Friday, July 8, 2011

Books I read this summer

The following is a list of books which I read in that past few months. These books weren’t necessarily read in >30 degree temperature. Some were even read under a rajai ( all in 2011 though). I liked the title to be this way.

·        Tuesday’s with Morrie

Author – Mitch Albom
Genre – nonfiction, memoir
My rating – 4/5

A few months back I was talking with a friend of mine on her birthday and in the middle of the discussion she told that she wanted to call up everyone whom she cared for and tell them how much they mean to her. Further ahead in the discussion I found that it was Tuesdays with Morrie which had brought this desire in her mind.

Tuesdays with Morrie is a real life account of the last few days of Morrie Shwartz, a professor of sociology in Brandeis University, Massachusetts. Morrie is diagnosed by Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and is destined to die a slow and painful death. The author, an old student of Morrie, hears about his condition and decides to pay him a visit. The author has penned those conversations which he had with his teacher before his teacher’s death.

The book is written in a much uncomplicated manner and touches one’s heart and one’s beliefs in a profound way.  This made me think a lot about how I want my life to be. And I kept thinking about these things even long after I finished the book. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to venture into nonfiction literature.

·        Long walk to freedom

Author - Nelson Mandela
Genre – Auto Biography
My rating – 3.5/5

I came across this thick book while I was browsing through the politics section of the library hoping to stumble upon something interesting. I was instantly attracted towards this book. I have a bad track record with long books. I still decided to read this book even if it demanded an extra effort.
It is a beautiful read. Nelson Mandela portrays himself as an ordinary man who grew over the years and started doing extraordinary things, one thing at a time. What is most striking about this book is the irony in the manner in which Mandela describes his childhood in a primitive society with linguistic brilliance in an alien language, English.
Sadly, I couldn’t finish this book. Library deadlines to blame.

·        Animal Farm

Author – George Orwell
Genre – Fiction
My rating – 3/5

A satire, this book revolves around the lives of an animal colony aiming to achieve utopia. Initially the animal farm is run and maintained by humans. However, the animals have a strong desire for freedom and self governance. They overthrow the humans running the farm and lay the foundation of self rule. What follows is a pig led tyranny.
The novel is a satire on socialist way of doing things. The book was insightful and the author very skillfully proves the pointlessness of a communist form of governance.

·        Tipping Point

Author – Malcom Gladwell
Genre – Nonfiction, management
My rating –2.5/5

Although this book has remained on top of the charts in nonfiction category, I was not impressed much. The book talks about how a few actions by few people at the right time can lead to massive change. The book tries to bring out the 80/20 rule in essence, which says that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. A corollary says 20% of the people are responsible for 80% of the work that happens in this world. This book puts forward good many numbers of examples to drive some point. However they are incoherent and long winded. I didn’t like the book much. Many others like it though.

·      Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy

Author– Douglas Adams
Genre – Fiction, Sci-fi, Humor  
My rating – 4.5/5

This is probably the most amazing book I have read in a long long time. It will be an offence to call it a book. It is the magna carta of modern day humor. If you have spent hours reading abstruse goose or other similar web comics you should definitely lay your hands on this book. Douglas Adams is a genius. Go grab a copy.

·        1984

Author– George Orwell
Genre – Fiction, Politics
My rating – 4/5

Big Brother, Room 101, Thought Police, Thought Crime, Unperson, Memory Hole, Doublethink, Newspeak. If you have ever read any of the above terms before, it is because it was mentioned first in 1984, a dystopian novel written by George Orwell. The most fascinating thing about reading this book was that I was reading a book written in 1948 about a fictional state in 1984, in the year 2011. The author imagines a ‘utopian’ society run by ‘the party’. It is a chilling book and would surely leave you restless and grossed out at times.
A compelling read.

·        The Slap

Author – Christos Tsiolkas
Genre – Fiction, drama
My rating – 2.5/5

I received this book as a gift from the Matrix club, BITS Pilani, for doing a book review. The book is about how a slap from an adult to a kid (who is not his own) leads to complications in various people’s lives. The novel is set in modern day Australia and has a very contemporary setting to the whole story. However the author has gone overboard with profanities and sex which was avoidable and did no value addition to the story.

·        Second Degree

Author – Prashanth John
Genre – Fiction, memoir
My rating – 2/5

This book came into the market during the post five point someone delirium. The author is an alumnus of the first PGPX batch of IIM Ahmadabad. The book starts from his admission into the PGPX batch and goes on till the placements at the end of the course. It has been written on the lines of other campus memoirs like Five Point Someone, Anything for You Ma’m etc however it lacks the much needed masala and humor to make this genre worth a read. The only reason I bothered to read it till the end was because it talked about IIM A and I am ready to read any nonsense about a place where I want to be someday.

·        Audacity of Hope

Author – Barack Obama
Genre – Nonfiction, Politics
My rating – 3/5

When our country was busy getting charmed by anything and everything Obama did during his visit to India, one of the television anchors mentioned  in passing about the book which he wrote about his life before he became the president(Letters to my father) and how good it was. It got registered in the back of my head, but I never remembered the name of the book. While I was browsing through the books on display during Basant book festival at Akshay this year, I came across Audacity of Hope and mistook it for that book. Audacity of Hope turned out to be a serious and OHT commentary about American Politics. Initially it was very difficult to make sense of the book; however, with grit and determination (boosted by the guilt of spending my money without confirming) I read some chapters and liked it to an extent. Obama has knack of summing up his arguments with appealing one liner. Obama is a good writer and I would definitely like to read his other books.

·        Chronicles of Narnia – The lion, the witch & the wardrobe

Author – C.S. Lewis
Genre – fiction, mythology
My rating – 3/5

I always wanted to read this book. But by the time I picked it up, I was definitely over-aged. The clear black and white nature of the story didn’t appeal to me. I am sure a 12 year old me would have loved this book.

·        Love Story

Author – Erich Segal

Genre – fiction, romance
My rating – 3/5

A friend suggested a few days back. A very thin book(76 pages), I finished it in a day. It is a classic love story. Boy meets girl. They have a tussle initially. Eventually boy falls for the girl and vice versa. What I find most appealing about the book was the relationship that the boy shares with his father. Read it if you have a few hours to kill.

Monsoon wish list:
·         Banker to the poor – Muhammad Yunus
·         Geek Nation – Angelica Saini
·         The World is Flat – Thomas L Friedman
·         Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
·         Diary of Ann Frank – Ann Frank
·         Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

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