Horses, hills, and how we make connections with each other - all that on this week’s list of interesting reads. (HT Team)
Horses, hills, and how we make connections with each other - all that on this week’s list of interesting reads. (HT Team)

HT Picks: the most interesting books of the week

Books on the history of horses in India, cuisine from the hills, and the networks that bind us feature on this week’s reading list
By HT Team
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 01:49 PM IST

A History of India on horseback

297pp, ₹699; PanMacmillan
297pp, ₹699; PanMacmillan

The horse is etched on the Indian landscape, and to view the subcontinent’s past through the prism of the horse is to be swept up in its power and grace. Horses are a thread that connects Indian history mythology, art, literature, folklore and popular belief.

In this inspired and singularly erudite debut, Yashaswini Chandra takes us on the trail of the horse into and within India. What follows is a surprising and exhilarating journey, covering caravan trade routes originating in Central Asia and Tibet, sea routes from the Middle East, and the dominions of different sultans and Mughal emperors, the south Indian kingdoms as well as the Rajput horse-warrior states. She outlines the political symbolism of the horse, its vital function in social life, religion, sport and war, its role in shaping economies and forging crucial human bonds. We learn of the emergence of local breeds such as the Kathiawari and the Marwari, the Zanskari and the Manipuri. We encounter fabulous horsewomen too, Chand Bibi, Maratha princesses and women polo players among them. We meet grooms, farriers, breeders, traders and bandits. The highlight of course are the magnificent examples of the horse itself – Rana Paratap’s legendary Chetak, Ranjit Singh’s much contested Laili, Pabuji’s cherished black mare and those horses captured in paintings and equestrian portraits. This glorious age of the horse would meet its agonized decline with the onset of colonial rule and mechanization.

In the end, what is most remarkable is that the history of the horse in India, mirroring that of its human inhabitants, is a tale of migration and permanent intermingling. The horse is thus an exceptional and fitting vantage from which to appreciate the history of the land, influenced as it was by this most instrumental of animals.*

How you know who you know

357pp, ₹799; Hachette
357pp, ₹799; Hachette

Social Chemistry will utterly transform the way you think about networking. Based on insights from neuroscience, psychology, and network analytics, Yale professor Marissa King shows how anyone can build a social network that will dramatically enhance personal relationships, work life, and even your global impact.

High quality connections in your social network strongly predict cognitive functioning, emotional resilience, and satisfaction at work. A well structured network is likely to boost the quality of your ideas, as well as your pay. Beyond the office, social connections are the lifeblood of our health and happiness. The compiled results from dozens of previous studies found that our social relationships have an effect on our likelihood of dying prematurely – loneliness is as deadly as obesity or smoking.

Conventional wisdom says it’s the size of your network that matters, but King explains that the pattern of your present set of relationships matters far more. The three basic network types are defined so readers can see the role, or combination of roles, they are already playing as an Expansionist, Broker, or Convener. This network decoder enables readers to align their network style to their life plans and values.*

Flavours and beyond

152pp, ₹750; Niyogi Books
152pp, ₹750; Niyogi Books

The Garhwal region of the Himalayas is referred to as deva bhumi, land of the gods. The topography and climate of this sacred land has spawned a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna. Water currents carrying rocks and herbs, fed by high-altitude minerals and vegetation irrigate the soils. Steep hillsides, varied in their elevation and orientation, etched by terraced farms and fed by mountain streams produce crops suited to their particular terrains.

Since ages the locals have harvested these grains and herbs that are unique in their nutritional content and flavours. This book encourages an exploration into these unusual ingredients to create nutritious and flavourful dishes suited for the urban table.*

*All copy from book flap.

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