Book Review: 13 steps to bloody good luck

13 Steps to Bloody Good Luck

I had read Ashwin Sanghi’s mytho-thrillers before and had been very impressed. While Amish Tripati wove a mythological story at that past time, Ashwins stories blended the present to the past and linked them in a beautiful beautiful way. And I was quite surprised to see him promoting a non-fiction book on twitter the other day.

Anything to do with debunking luck is a high scorer on my buy-the-book-meter. So when I found that the book was indeed released on the kindle and the ebook price was lower than the paperback (yes, I just revealed my kindle ebook buying algorithm), I went ahead and bought it right away.

My review comments below (once an engineer, always an engineer):

  • The book is a very easy read. You can breeze through the book in no time. The one disadvantage of a kindle book (there are very few disadvantages and this is one) is that you really dont know how thick or thin the book really is. Anyways, for me it is a good thing, since sometimes, it can influence your reading speed (oh crap, there is still so much more that I need to get through!).
  • The book is chock full of very interesting short stories and anecdotes related to success and luck
  • The whole premise of this book is that, the quantity of, what is perceived as luck, could very well be controlled, and in this case increased. Can you do stuff to increase your chances of being lucky.
  • The book is written in a very fine nuanced way. If you are one of those who do not believe there is anything called luck, then this book will satisfy you by debunking luck and showing you how to increases success by increasing opportunity and related factors. If you are one of those who believe in luck, the book shows you how to increase luck.
  • The presence of so many stories in the book makes it riveting. As human beings, we are always looking for stories to inspire us. And this book delivers.
  • Ashwin obviously does not believe in superstition or bad luck – since he says he will list down the ’13’ different ways to increase good luck. But then towards the end, he adds one more to it – so it is theoretically 14. So does he believe in superstition?
  • I read it in 2 sittings. Fast read. Good motivator. Excellent points.

Book Review: Connect the Dots

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  • Loved the book.
  • If you are a wantrepreneur (person who is permanently dreaming about being an entrepreneur), this is a book you should read.
  • Talks about a dozen or so start-up stories. And the variety is amazing.
  • The book is in the form of informal interviews with the entrepreneurs.
  • Most of these are folks who broke away from tradition. Son of a government employee turning into a wildlife photographer, or the son of a business man growing brocolli and iceberg lettuce in India, or the person whose passion it was to making cheese in India.
  • Some stories are those of grit – like the Dosa Plaza story. Some are of the kismat/Junoon type. There are some stories of breaking away of monotony. There is of course, the famous story of Veta (the English training institute) starting from a thatched roof for rent.
  • The tantra tshirt story, the Haathi Chaap (recycled paper from Elephant dung) story – fascinating reads.
  • The exotic story of an economics professor in an university wanting to get into the hotel industry, where he worked 3 hours every night (after teaching the whole day) — Oriental cuisines, which owns several mall food courts and fine dining restaurants across India.
  • Read the book in my¬†Kindle paperwhite. Gave me the edge to skip chapters that I was not too much into (there are a couple of stories about folks who made it big in the theatre industry).
  • Overall good read. Written in a very engaging style. Lots and lots of research.
  • Kudos to the author – Rashmi Bansal.

 

Book Review: Arjuna

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This book by Anuja Chandramouli starts off at a good pace and keeps the reader engaged until about a quarter of the book. The Mahabharata is a story of epic proportions. Even though the core is the 18 day war, the build up to the war, and the culmination of the characters is elaborate. Given the book is so huge, and the fact that there are innumerable complicated sub stories woven into the epic, this book tries to extricate out the stories of one of the main characters – Arjuna.

While the attempt to experiment is much appreciated, it is difficult to do something like this and sustain interest. The Mahabharata is what it is, because of the complex interweaving of plots. It loses its magic touch when you bring out the stories of only one of the protagonists.

Very soon after the first quarter of the book is over, the reader is faced with the problem of sequencing. While telling only the stories of Arjuna, the book runs like a kid having control of the rewind and fast-forward controls of a cartoon movie. I was bewildered and let confused multiple times, about whether a certain event happened before or after another. The fact that most of us know this story in a sketchy manner makes it even more difficult. Perhaps, if I did not know anything about the Mahabharata then, it could have been easier on me.

When you choose one protagonist over others (there are 4 other brothers and Krishna himself), the other big problem is that of justifying why this character was chosen. Again, this is a problem only because a big subset of the readers know the original story. So when sub stories are told about Arjuna, the sub conscious mind is thinking – “so what, Bheema did stuff even better, Yudhishtira is equally good, etc…”.

To be honest, the book did not sustain my interest past the 75% mark. And this is one of the very few books, where I have kept a book down without completing. It had started to drain me. It had started to feel like a chore to complete the book, and that is when I stopped.

You may like this book if you are die-hard Arjuna fan. If so, get the book here.

I would rather recommend Devdutt Patnaik’s Jaya – An Illustrated retelling of the Mahabharata. Devdutt does a far better job in retelling the Mahabharata as it is. [ebook] [paperback]

 

Book Review: Sceptical Patriot

I had been wanting to read this book for a while. I have followed the author (@sidin) for quite a while on a twitter. He does write pretty well, and there were several several good reviews of the book on the twitter feed.

So when the new kindle landed up on my door step, this was the first book I bought.

  • The book starts off at a brisk gallop. Sidin gives his reasonings on why he started writing this book. And the proclamation that this would not be a dry history book, but more of an enjoyable read of Indian history and some of its misinterpretations.
  • I liked the idea of taking apart of a few ‘India facts’ and also the concept of giving a rating to it at the end of each fact. This rating shows how much of the ‘fact’ is truth.
  • I really enjoyed his in-depth research of some of the topics. Most of the history of India can actually found only in history analysis books written by Europeans. Sidin’s readings of these books saves us time, money, and energy. He condenses them wonderfully into smaller chunks we can digest.
  • There is not much of a humour (as he claims) but the light hearted writing style makes one smile at times. Well, I guess that is what humour is.
  • The chapter on the Cholas was a delight to read – it has always been one of my pet peeves that, this chapter was never covered in depth in our school history books. For the extent of the empire that the Cholas had, this deserves a full chapter in a history book. not a paragraph on the Tanjore temple.
  • Cantering on, however, one of Sidin’s choices of the India facts gets a little too dry, and this is strictly my opinion. And this is probably because of his self-confessed bias towards some areas. Any author who writes about something that he is more passionate about, will write more and with deeper interests in those areas. And yes, I am talking about the ‘India was the richest country’ fact. Perhaps, it is my aversion to economics, and ‘numbers’ in general, which put me off, but folks who like that kind of thing will surely enjoy it. Just not my cup of tea (it should actually be coffee!).
  • The last two chapters are well written. This is Sidin’s heart talking on what his dreams are. And how the facts in these books should be interpreted, and why Indians are the way Indians are. Ofcourse, this is subject to personal opinions. I agree with some parts, and am neutral to some. I am sure other readers would feel the same way too. I would go to the extent of saying, that the last chapters some times does get a little prescriptive, which might not bode too well with some readers.

On the whole an enjoyable read. It took me about 3 days of a few hours reading every day on my kindle.

 

Book Review: How I braved Anu Aunty & Co-Founded a Million Dollar Company

This book is a quick read. You can read it one sitting. The book is a true story told by the author who co-founded the Alma Mater College Merchandising e-commerce company. The book talks about how it is very difficult for a young person from a middle class family to start up something on his own. And yes, I do bring up the middle class here because of the environment that he describes about how his family tries very hard to make him successful. His mother initially takes the help of her “kitty-party” friends – and one aunty specifically – Anu aunty. Every one growing up in India has seen an Anu aunty in their growing years. This person is the one person whose kid is the quintessential best kid in school, in society, has followed the societal template to the dot. And whats more this person is the one who feels and often insinuates others, whose children does not fall into that template.

The book has a lot of realism baked into it. I can picturize the wanton lives of the just graduated college graduates of Bangalore. Familiar places are mentioned. The author starts up his venture with his friends without his parents knowing initially. Over an emotional incident, he eventually bonds up with his mother, who starts supporting him.

It is a well written story – except for one thing. I understand the need for being colloquial and real, but the swear words could have been suppressed more. It is a bit too much. Overall, a good read for a saturday afternoon read.

 

Book Review: Horse Shoe Garage

This was one of the 4 books that LeadStart Corp had sent me a few months ago. This had been lying on my shelf for a bit now. I usually do not get the time to read novels like these (though I would like to!). I reserve them for train journeys. These are the times when I tear through them. And a train journey happened and I read this. Find my comments below. Again, full disclosure, I did not find this at a book store. This was sent to me by a publisher. And the publisher has given me full permission to write my own opinion (which ever side it may be) here..

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  • The plot is a racy one. It is about 2 young people, specifically mechanical engineering graduates, who are working at a corporate job. They house a wish to build their own race car, and race it in a professional championship. Both of them have theoretical knowledge and a passion, but neither have built a car, nor raced in one of them.
  • Their opportunity comes. A professional championship comes to India. they convince themselves and dump their jobs and get to work on the car and racing. The pace dips a little here, but picks up very soon.
  • They need a team, and they start building one from scratch. Here is where, the plot goes a little improbable. They search for star mechanics in their local area, and it is still fine – literary latitude. But, when they start searching for puncture shop guys – so that they can do a pitstop real fast – I let out an audible – “Oh Cmon !!!!”. But again, if you leave a mile of literary lattitude, and continue reading with a “Its just a novel” leeway, then the pace picks up again.
  • A bit of Bollywood style romance is thrown in. One of the guys loves the ace mechanic girl on the team. She initially does not love him. But as she starts loving him… well, let me not give away the whole plot, but some Bollywood style acrobatics happen here.
  • Some adrenaline with the corporate biggies playing bad guys happen. They try sabotaging the car being built. They hire away some staff. They try kidnapping one of these guys. Typical Bollywood villain masala.
  • They find a trainer, get trained. The two guys face some ego clashes between themselves. Teary eyed moments. Then coaching by the pretty mechanic heroine. Again, very typical Bollywood masala stuff.
  • Race day happens. All ego is forgotten. Pretty chick is forgotten. Race is won. Pretty mechanic chick gets part of the huge sum won, and made a partner in the team. Romance returns. Etc.
  • On the whole, pretty engaging story. You should discount some of the antics though. The romantic areas are covered nicely. Not too gross. Not too superficial. Play on human emotions are captured pretty well by the author.

Go buy the book on flipkart here (This is an affiliate link and would help fund this website hosting).

Book review: Marry-go-round

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Full disclosure: The publisher LeadStart sent me this book to review it. However, all opinions in this review are fully mine and not influenced by any one.

Book Name: Marry go round

Author: Sadiqa Peerbhoy,

Genre: Indian fiction

  • The book starts off with Sartaj Begum, a middle aged lady in Hyderabad, whose son, Riaz is settled as a Direct Marketing Executive in New York (the protagonist).
  • The story revolves around Sartaj trying to get her son back home to India and get him married to an Indian girl.
  • The book is a veritable Indian soap (from Star Plus or Sony) bundled into a book. The story however is super convoluted.
  • If you are not a Hyderabadi (like me), you would be thrown off by the Urdu terminology and phrases. Unfortunately, most of these urdu phrases do not have a English translation next to it. This irritated me a bit. While the attempt was valiant to try and steep me in the rich Hyderabadi culture, it did the opposite for me. It created more dissonance.
  • Calling Riaz by an email saying the mother has a heart attack seemed a bit cliche.
  • Riaz however is having a live-in relationship with an American girl. When he leaves to India, she immediately follows. Though, I may be nit-picking here a bit, how does one get an Indian Visa so quickly. All stories that I have heard say that, it takes a long time.
  • The soap opera then dissolves into a bevy of criss-crossing romantic relationships, some which are just a bit too filmy to believe. An example is the American girl immediately succumbing to the Riaz’s cousin. The cousin tells her about the protagonists lust for another girl, and immediately she falls in love with the cousin. American girl deciding in 2 days to marry an Indian guy and live in India forever. Hmm. A bit hard to digest.
  • Sartaj has a real heart attack. Riaz falls in love with the cardiologist – Meera. He calls it love at first touch. Hmm, what ? And then they talk in the hospital cafetaria. And they fall in love.
  • Meera’s father deals in real estate. Riaz’s child hood friends “persuade” with force Meera’s father to agree to the Hindu-Muslim wedding.
  • Original girl (Sana) fixed to the protagonist had just ended a relationship with her colleague, whom she had just found out to be married and has a pregnant wife. She finds this out in an office party, and dumps him.
  • Calling this girl Sana Mirza, also sounded cheezy to me (found it flimsily alluding Sania Mirza – the badminton player?). Perhaps because I am not Hyderabadi, I found it that way.
  • Meanwhile, an angry relative (whose son had been ‘fixed’ for Sana as soon as they were born) breaks this proposal by breaking a truth about the girl being a half Hindu being born of an illegal affair of the colonel when he was on duty somehere in the North.
  • After a while, all these affairs and illegal lovelocks, and proposal breakages and a good measure of Urdu thrown in, had me swimming around aimlessly quite a bit.

If you are a soap opera lover, and a Hyderbadi, I am guessing, you may really like this novel. But if you do not like either, you would have some problems digesting this book. One more problem I had was, how to categorize this. My mind was struggling between trying to believe this to be a modern Indian drama being played out -vs- a hilarious comedy with a great deal of exaggeration thrown in.