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Book Nook - 25-12-2017

Monday, December 25, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

There are Lit Fests taking place all over the country, but the community of readers is dwindling. Still, passionate book lovers would like to know what others like themselves are reading. This Book Nook suggests some books, but would also like to connect with serious readers, or even casual airport book browsers. Do write in about books you have loved or hated and why. The best entries will be shared on this page. Please send your recommendations to adc.booknook@gmail.com

Reacher On The Rampage
The Midnight Line is the twenty-second book in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. The former military man, a big-built hulk with no fixed address but a very strong moral compass, lives a nomadic life with one set of clothes and a toothbrush. He goes where the mode of transport he has chosen takes him. But everywhere, there is a problem (read crime) he gets involved with, and once he does, he solves it—using both brain and brawn.

When this book begins, Reacher has been gently dumped by his current girlfriend (“You’re like New York City. I love to visit, but I could never live there,” her goodbye note reads), and quite uncharacteristically for him, he misses her. As he wistfully imagines what she must be doing, he gets on to a bus to go wherever it is going.

When casually strolling on the street when the bus takes a break, he passes a pawn shop and spots a West Point Ring. (West Point is an elite military academy in the US). A former graduate of the academy himself, he cannot imagine what kind of crisis must have forced an alumna to pawn a precious ring. So he sets out to hunt for the woman—it is a tiny female ring, engraved SRS 2005—and see if he can help her.

And once he starts asking questions about how the ring got in the window, he finds he has stepped on a hornet’s nest. Information from the pawn shop owner eventually leads him to a laundromat, whose owner, Arthur Scorpio, is the lynchpin of some kind of illegal drugs racket.

He finds that every link in the chain he cracks warns the next one, but even well-prepared for a Neanderthal man, the gangsters are no match for the one-man battering ram.

Reacher discovers that a private eye, neat and methodical ex-cop, Terry Bramall, is also on the same trail. He has been hired by the sister of the mysterious owner of the ring to trace her. Eventually, they join up, and find the young woman, uncovering in the process a trail of drugs, corruption and shocking apathy on the part of the American establishment towards former military personnel injured in the line of duty.

This book set in desolate towns is equal parts thrilling and moving. It shows the relatively soft, emotional side of Reacher, and ends on a somewhat hokey but still moving note. But when Lee Child’s all-American hero is on a rampage, he is at his tough and witty best.

The Midnight Line
By Lee ChildPublisher: Delacorte
Pages: 368 pages

 

Excerpt of The Midnight Line
At the depot he did what he always did. He bought a ticket for the first bus out, no matter where it was going. Which turned out to be an end-­of-­the-­line place way north and west, on the shore of Lake Superior. Fundamentally the wrong direction. Colder, not warmer. But rules were rules, so he climbed aboard. He sat and watched out the window. Wisconsin flashed by, its hayfields baled and stubbly, its pastures worn, its trees dark and heavy. It was the end of summer.It was the end of several things. She had asked the usual questions. Which were really statements in disguise. She could understand a year. Absolutely. A kid who grew up on bases overseas, and was then deployed to bases overseas, with nothing in between except four years at West Point, which wasn’t exactly known as a leisure-­heavy institution, then obviously such a guy was going to take a year to travel and see the sights before he settled down. Maybe two years. But not more. And not permanently. Face it. The pathology meter was twitching.All said with concern, and no judgment. No big deal. Just a two-­minute conversation. But the message was clear. As clear as such messages could be.
Something about denial. He asked, denial of what? He didn’t secretly think his life was a problem.That proves it, she said.So he got on the bus to the end-­of-­the-­line place, and he would have ridden it all the way, because rules were rules, except he took a stroll at the second comfort stop, and he saw a ring in a pawn shop window.The second comfort stop came late in the day, and it was on the sad side of a small town. Possibly a seat of county government. Or some minor part of it. Maybe the county police department was headquartered there. There was a jail in town. That was clear. Reacher could see bail bond offices, and a pawn shop. Full service, right there, side by side on a run-­down street beyond the restroom block.He was stiff from sitting. He scanned the street beyond the restroom block. He started walking toward it. No real reason. Just strolling. Just loosening up. As he got closer he counted the guitars in the pawn shop window. Seven. Sad stories, all of them. Like the songs on country radio. Dreams, unfulfilled. Lower down in the window were glass shelves loaded with smaller stuff. All kinds of jewelry. Including rings. Including class rings. All kinds of high schools. Except one of them wasn’t. One of them was West Point 2005.It was a handsome ring. It was a conventional shape, and a conventional style, with intricate gold filigree, and a black stone, maybe semi-­precious, maybe glass, surrounded by an oval hoop that had West Point around the top, and 2005 around the bottom. Old-­style letters. A classic approach. Either respect for bygone days, or a lack of imagination. West Pointers designed their own rings. Whatever they wanted. An old tradition. Or an old entitlement, perhaps, because West Point class rings had been the first class rings of all.It was a very small ring.Reacher wouldn’t have gotten it on any of his fingers. Not even his left-­hand pinky, not even past the nail. Certainly not past the first knuckle. It was tiny. It was a woman’s ring. Possibly a replica for a girlfriend or a fiancée. That happened. Like a tribute or a souvenir.But possibly not.Reacher opened the pawn shop door. He stepped inside. A guy at the register looked up. He was a big bear of a man, scruffy and unkempt. Maybe in his middle thirties, dark, with plenty of fat over a big frame anyway. With some kind of cunning in his eyes. Certainly enough to perfect his response to his sudden six-­five two-­fifty visitor. Driven purely by instinct. The guy wasn’t afraid. He had a loaded gun under the counter. Unless he was an idiot. Which he didn’t look. All the same, the guy didn’t want to risk sounding aggressive. But he didn’t want to sound obsequious, either. A matter of pride.So he said, “How’s it going?”Not well, Reacher thought. To be honest. Chang would be back in Seattle by then. Back in her life.But he said, “Can’t complain.”“Can I help you?”“Show me your class rings.”The guy threaded the tray backward off the shelf. He put it on the counter. The West Point ring had rolled over, like a tiny golf ball. Reacher picked it up. It was engraved inside. Which meant it wasn’t a replica. Not for a fiancée or a girlfriend. Replicas were never engraved. An old tradition. No one knew why.Not a tribute, not a souvenir. It was the real deal. A cadet’s own ring, earned over four hard years. Worn with pride. Obviously. If you weren’t proud of the place, you didn’t buy a ring. It wasn’t compulsory.The engraving said S.R.S. 2005.The bus blew its horn three times. It was ready to go, but it was a passenger short. Reacher put the ring down and said, “Thank you,” and walked out of the store. He hustled back past the restroom block and leaned in the door of the bus and said to the driver, “I’m staying here.”“No refunds.”“Not looking for one.”“You got a bag in the hold?”“No bag.”“Have a nice day.”The guy pulled a lever and the door sucked shut in Reacher’s face. The engine roared and the bus moved off without him. He turned away from the diesel smoke and walked back toward the pawn shop.

 

ALSO RECEIVED
Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus has impeccable credentials and ground level experience too, so it would do well for powers that be to heed what he has to say in his book, A World Of Three Zeroes. A summary of the book states: “The Bangladeshi economist who invented microcredit, founded Grameen Bank, and earned a Nobel Prize for his work in alleviating poverty, is one of today's most trenchant social critics. In his latest book, he declares it's time to admit that the capitalist engine is broken--that in its current form it inevitably leads to rampant inequality, massive unemployment, and environmental destruction. To save humankind and the planet, we need a new economic system based on a more realistic vision of human nature--one that recognizes altruism and generosity as driving forces that are just as fundamental and powerful as self-interest. Is this a pipe dream? Not at all. In the decade since Yunus first began to articulate his ideas for a new form of capitalism, thousands of companies, nonprofits, and individual entrepreneurs around the world have embraced them. From Albania to Colombia, India to Germany, France to Malaysia, Haiti to Cambodia, businesses and enterprises are being created that are committed to reducing poverty, improving health care and education, cleaning up pollution, and serving other urgent human needs in ingenious, innovative ways. In A World of Three Zeros, Yunus describes the new civilization that is emerging from the economic experiments his work has helped to inspire and offers a challenge to young people, business and political leaders, and ordinary citizens to embrace his mission to eradicate three unintended and pernicious aftereffects of unrestrained capitalism, and so improve the prospects for everyone.”


A World Of Three Zeroes
Muhammad Yunus with Karl Weber
Publisher: Hachette
Pages: 320


By now, even those living under a rock would have gauged the power of social media. Leaders, causes, opinions are built up or toppled with the correct social media strategy. Ankit Lal’s book India Social: How Social Media Is Leading The Charge And Changing The Country, analyses this phenomenon. According to the synopsis, “Social media activist and influencer Ankit Lal takes a deep dive into India’s biggest social media campaigns and analyses how, in just the last ten years, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsApp have changed the way Indians engage with politics, popular culture and social revolution.
“From the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, which unleashed the potential of the medium, to the 2012 #IndiaAgainstCorruption protests; from the rage-filled Justice for Nirbhaya movement to the citizen-driven fight for a free Internet with the #NetNeutrality campaign; from the controversial #AIBRoast to WhatsApp becoming the primary tool used to spread the agenda and ideology of major political parties – India Social unravels, for the first time, the behind-the-scenes stories of the most influential social media movements of the past decade. Incisive and insightful, India Social is the story of how they began, why they spread and the way they have reshaped democratic life in India.”

India Social: How Social Media Is Leading The Charge And Changing The Country
By Ankit Lal
Publisher: Hachette
Pages: 246

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