Monthly Archives: July 2014

Book Review: The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

I got introduced to Atul Gawande’s writing some time last year when I read an excellent column regarding “Slow Ideas” in the new yorker in which he described at length why some ideas spread fast however some take a long time.

Gawande himself is a Surgeon and also writes for NY Times and New Yorker and this is his third book.

Based on that experience I picked up Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande and my respect for his writing moved up a few notches.

Rating

★★★★ (4 out of 5)

The Storyline

With every passing day the world around us is becoming more complex. There is so much information around us in every field and we strive to master all of it. Yet on many occasions we commit grievous errors which can result in monetary loss to even someone losing his life.

Gawande finds out that one simple way of countering this is the checklist.

Checklist has been used in aviation industry since a long time. They have a checklist for before starting the engine, after starting the engine, take off, landing and hundreds of other scenarios. And they follow it in a disciplined manner. That is how we don’t see many accidents. Gawande finds the precedent of using checklist in construction industry too, where they have checklist for different project phases that is how hundreds of people work towards one vision.

Gawande narrates a fascinating story out of Austria, where a little girl could be saved even after being half an hour underwater. He narrates several other stories where a checklist saved from millions of dollars to several lives. Based on this understanding he develops a checklist for WHO, to be applied worldwide during surgery and it produced excellent results.

He demonstrates through many examples that a simple and stupid looking checklist can actually help avert many big problems.

What I Think

Gawande is one such non-fiction writer whom I hold in high regard with the likes of Malcom Gladwell. He keeps the topic very interesting although mainly he focuses on medical examples. However he draws parallel in other fields. As in this book he illustrated in a very clear manner that the checklist could be used in any field to get things right. Be it an investment banker, aviation industry, medicine or even in everyday tasks.

And not every writer has that knack. If it would have been written by another medical professional, probably it would have become a boring read for people of other industries.

The book is short with 200 odd pages and to the point. The author doesn’t drag any story beyond necessary. And by the end of the book I am sure you will start to think how can you implement a checklist in your work or your personal life.

Last Words

This book in many sorts is ground breaking. Although we all have used checklist many times in our lives but we fail to recognize the bigger role it can play in whatever line of work we are in.

I can personally vouch for the checklist because I’m a checklist guy and for sure it works for me. The only problem is that a checklist appears such a simple and stupid concept that we often ignore it or people with inflated egos (mostly experts) feel it’s below them to use something this simple.

Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right is a book not to be missed in whichever field you are. And I would even suggest implementing a few in your every day life.

 

You can buy this book at low price from Amazon.in

 

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Book Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoo's Calling

Since her last book The Casual Vacancy I had been waiting for Rowling’s new book. I like her writing beyond the Harry Potter series as well . So I was pretty excited by The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (A.K.A. J.K. Rowling)  even more so because it’s a crime thriller and I was going to read her after a long time.

Rating

★★★★ (4 out of 5)

The Storyline

Detective Cormoran Strike who is also a war veteran lands a high profile case of  model Lula Landry’s suicide, which her brother John Bristow believes to be a murder.  The model and her brother has been adopted and she lived a  very troubled life in a mansion in Kentirgen garden. She falls to death from the mayfair balcony on a snowy night. Her acquaintances, neighbor and family are all investigated but police concludes it to be a suicide. However when Strike starts investigating the case with her temporary secretary Robin, he starts uncovering dirty secrets of the society of which Landry was a part.

Strike himself is going through troubled time in his private life after breakup from his long time girlfriend and his struggling finances. But this case gives a lease of life for his finances as well as stability in his life. From investigating Landry’s designer to her friends and family, Strike starts to realize that its definitely a murder and the killer is going to kill again.

Things get darker and dangerous as the story progresses and at one point Strike finds himself entangled in this web. It’s important for Strike to find the killer soon before he/she strikes again.

Review

Even if JK Rowling’s authorship revelation didn’t happen, still this book would have been a success (not such a big hit off course) because it takes you back to good old crime thrillers which portrays an ordinary looking detective who can solve cases.

The story telling of Rowling is impeccable and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable detective novel. The character of detective Cormoran Strike has been painstakingly elaborated and the author tries to garner sympathy for him at many instances (War Veteran, Lost one leg, Financially broke, broke up a long term relationship, etc.). This is where I thought the character was little overdone. And no sympathy or revulsion occur for Strike’s character. Another missing link was his transition from Military Police to detective due to which his authority as a detective couldn’t be established.

The character of Robin his secretary is however interesting, a young girl who has been proposed by her fiance and she is looking for a job in London and till then working as a temp, lands up with her long cherished job at a detective’s office.  The boldness and youthful vigor of Robin has been well written by the author and her foray into unknown territory of detective work and her excelling in such tasks is also well brought out by the author. A very interesting and charming character of a secretary/sidekick, which brings a different flavor to the book. However I do feel her role was pretty much restricted in this first book (Rowling plans to write a series).

Other characters of fashion designer Guy Some, Lula’s friend Rochelle, Ciara Porter, her junkie boyfriend Evan Duffield, etc. are all well written and felt necessary. However I would say the book with 550 pages is a tad bit lengthy. But with Rowling I don’t complain much.

The story is set in London and in winters. There isn’t a bigger role given to the city and could have been set up in any other city. But off course it’s Rowling so it had to be London.

Last Words

If you were not already convinced that Rowling can create magic even after renouncing magic or if you thought The Casual Vacancy wasn’t that good and you needed more proof, The Cuckoo’s Calling will eliminate all your doubts about Rowling’s writing ability beyond magic.

In Cormoran Strike she has created a detective whose series I am sure will run for long, much longer than Harry Potter. There are some expectations that might not be met by the character of Cormoran Strike and there is more that you will yearn from a detective novel (if you are a fan of such books) but you will enjoy it nonetheless and I am sure in the upcoming books Rowling will mature the character(s) and will thicken the plots too.

So I would say The Cuckoo’s Calling is a very good start to a series. Looking forward to next one “The Silkworm” which is released very  recently.

 

This book was sponsored by MySmartPrice

 

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Book Review: Lexicon by Max Barry

lexicon by max barry

lexicon by max barry

This book took me a long time to finish and only I am to be blamed for it not the book.

Lexicon by Max Barry is one hell of a book. A very different book from anything that I have read in the recent past.

Rating

★★★★★ (5 out of 5)

Summary

A secret society which believes that people can be compromised (instructed to do whatever) by segmenting them and uttering the right words, the elite members of this society are called Poets who have real poet names like Elliot, Woolf, Bronte, etc. Emily a street card player in San Francisco is enrolled into this school which teaches segmentation and controlling other people’s mind.

The story starts with a young man named Wil Parke who is abducted by one of the poet named Elliot. Then there is a big secret about an Australian mining town called Broken Hill, where disaster struck and thousands died and the place is no more inhabitable. Poets are searching for a ‘bareword’ and Virginia Wolf who has caused the disaster in Broken Hill. Wil Parke has a connection with Broken Hill and Wolf and he goes back to the town to find out.

Review

The plot of Lexicon is very unusual and the premise of the story that every person can be divided into segments depending upon the answers to a few standard questions and  people can be compromised through right words is a fantasy come true for the readers and writers.

Max Barry wrote this so beautifully and makes you believe that this can be possible. We all know Words carry weight but words can make people do things is surely something we readers might have fantasized about. You instruct someone to love you and they do, wouldn’t it be awesome? (ok may be not love but something else).

It’s a fast paced thriller and there is never a dull moment through out the book.The characters of Emily, Elliot and Yeats are well written and you might start liking the impatient Emily as the book progresses and her transformation into an assassin will leave you yearning for more.

Last Words

This has been a book that I fell in love with for the sheer reason that it deals with words. Liked the plot, the story and characters.  Part of the reason it took a long time to finish was probably that I didn’t want it to finish.

I strongly recommend it to anyone who loves thrillers or simply loves reading. Lexicon will not disappoint.

 

You can buy this book at low price from Amazon.in

 

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