This is the first time I am writing a book review, outside of grad school. I enjoyed writing it as much as I enjoyed reading the book.
When I start reading a non-fiction book, I have a certain pre-set notion in my mind, that it is going to be a tough read, because a non-fiction book brings with it a lot of data, statistics, historic milestones, etc. Sometimes it is hard to digest everything in one read. I have always treated non-fiction books like text books, where I know I will have to go back to them multiple times and re-read them to even get the confidence of quoting the facts from these books.
That being said about non-fiction books, Sidin Vadukut’s first attempt at a non-fiction book was very entertaining. It can be called a mini non-fiction book, quantitatively, based on the number of pages. It was a fast read, where facts were interspersed with the usual funny anecdotes of the author. It is hard to inject humor in a serious Indian history related non-fiction book, but Sidin Vadukut manages to mirror his twitter wit in the book. It is evident that the author has extensively researched a few facts in Indian history and acted like the Indian myth buster via this book. If I was a high school student in India, I would read this book as a fun social science reference book.
Through this book, the author urges us to adopt a sceptical attitude and not believe in things just by their face value. This attitude is especially important in this age when tons of hoax messages get forwarded through Whatsapp and Facebook. Friends forward supposedly informative messages under the guise of concern, without checking the veracity of that information, thus continuing the cycle of fake alarm. Same goes for messages, which get forwarded under religious and patriotic sentiments. A majority of these messages are just myths and bear no relation to truth. Sidin Vadukut, through his book, either bursts the bubble or authenticates some of the myths through his extensive research.
It is practically impossible for all of us to research the information that gets forwarded to us but we can always check the message with a sceptical lens. All it takes is to Google and verify if the message sent to us is genuine or a hoax. For example, one message was being circulated last year and it re-appeared this year. It said that it is a message from Delhi police that consumers should not drink Frooti, because a batch got contaminated with AIDS virus from the blood of a worker. As alarming as it sounds, it would take a minute to confirm from the internet if this news is actually true or not. And, in this case, this news was a hoax. Yet, it kept getting forwarded among educated people.
Although I have digressed from discussing about the book, the central theme of being a sceptic is common. This book will definitely motivate you to question some common Indian myths that have been “forwarded” over time and will make you think before you “forward”.
The Kindle edition of this book is available for $5.99.