30-Day Challenge

30-Day Challenge, Books, Fiction, Mystery/Detectives/Whodunit

Perry Mason: The Case Of The Dashing Lawyer/Detective

Perry Mason/ Erle Stanley Gardner/Bookended

Perry Mason: The Case Of The Dashing Lawyer/Detective

Perry Mason/ Erle Stanley Gardner/Bookended
Day 15 of the 30-day book photography challenge: Show some (book) spine

I spent the first decade of my life in India, most of the second in the Middle East where my Dad worked, and returned back to India for college before moving to the United States. Growing up, most of the books that I had access to were by Indian and British authors. The few exceptions were American mystery novels like the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene, The Hardy Boys series by Franklin W.Dixon and the novels of the lawyer and writer Erle Stanley Gardner, especially his series featuring the suave, dashing lawyer Perry Mason and his assistant, the efficient Della Street. Perry Mason, a defense lawyer who usually took on murder cases was, in the reader’s eyes, a superhero championing the underdog and never giving up in his pursuit of the truth. As a criminal defense lawyer, he fought against the DA, Hamilton Burger and often used last-minute courtroom shenanigans in his quest for justice for his clients. (*The Case of the Dogged Defense Lawyer) He was ably assisted in his cases by Della Street and a private detective, Paul Drake. As a teenager, I devoured the alliterative titles (e.g. The case of the duplicate daughter, The case of the negligent nymph etc.), the intricate plots, the certainty that all would end well, and a very American type of hero: a strong, laconic, tough guy whose broad shoulders could carry the weight of the world. My fondest dream was that Gardner would write a novel where Mason and Street got married and lived happily ever after (**The Case of the Match Made in Heaven). Earl Stanley Gardner himself was both a prolific writer and a lawyer who championed civil rights and worked to reverse wrongful imprisonment cases (More on his Wikipedia page).

(* and ** : Not actual books!)

30-Day Challenge, Books, Nonfiction, Self Help and Improvement

3 Books To Change Your Life

3 Books to change your life/Bookended

3 Books to change your life: 3 books that can have a major impact on your life, improving your physical and mental health, and overall quality of life

Self help and self improvement are very broad topics because there are so many ways we can work on ourselves- learning new interpersonal or work skills, strengthening our mental health, managing stress, building resiliency, improving our outlook on life, building physical health and many more topics. While self help books can get a bad rap, I find them incredibly useful to help me learn new skills from teachers that resonate with me, and at my own pace.

The prompt for today’s 30-day book photography challenge is to share 3 all-time favorite self help and improvement books. Many of my recent posts (1, 2) are on books from the spirituality and self -help/self-improvement genre and this post shares 3 books that can change your life. These books have been exceedingly important in in my physical and mental health self-improvement journey.

How to change your life/Bookended

1. Change Your Schedule, Change Your Health by Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar

Our state of wellness includes both our physical and mental well-being. In Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar’s Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life, the author shows us how our habits and daily schedule influence our physical and mental health, energy levels, and overall feeling of well-being. Drawing on the principles of Ayurveda, and with research from the emergent field of chronobiology, the book guides us on how to work with the body’s circadian rhythm to optimize health. Put simply, given our individual body type, how can we use the body’s daily, light-driven circadian rhythm to help plan the best times to eat, exercise, meditate and sleep? How can we optimize our habits and schedule to work for us rather than trapping us like a hamster on a wheel? Every page of this book is chockfull of helpful information to help us enjoy holistic health. This book has had a big impact on my life.

The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle/ Bookended

2. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle: You can read more about this book in this post.

3 Books to change your life/Bookended

3. The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brené  Brown

I struggle with perfectionism (more on that here) and this book has repeatedly helped me trade my quest for perfection with authenticity. It was the first book that I read that talked about how our perfectionism sets us up to fail and how everyday we face the choice of embracing our imperfect, authentic, vulnerable selves.

Perhaps the most important lesson that I have learned from all these books is that self-improvement is not a one, two, or some multiple-time event but a lifelong series of choices we make and which, over time, add up to fantastic changes.

30-Day Challenge, Books, Nonfiction

Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie

Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie: Four Questions That Will Transform Your Life/Bookended

Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie: Four Questions That Will Transform Your Life

As 2020 grinds on, it has felt like a continual stripping away of the world as we knew it (I wrote more about it here) and one of the audiobooks that has really helped break through the repetitive patterns of disempowering thoughts is Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie: Four Questions That Will Transform Your Life.

Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie: Four Questions That Will Transform Your Life/Bookended

You may be familiar with Byron Katie’s The Work, a 4-step transformative process that allows us to turn stressful thoughts into those that empower us and to access our inner wisdom. I use it every time I find myself stuck with a thought that stresses me and I’ve found the questions of The Work an immensely valuable tool to break the cycle of negative thinking. Even more importantly, Byron Katie talks about Universal Beliefs that are the root of most stress related thoughts and it’s both an eye-opener and a reassurance that most of the time we are all thinking different versions of the same 30-40 hurtful thoughts. The Work has been helpful because if you do it (examine each stressful thought under the lens of the 4 questions) often enough you can nip a stressful thought in the bud saving yourself from needless thought-spiraling and anxiety.

The voice within is what I’m married to. All marriage is a metaphor for that marriage. My lover is the place inside me where an honest yes and no come from. That’s my true partner. It’s always there. And to tell you yes when my integrity says no is to divorce that partner.”

– Byron Katie
Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie: Four Questions That Will Transform Your Life/Bookended
Day 13 of the 30-day book photography challenge (Similar but not the same)
30-Day Challenge, Books, Fiction, Judge A Book By Its Cover, The Book Life

Winner Of The National Book Award by Jincy Willett

winner of the National Book Award by Jincy Willett/Judge A Book By Its Cover/

Judge A Book By Its Cover, #3

First, the disclaimer: I haven’t read the book yet. In this series, I’m judging the book by its cover.

You may have heard the idiom, don’t judge a book by its cover, an admonishment to not let surface appearances sway you. Take the time to read the book, delve beneath the surface, and find what message lies within its pages. Get to know a person instead of letting your preconceived notions quickly fix labels upon them.  Don’t judge a book by its cover, someone entreats us, wagging their finger for emphasis. This series does the opposite- I’m judging a book only on the basis of its cover!

Winner of the National Book Award by Jincy Willett/Judge A Book By Its Cover/

Today’s book selection is Winner Of The National Book Award by Jincy Willett. You already know why this book caught my eye at the local library book sale: look at all those accolades the book has garnered plus it’s apparently the Winner of the National Book Award! On slightly closer inspection, you learn that’s the book’s title. With such an eye-catching name and cover design, I hereby also pronounce it the Winner of the Judge A Book By Its Cover award! Here’s a link to the reviews of the book on the Goodreads page.

Tower of books for Day 12 of the 30-Day Book Photography Challenge

This book got me thinking about how ‘word of mouth’ and reviews influence us when choosing a book: some of us prefer to be guided by reviews, recommendations and book lists (Best of 2019 etc.) and some of us don’t. What type of reader are you?

Thanks for reading!

30-Day Challenge, Books, Tea, The Book Life

Once Upon A Tea Time

Once upon a tea time/ Bookended

Once upon a tea time is how the best of stories start. When I start talking about how teatime and books are a match made in heaven, I may repeat some of what I said in this post.

Once upon a tea time/ Bookended

Today’s book photography prompt is to photograph that match made in heaven, tea and books. I’m from India and growing up, the women of my family came together to drink tea. It was always around 4PM everyday and it was a dedicated time to relax, regroup, and indulge our collective sweet tooth. During summer vacations, the extended family, men, women and children, would get together for tea. There was much laughing and talking and catching up with each other. So, tea has always been an important family ritual. I think it’s fair to say that many families have this in common and when we grew up, we held onto the nostalgia and tried to recreate it in our new, busier lives. Most Indians have some cherished chai (tea) stories, one from the past and one for the present: stories of the best cup of tea they ever had, the best recipe for masala chai ( tea with spices, literally), the accompanying snacks, the camaraderie that the sharing of tea time can bring about.

Once upon a tea time/ Bookended

In my case, reading became associated with tea time because I moved far away from family and books were the only companions that went everywhere I went. Two quotes that capture the sentiment:

“Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.”

– Bill Watterson

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

– C.S. Lewis

The words once upon a tea time are an homage to this special time that usually involves slowing down sometime in the middle of the day, brewing a cup of tea and taking a few minutes to read, and to ponder and mull over what we read. But it’s also an implicit permission built into every day, a sanctioned time where you are allowed to rest. The more mere productivity becomes a benchmark of a successful day, the more the urge to cling to the ritual of teatime.

When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?

Muriel Barbery

30-Day Challenge, Books, Nonfiction

The Power Of Now, A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle/ Bookended
The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle/ Bookended

The Power Of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

Today’s prompt for the 30-day book photography challenge is to share the one book that you recommend to everyone. You should read this, you tell them, it’ll change the way you look at life. The one book that I recommend to everyone is The Power Of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle. Books can do so much: they have the power to take us on an adventure, offer escape and respite from reality. They can also share lessons that help us navigate life’s triumphs and challenges and everything that falls in between. Sometimes, the wisdom they share is profound, distilled, clear, and accessible and Tolle’s books fall in this latter category. They equip us with a powerful tool: the realization that the present moment is all we ever have, the only moment that we ever need to engage with. I have read this book multiple times and listened to the audiobook at least twice. I think it’s fair to say that this is one of those books that everyone reads multiple times: you read it once and you think you understand it. Life goes on and then something happens. You pull out the book and suddenly, some lines are speaking directly to your experience. And on and on until this book takes permanent residence next to you.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“You must have failed deeply on some level or experienced some deep loss or pain to be drawn to the spiritual dimension. Or perhaps your very success became empty and meaningless and so turned out to be a failure.” 

-Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

I’ve heard people say that spirituality and self help are book store aisles we stumble into when we realize that we are adults but we don’t have all the answers, that it’s only when we have questions that we look for solutions.

“Whenever anything negative happens to you, there is a deep lesson concealed within it, although you may not see it at the time.” 

-Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

“The pain that you create now is always some form of nonacceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgment. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity. The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment, and this in turn depends on how strongly you are identified with your mind.”

-Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

“Nothing ever happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.”

-Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

“Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside. If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.”

-Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Looking for more spiritual book recommendations? Here is a post that lists my 5 favorite spirituality/self-help books. Have recommendations that you’d like to share? Please do so by leaving a Comment. Thanks for reading!

30-Day Challenge, Books, Cookbooks, Fiction, Nonfiction, The Book Life


Tsundoku/ Bookended

Tsundoku is a Japanese word that describes the act of buying a lot of books, accumulating them, but not reading them. So, there you are, surrounded by piles of books you haven’t read and yet you can’t seem to stop buying them. This is me. I usually don’t buy new books but if I’m at a library sale or a used book sale, there is no stopping me. That means my home is filled with books that I plan on reading as soon as I have a little time but until then, they take up space everywhere.

Tsundoku/ Bookended

The prompt for Day 9 of the 30 day photography challenge is to photograph a book or books that you’ve always meant to read but haven’t gotten round to doing so. I’m a huge fan of Anthony Trollope and have read the first 4 novels of his series Chronicles Of Barsetshire. The Small House At Allington (pictured above) is the 5th in the series and one of these days, I’m going to read it. I’d planned to start it a few months ago but somehow I forgot all the details of the first 4 novels and decided I would re-read all four before reading Book 5 and that kinda got away from me. I also plan to read Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls. I haven’t yet but it’s reassuring to know that the book is right here when I’m ready. Aspirational reading also falls under this category: the classics that everyone recommends, poetry especially Penguin Classics’ The Metaphysical Poets, the complete Shakespeare plays. The list goes on and on.

Tsundoku/ Bookended

Ask any book lover and they will tell you tsundoku isn’t a problem because being surrounded by books is as close to heaven as we can get on earth.

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”

– Jorge Luis Borges

Of course, it’s one thing if one person in the household practices tsundoku (unclear if this is the right way to use it in a sentence) but imagine if your partner or spouse was similarly inclined!

If you’d like to follow along with the 30 day photography challenge, details are here. Thanks for reading!

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