Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts


I am a bit over-zealous with books.  My reading habit has travelled from simple passion to addiction.  If you visit my home, you will see more than a hundred books  are lined up  for my reading task.

Ever since, I started writing for my blog,  my habit to watch TV at long stretches has gone.     More time and energies are invested in developing the craft. This passion to write has made me to forget my age.

Watching news on television becomes so  boring  as News readers discuss the headlines with concerned parties in a snail pace  manner, testing your patience.  More so, watching news on television becomes  now an alien concept    in the era of smartphones which update you on the news instantly.     


For a writer, time is very precious.   Snatching time for creative pursuits   is so daunting.  At the same time, the daily quota of reading/ writing can't be ignored.  


When I  write  daily,  I miss a lot of   reading.  Without reading sufficiently, my mind goes blank and there is a fear of drying up.   Balancing these two energy-intensive hobbies is so challenging.  


When I wake up in the morning I search for triggers. Blogger Communities and fellow bloggers  posts give me the  required kick to start my day with bang.  When I see their stuff  my tiredness evaporates and my resolve to improve my craft strengthens.


Better  writing happens when you write  what you feel than what you know. Your  conversing tone and  vocabulary  are the important factors. This is the secret of Indian origin Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul.     


To write creatively, you must taste all the genres. By reading a lot, you get an opportunity to observe and understand other writers style and mind.   Ruskin Bond,  the great Indian   writer  nonchalantly says that :  I have yet to hear of anyone dying from an overdose of reading ! 




Dr. Kalam is an exemplary public figure not only in India but on global platform. Though  he came from a very humble background,  his  ambition to realize his dreams brought him  to public glare.

He is a voracious reader and wrote more than twenty books.   His book" The Righteous Life : The very Best of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam' is the cream of his writings.

The youngsters must read this book to get inspiration from a man of profound wisdom.




Indian tradition says: Don't talk ill of departed people. With that umbrella rule, I like to speak only the brighter side of Nehru and the posterity needs  to know his   contribution in releasing  India from the clutches of British Raj.


Mushirul Hasan, former Vice-Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia, in his scholarly article in a prominent English daily dwelt at length about the lesser-known facts of Nehru. He says that :


Nehru was a voracious reader: he read 55 books from May 21, 1922 till January 29, 1923 alone. He delved into philosophy, and turned the pages of history to illuminate his understanding of the ideas and movements, which stood apart as the catalyst for momentous changes. In so doing, he looked through other people’s writings to understand how simple, ordinary men and women became heroes, and how their strivings made history stirring and epoch-making. Prison had made a man of him, he told the Socialist leader, Acharya Narendra Deva (1889-1956), while they were in jail for the last time in 1942.


Why did he write? Who did he write for? He had no archives to consult; so he relied on his recollections and on bits of information that he could conceal. He disliked being called a writer, and yet, armed with a varied experience of affairs, writing became a congenial occupation. Sometimes he didn’t write for weeks, now and again he wrote daily. His letters from jail represented his moods and thoughts at the time of each event; they were also his escapes from goal.


Nehru has a great love for roses and children. His famous 'Letters from a Father to His Daughter' teaching about natural history and the story of civilization to his daughter,  Indira is worth to be read. It speaks a lot about parenting and imbibing values.


His other two Great Books are  :


1. Glimpses of World History : Written almost entirely in prison in the 1930s. 

2. The Discovery of India : The book is a hymn to the glories of India. 


One should not miss to read these two epic books.


If you scan the history of  civilization, the  stalwarts the world over have  writing as one of their core inclinations.  Because it brings out the innate talents of a person and detoxify by facilitating to share his /her experiences. Take the case of Mahatma Gandhi whose 'Autobiography - My Experiments with Truth' has propelled  his ideas and it is a timeless classic for any generation. 


A writer would stand alone in the sands of time much after his life and continues to inspire through his/her books. What one needs more than this ?



Cricket in India is a religion.   A couple of match-fixing controversies can't dull the enthusiasm of Indians on cricket.   Cricketers  still wield more power and respect  than politicians and  film stars.


Among the sports fraternity, cricket is simply not a crowd puller but  money mint for organizers.


November, 6, 2014 would be etched in the  memory of  Nation ! This Jewel of Bharat (Bharat Ratna) - Sachin Tendulkar released his book " Playing It My Way : My Autobiography " .  The charisma  of this Cricket God helped a record sale of 2 lakh copies.

The book would give a peep into lesser known facts of this great cricketer's  personal life.


Sachin is  completely a family man.  His public gestures always reflect this point deeply  when he gifted a copy of the book to his mother Rajni.


With the release of his autobiography, the public life of Sachin come to a full circle.  He is already in his 40s and no longer in active public life which means he is bound to go into  archive memory of  a nation which has given him every thing he deserved. 

The book has so many interesting facts and incidents that grip the reader to the last.  Sachin proved to the world that before talent everything should climb down !



Most people don't know that she is the mother of celebrity Indian writer Vikram Seth. Late Leila Seth retired as Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh and wrote a book  'Talking of Justice'.  


The topic she chose is  raging with controversies especially  after Delhi Gang Rape incident in 2012.  The book is a medium volume of two-hundred plus pages giving  a convincing argument for the rights of women, minorities and other weaker sections/ communities.


In her book, she talked about how our laws failed in dispensing justice to the common man even after the country is freed from the clutches of British Rule. She brilliantly portrayed the existing judicial mechanism in the country and what  ought to be done in gender-sensitizing the judiciary, reforming the police and  changing the social attitudes of people.


 A must read book to know the ground reality on the judicial front of  the world's largest democracy



Until now, I only heard the word 'party animal' which means a person who enjoys going to parties and  drinks a lot of alcohol and behaves in a  loud and wild way.

But you need to have Urban Dictionary to know the meaning of some of the latest words that are  added by some crazy souls.  These words symbolize the latest trends on the  behavioral  front in the societies.

Google is one such company  where you need to have separate dictionary to know the meaning of their vocabulary.  The book 'How Google Works - by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg' which is an interesting read  has a ' Glossary'  where some words invigorated  my  mind  which are  given below:

Learning animals :  People who have the smarts to handle massive change and the character to love it:  They so enjoy learning that they aren't afraid of asking dumb questions or getting wrong answers.

Smart creative : A person who combines deep technical knowledge of his or her trade with intelligence, business savvy, and a host of creative qualities.

Google is a trendsetter in so many ways.  It  is equally unique in coining new words to drive their employees creative.  That’s why, the company within a short span made  huge progress and  is a global technology leader.



Perhaps this question might be  hunting you for quite some time.  But a logical answer to such fundamental question is not that much easy. When I asked this question repeatedly to myself,  I didn't get the clarity of why I get this drive. Suddenly one fine day, I got a full-blown reply from George Orwell’s essay ‘ Why I write‘.


Eric Arthur Blair who used the pen name George Orwell is an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic. He is ranked as one of the most influential English writers of the 20th century.

He says that there are four great motives for writing. They exist in different degrees in every writer according to his/her environment/upbringing. They are:


(i) Sheer egoism : Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc.  It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one.  Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.


(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm : Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed.   The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.


(iii) Historical impulse : The third reason is that desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.


(iv) Political purpose : Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.


This elevating answer from  Orwell  not only helps to understand the  inner dimensions of a writer but ignite others to pursue their passion !



There is no other way to control a day than to wake up little early in the morning.  It is one such non-negotiable activity that a writer should cultivate to embark a successful journey.

Honestly, I am not a  stickler to this virtue for some years which is not the case now.  I find the quality of writing improves insanely great when I  write in the mornings.   As the mind would be like a clean slate in those serene hours,  great writing happens miraculously.  


One morning after  sipping a cup of  hot coffee with  a biscuit,  followed by one minute prayer, yoga and meditation,  I sat down to begin my day.  When  I was about to open my 'Quotations Book' to devour some power quotes,  suddenly the corner table-top calendar grabbed my attention.  It is the calendar with daily power quotes of Swami Vivekananda which I stopped rolling daily with a  usual complaint: 'I don't have time'.   But  I know that is absurd.     Having felt guilty for a while, I rolled  the date card  to  26th October.  A beautiful  quote popped up  which slid me into reflection :


'This is the first lesson to learn; 

be determined not to curse anything outside, 

not to lay the blame upon anyone outside, 

but be a man stand up, lay the blame on yourself.  

You will find that is always true.  Get hold of yourself !

I tried to digest this truth into my veins.  


The agenda in front of me is to ' to share, share and share and widen my Knowledge Group through effective  forum. !   My intention  to share is noble and the purpose is  plausible.   


Too much worldly man can't cut much ice.   Even if he could succeed, it is only for short duration.

After certain age, physical growth stops and intellectual growth only matters and it differentiates  you from the crowd.  To grow in life means to grow spiritually.     


If you plough the history,  you could witness  that great people  have come and gone leaving  their foot prints in the sands of time.   What you need to do is  derive benefit from their wisdom and  march  ahead  with your own foot prints.  But feeling insignificant in this vastness of the universe is a self-inflicted curse and it is the beginning to your own end.  You have to make your own mark  on this planet in  your own life  time and  that adds flavour to life !  




A few years ago, one  popular English news magazine in India carried  a story regarding display of royal Indian jewels across the world.   The story further added  six royal style icons and their jewelry that made news.

Top on the list  is Maharani Gayatri Devi who was admired for her charm and beauty and  featured in the list of Vogue's Ten Most Beautiful Women of the World.

Natural beauty attracts instantly.   When such beauty is from royal family, the curiosity doubles.  Exactly the same happened  in 2004 when I saw   a review of the  book " Rajmata Gayatri Devi..... Enduring Grace by Dharmendar Kanwar, published by Roli Books.

Roli Books brought out the book in celebration of  their 25 years in the publishing business.  The book is a collector's edition worth to be read again and again.     The author did a fantastic job in taking the reader to the regal  palace life  with rare photographs of queen’s life.   The more interesting part of the book is the  twists and turns in Gayatri Devi's  personal life  in her  marathon journey of 90 years, enduring the personal tragedies of loss of husband and son  in front of  her eyes.

Indira Gandhi had once described Gayatri Devi as a 'glass doll'.    Being  a Maharani of Jaipur in 1940 shortly before turning  twenty-one,  she played a key role in emancipating women of erstwhile Jaipur State and bringing them out of the purdah.

The interesting thing is the author of the book,  Dharmendar Kanwar is  an alumnus of Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls School which speaks her contribution in empowering women through education.   Reading her biography gives glimpses of history of  India beyond  the personal life of one of the most exquisite women on this planet !



The other day, on a sultry afternoon, I was out to  visit a  book-store in the upmarket of  South Delhi. The purpose was to spend a couple of  hours to keep myself abreast of latest books in the town,  especially in my favorite genre - Self Help, Brain Power, Health/ Fitness, Happiness.


When I entered into that basement book-store, I felt the ambience soul-lifting. The fragrance of fresh -print-books was elating. The air-conditioned bookshop did not tire my legs when I snaked through the shelves, sometimes standing  to take a glance of couple of pages of books and some other times bending my back to take a quick look in the bottom racks. For a bibliophile   it is like a pilgrimage in the new town which I quite enjoyed.


The Book 'The Happiness Project' by Gretchen Rubin is # 1 New York Times Bestseller in 2009. It is a reprint of 2011 edition. One interesting fact about the book is that the author has spent twelve months test-driving the wisdom of the ages to know first-hand of how to be happier. The cover flap depicts that she found novelty and challenge as powerful sources of happiness.


Much before I saw the Rubin's book, I have already embarked my own journey of happiness in April, 2013 with a dedicated note book meant  for noting best quotes  on happiness culled out from the sayings of wisdom masters.   


 The main aphorisms of happiness are universal  across all cultures.  


While reading the book when   flipped through the pages, suddenly my heart-beat stopped for a while when I found pages 125 - 126 of the book terribly torn . Much to my dismay, the succeeding pages 127 -128 also damaged partially leaving no words to describe my agony. 


I could not exchange the book as I wrote down my name with date of purchase.  The title  of the book suggested me not to react wildly. I stood silently for some time  to come to terms. I thought what best I could do to get over the situation is to subdue my negative emotions. Soon enough, I pat my shoulder that I should not loose peace for the thing happened. 


After a while, the solution was seen round the corner. The Zen wisdom  convinced me that I should not worry for the things which I could do nothing. But I desperately felt the need to vent my feelings , but how ? Suddenly I got a flash of insight. It is my blog where I could pour out my heart.   

Writing these lines gave me the much needed relief. It  acted like magic pill to sooth my raging nerves. I find that peace can not be either bought or brought from outside and it is well within me. What I need is only to give a command to my own self with love like a ring master does to a roaring lion in the circus ! 


 He is a lot for amateur writers like me. Perhaps, he is a brand himself in literary circles. His intensity to live a life of all hues inspires anybody. He is one of the prolific writers of our times with subjects as diverse as God to gossip and religion to sex.

Khushwant Singh is the man who could turn anything into his witty story with eye-catching narration. I became his instant fan after reading his book “Khushwantnama – The Lessons of My Life. It is a book of par excellence. This simple prose is a minefield of distilled wisdom and  a  must read book. I equate this book with Marcus Aurelius’s classic : Meditations.

When the news of Khushwant Singh’s death broke on March 20, 2014, I felt an unexplained heaviness in my heart which reflects the bond he made with his writings. What I liked the most in him is his unadulterated honesty and put to pen whatever he feels in his heart.

You need to have tremendous guts  to write like  Khushwant Singh. Most of his writings are blended with high dose of humour. Somebody in journalism circles terms his writings as ‘bullshit in art form’. He is an excellent conversationalist. Perhaps that won him more women friends which he equally enjoyed and transpired to the world candidly.

He is not a dirty man the way he accounts himself. He is  a man of permeating wisdom.

He lived a fuller life with all his mental faculties in tact till the last moment. His last wish was also fulfilled : To die peacefully in sleep.

With utmost humility, I bid adieu to this grand old man who knocked out at 99, but taught a fitting lesson t : Live the life deliberately !



Book Review :

Dale Carnegie is one of the foremost personality development gurus of 20th century in America.   During his time, Dale was known to conduct famous courses on self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking and interpersonal skills.

Now so many leadership courses are on offer at and all the current courses are based on the ideology of  Carnegie whose books are sold widely  throughout India.  His famous books include How to Win Friends and Influence people and How to stop worrying & start living.

The above book is in fact not written by Dale Carnegie, but each chapter of the book starts with Carnegie's famous quote.  The chapters dwell at length on the real life situations underlying the core management principles of Carnegie.

The back flap of the book says  that the co-authors Stuart R. Levine and Michael A. Crom offers Carnegie's time-tested human relationship principles to demonstrate how anyone can harness creativity and enthusiasm to work more productively.  The book offers very rare insights of authors   to strike a balance between work and leisure.  The book also guides you to achieve  your goals and increase your self-confidence and above all, the book facilitates you to identify your own leadership strengths.

The interesting chapters on subjects such as Listening to Handling Mistakes bring a total transformation in your life.  It injects a positive mental attitude into your life  to achieve the goals set for yourself.

The crux of the book lies in overcoming your worries and tread a path to success !



He is the mountain of wisdom and documented  the success sagas of many giants of world.  This 20th century personality development guru is responsible for New Thought Movement of America. His unparalleled insights on life through his writings lift even the dud.

I was introduced to  his literature  while I was reading   ‘ Awaken the Giant Within', the much acclaimed work of Tony Robbins, sometime in 2004.

 Mr. Robbins needs no introduction as he is one of the America's top most personality development gurus and has a reputation of conducting courses on 'Fire Walks'.  I was awestruck when I read the following fiery quote of Marden :

Deep within man dwell those slumbering powers,
powers that would astonish him that he never dreamed of
possessing; Forces that would revolutionize his life,
if aroused and put into action.

The above quote invigorated my perception of life. When it comes to his groundbreaking works, I could say that his magical words mesmerize the readers instantly to unlock their inner potential. His selective phrases and apt adjectives fit the context like colours and shades in a fabric. After reading  the  Marden, my level of enthusiasm grew manifold.   Marden's life story itself is very interesting. A medical doctor and successful hotelier, he devoted his career to writing inspiring books. He founded Success Magazine in 1897. Marden believes that our thoughts influence our lives and our life circumstances.

His famous books include "Pushing to the Front, Cheerfulness as a Life Power”. His sublime narrating style triggers so many positive thoughts and his laborious task of culling out the wisdom of past centuries is above board. All his books are must read ones which  can be freely downloadable from the web.

After reading a few of his books, I feel that no new book needs to be churned out in self help category as abundant efforts had already been made by Marden. So when you are in low spirits and searching for a pill to put you back on rails, turn to Marden's treasure trove.