Spirituality, mystery, detectives and growth (IANS Books This Weekend)

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New Delhi, March 2 (IANS) Get some spiritual guidance from a figure of international stature; read how a secret agent investigates the case of his colleagues’ disappearance; flick through the interesting story of a detective agency run by women; and know how our steadfast loyalty to growth is shaking the very foundations of our democracy.

The IANS bookshelf has a bunch of interesting reads for this weekend.

1. Book: Amma’s Pearls Of Wisdom; Author: Mata Amritanandamayi; Publisher: Harper Collins; Price: Rs 299; Pages: 185

Amma travels the world, alternating long hours of darshan with the maternal hug she gives to all, who come to her, and her teachings. Here are some of her most beautiful pearls of wisdom, one for each day of the year, set out in the form of a perpetual calendar. Amma’s only message for life: give everything and give of oneself. Her religion is love.

2. Book: Pines; Author: Blake Crouch; Publisher: Thomas and Mercer; Price: Rs 399; Pages: 309

Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission — locate and recover two federal agents — who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier.

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As the days pass, Burke’s investigation about the disappearance of his colleagues raises more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world?

Why doesn’t anyone believe him? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Burke further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he faces the horrifying fact that he may never be able to get out of Wayward Pines alive.

3. Book: The House of Unexpected Sisters; Author: Alexander McCall Smith; Publisher: Little Brown; Price: Rs 799; Pages: 226

Precious Ramotswe has always idolised her father, the late Obed Ramotswe. She feels that she knows all about his life.

Sometimes our parents surprise us, and we discover that things were not quite what we thought them to be. And the same goes for Mma Makutsi, Mma Ramotswe’s feisty assistant, who also makes certain discoveries about her own past that surprise her.

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The placid world of the “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” is further disturbed by the arrival in Gaborone of somebody whom Ramotswe and J.L.B. Matekoni definitely do not want to see. Of course, calm eventually prevails as it always does in the timeless world of these remarkable ladies. Tea is served, and life continues.

4. Book: The Growth Delusion; Author: David Pilling; Publisher: Bloomsbury; Price: Rs 499; Pages: 338

In “The Growth Delusion”, author and journalist David Pilling explores how economists and their cult of growth have hijacked our policy-making and infiltrated our thinking about what makes societies work. Our policies are geared relentlessly towards increasing our standard measure of growth, Gross Domestic Product. By this yardstick we have never been wealthier or happier. So why doesn’t it feel that way? Why are we living in such fractured times, with global populism on the rise and wealth inequality as stark as ever?

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In a book that is simultaneously trenchant, thought-provoking and entertaining, Pilling argues that we need to measure our successes and failures using different criteria. While for economic growth, heroin consumption and prostitution are worth more than volunteer work or public services, in a rational world we would learn how to value what makes economies better, not just what makes them bigger. So much of what is important to our wellbeing, from clean air to safe streets and from steady jobs to sound minds, lies outside the purview of our standard measure of success. We prioritise growth maximisation without stopping to think about the costs.

In prose that cuts through the complex language so often wielded by a priesthood of economists, Pilling argues that our steadfast loyalty to growth is informing misguided policies and contributing to a rising mistrust of experts that is shaking the very foundations of our democracy.

–IANS

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