Book Blogger Hop

So just a couple of days ago, I shared a Bookish Blog Tag that I saw posted by @booksare42 on Twitter. Today, she posted a great question for a book blogger hop that I’m answering.

Photo by Joyce Busola on Unsplash

If you are listening to an audiobook, do you follow along with the print version?

I haven’t had much success with audiobooks. My mind drifts when I listen to an audiobook. But your idea of following along with the print version is pretty good and maybe I should try it.

Drawing on my instructional design knowledge, I can give some gyan that we are all different types of learners. Some of us need to see words on a page, while others do better when they listen. ( auditory learners). I belong to the former category, but my eyes are being overstrained.

So maybe I will try it out a bit later:)

What about you, dear reader?

There are no foreign lands

Jeffrey Sheehan served as Associate Dean for International Relations at the Wharton School for 30 years. He has lived, studied, worked, and volunteered in 85 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. He has amassed 13,464 visiting cards and out of them, he has extracted 17 who had nothing in common other than the author’s respect and affection. Were there characteristics these individuals shared, despite being from different countries?

The author’s hypothesis “is that there are humans today, representing a variety of cultures, civilizations, ethnicities, and spiritual traditions; speaking multiple languages; and following vastly different pursuits, who share what I believe are some common dispositions.” He believes that these characteristics can help interconnectedness.  

He disputes the concept of the clash of civilizations advanced by Samuel Huntington and concludes that fundamental similarities in human disposition make communication and resolution of differences possible. The book is an inquiry into intercultural communication.

Book Cover

The 17 individuals selected for the book include:

  1. Luis Fernando Andrade Moreno- Colombia
  2. Boediono- Indonesia
  3. Chanthol Sun-Cambodia
  4. Dawn Hines-US
  5. Eric Kacou-Cote ‘d Ivoire
  6. Rosanna Ramos Velita-Peru
  7. Durreen Shahnaz- Bangladesh
  8. Shiv Khemka-India
  9. Jacob Wallenberg-Sweden
  10. Anthony Hamilton Russel-South Africa
  11. Keisuke Muratsu- Japan
  12. Arantxa Ochoa-Spain
  13. Leslie C. Koo- Taiwan
  14. Vassily Sidorov-Russia
  15. Roberto Canessa-Uruguay
  16. James Joo-Jin Kim- Korea
  17. Yu Minhong – China

The author creates a snapshot of these 17 individuals, with their unique cultural, educational, family backgrounds and the shaping of their attitudes to philanthropy, materialism, micro-finance, spiritualism etc. He concludes that everything is a spiritual problem and that spirituality is the solution to every problem. If we are true to our authentic selves, we can exercise control over our own spirituality. Intercultural communication is facilitated when one is free and spiritual.

The book was first published in Chinese for Shanghai University Press and enjoyed a two-month run on the best-seller list in China. It includes a glossary, maps, and uses Arno typeface, which is named after the Arno River. It is available for free on Kindle Unlimited. This is a book for everyone who has an interest in how people can work together more collaboratively and productively.

The book is available on Amazon.

My Book Review of ‘Rising: 30 Women Who Changed India’

Rising – 30 women who changed India – a non-fiction title by Kiran Manral and published by Rupa covers the inspiring journeys of 30 Indian women from various fields who blazed a trail for others to follow. Manral has allocated a chapter for each achiever, and she has meticulously listed all her references from secondary research at the end of each chapter. A few of the achievers have been interviewed as well.

In the Introduction, Manral says, “The aim of this book is not to eulogize these powerful women or to put them on a pedestal. They probably wouldn’t care for something as pedestrian as pedestals anyway; they shine wherever they are, regardless of spotlights. The aim rather is to tell their stories, through what we know of them, from information available in the public domain or from first-hand accounts given by those who were gracious enough to spare some time to tell us about their journey.”

Book Cover

The women featured include Sushma Swaraj, Sheila Dikshit, M. Fathima Beevi, Mahasweta Devi, Amrita Sher-Gil, Amrita Pritam, Sonal Mansingh, Lata Mangeshkar, Anita Desai, M.S.Subbulakshmi, Harita Kaur Deol, Madhuri Dixit, Bachendri Pal, Rekha, Chhavi Rajawat, Karnam Malleswari, Shailaja Teacher, Hima Das, Naina Lal Kidwai, Shakuntala Devi, P.T.Usha, P.V.Sindhu, Ekta Kapoor, Kiran Bedi, Mary Kom, Menaka Guruswamy, Tessy Thomas, Aparna Sen, Kiran-Mazumdar Shaw and Maharani Gayatri Devi.

The first woman to be featured in the book was Sushma Swaraj – the former minister of External Affairs in the Narendra Modi-led government. She was also the former CM of Delhi and former Lok Sabha Speaker.

I was particularly inspired by the chapters on Mahasweta Devi, Amrita Pritam and Anita Desai, literary luminaries who have won major national and international awards for their pathbreaking work.  Of Mahasweta Devi at the Jaipur Literary Festival, Manral says, “The speaker was Mahasweta Devi – author, iconoclast, social activist; the labels didn’t really matter.”

Of Amrita Pritam, Manral writes, “In her writings and her life, she leaves behind a legacy for women writers in India which urges them to defy social constructs and constraints, challenge them and to live and write as she did – unfettered.”

About Anita Desai, Manral writes, “With her immense body of work, she remains firmly one of the most powerful voices in post-colonial Indian writing in English.”

“Every story is replete with takeaways, lessons to be learnt, not just professionally but otherwise, too. These women have lived life on their own terms, becoming a beacon of hope to many others, women and men alike. If after learning about these inspirational women, a young girl, anywhere in the country thinks to herself, ‘That could be me! If she can do it, so can I, this book would have served its purpose,” says Manral towards the end of her Introduction.  

I recommend this book to young women who aspire to follow the pathbreaking women before them who have earned a place in India’s history in the fields of politics, sports, acting, art, writing, painting etc.  

You can buy the book here.

This review is powered by the Blogchatter Book Review Program.

Interview with Author Shalini Mullick

  1. Congratulations on your book ‘Stars from the borderless sea.’ Could you tell us about it?

Thank you so much. “Stars from the Borderless Sea” is a collection of three non-linked novella length stories, each of which has a strong, mature woman protagonist at its center. On a usual day in their busy, well settled lives, the morning newspaper takes them back in time. They recall the loves of their lives and their relationships, which shaped their lives today. Through their life journeys, the books explore different facets and nuances of love. It also shows how these women overcame their challenging circumstances and lived life on their own terms.

2. What prompted you to write ‘Stars from the borderless sea’?

Love is the most universal emotion. Everyone craves it, searches for it, laments not finding it. Yet, if you ask them what love is, each will have a different concept or a definition. As the quote from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park goes “There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.” This book showcases some of the many facets of this universal and powerful emotion. The overarching theme of this book is love-and its myriad forms.

The book started as a short story, which is now the third story of the book-Humraaz. As I wrote the story, I began to outline the other two stories showing different relationships between the protagonists.

Romance is one of my favorite genres as a reader, but most of the books focus on peppy young protagonists with a Happily Ever After (HEA) ending. I wanted to go beyond that etch out characters who have matured through their life journeys and explore the concept of soul mates

3. How did you arrive at the title of your book?

Both the stars and the sea are not defined by any borders we may construct. They are eternal and infinite. And that is exactly what love is-immeasurable, infinite, impossible to define. The water in the sea below and the stars in the sky above are not limited by borders or divisions; in fact, they defy them. Similarly, love does not conform to conventions, definitions, or stereotypes. However hard we try; we cannot limit it to our rules.  That is the premise of the book.

4. How long did it take you to write the book?

I started this book in June 2020 as a short story. But then I put it aside, mainly because I didn’t have the confidence to develop it into a longer form. A few months later, the story kept haunting me, asking to be told, and I returned to it. By February 2021, I had almost completed the first version of the manuscript, which was ready for feedback and beta reading. But then the second wave of the pandemic happened, and I wasn’t able to make any progress, so again there was a gap a few months. Later, more round of edits and revisions continued. By August 2021, I was ready with the final manuscript.

5. Could you take us through your writing journey?

I am a late entrant to the world of writing. In 2019, I started writing small pieces and some poetry mostly on Facebook. A few friends encouraged me to write more often, and I began writing short stories and flash fiction. I enjoyed participating in the “Muse of the Month” contest organized by Women’s Web, where the prompts given were very thoughtful and inspiring. I also wrote some poems and non-fiction pieces relating to the pandemic. I really enjoy writing short stories, and even while I was working on this book, I regularly wrote short stories alongside. Five of my short stories have been published in three anthologies.

6. Could you tell us about your publishing journey?

The publishing journey is as much a learning journey for an author as is the writing journey.

Once the manuscript was complete, I began querying with literary agents and publishers both. I finally signed with Readomania Publishers in December 2021.

7. Who are some of your favorite authors?

Favorite authors change with time and stages of our life journeys, and it is not possible to select a few. But I have always enjoyed reading non-fiction and memoirs, in addition to general fiction. Some books that have left an indelible mark on me are “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E Frankl and “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. Gawande and Oliver Sacks are authors whose words I have devoured for many years.  “Love Story” and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” are two books that I can return to any number of times

For the last few years now, I have been making a conscious effort to read more and more contemporary Indian writers, and it is a pleasure to discover the wonderful body of literature they are creating, especially the brigade of women writers!

8. What is your current read?

‘I am reading Stolen focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention’ by Johann Hari and ‘One True Loves’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid

9. What were some lessons you learned while writing this book?

I learnt how important having a writing routine can be. Writing daily, even for a short while a day, helped me complete this book and write many other pieces. I also discovered so many online platforms and writing communities which were very encouraging for me.

10. If you could be a literary character for a day, who would you be and why?

Alice. It would be such an adventure to follow The White Rabbit into the magical garden. And be a guest at the tea party along with the March Hare, the Mad Hatter and Dormouse. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to play croquet with the Queen of hearts? And enjoy as life got curiouser and curiouser? 

Why is my hair curly?

I recently bought ‘Why is my hair curly’ written by Lakshmi Iyer. It is by Red Panda, an imprint of Westland.

A slim volume of 138 pages, the book is ideal for children of ages 8-12.

Avantika and Avnish are adopted kids. Their parents have been upfront with them right in the beginning about this. They know they are loved deeply. But Avantika keeps wondering why her hair is curly when everyone else in the family has silky straight her. She often wonders if her birth mother had curly hair. Sometimes, when other children tease her, she feels bad and wishes she had straight hair just like her amma. There are plenty of questions swimming in Avantika’s head like why her amma works so much, what happens inside a bank etc. She writes about the things that bother her in a diary. The book also touches upon ‘stranger danger’ and ‘good touch bad touch’. There is also a mysterious paati who makes an appearance. Children can learn from this book that it is okay to be different.

Book Cover of ‘Why is my hair curly’ by Lakshmi Iyer

When I was a child, we didn’t have many children’s books by Indian authors. Like most kids of my generation, I grew up on Bobbsey Twins, Enid Blytons, Trixie Beldens, Nancy Drews, etc. I had to be content with reading about treacle pudding and scones. Today’s kids can read about poori aloo in Chennai and also grasp “grown-up” topics like adoption through cheerful tales, such as this one.

The illustrations by Niloufer Wadia add to the liveliness of the book.

The story behind the publication of my chick-lit story

I first started writing this chick-lit story( those of you who are offended by the term chick-lit, please excuse me) in 2009, along with a friend. My friend and I were planning to go to Greece, and then suddenly we stopped talking to each other. So not only was the Greece trip shelved, but our chick-lit story also languished. I was keen on writing the story, so I’d made a book outline and edited the piece into chapters. But I didn’t believe I could do it without her. Cut to 2014. I got a chance to read out the first three chapters to published authors and writing workshop facilitators, but I didn’t! Go figure! I later edited out the bits that my friend had written, and in 2021, I submitted it after seeing a call for submissions by Jilly Snowdon of Fenechty publishing in a Facebook Group. I was thrilled when she accepted it. It was published on Amazon USA on 25 February 2021. It’s soon going to be the one-year anniversary of its publication. The anthology contains stories from other authors, too.

From the blurb – The first volume of the Fenechty Publishing Anthology of Short Stories contains an eclectic mix of short stories in various genres and by various authors. Stories for everyone, and with all profits from the print version being donated in their entirety to the Water Aid charity. Contents: THE HOUSE by Crystalwizard, ONE SIMPLE SONG by Anthony J. Langford, THE SIX DAY WAR by Karen Karlitz, STRYKERS TALE by Crystalwizard, WALKING SHADOW by Richard Underwood, TROUBADOUR by Allison Whittenberg, DARK AND STORMY by Crystalwizard, SNAPSHOPS FROM A SINGLE GIRL’S LIFE by Aishwariya Laxmi, THE COOK OF ALCATRAZ by Robert White, THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT by Crystalwizard.

Here’s the Amazon USA link.

All proceeds from the sale of these paperbacks will go to Water Aid, a charity that provides clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene worldwide. Read more about the charity here.

Please help prevent the pulping of books

Hey, everyone! So, have you read Fahrenheit 451? If you haven’t, look it up.

In today’s post, I’d like to call your attention to a nationwide volunteering project started by writer Sharanya Manivannan and Asian College of Journalism alumnus Sowmya Swaminathan to get as many people, bookstores and libraries to buy Westland stock before the titles go off the shelves.  They will be pulped by month end if customers don’t show interest in these titles so we are using social media to generate interest as well as individual calls to librarians and indie booksellers. The last date for bookstores to order/buy stock is February 15, not sure if it’s the same for libraries. There is real urgency about this either way. Would be grateful for your suggestions on how the pulping of books can be avoided and the copyright protected for the creators (authors).  

Lindsey Kelk’s romance, a piece from The New Yorker, and Vikram Seth’s poetry

Dear Reader,

Before the long weekend gets over, I want to write about all that I read, listened to and absorbed over the last few days so that you can see if you want to check it out. If you’ve read any of it or listened to the audiobook, do leave a comment with your opinion of the work.

First, I finished the audiobook of ‘I heart New York’ by Lindsey Kelk on the storytel app. I’d started this audiobook a few days ago. The narration by Cassandra Harwood really brought it to life. Read more about it on my insta post here.

Next, I read a story from The New Yorker called ‘A doctor, a patient, and their poetry’ by Ofole Mgbako, from the ‘Annals of Medicine’ section dated November 10, 2021. It was about how poetry strengthened the relationship between a doctor and a patient and how “in some ways, writing was the best treatment”. (The section in quotes is the subtitle of the piece.) I enjoyed it for the many poetic references. Carl Sandburg, Walter de la Mare, Wole Soyinka, Langston Hughes, Walt Whitman and others are mentioned.

I finished reading Vikram Seth’s translation of ‘Three Chinese Poets.’  Wang Wei (699 – 761 AD), Li Bai (701-762 AD) and Du Fu (712-770 AD) “speak to us across a distance of twelve hundred years, and move us as it is rare for even poetry can do” (quotes from the inside jacket). This slim volume of 84 pages has about a dozen poems each by Wang Wei, Li Bai and Du Fu. In the introduction, Vikram Seth tells us about these three poets and their lives and times.  This hard-bound beautiful volume is by Speaking Tiger books for sale in South Asia only. See my insta post for more details.

What have you been reading?

Stepping into 2022

At the start of 2021, I wrote this post .

It’s almost a fortnight into 2022. Two anthologies featuring my work have released on Amazon already. That’s always a nice feeling.

The first one is called ‘Quintessence: Coming of Age’. It was released on Christmas day 2021, actually. It features my poem ‘To all the girls I’ve been’.

The second anthology is called ‘Paradise on Earth: An international anthology: Volume Two. It features my poem ‘Joy’.

Cover of ‘Quintessence: Coming of Age’
Cover of ‘Paradise on Earth’

I didn’t do goal setting this year since I feel it puts extra pressure on me and to be honest, I couldn’t find my 2022 goal-setting document. LOL. That, and we have an omicron alert everywhere. ☹ I did, however, recap my 2021 in one of my numerous notebooks.

I’ve also been buying a LOT of books. I think I should go slow with that. You can check some of them out on my Bookstagram.

Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. All we can do is take one day at a time and try to live gracefully.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful 2022. May you find comfort in the things that mean something to you and have the strength to take on something new.

Signing off,


Review of ‘Overcoming Awkward, An Introvert’s Guide to Networking, Marketing and Sales’

Worth reading 😎

The author shows us how she transformed herself from a socially awkward person to a successful entrepreneur and networker.


Some people are excited by the idea of networking events, cold calling, and dazzling total strangers with their winsome smiles, intriguing conversation, and charming personality. But for introverts meeting and talking to new people is like watching a horror movie where they are the star!

​So what is an entrepreneur or sales professional to do if he or she happens to also be an introvert? In this groundbreaking work from a bonafide introvert master marketer, you will learn actionable strategies to create connections, build relationships, and establish loyal, repeat customers who are thrilled to refer you to everyone they know.






​​And so much more! The is the definitive guide you have been waiting for! Gone is the advice to introverts to take on a persona that is light years away from who they really are. You will finally be free to just be you and will discover that you vibe really does attract your tribe.​

I picked up ‘Overcoming Awkward, An Introvert’s Guide to Networking, Marketing and Sales by Monica Parkin.

The book consists of 21 chapters. Chapter one really drew me in. Parkin was an oddball in school, a social misfit who found it difficult to make friends. She was introverted, socially awkward and struggled with ADHD. Today, however, she is a successful entrepreneur who owns several thriving businesses. She is a keynote speaker, a speaking coach and a podcast host. She has a lot of friends and enjoys getting to know people. So how did this happen?

In 2016, Parkin bought her home and had such a positive experience that she studied to become a mortgage broker herself and passed the exam after eleven months.

When Parkin finally realized that she would have to meet people and network, she was not ready for it since she’s an introvert and experiences massive social anxiety. She felt she had bitten off more than she could chew. But since she had invested time and money in the course, she decided to give networking a shot. Her first networking event was a disaster and she vowed to retrain her brain so that she could be successful in this field.

On day one of her transformation, she responded positively to the check-out lady at the grocery store. And the lady gave her a tip about discounts.

She joined a Facebook group and decided to call up the mentors in the group. All of them told her to be “herself”. They emphasized the need to be authentic. Parkin wondered if it was okay for her to be authentic when she suffers from social anxiety. When she started posting about her hobbies and things that genuinely interested her, people started connecting with her. They reached out to her and wanted to work with her. Being herself helped her make a connection with people.

In the book, Parkin shares the dictionary definition of networking, which is “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups or institutions specifically the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business”.

“When I do go to a physical event, I don’t go to hand out my cards or talk about myself or pitch my business. I go with the intent of listening more than talking, asking questions and really engaging.”

“Connections and relationships are built when you listen, not when you talk,” she notes. I recommend this book to introverts and socially awkward people who need to network or make a sale.

P.S.I received an ARC(Advanced Review Copy) from Reedsy Discovery

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