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August 04, 2017: Flick through the story of a young man whose struggles come to an end with the growing spiritual influences in his life; read a mysterious tale around a lost woman. There is also an intriguing analysis, through a fictional tale, around the question: Is a rapist born or shaped by events around him? Finally, learn about the life of Guru Gobind Singh.

The IANS bookshelf has a whole lot for its readers this weekend.

1. Book: One Enduring Lesson; Author: Jamal Merchant; Publisher: Rupa; Pages: 274; Price: Rs 295

“Give me your money, or I will kill you!”

“Please…” I gasped. “I’ve come from England to study!”

“Well, let this be your first lesson, English boy…”

Eager to start a new phase in life, Rahul Saxena, 27, a half-Indian British citizen, recently out of job and rejected in love, lands in Mumbai from London to study filmmaking. But little does he know that Mumbai, the city of dreams, will turn his life inside out. From the dark corners of the streets as a professional rat killer to the vermin-infested confines of a jail, from shady dance clubs to the homes of Mumbai’s rich women where he is paid to provide pleasure — fate takes him on a roller-coaster ride that challenges his very will and determination to survive.

When his secret life threatens to destroy even the love that he finds, Rahul seeks recourse in spirituality. Inspired by India’s syncretic religious traditions, Rahul fights back internal and external demons to write his own destiny.

2. Book: Friend request; Author: Laura Marshall; Publisher: Sphere; Pages: 371; Price: Rs 399

Maria Weston has been missing for over 25 years. She was last seen the night of a school party. The world believes her to be dead, particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life with a terrible secret.

As Maria’s messages start to escalate, Louise forces herself to reconnect with the old friends she once tried so hard to impress. Trying to piece together exactly what happened that night, she soon discovers there’s much she doesn’t know. The only certainty is that Maria Weston disappeared that night, and was never heard again.

3. Book: Pluton’s Pyre; Authors: Gyandeep Kaushal and Nitin Kulkarni; Publisher: Bloomsbury; Pages: 242; Price: Rs 299

Suraj gets rejected in love twice. Urged by his grandfather, he gets married. With his sweet and caring wife, life is smooth.

But later, Suraj discovers that his otherwise blameless wife was in a clandestine meeting with her lover — and his world collapses in wild anger around him.

Robbed of self-belief and pride, and aflame with a lust to reassert his power over women, he hunts for his first love and rapes her in exasperation.

Tracked down by the forces of the law, he is condemned to be hanged to death.

Authors Gyandeep Kaushal and Nitin Kulkarni present a tale simply told, but which underscores the question that has plagued bio-genetics over the years — is a rapist born, or shaped by events around him? Is there anything, in short, as a “rape gene”?

The jury is out on that one, and the writers circumspectly leave them where they are.

4. Book: Sacred Sword; Author: Hindol Sengupta; Publisher: Penguin; Pages: 230; Price: Rs 350

“We are warriors, Painda. The Khalsa does not think of war as entertainment; death is not a joke, killing men is no festival,” said Guru Gobind Singh.

A boy grows up, suddenly, into adulthood when he is brought the severed head of his father. He is born to rule but never acts like a monarch. Invincible as a warrior, he has the soul of a mystic. Poetry fills his heart. Few men before or after him have used a bow as he does, few men mastered their swords like him.

Guru Gobind Singh turns villagers into warriors, sends shivers up the spine of the army of Aurangzeb and sets the foundation stone of the great Sikh empire. “Sacred Sword” is a historical fiction based on his life and legend.



Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Pickles bottled in various combinations

India is known for its pickles, popularly called 'Achaar', even across the world. But who thought about the idea of pickles in the first place? Apparently, the idea of making pickles first came from the ancient civilisation of Mesopotamia, where archaeologists have found evidence of cucumbers being soaked in vinegar. This was done to preserve it, but the practice has spread all over the world today, that pickles mean so much more than just preserved vegetables.

In India, the idea of pickle has nothing to do with preservation, rather pickle is a side dish that adds flavour and taste to almost anything. In Punjab, parathas are served with pickle; in the south, pickle and curd rice is a household favourite, and in Andhra, it is a staple, eaten with everything. The flavour profile of pickles in each state is naturally different, suited to each cuisine's taste. Pickles are soaked in oil and salt for at least a month, mixed with spices and stored all year round. Mango season is often synonymous with pickle season as a majority of Indians love mango pickle. In the coastal cities, pickles are even made out of fish and prawns.

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Spiral bound notebooks allow writers to easily access each part of the page

It is impossible to detail the history of bookbinding without understanding the need for it. A very useful, and yet simple invention, spiral coils that hold books together and allow mobile access to the user came about just before WWII, but much before that, paper underwent a massive change in production technique.

Beginning in China, paper was made of bamboo sticks slit open and flattened. In Egypt, papyrus was made from the reeds that grew in the Nile. In India, long, rectangular strips of palm leaves were stitched together to form legible documents. When monasteries were established, scrolls came into being. Parchment paper, or animal hide, also known as vellum, were used to copy out texts periodically to preserve them. Prior to all this, clay tablets were used to record important events, and in some cases, rock edicts were made.

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Devina Singhania, the Founder of 'LE JAHAAN', a local home and decor accessories company, explains how the gifting paradigm has shifted.

By N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe

To keep the value and quality of what you offer, whether it's a romantic breakfast in bed or a royal wedding gift that will be remembered for years. The concept of gift-giving has taken on a number of shapes in today's society. Devina Singhania, the Founder of 'LE JAHAAN', a local home and decor accessories company, explains how the gifting paradigm has shifted.

Q: What do consumers expect from the gifting business and packaging designers these days?

A: Today's consumers are expecting more minimal sustainable products, designs and mediums. They are now more conscious about how their purchase affects the environment. Considering this shift in consumer buying, it's extremely important for companies to increase their commitments to responsible business practices and design products that are meant to be reused or recycled.

person holding white and red gift box Today's consumers are expecting more minimal sustainable products, designs and mediums. | Photo by Superkitina on Unsplash

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