The Word

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By Isha Manchanda

Baiju Parthan
Artist

A book that means a lot to you?
Carlos Castaneda’s Tales of Power. He was an anthropologist who was later discredited and declared to be a fraud. I read this book much before that though. Growing up in Goa and being influenced by the hippie movement, I was interested in alternate ways of looking at things. The book had a huge impact on me.

How many books do you own?
A few hundred at the moment.

Your favourite genre?
I was a science fiction junkie during my teens before I moved on to ‘heavier’ stuff. And SF is still my favorite genre, though I rarely read the stuff nowadays. Second place goes to philosophy.

Your favourite character?
Phaedrus, from Robert M Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I was an art student in the early 1980s when I read this book about Phaedrus’ traumatic and willful journey into disintegration during his search for ‘quality’. It was almost a shared quest.

An underrated book?
I have no clear cut answer to that except that one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

The book you bought last?
The Audacity of Hope — Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama.

Last book read?
Why Things Bite Back — Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences by Edward Tenner.

Book you wish you had written?
Evolutionary biologist Lyall Watson’s Supernature. It was published much before ecological awareness became mainstream. It was a liberating experience to read this book.

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