I didn't want to read this book at first. I thought it was cliche. There was just too much marketing about it on television and radio; people compared it to Gillian Flynn's 'Gone Girl', which according to me is the best psychological thriller I've ever read. But it [the book] was just lying there, so I was like: "Let's just give it a swing!". Oh boy, oh boy - what a f**king book. It was simply brilliant. Normally as an avid mystery/suspense reader, I kind of innately figure out who the killer was after about a 100 pages, but this book surprised me: it showed me sugar, when all I was thinking of was the coffee. The author, Paula Hawkins, blends themes around motherhood, emotional abuse and the serial drinking of women in their early thirties living in London, and bakes a gripping thriller, which for sure will have you guessing. The story unravels from the perspectives of three different women - Rachel, Anna and Megan - and the chronology draws a parallel from Rachel's commute on the train: early morning, morning, and evening, which feels like the story is happening in real-time. Paula Hawkins doesn't write - she paints. Reading through every chapter of the book felt like a movie; it felt so surreal to me. This is the kind of book I will always keep revisiting for creative inspiration and for writing technicalities. Up to a point, the story does slightly graze 'Gone Girl': wife missing. abuse by husband. wife was pregnant. unreliable witness.... but the narration from three different women rather than from just the husband and wife (in the case of Gone Girl) and the problems faced by them in the backdrop of society, changed everything; it made the story more women-centric. It was truly a gem of a book. Highly recommend!
I couldn't think of a better name for this book. It defined something that I had always felt within me - when I was feeling my best and performing my best. The flow state, as they call it, is what peak performance is all about. Top industry professionals in the valley, NAVY Seals, emerging entrepreneurs, all engage in a variety of activities in order to consciously get into flow states. The book talks about these states and what they are about. STER, which stands for Selflessness, Timelessness, Effortlessness, and Richness, are the consequences of these flow states. I won't go into depth about these terms, but, to give you an analogy, these are all the things that happen when you get high doing any physical activity, such as, but not limited to, running. I unconsciously used to get into these states when there was a higher calling in my life: last chance to pass an exam, shred 10lbs in 2 weeks, running 10 miles, finding a job during a pandemic, and so on. But I never could consciously trigger these flow states, which I believe would make me 400% more productive and motivated. The book, which although explains these flow states in theory, doesn't elaborate on how to practically apply them in life. (So I joined their online crash course: Zero to Dangerous :D). A significant portion of this book also touches upon the 'The Burning Man Festival' and underscores the relevance of this festival by disclosing the people who attend it: former NATO commanders to top serial entrepreneurs, such as Elon Musk, from the silicon valley. Apparently, the festival helps them exchange ideas and brainstorm novel projects. I can't stress enough the value this book has contributed to my life. It has directed me towards a path of understanding and researching peak performance. Two words to define this book: Get addicted!
"Despair = Suffering - Meaning" - Dr. Frankl
This book was both touching and grounding to me. Dr. Frankl, derives his foundation for logotherapy, a concept of psychotherapy, from his experiences at four concentration camps in Nazi Germany. He emphasizes that prisoners at the concentration camps who believed there was a higher meaning in their lives - when life expected something out of them than the other way around - survived. Dr. Frankl does not shy away from describing the horrendous details of camp life, and the toll it took on man's mental and physical well being. There were prisoners who were just dead afraid of being sent to the gas chambers, hence would do anything required in order to survive, and then there were others who found a meaning in their lives, which helped them cope better than the former. Three things, he says, will help find us find meaning in our lives: by creating a work or doing a deed, by experiencing something or encountering someone, and by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering. I, for example, find meaning in my life by writing these book reviews; it keeps me going. I truly believe life expects this from me and I don't expect anything in return. This is when, he says, happiness finds you. Most people target happiness in all situations, and unfortunately, miss it; its like chasing someone around on a spinning wheel - you don't catch them, they come to you once you get off of it. On a final note, I never could sympathize with any of the prisoners in the book; they had so much strength, that it made me envy them at times. May all their souls rest in peace.
Bob Dylan is a runner. He ran away from home seven times—at ten, at twelve, at thirteen, at fifteen, at fifteen and a half, at seventeen, and at eighteen. He portrays this elusive attitude even when being interviewed. Interviewers prepare months in advance before getting in front of him, but they still find it hard to have the reins during the interview. Bob Dylan tends to shrewdly escape questions regarding copying songs, political associations, relationships, and so on. Many interviewers have nevertheless tried to elicit a response only to be guided down a rabbit hole of clever nonsense. Here is a living legend, a myth, a Nobel Laureate who has no idea how he got to where he is now. One was the topics Dylan found unwilling to talk about was breaking down his art. Creativity, to him, is something that is innate; something that just happens. To describe the process betrays the sentiment and emotions of the people who perceive it, as each person derives a unique meaning from the same art. Creative beings such as Dylan and others happen to be conscious of religion, political agenda, education, and all the other crap that society instills in us and chooses to not add to them. Dylan walks the path of not crediting any special meaning to his songs. He wears a "You take what feels right to you" kind of attitude. Anyways, overall, this was an amazing read. I highly recommend it!
[Johnny gone down] The title pretty much summarizes the entire book. Karan Bajaj takes us again on the epic journey of Nikhil Arya (later known as Johnny), who sheds skin every few years and experiences a whole different life than the one previously held. Passing through various avatars of being an Ivy league scholar, a buddhist monk, a drug lord, an accountant, a software developer and a deadly game fighter, Nikhil embraces new challenges and situations around him, uncannily, adapt so perfectly to his current role (than the other way around) which makes the story line overly pretentious. You think the first time was serendipity, only to realize you were picking up bread crumbs of the same along the way until you got fed up. The amount of luck that you induce in a story, I believe, should not exceed people's definition of luck. In his journey, Nikhil took a lot of shit only to be magically healed a few pages later. Time, too, travels peculiarly faster than expected in this book. In my opinion, Karan Bajaj wrote a screenplay for a movie rather than a well thought out novel. But apart from the story line, Bajaj writes beautifully and elegantly as always, providing compelling backstories to characters, and painting vivid pictures with words. Overall, I would say, it's a deee...cent book: its something to watch more than read, I guess. PS: My bookmark is stuck at 200. Can't do further. Just saying..
This was the second Flynn book I read. To describe her writing is to decipher the inner workings of a talented psychopath, who translates her tendencies into scavenged words, trying so hard to not cross a moral line - but to vain. Camille Preaker makes a trip to her childhood home in Missouri in order to report the cold-blooded murders of two young girls for her news agency back in Chicago. What we see unraveling in this book is no big suspense or mystery as mentioned in the description of the book. Instead, we get front rows tickets for a shit show of a f**ked up family - yes, even more messed up than Amy Dunne in Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. Flynn describes underage girls (her sister included) - around 13 or 14 - and their intimate scenes so vulgarly and unbashfully which make your eyebrows dart up in most chapters (Da-heck am I reading?!). Camille's relationship with her mother forms the pulp of this book with the periphery being Camille's nostalgic moments when she meets her old high school friends and her mom's friends. The title "Sharp Objects" resonates perfectly throughout the entire book - read the book you'll know why. Overall the story line of this book was not as good as "Gone Girl" but it definitely is way more messed up that the latter. One quote that I took away from this book: "If someone wants to do f**ked up things to you, and you let them, you're making them more f**ked up. Then you have control. As long as you don't go crazy!"
Don't even bother. The Bill Gates review you see at the top of the book is an absolute marketing gimmick; the author is actually a close friend of Bill Gates. So now you see where that review is coming from. The only good thing about this book are the ten facts presented by the author, and I should say it did evaporate many of my misconceptions I had about the world and replaced them with actual facts based on statistics provided by sources such as the UNICEF. But that's only as far as I can go to be positive about this book. Throughout a majority portion, the author mocks the people, the educational institutions, certain dignified professionals etc.. with their ignorance to these facts. He is blunt about it and potrays himself as the 'wise guy'. Worse, he compares us to chimpanzees and makes a point that chimps are better than humans at guessing facts. All of what the author is saying is true, we are ignorant to the facts and we consume what the media offers us, but the way he reflected it in his writing was outright selfish. Yes, we are human beings and we do make mistakes, there will always be opinions or misconceptions in our heads, but please don't make it personal by making us regret having them in the first place. There is also no need for clickbaiting your writing by providing statistics of people who were wrong about the facts and seek pleasure out of it. I personally felt it was unethical and narcissistic.
An absolute thriller! Jon Krakauer dives deep into the intricate details of Chris McCandless's story and has done great justice in writing about the latter's journey into the wild. Chris McCandless largely reminds me of the fictional character, Max, from the book, 'The Yoga of Max's Discontent', written by Karan Bajaj, though, Chris, here, is quite real - the guy took some genuine shit on his fanatical expedition. Spoiler alert: Yes, he died. No one, in the end, really figured out how Chris met his demise except for a few speculations and bizarre theories that portrayed Chris as an impetious idiot. To those people I would say: "Go ahead and try living in the wild, with minimum quantity of resources, and stay, not for a week, but for atleast a month and then voice your thoughts". In my opinion no one in today's society is really prepared to live in the wild; centuries have passed by since our bodies accustomed to modern lifestyles, to go back in time meant you either had to be extremely resourceful or lucky enough to stay alive, or maybe you just wanted a 'wild' death. There is one thing everyone has to agree on: McCandless's spirit was just something else, almost bordering on psychic. The wild was calling out to him, it somehow wanted to contain him, and he liked playing victim, a victim of nature's calling. McCandless, or atleast his spirit, still lives on through his story, and sobers us each day with the question: "What are you a victim of right now? Is it worth it?"
Looking at the cover of the book, one would think this is another one of those million self help books out there. Well I confess: I thought the same too. During this pandemic, I just craved productivity as there was too much inactivity and procrastination going on at my end. I must say I was very much surprised by this book; it was one heck of a thriller which drew insights from inspiring and page-turning stories rather than merely breakdown research papers. What I liked most about this book was the style in which each chapter was delivered: An engrossing scene of a story to start with, which then suddenly becomes a cliff hanger as the author goes on to explain the backstory which led to that scene. This kind of writing style gave me perspective and depth to the scene that appeared at the start of the chapter, and also made me absorb the content better. The eight insights that form the crux of this book are motivation, teams, focus, goal setting, managing others, decision making, innovation, and absorbing data. Charles Duhigg goes to challenging lengths in writing this provocative book while testing the productivity tips on himself - he does lead by example. I would rate this as a must-read book especially during these unprecedented times.
Brian Tracy drops a whole load of valuable thought nuggets in his book. He provides proven habits that will make or break you. One of the most valuable advices I have got from this book is to write my goals in the present tense, as though I have already achieved them. This method of goal setting is so powerful as it speaks directly to our subconscious mind. Tracy does his best in covering habits for all parts of life ranging from habits for personal effectiveness to habits for health and well-being. The only drawback of this book is that it contains too much information on various habits which kind of leaves the reader debating which habit to try out first. As a personal advice, I would say not to read this book in a single setting - probably read like one chapter a month and try to apply a few habits the consecutive month. This way you can see for yourself that the habits do work if you put in some conscious work. The book title can also be misleading at times - the habits mentioned here will not necessarily make you a millionaire or double & triple your income; instead these habits will help you organize yourself - mentally and physically - and make you a more valuable person than the one you were yesterday. You become a million dollar person, not necessarily with a million bucks in the bank.
Have you ever wondered if you had pushed a bit too hard on a deal? That time when you were so headstrong in influencing the other person only to find out later it was all a waste of your energy. Arriving at this book after reading a good many books on the psychology of influence got me thinking: “Can genuine influence be that simple - just by following 5 trivial clauses?” I guess it is. This heartwarming story brought home the need for valuable, helpful, and honest people in our lives, those who identify our shortcomings and always push us to be our best selves. We then, finally, end up being pulled towards them. That, I believe, is indeed genuine influence. As the author, Bob Burg, puts it: ”Influence is all about ‘pull’, not ‘push’.”
Page-turner alert! I completely lost myself in this book. Karan Bajaj shares a riveting account of Max, a Harvard economist and Wall Street banker, whose journey of discovering his spiritual self ranges from the chilly Himalayas of Northern India to the drought-stricken, tropical lands of the South. Bajaj definitely has an eye for detail - he makes the reader deeply experience the vivid details of the places, people and emotions. This book disengaged me from this habitual world, and made me realize that life is just too short to be short. The inward journey is all that matters as happiness resides within you - not outside. Pursue it. Embrace it. Live dangerously.
Mr. Mojo, the legend. To be frank, I did not agree with a lot of things Morrison did in his life, a whole load of it was questionable and downright bullshit. But I had just one question in my mind when I kept this book down: "How can a person live so exhaustively?". Jim Morrison never once shied away from expressing himself - be it musically, mentally or physically. Between forming one of the most controversial and influential bands of his era to dying of heroin overdose in Paris, Morrison lived like he owned life - nothing ever stopped him. Wearing lizard costumes; performing weird feats onstage which included frequent grabbing of his crotch, masturbating, taking his clothes off; his drinking binges; his participation in Celtic weddings where the couple has to draw each other's blood; recording in the studio while intoxicated out of his mind, and many more enigmatic events give us a glimpse of Morrison's captivating aura during the 60s counter culture scene. I feel, Morrison is the living definition of 'life' itself. He made me wonder if "eccentric" really is a word. Eccentric, for me, is not "being unconventionally and slightly strange", I personally consider it as "shedding your 'mask' ". That's what rockstars did. In the end we worship them because they never allowed time or masks to interfere with their ambitions - also time for them was just a mental concept to keep them organized, not something to be waited on or to be conscious about.
Lesson Learnt: Stop waiting in life.
Twisted. Psychotic. Gravely disturbing. Gillian Flynn, through Amy Dunne, orchestrates the perfect homicide scene, painting just the right amount of details, in order to raise ample suspicion on Amy's husband, Nick Dunne. Amy’s broken marriage rooting from a cheating husband, physical abuse and diminished interaction deprived her of the flawless life she had imagined for herself, leading her to destroy her husband to lengths one could never imagine. This is the ideal book to read if you are looking for some inspiration to shatter your spouse's life - make him/her regret what they did to you - and see them break down on television. There is a guilty pleasure to that, isn't it? But a homicide to cause that? That's another level. One thing I got out of this book is understanding how minds work in the different sexes. If a guy was pissed with his wife for several years, he would either get a divorce, abuse her or maybe even kill her. But no guy, at least to my understanding, would ever come up with such a degenerate homicide plan that shifts blame on one’s partner in order to get the desired revenge. I don't mean to imply that women are any more messed up than men - some men are equally disturbing when it comes to crimes - but the planning and execution of this kind of runaway homicide plan does sound primarily feminine to me. The author, Gillian Flynn, also adds to this point in one of her interviews, where she says, "Women have just as much issues with aggression and anger, but they express them differently than men do. That is something people don't talk about much. Women also fail to acknowledge their own violent impulses and incorporate them into their personal narratives, though men tend to cherish stories of their childhood meanness”. What violent impulses have you suppressed?
Nobel Prize for Literature. Let me repeat: f**king Nobel Prize for Literature, folks. Writing a review for this book - no I can't label this as a book; no not a masterpiece; no no not even an autobiography; its's also not something beyond imagination; it's.. umm......it's soo ordinary....damn it.....soil, yes, that's it, sheets of freaking soil, you grow from it - gives me goosebumps all across my body; the acceleration of gravity seems to increase as I shuffle through its layers, bringing me down to earth with a faintly passive aggressive tenderness. Bob Dylan shares his life story barefooted; he describes, through music and philosophy, how he started off on his musical journey in the streets of New York City, living out of a simple studio apartment befriending strangers, mostly vagabonds - the way he describes these characters in the book is very fascinating as he makes the latter speak about him directly to the reader. Dylan plays the priest, uniting poems and philosophy through wedding vows, allowing them to look each other in the eye eagerly - the sort of eagerness of a deaf person getting his first cochlear implants after 30 years, and who just can't wait to listen to the texture of his mother's voice. Dylan finally, then, gives them [poem and philosophy] the green light to kiss aesthetically in the end. Upon reading this book, you will appreciate the little things in life - the stranger who picked up your fallen grocery, the bartender who played your favorite song on the radio, a morning kiss from your beloved and so on. A simple life, he emphasizes, is indeed extraordinary. What was something simple that you appreciated today?
Artemis, in mythology, is the Greek Goddess of the Moon. Although this story does not involve any Goddess, it does take place on the moon in the late 2080s. Jazz Bashara, a citizen of the moon, potrays the stereotypical badass chick who fights a crime syndicate that conspires to take control of her moon city. She is unrelenting and adventurous in her endeavours, and most definitely defies the misconception of men getting all the action. I was amazed by the level of detail in describing the mechanics of science behind many elements in the book. Andy Weir has done extensive work in researching orbital mechanics, the complexities of living in space, and the long term effects on the body due to zero-g inhabitation. He twists and molds all these concepts into fiction while staying as scientifically accurate as possible. The story was so compelling and clever - it made me read this book in a single setting - about 5 hours, give or take. Settling on the moon has always been on my check list, but I am highly doubtful that will ever happen in my lifetime. Futuristic novels like these, written so realistically by authors like Andy Weir, lower my threshold for discounting them as mere fictions and make me reckon that this could actually be possible. Moon babies all the way!
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