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Thursday, December 08, 2016

Spiti (The Grace of the Sublime): A Great Coffee Table Book

Do you love to read? One of the biggest perks of traveling is the rich avenues it provides to book lovers. These could be at airports, in flights or trains, on beaches, relaxing next to the hotel swimming pool and at many other places. I am not a voracious reader, but I do read from time to time. Don’t have any specific genre preferences, but I like graphic novels, coffee table books, books on human evolution and (auto)biographies.

I definitely read more than the reviews I write here on the blog. May be, I have been plain lazy! But, there was something about this coffee table book on Spiti that wanted me to write this review. May be, I liked the concept. May be, I liked the rich colorful photographs of this mountain region. Or may be, I liked the author’s honest story.

Interiors and Exteriors of Life in Spiti

Like most mountain lovers, I dig the Himalayas and Spiti happens to be one of the mountain regions that is closest to my heart. I guess there is something about its remoteness, tranquillity and surreal nature that talks to me and makes me find my peace. I guess that is what made me pick up the book ‘Spiti – The Grace of the Sublime’ by Pratik Sharma and Kshitij Bader. And when I put it down an hour later, I could completely relate to the author’s experience exploring this beautiful mountain region of Himachal Pradesh.

Monk's Life in Spiti Valley through a coffee table book

This book, ‘Spiti – The Grace of the Sublime’, published through the self publishing platform Notion Press, falls into many categories. You could call it a coffee table book, a photo book or a travel diary. It is that kind of book that helps you learn about a destination in rapid time through a personal story and great photographs. In this book, Pratik, the author and a professional photographer, has been dreaming of a trip to Spiti valley for many years, but due to personal and professional commitments, he never could quite make it. I am pretty sure that in this regard, Pratik wasn’t any different than the millions of us dreaming about a special destination. When he finally found his moment of glory, he was worried about his sleep apnea condition, and this trip to Spiti, helped him overcome his medical condition and take him closer to the divine.

The author constructs his story using flowery sentences, which I don’t like, but I could definitely connect with that feeling of peace that the author was feeling when he was in Spiti. That feeling of emptiness where there is absolute no thought floating in your head and one that enriches your senses is what I personally love about the high mountains. This book is not just about the destination, but the connection that the author made with these high mountain villages and landscapes. Pratik covered the usual trail of Spiti that includes Kaza, Ki, Kibber, Langza, Komic, Dhankar, Tabo before ending the trip with a visit to Chandra Taal Lake. He went as part of an organized tour group, but I liked the fact that he connected with the place like he was all alone.

The rich colors of Spiti Valley

While this book is perfect company for a travel lover, mountain lover and one who like to scroll pages quickly, I felt the ending was kind of abrupt. May be, I connected with the story and wanted to read and know more. But, for some reason, the story suddenly dies and out comes the end. I hope that isn’t the case in his future books.

While I relished the 60 minutes I spent with this book, I have been thinking about the overall concept of this self publishing platform ever since. So many of us travelers have our own sweet stories that we want to publish, but don’t know where to start. God knows, how many such stories and experiences I have in me. These days, all of us carry good cameras or good mobile phones that allows you to take decent photographs. And a lot of us want to do and experience something different. And we end up experiencing that. These I think form the strong roots of a coffee table book. A coffee table book that we can publish on our own with some guidance. Or may be, a full fledged book!

Vibrant Coffee Table Book on Spiti

After reading this book, I looked up Notion Press’s online book publishing platform and store and found out that they help with almost everything that goes with publishing. Stuff, that regular people, do not have exposure to! They help with editing, book design, creating your e-book, marketing, distribution, calculating royalties and so much more. They pretty much work with all the publishing houses in India and cover all the e-book channels such as Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Google Play and Rockstand. I am definitely planning to look them up in detail. May be, you should too. If you just wish to read, their online store packs quite a rich and diverse collection.



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