Sunday, August 28 2022

Dive In


A forest ecology is a delicate one. If the forest perishes, its fauna may go with it. The Athshean word for world is also the word for forest

That’s a line from ‘The Word For World Is Forest’ by Ursula Le Guin. It explains the novel’s title, and offers a glimpse into one of the main themes of the book: the destruction of ecology. ‘The Word For World Is Forest’ is our September read for the Champaca Book Subscription.


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We Recommend

An Online Life

As our lives are increasingly being guided by technology, we found ourselves asking what kind of spaces does this tech-driven, online world create for people? Does it manufacture new anxieties? Have we ended up creating a virtual world that reinforces the biases, discrimination and gatekeeping that exists in our physical spaces? 


This month, we’re recommending books that explore some of these questions and delve into the different ways technology impacts our everyday lives. 


Little Eyes

A speculative fiction novel by Samanta Schweblin, ‘Little Eyes’ imagines a future with hyper-surveillance that is full of small, furry toys called “kentukis.” Through its layered narrative, the novel offers us insights on what it means to be hyper connected, and how technology can sometimes work against us and harm the connections we nurture in our lives. 



In this hilarious and vulnerable memoir, Tyler Oakley reveals what it means to make a career out of “oversharing” on the internet. In it, among other things, he covers body image issues on social media, his personal life, being rejected for his dream job and how his impatience grew after becoming internet famous. 


Brave New World

Written by Aldous Huxley, and adapted into a graphic novel by Fred Fordham, ‘Brave New World’ is a dystopian novel set in a future world where citizens are environmentally engineered into an intelligence-based social hierarchy. With reflections on what technology and control mean, the book is both thought-provoking and frightening.


I Think You’re On Mute

‘I Think You’re On Mute’ by Ellie Ross is the ultimate guide to navigating the small, but daunting anxieties that the internet brings into our daily lives. From trying to write the perfect email to being cat fished—this book answers all of the pressing questions we have about online etiquette. 


The Women Who Forgot To Invent Facebook and Other Stories

Nisha Susan’s whimsical collection of short stories artfully taps into the love, violence, desire and intimacy that technology has brought into the lives of Indian women. In the book, we meet a cook in Delhi who is worried by her daughter’s cell phone conversations, three classical dancers discussing their sex lives on email, a young woman in Bombay who finds herself obsessed with a dead woman’s online relics and many more interesting characters. 


No One is Talking About This

A young, deluded woman whose life almost entirely takes place on the internet, finds herself lost when she gets a text from a mother that says, “Something has gone wrong”. Suddenly, and harshly she is pulled out of the virtual world, and called upon to deal with a family tragedy. In this searing novel by Patricia Lockwood, we’re invited into the inner world of this unnamed woman who must forcefully confront the ‘real’ world, and what it means to love and connect with those around us. 


Facebook: The Inside Story

With all the personal data mining scandals that surround Mark Zuckerberg, it is crucial to ask how much control Facebook has over our lives? In this book, tech writer Steven Levy gives us a complete history of the company, and the controversies it is embroiled in. 


Trick Mirror

In this stunning collection of essays, Jia Tolentino takes us on a journey of exploring what it means to be constantly online. Tolentino examines how the internet has impacted the feminist movement, the idea of “performing” for social media, it’s obsession with wealth and extravagant weddings, and the dangerous “lifestyle aesthetic” that it has normalised.

Book of the month

‘The Word For World Is Forest’ by Ursula K Le Guin

Our book of the month is ‘The Word For World Is Forest’ written by the inimitable Ursula K Le Guin, who changed the landscape of speculative fiction with her thoughtful and feminist writing. 


The book is set on a lush, wooded planet inhabited by the peaceful Athsheans. Captured by humans and used as slaves for logging on their own planet, the Athsheans adopt violence as a means of resistance – changing their own culture forever. 


As the story progresses, it gives voice to the wooded planet and its people. The narrative condemns colonialism, destructive resource extraction, power inequalities, ecological destruction and war. We see Selver, of the oppressed Athsheans, transmute into something different and powerful as he resists. We love this book because through her fiction, Le Guin urges us to not just observe the connection we have with nature, but to also understand how we are positioned in it.  


This September, we're reading ‘The Word For World Is Forest’ for the Champaca Book Subscription and Book Club.  This is the last month where we’re exploring the theme of nature as a refuge in times of isolation. Read this book with us and join us in our book club meetings where we dive deep into the book, and what it meant for us. Join here.


In today’s edition

From Our Shelves

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