“Kaleidoscope City: A Year in Varanasi”

Piers Moore Ede

Varanasi (formerly Benares) is a city on the Ganges in northern India. It’s an ancient city, continuously inhabited for thousands of years, and is considered a holy city by Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists. The previous sentence is a pretty dry description; this book — which I read before visiting Varanasi — reveals a lot about the life of the city. But nothing can compare to being there: it’s chaotic, colorful, dirty, loud, and beautiful. From a boat on the Ganges you see people doing laundry, people engaged in ritual bathing, and cremation fires, all over a fairly short distance. I’d recommend “Kaleidoscope City” to anyone with the least interest in India or its religions. Now that I’ve been to the city, I may read the book again.

“All Kinds of Magic: A Quest for Meaning in a Material World”

Piers Moore Ede

I might not have discovered this had I not read Ede’s “Kaleidoscope City“, but I’m glad I did. It’s the story of Englishman Ede’s search for “something”. He went — and takes reader — to India, Turkey and to an ayahuasca ceremony. I enjoyed the book, but as I read it I kept wanting to yell at him, “why are you ignoring the spiritual traditions of your own culture!?”.