April 11, 2013

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (revisited)

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Post by Guest Author:

“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”…catchy title for a book indeed!. It had caught my attention and became part of conscious mind while growing up surrounded by popular western cultural influences in an urban milieu of my country. And you can laugh at my naiveté, when I tell you that at the time I had taken the title in the literal sense, as the metaphorical implications of words had not yet developed fully for my understanding. It kept cropping up time and again around me till I graduated from my college. But, in spite of the catchy title and the colourful animated book cover, I had never bothered to actually get hold of the book, until recently, when one fine day my husband of 4 years bought home a cheap and pirated paperback version of the book. Continue reading

April 7, 2013

Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi

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I picked this one up on an impulse when I was browsing a fancifully famous book store in Hauz Khas, Delhi. While leaving I started feeling guilty for not purchasing anything, and saw this book. I had already seen the movie on the other more famous book by the same author, Persepolis. This book is to Persepolis, what Godfather 3 was to Godfather 2, a really lame follow up. However the book does make one good point. Continue reading

April 5, 2013

Affluenza by Oliver James

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The plot of the books is simple. We are all becoming greedier. Some countries are greedy than others. People want material goods because they see others hoarding them, even though they do not have much need for them. Hoarding material goods is not the answer. Does the book give you an answer? Continue reading

April 4, 2013

The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien

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I am cheating here. I have not actually read the book. I just watched the first installment of Hollywood’s interpretation of the book. However I could easily connect to some of the standard themes from Lord of the Rings. Both books have similar morals to teach – how the most primitive creatures can play as crucial a role, as the mighty ones (thou shall not be arrogant), how the wise are tolerant and the evil ones are not, how the management style of the evil tyrant is to keep their subordinates scared and demoralized (sounds familiar?). However many scenes also made me wonder about the reasons for the works of Tolkien being considered sacred texts by the hippies. Continue reading

October 5, 2012

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray

“What we’ve got here is (a) failure to communicate”

( from the movie Cool Hand Luke)

It is an urban myth that a writer has arrived when pirated copy of his books are sold on the footpaths of India. By that measure, John Gray has certainly done very well with this book. At least a large part of the success of this book must be attributed to the fact that dudes like to gift books to chicks that they are trying to impress, and maybe they want to show how sensitive they are by buying sweet -syrupy titles like this one. But jokes aside, there is plenty of value in this book. Continue reading

August 22, 2012

The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck

MACBETH:

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas’d;

Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow;

Raze out the written troubles of the brain;

And with some sweet oblivious antidote

Cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuff

Which weighs upon the heart?

DOCTOR:

Therein the patient

Must minister to himself.

 ( From the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare)

The Road less travelled is a self help book.

Well dear reader, if you got a smirk after reading that last sentence; no one really blame you.

In fact  it is possible to make an argument against the phrase “self help” itself. It is not exactly self help when you are doing what someone else (a guru or author a self help book) tells you to do. Particularly when you have paid him, so you can help yourself. Why the price then? (in this case the price of the book).

Here in lies the first lesson. It is alright to seek “self help” by consulting a guru. A genuine guru (or consultant) lets you know that he cannot solve your problems. In such matters you must minister yourself. And to his credit M. Scott Peck lets the reader know that ultimately he has to help himself. Continue reading

March 15, 2012

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

 

Kids are often introduced to classics by giving abridged versions to read. I thought I had read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens in high school, only to realize later when I grew up that the actual novel is not about a school guy who ran into a convict in some wheat fields (or was it a neighbourhood forest) but rather a complicated tale about social stratification and class system.

If there is one classic that can be abridged to a nursery rhyme and yet merits multiple readings as a grown up, it is Gulliver’s travel.

There are many major themes in the book. Most of them are well documented elsewhere on the net. However, there is one theme that is of particular significance (at least according to me). Let us start by going over the more run of the mill themes.

Continue reading

March 13, 2012

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


Sherlock Holmes is hip once again. A latest series produced by the BBC (god bless them) called “Sherlock” has become a blockbuster hit in the Caucasian world, and a blockbuster hit in the engineering and MBA colleges of our country (at least that is what I have been told). The series brings Sherlock back to life in the modern day London, armed with blackberry, google and Macbook Pro.

That the series is winning new fans for Sherlock Holmes is evident from the increase in sales of his books. But the series has some charm for old timers as well. What really appeals to a Sherlock Holmes fan is that series has really managed to stay true to the vision of Arthur Conan Doyle (and even surpass him at times). This is a much bigger accomplishment that it sounds. Continue reading

March 11, 2012

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,

Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;

And as imagination bodies forth

The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen

Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing

A local habitation and a name.

–         William Shakespeare

The savvy reader will sense a tad of desperation here. For the first post on this blog I have selected a man (and a book on that man) who is one of the most searched, googled, twittered celebrity on this planet. What can I possibly say about Steve Jobs, that hasn’t already been said? Well, I can say a lot of thing, as I feel that most of the articles and write ups on Jobs were suffering from something called a shoe-string complex. Continue reading