World Book Day: Five books to reshuffle your reading list

This World Book Day, we bring you a list of nonfiction tales that may nudge you into stepping out of your comfort zone, and still keep you hooked

By Snigdha Das
Published: Tuesday 23 April 2019

Fictions are comforting, no matter what the plot is. They transport you to the impossible worlds, where you share the joys, aspirations, struggle and tragedies experienced by the characters. Yet you lay curled up because you know the narrative is imaginary and the characters all conjured up.

But truth is stranger than fiction. This World Book Day, we bring you a list of nonfiction tales that may nudge you into stepping out of your comfort zone, and still keep you hooked.

Why I should be Tolerant: This is a well-argued collection of essays by noted environmentalist and Down To Earth Editor-in-chief Sunita Narain which chronicles the global development discourse from the 20th and 21st centuries. Narain, listed by Time magazine as one of the world's 100 Most Influential People, has captured in this quasi-autobiographical book the origin and context of the most important environmental issues of our times. Her essays delve into, among other things, the problem of inequity, the “right” development model and most importantly, the role of the poor in the overall environmental discourse.


First Food: Culture of taste: This is a collection of nearly 50 recipes that use local ingredients, some of which may be available only during a particular season for a short time. These ingredients include almost all parts of a plant, be it leaves, fruits, flowers, seeds or tubers. Though still relished by communities across India, they are fast vanishing from the urban platter.


Frames of Change: The challenge before India is immense. We need to maximise the productivity of our environment in a sustainable manner. The book chronicles 41 inspiring initiatives that can be replicated to overcome these challenges. These initiatives can inspire out-of-the-box thinking among those who wish to start entrepreneurial ventures with a social purpose. While some have already become templates for wider changes, others can inspire governments to do more.

Body Burden: Lifestyle Diseases: Whether it is heart diseases, respiratory illnesses, cancer, obesity or food allergies, emerging research reveals that the rise in their incidences is due to environmental factors — rapid urbanisation, air pollution and changes in diet — rather than genes. These lifestyle diseases or non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are responsible for more than 61 per cent of all deaths in India and result in huge economic losses. The book captures the finer points of what latest research and surveys have to offer, and presents the views of subject specialists. More importantly, it details pathways that we need to adopt to reverse this trend, including what you as an individual can do to guard yourself against these diseases.  

The Crow, Honey Hunter and the Kitchen Garden: A mango tree in love with a little girl, a huge pit which swallows cows, a goddess who steals honey, a weeping snowman, a talking mobile phone and many more such characters. These are a collection of magical stories that can help the younger generation understand the non-fictional realities of environment and climate change in their own language.

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