. Now, there are writers like Anita Brookner and Margaret Drabble who write wonderful romances. There are many Indian writers too. God of Small Things is essentially a love story,” she adds. The trouble with formulaic romances on which many franchises like Mills & Boons are based is that they tend to be one dimensional and hence fall flat, at least for a reader who is looking for variety. “Formulas kill romances,” admits
writer Rupa Gulab, who has three books, Girl Alone, Chip Off The Old Blockhead and Great depression of the 40s in the chick-lit/romance genre under her belt. But for some people the formulas actually work! Mumbaibased former public relations consultant Samyukta Joshi says romance is her evening escape. A mother of two, she says, “After putting the kids to bed and finishing the day’s work, I barely have any energy left for books that require me to think much or can turn out to
be depressing or heavy. I love romances. They are easy to read and make me rather happy. Perhaps I am at a stage in life where the predictability actually works!” There is still a whole lot of resentment against the genre. Aastha thinks it reflects of a double standard, “I think it’s just become a norm to reject everything that’s mainstream,” she says. She believes people who think all romance is trash should get off their high horse and judge a book purely on its merit. However, attitudes have changed, believes Mita, adding that romance may have been considered trashy a few years back but not anymore. Whether you are reading them under cover, shoving them behind A S Byatt in your bookshelf or flaunting them as your chosen read in the morning metro commute, Romance is here to stay. Much like love.
The Blue Umbrella Ruskin Bond Rupa Vaishali Shroff
he Blue Umbrella (1972) reflects Bond’s true literary style and lucid language. The story flows like a gentle river — deep connotations under a deceptively calm exterior. He creates a world brimming with earthy aromas, with detailed descriptions of picturesque landscapes and the vibrant village life on the foothills of the Himalayas, which serves as the backdrop. The result is an ingeniously crafted and unassumingly simple work, which is as difficult to write as it’s easy to read. It’s like a magical mountain song that urges the reader to hum along over and over again.
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions Edwin A Abbott Dover Dr Rajagopalan
n 1884 vintage by Abbott, a liberal Anglican clergyman and educator, Flatland is at once a science fiction, a fantasy, a veiled critique of the British society of the times and a superb pedagogical innovation. In this slim volume, Abbot imagines people living in a “flatland” of only two dimensions and recreates the entire hierarchy of social classes in it, represented by geometric figures. More the number of sides you have higher is your pecking order: women are straight lines and hence at the bottom of the pile. Triangles with sharp angles are the workmen and soldiers. Squares and polygons form the middle and professional classes, with the perfect circles being the noblest. It is social satire at its best.
To Sir, With Love E.R. Braithwaite Bodley Head Priyanka Khemkha
he cover of the book hardly guarantees a second glance, what with a dark-skinned man sitting on a wooden table. Do not let initial impressions mislead you. The title, derived from the note on a gift presented by students to the author at their graduation dance, may give the idea that the story revolves around a new age educator with his innovative teaching methods and moral advices, but it is the narration that makes it a masterpiece. The students’ love for their teacher is portrayed so realistically that you are sure to have a lump in your throat by the time you reach the end of the book. To Sir, With Love, is a type of book that gets entrenched in one’s memory and remains an evergreen story.
Bring up the Bodies Hilary Mantel HarperCollins Reshmi Chakraborty
ring up the Bodies is Hilary Mantel’s sequel to the Man Booker award-winning Wolf Hall (2009), in which Thomas Cromwell secures Anne Boleyn for Henry VIII by removing every impediment on the way. In Bring up the Bodies, he plots her downfall as the king tires of her after three years of marriage and no heir and sets his eyes on another woman. The Tudor saga, as we know from history, is littered with blood, gore and deception. Nowhere else is it as vividly imagined and portrayed as in Mantel’s retelling, first with Wolf Hall and now with Bring up the Bodies, the second part of a planned trilogy.
Family, feuds, secrets
Capturing the Elusive Light with immense confidence and subtle textures. The book does take us back to a more carefree time Douglas & McIntyre when a simple way of life filled with inAnjana Balakrishnan nocence made everything wonderful icole Lundrigan’s Glass Boys, and magical. Yet, set in the fictitious town of Knife’s the novel is based on Point, Newfoundland, is the story secrets — some best of a family feud and of generations of peohidden, some begple caught in it. Lundrigan manages to ging to be revealed. spin a dark yet riveting yarn of intrigue In Lundrigan’s around a dead man that affects the lives hands, these secrets of half a dozen others living boxed within play peek-a-boo the small town. with the plot with One day, when his eleven-year-old stepsuch adroitness that son Garrett saunters off instead of helping only after they have him with chores, Eli goes after him, only been methodically to find Garrett’s awfully dark secret hidrevealed does the den in an old pickle jar. While Eli is in his reader realise the yard bristling with rage and burning the author’s talent for the subtle unravelling contents of the jar, in walk the drunken of the story. By letting the plot develop duo, Roy and Lewis. In the altercation through various perspectives, what the that ensues, Roy ends up dead. Lewis, his author essentially does is to put the poconstable brother, believes Eli killed Roy, tent combination of secrets and percepthough the court calls it an accident and tions to good use, to first thicken the plot, acquits Eli. What follows is an impassable and then prune it lithely to fit the story gorge of hate between the two families – into its taut structure, which lends it an the Trenches and the Fagans. Their lives absorbing pace. diverge considerably, until it inevitably Lundrigan uses imagery that is imprescomes to a head again in the next gensively simple and effective — the handieration. However, light at the end of this work of a gifted writer. The author’s use of rather dark tunnel comes in the form of language deserves a special mention, as it is not easy to use colloquial language delicately, ensuring that it does not alienate the readers, Lundrigan uses imagery that but adds to their experience. is impressively simple and In a novel where most characters are complex and have effective — the handiwork of a been meticulously developed, gifted writer. the reader watches them grow. This is perhaps what good characterisation does — enrich the love, which is a reassuring harbinger of story by adding depth to it. Lewis’ guilt, hope. Melvin’s loyalty, Garrett’s loneliness, WilLundrigan’s fourth offering, Glass da’s self-doubt — Lundrigan weaves them Boys, came out in 2011. Growing up in all into Glass Boys seamlessly, making Upper Guilles, Newfoundland, the author each of them endearing in their own way. understandably builds on the many relaThe obsessively doting son, Melvin, and tionships among siblings in the narrative his emotionally high-strung and always-
Glass Boys By Nicole Lundrigan
on-the-run mother, Wilda, have a peculiarly interesting relationship that throws light on differing kinds of affection, guilt and despair that they both experience. Similarly, stepfather and stepson — Eli Fagan and Garret Glass — both antiheroes, have been touched by Lundrigan’s generosity of spirit and empathy, making them not evil incarnate, but victims of their traumatic pasts. Postmodern in its technique of presenting various versions of truth and avoiding the traditional concepts of good and bad, the narrative steps away onto the sidelines, becoming a mere messenger, distancing the text from taking sides and leaving perceptions entirely for the reader to process. Dextrous in its use, intuition is another tool working in the background, filling the gaps in the picture ever so slightly, just enough to blend in naturally. Bred on a diet of Indian family dramas, frankly, I did not expect to find the same zest in a novel set in faraway Newfoundland. Yet, Glass Boys has no theatrics of language or unbelievable trysts with fate, but it is a captivating read. What Lundrigan does within 291 pages is to make emotions accessible, and thereby making the novel universally appealing.
An engrossing read
Down the Winding River and Indians, Armenians and Portugese, and Chinese of all classes and ranks including of course the Penguin ubiquitous tanka or boat people and the liRajeshwari Ghose censed Imperial mandarins or cohongs. he novel is set in the period when The author presents a an illegal trade in Opium thrived picture of a global vilunder the aegis of the East India lage of a bygone era. Company with the blessings of the British The Parsi merchant, Government and the corrupt compliance Bahram Modi, who of the mandarins of the Chinese Bureaubecomes a wealthy cracy. As the drug was produced in India, man through this mainly in Malwa, Bengal and Bihar, the trade, is painted Indian involvement as middlemen was with multiple brush also considerable. As the novel draws to strokes. By the end of a close, we see the dynamics of Sino-Britthe book we know him ish relations change. Britain wages a war and while we conagainst China in 1839 and, after the Chidemn the trade itself we feel an inordinate sympathy Ghosh portrays the life on for this character, who is otherwise a the Pearl River, in the years perfect gentleman of his times. His battle between his trade and before the war, when boats ethical his faith is very tenderly hinted at. laden with Opium berthed His pathetic confession that he sold on specific spots outside the his soul to Ahriman for nothing is indeed touching. The book is full of city of Canton. succinctly phrased ironic statements, such as: â€œThere is no language like English for turning lies into legalnese loose, Western Imperialism slowly ismsâ€?. The apparently innocent proclamaembeds itself on the same terrain which tion of the Doctrine of Free Trade and the witnessed an easy going fellowship beBritish pretences of a civilized democratic tween the foreign traders and the Chinese nation fighting for its noble principles are mandarins, both bonding to share the coquietly voiced, without ever assuming lossal profits made through opium trade. either an overt polemical or judgmental Ghosh portrays the life on the Pearl tone. The pronouncements of the doyens River, in the years before the war, when of the British mercantile community are boats laden with Opium berthed on speoften quoted verbatim from official docucific spots outside the city of Canton, for ments. no foreigner was allowed to enter the It is commendable that Ghosh manages Chinese part of the port of Canton. The to keep the reader enthralled, which is no lingua franca of trade and cultural exmean feat considering not only the length change was through the medium of a kind of the book but the copious amount of of Pidgin English. The semantics of this painstaking research gone into it. Like all patois seems to fascinate the author and obsessive researchers he seems to be unhe uses it most effectively. He delineates able to discard any piece of information. the scenes of cultural and commodity exThus, in some places the text is too dense change in the most romantic and sensitive and the storyline suffers with an overdose manner, much in the manner of a painter of facts, which have only a tenuous conlovingly working on his canvas. It is peonection to the main tale. Notwithstanding pled with British and Americans, Arabs
River of Smoke By Amitav Ghosh
5 this little critique, the drama of the clash between Imperial China and the European Powers in the 19th century ostensibly over opium trade is portrayed in its multifarious dimensions in a sensitively nuanced manner. While, as a historian, I could empathize with his appetite for research, it did detract from his role as a novelist. There were too many characters and too many incidents and descriptions of some episodes like the meeting of Bahram with Napoleon served no purpose except that as the ship neared St Helena, Ghosh had to bring in his knowledge of the emperorâ€™s exile. What is most extraordinary about the book is the way we see everyday life. While history books tell us the details after the event is over and so wrap it up into neat conclusions, there are considerable contradictions that remain while the action is taking place. The forte of the author is in making history come alive. Recently, while discussing this book with teachers of Chinese history who also happened to be ethnically Chinese, I was surprised to hear several of them say that it is the best account of the everyday life before the first opium war that they had read and that it should be made compulsory reading for the grad students.
Raymond Chandler Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
ou know the style or at least, you think you do. Everyone from Daffy Duck to the latest crime writer on the block has imitated it — terse, tough and loaded with original, memorable similes. A private eye sits in his ratty office thinking cynical thoughts. A gorgeous dame walks in and presents him with a case. She looks like trouble, but he takes the case anyway. An incredibly convoluted plot follows, capped with a resolution that doesn’t feel like a victory so much as the peeling away of another layer of the onion. More tears, more layers. That’s quintessential Raymond Chandler for you. Raymond Thornton Chandler, born in 1888, began writing hard-boiled crime fiction at the age of 44. He wrote it because he had to. He was out of work during the Depression of the 1930s — he was an oil company executive — and writing was the only skill he possessed to earn a living. He also wrote because he liked to write. He knew he would have to write for the then burgeoning pulp magazines to make money, and crime fiction attracted a greater readership than the other alternatives available. He took the genre on with the sensibilities of a man who had already lived a full life, and approached American culture with something of an outsider’s perspective. While never losing sight of the commercial exigencies of his chosen format, he also brought in a sense of the tragic
and a verbal deftness that rose above his often inchoate plots, and secured for his works a literary status and a membership to the genre of classics. He started his career writing short stories, mainly for the pulp powerhouse Black Mask, but also for Dime Detective. His first short story was Blackmailers Don’t Shoot. He soon perfected his trademark protagonist — a tough, capable private eye, but one who is both sentimental and deeply idealistic beneath his crusty exterior. The best known of these characters was Phillip Marlowe, who’d make the leap to the long format with The Big Sleep, Chandler’s first novel. The plot of The Big Sleep is complex, with its share of loose ends, but the narrative still works brilliantly. The novel includes the famous moment that sums up the moral universe of Chandler’s novels. Marlowe, who is playing solo chess, looks at the game, reverses a previous move involving a knight and muses: “Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn’t a game for knights.” But Marlowe is ultimately doomed, because he’s a man with individualistic principles, and the world around him has no place for principles. The Big Sleep was adapted multiple times in cinematic and radio presentations. All of Chandler’s subsequent novels featured Marlowe, and like The Big Sleep, they all built from premises and scenes first explored in his short fiction. The most universally acclaimed of these, apart from The Big Sleep are, Farewell My Lovely, The Little Sister and The Lady in the Lake. The Long Goodbye was Chandler’s own favourite, and contains many autobiographical elements.
Chandler wrote a number of successful screenplays. His adaptation of Double Indemnity added his trademark sparkling dialogue to James M Cain’s dark plot. He collaborated on one Hitchcock film, Strangers on a Train, and a handful of other films. His original screenplay, Payback, was rejected multiple times and eventually formed the basis for his last completed novel. Although he enjoyed movies, his work for the screen was marked by frequent clashes with collaborators and left him with a deeply sardonic attitude towards Hollywood. Critics could never decide what they disliked about Chandler during his lifetime — he was either panned for overloading his work with action and hi-jinks or for letting himself be carried away by literary aspirations and going easy on the action. To be fair, plot was never his strong point and his novels could reflect unsavoury, dismissive attitudes towards women and homosexuals. But over time, he has come to wield a major influence on the crime fiction genre and beyond, and still inspires his fair share of imitators and disciples. Chandler’s works continue to be read and enjoyed for their exciting, if opaque plots, complex moral dilemmas, colourful, seedy settings and for the pure aesthetic delight of savouring lines like “Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead,” (The Big Sleep). Chandler died in 1959. And even five decades later, he is recognised as that strange beast — a significant mainstream detective novel writer.
July-August 2013 Modern Working Mantra
Exploding the Introvert Myth Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking By Susan Cain Viking Dr. Rajagopalan
he introvert-extrovert continuum has been one of the primary axes in various typologies of personality. Western culture in general, and American culture in particular, project extroversion as an ideal. Right from childhood, introversion is viewed as a weakness to be corrected by parental, peer and social influence. To the extent our educational system and culture are subject to AngloSaxon influence, this is true of our society too. Author Susan Cain in this book offers a different and positive perspective on introversion. Apparently, as many as one-fifth to one-third of us are introverts, implying that introversion is not some ‘defect’ or ‘disease’. Surprisingly, those who are super reactive and holler as infants are more likely to become introverts later. This is because they are naturally highly reactive and sensitive to inputs of all kinds. There is a physiological basis in our brains for our degree of introversion or extroversion. The book offers a few simple tools for introverts to understand themselves and to exploit their unique strengths to their full advantage. Following the legendary Dale Carnegie, a plethora of self-help books have been catering to the demands of the modern ‘culture of personality’ where perception rules. This was not so in the traditional ‘culture of character’. But now, mindless extolling of extroversion has led people to pretend that they are extroverts, adding to the perception that introverts are oddballs. Is this extroversion-on-steroids becoming a normative ideal and mere salesmanship a virtue? Historically, introverts have made phenomenal contributions in several fields – politics, science, arts, music, and so on. Charismatic leadership is, perhaps, a myth because it is more the fit with the
situation at hand that determines which type of leader will succeed. Modern technologies like the Internet and WWW are enabling introverts to become effective leaders of even mass movements – ostensibly the traditional domain of extroverts.
he most interesting debate the book offers is about the advisability of several modern mantras for enhanced learning, creativity and productivity. The author alerts us to the possibility that team work may, in fact, become another ‘New Group Think’. ‘Open space offices’ and ‘classroom pods’ might be shutting out introverts who are more productive in traditional settings of private spaces. The author poses the pertinent question: Are we encouraging an elitism based not on merit, but on mere extrovert personalities? The author also contests the view that the success of open source software is a correct justification for open space. Open source gives primacy to work at an individual level. Mastery requires deliberate solitary practice. Right working conditions and lack of peer pressure are essential to building expertise. Contrary to popular beliefs, the author cites evidence that brain-storming is not an effective method to improve creativity. Participants waste time by indulging in social loafing (free riding) and production blocking (only one can speak at a time). The power of conformity may act so strongly, like a mindaltering substance, as to change an individual’s view of the problem itself and not just accepting a group decision. Introverts apparently have larger amygdales (emotional brains) and hence, are inherently more conscientious. They are also arguably better at delaying gratification and in asking ‘what if?’ questions. They score better on accuracy than on
speed. These are desirable traits for investment decisions. There is mounting evidence that introversion is a temperament with a basis in the structure and chemistry of one’s brain. An introvert or extrovert cannot act out of character for long without stress or periodic restorative breaks. An introvert can overcome her associated traits of shyness and fear of public speaking if it is in the service of one’s passionate causes. Research is increasingly pointing to the crucial importance of how genetics interacts with experience and free will in determining where we are on the introversionextroversion scale – the so-called ‘rubber band theory’ of personality. Each one of us will have to find our own optimal level of stimulation, our own sweet spots, and these can vary over time and stages of life. Though the book makes us rethink about our clichéd response to introverts and extroverts, I found Chapter 8, Soft Power, to be full of stereotypical contrasts of the so-called Asian and Western cultures as encouraging introversion and extroversion respectively. Selective quoting of proverbs from these cultures is used to support the seeming contrasts. ‘Asia’ seems to mean only China, except for Mahatma Gandhi! Despite falling into the trap of such stereotypes, Quiet manages to question a few others.
A Short Journey Through Mind Maps The Mind Map Book By Tony Buzan HarperCollins Mukunda Krishnaswamy
uring my recent visit to JustBooks, I picked up The Mind Map Book by Tony Buzan. Well, I had a reason for picking up this book. I am learning classical music and finding it challenging to memorize the lessons. So, I need to find new ways to absorb a series of random musical notes into my
es. I decided to experience mind maps for myself and see if it works. The Phone Number Challenge I decided to test my new found technique against my teenager’s younger dendrons. We tried to memorise his new phone number. After giving ourselves an equal amount of time, we tested ourselves a few hours later and again the next morning. My son was declared the winner since I had one digit wrong at the first test. I have been challenged by phone numbers for more than two decades now and I’m pleasantly surprised that I could recall the number correctly at the second test. New Home Requirement Gathering Session We were in the middle of planning for our new home and wanted to list all our requirements before meeting the architect. We had done a short list. Armed with this new mind mapping technique, I convinced my wife to give it a try and use it for brainstorming. I was truly impressed with how we worked together in this creative process. We did not argue or make judgmental remarks during the entire process. Both of us felt that we did a good first draft. It was conducive to further enhancements and ready for input from other stakeholders. Its simplicity made it an effective tool to drive our conversation with our architect.
aging memory cells! Buzan is awed by the complexity of the human brain and has compiled an interesting set of facts related to the brain, its anatomy and physiology. The structure of the nerve cell, especially the tree like branches of the dendron that radiate around the nucleus area of the cell, has, interestingly, inspired the author to hypothesize that our thought processes and memory patterns are similar to the labyrinth of radiating nerve cell branches. But I was skeptical. Simple structurefunction correlations have been proven wrong in a number of biological process-
The Fiasco After 204 pages and some real success, I tried putting the mind mapping technique to master my music lesson. I made a new map to help me memorize a Carnatic classical varnam in the raga Natakuranji. I was unable to recall any section of the varnam even after soaking in this mind map for over an hour! Perhaps we need different techniques to memorize sounds and video. Where did I go wrong, Mr. Buzan?
Mukunda, a member of JustBooks Kanakapura, is the CTO and founder of Lumos Learning. He enjoys learning, helping children discover, travel and nature.
Reader’s Voice I have just completed my one year membership with JustBooks. It has helped me in many ways. One of the best series I have read is Percy Jackson. It’s a story of half boy-half god hero Percy, who saves his camp in many ways given the circumstances and pressure on him. He is betrayed by the one who calls him a friend. This is a fantastic series written by Rick Riordan. It is complimented and appreciated by many readers. Riordan is a famous writer and known for his passion of writing. He is also known as the Mythmaster. There are three other series written by Riordan — Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, Kane Chronicles. Like I said before, JustBooks has helped me in many ways mainly by increasing my passion for reading and writing. The way I form my sentences has changed a lot. It has increased my general knowledge. Thanks to the JustBooks staff for helping me to choose the books in the right way. Three cheers to JustBooks. Sharva Nemane, Std VI Aundh, Pune
July-August 2013 Reader’s contribution
Cryptography Decrypted The Code Book By Simon Singh Anchor Kiran A Bacche
hat do crossword puzzles have in common with cryptography? Believe it or not, during World War II, the Daily Telegraph crossword was used as a test to recruit new codebreakers to crack the Enigma, a machine invented by the Germans to encrypt and decrypt secret messages. So if you are a crossword puzzle solver, understanding cryptography would be as simple as solving the daily cross challenge in the newspaper. Cryptography is about encryption and decryption. Encryption is a process of converting messages which are easy to understand into something which are not so easy to understand so that it is understood only by the intended audience.
There are many examples of encryption in our daily life: You want to convey to your spouse something which you don’t want your child to understand or sign language that you use to pass on some message to your kids in a party. Decryption is just the opposite process of encryption. There have been lots of encryption and decryption techniques and algorithms that have evolved over time. Cryptography is about all these techniques and algorithms. The key aspects that differentiate one algorithm from another are ease of encrypting and decrypting and the strength of the algorithm. The higher the strength of the algorithm, the more difficult it is to decrypt the message by an unintended audience. Let’s look at an example. I used to talk in Hindi with my wife when I needed to discuss something which I didn’t want my daughter to understand. The strength of this algorithm was super strong since my daughter was just around 5 years, and knew only English and Kannada. However over time, she learnt Hindi in her school, and the strength of this algorithm decreased as she began to understand our Hindi. So I had to think of a newer algorithm. Now, coming back to strength, there are algorithms which are weak, moderately strong and super strong. Depending on how critical the message that we trying to encrypt is, we can choose the appropriate algorithm. Remember, the stronger the algorithm, the more difficult it is to hack them. So if you don’t want anyone except the intended audience to decrypt it, you would believe that you need to use an algorithm with infinite strength. Before I go further into that, let’s look into some serious examples. When you log into XYZ Bank, the browser sends your password in encrypted form so that only XYZ Bank understands and no one else. And you don’t want anyone, not even a single soul
in the universe, to hack your bank password. So obviously the browser should be using some complex algorithm that has “infinite” strength. But is that really the case? Let me elaborate my answer. The strength is not infinite. However it would take more than hundreds of years for a hacker with a super computer to find out your bank password! For all practical purposes, isn’t 100 years as good as infinite? Yes, you can take a deep breath now and thank not the stars, but the great cryptography algorithms that exist today. How did such great algorithms, that we all use today in the computer era, come into being? The history of cryptography is truly amazing. It has witnessed geniuses who have tried to secure communication and geniuses who have tried to break them. Together they have influenced the fate of people and nations. The Code Book by Simon Singh is about the history of cryptography, explained in engaging language. The book not only talks about intriguing tales of cryptography in history, but also provides great insight into the science and mathematics behind cryptography. If you like reading detective and mystery books, you would enjoy this book even more. On a lighter note, a user of Windows XP once found out that Windows logs him in whenever he types the correct password, but in case he types the wrong password, it tells him what his password is, in plaintext!! The user was ecstatic. He thought he was the next generation hacker having found a simple way to reveal user passwords on a Windows system. Can you guess what was going on? The user’s password was “incorrect”. So whenever he types “incorrect”, the system logs him in. However whenever he types something else, Windows pops up a message saying, “Your password is incorrect”. You see, cryptography can be fun too. So go ahead and have more fun reading the book.
Kiran A Bacche is a member of JustBooks, Koramangala. A Technical Leader at Cisco Systems, he enjoys sports, reading, mathematics, music (guitar, keyboard) and nature.
July-August 2013 3. Milan Vohra’s recent novel is called: a. The Love Asana b. Girl Alone c. Tick Tock We’re 30
1. Mills & Boon was established in year: a. 1913 b. 1908 c. 1930 2. Which novelist established the Historical Romance Genre? a. Georgette Heyer b. Charlotte Bronte c. Jane Austen
4. Which novel is considered to be the epitome of Romance genre? a. Gone With The Wind b. Pride and Prejudice c. Jane Eyre 5. Name the most notable award for Romance novels: a. Costa Book Awards b. Edna Staebler Awar c. RITA Awards
Answers: 1908, Georgette Heyer, Tick Tock We’re 30, Pride and Prejudice, RITA Awards
JustBooks Top 5 New Arrivals 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
The Hit by David Baldacci Nano by Robin Cook Tick-Tock We’re 30 by Milan Vohra Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg The Wisdom of Ants: A Short History of Economics by Shankar Jaganathan
Recommended 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Guevara How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen
Rentals 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Inferno by Dan Brown The Oath Of The Vayuputras by Amish Tripathi Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney Best Kept Secret by Jeffrey Archer Archies Single Digest
Counselling at JustBooks, Rajajinagar A counselling session was held at JustBooks Rajajinagar branch by Dr.Thavamani, Medical Director of Our Own Clinic in Dubai. It was an interactive session where Dr. Thavamani highlighted the topics like dental hygiene, personal hygiene, stress management and importance of healthy diet and exercise. Points like how parents play a major role in moulding their child’s growth — mentally, physically and emotionally were discussed. The doctor spoke about how JustBooks can become a major stress buster in each and every household. She concluded by stating that providing high quality health and education for children in their early years yields significant long term benefits.
Of Friendship and Sharing The Grouchy Ladybug By Eric Carle HarperCollins Pallavi Varma-Patil
riendship is a universal emotion that children learn to grasp very early in life. Here are two famous children’s authors, Julia Donaldson and Eric Carle, who in their own fun, witty, and clever style introduce the concept of friendship to young readers. The Grouchy Ladybug and Room on the Broom exemplify this. These two books were chosen in particular for reviewing, because they do not go over the top about the joys and disappointments of having or losing friends.
hose who are familiar with Eric Carle’s picture books for children would know how he manages to convey so many different things in one book. The Grouchy Ladybug is no exception. Ostensibly
settles for what she thinks is a clever dethe story of a bad-tempered ladybug that picks up a fight with almost everyone she fence: “Oh! You are not big enough for me to fight.” meets, the book is also about the concept Thereafter, hour after hour, the of time, of size, of feelings, emotions, and grouchy ladybug meets many opponents of friendship and sharing. who are bigger than her – from a beetle The book starts with a tribute to the lessto a sparrow and er known insects called Aphids, and from a boa constricAbout the author tor to a whale, and their role and imEric Carle is the author of the claschallenges them to portance in nature. sic children’s picture book, The Very a fight. But when The storyline is huHungry Caterpillar. Published first the grouchy ladymorous and simple in 1969, the book has sold over 29 milbug asks, “Want to – the ill-mannered lion copies in more than 47 languages. and arrogant ladyfight?”, each creaIn his career, Carle has illustrated ture she encounbug doesn’t want more than 70 books. His art style is ters, with the excepto share the aphids distinctive, collage-like and playful. tion of the whale, on a leaf with a His books are to be read as much as to answers by using friendly ladybug, be seen and touched. In 2002, he and its natural defence and challenges her his wife, Barbara Carle, established a mechanism and to a fight. Surprised museum for picture book art called says, “If you insist”, that the friendly The Eric Carle Museum of Picture and the grouchy ladybug agrees to Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts. ladybug finds secuthe challenge, the rity in her response, grouchy ladybug “Oh, you are not big becomes unsure of enough for me to herself. But pride fight”, and manages to comes in the way of escape. Only when she gets slapped by a graciously admitting to her fault, and she whale’s tail does she return humbled and tired and agrees to accept the friendly ladybug’s offer. Young readers will recognise the shades of emotions the grouchy ladybug goes through when she tries to tackle bigger and bigger opponents, but is never sure of herself. They will also realise that it’s not uncommon for bad days to bring out the worst in us, and more importantly, that we all need a friend who stands by us and helps us back on our feet. The classic Eric Carle design and illustrations in the book enhance the narration. So much is happening on the page that you need to keep coming back to reread the story. The sun’s trajectory, along with the little clock on top is a nice visual to demonstrate the passing of time. Clever uses of increasing font size and cutouts of animals bring the story alive. The repetition of words, and its predictable storyline every time the grouchy ladybug meets an opponent who shrugs and says, “If you insist”, is a great hit among young readers. First published in 1977, The Grouchy Ladybug is available in all leading bookstores, online stores and the local JustBooks library.
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Just Kids Continued from Page 11
Room on the Broom By Julia Donaldson Random House
am a dog, as keen as can be. Is there room on the broom for a dog like me?” “YESS!” cried the witch, and the dog clambered on. The witch tapped the broomstick and
whoosh! they were gone! Room on a Broom, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, is a crazy, zany, and an unpredictable tale of a friendly witch, who has a large heart and always finds room on her broom for her newfound friends to sit on. In the end when the witch is attacked by a scary dragon, these very friends come to her rescue. In gratitude, she zaps her broom into a magnificent contraption with seats for herself – the cat, and the dog, a nest for the bird, and a pool for the frog. This tale is as much about friendship, sharing and helping one another, as it is about lyrics, of delightful visuals, a play on words, a spell and a spin on our typical notion of what witches are like – cruel, frightening and unfriendly. Children will love this tale for its fast pace, humour, rhyming words and visual treats. It makes for a great interactive story-telling session as well, where children
can be involved in narrating the catchy rhymes and identifying the phonics. So popular is this picture book that its publishers are now out with a board book, a big book, an activity book, a colouring book, an interactive ebook as well as an audio edition. Its official website informs its readers that Room on the Broom has been
About the author
Donaldson is one of the UK’s best-loved children’s authors. One of her more popular books is The Gruffalo for which she has won several awards. She was the Children’s Laureate (2011-2013) and 2012 World Book Day author. Before writing books, she used to write songs for children’s television.
translated into 21 languages and has won six book awards. The audio version, which includes the Room on the Broom song, has won the Spoken Book Award for the best audio for six and under. Instead of stating it all up front, the two books nudge the readers into thinking about their own emotions and the values of life like standing by friends. Above all, in doing so, they provide youngsters with a good read and a good laugh. Enjoy!
JustBooks’ Picks for Young Readers The Deep Blue Sea: A Book Of Colors by Audrey Wood I Want My Dummy by Tony Ross Sweet And Salty by Sandhya Rao
Small Steps by Louis Sachar Sister, Sister, Why Don’t Things Fall Up? by Roopa Pai Oops The Mighty Gurgle by Ram G Vallath
Escape From Java And Other Tales Of Danger by Ruskin Bond The History Keepers: The Storm Begins by Damian Dibben Blue Heron by Avi
Young Readers can send their contribution to email@example.com
SAVE OUR EARTH Whenever a tree is cut or the water tap is dripping the pain is felt by the earth. Anguished, she starts weeping. What we call urbanisation is nothing but concrete and smoke. By disturbing the environment it’s the earth we provoke. Destroying great trees which enable us to breathe, infuriated with anger, Our earth does seethe
Everyone is welcome to walk through the door, It really doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor. There are books in boxes and books on shelves, They’re free for you to borrow, so help yourselves Come and meet your heroes, old and new, From William the Conqueror to Winnie the Pooh. You can look into the Mirror or read The Times, Or bring along a toddler to chant some rhymes. The librarian’s a friend who loves to lend, So see if there’s a book that she can recommend. Read that book and, if you’re bitten, You can borrow all the other ones the author’s written. Are you into battles or biography? Are you keen on gerbils or geography? Gardening or ghosts? Sharks or science fiction? There’s something for everyone, whatever your addiction.
She will unleash havoc if we don’t mend our ways, Of our beautiful world There wont remain a trace. Save our Earth Save Mother Nature, Think, act, contribute Towards a bright, shining future. Rutwik N. Jain Class XI Army Public School, Pune Rutwik is a book-lover and a member of JustBooks Wanowrie, Pune. He would like to pursue a research-oriented career. His interests range from singing (Indian Classical Music) to swimming, and drawing to painting.
There are students revising, deep in concentration, And school kids doing projects, finding inspiration. Over in the corner there’s a table with seating, So come along and join in the Book Club meeting. Yes, come to the library! Browse and borrow, And help make sure it’ll still be here tomorrow. My library is the best, It’s better than the rest. JustBooks is it’s name, It is Mysore’s fame. Abhishek S. Rao Class VIII St. Joseph’s Central School, Mysore Abhishek, a member of JustBooks Mysore, loves playing basketball, reading books, writing poems and collecting coins . Young Readers can send their contribution to firstname.lastname@example.org
All Around the World I dreamt I climbed Mount Everest and skied down the valley, then, I dreamt I crossed a desert and trained a camel to race in the rally. I then climbed a volcano and checked out the lava inside, from there went to a forest and trained a baboon and then, set-off in a rocket to explore the moon. Nikhil Guha Class I Vibgyor High, Bangalore Nikhil is a member of JustBooks HSR Layout, Bangalore. He loves reading, drawing and playing pretend games with friends. 14
Ratty Mousian’s Adventure with Aliens
i, my name is Ratty Mousian, writer and publisher of Fizzian Rat, the most famous newspaper of America. Once when I was sleeping and dreaming I got a phone call. “Mr. Mousian, is that you?” The voice sounded familiar. Yes! It was Neil Ratstrong, the first rat to go to the moon. He said “Will you come with me to explore space?” I was astonished! Me? In Space? I was trembling at the thought of it. Uh Oh! How did I get into this mess? I put the receiver down without saying a word. The phone rang again. This time it was my elder sister Rhea. “Hey Ratty. Did you like what I arranged for you? You can go into space!” She said. “Why did you do that? You know I have so much work. I am not an astro-rat who has to... Hello? Hello?” Rhea hung up. I was so scared thinking that I might get sucked into a black hole or that my rocket might crash, making me the world’s first floating mouse that never landed. My alarm clock rang. But I forgot why I had set the time. Then I remembered Rhea must’ve set it and I better not disobey her. It was time for me to go to space. I drove to RASA (Rational Aeronautics and Space Administration), where Ratstrong was waiting for me. Thinking of Rhea, I wore my space suit and trembled to the space-shuttle called MIC-1217. We climbed into lift, went up to the entry door and entered the shuttle. In 5 minutes, the countdown began. I was sweating. 10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1… Blast off! I fainted. When I woke up, I found myself strapped to a bed and called out to Ratstrong. He came and took the straps off me. I got down and went to the scope — a little circular opening meant for view-
ing outer space — and looked towards the endless space. Just then a flash of light whizzed past us. I peered closer and saw something horrifying! It was a UFO full of red black-eyed aliens throwing fireballs at us. But when the fireball was about to smash us, another UFO came from nowhere and stopped the fireInspired by Geronimo Stilton ball and made the evil aliens flee. I looked around and noticed the fleet of protective aliens, a small green alien was waving at me and pointing to Earth asking us to go back. When we were about to return, the friendly alien threw a transmitter to me, perhaps to keep in touch with them. We returned to Earth, everything was normal except that I was missing my alien friends…
Vedant Bhatnagar Mathur Class III Meridian Madhapur, Hyderabad Vedant, a member of JustBooks Gachchibowli, Hyderabad, is a bibliophile and a self-confessed Geronimo Stilton, Wimpy Kids and 39 Clues fan.
July-August 2013 Events
JustBooks and Dignity Foundation Joint Workshop for Children
he joint summer workshop for children in the age group of 7 to 14 years was organised by the Dignity Foundation Coffee Chavadi of Vidyaranyapura with JustBooks Vidyaranyapura for the second year in succession at VDFCC. The workshop was formally inaugurated by B. V. Pandurangarao, famous cartoonist and our Dignitarian, Nagaraj, Coordinator welcomed the gathering. Vittal Hegde of JustBooks spoke about the workshop programmes and appreciated the way VDFCC responds with new ideas every time a request is made for organising a workshop. This time, as before, there were as many as 7 programmes organised by some of VDFCC’s talented members in many interesting and different topics conceived and designed carefully to reach the young minds. Overall, the entire workshop was a great success based on the positive feedback received from the participating children and their parents. It has also given VDFCC a great sense of satisfaction and motivation to march forward with greater vigour and enthusiasm.
Report by Mr S. R. Nagaraj, chief co-ordinator of Dignity Foundation Vidyaranyapura.
Treasure Hunt at JustBooks
ummer holidays are joyous for kids while parents look forward to it with trepidation: wondering all the time how to keep their kids occupied. Not that there are no options, what with plenty of summer camps being held every nook and corner. But it’s important to let kids have fun like we used to in our days. Vittal Hegde, Franchise owner of JustBooks Vidyaranyapura, is an enterprising man who is full of ideas. When we met him, just at the onset of summer, he tickled our brains for ideas and we came up with the plan of having a treasure hunt at the library. The brief we were given was that it should be challenging and fun for the kids. And the challenge was ‘to customize the hunt for a library and around books keeping in mind that some of the books may have been issued.’ We started the process of brainstorming on which books to cover to
ensure all kids (7-13 years) could contribute and participate in the hunt. The toughest part was to wear the hat of kids as young as 7 years and meeting the objective of covering as many books as possible. This treasure hunt was just that. It was to make kids aware of authors, characters and stories. On the day of the hunt, which happened to be a Sunday, we had a group of 30+ kids who were bursting with energy and waiting to match their creative thinking to come to a correct conclusion!
The hunt was conceived and effectively executed by Naveen L and Pushpa H. S. They were kept on their toes by a big bunch of energetic kids vying amongst themselves to get to the treasure.
Naveen and Pushpa are members of JustBooks Vidyaranyapura. Both are avid readers and book lovers who, in addition to managing demanding corporate jobs, find time to engage kids with fun activities.
Hopscotch Day at JustBooks Kalidas Road, Mysore
A great way to revive a traditional game like hopscotch, children loved to play it over and over again.
Book Reading at JustBooks Jayanagar, Bangalore
Writer Ketan Bhagat reading from his debut novel Complete/Convenient to the audience on his visit to JustBooks Jayanagar, Bangalore.
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