February Fab Reads: 5 New Books That Will Help You Push The Frontiers


February has been a brief and breezy month, and fittingly so, with the Valentine’s Day ushering back love and romance in our humdrum existence. As we near the end of the month, it’s time to check out the titles published this month and creating the most buzz. As we said last month, it’s a journey of discovery – a journey taken together to find our way back to the printed words we have neglected so long. We don’t know yet whether these books will top the best-sellers’ list or not but this time, it is a collection of fiery five that can provide you the knowledge and the courage to push the frontiers and explore new territories. True to the V-day spirit, the February books are an assorted lot – varying from never-before insights into brain power to the power of human love and the grit to defy the raw deals life meets out. “Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live,” said Gustave Flaubert and we believe that is the essence of existence, experience and elevation. So welcome on board and happy reading.

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The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind

  The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind
Ask yourself what’s the biggest mystery on Earth and your mind will answer you. Yes, it’s the mind or the brain, to be precise. Even if you are not scientifically inclined, this grand exploration of the living brain, its fascinating powers and the immense scope it has to fast-forward unthinkable developments will leave you completely spellbound. Penned by Dr Michio Kaku, a professor of Physics at the City University of New York and The New York Times’ best-selling author, the book tells us how the top researchers across the world have decoded the secrets of the brain through high tech brain scans devised by physicists. And guess what? The latest advancements in Neuroscience and Physics have pushed the frontiers – so much so that recording memories, videotaping dreams or getting to the core of unique phenomena like telepathy, mind control or telekinesis are no longer impossible.

But what fascinates us most is what the future holds. Forget machine learning; one day we might be able to upload our brain onto a smart gadget; control machines with mind power, and share thoughts, emotions or even consciousness across the universe via a brain-net. Read on if you want to discover more such mind-boggling theories and revel in those.

ModiNomics: Inclusive Economics, Inclusive Governance

ModiNomics: Inclusive Economics, Inclusive Governance
This book by Sameer Kochhar, chairman of the Skoch Group and a passionate advocate of an inclusive Indian society, is an interesting socio-economic document that goes beyond the political personality of Mr Narendra Modi, Gujarat Chief Minister and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. With the 2014 general elections looming large, Modi’s Gujarat Model of development has raised a vital question – can it be scaled to the national level to craft a different growth story for India? The book, therefore, aims to analyse the economic policies and development strategies adopted by Modi – the essence of ModiNomics, to be precise. Can it be as beneficial for other states, especially when it comes to the policies spanning the basics of inclusive economics and inclusive governance?

Coming from an expert (Kochhar had earlier edited books by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram; Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and economist Vijay Kelkar), ModiNomics will be an interesting read that you should not skip.

The Museum of Extraordinary Things

The Museum of Extraordinary Things
Here’s to Love and Freedom for all we are worth – love entrapped in an orthodox heritage but seeking a way out to provide humane salvation; love limited by malformation of body and mind but seeking fulfilment. Set in 1911 New York City, the story of Coralie Sardie and Eddie Cohen evolves around a workplace tragedy, a murder mystery and gross exploitation of malformed individuals and biological oddities forced into showbiz – all interwoven with finesse and a dreamlike super reality essentially present in the works of Alice Hoffman, one of the most distinguished novelists of our time. 

As Coralie is born with webbing between her fingers, she has to enact the role of a human mermaid at a Coney Island freak show, run by her despotic father. By the time she meets Cohen, a runaway from an Orthodox Russian community, he has left the mundane life of a tailor’s apprentice and started working as a photographer of human misfortune. Earlier, he had also worked for a Jewish mystic (a figure based on the real-life Seer of Rivington Street, Abraham Hochman). Hoffman is a master storyteller and the fiery fiction flows with ease and style while the exquisite period detailing (the author has brought in a lot of real-life characters and incidents) brings a colourful yet decadent New York City back to life. Till the very end, the author weaves her trademark magic and romance, bringing together the troubled young people as they struggle against tumultuous times. A must-read if you care to find love even on a little island of lost souls.

Swoon: Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them

Swoon: Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them
Not exactly a romantic read if you are expecting some syrupy sweet stuff or relationship advice. Instead, author Betsy Prioleau does some extensive research to decode the real-life Casanovas and their essential characteristics that will answer the age-old question – what makes women tick. 

Well, the findings are both comforting and disturbing. Prioleau tears apart the evolutionary theory (it says women choose the fittest to ensure the best ever progeny) and goes on to show that neither money, nor looks would play a key role here. In contrast, the homely Romeos who are caring and understanding, with conversational flair and the courage to show their feelings, will gain favour with women. In other words, the killer charm of the lady-killers is made of such everyday stuff and supported by an unfailing astuteness. Prioleau combines history, science, culture and contemporary research, to give us a complete picture of the successful seducer that defies every stereotype and does away with every cliché. That’s the beauty of Swoon – you are out of your comfort zone and grappling with a new bunch of truths.

The UnAmericans

The UnAmericans
Here’s the last of our lot – a debut collection of short stories by Molly Antopol, a 2013 National Book Foundation ‘5 Under 35’ Honouree. Surprisingly, the collection reminds us of another famous author and her debut creation – Indian American writer Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies that went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award in the year 2000, and has sold over 15 million copies worldwide. 

The UnAmericans, too, explores the characters shaped by the forces of history and destiny, but strong enough to fight for a footing in a world hounded by forces beyond their control. Antopol’s men and women hail from different cultures, backgrounds and faiths, but all are utterly human in their joys, sorrows, fellow-feeling, desires and heartbreaks. Still, their quite dignity and fortitude mark the never-failing triumph of the human soul that is bound to touch your heart.

“Antopol’s gaze illuminates what legacies remain in the twilight of our desires. Not since Robert Stone has a writer so examined the nature of disillusionment and the ways in which newfound hope can crack the cement of failed dreams,” says Adam Johnson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Orphan Master’s Son. With that, let us end our sojourn for now – we will be back with more lovable books in March.
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