From My Book-Shelf


Catch-22 (Catch-22 #1)

by Joseph Heller

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I was finally able to get my hands on this book which has become an extremely popular catchphrase. The title of the book refers to a rule in the army which states that a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly combat missions, but if he makes the request to stop flying missions he is considered sane & therefore has to fly the missions.

It is a situation from which there is no escape due to contradictory rules. The main character in the book is Yossarian who keeps coming up with new ways to avoid flying combat missions but Colonel Catchcart keeps raising the minimum number of missions the men must fly to complete the service.

The book explores themes like the futility of war, the bureaucracy in the army (which can easily be extended to any government organization), internal politics (which could apply to any office space), the flawed idea of justice and the military-industrial complex.

The book is silly in parts, funny in general & almost every character is the personification of an industry or idea that is so commonplace that it is overlooked.

This is one of those books which reflects the irony of life & the systems in place in our workplace & educational environment which makes us feel so helpless that we can only laugh about it.

Not to be missed.



by Tina Fey

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I picked up this book because I like Tina Fey. She is witty, smart & has been a regular on American television. This book takes us through her journey in her words and in her usual wit and humor.

However, there is nothing extraordinary about the book. We see her go through the various phases in life which are slight commentary on women’s bodies, the work-life-family balance women have to go through and her being cast on the various roles that made her popular.

It is an okay read.


The World According to Garp

by John Irving

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I remember reading The Cider House Rules and I had enjoyed it thoroughly. For a long time I did not want to read any more John Irving simply because I did not want to be let down by the author.

However, I am glad I picked up this book. The World According to Garp is the story of T.S. Garp who is the bastard child of Jenna Fields. She is a feminist and will go on to become the voice of feminism by telling her story in a book.

This book is the life of T.S. Garp as he grows up, starts writing, moves to Europe and then goes in the shadows of his mother who becomes a popular feminist, then he gets married and has kids.

The book is brilliantly written, is smart and witty and the characters are such that they will stay with you long after the book is done and dusted.

A delightful read really.


From My Book-Shelf



by Hermann Hesse, Hilda Rosner (Translator)

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This book can be mistaken for the story of Gautam Buddha, but it is not.

It is the story of Siddhartha, a young man who leaves his family in order to search for meaning in his life with his friend Govinda. While Govinda follows Gautam Buddha, Siddhartha embarks on his own quest.

This self-discovery tale stands for the fact that an individual does not attain enlightenment through intellectual methods or by immersing oneself in the pleasures of the world.

An individual attains self-discovery by the totality of his/her experiences. Siddhartha leaves his home, ends up going after materialistic & carnal pleasures, leaves it again only to realize the true meaning of life on the banks of a river.

This is a decent book & at less than 200 pages it is able to convey the point very nicely. It is well-written & is able to move the readers. However, the book does not dwell deep into Siddhartha’s journey so it should be read for its message & what it stands for.


Byculla to Bangkok

by S. Hussain Zaidi

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I read Dongri to Dubai earlier & thought will follow it up with this. Somehow I did not find this book interesting since a lot of it is known now. Even the writing style is not very captivating.

This book traces the stories of Chhota Rajan, Arun Gawli and Ashwin Naik. However, I think movies have done better justice to the Mumbai underworld with the likes of Satya, Company and some of Amitabh Bacchan’s old films.


The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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I had watched the movie in which DiCaprio plays the role of Jay Gatsby and this book is hailed as a masterpiece for depicting America during the Jazz Age. While the book is well-written and Fitzgerald is able to paint the lavishness with his words, it fails to captivate.

The book is an American classic, but only for Americans. A person (like me) who is not aware about the Jazz Age & the 20s period in the US may feel disconnected from the novel and its popularity.

The underlying theme of the book is the decline of the American dream & the moral bankruptcy prevalent in the US at that time. The period of excess consumption & greed & the divide between the new & old money is what this book has portrayed throughout.

However, the period depicted in the book has become a norm even in India. The greed & material excess is what its all about everywhere & is also being replaced with the next generation.

Nevertheless, this book is a reflection of its time & those keen on picking up classics will have this on their list. Just ensure you read a little about the American society during that time.

From My Book-Shelf

From My Bookshelf


Iacocca: An Autobiography

by Lee Iacocca, William Novak

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This is the autobiography of Lee Iacocca who succeeded Henry Ford to become the President of the Ford Motor Company until he was fired due to differences with Henry Ford. He then joined Chrysler which was a mess at that time & turned it around. He was named the 18th greatest CEO of all time by Portfolio.

He was successful behind many promotional campaigns by Ford & also for launching the iconic Mustang & Pinto series.

I like businessmen’s autobiographies. They have some valuable lessons in business & give a glimpse into the minds of the people at the top who are running things. This book also brings to light the automobile industry in the US & the insecurities of the man who started it all, Henry Ford.

It is an interesting read as the book does not get boring. Hell, it could be made into a movie or a TV show.


My Name is Red

by Orhan Pamuk, Erdağ M. Göknar (Translator)

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I was a little reluctant to pick this book & did not think I would have enjoyed it. However, this book gave Orhan Pamuk instant recognition & made him a serious Nobel contender which he won in 2006 so I thought I will pick it up.

This book takes us to medieval Turkey where the Sultan has commissioned a book which celebrates his realm but the book needs to be illuminated in the European style.

At the heart of the book is the theme which every culture in every age grapples with. The modernists vs the traditionalists. There are those who want to explore & do things in a new way and then there are those who do not want to change the old ways for they are held sacred.

This includes religion as well.

This book explores that theme as the artists working on the Sultan’s book are murdered & nobody knows who is doing it. It has a unique style of writing wherein the narrator changes in every chapter and even the person who is dead narrates some chapters, including the first!.

It makes for a thrilling read.



The Reluctant Fundamentalist

by Mohsin Hamid

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The first Mohsin Hamid book I have read & I finished it in 3-4 days. It is a very short book at less than 200 pages.

At a cafe on a busy street in Lahore, a bearded man strikes a conversation with an American stranger. He talks about his life when he was in Princeton after which he is hired by an elite valuation firm in New York & is involved in a broken relationship with Erica.

While his relationship is going nowhere, he is excelling at work. However, the more he becomes politically aware, the more he realizes how his home country is used by America for its own benefits. His life changes post 9/11 as he notices a change in the way people behave around him & it goes downhill from thereon. He starts growing a beard, is fired from his job & his visa is about to expire. He takes up a job as a professor in Lahore and is now speaking to this American stranger at a cafe.

This is one of those rare books which explores how America’s relationship slowly changed with the world post-9/11 & how they burned the world with themselves.

This is the story of so many jihadis we hear & read about who are educated & smart from elite institutions & yet end up killing civilians.

Mohsin Hamid has brought this facet out beautifully to the extent that even Americans have appreciated this book. It was shortlisted for the 2007 Booker Prize.

From My Bookshelf