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Book Box: Rainy Reads

Dear Reader,

We are listening to Carolina on repeat. This happens in our house with every newly released Taylor Swift song, but this song has a special significance for me too.

Carolina is the haunting title track for Where the Crawdads Sing, a film based on the novel of the same name. With the movie releasing in a few weeks, it’s the perfect time to curl up indoors, on a rainy day, to read this book.

Book 1 of 5: A novel of nature

Where the Crawdads Sing. 

Where the Crawdads Sing is a feel good story of an orphan girl growing up in the marshes. Read this book for its beautiful writing and for the way the story is steeped in the landscape of the marshes. There’s also a mystery element. Interestingly, author Delia Owens is a wildlife biologist. This is her first novel, which she published at the age of 70.

Book 2 of 5: Geopolitical thriller

Sierra Six. 
Sierra Six. 

Sierra Six is number 11 in the addictive Gray Man series featuring Court Gentry, independent operator for the CIA. I loved this book for its fascinating settings, moving from Turkey and Afghanistan and Pakistan to Mumbai, India. There’s intrigue, intelligence agencies that include the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) as well as terrorist groups like the Kashmiri Resistance Front. Besides the action, there are interesting characters like drone operator Priya Bhandari.

Book 3 of 5: A Japanese time travel story

Before the Coffee Gets Cold. 
Before the Coffee Gets Cold. 

If you could travel back in time, to your own life, for just a few minutes, what time would you choose to go back to? This is the intriguing premise of this novella, set in a little café in Tokyo. There are rules, of course. And one is, that whatever you do, you can’t change the past. Yet, each of these four time travel journeys in the book has a profound impact on the life of the traveller — read Before the Coffee Gets Cold to discover how.

Book 4 of 5: River stories

Seven Sacred Rivers. 
Seven Sacred Rivers. 

Books about rivers are the perfect excuse to read both geography and history, in a fascinating format. This one adds anthropology as well. Aitken is a Scotsman with a love of wandering, and an eye for detail. In Seven Sacred Rivers, he follows 7 rivers — the Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Indus, Narmada, Godavari, and Kaveri. The book is a slow meditative reflection on many things — the geographical significance of land, history, geography, religion, and culture.

Book 5 of 5: A picture book

Sea Prayer. 
Sea Prayer. 

Commemorate World Refugee Day, observed earlier this week, by reading this beautifully illustrated book. It’s written by Khaled Hosseini, best known for The Kite Runner. Sea Prayer is a letter, from a father to his son, on the eve of their dangerous sea-crossing, as they flee the war, but also leave behind them, the only life they knew.

Want to protest Roe v Wade being overthrown? Read this book.

The Handmaid's Tale. 
The Handmaid’s Tale. 

To everyone who is feeling upset, saddened, and frustrated by the overthrow of Roe v Wade in the United States, read The Handmaid’s Tale. It reflects real life in a dramatic way, warning us of what the results of our choices can be. What struck me most was how patriarchy co-opts the women it victimises. This co-opting happens in Gilead, in the imaginary world of The Handmaid’s Tale, in much the same way as it happens in real life. Read this book to discover the parallels in the two worlds. Also to see the power of satire, and how it can be used by a talented writer, to shock us into seeing the writing on the wall.

That’s all the reading for this week. Next week, as we celebrate National Doctors Day on July 1, we look at some fabulous fiction and non-fiction written by doctors and about doctors.

Until then, happy reading!

Sonya Dutta Choudhury is a Mumbai-based journalist and the founder of Sonya’s Book Box, a bespoke book service. Each week, she brings you specially curated books to give you an immersive understanding of people and places. If you have any reading requests or suggestions, write to her at [email protected]

The views expressed are personal

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