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My recent books

14 September 2010 4 comments

I did not realize that it has been a month since my last post. There are simply too many things to do here especially since summer has just ended. We got a car just in time though we don’t have our licenses yet. My reading picked up speed lately. The car helps us go to multiple libraries. Now I really like the fact that there are too many towns in NJ. Each has its own library, yippee…

I completed the Swedish Salander trilogy (top of every fiction bestseller list). I started with the last (got it after a wait at the local library). It was the slowest of the 3. I managed to finish the other two in as quick as 3 days. The trilogy has been the best thrillers I have read in a while. My reading picks in order are 1. The girl who played with Fire 2. The girl who kicked the hornet’s nest 3. The girl with the dragon tattoo. What is it about these Scandinavian countries that make them surprise us with these delightful books? One my all-time favourites is Sophie’s Garden and that was from Norway.

Another recent recommendation is a HBS memoir Ahead of  the Curve. I could recollect my dilemmas at Bschool and with my career in general. It is a delightfully narrated tale about a reluctant Brit’s experience with the most prized MBA in the world. What matters? The corporate success stories that are toasted at every convocation or the personal success stories (good work-life balance) that are forgotten the next minute! I prefer the work-life balance and so the book related quite well to me.

Another book I am currently reading is the Black Swan, a teasing smorgasbord of stories about philosophy, risk, uncertainty, history,  knowledge, …  but mostly about randomness, I guess. It is not an easy read so far but one that has been stimulating intellectually!

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Categories: Books

The funniest book I have read in a while

3 July 2010 2 comments

My reading of good books had become dormant for a while. Now that I am in NY and public libraries are one of the many good things here, I am devouring them happily again.

When I picked The Geography of Bliss in the Travel Non-fiction section, I was just hoping for some travel-writing with happiness thrown in. But this book made me laugh loud so many times that I have to post about it.  It catalogs how 10 different countries consider happiness (from filthy rich Qatar to serenely content Swiss to …). Eric manages to create a new genre and calls it the book a philosophical self-help humorous travel memoir.  It combines three of my most favourite genres and though I am yet to read about what he says about India and the US, I have been thoroughly enriched having read this.

A sample of his writing “When Ambition is your God, the office is your temple, the employee handbook your holy book. The sacred drink coffee is imbibed five times a day. When you worship Ambition, there is no Sabbath, no day of rest. Every day, you rise early and kneel before the God Ambition, facing in the direction of your PC. You pray alone, always alone, even though others may be present. Ambition is a vengeful God. He will smite those who fail to worship faithfully, but that is nothing compared to what He has in store for the faithful. They suffer the worst fate of all. For it is only when they are old and tired,entombed in the corner office, that the realization hits like a Biblical thunderclap. The God Ambition is a false God and always has been.”

Categories: Books

I got a book

26 October 2007 2 comments

Well. Long long ago, I asked for a book from other friends and booklovers who also read this blog. Archu immediately shot off a mail, promising me one. When I got the book yesterday from Amazon, I was pleasantly thrilled.  The book is the Kite Runner and I’m already hooked up. I cannot thank her enough for this wonderful surprise, which also made my month 🙂

Categories: Books, Friends

Books for friends

16 September 2007 5 comments

The next BAFAB (Buy A Friend A Book) week this year (tip: LifeHack) is from Oct 1 to Oct 7. Its simple theme is to surprise a friend with a good book for no reason. I’ve not been able to visit any library here so far. I’m actually dying to see one after hearing glowing tales from fellow book lovers. So who will surprise me this time? Archu, Jax or SK? Yes, I can send you my address here 🙂

Categories: Books, Friends

Krakatoa and the Emperor Penguin

5 November 2006 3 comments

Well, the words in the title are not related to one another. Krakatoa is a book and March of the Penguins is a documentary. I like them both immensely and can heartily recommend them. History and geography have always been my favourite subjects. Though NZ does not have much of history, the book has more than made for it. It is so apt that I see the film when I am in the natural heaven of NZ. NZ also happens to be one of the closest places to Antarctica.

Penguins are sweet creatures and so is the film. The movie (taken with help from National Geographic and filmed in the coldest terrains of the world) is a heart-warming tale of how adult penguins make life-threatening journeys just to protect their eggs and new-born baby penguins. The photography is out of the world and the events are just incredible. Love for kids stands out in the movie. Just one sight – the way the emperor penguins march to their resting places – is nothing short of spectacular.

As for Krakatoa, I am only 100 pages far in the book. But the way the author Simon Winchester has talked about the Dutch East Indies empire, the zoogeographical divide in the Indonesian archipelago (one half having Asian mammals and the other Australian marsupials) and ‘continental drift’ has just blown my mind away. This book has history, geography and just about everything I like. The narration is fast-paced and quite eventful. I am sure when I finish the book, I shall want to read other books of his.

Categories: Books

Off-shore books

27 October 2006 2 comments

Just to clarify this trip is not all about travel. India means the shore to me. The very first evening I landed in Auckland, I ended up spending some time in the Central Library. One look at the place and I am awe-struck. I can spend a whole day blissfully here, I tell myself. Membership is free to all Auckland residents. That’s where their taxes go, how sweet! I check with my friends and soon I visit the Pakuranga (my suburb) library with my host, who is also an avid book reader. The Penguin History of NZ is the recommended book. It makes for easy reading and I get a quick idea of the (short) history. Kiwiana is another NZ book, remnant of Kiwi icons. I walk often to the Pakuranga library (30 min) amidst planning and actually travelling. On one such day, I pick up “All in the Names”, an originally Portuguese novel. I am not able to finish it in one sitting and promise to come back for finishing it. Thanks to Jax’s recommendation, I also look for Umberto Eco’s books. None of his famous novels are here in the library.

So when I end up in the Uni of Queensland’s library (which was huge), I pick up “The Name of the Rose”, Eco’s symbolic thriller. In optimism, I hope to finish the book in my short 6-day trip. But I am so full of travel that I can only read 100 pages out of the 500. It is heavy reading, with the various Christian sects and the neat philosophical bent. Any thing which has a good philosophical interest no doubt attracts me. I take it to Fiji and back to Auckland. After struggling in the middle, the end is quite racy and gripping. I love the novel and I will get my copy once I am on-shore. I must read Eco’s other books. For the time, I have to find out how to ship it back to Brisbane. Madhan, as among several great things, has made me discover the brilliance of Eco.

Categories: Books

Morality anyone?

4 March 2006 6 comments

One advice I would like to follow is not to be moralistic 🙂 I tend to judge people fast and stick to my opinions thick. I am conscious of this naive behaviour and have tried to reduce it, but it is so tough to be moralistic. It is easier to avoid being simplistic! Being moralistic makes me thick-headed, cynical, sarcastic and bitter. I have been telling myself and the big O (let’s say he’s a footballer) who showed us the Mallu mess in Mhow that I shall try not to be moralistic. It helps me to feel the unalloyed joys of other people.

Placements are the theme of the season in the management schools this time of the year. As is the case with me for most of the college fests or events, I don’t volunteer and prefer to stay happily in my room, venturing out for my daily quota of football and other bodily deeds. One such day the big O and I went for a ride down the road we discovered to the airport. Well, it goes through a village, some green fields, some stone quarries and does not touch the city at all. He tells me it reminds him of some Chenganoor in Malluland.

I led him up a horrible road through the stone quarries which looked ideal for film songs (like the “Ottagathai Kattiko” in Gentleman). I had him worried since his bike is new and the place became a maze. It was mysterious with few people in sight. We roamed around the quarries where we saw big pits, some stone cutting machines and a few souls who stared at us as if we were aliens. He cursed me for getting us lost. We asked some kind souls the way back to the road and reached it. Around Indore, you stumble upon a hillock (‘Tekhri’) if you go out any side. On the way back, we had wanted to sit on one of those roadside mini-walls and so we did.

The wall we had chosen was just opposite to a village ‘bandara’ where a public feast was happening. It reminded me of our village festivals where you slaughter goats and serve all the villagers. Those festivals are always full of lights, stalls where you got exotic food, full of people, fun games like those big merry-go-rounds which you see in theme parks these days, … We sat and observed all these simple folks having fun at their festival. It is fun watching people.

The next day we decided to go to eChoupal. I had read about Bercha (multiple variants of the name) lake near Mhow. After a customary juice at our favourite shop in Mhow, we enquired about the route to the lake. We went through the Mhow colleges which I last saw on the way to Choral Dam. Once we went past the beautiful landscape which has these military centres, we came to the point where you turn left to reach Choral. Bercha lake is on the road straight from that point, aptly named Berchha road. The lake is used by the military for training purposes and is named “Berchha Watermanship Area”.

We saw our national birds on the way. I have seen peacocks in the wild between Kovilpatti and Thoothukudi only before, that too while travelling by bus or by train. We never get to stop and see them. So it was a pleasure. We stopped and went back. There were more than five of them and they ran when they heard us. We decided to see them closely on our return trip, but we couldn’t. We reached the lake after asking a few people on the way. It had the big banyan tree as is expected of a decent picnic spot. The lake was deserted except for a lone young man who we had disturbed. We could see a boat at another end. We decided to check out, but when we saw the “restricted area” notice, we did not get inside. We returned through another route minus the peacocks and went straight to eChoupal where we had idlis and a pizza.

Returning to my post topic, I picked up the very interestingly titled “Morality for Beautiful Girls” a few days ago. The comments on the book called the book’s heroine the Miss Marple of Africa. I was hooked after a few pages. It is so cheerful and optimistic. Botswana is where the stories in this series take place and the author paints a beautiful picture of Africa through the eyes of the characters. There is good humour and there are thoughtful sentences through out the book. There are four other books of the same series in our library and I am determined to read all of them. By a curious coincidence, in one of these books, the author writes “Happiness is in the heads” which was my farewell mail and is my signature these days. Great minds think alike 🙂

Categories: Books, Me