Sunday, January 11, 2015

2014 Books Roundup

Too many books to read...too short a life.

Here are my books roundup of 2010,2011,2012 and 2013.

After my 2013 post an ex-colleague of mine in TW, Apoorv, suggested some of his favourites.

Surely You're Joking, Mr.Feynman!
by Richard P.Feynman

Feynman is this famous Theoretical Physicist who was involved in the top secret Atomic bomb project that brought World War II to an end. He also won the Nobel Prize for his work in Quantum Physics. Theoretical Physicists should be boring guys right? Wrong! He is one hell of a guy. The book is full of  pranks he played on others, observations of how ants march around and the experiments he did with them, how he mastered the drums in Brazil, how he learnt Portuguese, experienced astral projection on salt tanks.. it is an endless list. I am writing this post almost after a year and still Feynman's jaunts are fresh in my memory.

Thanks to you Apoorv, 2014 got to a brilliant start.

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
by Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman

Buoyed on by the success of Feyman, I took up this second book. It was outright hilarious to the core. How the demons will try to create havoc and everything will go wrong. The Omen kid will be a dud and they will try to salvage the situation.

But I quickly lost interest - this might be strange - but I was never a fan of the British style writing. Have given up on Ask Jeeves too - sorry Jeeves fans!

This book is hilarious at first but then I got bored quickly - the humour becomes monotonous and the laugh turned into a smile to an acknowledgement to a hmm and I stopped.

A Thousand Splendid Suns
by Khaled Hoseni

What was I thinking when I picked this one up. Perhaps it was too much humour and I wanted to bury myself in sorrow. This book started alright, but it got darker and darker. And more darker and more depressing. And even more depressing and more tragedy started coming in endless procession. Mariam and her husband's second wife with her baby try to run away to Pakistan from Kabul and they get cheated and were sitting in the Police station pleading the policeman not to tell their husband. And I could not take it any longer.

Stay away from this even if you are a sucker for these kind of stories - will put you in depression all day. Why does anyone write these things?.... sheesh.

Buddha ( Volumes 1 thru 7 )
By Osama Tezuka

This is a Manga style comic and is a brilliant portrayal of Buddha and his life. And ton of work has gone into creating this magnum opus. Each page has got so much detail that I would not like to turn the page. Have to take it in slowly and let the content sink in. I first planned to read one volume a month. But by May I could not wait any longer and finished the rest in May itself.

Strongly recommend - won't make you a Buddhist - yes there are a few Buddhist gyan spread out - but its too less and not impactful - but you will enjoy the story of how a religion was born and how Buddha struggled all along.

By Paulo Coelho

My all time favourite author's new book. Was a dud. A perfect challenging life as a Journalist, a loving Husband, two kids, living in the best place on earth - Switzerland and she decides to ruin it all by committing adultery - why? Well read the book for the pages and pages of justification.

Towards the end she and her husband do a para gliding session and she becomes an eagle in her mind and reforms herself - this part is why I worship Paulo Coelho. Just for this brief part towards the end I forgive you Paulo! Awaiting your next book.

And you can give this a pass. And Winner stands alone too. Pick up any work of his and get yourself spiritually entertained.

Three Body Problem
by Cixin Liu

This is a Science Fiction out of China - not that well known but it should be. I rank it along with Dune and Enders World. Involves Aliens and Multi Dimensions.

If Interstellar gave you a headache because of 4 dimensions in the end -  the story goes into 11 dimensions. There is Virtual Reality, bit of History of Civilisation and Quantum Physics, Spirituality, Aliens and Nano material.

Very strong recommendation if you are a Sci Fi fan. Will love every page of this book.

Jupiter Travels : Four Years Around the World on a Triumph 
by Ted Simon

Mid 2014 I got stuck by the Biking virus - which seems to be striking all middle aged men. And one day I had to spend 6 hours in Delhi airport waiting for my flight. Was researching on bikes and stumbled on this very interesting book and thanks to Kindle had it in my iPad in no time and started reading. Oh I love technology. Years back in Bangalore, I read about an author called Neal Stephenson in Wired magazine and hunted for his books all across Bangalore - but could not find a single work of his. Later I got his books in Kindle.

Back to this book - this crazy British journalist decides to take his Triumph bike around the world. He starts just before the Egyptian war with Israel and rides his bike right across Africa till the very tip - and what a journey he has - with punctures, accidents, miraculous escapes, help from kind souls, thieves. He has a very holier than thou attitude at the beginning but it eases off and starts appreciating people more as the story progresses.

The story slows down after he crossed the Atlantic and is arrested and kept under lock up in a Brazil police station after being suspected of espionage. He is out now and is travelling across Argentina. I open this book whenever I am stuck with the routine virus - my passport to a different alternate life - as I ride pillion with him experiencing what his soul experienced some 5 decades back.

By Michio Kaku

Interstellar woke up the suppressed curiosity in me about Space and Multi Dimensions.

This is a good book that tries to follow the hunt for the Grand Unified Theory. The new developments in Quantum Physics and how close are we to unravelling the truth about the universe. Reading this helped me understand Three body problem better on how the secret to the Universe is hidden in the sub atomic particles.

If you have read Brief History of time, which was written some 2 decades back I guess, this is a good continuation of it and covers the astonishing progress we have made during this time.

And for 2015...

The Martian

Already half way through - simply brilliant - this is the 2014 Book of the year as voted by GoodReads. And one of the important characters in the book is the head of Mars Mission - his name is Venkat Kapoor - and I find it very distracting :)

Being Mortal

I already got a recommendation for this by Prakash from my college.

One of Chetan Bhagat's 

This year want to read Indian authors, and want to read the most successful writer of our times.

The Suitable Boy

It has got 1500 pages or so.. bring it on.

Bhagwad Gita 

The Art of Living course is based upon Bhagwad Gita. Also it is one of my life plans to read all the holy books across all religions. Let me start with the one easily accessible.


It is all rusted, and want to start from basics again - so I can understand String Theory and continue my Physics education. If you know of any good book do suggest me.