The Rudest Book Ever

I recently read ‘The Rudest Book Ever’ by YouTube influencer Shwetabh Gangwar. And no, if you are wondering, the contents of the book are not “rude”. In the author’s own words, “This book is a collection of ideas, principles and perspectives. It is about practical learnings and making slight changes in the way you see things, which may help you avoid a lot of headache.”

In 13 chapters and 226 pages, the author introduces a lot of concepts and touches upon several psychological terms and definitions.

In this book, the author covers:

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Belief Perseverance or Backfire Effect

Cognitive Reappraisal

Self-distancing

Socioemotional selectivity theory

Enmeshment

Arrival Fallacy

Present Bias

Hyperbolic Discounting

Social discounting

The negativity bias

Solomon’s Paradox

Social comparison theory

Spotlight effect

The halo effect

Cognitive dissonance, etc.,

These terms are woven into the chapters and not referenced or indexed in a glossary, which may have improved the reading experience.

The author starts the book with the idea that we are all products with hope attached. One day we are expected to transform into a smart, able unit capable of choosing jobs, careers, relationships and environments for ourselves.

Every one of us has to learn how to learn and how to think. The author points us in the right direction as to how we can go about this and not be swayed by the group we belong to or influencers who try to tell us how we should think. The irony of this was not lost on me.

The imaginary conversation between a parent and child in Chapter one was humorously written.

As we get older, our perception of life changes from chasing ambitions, money and desires to getting close to family, friends, religion and mending relationships.

The author introduces a novel idea of seeing oneself as a nation. He builds the concept in one chapter. In another chapter, he asks us how much we actually know ourselves. He talks about how first impressions often fool people and how we need to rely on data. There’s even a chapter on sex education for young people, although this is written from a male perspective.  

The author highlights that how we think matters much more than how much we know. A thinker is a pursuer of the truth about reality. They may not discover reality as it is but they almost never mistake narratives for what they are not.

He advises readers not to seek approbation from outside and look to the self for answers.

My favourite bit in the book was about defamiliarisation. Defamiliarisation is a common literature technique, which has been employed famously by many novelists like Tolstoy, Nabokov, Kazuo Ishiguro, Martin Amis and more. It means defamiliarizing things you know and relooking things that you are familiar with from a new set of eyes and in a new way.  

On the whole, the book is a collection of thoughts, advice and self-help material that can help us rethink our ways and open our minds to new ways of thinking.

I thank Juggernaut Books for the review copy.

Ponniyin Selvan’s Story Retold

Book Review by my dad, K.S.Loganathan

Ponniyin Selvan is a historical novel serialized weekly during 1950- 54 in Kalki magazine by Ramsamy Aiyar Krishnamurthy. It is a perennial favorite in historical fiction and it led to a resurgence of local interest in Tamil history. Raja Raja Chola was the first Indian ruler to found a maritime empire and control rampant piracy on the high seas with his warships and overseas garrisons that were paid for by merchant guilds and local taxes. The Chola bronzes and silver coins minted in his time are still collectibles. James Ferguson wrote that the Cholas conceived ( stone temples) like giants and finished them like jewelers. The book is less about these achievements and more about the partially successful plot to destabilize the rising Chola kingdom around 970 CE. Despite the intelligence of the conspirators’ plot, security lapses occur because of an ailing emperor and his lack of will to keep his warring satraps under check. It is a timeless story of monarchy, royal succession, and palace intrigues.

Book cover of the Tiger Throne by Preetha Rajah Kannan

Kalki’s novel stands out in its description of the Tamil country, life in the tenth century, strong women characters, political divisions, and citizens’ opinions about royal succession. The novel runs into 2000- odd pages with a long series of twists and turns. ( inevitable in a weekly serialization) to keep the reader engrossed.

With the release of Maniratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan I, filmgoers who are not acquainted with the book may find it difficult to follow the plot. It is advisable to first read the book before you see the film.

Various English versions are available. A single-volume edition of the story running to 673 pages written by Preetha Rajah Kannan titled ‘The tiger throne’ ( Jaico) is available as a condensed edition outlining the plot in detail such that the film narrative can be understood.

Solitude

Solitude, my friend,

Our friendship has stood the test of time

For who do we have in this world

But we ourselves?

We can always be who we want to be

And change ourselves accordingly

But when we set about to change another

That’s when things fall apart

It is you, solitude, my dear friend

Who has revealed this truth to me

And taught me to be my own best friend

Rather than worst enemy.

Photo by Milan Popovic on Unsplash

Note: I first wrote this poem to a prompt by Writefluence on Instagram. It is also published on their website, with entries from other contestants as well.

#BlogchatterBlogHop – Reading habits that help me read more

I read four books at a time and mostly read what I like. I subscribe to Kindle Unlimited and read what my writer friends have written. I spent the whole day reading today (it was a Sunday) and I count it as a day well spent. The only time I got on to the Internet was to get on Goodreads and update my page count. Such little things motivate me to read more and explore more books. I also post on my bookstagram and on my Facebook to get the word out about what I read. It keeps me connected to the book, author and the very act of reading, lending everything a higher purpose and giving me a sense of fulfilment and a sense of achievement that’s hard to beat.

Blogchatter poster for the bloghop

The trick to reading more, I’ve found, is to always keep a book at hand. The fact that we have a large home library means I don’t have to step out of the house or wait to get access to books. And with Kindle, one can get an e-book wirelessly delivered in seconds. I’m also a part of several reading groups and book groups that give me the latest on books – what’s released, book reviews and other information that keeps me focused on the books I want to read. I write reviews sometimes, too.

I also follow publishers and other bookstagrammers on social media, so I’m always surrounded by the kind of bookish news that feeds my soul and spirit. Having said all this, I just want to mention that it is not a competition and one must read for one’s own enjoyment, rather than making it yet another source of anxiety or stress. Take part in bookish challenges only if you really want to. Else, no one is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to read 400 books a year.

Read and absorb what you read. Enjoy it. Let it provoke new thoughts and open up new neural pathways. That, I feel, is the essence of enjoying a good book, which should not be lost.

This post is a part of Blogchatter Blog Hop.

Swedish Geneticist Svante Paabo Awarded Nobel Prize 2022 in Physiology or Medicine for Ancient Human DNA Research

Book Review by my dad, K.S.Loganathan

Ancient human DNA research is a subject of importance in human evolution. It casts light on what makes our physiology different from that of our ancestors, which has contributed to dramatic developments in building complex cultures, figurative art and speech and led to advanced technological innovations, such as for example, agriculture, the wheel and other advanced tools.

When ancient humans migrated out of Africa, at least two extinct hominin populations inhabited Eurasia. Neanderthals in Western Eurasia and the Siberian Denisovans existed. Humans encountered and inter-bred with both groups around fifty-four thousand to forty-nine thousand years ago. Genetic data can prove that ancient mixture between populations occurred. The sequencing of the Neanderthals, our big-brained cousins, also led to the discovery of the Denisovans, an archaic population that had not been predicted by archaeologists and that mixed with the ancestors of the present-day New Guineans.

From ancient DNA, we can reconstruct such populations that no longer exist (such as the Yellow and Yangtze River people) in unmixed form based on the bits of genetic material they have left behind in present-day people. Two approaches to DNA studies have emerged – the analysis of the entire genome or partial analysis based on mitochondrial DNA.

Book Cover

As Director at the Max Plank Institute for evolutionary anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, Svante Paabo undertook research on ancient DNA, which led to the identification of ancient Denisovans as a distinct species. It has augmented traditional archaeology and historical linguistic studies as a tool for investigating past populations and their migration to all parts of the world.

Such studies reveal that the Yamnaya, a Steppe pastoralist tribe, invented the wheel and horse-drawn carriages, and spread agriculture throughout Europe and South Asia around 4000 years ago, mixing with Iranian farmers on the way. A smaller group entered India via Tibet. Early Sanksrit literature (like the Manusmriti), as well as the Avesta (the ancient Persian text) called them Aryans.

The genetics of modern humans gives the ancient travel path. Ancient DNA databases are currently run by different research groups, most of them in Europe and USA. For a general introduction to the subject, read ‘Who we are and how we got here’ by David Reich, Oxford University Press, 2018 and watch his videos on YouTube.

David Reich was a part of Svante Paabo’s international team, which sequenced the entire Neanderthal genome in 2007.

The Kindness Gene

Despite my sometimes-stern exterior, I have indeed inherited #TheKindnessGene from my mom and dad. Both my parents are gentle and kind by nature.

Here are a few things I do/have done to be kind:

1.    I sometimes buy a book or something else for my
domestic help’s children.

2.    As a child, I taught a younger friend some subjects.

3.    In college, I taught a younger friend economics.

4.    I have listened to the medical problems faced by my
domestic help and tried to help them with some medicine for their ailment (if
needed) since our house is like a pharmacy! 😛

5.    I have talked about my domestic help’s children’s
careers with them. I’m aware of some of their struggles.

6.    I try not to dispose of batteries or inflammables in the
trash ‘coz they may explode when people burn the trash and end up hurting
someone.

7.    I make sure no broken, poky things are lying around
that could hurt anyone when they step on them.

8.    When someone gets hurt, I feel bad. I try to give them
Burnol or some antiseptic cream.

9.    I collect packages (courier) of the neighbours. I’m
mentioning this coz when I stayed in Bangalore, my neighbour refused to collect
my courier!

You can check other people’s posts here

 

The face of terror

Celine’s car broke down in the middle of nowhere. All that she could see for miles around was a run-down house. She decided to spend the night there until help arrived to fix her car. When she entered the guest bedroom, it was full of spiderwebs. The bed looked dusty and unused for ages. She started dusting it with her scarf. She wondered how she would catch a night’s sleep there. As she lay down on the bed, she heard it creak. The branches of the trees outside looked like the long arms of a ghost. She started feeling a sense of dread. She closed her eyes and hoped the night would pass uneventfully. Suddenly, she heard a knock on the door. She didn’t dare open it. An eerie laugh rent the air. The door flung open by itself and she saw a figure all in white. As her eyes grew wide with shock and shivers ran down her spine, she found herself looking at the masked white figure before her. The ghost took off the mask and revealed a black void. Its bony hands reached out for her face. Terror gripped her as she realised that it wanted her face.

Photo by Art Hauntington on Unsplash

I first wrote this story to a prompt in a Facebook group.

Finding Mr. Right

Lisa lived in a huge bungalow with only her four cats for company. She spent a lot of her time reading in the little library room. One day, she was reading a romance and dreaming about the hero in the book who was tall and handsome. Suddenly, the book fell out of her hands and the hero came into the room…from the book! But he was translucent! Oh my God! Lisa thought with a shock..he was a ghost! But he had the nicest voice she had ever heard. She got goosebumps when he spoke her name. She had read all about him in the novel and now he was here with her. He went to a corner of the room and picked up a violin lying there and serenaded her. He spoke sweet nothings in her ear until she blushed a deep shade of pink. He was everything that was missing in her life…so what if he was a ghost? Now, every morning when she woke up, he would be there with tea on the dining table for her. Her lacklustre days soon seemed special. After spending a few weeks together, the two of them decided to tie the knot…

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

I wrote this 200-word piece in response to a prompt in The Hive writing group in 2021

A Lover’s Call

I’m caught in the middle of a storm. It’s not an external storm I speak of, but an internal one. My entire being is torn asunder by numerous forces, and I’m not even aware what they are. I burst into tears and they flow down my cheeks unchecked. I wail in heartbreak. I scream in rage. I feel the cold hands of death reaching down to grip me, and I almost welcome it. It seems so much more inviting than this life that’s filled with agony and pain. Maybe it will, indeed, be a “better” place as they say. I don’t want to court death, but it looks like the grim reaper is courting me after all. Who knows what tomorrow brings? Certainly not me. Then in the midst of this torture, I hear that faint call. It’s you saying “Don’t go.” It’s so distant that I can barely hear it. But I cock my ears like a Spaniel straining to hear. Because I want to. After all these years, the love is still alive. Hope rests like a butterfly on my shoulder. And I don’t want to scare her away. This sliver is enough to last me another day.

This was my winning entry for #minitales30 conducted by The Hive in their Facebook group in 2021.

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