Archive for the ‘books’ Category

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T: Tools of Titans

April 24, 2017

That’s the name of the book by Tim Ferriss that I’m currently reading and quite enjoying. It’s essentially a compilation of the highlights of interviews of people from various walks of life (in his words, world-class performers) from his podcast, which I’ve been listening to for a couple of months now. On his podcast, Ferriss has this very casual interview, which is more like a chat with all these cool, interesting people from a really diverse range of fields, on topics like their morning routines, fitness, productivity, books, etc. So the book is distilled version of the podcast and it features people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Scott Adams, Cheryl Strayed, Maria Popova, Brene Brown and then a whole bunch of other people who I’ve never even heard of, but some of whom pique my interest enough to go look them up next.

Even though his podcast is supposedly a ‘Business podcast’ and the book delves into the tools and tactics of ‘billionaires’, I’m glad I decided to give it a shot and try both when a friend recommended it. Especially, the book. Maybe it’s the phase of life or frame of mind that I am in these days, but a lot of quotes/ advice in the book seem especially relevant to me. In fact, I don’t know of a book where I’ve gone about highlighting so many parts (on my Kindle) as I have, in this book.

So, here are some favourite bits from the book –

Seth Godin – “I think we need to teach kids two things: 1) how to lead, and 2) how to solve interesting problems. Because the fact is, there are plenty of countries on Earth where there are people who are willing to be obedient and work harder for less money than us. So we cannot out-obedience the competition.’

Chuck Close, an American artist – “Inspiration is for amateurs— the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will— through work— bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art idea.”

When Kurt Vonnegut wrote ‘Write to please just one person,’ what he was really saying was write for yourself. Don’t try to please anyone but yourself…. The second you start doing it for an audience, you’ve lost the long game because creating something that is rewarding and sustainable over the long run requires, most of all, keeping yourself excited about it….”

And this line from the book, which is actually a Zen mantra –  ‘Sit, sit. Walk, walk. Don’t wobble.‘ is something I probably need tattooed on my hand or some place where I can ALWAYS see it.

Apart from so much learning, the book has also given me a bunch of other stuff to look up, the people who feature in the book, a bunch of books to read, music to check out. And to think, I’m not even done with 50% of the book!

Okay, I’m done gushing.

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E: Em and The Big Hoom (a review)

April 6, 2017

This is a book I finished reading last week. I’ve always been reluctant to write reviews of books or movies for some reason, maybe the fear that I may not do enough justice to the book. But here’s an attempt. 

The book is about how the family of Imelda (Em) deals with her manic depression and is both heartwarming and funny. The story of her courtship and marriage to the Big Hoom reels you in, as do the details of their life in that tiny apartment in Bombay. 

There are some hilarious bits of dialogue, centred around the seemingly eccentric but flamboyant Em which gives some wonderful insight into her character and makes her all the more endearing. And into the culture of the Goan Catholic (?) families of the period. 

I even paused after some bits of dialogue to imagine a raspy voice saying the lines out loud. Sample this –

‘Ambivalence? I love it. I was ambivalent. I think I am ambivalent right now. I think I am an ambivalence, toon taan toon taan toon taan, with a blue light on my forehead.’

Or,

‘Gone to sleep or what? Three hundred now and without pills. Open mouth. Aaahn. Pull this lid, pull that lid, cough for me, ptack-ptack on the chest and write write write. Finished. Three hundred rupees in the pocket and “Send her to the clinic next time” he got the bupka to tell me.’ 

Made me laugh my head off. And there’s a beautiful line from the book that has stayed with me – In this city, every deserted street corner conceals a crowd. How true, of virtually every city in India. 

How her children, the son in particular, deal with her illness is dealt with quite beautifully and honestly. It made me wonder more than once if the book is based on Pinto’s life (it is). 

My only complaint is that the ending seemed to come too suddenly, and maybe it seems a bit disjointed in places. But I think this is a book I’ll revisit in bits, just for the humour and the beautiful writing. 

I’m loving the new brood of Indian authors I’m discovering. I also recently loved Manu Joseph’ ‘The Illicit happiness of other people’. I’d love to read more by Jerry Pinto, so I’ll probably pick another soon. Also, I recall seeing some kidlit by Pinto when I was at the Lightroom bookstore in Bangalore the last time, maybe I’ll check those out too. 

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Z: Zen Pencils

April 30, 2016

Yes, this post will be a short one where I link to my favourite Zen Pencils strip. This is another webcomic that I love and it’s by an Australian guy called Gavin Aung Than. He takes inspirational quotes or speeches and distills the essence into comic strips. What’s not to love?

Ooh he’s also released two books and posters based on the comic. In case you’re looking for gift ideas, these are great! Here: www.zenpencils.com

And here’s my favourite strip, based on a quote by Ira Glass. I can’t quite express how much I love this piece and the comic 🙂

(A strong sense of deja vu happened and I went back and checked the archives and realised this is my second post on the same thing! Told you I love it :D)

 

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N: Nursery Rhymes

April 16, 2016

We’ve all grown up learning a fair share of these. But only recently have I started paying close attention to the them. For obvious reasons. Couple of years back, S was telling me about a discussion with his colleagues where they mentioned that a lot of nursery rhymes we grew up with seem either quite tragic, or unnecessarily morbid. Think about it:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall – and then – had a great fall?

Jack & Jill went up the hill – and at the end – Jack fell down, broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after?

More recently, I picked up a book with a ton of rhymes for A, mostly because it has some gorgeous illustrations. And I’ve been stunned at some of the rhymes that were so far unknown to me.

Sample this one – There was an old woman who lived in a shoe – and look at the accompanying illustration of the horrid old lady about to spank the kid with a SHOE!! When I read this out to A, I change the last line to ‘She kissed them all and sent them to bed’. 

  
Or these two in this page. What is the point of the first one, honestly? And what about poor Little Polly Flinders?! She gets whipped for wanting to warm her toes? 

  
Thanks, but no thanks. Once A gets bored of the pics, I think we’ll stick more pleasant stuf. 

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Born to run

November 15, 2015

 

 This book by Christopher McDougall traces the story of Mexico’s ‘running people’ – the Tarahumara tribe and is an incredibly interesting read. The first time I read, I breezed through it. The second time around, I’m taking it slower, trying savour it. I never usually stop to take notes while reading a book, but this seems like as good a time as any to start. Perhaps I’ll keep updating this post with my favourite parts from the book. 

Caballo Blanco – “Don’t fight the trail. Take what it gives you. “

“Lesson two. Think Easy, light, smoothe and Fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t give a shit how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practiced that so long that you forget you’re practicing, work on making it smoooooth. You won’t have to worry about the last one – you get those three, and you’ll be fast. “

A Tarahumara saying – When you run on the earth and run with the earth, you can run forever.’