Best Reads 2016: Poonam Dohutia


Without any hired help, I spend most of my spare time helping my kids and working around the house and garden. Gardening has been almost the new reading for me, in the past 10 years.  I find that I do not have a lot of time left over for reading. In my work I am privileged to read a lot about the Arctic, Climate Change, and Aboriginal issues. Outside of work I spend a lot of time reading/doing some peripheral research to fill my curiosity about anything to do with plants.  In the summer months I stock up on gardening books from garage sales, used book stores and in the winter months when the garden is covered in 4 feet of snow, I read, plan and dream about my garden.

A few reads that I learnt a lot from are:

Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes by Tamim Ansari. I really enjoyed learning about the history of Islam. It’s not so much a chronological account of Islam but a story of story of Islam.

Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden. Boyden is a very well-known Canadian Aboriginal writer. In this novel he poignantly describes Aboriginal experiences on and off Reserves, issues about colonialism, racism faced by Aboriginals. Some stories in this book will haunt me forever.

The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live, and Why They Matter by Colin Tudge. A beautiful and intense read about everything to do with trees—a biography of trees if you will. . “There are redwoods in California that were ancient by the time Columbus first landed, and pines still alive that germinated around the time humans invented writing. There are Douglas firs as tall as skyscrapers, and a banyan tree in Calcutta as big as a football field.”

Canadian Wildflowers by   Mary Ferguson and Richard Saunders: While growing up in Assam, my father—an avid gardener himself helped me identify numerous wildflowers including numerous varieties of orchids. While trekking in the woods, in Canada,  I often come across beautiful and interesting wildflowers that I am unable to identify. This book was a gem I found in my kids’ school used book store sale. Thanks to this book with photographs, now I am able to identify many of them.

Poonam Dohutia is a civil servant with the Canadian Federal Government. She was born and brought up in Assam and lived all over Assam. After doing her Master’s from Delhi University, Poonam did her Ph.D. in Philosophy from University of Waterloo. In her spare time she can be found gardening (Canadian weather permitting) in the summer months and planning about gardening during the harsh winter months. Poonam is passionate about Canadian Aboriginal issues and has been very privileged to travel to the Arctic.