Monthly Archives: July 2012

Week 16: The book this week is The $100 Startup

This week could turn out to be an eventful week that’s what my feeling is. The country already has a new President elected this week, Cricket is back in action with India – Sri Lanka Series and then some. So hopefully this week would be eventful but in a good way for me and for all of us.

The book that I have started this week is “The $100 Startup Reinvent the way you make a living, do what you love, and create a new future” by Chris Guillebeau.

Now some of you might have heard about this book and some of you might have already read it but I got to this book through some online links (I guess). I have subscribed to Pan Macmillan (Publisher group) page on Facebook and I have seen this book’s name popped up many times and it seems to be selling good. I got intrigued by the title (which is what I think the title was intended for) and there is no special reason behind reading it but I thought to try it out.

So I ordered it through the library and here I am with this book. Now a days there isn’t dearth of books on entrepreneurship and self-help. And everyone has a different take on it. Sometimes last year I read a book by Rashmi Banasl Connect the dots which was about entrepreneurs in India, who started small but scaled new heights in their respective businesses.

I think there is no formula for a successful business (neither for life for that matter) and everyone has a different experience, different take on it. The best thing is to just read their stories and not necessarily follow them. Every one has a different risk appetite and different attitude. Not everyone is born to be an entrepreneur and not everyone has to be one. Nevertheless reading such stories give you a different perspective and it can help you in any walk of your life.

So I am digging in with much hope in this book and I hope it turns out to be a good read. Entrepreneur or not every one likes to read a good book.

Catch you next time with the review of the week. Till then Happy Reading!

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Review: Wings of Silence

The book this week was “Wings of Silence” by Shriram Iyer.  As I mentioned in an earlier post this week that I didn’t know anything about the book as well as the author when I began it.

I received this book as part of Blogadda’s Book review program to review it. I liked the book title and book cover was also intriguing.

The story is about 2 brothers Saurav and Raj where one is the blue-eyed boy in whatever he touches turns into gold and his brother Raj on the other hand is deaf and not even able to speak and is a loser all along. The father an ex Indian Air Force pilot loved his able son Saurav and abhors his deaf son, Raj. After a series of Incidences Saurav realizes that his brother is getting into depression due to continuously being ignored and portrayed as a loser. He decides to work for his brother’s dream of an Olympic gold medal in Marathon, in Moscow Olympics of 1980.

Now isn’t it an excellent plot for a story? Don’t you think that it can be turned into an exciting novel?

Honestly speaking I was very much impressed when I had just read the Prologue and I thought to myself what a great beginning and what a great story awaits me ahead. And to some point it stays true to that but overall it turned out to be a pretty average story, with all the Bollywood Masala mixed into it (which I honestly hated).

The story is good in bits and pieces but I didn’t like the character portrayal at all. There wasn’t even a single character that you can get hooked onto, be it the blue-eyed boy Saurav, his deaf brother Raj, his love life Shalini or even their father Akshay Sethi. There are so many unnecessary turns that the main plot is lost somewhere. Whereas the story starts with Akshay Sethi getting a ‘veer chakra’, then family moving to USA, portrayal of Saurav as a demi-god (good looks, excellent in academics, lover boy, great in many sports, blah, blah) and then on portraying Raj as such a loser that anything and everything that he does in life is a failure and everyone in the world is after him, then Saurav finding love in Shalini during a mixed doubles match (how tacky), he realizing about his brother’s condition and eruption of brotherly love, him sacrificing everything for his brother, finding a trainer, competing for US Olympic team and then for Indian Olympic team, Indian corruption and then a devilish athlete he meets in the sports village etc. You get the point.

Had it been a simple brother bonding story, a brother helping out another at the cost of his career it would have been a great read but I feel author somewhere lost the track. For the sake of doing a 250 page book and giving readers a feel good factor, he missed the main story by a long shot.

I sincerely hoped that the author has kept it plain and simple, had cut the extra fat from the book and portrayed characters more humanly (a boy getting a wild card entry to Wimbledon within 1 year of starting his tennis career?,  a brother calling his sister ‘whore’ and then suddenly having a change of heart, and the best of all the boy who didn’t care about his brother for 18 years suddenly deciding to leave his career for his him).

The book might be received well in this season due to the upcoming London Olympics and due to a different story compared to other romantic crap in the market but I would still rate it as an average read.

May be the author will do a better job with the next books, if only he tries to write the story and not please the readers.

 

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

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Week 15: The book this week is Wings of Silence

The book this week I am pouring into is titled “Wings of Silence” by Shriram Iyer. This is a latest publication from the publisher Westland books.

Now I don’t know anything about this book or the author but the title sounds interesting. I have received this book as part of blogadda book review program and I have to review it within the next 7 days (which is what I normally do here, so it fits the bill).

So I will keep this post short and jump to the book and will get back to you guys with the review.

Till then Happy Reading!

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Review: The Motorcycle Diaries

The review of the book this week was a little overdue but then I was able to finish the book only by yesterday. The book this week was “The Motorcycle Diaries” by Ernesto Che Guevara.

I mentioned a little about Che Guevara in my last post, that he was a Cuban revolutionary who was also a part of Fidel Castro’s government when he came in power.

This book gave me more insight into Che’s life. A series of chronological events are printed in the first few pages of the book which gives us more information about his life. I never knew that he was captured and killed in Bolivia.

This book is basically a travelogue and covers the time when Che as a young man along with his friend Alberto covered the South America on their motorcycle named La Poderosa II between 1951 and 1952.

Both friends were leprosy doctors and they started their journey from Argentina (from where Che originally was from). The book is a collection of the notes that Che kept during the entire journey.

It is a vivid depiction of life in South America at that time and Che along with Alberto got to experience the real South America. They traveled from Cordoba to Miramar to Santiago de Chile, Valparaiso, Chuquicamata and many other places during this journey. They didn’t have enough money so they worked in between, took to hospitals which can give them place to stay for a few days and some food. They visited leper colonies and enjoyed food and music with them.

Leprosy at that time was a big disease and these two having being specialized in this field of medicine tried to help out as much as they can. South America at that time was ruled by different dictators and there was widespread poverty in almost all the parts.

The book is well written but then again I feel some of the soul is lost in translation. It provides an insight into the mind of Young Che and this journey could well have laid the foundation of his revolutionary mindset. The way South America was ruled back then poverty flourished, travelling wasn’t easy between different countries, there were lack of infrastructural facilities, lack of sanitation facilities etc. and all of this was experienced up close and personal by Che and Alberto.

His description of the plight of people is heart rendering, whatever your nationality you can identify with the problems that Che is talking about. I really liked a few passages such as where in both visit the mines of Chuquicamata and where there is no life except for working in the mines, then how Che and Alberto mingle with lepers in leper colony and how lepers enjoy their company as they are more happy that someone is treating them as humans by eating with them, shaking hands, playing with them.

The difficult part was pronouncing the names of some of the South American places and sometimes understanding Che’s state of mind while he writes letters to his mother.

Overall its a good book and I am happy to have read it and will look forward to the motion picture that is based on it.

This also prods me to learn about the great revolutionary Che Guevara.

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Week 14: The book this week is The Motorcycle Diaries

A busy week for me and though I started with a few pages of the book this week over the weekend but since then I haven’t been able to read anything.

The book this week is “The Motorcycle Diaries” by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.

Now some of you might have heard about ‘Che’ Guevara and some of you might also have T-Shirts with his revolutionary photo, I too have a small sticker of ‘Che’ on my car.

In very brief what I know of Che is that he was a revolutionary in Cuba and had fought with the current president of Cuba Fidel Castro, infact a few days back there was a report on NDTV on Cuba which showed pictures from inside Cuba, most prominent being of Che. They are excellent photos you can visit here.

Now the little I know of this book is that it is a reproduction of Che Guevara’s diaries which he maintained during his journey of South America. There is a forward by his daughter Aleida Guevara.

The book jacket also says that it has been turned into a major motion picture. I would very much like to watch that too.

But before that I would finish this book this week and post a review of the same.

As I continue with this book, you guys have a great week ahead and let me know what you are reading.

Till next time Happy Reading!

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Review: I too had a love story

The book this week, i.e. week 13 was I too had a love story… by Ravinder Singh. The book was given to me by one of my colleagues, who did mention that she liked the book a lot (you see now it was tricky).

Now to begin with I think it’s a cheesy title and I myself have never picked up this book (I have seen this & many others with such cheesy titles) primarily for this reason and because it has an unknown author (an Indian one). In the bookshops now a days (Crosswords, Landmark or even footpath wallas selling pirated books) I steer clear of such types of books.

The primary reason is that I think that now any and every person who can write something in English thinks he is a writer and on top of that they even find publishers who are ready to publish them. These books are sub 100 rupees so affordable to  youngsters, they narrate the story in their day-to-day language and are short, so they sell a lot. I call this the ‘Chetan Bhagat’ phenomenon.

Every such third book becomes a bestseller in India. There is an overall degradation in the readers quality on top of fewer people reading now. Bloody Hell!

Anyways that’s just me.

Coming back to the book. Before I could take up this book, my wife started reading it and not surprisingly she found it  good and was able to finish it quickly too. Now I had a challenge in my hand. If I say it’s not good, there needs to be a good reason for that.

The story is of a young boy Ravinder who is a Software Engineer at Infosys, Bhubneshwar, living a normal life of a Software Engineer in India, with good friends, enjoying life, a few onsite trips etc. and off course thinking about marriage. He meets a girl named Khushi through a matrimonial portal (yes I know, matrimonial portal), they started talking and within a month or 2 fall in love and had plans of marriage. But just immediately before the engagement the girl meets a deadly accident and even after trying all the things possible couldn’t survive. And Ravinder lives a messed up life since then.

That’s it! Really. And really this a best seller in India.

The book bears a statement from Infosys mentor N.R. Narayan Murthy where he described the book as “Simple, honest and touching” (remember the guy was working at Infosys)

Now I do not want to comment on the story as (as far as I could understand) it’s based on a true story and such a thing happened. And it is very sad. It’s a great personal tragedy for the author and my heart goes out to Ravinder and the girl’s family. And I even respect the author that he could gather such strength to write about this devastating incident in his life, how many times he would have to live those painful moments to come out with this book is unthinkable. Hats off to author for that!

Now coming back to the book itself (considering it as fiction) it’s a pretty ordinary book. The language is pretty ordinary and at no point I felt it was a novel, I was sort of feeling that it’s a blog post that I am reading. And I would have been pretty fine if this was a blog post. But dedicating an entire book for such a simple (I don’t want to use harsh words as the thought doesn’t leave the mind that this in fact is not fiction) story is waste.

The author did describe things nicely but then probably things were pretty clear to him as he has lived those moments and I think its much easier to write about the things that you have encountered in life and very difficult to write fiction.

And I do not wonder that this book became a bestseller as I have already mentioned a few reasons above and in addition to that this book got the sympathy with it and the story the author narrated is probably the story of 70% (on a conservative estimate) of the Software Engineers in India and out of those 70%, 90% must be feeling that it’s quite similar to their story.

A youngster getting a campus recruitment at Infosys, having a bunch of chuddi buddies, earning handsome (so that he can take flights anytime he wants), going to onsite (Belgium to be precise), then looking for life partner on matrimonial sites, falling in love (to get married, there are no ‘just flings’ in SE job), guy going to onsite for sometime, chatting with the girlfriend in the middle of the work, calling her through calling card, coming back, talking to the parents and trying that both the sides agree, taking long leaves for marriage and finally marrying.

Now you can do a survey and will find that some or all the lines (out of the above 5 lines) would be true for a lot of Software Engineers (unmarried) in India.

In the end I think I liked how Mr. Murthy described it, (which is politically correct as well),  and I would describe it similarly that the book is “Simple, honest and touching”.

To its credit I would further add, that it is slightly better off than hundreds of other crap floating in the market.

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