Sunday, January 28, 2018

2017 Books Round up

My first blog post of every new year is on the books I crunched in the past 1 year. Here is the list for previous years - 20102011201220132014,  2015 and 2016

Compared to other years, this year I had shunned Social Media - zero posts in FB. Few marketing retweets in Twitter. TV was shunned already.  I had more time to read books than previous years - inspite of a hectic 2017 

Here are the books I crunched - classified by Genres :

Science Fiction

1. Death's End - Cixin Liu







This is the 3rd and final part of the Three Body Problem. Science Fiction from China. In the earlier part Earth Civilization is preparing for an attack. In this part they are attacked. There is one funny piece where a scientist falls into a Black hole. However his wife does not get insurance, because he can never be declared dead - he is still falling into the black hole and is never dead theoretically! 

2. Dark Matter


Multi verse. Nice racy read.

3. Old Man's War



I think Netflix is making a TV serial of this. Interesting plot.

4. Xenocide





3rd and concluding part of Ender's world. I read the first part in 2012 or 2013. While running around the synthetic track of a Sports Authority of India's training ground in Kandivali, Mumbai.

Little did I know that this book - Xenocide was the actual book the author wanted to write - but it was difficult to consume, so he built up a nice hollywoodish thriller ahead of it - got me hooked so had to read this difficult book.

At times it is painful - how the genetically mutated humans who actually have a OCD condition - but are made to believe they are god spoken and they purify themselves by tracing the wood grains on the floor.

Another place one alien - hunter - gives his life to prove they are independent and not under the influence of another alien virus.

Interesting plot. Have to go deep to appreciate these questions. This book is not for the faint of heart. You should be a hardcore science fiction fanatic to live through this book.

But worth it.

5. We are Legion







A brain of a cryogenically frozen guy is Bob is revived and made the brain of a spaceship. He or It  escapes from Earth which is at the verge of getting destroyed because of a nuclear war.

I get introduced to the concept of a Van Neumann machine. A self replicating machine. Bob creates more Bobs and spaceships. They go on to explore the universe.

They discover a humanoid species and Bob decides to help a smart kid ( Bob christens him Newton ) against gorillas. Simultaneously few Bobs go to Earth and try to rescue the remaining living humans.

Was not boring at all and enjoyed the story and plot.

6. Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep





Sci Fi Classic. I had actually started this book but forgotten. In between a year had passed. This is a complicated book. At times was engrossing at times was torture.

7. The Fold





Nice racy read. Did not get boring. Kind of predictable. The hero is a a high IQ guy living in hiding as an English Literature who is called in to study a high secret science project - and shit hits the fan.

Fiction



8. Sputnik Sweetheart



You can read any book of Haruki Murakami - his prose just flows and you will never get bored.

9. Aunts aren't gentlemen - PG Wodehouse




My first PGW. Funny. Actually my first PGW was watching a play based on PGW's story - my birthday treat in 2016. After that found this book lying in our house and started reading it. Like the slow gentle pace and how the plot ravels and unravels.

10. Under the dome - Stephen King





There is a Netflix TV series. I started watching it, got hooked and then switched to this book.  Very interesting plot. In the end he had thanked his team - of course there was a team who thought about the details. How to escape from a situation where there is no oxygen, and how they survive by breathing from a car tyre. The utter madness of a psychotic killer. It is all there. Going on a long vacation with lot of time to kill - pick this book. Never a dull moment.

11. Scion of Ishvaku





Loved it. Read Amish Tripathi if you haven't.

12. Sita





Part II. Loved it too. Waiting for the next in series - Raavan.

13. IQ84




Donald Trump is president. This book is very close to the hilarious reality we are all getting into.

I had actually made a mistake in downloading this book in kindle. There is a book with the same name by Harukki Murrakami - thought was getting that book and ended up getting this - no complaints though.

Felt like reading one of those typical Hollywood movies.

14. Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguru




Heard that this author won a Nobel Prize in Literature. So got his best work.

Superb prose and narration. Story just flows. Quite a simple and nice plot. Must read. Some good questions are raised. What if you toiled all your life on something and which turned out to be a failure - are you a failure or since you toiled dutifully it is not. Don't know either.

Biography

15. There are no short cuts to the top






Book is about a high altitude mountaineer who has climbed all 8000+ Ft peaks - 14 of them are there - without an oxygen tank. Very interesting and inspiring.



16. The man who knew infinity


The biography of the greatest Indian Mathematician - Srinivasa Ramanujan. Must read for Mathematicophilles.


17. Mossad





"No way" I was telling to myself reading some of the exploits of Mossad. Egypt Premier's son in law was on Mossad's pay roll. They got early warning of the attack of Israel by Egypt and coalition. It was like a thriller - not a good book to read before sleeping.

Classics

17. Adventures of Tom Sawyer





What a masterpiece. Had only read the abridged version in school earlier. There was no iPhone or XBox with Tom Sawyer. He entertained himself with a tick in class or a dead cat. Lovely writing. Thoroughly enjoyed it. It felt like an alien universe - Tom Sawyer's world - compared to the electronic era we live in now.

Spirituality

18. Man's Search for Meaning






Just read this book. It is not spiritual or religious even though I have classified it under Spirituality.

It is about a Jewish Psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust. He could observe the Human Mind when it was going through the greatest distress - they did not know if they will be alive the next hour. However Viktor Frankl, the author survived - and lived to tell his tale.

Has practical application for life.

19. The Prophet




You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, 
and He bends you with His might 
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, 
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Each chapter is a prose like this. Full of deep advises and insights. On every aspect of human life. Can keep visiting this book. Very deep and enjoyable.


20. Little Prince






This was gifted to Prithvi by his Maashi. It is a small book - and we all ended up reading it. Very beautifully written and makes you think - on the mad rat race we are all running.

21. Adiyogi




There are lot of stories of Shiva and takes the goal of enlightenment up a notch - to go into nothingness. I did not quite get it - perhaps I might some day. Must read for Isha fans.

Science

22. Are we smart enough to know how smart animals are






Some of the cutting edge research on Animal psychology proves how much we still do not know. Crows can solve complex puzzles a Chimpanzee can solve ( supposedly the 2nd smartest after humans ) - with a lot smaller brain and just a beak. The more the scientists dig the more they are in awe of the wonderful co-habitants of this planet.

As a former meat eater I feel ashamed to have unknowingly participated in using the animals for food - these are sentient creatures - who can feel love and pain - they deserve a better life than the ones we humans are subjecting them to.

23. Sapiens




If you pick up this book, read this as if you are an alien reading about the Human Race. Can appreciate this better.

The author, an Israelite talks highly of Buddhism and how it is the most practical of all religions today. Unfortunately the author does not talk much on the Indian culture which evolved over a greater period and has contributed to the human civilisation a great deal.

Productivity

24. The Advantage






There were some good learnings from this book which I believe we implemented in ADDA.

25. Rich Dad Poor Dad




Wish I had read this book 20 years back. .

26. Tools of Titans







Damn you Tim Ferriss. You know how to take money from me year after year. This book has 3 sections - Healthy, Wealthy and Wise. Great tips and it is one of those books you can readily put things into action.

27. Hard things about Hard things



Running a Startup? Drop everything and read this first. Very thought provoking and has some good tips and tricks.

28. School of Greatness




Had some good advises - some of them I follow already so was nothing new - but a good re-affirmation book for me.


29. High output Management


This book was heavily quoted in Hard Things about Hard things - so had to read it. Had good tips in running an organisation. Need for training and orientation - which something we were not focussing much on.

30. Slip Stream






Another dimension / advantage of getting into "Flow". Good insights.

31. Only the Paranoid Survive




Another must read for any Startup Founder. How Intel prepared itself to move from a Memory company to a Chip Company - how they read the market conditions and did a course correction which saved Intel.




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