Saturday, August 29, 2015

QUIET - Susan Cain

I read this book for the same reason most people read this book - I am an Introvert. And I must say Thank you Susan Cain for making this world a less confusing place for me. You have not made my life easier but I understand my problems better.

Being an introvert in a cut-throat management industry where everybody is desperate to "climb to the top" I have always been at the back seat. People all around me just talk, all the time, most of the time just rubbish but they talk and in the end get noticed. That has been the case everywhere, school, college, Group discussion, work, parties, everywhere. I have always struggled and am still struggling to "fit in" to be precise.

This world has always been pro-extroverts and introverts have suffered unless they found the perfect place and profession for them. The book for the most part only explains and acknowledges and craze for extroversion in this world. It also explains the cause of it and to some extent the way out of it. Well actually there is no way out of it. The world is this way and there is nothing you can do but adapt to it by pushing yourself every now and then and also giving yourself some space and time for yourself to recharge, basically to strike a balance. If you are an introvert and struggling to fit in then this book is a must read for you. It will not help you but it will validate your thoughts about it. Here are a couple of quotes for you from the book:

"Don't think of introversion as something that needs to be cured...Spend your free the way you like, not the way you think you're supposed to.” 

“There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.” 

AS THE CROW FLIES - Jeffrey Archer

After reading Kane and Abel who wouldn't be interested in Jeffrey Archer. And a few of my friends spoke very highly of this book. But in the end I was downright disappointed. Its a typical Jeffrey no doubt but the story line was very err... how do I say it?.. predictable good versus evil drama saga..Phew!!

I always thought pure good versus pure evil stories were only in fairy tales for children but I was wrong. Apparently adults love it equally. The good are just too good and the bad are just too bad with respect to everything - courage, honor, morals, success, sacrifice, character, and basically everything else in life.

This book is the saga of Charlie Trumper who, after his grandfather's death, takes over the running of his vegetable cart business in the streets of London during the first few years of the 20th century. The book follows his progress from the small cart, to owning all the shops in Chelsea street after his service in World War 1. It is obviously not going to be easy because of the bad guys who want to see his dream squashed (even though he has done nothing wrong to them).

I wouldn't recommend it at all if you are looking for a quality book and not just some light read. This plot is just too predictable, unrealistic and boring in my opinion.

RICH DAD POOR DAD - Robert T. Kiyosaki

For all those who are wondering what on earth this title "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" means, here it is. The authors real dad is a college lecturer and risk averse in general. Hence he is considered poor "financially". His school friend's dad on the other hand is a big businessman and hence considered rich, again "financially". It was really sad of him to demean his father for wanting a stable life but that is what the book focuses on - 'trying not to play safe in life'.

One very good thing about this book is that it doesn't tell you to be materialistic, rather it only tells you how to free yourself from being a slave to money. The book doesn't encourage you to drive the most expensive cars or buy the biggest diamonds on earth. All it tells you to do is know how much a normal living would cost you every month or year and ensure that you have that much money flowing in without any effort. OK so what is the universal mantra? Well the book doesn't reveal a big secret but what it does is provide a direction you can start thinking in. In the beginning of the book, the author tells us to work hard initially to an extent that you have enough money which you can put to work and then indirectly earn more money out of it without you putting any further effort. Obviously the part where you make your money work for you is not that easy which is what the rest of the book is about.

Its not like you will be a changed person overnight or that the book reveals anything new which you already don't know about but like I said before it will give you a direction and I think that is pretty good for a start if you are serious about it. Its a small book anyway so no harm in giving it a try in my opinion.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

MY SON'S STORY - Nadine Gordimer

Well, its like a poem, just a very very very long one. But don't listen to me. I mean come on, the author did get a Nobel Prize for Literature. The book was no doubt great. Just that I lost my patience after a while.

Before I get to that, let me tell you what the book is about. Its about this South African "Sonny" during the pre-independence era, who is educated, intelligent and a freedom fighter and who has an affair with a white social activist "Hannah". The book is  about the rise and fall of Sonny: his upbringing, his political struggle, his affair with Hanna, his relationship with his wife Aila, his favorite child Baby and son Will, before and after the affair, all mostly from the eyes (and heart) of his son. The story is short but very strong. It interweaves extremely sensitive topics like family and extra-marital affair with political struggle against racism and it is done beautifully.

The book keeps alternating between sections written from the son's point of view and those written from a third person's point of view. The sections shown as if written by the son mostly go on and on about how he is disgusted and feels betrayed by his father whom he once used to admire and idolize. It was good for a while like i said but then I eventually lost my patience and found his ramblings repititive. The rest shown from the third person's angle were about pieces where the son wasn't present or sometimes from the father's point of view as well which I found interesting.  The transition between the sections happen all of the sudden and might get you confused. The writing isn't simple also because of the usage of complex sentences by the author.

If you ask me, I think its definitely a must read, mainly for the story and the characters (Strong and intriguing personalities, each one of them I must say) in it. Just ensure you are prepared for a young boy's rant about his father's betrayal.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

14 STORIES THAT INSPIRED SATYAJIT RAY - Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

Well, the usual collection of short and simple stories which are more than just that. Each story (barring a couple of them maybe) is meaningful, well thought out, extremely well written, catches your attention, and at the same time talks about one of the many social evils that existing during those days in India.

The book includes stories written famous personalities like his own grandfather Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury, Premchand and Rabindranath Tagore. The book opens with with a powerful story Devi, which showcases the blind faith people had during those days of reincarnated gods. There is one about a working wife who earns and travels more than her husband and how her in-laws speak ill about her despite her struggles to manage both work and home. Another one about two ex-lovers with their feelings for each other still fresh, who meet by chance years after the girl is forcefully married off to someone else. Another small but heart touching one called the Postmaster.

What I really appreciate about the stories is that they were so forward thinking even in those days and they dared to question the blind faith and the traditions followed by the society. The stories are really great for a light read and a great follow up thing to do would be watching all the movies which were later created by Satyajit Ray.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

THE LAST LECTURE - Randy Pausch

Hmm, So heres what I think, point wise:

1. Mr. Pausch, You have lead an amazing life and may your soul rest in peace.

2. Most of the lessons given by the professor are not generic. Most of them are very specific to his life, career and surroundings. For eg: his lesson on how to teach the students to be a good team player isn't really relevant to my life.

3. It may sound a bit unrealistic. Specially when he sounds like he achieved every single "specific" dream of his childhood. On the hindsight everything can be correlated. May be I was dumb as a kid but when I was little and would see a superhero movie, I would dream of being the superhero and not the person behind the special effects. I never knew kids were so matured. I might be wrong though.

4. And finally, with each chapter when you read how the professor lead such a perfect life achieving every single dream of his, You might get a feeling that he is bragging and that he is not down to earth. In his defense, he admits he is like that. I liked the honesty though.

Well that's about it. This book is not similar to the book "Tuesdays with Morrie" which is more about life in general. This one isn't. Although there a few good lessons but they are the usual ones like dream big, work hard, live life to the fullest, show gratitude, etc. You can skip this one since you won't find much you can relate to.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

THE LINCOLN LAWYER - Michael Connelly

I picked this one up because someone said that the movie was really good. Its a typical whodunit murder mystery novel made for a light read. Mickey Haller is a defense attorney who is very good at twisting evidence to help small time not-so-rich criminals get acquitted. Although he helps the guilty get out of jail, he is not shown to be a man without principles. He just believes that the crimes are committed not on purpose to hurt anyone but out of desperation due to poverty or the background and hence such people must be given another chance. We can tell that he doesn't make a lot of money since he is shown to be consistently trying to get his clients pay for his services.

His big break comes when the son (Louis Roulet) of a rich realtor, and a realtor himself, chooses him to defend in his case of sexual assault and attempted murder on a prostitute. He at first believes that Louis is innocent but as he unfurls the investigation, he starts having doubts. So now he has to come up with a plan to solve this mystery and that's what the whole book is about.

The book is indeed gripping and keeps you hooked and wanting to know what happens next. I think that is where the book serves all the purpose (err, being a murder mystery novel). You won't find a big twist in the end like most other mystery novels but I think that is fine. It sounds plausible at least. Not a great writing but anyway that is not what is expected from such novels. It should be more about the mystery than feelings and emotions and introspection and philosophy and all that.

Anyway I heard the movie is really good. Skip this book and watch the movie instead.

Oh btw, he is called the Lincoln lawyer because he drives around in a Lincoln Town car. How lame is that? And here we are trying to find some relation with Abraham Lincoln. :|

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X - Keigo Higashino

A friend of mine who has a very good taste in books suggested this to me. I obviously read it with a lot of high hopes. I won't say all of that went waste but ya I was disappointed in the end for a very small thing.

This book is a typical murder mystery novel with the murder happening in the very first chapter and the rest of the book is all about how the intelligent and smart investigator figures it all out in the end. Sounds regular doesn't it? Well it is regular but also different in some ways.

One, the whole murder cover up was simply awesome. I don't think anyone could have even remotely guessed how it all happened and the fact that it is very much plausible makes it all the more impressive.
Two, the murderer is actually is math genius and its interesting how the author has tried to connect a particular math theory to the murder. (Its not like the author uses calculus and stuff but just the theory)

Well that's about it. The above two points and obviously the non-boring writing style makes this book quite addictive making you wanna read it real bad. The disappointing part comes in the end when the murderer reveals WHY he committed the murder. Oh that was so stupid! Nevertheless don't think that can be a deal breaker anyway. Just read it to know how he did it all.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

NINE LIVES: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India - William Darymple

Somehow the moment I picked the book, I felt it was a fiction novel. I didn't really bother to read through the back cover because I just wanted to kill time by reading something and picked this one up from my husband's bag.

So after I finished reading the first story I realized that they were actually true illustrations of lives of people the author had met and interviewed in person. That really got my attention and I got hooked to it. It is indeed really interesting to know that such things actually happened in India.

The book talked about people from certain religious cults who do spooky stuff (for people who lead the usual lives obviously). For example: a woman in Kolkata who lives in the cemetery grounds and drinks goat blood from the corpses' skulls to worship Goddess Tara.  Then there was a story about the Devdasis in Kerala who are into prostitution but still consider it sacred. One more on how the Dalits perform god dances to uplift their community against their oppression by the Brahmins. One story on Sufism. One on Jainism about the fasting to death ritual still being practiced. By the time you finish these stories, you will notice one common thread: Suffered in a village - Escaped - Traveled aimlessly - Found a religious group - Got a shelter, food and protection - Started believing that they are taken care of because of that particular god - Refuses to come out of it. There are other cultural information which are slowly dying like the singer of epics from Rajasthan, the god idol maker, and the singing baul tradition. Finally the story about a monk stuck between an ascetic life in Tibet and an army life to fight against the Chinese was also enlightening.

It will keep you hooked to it in the sense that you would be too surprised to know about the India which still refuses to leave some of its beliefs and hence you would want to know more. Definitely a must read.