HT Picks: This week’s interesting reads
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HT Picks: This week’s interesting reads

This week’s interesting reads include a history of opium, instructions on cutting plastic from daily life, and a novel about dreams of freedom and flight

books Updated: Sep 14, 2018 21:18 IST
HT Team
HT Team
Hindustan Times
Opium, boycotting plastic, and the dream of a perfect aerial machine make it to the reading list this week. (HT Team)


464pp, Rs 699; Bloomsbury

Poppy tears, opium, heroin, fentanyl: humankind has been in thrall to the ‘Milk of Paradise’ for millennia. The latex of papaver somniferum is a bringer of sleep, of pleasurable lethargy, of relief from pain – and hugely addictive. A commodity without rival, it is renewable, easy to extract, transport and refine, and subject to an insatiable global demand.

No other substance in the world is as simple to produce or as profitable. It is the basis of a gargantuan industry built upon a shady underworld, but ultimately it is a farm-gate material that lives many lives before it reaches the branded blister packet, the intravenous drip or the scorched and filthy spoon. Many of us will end our lives dependent on it.

In Milk of Paradise, acclaimed cultural historian Lucy Inglis takes readers on an epic journey from ancient Mesopotamia to modern America and Afghanistan, from Sanskrit to pop, from poppy tears to smack, from morphine to today’s synthetic opiates. It is a tale of addiction, trade, crime, sex, war, literature, medicine and, above all, money. And, as this ambitious, wide-ranging and compelling account vividly shows, the history of opium is our history and it speaks to us of who we are.*



128pp, Rs 350; Hachette

Governments, brands and corporations around the globe are on the case to solve the plastic epidemic, but whilst we wait for the effects of those initiatives to trickle through and alternatives to plastic to be found, let’s hit the ground running. In this proactive illustrated book, you’ll find 101 simple ways to cut plastic.*

*Text from


419pp, Rs 699; Hachette

When two English brothers take the helm of a Barbados sugar plantation, Washington Black – an eleven-year-old field slave – finds himself selected as personal servant to one of these men. To his surprise, the eccentric Christopher ‘Titch’ Wilde is a naturalist, explorer, inventor and abolitionist, and he wants Washington to help him crate the perfect aerial machine.

But Titch’s plans are soon shattered, and Washington is plunged into mortal danger. They escape the island and embark on a strange, life-altering journey. When Titch disappears, Washington must make his way alone, following the promise of freedom further than he ever dreamed possible.

From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy wastes of the Canadian Arctic, from the earliest aquariums of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness and mystery of life. This is the extraordinary tale of a world destroyed and the search to make it whole again.*

*Text from book flap

First Published: Sep 14, 2018 21:18 IST