Monthly Archives: October 2012

Week 30: the book this week is What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

It’s been 30 weeks (since I started) and I am ready to pick up my 28th book of this year (yes I am running behind by 2 books) and it feels good. Sometimes it becomes too difficult to get time to read but then this commitment of “52 books 52 weeks” keeps me going.

So the book I am starting this week is “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” by “Marshall Goldsmith“. Now I don’t remember exactly where I heard of this book but most probably someone recommended it online and I find the title interesting (the entire title is “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There How Successful People Become Even More Successful”) and I have vaguely heard about Marshall Goldsmith.

I am not a very big fan of books preaching success mantras or what to do in your life or how to lead your life (hopefully this is not one such book), nevertheless the success stories or how one person achieved success (or whatever is achieved) in his or her life.

I am a firm believer that no one can teach you how to be successful (or for that matter how to lead your life) and most of the so-called ‘Self-Help’ books are bogus and don’t really help. It is you yourself who can achieve the results you want by trial and error method (try to do it in one way and if it fails, try some other way and repeat until it succeeds and then follow that way in other dealings wherever it is applicable in your life).

Nevertheless the stories of individuals (and I mean real ones) are sometimes good and it in the least motivates you. It’s one in a million shot that the manner in which one person achieves Success in life that can be replicated ‘as-is’ in your own life. But yes it can provide a motivation and may be their methods can provide a starting point or guideline for your future achievements (customization required).

I am not too sure what to expect from this book but hopefully it will be a good read.

What are your views on Self-Help books? Success Mantras? Do let me know.

Till next time Happy Reading!

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Review: Pax Indica

Last week I have been travelling and I thought I would be able to catch up on my reading but I couldn’t achieve much. Nevertheless I did manage to complete the book that I started.

The book this week (Week #29) was “Pax Indica” by “Shashi Tharoor“.

Pax Indica is the latest book by Shashi Tharoor. If you remember I read/reviewed another of his book earlier, called “The Great Indian Novel” which was excellent. So considering the last book and the way I know Mr. Tharoor and his writing (have followed him and his writings in the press very closely) I was expecting nothing short of brilliance.

And he didn’t disappoint at all. The book is essentially (as I would view it) an essay on India’s Foreign Policy and how India is placed in the 21st Century.

The book is nothing short of sheer brilliance and class. I have never read a complete book on Foreign Policy but a few articles here and there and some editorials but the way the author explains the Foreign Policy and its nuances is brilliant. I could never have thought that Foreign Policy could be presented in such an interesting manner.

The book starts with introduction on how Foreign Policy was in Nehruvian era and what was Nehru’s vision for India post Independence. It touches on how Foreign Policy making is so different from the yester years of Nehru and Indira Gandhi (where she indirectly headed the MEA) yet it is so much similar. He touches on the increasing clout of India and its role in the world politics in the 21st Century.

Then the book goes on to explore India’s relationship with its “Enemy Brother” Pakistan which the author says is going to remain more or less the same until there is a strong civilian government in place or till the time when the Pakistani army (which almost runs all the civilian governments indirectly) realizes that it is in their interest to have good relationship with India.

The next section is dedicated to India’s relationship with its other neighbors i.e. Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives. The author stresses there is a greater need for India to strengthen its ties with the subcontinent countries SAARC as much as it stresses on its relationship with other Western nations. India should conduct herself in a manner of regional power and trade and commerce should be increased, new land and sea routes explored and exploited to increase the flow of goods and services between its neighbors.

India’s complicated relationship with China, where on one hand India still bears the scars of 1962 humiliating defeat by China, it’s continuing border disputes with her and on the other hand the need to cooperate with her and work with China for betterment of both nations. As China and India both are currently world’s fastest growing economy and Asian regional powers, it is important that disputes are resolved amicably and trade and cooperation increases. Nevertheless the author says the trust deficit between the two nations is huge and it will take a lot of time and effort to bridge that gap. Also with China having a communist government and its previous record we can’t blindly rely on peace. If one wants peace it has to be ready for war.

The relations with Arab world is explored where the author stresses that India has good relations with Arab world and millions of Indian expatriates stay in countries like UAE, Bahrain, Dubai, etc. and India’s import is mostly of Oil. India has maintained a calm and continuous relationship with the Arab world but it needs to strengthen it. India has a good relationship with Iran as well as Syria. Also with countries like Turkey the relationship is being pushed ahead.

India has a good relationship with Palestine and earlier the distant relationship with Israel is turning into a strong bond with Israel helping India in defense arms procurement and other intelligence sharing.

The book also touches on good (now) relations with Unites States and how post the reforms and since Bush-era India has figured a lot in US foreign policy and now US realizes the importance of India as a global economic and regional power (which could soon become a global power). Some issues with US are dealt with.

India’s changing relationship with Russia and European Union is discussed, where the author stresses the Russia had a close relationship with India which is slowly dwindling nevertheless there is no love lost and Russia still supports India. With EU the relations are not that great partly due to EU policies and partly due to India’s. It stresses it is easier to deal with Individual nations in Europe (such as  France, Britain) then with EU.

African continent has figured very much lately in India’s Foreign Policy and India has supported both economically and politically the countries of this continent. India has already given support of more than $5 billion to Africa and is consistently working with African countries to help them settle down and place themselves on the world arena.

The last parts of the books deals with India’s Foreign Policy challenges, challenges and issues within the MEA such as under staffing and under training and that an overhaul is required in the MEA, etc. The need and importance of a stronger United Nations and revamped Security Council is stressed, the author himself has worked for 3 decades in UN, he narrates his experiences and how the UN needs to change to reflect the new world order.

All in all the book deals with most of the challenges of the 21st Century for India’s Foreign Policy and how India should conduct herself and what all we need to do to place ourselves as a Global Power (which is not only economic or military but soft powers as well).

The author is erudite and vastly experienced in the matters of Foreign Policy and World Politics, it clearly reflects in the book. It’s a must read for anyone interested in the Foreign Policy or even someone interested in India’s role in 21st Century. Although it gets a tad bit boring to read about he MEA issues at times, nevertheless other than that at no point you will find it dragging or uninteresting.

A great book all in all. Once again great work Mr. Tharoor, looking forward to other works of yours in near future.

 

PS: As I completed this book, it coincided with Mr. Shashi Tharoor getting re-inducted in the government of India, this time as Minister of State for Human Resource Development (earlier he was MoS for MEA), which is excellent news. Now HRD department can benefit from his knowledge and experience.

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Review: Animal Farm

There are books which justify our habit of reading (although some crappy ones try to shake our faith in books) and the book this week “Animal Farm” by George Orwell turned out to be one such book.

It lived to the expectations (even exceeded) I had from it. It being a short book (95 pages) I was able to finish it quickly.

Animal Farm, a classic by Orwell, published in 1945 is a story of a farm where animals led a rebellion and throws out the their human master to run the farm on their own. Pigs take the superior role of leader(s), protected by the dogs and rest all other animals work hard in the farm. The spirit of rebellion and the principles/commandments on which the war (so-called) against humans was fought are slowly forgotten/modified to suit the pigs.

In the end the other animals are living even worse life then when they were under a human master and pigs have turned into humans and one can’t tell the difference between the two.

The 7 commandments are replaced with one “All Animals are equal. But some Animals are more equal than others“.

The book is political allegory or in today’s terms a political satire. It’s said that Orwell wrote this around the period of World War II in context of the Russian Revolution.

Nevertheless this book sans time and is Universal. If the book is read today in any part of the world people can immediately relate to the story and the characters.

Similarly in the current political situation of India as well the book (the story) is a perfect fit. You can see a bunch of pigs  making a fool of small animals and though they say that “All Animals are equal” but we all know that “Some Animals are more equal than others”

Now this is called a timeless writing, relevant even after 60+ years.

Looking forward to reading more such classics.

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Week 28 – the book this week is Animal Farm

So after finishing a crappy book last week “Fifty Shades of Grey” I wanted to read something good.

And what better than to start a classic.

So the book this week is “Animal Farm” by George Orwell.

There are so many books coming out every day, so many immature writers and so many nonsensical subjects getting dealt that it creates a clutter in your mind. You feel exhausted and cheated after reading a rubbish book. So sometimes you find the much-needed respite in the classics only.

Though the book is hardly 100 pages but I am sure that it would be well worth it.

I hope to finish the week and the book well as the next week is a travelling week for me and depending on the circumstances I might be able to read a lot more or nothing at all.

I am already running 2 books behind the schedule, which I plan to cover-up soon.

Wish me luck and be with me for the review of Animal Farm and more.

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Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

After hearing and reading a lot about this book I finally gave in and thought why not check out what is all the noise about. The book last week was ‘Fifty Shades of Grey‘ Volume 1 by E.L.James.

Some of you must have heard about this book and it’s record-breaking sales and it becoming a best seller and all. Because of all this hype I started reading the book to find out what is it that makes it a bestseller.

It’s the first book in the Fifty Shades Trilogy and it begins quite plainly with a girl named Anastasia Steel filing in for her Friend Kate to take the interview of a business tycoon named Christian Grey. Post the interview Grey gets interested in Ana and she also falls for him and both of them starts a sexual relationship. Grey proposes an  arrangement to Ana to subside to his sexual fantasies and let him play a dominant role and have sort of a BDSM relationship and Ana although getting scared on every move still falls for Fifty Shades of Grey. Grey changes a little but wants Ana to change a lot, which she does and in the meantime he keeps showering her with many expensive gifts. He had a dark past, of which he reveals only a little to Ana after her insistence. But in the end Ana can’t take it any more and she leaves him telling him he can’t give her what she wants and she can’t give him what he wants. End of volume 1.

Now the major part of the book is erotic literature (or soft porn as it is called in literary circles) and there are a handful of characters.

Now on to the review (verdict) part, in the spirit of the book if I have to describe it I would say ‘ This book is shitload of fuck’. Excuse the language but that’s how I felt after reading this book. And I wonder as to how it went on to become a bestseller. Do the readers today really want only ‘soft porn’ to read or did this book really had something that I missed?

What could be worse than not liking the book is not liking its main characters. I totally disliked the portrayal of the character of Christian Grey (the business tycoon) and almost hated the protagonist Anastasia Steel. I felt Ana’s character was more fucked up than Grey’s (supposedly).

The character of Anastasia Steel is so messed up that there are no emotions that swell up for her at any point in the entire book. How can a girl who has never had sex before agree so easily for BDSM relationship? What was that shit about inner goddess dancing and jumping (seriously? are we readers so lame?)? Then Ana’s description of Grey as a Greek god and she going head over heels for him was just irritating. So many times in the book she would describe him as a Greek God like no other man on earth would be like him. Utter nuisance.

Coming to Grey’s character, in one meeting a billionaire who would have seen many beautiful and out of the world  woman falls for an average looking girl and that too without any good reason. Whereas even her friend Katherine Kavanagh is depicted to be ravishing and more beautiful . Then how he is adamant about the contract and how easily he lets it go.

Several other things were irritating (yea that would be the right word),  the contract itself was gross, do you really want readers to read that crap? Then Grey repeatedly pointing out Ana to eat and then those irritating emails, etc god!

Now that I think of it I wonder how did I end up reading the entire book of 500 odd pages? May be part of the reason was that I was expecting some thrilling aspect later in the book. It could have something to do with Grey’s past or I thought of a twist where Kate (Ana’s friend) being one of the subs of Grey. But unfortunately nothing exciting happened even at the end  and it ended pretty meekly.

Now even though this is the first book of Trilogy, I have no intention of reading the other two.

I sincerely hope that such type of literature doesn’t end up as bestseller or this world is really going to end soon.

 

PS: Unfortunately I have recently read they are making a movie out of it and where Mila Kunis is playing the character of Ana. God have some mercy!

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Review: The Pursuit of WOW

I started this book before ‘The Krishna Key‘ but had to put it on hold as I mentioned in my last post. Then I restarted this book this week.

“The Pursuit of WOW” by Tom Peters was suggested online by one of the entrepreneurs and I had been meaning to read it for sometime.

The book started on quite nicely and I was expecting some good insight into the “topsy-turvy times” as the book says. But unfortunately I wasn’t much impressed. The book gives some good examples and some guidelines as to how to run a successful business or become a good entrepreneur but all in all it’s a waste, I think. Or a better explanation could be that it’s time has passed.

Tom Peters (I read later) is considered to be a management guru but I didn’t find any reasons any examples, any guiding points that were out of the ordinary. Added to that I didn’t like the manner of writing too much. It concentrates mostly on stories from US and the environment backdrop is also of US.

Some passages/points are so lengthy that I just got too bored reading them and more than half of the book I just skipped reading. It was appearing to be a waste of time to me.

Unfortunately I failed to get the point of the author and I thought better not to continue when I am not enjoying it.

Hopefully I will have a better book to read next week.

Have any of you read “The Pursuit of WOW”? Did I miss something or it was an abstract that I failed to understand?

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Review: The Krishna Key

I started the last week with a book which I was planning to read since a long time and I made some headway with that. But then in the middle of the week I received this book from Blogadda as part of their Book Review Program.

I didn’t like the last book that came to me (I posted the review here) so I was skeptical about this book too. But then as the review needs to go within 7 days of receiving the book I started nevertheless putting the other book on hold.

The book this week was “The Krishna Key” by Ashwin Sanghi. 

The one problem I have seen in literary world in India (probably it’s elsewhere too) that when a particular genre book succeeds then there is a flood of books of the same genre.

Now mythology is dominating the scene in Indian book market and every other month there is a new book on mythology coming out. Looks like suddenly Indian authors have awaken to the fact that India has a great history and Indian mythology can be used as good plots for the books.

So coming back to this book, when I saw this book I had the same impression that this is again one of the same sort of book with Krishna as the main character, with Krishna as a backdrop and I wasn’t too optimistic about the book. Nevertheless I liked the cover design and though I have never heard of the author before the book jacket said that author has 2 bestsellers before. That was encouraging at least. And so I began my journey with “The Krishna Key“..

And at the end of the journey if you ask me to describe this book in one sentence I would probably say it’s the India “Da Vinci Code” (remember the one by Dan Brown). And yes I am saying it in the most respectable manner. It is so much similar to that and yet so different (with the take on Krishna) .

I enjoyed the book thoroughly to say the least and though its a 460 pages read you rarely get bored or rarely are there any dull moments. It’s a mythological thriller and the pace of the book is good.

The story revolves around a professor Ravi Mohan Saini (remember Robert Langdon) and his student Priya Ratnani. The story begins with Saini’s friend Varshney who is an archaeologist getting murdered by a character called as Taarak Vakil upon a major ancient discovery and Saini being charged for his murder. Before getting murdered Varshney hands an ancient Seal to Saini and 3 other similar seals to 3 other friends. Slowly all the people having the seals start getting murdered and Saini and Priya are on the run from Police. Inspector Radhika (aka Sniffer Singh) with sub inspector Rathore is chasing them throughout the length and breadth of the country. Saini’s knowledge of history ensures him that Varshney was after a major discovery known as Krishna Key. What is the Krishna Key? Where is it? and Why are people getting murdered for it? Who else is behind it? All these questions gets answered in the book.

Now the good points about the book as I mentioned earlier is it’s fast paced thriller, characters are well written and when you read the book you can understand how much research the author has done to write this. I won’t compare him to Dan Brown but the author has done a fantastic job with this book and I for sure am interested in his earlier books.

There are some parts where I thought some improvement could have been done, for example the character of Sir Khan who was a petty thief turned an antiquities collector and his knowledge on history and physics is something difficult to digest and then at the end there is no mention of him at all. What was Mataji really after? What was the motive of the murders? What was the relevance of Kalki Avatar (there had to be much more to it)?  these and a few other questions remained unanswered. And the main character of Saini needs to be strong, throughout the book he keeps on getting caught unawares by Mataji and Taarak. And I would say the ending was not that polished or rather it was tepid (Philosopher’s stone. really?).

But all in all a good book and I am delighted to read such books from Indian authors. It definitely places us in the big league with those American novelists.

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

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