Dharini Bhaskar Picks The 10 Books She Loves The most
Mumbai-born Dharini Bhaskar was formerly the editorial director of Simon & Schuster India. Her debut novel These, Our Bodies, Possessed by Light (2019) has been shortlisted for the 2020 JCB Prize for Literature and the Valley of Words Book Awards, 2020
Nox by Anne Carson, New Directions, ₹3,639
Of all of Anne Carson’s remarkable creations, Nox is by far the most awe-inspiring. An elegy to a dead sibling, a genre-defying meditation on loss, an ode to language, an artefact (ah, the accordion folds of the book!)—Nox is a world unto itself.
The Waves by Virginia Woolf, Peacock Books, ₹195
Are words music? When Virginia Woolf is the conductor, they certainly are—and no novel highlights this more powerfully than The Waves. Each sentence sings; for instance: “I am the foam that sweeps and fills the uttermost rims of the rocks with whiteness; I am also a girl, here in this room.”
Ulysses by James Joyce, Wordsworth Classics, `295
I fell in love with Ulysses on an island in Greece, when I, along with a friend, read aloud each page. What the book achieves is mind-boggling—it experiments wildly with time and space, and infuses new life into the English language. And who can forget Molly Bloom’s soliloquy and Gerty MacDowell’s confessions?
A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller, 1932–1953, Houghton Miffin Harcourt, ₹1,844
A magnificent epistolary collection, spanning more than two decades, A Literate Passion chronicles the tumultuous relationship of Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller. These are letters infused with passion; that are unafraid to plumb the depths of love, rage and desire; that offer a window to the minds of two extraordinary writers.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Maple Press, ₹95
Here is a novella that acquires new layers of meaning with each passing year. The Little Prince muses on what we have lost as we plunge into adulthood and pursue dull pragmatism. “What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the book gently reminds us.
The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff, Da Capo Press, ₹875
Can parenting be synonymous with joy? Jean Liedloff, through her study of the Yequana people of Venezuela, suggests it is possible if we learn to trust our children, tune in to our instincts and keep the continuum—the set of biological expectations babies and mothers come with—unbroken.
Wave: A Memoir of Life After the Tsunami by Sonali Deraniyagala, Virago, ₹499
When the author loses everyone she cherishes—her husband, sons, parents—to the 2004 tsunami, she confronts an abyss. “My boys,” she writes, “I don’t have them to hold. What do I do with my arms?” Unflinchingly honest, Wave is one of the most profound books on grief I’ve read.
Aerogrammes: And Other Stories by Tania James, Vintage, ₹1,232
A hauntingly written collection of short stories, here’s a book by an Indian–American author that moves beyond questions of diasporic angst. It considers the human condition, the isolation of our times and the fragility of all relationships.
Collected Poems by Jack Gilbert, Kindle edition, ₹1,499
Jack Gilbert’s collected poems traverse love, loss, pain, solitude—but ultimately, they hold within them a sense of wonder. We look up at the stars and they are / not there. We see memory / of when they were, once upon a time. / And that too is more than enough, Gilbert writes. Elsewhere, he says, We must risk delight. Yes.
Big Wolf & Little Wolf by Nadine Brun-Cosme, Enchanted Lion Books, currently unavailable
One of my favourite books by one of my favourite children’s book publishers, the story of a big wolf’s tumble into companionship is many-layered. It is a meditation on vulnerability and loneliness, and an affirmation that sometimes there’s beauty in knowing the world with another.