Books

Sacred Games: A more fitting tribute to Bombay than what a Maximum City could ever be. All the more special because it is fiction. A Bollywood masala story of policemen, gangsters, terrorists, love, betrayal, spies and even Maa ka emotion. Yet the story could well be something that can happen in real-life.  At 900 pages, a bulky read, but a page-turner. 2/24/2010

Games Indians play: Having recently read a lot about Game theory, this book excited me. But it was an absolute bore with horrible arguments. 1/13/2009 (Chennai)

Chai Chai!: A good example of how a great concept/idea was executed horribly. A travelogue about the not so small, not so big, but mighty important “junctions” of the India railways. The places where the train invariably stops for more than 20 minutes, and you wonder “Whats so important about this place”. But the author got bored after Guntakal, with most of the other places feel like it was visited because someone had funded the project and it had to be completed. I was super excited after buying the book, but super disappointed after finishing it. 1/7/2009 (Chennai)

Open: Agassi is one of my favourite athletes. And it takes great courage to tell his story as it is. Oh! What a story it is. Fantastical, Fairy-taleish, yet Earthly and Real. It could be any genius, who does not want any of his genius-ness. His is a great story about a reluctant genius: A genius, who would have traded any day with a magic fairy to take away his incredible tennis skills and give him the normal life. A peek into how to handle genius. It is also a story about all the life skills that we want to inculcate: Hard work, Integrity, Honesty. It is a story about how knowing one’s true mission can change a life. It is a story that should motivate you to find out the truth about your life. Agassi says it all when he writes: 12/16/2009

“No matter what your life is, Choosing it changes everything.”

After very many years, this book is going to be one of my cherished possessions.

The Inheritance of Loss: A story about how Sai, the Judge’s grand-daughter and Biju, the cook’s son, inherit the loss of their parents/guardians’ identity. It is a story about how Colonial british and the global present-day world usher confusion in people when cultures clash. It is a story about how the rich can subjugate the poor and how that interaction brings about the loss of an identity. A very well thought out novel, not an easy read but an engrossing one. 12/2/2009

The grapes of wrath: A story of a migrant family searching for work, splitting apart and yet managing to stay together in the Great American Depression of the 1930s. A story that can still be true anywhere in the world, from Eastern Europe to Africa to Vidharbha, and probably even in the west. With great skill, Steinbeck brings out the pathos, emotions and travails of the really poor, so much so that, after reading the book, I felt a different feeling regarding the under-privileged, a feeling that something has to be done if there could exist such differences in the world among human beings, much away from my general feeling of I am too small a pawn to do anything about anything. Finally, it was a commentary about mindless Capitalism, about how food was destroyed in front of poor hungry people to keep the prices high, about how advanced technology displaced people and the companies advancing technology cared just for their purses. Socialism does not seem bad, as was depicted in the community camps that was mentioned in the book. In a country, and in a world that is mostly tending to mindless capitalism, the depression and accurate portrayals of the travails of the poor, such as this book, is very much necessary to develop Capitalism with a face, policies that help the poor, and to some extent redistribute wealth. More importantly, IMO, the need for policies that redistribute Skills, as acquiring skills has also got a lot to do with money. Skills so that everyone can contribute when Technology, Nature or any other circumstance forces changes in how business is done. The final act in the book could have been in bad taste in any other book, but it a testament to Steinbeck’s writing and story telling skills, that is stands out as the most poignant scene of the book. 10/19/2009

A Thousand Splendid Suns: This book was so bad, I bitched about it in a full review. 9/30/2009

A house for Mr Biswas: RKNisque in taking the story of a common man and presenting it so nicely, that you think about it even when you are not reading the book. A classic book about a middle class man with no great talent and his aspirations for a good life and his own house. Stories can’t get simpler than this. Parts of it reminded me of appa, amma and all the stories that they shared with us. 8/30/2009

Sea of Poppies: Absolute Brilliance! The last Ghosh book I read was The Hungry Tide, and I was spellbound by his attention to detail, Sunderbans came alive in the book, the characters not that much. He bests that in this. 1838, British India floats up in front of your eyes, and the characters brings life to it. You are transported into Ibis, and wait with bated breath for the next installment of the trilogy. 8/14/2009

The Game of Thrones: A good beginning to a fantasy series, has all the elements for a successful series in it. But, I kind of feel it will go the The Wheel of Time series way….later books becoming more and more burdensome. This one had me hooked while I read it. 8/3/2009

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak: Humbling, Heart-wrenching, Heart-warming, Bitter-sweet tale of a war torn Germany and its innocent victims, told through the eyes of a small girl, a perspective that tugs your heart, because children see and understand a lot more than what we adults care to admit.  A brilliant read, and a book that I will review in detail on my blog soon. 7/1/2009

An Equal Music, Vikram Seth: Painful read, and not what I was expecting from Vikram Seth after A Suitable Boy and Two lives. The only thing that I could feel for the main charachter was anger and I really wanted to get inside the book and smack him, and ask him to come to terms with reality….A waste of time, I had to force myself to finish the book  6/26/2009

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