Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Book Review : Simple Sewing

Title : Simple Sewing
Author : Katie Lewis
Publisher : Cedar Fort
ISBN : 978-1-4621-1288-3

'Simple Sewing' offers 30 fast and easy sewing projects for beginners. It actually delivers what it promises - the projects are interesting, instructions are simple to follow, pictures are attractive that inspire one to try all the projects listed in the book.

Kate Lewis has a wonderful knack of breaking the big assignment into smaller, simpler and doable tasks and if one just keeps following the instructions as they are explained in the book, it is highly unlikely  that one would go wrong. By the time one accomplishes making even 3-5 projects one would have gained enough confidence to experiment a few things on one's own.

The projects are categorized under six sections - Accessories (bows, tote bags, sunglasses case, headband), Home (placemats, fabric basket, microwave heat pack, pillow pincushion, travel pillow and pillowcase), Celebrations (Scrap Flag Garland, Tooth Fairy Pillow, Pom-pom garland, Stocking), Baby( Reversible Bib, Burp Cloths, Swaddling Blanket, Sleep Mask, Door Bumper), School Days (Lunch Snack, Lunch Napkin, Pencil pouch, Journal Cover, Pocket Hand Warmers) and Toys (Soft Play Camera, Chalk Mat and Eraser, Memory Game, Bean Bags, Baby Doll Pillow and Blanket). Author deserves special appreciation for so thoughtfully selecting the items which are of great utility in the house.

Every project begins with - list of required material to make the item, a useful tip for how to get that required material, followed by precise step by step instructions that need to be followed in order to accomplish the task. But before plunging into sewing process, Katie has used initial 10-12 pages in explaining the sewing supplies, various kinds of fabrics, different stitches and terms and techniques that are used throughout the book. It is highly recommended that readers should first go through these pages thoroughly in order to avoid going back and forth once into the projects.

This book is a great tool for beginners, for those who are taking sewing classes, for children who are interested in learning the art of sewing and even for experienced seamstresses for some more interesting ideas. A perfect gift item for baby showers, house warming or other special occasions. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Interview : Parul Sharma

Parul Sharma is a well-known, witty author of three books - 'Bringing Up Vasu', 'By The Water Cooler' and her latest 'Tuki's Grand Salon Chase'. It is an honour to interview her on Literary Sojourn again after the successful release of her third book. (First interview can be read here.)

'Tuki's Grand Salon Chase' is your third book. How has been the journey as an author so far?

It's been great though obviously there are challenges that one encounters. My voice is evolving, and that fills me with self-doubt, wondering if I am following the right path (not that I have any control on it, to be honest). That is why it is extremely encouraging to hear reviews commenting on my growth as a writer. That is what I am in this for, to be as good a writer as I possibly can be. 

How do you decide on the plot of your books and what is the typical timeline that your books follow?

No one can really point out where the seed of a story first falls but I think in my case, it starts with people. People who are interesting and unusual and then their own story ceases to be and I give them the story I want to. Tuki's Grand Salon Chase took a few months to write and then a year and a bit for the edits, proof-reading, design and so on.  

Out of the three books that you have penned, which is the one that gave you the maximum satisfaction and why?

I honestly cannot answer that. Tuki involved the maximum effort though.  

Who was the inspiration behind the protagonist Tulika in Tuki's Grand Salon Chase?

A girl who cut my hair in an upmarket Bandra salon. A girl with so much naive ambition. All the girls who have ever cut my hair, really.
In your last interview on Literary Sojourn, you expressed your desire to write one funny travel book. Has there been any progress on that front?

None, unfortunately, except in my head where I am on the second draft already.  

What is next in pipeline after 'Tuki'?

I have an idea sort of building up but I haven't yet started working on it.  

Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

Greyer, fitter, much better travelled, much better read, kids all grown up, waking up every morning and sitting at a desk to write, many more books with my name on the shelf.  

Who are your favourite authors - Indian and foreign? Which genre of books do you enjoy reading the most?

Gaura Pant Shivani and PG Wodehouse. That doesn't change.  

What are your suggestions to the budding authors?

That doesn't change either. Focus on becoming the best writer you possibly can be, publishing will follow.  

How do you see the literary scene changing in India over the last decade and which areas still need more work?

There are just so many more books. Not all of them are of great quality. Some of them show such disdain for language and even grammar. I am hoping the market will evolve and really good first-time authors will emerge with new stories to tell, whose voices will be strong and engaging and we will all want to listen to the tales these people want to tell. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Book Review : The Choice

Title : The Choice
Author : Eliyahu M. Goldratt
Publisher : Productivity and Quality Publishing
ISBN : 9788185984308

I read 'The Goal' by Eliyahu Goldratt some seventeen odd years back and the thing which stayed with me all these years is how simply the author made the business problems solvable. He defines Theory of Constraints in 'The Goal' and explains various concepts, constraints and bottlenecks through a practical example of Alex Rogo who is finding the problems at his professional and personal life highly overwhelming. 

The well-respected author is looked up to as a philosopher and thinker par excellence. He is also credited as an educator, a scientist and a business leader. Eli goads his readers and listeners to think and approach the problem with fresh look and pull it from hopelessness to feasible progress.

In 'The Choice' Eli elaborates upon his fundamental thought process and beliefs through a stimulating conversation with his daughter - Erfat.
The objective is to extrapolate this approach to every aspect of life in order to make one live a fulfilling and meaningful life and the beginning of doing that is to take full responsibility of one's life. In doing so, one must not aim for the simplicity of life because full life may not be directly proportional to leading a simple life.

Through a case study he lets his daughter peel layer after layer of logically and analytically approaching any scenario and not taking anything as irreparable or un-improvable. Efrat keeps populating her list of revelations  as she progresses under her father's guidance. By the end of the whole exercise, she sees no reason to not agree with the conclusions - people are good; every conflict can be removed rather than compromised; every situation, no matter how complex it initially looks, once understood, becomes exceedingly simple(Inherent Simplicity); every situation can be substantially improved, ever person can reach a full life, and there is always a win-win situation.

While working on developing this simple way of living, one must never lose touch with one's inner humble arrogance. "Humility to have the conviction that you don't know; arrogance to have the conviction that you can develop the knowledge." This simply stated belief if one develops will take care of various fancy feelings and emotions that hinder the path of progress and growth, eventually making the path of living a full life a far fetched dream.

As he suggests to his daughter, the way to make 'thinking clearly' a part of one's being is to - practice it regularly. "To practice you don’t choose a subject and free up the time to do a full analysis. That is not the right approach. You should use any opportunity to try and decipher the cause and effect. Be it a casual conversation with a stranger, a comment from your husband, or something that you are reading. You said that you are constantly thinking, and you are right, but that implies that you should try to constantly think clearly."

This book is highly recommended for all seeking business as well as personal solutions or even for those who are not looking for any solutions. The book is an easy and engaging read and guides the readers through an objective way of problem solving. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 : The Year That Was

Happy to recommend these titles to the readers of Literary Sojourn.





Historical fiction
The Twentieth Wife

Happy Reading :)
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