The story of how Piya came upon Alexander Frater’s Chasing the Monsoon: A Modern Pilgrimage Through India is interesting. She and her friends had an informal book get-together and they organized a book box, where a book and things associated with it are shared. Since monsoon is in the air, Piya bought the book with the hope that the petrichor effect would bring on the rains.  This is a book we featured in our Monsoon related books infographic and that one of our guests at a previous book party had talked about.

Piya enjoyed Frater’s narration. As a boy, rain has been his friend. Having grown up in the Polynesian Islands, this British writer settled in Australia was coaxed by an Indian couple to witness the monsoon journey and so he left for Cochin and ended his journey in Cherrapunji. Frater speaks not just about the scientific story of low-pressure areas and storms; he talks about the way the weather affects the people who get trapped in waterlogged areas and floods. He talks about traveling in absurd weather conditions to catch a train and of almost dying in a monsoon storm in Assam. He talks about how he negotiated through red tape to get a permit to visit Cherrapunji, considered the wettest place on earth at one time. While in school, the weather is taught in a dry and factual manner; it’s the human interest angle that livens up the book and makes the book a must-read even for children.

Ashmita spoke about a not so well-known book called The Moses Legacy. She found it remarkably similar to Dan Brown’s work and while Brown’s fact and fiction merge into a delicious blur, Adam Palmer separates the fact from the fiction and takes the reader on a nail-biting journey. Daniel Klein is a protagonist that readers identify with and the Egyptian setting adds to the mystery of the story. Following the thread of writers with similar works, mention was made of Harry Potter, a manga and even Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman.

Siddharth had a unique reason for visiting the BYOB Party. “I’m intrigued by readers,” he said. His book choice was everyone’s favorite – Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, a story of friendship and betrayal, with Afghanistan as the backdrop. Siddharth read out a gem from the book:

“There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. When you kill a man, you steal a life… you steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness… there is no act more wretched than stealing.”

Dhwani talked about The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing: A Novel by Mira Jacob. Named on the best books of 2014 with writing compared to that of Jhumpa Lahiri, this sprawling family saga is a diaspora story. As it is in many Indian families, mental health issues are swept under the carpet and Jacob writes about an unfolding of difficult truths. What Dhwani found appealing was the humor that made an otherwise difficult theme a fun read.

More books in Part 8.