Non-fiction and I aren’t the best of friends on the reading journey. But when a friend shared this book cover and another friend recommended it, I bought it. The nature lover buckled. I also was trying to go out of my comfort zone and read more non-fiction so this was a good choice to begin 2020 with.
There are so many trees in India, and I know them only by name. It was an enjoyable experience to know more about them through this book. When I began reading, I had wondered if this would read like a text book. Yes, there are scientific inputs too, but it doesn’t read like a text book. The authors have put in various kinds of tidbits for this bibliophile to munch on.
Poetry from old texts that venerate a particular tree, recipes that sound absolutely delicious, snippets about tamarind seed shapes, origins of the trees, their relatively unknown qualities, some uses. It was fascinating. I had no idea that Arabians had called tamarind as tamar-i-hind, and that even though it’s identified as Indian, the plant is not really Indian. I didn’t know about the process that takes place before painting on the leaves of the peepal. I also loved the illustrations inside as well. I could go on writing about this, but I would just keep giving spoilers, and that’s not what I want to do.
The book is intriguing, so it can be finished quickly. But as a nature lover, I think I’d not rush through it. It has beauty in it, and as with a journey, it’s not about reaching the end but taking in every moment too. Even after reading for the first time, I find myself turning back the pages to find some snippet that I remember reading. I’m happy to not have missed this book.
Book Title: Cities and Canopies
Harini Nagendra and Seema Mundoli
Genre: Non-fiction / Nature
Publisher: Penguin Viking