"From speeding illegally down the avenues of New York with Italian men in their Alfa Romeos to the hospitals of Brooklyn with doctors who like stirrups; from charming, silver-tongued Oriental drug dealers to musicians who alternately delight and terrorise her; there is nothing predictable about her adventures."
Yesteryears Bollywood actress Meena Kumari's lyrical and emotional poems, a quirky look at sex from a woman's point of view, cooler climes of Mussoorie and Landour and some roller-coaster adventures; the IANS bookshelf this week is an eclectic mix of genres. Take a look.

1. Book: Meena Kumari: The Poet; Author: Translated by Noorul Hasan; Publisher: Lotus Roli; Pages: 160; Price: Rs. 395

Meena Kumari was not only an iconic star of Hindi cinema, she was also a poet of great flair and delicacy. This book contains a compelling selection of her poems in the original Urdu and in brilliant English translations by Noorul Hasan.

Haunting, crystalline and precisely observed, Meena Kumari's poetry reveals a side of her personality that was rarely on display in her films. It proves beyond any doubt that she was a much more sensitive and self-aware woman than her fans tend to realise.

With a selection of critical and biographical material on Meena Kumari, including a concise introductory essay in which Daisy Hasan and Philip Bounds argue that

much of Meena Kumari's poetry can be read as a barbed critique of Indian popular culture, this book is essential reading for all her many admirers.

2. Book: Mussoorie and Landour: Footprints of the Past; Author: Virgil Miedema and Stephanie Spaid Miedema; Publisher: Rupa; Pages: 314; Price: Rs. 500

The twin hill stations of Mussoorie and Landour were established by the British in the early 19th century as a respite from the scorching heat and dust of the Indian summer on the plains. Even today, these towns continue to attract many visitors, thanks to their salubrious climate and leisurely way of life. While Mussoorie is more touristy and bustling, Landour is a quite getaway for those looking for a break from city life. Much has changed over the years, but both these places still retain an old-world charm - which adds to their appeal.

This book takes the reader on a historical tour of the two towns, from the late 18th century - when Frederick Young, the founder of Mussoorie and Landour Cantonment, was born in Ireland - up to India's Independence. With beautiful photographs, evocative illustrations and fascinating snippets of local lore, this book brings alive for modern readers the stories behind these charming hill stations.

3. Book: The Adventures of Stoob: Testing Times; Author: Samit Basu; Publisher; Red Turtle; Pages: 116; Price: Rs. 195

It's February, and Stoob is glad that he is almost done with Class 5. But just before he can heave a final sigh of relief, there is an announcement: the class test

marks have all been cancelled and getting through to middle school depends on one giant exam.

And that's how it starts, the whole nightmare that his future biographers will call Stoob's incredibly dangerous exam adventure. His life is turned upside down when his parents don't want him to do anything other than study, his friends Ishani and Rehan

suddenly go all pious and goody-goody-study-buddy and best friend Prithvi comes up with a top secret plan to face the exams without studying. Add to that a crow and some monkeys out to get him, and Stoob is about ready for a nervous breakdown.

4. Book: More Men On My Mind; Author: Radha Thomas; Publisher: Rupa; Pages: 284; Price: Rs. 295

This novel is a whimsical, quirky look at sex from a woman's point of view. In this sequel, the protagonist's hunt for a good man takes her not only around the world but also into her own soul. And both, she finds, aren't exactly what she expected.

From speeding illegally down the avenues of New York with Italian men in their Alfa Romeos to the hospitals of Brooklyn with doctors who like stirrups; from charming, silver-tongued Oriental drug dealers to musicians who alternately delight and terrorise her; there is nothing predictable about her adventures.

Life teaches her lessons the hard way, but she dusts herself pragmatically and soldiers on, skirting danger and flirting with potentially horrible endings.


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