Literature is considered the best source to understand and combat social issues. Be it throughout history or in recent times, books have helped raise awareness, educate, and inspire.
One of my blogging goals for 2021 was to concentrate on books and particularly lesser-known books. I have always used my platform to promote books that often slip under the radar. Books that often miss all the hype and deserve more love.
This year, Blogchatter championed three causes – Gender Talks, Mental Health Talks, and Environmental Talks through their #CauseAChatter campaign. All through 2020, I helped raise awareness about allergies. In 2021, I decided to recommend books in alignment with the causes.
Read on as I summarize the #CauseAChatter 2021 series. By no means an exhaustive list. But essential reads nonetheless.
Gender Talks was my first pick for the #CauseAChatter campaign. In fact, I had initially planned to only discuss books on the cause. But with so many books out there waiting to be explored, I chose recommendations across genres and causes on empowering literature that inspires. Fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, biographies, poetry, and essays. Diverse writing, contemporary and historical works by women, men, and non-binaries.
Feminism is a broad topic and each of us has our own interpretation of the term. When we think of books on feminism and gender equality, We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tops everyone’s list. But there are books about topics closer to home. Topics you and I as Indians can relate to. And writings we are often unaware of.
Indian women writers have always questioned societal norms through their writing. From Ismat Chughtai to Amrita Pritam to Mahasweta Devi, feminist literature has always had a significant impact. The literature has shaped the modern Indian woman of today who challenges patriarchy on a daily basis. And there are numerous lesser-known books that are brilliant and thought-provoking.
Indian literature has a rich history of feminist writings. Women writers have presented thought-provoking works that have explored female sexuality, smashed patriarchy, and were often political critiques. Contemporary authors have continued to raise issues with fresh perspectives.
We have much-needed conversations around feminism, patriarchy, and its impact on women. How toxic masculinity affects the LGBTQ+ community. But there is one topic that is rarely talked about. The impact of toxic masculinity on men. I shared two books about how toxic masculinity impacts men and particularly adolescents. Two books that could not be different from each other. But books that are an honest reflection of what it means to be a man in today’s world.
Literature plays an important role in increasing social awareness and empathy. Authors have always yielded their pen to help remove pre-conceived notions around mental illness. Shattering stereotypes. Busting myths and misconceptions. It is a no-brainer that mental illness is still taboo in India. It is a difficult conversation that does not allow the person to share. Add to it the lack of knowledge of available resources.
Not that literature has not been equally responsible for romanticizing mental health. Perpetuating stigma and discrimination. Adding to the already damning misconceptions.
There are numerous books on mental health by Indian authors. Over the past decade, there have been more conversations around mental health and a marked improvement in how it is represented in literature. Unfortunately, those sharing their experiences are still few and far between.
Mental illness is isolating. Reading a personal narrative or a memoir helps those struggling find a voice. To accept their illness and more importantly, themselves. The memoirs also help create a much-needed awareness and generate empathy. Creating a safe place for those suffering to share and seek help.
The mental and physiological well-being of a family caregiver is extremely important. Books have a two-fold therapeutic effect on caregivers. They not only help cope with stress but also help provide an insight into the experiences of others dealing with a similar situation. I shared recommendations of insightful narratives that provide comfort and help them feel includedLiterature & Social Issues: Essential Reads on Gender Equality, Mental Health, and Environment #CauseAChatter @blogchatter #BohoPonderings Click To Tweet
We live in the Anthropocene Epoch, an era of significant human impact on the earth’s geology and ecosystems. With the deteriorating state of our planet, it is imperative now more than ever to understand the gravity of the situation. We don’t need just the Earth Day to warn us about the dire state of affairs.
Recently, there has been a surge in the number of books about the environment. Across a range of topics including climate change, endangered species, the effect of industrialization on the environment, and sustainable living. From grim takes to optimistic solutions. Books that shock, books that shake us out of our stupor. But books that also give hope that all is not lost.
There can never be too many books on the environment. In fact, Indian books on the environment are barely a fraction of the ones released worldwide. Therefore it is no surprise that the information included rarely focuses on Indian geology. The melting Gangotri glacier. The frequent floods. The forest fires in Uttarakhand. The rising sea level around Mumbai. Issues closer to home and those that impact us.
Our planet is struggling to cope with the damage we are inflicting on a daily basis. We are well aware of the term “climate change”. But are we really aware of what it entails? What is causing it? And most importantly, what needs to be done to manage it? Particularly in the Indian context? I shared about books on climate change that were India-centric. Books about the damaging effects. Books on political and social apathy. But also books about hope.
India is considered one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world. Given the rich variety of ecosystems and geographic landscapes, it contains over seven percent of all recorded species of plants and animals. Before we proceeded any further, it was necessary to educate ourselves about the rich natural history of the Indian subcontinent, and India in particular. Before we got to saving the environment and conserving nature, we needed to understand the biodiverse ecozones.
India is in the midst of Holocene extinction. Extinction as a result of human activity. Each year, over 150 species of plants and animals go extinct. It is now or never! My next series of recommendations were books to help raise environmental awareness. Books ranging from conservation to degradation. From wildlife to marine life. From pollution to global warming.
Lately, environmentalism and books on the environment have become mainstream. Popular authors such as Amitav Ghosh, Ramachandra Guha, and Madhav Gadgil have immensely contributed to it with their impactful writings. Moreover, literary festivals feature panel discussions on conservation and the environment each year.
But not many are aware that India has a rich history of regional literature on the environment. The Chipko Movement, the Silent Valley Protests, and the Narmada Bachao Andolan have greatly contributed to it. There have been writers and poets including Sambalpuri poet and writer Haldhar Nag, Kannada poet Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre, and Malayali poet and activist Sugathakumari. Unfortunately, most of them have remained relatively obscure. The books are limited to the original language and rarely translated.
Raising environmentally responsible children is not a choice anymore. It is a necessity. Children of today are going to inherit this damaged earth from us although we hope we can rectify that somehow. Needless to say, it is never too early to start them on environmentalism. I shared books for environmentally aware young children. Books that discuss serious issues such as global warming and plastic waste without being all dull and boring Books that appeal to young minds. And not so young minds.
Literature & Social Issues: Essential Reads on Gender Equality, Mental Health, and Environment #CauseAChatter @CindyAnnDSilva @nooranand @iwantamojobox #BlogaberryDazzle #BohoPonderings Click To Tweet
As the final quarter of the #CauseAChatter campaign draws to a close, it has indeed been yet another fulfilling journey. Hope my attempt at raising awareness about the social causes via book recommendations has been fruitful. As an advocate of #CauseAChatter, I plan to continue to raise awareness.
This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla in collaboration with Mojo Box – A great way to sample brands before buying them.