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Maple Syrup, Talent and the Joy of Cleaning@ BYOB Party in March, 2016 (Part 4)

There were many non-fiction books that readers discussed besides the classics and fiction discussed (Check Parts 1, 2 and 3)

warplanred

Sudharsan read War Plan Red by Kevin Lippert, a book that begins with British rule in Canada.The book is about the secret cold war between the United States and Canada. Some motives for the plan: capturing all the world’s supply of maple syrup, ice hockey players and natural resources. Conversation veered to the upcoming elections in the US.

 

little book of talentMadhu Sagar talked about a non-fiction book by US journalist Daniel Coyle. The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving your skills. This book takes you all around the world in search of the greatest talent.  It’s a manual in a world where performance is rated highly and it’s not self-help. The handbook contains scientifically proven methods that can help improve the skills of a child and an organization.

There are two kinds of skills- hard skills are acquired by repitive practise and soft talent is more organic and fluid. Madhu read out a couple of tips to us. For instance, if you want to have a genius in your home, you don’t need to get the child air conditioning. Spartan existence is conducive to innovation as necessity is the mother of invention. So we have thinkers like Ramanujan who wrote reams of theorums in his head because of an acute shortage of paper. And Russian coders who coded in their head. Watch Hackers wanted to understand this better.

RomanAjay got a biography titled Roman by Roman Polanski. The world famous director of great movies like Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown vindicates himself by writing his side of the story.  “Polanski writes in a very mater of fact style and there’s absolutely no self-pity,” Ajay says. He went on to narrate how Roman the boy who lived in Poland lost his mother and sister to the extermination camps. He survived as did his father with whom he reunited much later. But tragedy followed him even later when he was a director in the US. His wife and unborn child were murdered by the grusesome serial killer Charles Manson. Polanski later was charged with stauotory rape and he fled the country. If you are a fan of this controversial director and want to hear his side of the story, this book is a must read.

the hard thing about hard thingsNilesh picked up The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s top entrepreneurs. This book is based on his popular blog and talks about the stuff that business school won’t teach you. In the book, Horowitz shares insights and anecdotes about the problems running a startup involves.

“I completely agreed with author when he says that most of the advice that we get is not applicable. Horowitz provides simple solutions that are really not simple. For example, there is a misconception in companies that if you come to the manager with a problem, you need to bring in a solution as well. This makes absolutely no sense,” Nilesh said.

That was the business book of this BYOB party.

spark joy

Sumaa went by the recommendations of her friends and chose a highly unconventional  bestseller book called Spark Joy by Marie Kondo. This illustrated version of the KonMari method deconstructs the cleaning process with how to clean everything from folding socks to organizing pictures.” What worked for me as that the book is not preachy. It doesn’t touch on over-consumption, feng shui or spirituality. For Kondo, cleaning should create joy. You keep only what you need and what gives you joy. She also traces the emotional journey of many of her clients.It’s an unusual book and inspiring.”

What a list of books! Can’t wait for the next BYOB Party…..what are you reading now?


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Of Long Book Lists and the Journey – Talking Terrace Book Club, August 2015 (Part 1)

Let me warn you that the book lists are long, but all lovers of books love the Long Book List—in fact it’s a great motivator!

The LuminariesEven though The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton is a very long book and a Booker winning one at that, Jaya found it an absorbing read. “I can read long books,” she says. “Even a book like War and Peace that I love has boring passages in between. Eleanor Catton doesn’t bore you. Even at the Jaipur Lit Festival, she came across as a warm, intelligent and charming writer filled with empathy towards her readers. When she writes, she is the same.”

South of the Border, West of the sun
As for Murakami’s South of the Border, West of the Sun, Jaya was not convinced. “Maybe I didn’t pick the right Murakami yet,” she said, aware of the die-hard Murakami fans she could be disappointing with this statement.

She was disappointed with a few more big names—Ian McEwan’s Atonement  and Arthur Miller’s The Death of a Salesman.

Atonement_(novel)                                                                                                DeathOfASalesman

Matterhorn_(Karl_Marlantes_novel)_cover_art The Quiet American“On the other hand Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes was a great read. It does not romanticize the camaraderie that war time brings, nor does it condemn human frailty. Another book set in Vietnam was The Quiet American by Graham Greene, a good book that I took up because it is the favorite of my favorite author Kiran Nagarkar.”

half-of-a-yellow-sun“Another book that I really learned from was Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Set in Nigeria, in the backdrop of the Nigerian Civil war, Adichie traces the life of a family during political upheavals- coups, reverse coups, massacres and peace.”

“It makes you wonder about boundaries that are drawn by outsiders,” Abhaya said. “These don’t correspond with local borders, so there will always be unrest.”

Readers must be familiar with patriotic email forwards. For Jaya, The Sceptical The Sceptical PatriotPatriot: Exploring the Truths Behind the Zero and Other Glories by Sidin Vadukut, the premise of the book to explore the truth of the claims made in these patriotic outpouring was reason enough to grab it. “The book is good in intent, but low on content. A large part of it is completely irrelevant, narcissist description of author’s personal life, which adds nothing to the questions in hand. Although the little research that is there is good. It gets into the details of what exactly the ‘invention of zero’ means, for example, before deciding on whether or India invented zero. But there is too little of it. I had high hopes for this one, but the content is so thin that instead of a book, it would have been best published as an email forward or an enlightening facebook post.”

Jaya continues her fantasy book odyssey.

“What can I say about The Song of Ice and Fire except that it is a book that swallows you whole? So much, that I had dreams of people plotting, planning, back-stabbing and turning cloaks for several nights. I’m hooked.” This bought us to the whole ethics of spoilers of The Song of Ice and Fire series being revealed on unsuspected twitter handles. Abhaya was furious that a twitter handle he follows for publishing industry updates spoiled Jon Snow’s death for him. (Is he dead though?) Is this ethical, when you think of the reader who trudges his way through the series, lapping up a new reality and savoring the suspense?

yuganta-cHave you read our myth stories yet? Well you should. (Mythical fiction in India feat Anand Neelakantan, Mythical fiction in India feat Nilanjan Choudhury). Since we were in a mythical mood, Jaya read Yuganta, though she could not like it as much as it was rated.

jaym 1-500x500It was Anil’s first book club with us and he talked about a Telugu book that he had read called Jayam by  Malladi Venkata Krishna Murthy. The story is about how an engineer embarks on a spiritual journey.

More books that the bookish InstaScribe Team read coming up next week. In the mean time what have you been reading?