Here are five new books to add to your reading list this week:
1. Akbar: The Mighty Emperor: Written by Kavitha Mandana, published by Penguin-Puffin, priced at Rs.150.
For Mughal emperor Humayun, the news of the birth of Akbar allowed him a moment of quiet joy in the wilderness of a camp he was confined to. He broke a musk pod and the fragrance wafted across the camp. The father hoped his son's fame would spread through like the scent of musk.
Kavitha Mandana's book profiles the most charismatic of Mughal emperors, Akbar, in context of the times he lived in and the life he led in the Mughal court through short and offbeat anecdotes, character sketches of his relatives, aides and sons - who narrate the persona of the man as they saw him in lucid, prose rich in visual imagery. An exciting book for both children and adults.
2. Love on Velocity Express: Written by N. Sampath Kumar; published by Cedar Books; priced at Rs.125
Shyam, a rich spoilt brat, is jolted out of his conventional wisdom when the girl his parents want him to wed turns out to be "maverick". She demands to be reunited with her ex-flame. Shyam battles confusion as he helps her sift for her love with a laboured nonchalance. He is ready to pretend to become anything - a friend, guide and confidant - to pull it off at the aisle.
The romantic comedy takes several painful detours - some trifle artful - before Shyam and Megha marry to live out their lives under the arclights in Mumbai. They become television serial producers in a spillover from the story of their ultra-modern love. A good debut, though the prose drags occasionally.
3. Legend of the Lepchas: Folk Tales from Sikkim; Written by Yishey Doma, illustrated by Pankaj Thapa; Published by Tranquebar; Priced: Rs 200
In the beginning, there was nothing but a vast emptiness on earth and in the sky. Then Itbu-Moo, the mother creator, shaped the mountains, the rivers and the lakes. But something was missing. Why did her creation feel empty? There was no man. The mother goddess picked up a fresh ball of snow and created the first man and then the first woman. They were the supreme deities of the Lepchas.
Poet and journalist Yishey Doma, author of the widely-acclaimed coffee table book, Sikkim, The Hidden Fruitful Valley, narrates the lores of her hills that centre on the gods, goddesses, people, animals and nature in a cohesive world where one cannot do without the other. Each short story is accompanied by an illustration.
4. The Edge of Reason: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Cosmology: written by Anil Ananthaswamy; published by Penguin Books; priced at Rs.399
In this deeply original book, science writer Anil Ananthaswamy sets out to explore the world's most audacious experiment in physics: cutting-edge telescopes and detectors that promise to answer the biggest cosmological posers. Why is the universe expanding at an ever faster rate? What is the nature of the "dark matter" that makes up almost a quarter of the universe?
In his quest for answers, Ananthaswamy travels to some of the most extreme, remote - and often dangerous - sites on the planet. He takes us to Mt Paranal in the Chilean Andes, the starkly gorgeous Hanle Valley in Ladakh and the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, where engineers are drilling 2.4 km into the clearest ice on the globe to build one of the world's largest neutrino detectors. The stories weave in people who work at the sites. A riveting journey in search of the unknown.
5. Chicken Soup for the Indian Armed Forces Soul; edited by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Raksha Bharadia; published by Tranquebar; Priced at Rs.295
The men and women who lay down their lives in our defence are a source of inspiration for all of us. This collection of 101 inspiring stories reinforces the belief. They are tales of resilience, loyalty, love, strength, courage and friendship. They are living inspiration that no odd is insurmountable.
The armed forces personnel and their families from all over the country have contributed to this book. Bharadia is the editor of the Chicken Soup series while Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen are New York Times best-selling authors, who are also motivational speakers.