A few BookTubers I follow made videos on the Nonfiction November Tag, which was started by Maria, BookTuber I do not follow. It seemed to be interesting as over the years, my reading habits have increasingly veered towards non-fiction. Maria asks people to answer 15 questions to complete the challenge, and make a video about it. I am only going to write down my answers in this blog.
So here we go.
Nonfiction November is a great time to meet other nonfiction lovers. Give some shoutout love to one of your favorite nonfiction Booktubers.
Umm, I don’t really follow a lot of BookTubers, let alone nonfiction BookTubers. So here, let me give a shoutout to two entities. First up, Goodreads! Goodreads has been the single most important reason why I have managed to explore and learn about nonfiction and nonfiction authors.
The second entity I would like to thank is the BITS Library. What a place! One would assume that a SciTech university such as BITS would have in its library a nonfiction section just for the sake of it. And one would be wrong. The library was full of biographies, histories, and even some antique books. I still remember feeling awed at the whole stand which only had works on the lives on Jawaharlal Nehru.
Why do you read Nonfiction?
Ooh. As I mentioned, I had read almost no nonfiction at all before I went to Pilani. In all these years, I have noticed that nonfiction is easier reading for me, in the sense that I can breeze through the book understanding everything. A lot of people refrain from picking up nonfiction titles because they see bland; I on the other hand have started finding fiction bland nowadays! Who needs fiction when such exciting stories are already taking place in the real world.
Home: Where in your home do you like to read the most?
I usually like reading while I’m lying down. So, on my bed, or on the living room couch.
Home: Give a nonfiction recommendation set in or about your home country.
There are so many! But I will recommend the book Five Past Midnight in Bhopal by Dominique Lapierre and Javier Moro. I used to cry a lot while watching movies, but this is the first time a book made me cry. A chilling, well-researched account of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy, it follows the lives of several people before, during, and a short time after the tragedy. Must-read for anyone who doesn’t know about the tragedy.
Home: Which book on your 2017 Nonfiction November TBR related to the word home are you most excited about?
I am really excited about this book by Manu S. Pillai titled Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore. Frankly, Travancore is an unexplored territory for me both literally and knowledge-wise, so it’ll be interesting to get to know more about it.
Love: What do you love to read most in the nonfiction field?
I like to read travelogues and scientific/political biographies.
Love: Give a nonfiction recommendation related to the challenge word, “love”.
I had half-read the book The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley. I don’t remember exactly why I stopped reading it, but it definitely wasn’t because I had gotten bored of it. The author describes how sex is built into every decision we take as humans (even love), and how it has been inseparable from the idea of ‘living.’
What love-related nonfiction recommendation are you most excited about reading?
Hey, enough of love. I’ll take liberties. I am very excited to read Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd by Mark Blake. I have been a big fan of the band since I joined BITS, and have listened to them regularly for more than four years now.
Substance: Nonfiction is a great way to introduce us to people that inspire us to be better, name a person of substance you have loved reading more about.
This has to be Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman. What a man, what a life, and what a fuckin’ awesome book. This book inspired me to look for fun in theoretical physics, and look what I am doing now! Feynman’s life is no less than a masala movie with all elements - romance, brilliance, tragedies etc. And to see the man coming out strong in all aspects of his life is such a delight. Here’s to the most stud aadmi who ever lived.
What book would you recommend to people that has a lot of substance to it?
What? Isn’t this same as the last question? But anyway, I have more recommendations, and ironically enough, it has a its share of ‘substance’ involve. Open, Andre Agassi’s reveal-all autobiography is so well-written that you forget it is written by a sportsperson and not an actual journalist/biographer. This was in fact the first ever autobiography I read. Having grown up watch Agassi play and walk with a pigeon-like squat, I was presently surprised to know the reason behind it. He hides nothing, or at least gives that impression. Read it as soon as you are able to get your hands on it.
What book related to the substance word are you most excited about on your nonfiction TBR?
I badly want to read Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics, John A. Wheeler’s biography. The man has contributed a lot to physics (including coining the term black hole), but I feel his personal life remains ridiculously unexplored in the mainstream though his contributions continue to resonate in the cutting-edge today. PS - he was also Feynman’s doctoral advisor.
Scholarship: Nonfiction can teach us a lot, what subjects and topics have you really learned about because of your reading?
I would think that most of the knowledge and closeness I have to India developed in Pilani through my readings of essays and books related to Indian polity and Union. I am much more of a nationalist and patriot now only because of the book I have read. I think the Government should encourage reading of the real history of India, with all its rights and wrongs (and lefts), rather than just forcing its citizens to stand up compulsorily for the National Anthem to prove their nationalism.
Scholarship: Which book would you recommend that would teach somebody something well?
To know the India we live in better, India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha is the book to read. I would recommend everyone from my generation to read it. It tells the history of post-independence India from a very scholarly perspective, and tries to establish why we are where we are.
What book related to “scholarship’ are you most excited about reading for this nonfiction November?
I am looking forward to read The Exile: The Stunning Inside Story of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Flight by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark. I now next-to-nothing about the whole evolution of Al-Qaeda and their leader, and it looks to be a fascinating story, given how much they have influenced the 21st Century.
Who do you tag?
Wow, this is perhaps the toughest question of all. I can’t think of anyone except the author Manu Joseph, who had once said in an interview that he tends to read more nonfiction than fiction. I don’t know anyone else except myself who does that. So I’ll try to tag him on Twitter, and hope (rather unconfidently) that he takes it up. Please don’t call me a moron for trying this.
Also, anyone reading this wants to take it up, please consider yourself tagged in this space. :)
Phew! That took some time! Had fun!