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Bookless in Baghdad: Reflections on Writing and Writers

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  657 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Supermely personal, yet always probing and analytical, Shashi Tharoor, the acclaimed author of six books, all published by Arcade, is once again at his provocative best in this book that is part memoir, part essay and literary criticism.
Hardcover, 277 pages
Published July 11th 2005 by Arcade Publishing (first published January 1st 2005)
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Jan 29, 2013 rated it liked it
To Dr. Shashi Tharoor,
97 Lodhi Estate,
New Delhi-03
Tel: 24644035
Fax: 24654158

Subject:- A letter asking for apology

Respected Sir,
Like a scale firmly settled on a pipe, refusing to budge, the image that I have conjured up of your alleged persona from the various newspaper co-eds and news channels, preceded your merit. To tell you the truth, regardless of your impressive stint at the U.N., I had had never held you in a high opinion. The controversy surrounding I.P.L. (one mustn't bring out the
Oct 03, 2015 rated it liked it
A four-point guide to enjoying Bookless in Baghdad:

1. Skip the essays In Defence of the Bollywood Novel, A Novel of Collisions and Art for Heart’s Sake. These are essentially endorsements for his own books. Worse, they are pompous, self-indulgent, and annoyingly serious in tone. Tharoor’s trademark wit dries up when he starts talking himself and his books up.

Exhibit A:I have always believed that, as the very word ‘novel’ suggests, there must be something new or innovative about every novel one s
I was moved to the edge of kicking myself for not reading it before! Though only a collection of essays on reading and writing, this book is such an eye-opener!

Let me go to the background of how I picked up this book. I was with my mother for this huge prize-selection trip for her college students which required us to stay in a bookshop all day long. To pass my time, I picked up random books from various sheves without really noticing what titles I picked. Well, was I glad I picked this up!

I w
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The title of the book could make one assume that the book is about Shashi Tharoor’s time in Iraq, possibly as the Minister of State for External Affairs in India after 2009. But I am almost certain that he never visited Iraq in that capacity. I just bought the book simply because it is a Shashi Tharoor book and so it has got to be good, witty and insightful. I wasn’t disappointed. The subtitle ‘Other Writings about Reading’ gives away as to what the book is all about. It is a delightful collecti ...more
Jan 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
This book is a selection of the newspaper columns Shashi Tharoor has written over the years. Mr. Tharoor is a very well read man and at times one wonders if the point of this book is just to ensure that everyone is very well aware of that fact. He shares with us his eclectic taste in literature: his love for Wodehouse, why he thinks Rushdie is a hero, his sympathy towards Pushkin for his few Indian readers, why he finds R K Narayan's English bland, how he identifies with Neruda as a writer invol ...more
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There are books, and books about books. Bookless in Baghdad is a collection of Tharoor's previously published articles about his own books and the books that made him. What 'Bookless in Baghdad' does beyond being a collection of articles is, it provides a better view of Tharoor's literary canvas. In a few articles in Part one and Part three Tharoor reviews the reviews about his books.

I can imagine Tharoor knocking the pinhead-reviewer in exasperation and clarifying: "Mahabharata's (Its) relevan
Rajiv Bhattacharya
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book . In fact I love books on books . The last one I read was the one by orhan pamuk . The English in this book is top notch . Also it's very inspiring to read that shashi tharoor has read so many books and more so 365 books in one year . I have read only his novel 'riot ' apat from this book . But I'm a big fan of the guy and may end up reading more of his books . This is a good book to get some inspiration to read even more books . The only downside : the title is totally mislead ...more
Oviya Balan
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
This was the first time I read any of Shashi Tharoor's work. Something about his writing was intriguing. I loved his knowledge about various books and poems. His words on various poets and their works just proved how inspiring their words were. Such a fun read. Perfect for a travel time. Highly recommend it.
A Man Called Ove
Writing, Reading, criticism, book-reviews, musings - this book is a joyride if u like Tharoor's elegance, wit and irreverence. The essays on his college St Stephen and the last essay were boring but enjoyed almost all of the rest.
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Each article was not just to read, but to reflect upon and google on the facts that I was not aware of.
Thanks for the fab language used by Mr. Tharoor.

May 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shashi Tharoor, in his present role as Minister, may have come under a lot of attack for a variety of reasons. When he recently put himself up at a five star suite for months on end, because the government bungalow was not ready, many thought it was unbecoming of a public representative. I felt the same. The intellectual elitism and the accompanying lifestyle that served him well all these years while he worked for the United Nations started to stick out like a sore thumb in his role as a public ...more
Divyansh Thakur
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Tharoor has done a wonderful job in compiling this collection of essays. His sentences showcase a sharp yet diplomatic tongue-in-cheek wit which mirror his career, and yet, at times defy his politics(The Critic as a Cosmetologist). I give it four stars because, at times, the prose gets redundant, opulent and disconnected from reality. However, take the externalities out of the equation and you have on your hands a wonderful meditation on the nature of reading, writing, and, of course, redundancy ...more
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
As the cover says, this is a collection of writings on writers. I will make away with the worst of it first. Unfortunately Shashi Tharoor cones across as woefully self-absorbed in many of the pieces, especially the ones where he defends his own books. I was particularly aghast by the response he wrote to a certain critic and referred to her physique in the process, presumably but not rightfully, because of her criticism of his desi attire had wound him so. Surely he can do much better.

I am alwa
Akshat Solanki
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I don't understand why are there a handful of reviews for this great book.
Yeah, actually, it's a one of the best books by Shashi Tharoor.
Through this book, he has sighted on the literary, writing style of famous Indian writers, who offered a great literature to Indian readers.
I could not imagine myself bookless at home or anywhere I go, if it's going to happen ever then it would be same like that of happened to Shashi Tharoor.
The book is a must read and will give you a perspective on the Indian
A fine collection of essays & columns by Tharoor that deal with subjects ranging from the development of his reading habits as a kid, literature, his literary influences, book reviews & reviewers, the writers he loves & hates, anecdotes about fellow writers to his career as a UN diplomat, global issues such as terrorism, globalization & how literature might prove effective in atleast partially solving them.

Not to be missed if you're a fan of the author.
Jun 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Tharoor is always readable, whether for his articles, or for his non fiction, especially in The Great Indian Novel. These pieces have appeared elsewhere earlier, nevertheless are worth reding again. In this edition one comes to know a bit more about Tharoor the person with the small revelations he makes about his personal life to emphasize a point.
Jan 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary, compilation
A bit self indulgent, nevertheless a nice book. Looking forward to read his novels.
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent, provocative and thoughtful set of essays on different aspects of personal (and professional) encounters with literature.
Suyog Garg
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Liked the book immensely.

Tharoor's erudite responses and opinions are immensely thought engaging. Most of his writings here are previously published material, however this eclectic collection reads far better together. I liked Poets of Protocol a tad more than other pieces in the books. His insightful discussion of poets from across the world and what seems to connect them, is quite interesting. And so are his ruminations along the Al Mutanabbi street in Baghdad relating to war and leisure and
Muthu Raj
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shashi Tharoor’s ‘Bookless in Baghdad’ is a collection of essays about Writing, Writers, himself as a writer, books and critics. He also manages to write about India and Globalization, all in relation to writing. The very first essay is him telling us the books he grew up with. And so convincing was his mention of P.G.Wodehouse, I immediately made sure a copy of his anthology was ready to be borrowed as soon as I went back to college.
I cannot afford to provide the summary of all such essays in
Having read numerous newspaper articles of shashi tharoor along with a compilation of the same in the elephant the tiger and the cellphone I thought I had become fairly acquainted with his views on everything remotely related to him and to his mother land.
So when I decided to pick this book lured by the fact that I was able to get a decent condition hardback copy in second hand, my expectations were very low.

After reading on the jacket that this is another compilation of his articles written f
Kanika Sisodia
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the first book by Tharoor that I have read, and I found it quite interesting for the fact that it has a collection of essays primarily focusing on various Authors and the pressing need to read and write good literature. I learned many things leafing through the pages, for instance about Rushdie, Pablo Neruda and Pushkin, for instance I did not know that there existed a Wodehouse society in Stephens and the only one in the world! Looking at other reviews I gathered that not many people li ...more
Karan Kamble
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My respect for Shashi Tharoor has enormously increased after reading this book. His knowledge of all things literary is astounding. The book was a generous invitation into Tharoor's literary world, and I was left with the experience of actually having travelled to its every corner.

His explosive enthusiasm on matters relating to India is highly infectious. And this comes from a man whose every novel is a depiction of Indian culture and heritage in one sense or another. His wisdom as a writer is s
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up in Kerala on my first visit to India. This book is a collection of Tharoor's newspaper columns, all centered around a 'writers and writing' theme. He is clearly passionate and well-informed about all things literary and Indian, and his passion is certainly contagious.

Tharoor chronicles topics as wide-ranging as India's global image to 'The Great Indian Novel'. Each essay initiated hours of personal research. All in all, a fantastic and fascinating lens to examine India tho
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Thanks you Tharoor - for giving me a flash back into every single phase of an enthusiastic Indian reader's life!
What most surprised me was how accurately his chronology, setting, thoughts and favourite authors matched my own and of most of the other readers that I know of. Anyone who has EVER found themselves reading medical prescriptions off of tablet boxes and their pamphlets in lack of books (which I usually did when we were shifting one city to another and hadn't unpacked all our things in t
The book reflects Tharoor's status as a very well read man and a writer. While his writings could have been less self centered and more informative on the literary scene, i do not think i have much to complain. If you get used to his flamboyance then the book is a good breezy read. Shashi Tharoor's views are very balck and white especially on Chiurchill and Nirad Chaudhury. Pretty witty, toungue in cheek review of classics from the contemporary as well as the classic world this book will appeal ...more
Abhishek Malik
This book of Mr.Tharoor puts on display numerous essays about reading and books. He covered a wide range on books, writers, traditions and criticism.

From telling us about his childhood days and how books became dear to him; to how he looks upon the eminent contemporary authors and some grt authors from the prvious generation.

Some of the essays were not of particular interest for me but over all it's a joyful read for anyone who love books and want to go on a bumpy ride of the reading world with
Sarinkumar Ps
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: inspiring
He is a man of contradictions all the time... even these days his name is in the headlines, this book showed me how Shashi Tharoor is molded with his wast reading and literary life. Also answered my question how a good book can influence one persons thoughts..
Yoginder Agarwal
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Tharoor is fantastic. Thought provoking, sarcastic, witty, he takes us on a bibliophile's journey through these essays. His incisive, invocative comments amaze with his mastery over the language. This is my second book by him. I sure want more...
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It is the quintessential Shashi Tharoor book filled with criticism and sarcasm. He has described his taste for books ranging from Wodehouse to Pablo Neruda and likes of Churchill as well. The best is you can pick up the book from any chapter and yet feel so connected with the jocularity!
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Shashi Tharoor is a member of the Indian Parliament from the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in Kerala. He previously served as the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information and as the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs.

He is also a prolific author, columnist, journalist and a human rights advocate.

He has served on the Board of Overseers of the Fle

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