Sign up for our Champaca Book Subscription!
Cart 0

Recap: Champaca Book Subscription Year Three — Loneliness & Connection

We have arrived at the end of another year of our Champaca Book Subscription! With three years under our belt, we are thrilled to have been able to explore topics in depth, through books from far and wide, and to be able to share them with you. In our first year, we read translations from across India and the world, and in our second year, we reimagined what travel could mean to us outside of our usual understanding. 

In year three, from July 2022 to June 2023, we read around the themes of Loneliness and Connection. These are twin themes, two sides of the same coin. Loneliness is a collective experience, one that counterintuitively connects humanity. In the midst of this loneliness – that emerges out of multiple reasons – we wondered if we could focus on positive connections that we make. We zeroed in on four perspectives: finding refuge in nature and the world around us, finding our communities through shared lived experiences, building connections through objects and ideas, and exploring meaningful relationships. 

You can pick up your copies of the books we sent here! 

We also encourage you to join us as we enter year four of the Champaca Book Subscription: Reading India. 

Nature as Refuge

In our first three months, we explored the idea of nature as a refuge. In times of loneliness, we often find ourselves turning to the natural world – whether in water, birds, trees, or just a quiet place on our street where we can watch the clouds. But we wondered, could we think about this more deeply? Our relationships with nature are rarely as simple as they seem. 

One of the reasons we decided to explore the theme of “nature as refuge” is that loneliness is a serious mental health concern, and contact with nature can significantly reduce feelings of loneliness. We hope that, together, these books can help us reflect on what nature means to us, and where we stand in it. We are reminded of this quote by Ocean Vuong: “& remember, / loneliness is still time spent / with the world”.

JULY 2022: To The River by Olivia Laing
Companion book: A Book of New Beginnings edited by Jerry Pinto

To The River combines meticulous research of the River Ouse and its political and cultural history with the author’s reflection of her own week-long walk around the river. It offered us a thoughtful dimension of Virginia Woolf, who died by suicide in this river, and a glimpse into a landscape through time. 

AUGUST 2022: Aranyak by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay

Companion book: The Mirror of Wonders by Syed Rafiq Hussain, translated from Urdu by Saleem Kidwai 

In Aranyak, we explored the idea of our complicated relationships with nature. How is our view of nature shaped by our social locations? In Aranyak, Satyacharan, a graduate from Calcutta in quest of a job, agrees to work as a manager of a vast tract of forested land in northern Bihar, to 'settle' the forest with tenants and agriculture. It is self-conscious and reflective, asking questions about the many things that connect and remove Satyacharan from the people and place: caste, hierarchies, and social location. How does that mirror our own lives and our own experiences with the natural world?

SEPTEMBER 2022: The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

Companion book: Walking is a Way of Knowing by Madhuri Ramesh and Manish Chandi 

The Word for World is Forest is science fiction set on an imagined planet, in which we see the story of an oppressed forest-dwelling species react to colonial violence. Selver, of the oppressed Athsheans, transmutes into something different as he resists his coloniser. In this book, as in many of her books,  Le Guin condemns colonialism, destructive resource extraction, power inequalities, ecological destruction and war. 

Here’s a glimpse of the books we considered but ultimately did not send out in our nature as refuge theme. They may not have made the cut — but we definitely recommend them!

Finding Community

Next, we read about finding community – the many ways in which we find, and create, communities based around our identities, our interests, our geographical locations. Stories of the queer community and the Dalit community, for example, can be stories of great strength, connection, and empathy formed through connections with other people who have something in common. And of course, as a bookstore, we also wanted to explore the powerful effect that a community formed around books can have on us. 

OCTOBER 2022: Coming Out As Dalit by Yashica Dutt

Companion book: We Also Made History, edited by Urmila Pawar and Meenakshi Moon

Yashica Dutt describes her memoir as “an act of bearing witness to what it means to be Dalit in a grossly unfair society”. Combining her personal story with a broad historical and cultural overview of the caste system in India, Coming Out As Dalit is a powerful and engaging read. It helps us in understanding how marginalisation is embodied how it manifests in ordinary, everyday situations. And it shows us the power of communities, the power in discovering shared experiences, and the possibilities of a new way of living. 

NOVEMBER 2022: Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis

Companion book: Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi

In Cantoras, we visit Uruguay of the 1970s, a country under military dictatorship. Here, five women find refuge in a small house by the sea. They are ‘cantoras’, meaning ‘women who sing’, a euphemism created in the absence of the words we use today: lesbian, queer, bisexual. Faced with a variety of confines – of secrecy, marriage, patriarchy, military oppression, and a near-constant fear of violence – they strive for a way to be authentically themselves, and find it with each other, in a community of their own making that understands them. Cantoras is a hopeful and affecting glimpse into a largely forgotten history. 

DECEMBER 2022: The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Companion book: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

One of the most important communities to us as a bookstore is the one formed around books! In The Library Book, Orleans tells the story of a terrible fire that consumed the public library at Los Angeles in 1986. But this is only a part of a larger picture – Orleans weaves in the stories of arsonists, Fahrenheit 451, the history of public libraries, culminating in a book that both highlights and celebrates the incredible power of a library in a community. The idea of a fire is terrifying, but more terrifying yet is the idea of a city without the ideas that books offer, and of lives without the nourishment of libraries!

Here’s a glimpse of the books that we considered for our “finding community” theme. These are stories of powerful communities, built around revolutionary ideas and shared experiences.

Building Connections

There are many ways in which we build connections in times of loneliness and we don’t necessarily always build them with people. We wanted to explore the tools and the things that we come to rely on in our effort to build connections. 

We go through our days building connections in all sorts of unexpected ways, through objects and ideas and places. We think of all of these as acts of communication – sharing a meal; finding a way, across barriers, to connect with someone else; searching for a “home”. In reading these books, we’re reminded of Kazuo Ishiguro’s quote in his Nobel acceptance speech: “But in the end, stories are about one person saying to another: This is the way it feels to me. Can you understand what I’m saying? Does it also feel this way to you?”

JANUARY 2023: The Year of Miracles by Ella Risbridger

Companion Book: Be My Guest by Priya Basil

In this memoir, Ella Risbridger copes with grief after the death of her partner, finding lightness and hope through food, memories and the growing of a garden. Full of gentle, soothing recipes, and recollections and anecdotes from a tough year in the author’s life, this is a beautiful, hopeful book, reminding us of simple ways to seek togetherness.

FEBRUARY 2023: Intimacies by Katie Kitamura

Companion book: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

In Intimacies, we meet a nameless narrator at the crossroads of her life working a difficult job as interpreter at the International Court, living in a new city, and in an intense and confusing new relationship. In each of these crises are the intertwined, related emotions of loneliness and connection. Intimacies is a deeply thoughtful interrogation of the idea of intimacy and violence; love and unknowability; language and miscommunication and where they intersect with and disrupt each other.  

Watch our online conversation with Katie Kitamura, where she talks about her use of language, unnamed narrators, and how she arrived at the idea of this book.

MARCH 2023: The House Next to the Factory by Sonal Kohli

Companion book: I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

The House Next to the Factory consists of nine lightly interlinked short stories, set over a span of 30 years from 1980 to 2010, mostly in Delhi but sometimes Paris and London. They are anchored by the titular ‘house next to the factory’ and its many occupants and visitors over the years. We meet families who come and go, grandmothers, businessmen, tuition teachers, domestic help, cousins, friends, acquaintances and lovers. This is a glimpse into quiet everyday lives, and a reminder of the ways in which our lives intersect with so many others. 

Watch our online conversation with Sonal Kohli on stories about a house, her writing journey, and her reading recommendations

Here’s a glimpse of the books that almost made it to our “building connections” theme. We read widely for this theme, stories about food, language, home, and love; we highly recommend all the ones that didn’t make the cut.

Meaningful Relationships

And finally, we wondered if we could zero in on the power of specific, one-to-one relationships. There’s an infinity of possibilities between family, friends, lovers, even with strangers on the bus. 

APRIL 2023: The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
Companion book: Knotted Grief  by Naveen Kishore

We thought we’d start with an unusual one the connection between people and pets. In the wake of a dear friend’s death by suicide, the writer finds herself in possession of his Great Dane. Both of them are grief-stricken, heartbroken, and attempting to find their way in a new world without their mutual friend. The Friend is the story of many friends, but is also a piece of philosophical writing on essential questions about connections, death and the writing life. 

MAY 2023: Lonely Castle In The Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura

Companion book: The Sad Book by Michael Rosen

Translated from Japanese by Phillip Gabriel, Lonely Castle in the Mirror is about seven lonely children, who each discover a portal within their mirrors. The portal leads to a mysterious castle inhabited by an equally mysterious wolf-girl, who offers them a quest – to find a key hidden in the castle somewhere. Lonely Castle in the Mirror is a story of young people struggling – with anxiety, bullying, loneliness – and the strength they find in friendship, in knowing they are not alone. This is a fairytale written for adults, a reminder that though we feel there is a gap between children and grown ups, we really are the same.

JUNE 2023: Vita & Virginia: Love Letters by Virginia Woolf & Vita Sackville-West

Companion book: A mystery book!

Finally, we closed with a Virginia Woolf book, coming full circle from To The River – this time, a collection of letters between Woolf and her lover and friend, Vita Sackville-West. This is a glimpse into an intimate friendship and love affair, and into the mind of a troubled and brilliant writer. For many of us, this story of queer love, hidden away from English literature courses that often put Virginia back in the closet, is a source of warmth, hope and strength. They remind us that often it has been the experiences of the unconventional and hidden away that have brought us great literature and ideas.

Three books is not enough to explore the breadth of relationships that make us who we are. Here’s a glimpse of the books that almost made it to our “meaningful relationships” theme

We have spent the last year thinking deeply about the experience of loneliness, and through the books we read, we have a deeper appreciation for the myriad ways in which our connections are formed and strengthened and the importance of recognising the places we occupy in a network of relationships, seen and unseen. We hope that you’ve enjoyed these books, and we’re looking forward to reading more with you.



Older Post Newer Post

  • Aida Ness on

    Hey there,

    I hope this email finds you in high spirits. I’m Ram, a freelance SEO wizard with a knack for boosting website rankings and driving organic traffic. And guess what? I’ve got something that will take your SEO strategy to new heights!

    You know, backlinks are like the secret sauce of search engine optimization. They’re the fuel that propels your website to the top of search results. And lucky for you, I specialize in creating top-notch backlinks that pack a punch!

    Now, I don’t want to keep you waiting. If you’re ready to skyrocket your website’s visibility, I invite you to check out my backlink building gigs on Fiverr. Just visit [] and you’ll be greeted by a treasure trove of backlink goodness.

    From guest posting on high-authority websites to crafting hyper-relevant niche backlinks, I’ve got the skills to make your website shine. I’m like a magician, weaving the perfect web of backlinks that will captivate search engines and draw in valuable organic traffic.

    So, here’s the deal. Head over to [] and explore the range of backlink building services I offer. Each gig is crafted with care and backed by my expertise in the ever-changing world of SEO. Whether you’re a small business, a startup, or an established brand, I’ve got you covered.

    Oh, and don’t worry—I’m not just about business. If you have any questions, specific requirements, or just want to chat about your SEO goals, shoot me a message through Fiverr’s messaging system. I’m always here to lend a helping hand and offer expert advice.

    Let’s boost your website’s visibility, outrank the competition, and bask in the glory of top search engine rankings! Visit [] now to kick-start your backlink journey.

    Looking forward to teaming up and making your website shine!



  • Crystal Kadir on

    Hey there!

    Hope this email finds you groovin’ and movin’!

    I just couldn’t resist popping into your inbox with some seriously awesome news. I’m Crystal Kadir, a freelance writing maestro who’s all about spicing up the blogging scene. And guess what? I’m itching to bring my creative genius to your stellar blog—for free!

    I thrive on serving up juicy advice and turning it into spellbinding articles that make readers go, “Whoa, mind blown!” So, if you’ve got a couple of mind-blowing article titles that fit my wicked expertise, consider it a match made in writer’s paradise!

    Here’s the deal: you dish out the titles, and I’ll work my magic, transforming them into informative and captivating pieces that’ll leave your readers craving more. Sounds like an epic collaboration, right?

    Get ready to buckle up because my writing superpowers are faster than a rocket-powered disco ball! I’ll whip up those fantastic articles and have them groovin’ in your inbox within a week. Yep, you heard it right—just a week!

    I am seriously stoked about the possibility of teaming up with you. So, bring on those killer titles, and let’s create pure writing magic together!

    Sending you waves of creative energy,

    Crystal Kadir

    Sent from my MacBook Pro

  • Clarence Glover on

    Hey there!

    Are you ready to boost your website’s SEO to the next level? Look no further because I’ve got the backlink building expertise you need! I’m Jamshed, a backlink guru with a passion for helping businesses like yours skyrocket their online presence.

    I’ve got some exciting news—I offer top-notch backlink building services that will supercharge your website’s visibility. Whether you’re a small business, an aspiring blogger, or a seasoned entrepreneur, I’ve got the skills and know-how to take your website from hidden gem to shining star.

    Imagine your website ranking higher in search engine results, attracting more organic traffic, and leaving your competitors in the digital dust. Well, with my backlink building services, that dream can become a reality.

    Here’s the deal—I’m all about quality over quantity. I specialize in building high-quality, authoritative backlinks that search engines love. No spammy links or shady tactics here! I’ll carefully select relevant and reputable websites to place your backlinks, ensuring maximum impact and long-term success.

    But wait, there’s more! I offer a range of gig options on Fiverr to fit your specific needs and budget. From targeted outreach to guest posting and niche-specific link building, I’ve got the right package to propel your website to new heights.

    Working with me means you’ll get personalized attention, transparent communication, and results that speak for themselves. I’m dedicated to your success and will go above and beyond to deliver the backlinks your website deserves.

    So, are you ready to unleash the power of backlinks and watch your website soar? Head over to my Fiverr gig at to learn more and take the first step toward online greatness.

    Don’t miss out on this opportunity to level up your SEO game. Let’s join forces and build a backlink empire that will make your competitors green with envy!

    If you have any questions or want to discuss your specific backlink needs, feel free to reach out. I’m here to help and can’t wait to work with you!

    Wishing you backlink success,


  • Tatyana Dyachenko on

    Dear Team at,

    I hope this message finds you well. I am reaching out as a freelance writer and part-time journalist with experience writing for various magazines and news outlets.

    I am currently working on expanding my online presence and would like to propose a collaboration with you and I would be delighted to contribute expert articles to your blog on at no cost. If you are interested, please provide me with 5 topics, and I will deliver the articles to you within approximately one week.

    Thank you for considering this collaboration opportunity, and I look forward to the possibility of working together.

    Kind regards,

    Tatyana Dyachenko

  • Natalia Alvarado on

    Hey there!

    By way of introduction, I am a freelance writer and a part-time journalist with a handful of magazines and news outlets.

    I am presently working on expanding my online presence and wanted you to offer the following collaboration:

    I can write up some expert articles for your blog on free of charge. If you are interested, please send me 5 topics and I will revert to you with the articles in around a week’s time.

    I look forward to our collaboration.

    Kind regards

    Natalia Alvarado

    Sent from my Windows Mail

Leave a comment