Books This Weekend: Science, mythology and the Andaman islands

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New Delhi–Reassess how you live your life on a day-to-day basis by knowing about genetic research, flick through an engaging and inspiring bildungsroman of Lord Ramas faithful Hanuman, and read about key issues in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The IANS bookshelf offers varied fare this weekend.

1. Book: The Telomere Effect; Authors: Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Blackburn; Publisher: Hachette; Pages: 398; Price: Rs 499

Have you wondered why some 60-year-olds look and feel like 40-year-olds and why some 40-year-olds look and feel like 60-year-olds? While many factors contribute to aging and illness, Elizabeth Blackburn discovered a biological indicator called telomerase, the enzyme that replenishes telomeres, which protects our genetic heritage.

Blackburn’s and Epel’s research shows that the length and health of one’s telomeres are a biological underpinning of the long-hypothesised mind-body connection. They and other scientists have found that changes we can make to our daily habits can protect our telomeres and increase our health spans (the number of years we remain healthy, active, and disease-free).

“The Telomere Effect” reveals how the authors’ findings, together with research from colleagues around the world, cumulatively show that sleep quality, exercise, aspects of diet, and even certain chemicals profoundly affect our telomeres, and that chronic stress, negative thoughts, strained relationships, and even the wrong neighbourhoods can eat away at them.

Drawing from this scientific body of knowledge, they share lists of foods and suggest amounts and types of exercise that are healthy for our telomeres, mind tricks you can use to protect yourself from stress, and information about how to protect your children against developing shorter telomeres, from pregnancy through adolescence. And they describe how we can improve our health spans at the community level, with neighborhoods characterised by trust, green spaces, and safe streets.

The book will make you reassess how you live your life on a day-to-day basis. It is the first to explain how we age at a cellular level and how we can make simple changes to keep our chromosomes and cells healthy, allowing us to stay disease-free longer and live more vital and meaningful lives.

2. Book: The Chronicles of Hanuman; Author: Shubha Vilas; Publisher: Om; Pages: 278; Price: Rs 350

Lord Hanuman, one of the most fascinating characters in the Ramayana, personifies the true superhero-philosopher. He is Lord Rama’s most trusted ally who embodies the virtues of a sincere devotee, the fearless fighter who sets the city of Lanka ablaze with his burning tail, the humble messenger who informs Mother Sita of Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana, the noble fellow warrior who uproots Dronagiri, a mountain of herbs, to save Lakshmana’s life. Above all, he is a perfect blend of intelligence and humility.

“The Chronicles of Hanuman”, an engaging and inspiring bildungsroman, is also replete with interesting folk tales, local lore about Hanuman temples across India and Hanuman prayers, making this book a reader’s delight.

3. Book: Islands In Flux; Author: Pankaj Sekhsaria; Publisher: Harper Litmus; Pages: 268; Price: Rs 399

“Islands in Flux” is a compilation of Sekhsaria’s writings on key issues in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and provides an important, consolidated account that is relevant for both the present and the future of this beautiful but very fragile and volatile island chain. The book is both a map of the region and a framework for the way forward, and essential reading for anyone who cares about the future of our world. (IANS)



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