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Gifts Guide to Books this Valentine's Day

Today, we are again looking at another edition of Valentine's Day.

Legend has it that in order to remind men of their vows and God's love, Saint Valentine is said to have cut hearts from parchment and gave them to the soldiers and persecuted Christians, which may have been a possible origin of the widespread use of hearts on St. Valentine's Day. 

The celebration in India however, did not catch on till the early 90s and was generally frowned upon by many sects. Yet, with time, it has appealed to all generations by changing its direction significantly on a level where now even daughters celebrate with fathers, sons with mothers, brothers with sisters, albeit the usual and original romantic connection which is still in place. Celebrating this tradition that is meant to signify the promises of love as a whole, and also adhering to its festivities, it is never complete without cards and gifts.

While it’s always nice to be on the receiving end of gifts, the intricate act of choosing the right gift for a loved one can be daunting. You want it to be meaningful, something the other person would appreciate and enjoy, a representation of your adoration, and so much more. As luck would have it, we have the perfect solution for all of your gift-giving despairs: Books.

George R. R. Martin once astutely said, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” If there was ever a sure-fire way to travel without actually moving, it’s through the magical process of reading a book. What could be a better act of love than gifting someone a world, a universe that leaps out of the pages and imprints itself into your mind?’

So without further ado, we present to you a carefully curated list of 5 books that we believe you and your loved one will cherish for many springs to come:

For the one who loves romance:

One Love and the Many Lives of Osip B by C P Surendran

Through a clutch of dramatic characters, this novel traces and connects contemporary themes of transgressive relationships, gender politics, nationalism, individual freedom and group rights, fake news, and power. Sad, funny, and insightful, the novel asks: Can a dysfunctional young man survive in a deranged world, our world?

For the one who enjoys the little things in life, including short stories:

A Fistful of Mustard Seeds by E. Santhosh Kumar (translated by P. N. Venugopal)

This masterful collection explores moral dilemmas, personal traumas and delves into the dark recesses of the soul. These insightful and deeply moving stories illuminate the elevations and abysses of the human condition. Sensitive, thought-provoking and perceptive, each story is a vignette into a different realm of emotional experience.

For the one who respects women:

The Punch Magazine: Anthology of New Writing edited by Shireen Quadri

The Punch Magazine’s inaugural anthology, comprising 18 short stories, selected from the pool of submissions by women writers in India and around the world that showcase just how culture, besides the past, informs and illuminates literature. The stories featured in this anthology speak of our times—the way we live, the way we love.

For the one who loves food, but is a vegetarian:

Vegetarian Cuisine from the Himalayan Foothills by Veena Sharma

A delectable experience for gastronomes, this book delves into mouth-watering recipes that draw upon local bounties—some forgotten, or less used, grains and greens, spices and fruits—from the Himalayan heights. Exploring a variety of palates and creating a whole range of nutritious and tasty foods, there is an underlying desire to retain and re-establish the biodiversity that is vital for your physical and mental health.

For the one who enjoyed ‘Jaws’: 

Iridescent Skin: A Multispecies Journey of White sharks and Caged Humans by Raj Shekhar Aich

Based on an immersive field work of marine anthropologist Iridescent Skin is the first of its kind multispecies ethnography on humans and white sharks, entangled through the practice of cage diving at the very end of New Zealand. It is, on the surface, a sensory narrative of human and white shark encounters, but beneath the ripples, it is a story of love: among humans, rivers, oceans, bricks, stones, and sharks. 


Avik Goswami | 14-Feb-2022