Statesmen, War and Illness @ BYOB Party in March 2018 (Part 5)

Manjunath described himself as someone who never read books at all until he picked up Rich Dad, Poor Dad while he was on a trip. This book got him hooked to reading like nothing else. He talked about Chanakya: The Master Statesman by Roopa Pai.  Chanakya is still a talking point and this kingmaker set precedents for politics that are unmatched even today. What attracted Manjunath to the book was the political gamesmanship that happened even centuries ago.

Image result for humphrey hawksley dragon fore amazonAnshuman talked about book called Dragon Fire by former BBC correspondent Humphrey Hawksley. The story corresponds to the doom and gloom prophecies that we saw in some parts of the Party. Humankind is necessarily evil and one more world war can only confirm this further. Dragon Fire tells the story of nuclear war in the subcontinent and though the story is a fast-paced thriller, it almost seems to mirror political situations that exist in the world today. Hawksley catches on to the strengths and weaknesses of military systems across the world which makes the book an educative read.

Image result for when breath becomes air amazonRishabh got the famous book When Breath becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi which seems to be a favorite as we have seen the book popping up at several BYOB Parties. Rishabh enjoyed the way the dualities of life are presented in a beautiful, touching and heart-rending way. It’s only when life runs out that the meaning of success changes; Paul Kalanithi has everything a successful neurosurgeon in the US could dream of but his terminal illness twists the plot of his life and although death is the end of the story, his words carry the elixir of eternal life lessons.

More books in Part 6.

Nuclear War and the Periodic Table @ BYOB Party in March 2018 (Part 2)

There was a bit of doom and gloom in the BYOB Party.

Image result for Has Man a Future?amazonArchit got the famous book Sapiens by Yuval Harari. We’ve talked about the book many times. It made sense that the book he bought with it was Has Man a Future? by Bertrand Russell, one of the world’s most eminent philosophers of the twentieth century. The book was written during the Cold War when the world was on the brink of nuclear war. What struck Archit as scary was that book is relevant even today.  Even today, disarmament hasn’t turned into a collective objective with guns entering classrooms and nuclear warheads raising their heads in political banter. The possibility of a nuclear war is not exaggerated.

Image result for sapiensamazonAlthough Sapiens means Wise, the term is at best ironic. In the book, Sapiens, Harari explains how man evolved and hasn’t become wiser. He seemed to have been better off in the pre-agricultural era when he was a hunter-gatherer.  This was the only time in recorded history that he was aware of the food that he ate and the true nature of his surroundings. An argument grew around this- can anyone know everything? Doesn’t the very reason for stratification and division of labor stem from the fact that knowledge is shared property? Since there is a discrepancy in the time required for evolution to occur and the lightning speed of the human brain, inequality is the norm. Human beings have always tipped the scale and so this whole idea of an equal society in pursuit of happiness is silly. Sapiens is an important book simply because of the arguments it encourages. Part 2 of the book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, is equally horrific in the way it lays bare mankind’s stupidity.

Amrutha talked about a six-part sci-fi story set in a dystopian world where only Korea remains, the rest having being destroyed by nuclear war,  and mentioned how human beings are reborn as their prehistoric ancestors. Can anyone tell me which book this is? All my google searching didn’t help.

Image result for the periodic table primo levi amazonRitu was spurred to get a copy of a book she read long ago when she was young and later again when she was older. The book called The Periodic Table by Primo Levi is a series of short stories which tells the author’s own story- his experience being an Italian Jewish chemist during the World War era, a particularly unfortunate time to be Jewish.  Each story in the book is named after a particular element, which very cleverly becomes heavier and heavier towards the end of the book.  The book begins with so much promise but towards the end, the author must face the concentration camp. Although the ending is sad, it feels like dusk, Ritu says, beautiful and filled with color but with the heaviness of the ending day.

Amrutha read this book too and wondered how teachers could make a subject like chemistry so boring. “You need to include one of these chapters in the school curriculum,” she said. That’s a nice thought.