Jayanthi's Bookshelf:

Vannakkam! Namaste! Welcome!
This page is dedicated to books I have read and may be of interest to my browsers, also.

To add your comments on the books and see reads more current visit the related blogs:
India and Hinduism Related Book Reviews
Other Book Reviews
Currently, there are just books, titles and brief descriptions. After some time, I hope to put my own views on these books.

Firstly, I have classified by currently read- older reads are categorized based on subject matter of book.
The following are classified based on the person's GIVEN or FIRST name.
Quick Contents:
Most Current Reads
Cultural Studies
Language Studies
Religious Studies
Social Work and Social Issues
Most current reads between 7/03-5/04:

  • Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., Spontaneous Healing:
    This book was a refreshing read on the many alternative medicine techniques that Dr. Weil has researched and practiced. Some of the items he discusses include how 'traditional medical doctors' can be pessimistic - creating bad vibes in their patients - rather than trying to explore more optimistic (ie. alternative and/or natural) treatment options. He also discusses more 'natural ways of improving our health,' including altering diet and natural cleansing techniques (ie. avoiding toxins and using tonics). He also has inserted many inspiring personal accounts he has collected from his patients throughout the book.
  • Deepak Chopra, Perfect Health: The Complete Mind Body Guide:
    Some say that Deepak Chopra is selling India's spirituality and making money on it. Maybe. However, as I picked up this book, which details ayurveda (the Indian art of medicine), I was refreshingly suprised. He has been able to describe Ayurveda in terms of Western and Eastern understanding, and it is quite an easy to understand guide.
  • Devendra Vora, Health In Your Hands:
    This book is an interesting collection of information on health and natural healing from an Indian Ayurvedic and Eastern Acupuncture perspective. It is jammed pack full of interesting and quite odd and useful facts, information, hints on maintaining and rejuvenating your health.
  • Jeffrey J. Fox, Don't Send a Resume : And Other Contrarian Rules to Help Land a Great Job :
    This short book is chocked full of interesting alternatives to the resume. It is worth the money and a read!!!
  • Karen Kingston, Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui:
    This is an easy to read and understand book about the philosophy of Feng Shui. It deals mostly with practicing Feng Shui by relieving yourself of the burden of material clutter, however, it also discusses how to relieve yourself of emotional and mental clutter. It also touches on relieving yourself of clutter inside your physical body (ie bad health inside your physical body). It is an interesting and quick read. Like she says in the book- once you start uncluttering your life- it really is contagious to those around you to also do the same! It also makes you feel lighter!
  • Karen Kingston, Creating Sacred Space With Feng Shui:
    I find this book had a lot of helpful hints and interesting descriptions of why certain rituals are performed. The feng shui Karen describes is in conjunction with Balinese Hinduism. Since Hinduism is quite similar in different continents (including India), I found some of the reasons for why certain rituals to be done on a Hindu perspective quite interesting and understandable. However, I did feel that some of the strict rituals in space clearing are a bit extreme for an average reader of the book. Also she is advocating for you to purchase certain implements, some only available from her. That is a let down. I abbreviated a space clearing ritual and performed it on my own with a shorter list of implements and additional implements (ie. Ganesh murthi) and found this ritual to be sufficient. The next day I heard the clear echoing sound in the house as she describes. I feel it is a lot more to do with Intention and Implementation. The book is definitely worth a read, but enjoyed the previous title by her more.
  • Dr. Phillip McGraw, M.D., Life Strategies: Doing What Works, Doing What Matters :
    This is a self- help book based on ten Life Laws created by Dr. Phil. The book is inspiring as Dr. Phil has a way to help the reader to confront themselves very boldly (of course the reader also has to take the step as well). I read it with an open mind and was pleasantly suprised after reading this book, which, happens to be a very easy read (but possibly hard to put into practice)! Click on the link to the book to read the ten Life Laws.

    Cultural Studies:

  • Bama, Karukku:
    This is a gripping personal account by a Dalit Hindu who converts into Christianity in rural Tamil Nadu. Brilliantly written and engrossing.
  • Cherry Mosteshar, Unveiled:
    This book is written by an Iranian woman who was born and grew up in UK, but went to live in Iran just after the revolution. She was an amazing woman in her time. She was a journalist, and uncovered some unbelievable happenings in the Iran at the time. This book really opens your eyes to how you think something is, but find out it was never like that, and could not be like that. Not sure if that makes sense, but I suggest the reading of this 350 page book. She is able to write this book with vivid detail, and in such a way that you can imagine what ever it is she is talking about as if it is happening to you. (Unless if you are a guy, I can't comment on that!)
  • Edwin O. Reischauer, The Japanese Today : Change and Continuity:
    This was used as a text book for an Japanese class I studied in SUNY Buffalo- it is a well written book about many aspects of Japanese history, life, and culture.
  • Gitanjali Kolanad, Culture Shock: India :
    This book is a must read for anyone planning to travel, stay for a lenghty time or live in India. It is especially good for people who want to learn about Indian culture- many things can be transferred to dealing with Indians from India in foreign countries as well.
  • John C. Condon, With Respect to the Japanese:
    This was used as a text book for a Japanese culture class I studied in SUNY Buffalo. This book is nice because it makes many easy to understand comparisons between Japanese and American cultures.
  • Kyoko Mori, Polite Lies: On Being a Woman Caught Between Cultures:
    I read this in June 1999 on my way to living in India- very relevant. It is an engrossing and realistic account of a Japanese woman struggling between American and Japanese cultures.
  • Lisa Tracy, The Gradual Vegetarian:
    I have been a vegetarian for five years. I got this book for several reasons - (1) To see how one can 'gradually' become a vegetarian- as I did it 'cold turkey', (2) It has nice recipes in the back. This book is an interesting and quick read- and is educating for even vegetarians to know what ready made and other products are good for vegetarians. She is also good at classifying different types of vegetarians.
  • Margaret Trawick, Notes on Love in A Tamil Family:
    Interestingly, I read this antropological study of women in a village near to Chengalpettu (Near to where I lived in Tambaram), for preparation to travel and live in India. It really was an amazing and, due to the nature of it, realistic. A must read for non- Indians studying India and Indians alike!
  • Rosamund Bell, Simple Yoga Techniques (Time-Life Health Factfiles) :
    Great book describing different positions and how to do them correctly. Nice arrangement- chapters tabbed- and has a section at the back detailing daily workouts from beginner to advanced. I currently use this book three to four times a week. To me, this book has taken the idea that yoga is 'difficult' and only for 'pretzel people' and eradicated that! I had purchased this book from Borders for what Amazon online is offering.
  • Ruth Irene Garrett, Crossing Over: One Woman's Escape from Amish Life:
    This book details the life of Ruth, an Amish woman. She details how she fell in love with an "English" (non-Amish) man, and through this love, she 'escaped' the Amish. In fact, it was more being excommunicated from the church, family and Amish society. It was very eye opening to learn about Amish ways. In some ways some things did not stick out too much, as some of the very traditional ways of the Amish can be easily compared to the traditional ways of India. One example that sticks out is how she said that though there are various Amish communities in the USA, that her community would have strong views about another (For example, that one community is too broad minded.) and due to this it would be unthinkable that these two communities could be more than friends. Marriage, for example, could not happen between two such communities.
  • Shakta Kaur Khalsa, KISS Guide to Yoga:
    KISS is like the "Dummies" series. This book is fabulous! I learned about all different branches and philosophies of yoga- in simple narrations.
  • Stanley Wolpert, A New History of India:
    This was used as a text book for an Asian History class I studied in SUNY Buffalo- it is easy and interesting to read.
  • Sumita Chakravaty, National Identity in Indian Popular Cinema 1947-1987:
    This was one of ten or more books I read for my project on Indian popular cinema in SUNY Buffalo. This was the easiest read and most relevant to the subject I wrote on. Anyone wanting a list of books and articles on this subject, you can e-mail me. But, keep in mind my list was compiled in 1998.
  • Vatsala and Ehud Sperling, A Marriage Made in Heaven:
    A story of how a South Indian Brahmin met and married an American Jew through the Hindu matrimonials. I found this book bland in some ways- no drama- like the usual intercultural matches we find between Indians and Americans in the U.S.A.! It is, however, a romantic tale.

    Language Studies:

  • Tej K. Bhatia, Colloquial Hindi :
    I used the book and casette combination during my study of Hindi in SUNY Buffalo and Harvard University. I found this course much more easy and informative at times than sitting in class, and better than the texts provided for this class through each college! For your info- I purchased this NEW for about ten to fifteen dollars less - NEW- than Amazon.com is offering! Read about Prof. Tej Bhatia here.

    Religious Studies:

  • Anant Pai (Editor), Tales of Hanuman:
    Interesting side stories of Hanuman from Ramayana- told in comic book form. It is made for kids- but helps any adult not familiar with Ramayana and Hanuman to easily understand. Purchased in India for Rs. 70 (from Crossword bookstore, Kilpauk, Chennai).
  • Ed Vishwanathan, Am I a Hindu? The Hindu Primer:
    This book is based on a question and answer session between son and father regarding different aspects of Hinduism. It is an engrossing and easy to read book.
  • C. Rajagopalchari, Mahabharata:
    Translated and told by Independent India's first Governor General C Rajagopalachari. Overview and condensed reading online.
  • Swami Dayananda, The Value of Values:
    This book details the values as told by Krishna in the GITA. Swami has done a thorough job in discussing the values, giving vivid and interesting examples. There is a good detail on vegetarianism which is thought provoking. Swami says, "My commonsense tells me that I should not make 'somebody' my dinner since I do not want to be 'somebody's' dinner' (page 33). Though this book seems to be short, only 108 pages, this book took quite some time to read as it is full of philosophy and thought provoking ideas. If you check out their site you will see many other books in the Vedanta tradition.

    Social Work and Social Issues:

  • Bindeshwar Pathak, Road to Freedom: A Sociological Study on the Abolition of Scavenging in India:
    I had the fortunate chance to meet Mr. Pathak in India when my class went to visit his social organization in Delhi, Sulabh International. Interestingly, he is a Brahmin, and at college age, he ostrasized himself from his traditional home to work with the lowest caste in India- the scavengers. I was so interested in this as I wrote my master's thesis on uplifted scavengers- known as street sweepers or municipality sanitary workers- of Tambaram.
  • Evonne Weinhaus & Karen Friedman, Stop Struggling with your Child:
    I read this book to help me deal with the children I work with. This book is not only good for dealing with children, but in deailing with a variety of people. The reason is that this short book of 188 pages gives many practical tips on good communication, including listening skills.
  • Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate :
    This book was a short and informative book on marital relationships. I feel this book can help you maintain any commited relationship you are in (ie. parents, children, friends, etc). The book details five different ways people express love: through words, quality time, gifts, acts of service and physical touch. I felt this book was engrossing, and I couldn't put it down until I was done. He also makes a statement in this book - that love is NOT easy. Love is a choice - in the sense we can love anyone, but it is a choice we make to make the love 'work' when things seem to be falling apart. This is very true, in my opinion.
  • Kalpana Sharma, Discovering Dharavi:
    This was a famous book in India at the time I got it there. It is the real account of persons living in the largest slum in Asia- in Bombay. Since I worked in slums in Chennai, I could relate to many parts of her work. It is a must read for any foreigner or Indian wanting to study urban community development.
  • Monica Das Gupta (Editor), Women's Health in India : Risk and Vulnerability :
    Collection of various articles on women's health in India. Very descriptive and engrossing narratives and factual accounts, many backed up with research and statistics.
  • Susan C. Seymour, Women, Family, and Child Care in India : A World in Transition:
    This author has wrote her stories through a family (families) in Orissa, a state in Northeastern India - central coastline. I feel it is more sociological than anthropolical (and may be an easier read) than the book by Margaret Trawick. However, I still find Margaret's book more enthralling!
  • Ram Nath Sharma, Indian Social Problems:
    This is a series of two books used in our first year social work course. It is a good series to read if one wants to understand Indian society and it's problems as written by an Indian author.

    This page has been visited times since it's inception in April 2002. Updated December 2004.
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