I liked reading…
The Shadow Lines
by Amitav Ghosh
The flow of the narration feels like being on a wave – with glimpses into various character’s lives, perspectives and the intermingling of their lives in the presence of historical events. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life
by Hector Garcia and Albert Liebermann
Thought-provoking. The book refers to Viktor Frankl’s work, which is a very good pre-read for this. Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s search for meaning” is my favourite book and is included earlier on this page.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE
by Phil Knight
A must-read. Fabulous story-telling. Phil Knight takes the reader in completely, sharing his journey in such an open manner that one comes out feeling as if they have lived his story. Some excerpts:
“Geese in the rear of the formation, cruising in the backdraft, only have to work 80 percent as hard as the leaders.
Front runners always work the hardest, and risk the most.”
Although this book is about clothes, its philosophies extend to life (and what we let in). Some excerpts:
An extensive array of powerful strategies distilled from a Former FBI hostage negotiator’s real life experiences.
Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.
by Brene Brown
Some points that stood out for me:
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change
by Charles Duhigg
Some points that stood out for me:
How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age
by Dale Carnegie
Realistic and grounded. Some key points:
Love, Loss, and What We Ate : A Memoir
by Padma Lakshmi
Life has so many possibilities. If one has the openness, the experience of multiple lives can be lived in a single lifetime. The author has lived thus, beautifully, and shared it with us.
Chutney was useful for reasons of “time, weakness or inertia”
Anti-Inflammatory Eating for a Happy, Healthy Brain
by Michelle Babb
Everyday meals full of nutrition, taste and variety, incorporating minimal cooking. Key points: The book considers Mediterranean style cooking, which avoids processed foods and includes fresh vegetables, to be the go-to approach for brain health.
Cinderella Ate My Daughter
by Peggy Orenstein
Read for: Who knew that originally, Blue was considered a more feminine colour. No wonder so many Disney female characters have blue attire – Snow White, Cinderella, Jasmine, Ariel. Pink was a pastel hue for red, symbolising strength, not girlishness. At some point, marketing messages bulldozed this.
I was concerned this book was going be a 200-page-long-rant but it turned out to be pretty interesting for parenting/sister-ing. The author vents out her frustrations relating to the “girly-girl” culture, Disney princesses and its impact on young girls.
I had recently visited an American Girl store – it is a toy brand for young girls, which (dare I say) feels apocalyptic. You could easily spend 500$ customising a doll, getting her a change of clothes, some accessories and salon treatment (for the doll!). I find out now that the brand’s original objective was to connect young girls to the real life by sharing stories and values of women from various periods of American history. Ironically, it has somehow now moved into promoting consumerism, despite the simple values it was meant to connect girls to.
The Geography of Bliss
by Eric Weiner
Read for: The author, a self-proclaimed unhappy person, dons his journalist hat and moves from country to country, exploring which place is happy and possibly why. Some interesting observations:
“By telling us that happiness lives inside us, it’s turned us inward just when we should be looking outward. Not to money, but to other people, to community and to the kind of human bonds that so clearly are the sources of our happiness.”
“Commuting in particular has been found to be detrimental to our happiness, as well as our physical health.”
“What you’ve danced, can’t be taken away”
“We can’t love a place, or a person if we always have one foot out of the door”
“The golden thread – a path appears. Faint at first but increasingly clear if you are willing to look closely”
“There is a question… the answer to which identifies your true home. That question is, where do you want to die”
These are associated with happiness: Trust, gratitude, friends, family.
“The good life cannot be mere indulgence. It must contain a measure of grit and truth”
The Art of War
by Sun Tzu
There are many versions/editions of this book, so you may want to explore various editions before deciding which one to read. I read a highly abridged version of the original text, which suited me well as I was looking for a quick introduction to the manuscript. Some insightful excerpts:
“In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns”
“Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting”
“The good fighter will be terrible in his onset, and prompt in his decision”
“Regard your soldiers as your children. Spoilt children are useless for any practical purpose”
Take Your Time: Finding Balance in a Hurried World
by Eknath Easwaran
Read for: I feel lucky that this book found me, so had to make sure I share it.
If you value balance, peace and compassion, this book is calling out to you. While the speed of life can easily scatter our energies if left unchecked, the author shares useful approaches to removing noise, cutting out unnecessary distractions and making simple choices to move to a more centred living.
I found it to be amazing and cannot recommend it enough. Do read it if you get the chance!
Read for: Very practical and very useful. This book gives exactly what its subtitle says. Some notes:
“In the quest for self-control…guilt, stress, and shame – don’t work. People who have the greatest self-control aren’t waging self-war.”
“The most effective stress-relief strategies are exercising or playing sports…reading…spending time with friends or family…The least effective strategies are gambling, shopping, smoking…Rather than releasing dopamine and relying on the promise of reward, the real stress relievers boost mood-enhancing brain chemicals..”
Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen
Read for: Dreamy, romantic fantasy, connecting one to an alternate beautiful world. Beware – this may onset a lot of daydreaming! Some excerpts:
“You shall not, for the sake of one individual, change the meaning of principle and integrity”
“You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you”
by Vinoba Bhave
Read for: The author’s progressive thoughts about women empowerment despite other impending national challenges is an inspiration. Some excerpts:
“Experience shows that the advance of any creature can be achieved only by the own strength of that creature”
“It is a form of theft to refrain from speaking when it is necessary to speak”
I Too Had A Dream
by Verghese Kurien
Read for: A definite must-read for every Indian and anyone interested in the development sector. It is not often that one comes across such a hero, and even less often that one gets to know the balanced story of their journey. Candidly shared, Dr Kurien’s life stories, vision and values are bound to inspire. Some excerpts:
“Any sensible government must learn to unleash the energy of its people and get them to perform instead of trying to get the bureaucracy to perform.”
“Each one of us has a responsibility, as a member of our nation’s privileged elite… we must hold ourselves accountable for that future…act not only as advantaged individuals but as concerned members of our society. Criticise and correct.”
Into The Shoes
by Yash Jain
Read for: The parallel lives of the main characters help the reader navigate and discover various angles from which to look at the challenges in the education system, and the possible opportunities. The interactions between the characters are heartwarming. Straight-from-the-heart and thought-provoking!
The Case for India
by Will Durant
Read for: Every young Indian should read this book to remember the struggles of our forefathers. Many facets of India from when it was a part of the British Empire are not prominent in the modern memory – this book enlightens the reader with these.
“one-fifth of the human race – suffering poverty and oppression bitterer than any to be found elsewhere on the earth”
“since English manufacturers destroyed the domestic industries of India…for half the year 80% of the Hindus are unemployed through no fault of their own”
“…a century of unmitigated rape on the resouces of India…They taxed the provinces under the Company so exorbitantly that two-thirds of the population fled…fathers sold their children to meet the rising rates.”
“(Gandhi) wonders what is the purpose and fruit of this Western bustle and “overproduction,” this strange mechanism for concentrating wealth, in which the rapid production of goods leads to universal depression and poverty”
“When the West is sick to the heart of its “progress” and its prosperity, its machines and its speed, it will turn to India to be saved.”
Read for: the mysterious life of trees. Surprising facts and methods of the trees. Discover an entire new world of this creative, methodical and ancient life form.
There are many lessons for us to learn.
“Isolated trees have far shorter lives than those living connected together in forests”
“If every tree were looking out only for itself, then quite a few of them would never reach old age”
“As almost no habitat on Earth offers ideal living conditions, it’s actually got more to do with the tree adapting than the niche being ideal”
We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love
by Robert A. Johnson
Read for: Re-balancing perception of Romance and finding a sustainable and accepting approach to relationships, without the hue and cry that has become common.
Not for: Anything related to casual dating.
Mahavira: Prince of Peace
by Ranchor Prime
Read for: Accessible mythology. Beautiful illustrations. Much to reflect on.
Dream with Your Eyes Open: An Entrepreneurial Journey
by Ronnie Screwvala
Read for: Engaging fast-paced narration, honest reflections. Readers will find it very easy to connect to the content, which is very relevant to the current economic environment.
Men and Ideals
by C Mahajan
Read for: The inspiring story of persistence, courage and vision that led to the building of the Apollo empire. Go the distance is not just a brand tag-line, but also an underlying philosophy that the entity has followed to reach its respectable position.
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
by John Gray
Read for: Eye-opening and clear perspective into gender-specific idiosyncracies in relationships which everyone is bound to face at some point
Not for: Not a guide to falling in love, but definitely good tips on treating it right
Psychic Powers (Collins Gem)
by Carolyn Boyes
Read for: An over-arching and interesting perspective on spiritualism that connects everything from meditation to reiki, and positive thinking to voodooism
Not for: Actually becoming a (professional) psychic
Zero to One: Note on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future
by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
Read for: You CAN reclaim your personal space
Not for: Subtle and graceful ways to say no – so many of the suggestions in the book are rude, that a more appropriate title might be “How to say no by being rude”
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Outliers: The Story of Success
by Malcolm Gladwell
Mastery (The Robert Greene Collection)
by Robert Greene
Man’s Search for Meaning
by Viktor Frankl
To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
A Short History of Financial Euphoria
by John Kenneth Galbraith
The Opposite of Loneliness
by Marina Keegan
Read for: The youthfulness in the writing and the author’s honest portrayal of her age (there are no words supporting pretentious ideals over-reaching for the age).
Not for: The benefits of a self-help book!
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
Read for: Meditative Reading and reflections on living in the present.
Measuring the World
by Daniel Kehlmann
Big Babies by Michael Bywater
I did not read through this book page by page. It became quite an effortful reading when the author’s endless cynicism continuously dismissed any outside opinion. While delving into the ‘childishness’ of present day grown-ups, the author himself is entrapped into playing an argumentative game of a child.
In one of the latter sections of the book: “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Mother”, i.e., how to ‘grow up’, the author puts forth some rather interesting reflections, such as denouncing relativism, not trusting estimates, or indulging in manners and that not to associate skills with moral. However, he poses serious thought-contradictions when he professes “writers know everything”, literally and by implication of his tone. Incidentally this is one of the better sections of the book.
Literary Review called him ‘the funniest man in England’. Either I personally don’t share a similar sense of humour, or, my unmet expectations result from finding this book in the wrong section of the library (Psychology).
Read for: Wit
Not for: Psychological analysis (as I did!)
Sexual Fluidity by Lisa M. Diamond
Read for: Novel understanding/Breaking stereotypes/Personal Reasons
Not for: Reinforcing homophobia
by Salman Rushdie
Read for: ‘Magical realism’. And of course it won the Booker of Bookers prize.
Not for: Historical account!