My Reads

…from my library the books that blew me over!

June 2016

Undercover Economist Strikes Back by Tim Harford

Absolutely Brilliant. To begin with Tim used a very simple situation and built the whole idea using that as a seed. If only economics could be taught in colleges like this, I probably would’ve paid much more attention to the lectures. Must read for anyone interested in business. In fact would even recommend it to those who are about to join B-school. It will make you appreciate economics even more.

May 2016

The Golden Tap: The Inside Story of Hyper Funded Indian Startups by Kashyap Deorah

I was looking for such a book (Indian Startups) for a long time and that’s exactly what this book is about. The best thing about this book is that it narrates the story in author’s perspective through a global outlook. The author almost always parallels the Indian Startup scenario to the US. It not only provides a good benchmark but also sets direction. I specially loved the last 50-60 pages which futuristic with one foot planted on the present (challenges and opportunities). One thing I thought the author could’ve done is talked more about startups that didn’t face the media glamour of VC funding but were doing quite well without it like Zoho and BrowserStack which just got less than a page of attention. I am sure, this would’ve added a depth to the topic.

April 2016

Shantaram: A Novel by Gregory David Roberts

It’s a 1000 odd page book (paperback version) it took me quite a while. Between travels and graduation, a lot of time actually. That means, the book didn’t really keep me hooked all the time. But, it has it good pages  which keeps you up for an hour more. The protagonist in the story is a wanted Australian prisoner, who escapes the prison and takes asylum in Mumbai, India. The story talks a lot about what happened to him in India than the path that lead to him here. But that’s just the story. But, let me show you a snippet of  what I loved about the novel –

Without that hope, there would be no art, for every work of art is in some way an act of forgiveness.

One of the ironies of courage, and the reason why we prize it so highly, is that we find it easier to be brave for someone else than we do for ourselves alone.

Every risk we take contains a mystery that can’t be solved.

Every virtuous act has some dark secret in its heart.
Guilt is the hilt of the knife that we use on ourselves, and love is often the blade; but it’s worry that keeps the knife sharp, and worry that gets most of us, in the end.
‘Money only comes in two kinds, Lin—yours, and mine.’ 
The enemy is your own grieving heart and, when it strikes, it can’t miss.

 

January 2016

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

This is one of the books that I highlighted a lot of pages. Went back to couple of chapters. Because I felt, that this book needed rereads and contemplation. Moments for the thoughts be breath out newer ones and to sink in to the system in its own way. Being the kind of person I am, I tend to put a defence shield. Of course nobody likes to be vulnerable. Nobody likes to be put in a place they do not want to be. Nobody likes attention to their most vulnerable moments. . Nobody likes others to think they are imperfect. [By nobody, I mean most people]. The next thing is courage. The so called courage I thought growing up was put to test. And it failed. Courage is not doing so called courageous acts like bungee jumping and sky diving. But, to face your true self, letting yourself to care, letting yourself to face your fears, letting yourself vulnerable (because that’s how you feel).

In a lot of ways, this book gave me a clear definition of the most common emotions we feel like shame, guilt, courage, authenticity, hope, happiness, joyfulness, creative, and connectedness. How many times has someone explained you about the emotions? Not many right? I am restricting myself to quote the book because it’s worth a read nevertheless, I will borrow the quote which the author has borrowed herself with due credits.

Katherine Center says, “You have to be brave with your life so that others can be brave with theirs.”

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey

This book gives us a concise description of daily rituals of people like Mozart, Beethoven, Benjamin Franklin, Karl Marx, William James, T.S. Eliot, W B Yeats, Woody Allen, Nikola Tesla, P.G. Wodehouse, Issac Assimov, Picasso, Maya Angelou and many more.  For those who are looking for a quick biography this book might serve the purpose, because it does give a good sneak peak in to their lives.

Looking at these names, you realize that the people are from various backgrounds and during various period. But as you read through the book, you only realize that the different time periods didn’t make much difference. And honestly, neither did the profession (not to the extent that rituals cannot be generalized). Nor did their work ethic. Everyone work every single day of their life – good day, bad day, birthday, stormy day or our general excuse “moody” day. But, what changed is their life style – some prefer quite indoors, some prefer outdoors and sunshine for their creative energies to flow. A quick note, all of them expected to fail and so they hacked in to their lifestyle and were able to control their energy flows. For example, Woody Allen takes shower to stimulate a fresh burst of mental energy. These great people, worked even when they weren’t working. Some had a notebook to write down their thoughts, some scribbled on napkins in the restaurants

When you think about the book deeply you realize a few things:

  • Great people, make rituals a means to “cut the crap and get to work”. They find the hard wire that keeps them going.
  • Some of the rituals are downright crazy, some are just those hacks that help them get creative faster. All of them have figured out what works best for them and then just repeated it for the rest of their lives. For example, some might prefer a quite environment, and these people usually wake up before everybody else does and get 3-4 hours of work done before the world gets bustling.
  • Great artists work every single day. Monday through Sunday, birthdays and holidays.
  • Contrary to the common myth, great artists are very social, but they time it.
  • They work even when they aren’t working.
  • They have in-built mood switchers in their life. They have hacked their life in order to pull them out of boredom or uncreative moments.

2014

Do the Work, Steven Pressfield –  Book Summary

Marketers are Liars, Seth Godin – Book Summary and My take