Look ma, no summer wish list !

Creativity is a muscle. It atrophies when not in use. I missed blogging. Surprising side effects of doing a social media detox : increased attention span, reduced interest in acquiring stuff, being in control of what I want to read, privacy, … Less is definitely more ! I am finally getting around to putting a dent in the book stack that I have laying around. ‘Books mean all possibilities. They mean moving out of yourself, losing yourself, dying of thirst and living to your full. They mean everything’, says Ali Smith. The worthy mentions that live up to the hype :


Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari.

Homo Sapiens, we named ourselves. It means ‘the wise ones’. Not very modest are we ? The selfish ones, would be more apt from what I now know about our species. I have always looked at our current time period extrapolating from the future I want. When I use the word sustainability, I do so with an assumption that we are capable of co-existing in our eco system. But connecting the lines from our history gave me a new perspective. Spoiler : We have never been eco-friendly. We have been ecological serial killers for the last 40,000 years. We are tribal in our instinct who like being brainwashed by our leaders. Be it religion or the declaration of Independence or the laws we write, it serve a purpose – bringing order among the masses. If you like reading words that make you feel uncomfortable, this book is for you.


Medium Raw, Anthony Bourdain.

Anthony Bourdain is my favorite global citizen. He ranks high on a humanitarian scale in my book of life. I will mourn him by learning from him. I want to read everything he has written. ( You can find a lot of content from this book as quotes on the internet or in his interviews. I choose the book form because I wanted the whole essay, not quotes taken out of context for their punch factor. )


Buddhist Economics, Clair Brown.

A mathematician who reads my blog asked me out for a coffee. “Everything you say sounds wonderful and important. But how much of it is fact vs emotion. You should be more discerning about the information you present”. The coffee wasn’t strong enough to hear the critique. We should have gone for a cocktail instead?  I talk about sustainability, consuming less, human dignity in sweatshops, capitalism with a good heart, profitable socialism, …. but the problem is – this utopian dream, is it possible ? It is easy to propose simplistic solutions to some very complex problems on a blog. I want to learn more from a view point of economics. This book is still in my echo chamber but it’s a starting point.


Denim: Street Style, Vintage, Obsession

Bay Area is chilly. I no longer wear blue dresses the way I used to. I am looking to add maxi dresses to my closet in their stead. I carry a jacket at all times. Chinos, denim and trousers have become my most worn clothing. I currently have two pairs of jeans – a light weight light wash blue in in 98% cotton for summer and a charcoal gray heavy weight pair in 100% cotton for winter.  I want to add one more pair – a black or mid-wash blue. Looking for it made me discover a the world of denim heads. The way these women speak of the color blue, idea of worn-in, their reverence for their old clothes and the fabric – is my kind of love for clothes. I borrowed the book from the library first and later got a physical copy for my home.


The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, Edward C Smith.

“We can teach philosophy by teaching gardening, but we cannot teach gardening by teaching philosophy.” — Bill Mollison

I started a compost bin to go zero waste. Once I made the nutritious soil, I wanted to use it. It started with a succulent in a pot. Then came the window box of herbs. A tomato plant came next. Then came the seeds germinating by the window. …… It’s now become a full grown obsession for Harsha and I. We built a small raised vegetable bed and are looking after it. I no longer exercise. I dig, weed, water and plant everyday. I no longer want to go far away to a campground or on hikes to enjoy nature. It’s here in my backyard. I can help grow it and enjoy it every single day. I can create an environment that will attract bees. I can learn a lot by working this land. This book became our bible. A household with two atheists now start a lot of their sentences with “the bible says … ” and “look up in the bible”. This book is that good. The man who wrote it has a way of life privy to people who live in close symbiosis with nature – the philosophy is worth reading about even if growing vegetables is not an intention. Farmers are philosophers in their own right.


The Garden Awakening, Mary Reynolds. 

“Gardens these days have nothing to do with the feeling wild places give us. People travel all over the world to see places of beauty, yet their gardens are quite the opposite. They’re manicured laws full of pesticide and weed killers. They should be covered with moss and clover the bees love and only need to be cut once a year. Our gardens often ignore the true spirit of nature. City parks are like cosmetics. Beautiful in the way that a made-up face is beautiful but they are not real. They are not glowing with life force and atmosphere like the magical places of the wild that fewer and fewer people remember from their childhood. “

Firstly, she shares my contempt for cosmetic lawns. She speaks the language of wilderness. In her world, it is something every individual can contribute towards. Not a a fairy land accessible only to hardcore backpackers and botanists. You can watch Mary’s story in the movie : Dare to be Wild, ( on Netflix). Folks, if you are lucky to live in a place with some soil on which you can plant or have an apartment with windows, this book might be helpful.


P.S : Please read Sapiens !