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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Books by Bedside: The three books I must have at all times

Atlas, Dictionary, Yearbook....
Are there certain books which you require more than others? Or the books which you must have in your room or on your table?
As far as I am concerned, there are some books that I need to consult on a regular basis and ensure that they are always within reach. 
I always prefer them than going to a Search Engine to find certain information. The first is Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary.
In my school years, I had even more voluminous dictionaries of Oxford, Collins and Chambers. But in later years, I realised the importance of Advanced Learner's, as it tells not just the meaning but also the usage i.e. how to use the word. 
I have this dictionary at my home, another copy in my office and yet another Advanced Learner's at my ancestral place. I'm sure I am not obsessed with it. The second is Atlas. I must have it around me. Maps have always fascinated me from childhood. 
This is a books that you need to consult quite often. Either it is about location of a city within a country or about whether boundaries of a state touched another state [or sea], Atlas is a must. The third is the Manorama Yearbook.
It can be any other Yearbooks like Europa also help. But I have been  buying Manorama Yearbook since 1989. Though standards aren't the same now a days but it is still the best Yearbook for information pertaining to India.
The cricket lovers' Bible
If you feel like checking whether Allahabad is a bigger district in terms of population or Varanasi or about the area of Janjgir or Jalpaiguri, it is the best book to have on your table. 
In older versions, they had more details like exhaustive statistics on religious and linguistic populations, in-depth coverage about political events and political history of Indian states and other tidbits. 
But it is still a great reference book. I always believe that a DICTIONARY, An ENCYCLOPAEDIA/YEARBOOK and an ATLAS, are three books that must near you--so that if a thought comes to you or you in a doubt, you should be able to immediately get the details. 
Apart from them, you can have other books depending on your interest. I keep two other books in this list. They are always on my centre table or the table near my bed. They include WISDEN and the URDU-ENGLISH dictionary. 
Earlier, I also had a qamoos--the Farhang-e-Aamira, a unique dictionary that gives meaning of most tough Urdu, Arabic, Persian and Turkish words. There are some other additions to this list. A few other reference books which should be in the shelf near you.

Now tell me the names of the books you consult most or the ones which you wish to have around you.


How do we know said...

i keep a copy of "The Secret" and the Sikh prayer book by my bedside at all times. Usually there is one more book - my current read.

Anonymous said...

Come on dude, who consults those bulky books nowadays, which era do you live in. They have partial knowledge with old stuff. On internet you get latest and up to date info. I cannot think using atlas when I have Google map/earth or Wikipedia and other websites. Though I am talking about US where interet is ubiquitous,maybe in India thinks does not work that way.
FYI I used to read all those books you mentioned years back in preinternet days but I changed with time for good and so should you. Though Manorma has pro-Church and anti muslim bias, I am sure which you have noticed.

editor said...

HDWK: Sikh prayer book. That's nice to know about.

Anonymous: I know I sound oldish but I tend not to be too dependent on Net. I feel, what I read in book stays for greater time in my mind. May be I am wrong.

Anonymous said...

The Internet may well be a vast cornucopia of knowledge, quantity vs quality; but it can easily lead to time-wasting distraction, information overload & lack of filtering by quality. Books dripfeed manageable quality in a coherent structural framework.

My favourites, apart from Yusuf-Ali's translation of the meaning of the Quran sharif, include:

1)The Oxford English Dictionary,

2)The Myth of Muslim Barbarism and Its Aims -S.E. Al-Djazairi,

3) Muslim Minorities in the World Today (Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs monograph series)
M. Ali Kettani

4) The Times Atlas of World History

5) Islam & Orientalism - Maryam Jameelah

6)The Hidden Debt to Islamic Civilisation -S.E. Al-Djazairi

7) The Preaching of Islam - TW Arnold

Without these my life would be colourless & enfeebled. The 1000s of other books on my shelves too are a ready source of empowerment e.g. AJ Toynbee's 12 vol. "A a study of history."

Manorama has many empowering gems, alongside Readers Digest & Dorling Kindersley encyclopedias.