From My Book-Shelf

One of the biggest challenges for a voracious reader is to find new authors & a place to discover them. Goodreads is the best platform to discover new books & authors and it has turned 10! Finding new authors is incredibly important as it leads to new stories set in different places which offer different perspectives.

Below are three authors I have not read before & reviews of their books.

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Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore

by Manu S. Pillai

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Goodreads Link

Manu S. Pillai was 19 when he started research for this book and published it when he was 25. That is a feat in itself for a 700-page historical account of the House of Travancore.

This kingdom, which was established by Martanda Verma was one of the princely states which sided with the British during the Independence movement. The book largely traces the feud between two sisters- the elder Sethu Lakshmi Bai & the younger Sethu Parvati Bai.

It shows a vibrant, cosmopolitan & a matrilineal society which spans today’s Kerala. Despite the length, the book is not a difficult read as it traces the two sisters battling for the dominion-ship of the kingdom.

There is a good queen & a bad queen and their rivalry has a huge impact on the princely state as it traverses India’s independence. People interested in history should pick up this book as this is a meticulously researched book & it shows a rare account of a princely state which sided with the British.

 

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All That Man Is

by David Szalay

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Goodreads Link

This novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2016 & has a unique structure. It is considered a novel but is actually nine stories of different men in different periods of their lives spanning several countries across Europe.

The first story is that of a teenager & the main characters progress in age as the last one is that of an old man. The stories all deal with a moment of crisis in the lives of these men and while it may seem similar to Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami, it captures the essence of the place beautifully which results in the crisis being portrayed externally & internally.

The stories paint a beautiful picture of Europe and the characters are well-etched out. One of the worst things about short stories is that they don’t feel complete, but this novel provides a sense of satisfaction & completion.

I intend to read more of¬†Szalay’s¬†work.

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Americanah

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Goodreads Link

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a critically- acclaimed Nigerian author whose stories largely deal with migration, feminism & racism. Americanah was her third novel & was in the New York Times list of 10 best books of 2013.

The book deals with teenagers¬†Ifemelu¬†&¬†Obinze¬†who fall is love as teenagers in Nigeria. However,¬†Ifemelu¬†moves to the US and due to circumstances they drift apart. The book traces her troubling journey in the US as she tries to find her feet & Obinze’s in¬†the UK as an undocumented worker.¬†

It tackles themes of Nigerian immigrants in the US & their place in the racist American society. Years later, both of them meet in Nigeria and pick up where they left off. But Obinze is married with kids & she had cut off all communication with him suddenly when she was in the US.

The book also reflects Nigeria’s politics & its road to democracy. The book is interesting & captures the essence really well.¬†Chimamanda¬†is a good author to know Nigerian stories.

Here are TED talks by the author which are considered one of the best.

 

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From My Book-Shelf

From My Bookshelf

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Why We Buy: The Science Of Shopping

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My sister recommended me this book and I happened to find it in the library. In fact, this book is a textbook for our juniors which is weird because I would never read my own textbook. I suppose all of us have our quirks.
 
For people interested in shopping behavior or human behavior in general too, this book is quite interesting. Paco Underhill is an environmental psychologist and he was one of the earliest to focus on the idea that our environment significantly influences our shopping behavior. The book focuses on the insights that he found while working on several stores, large and small. Some of them are quite trivial observations which we would never notice and yet play a big role but some of them are quite interesting too.
 
People interested in human behavior and psychology would find this book quite interesting.
 

 

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Steve Jobs

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I don’t worship¬†Steve Jobs. I also don’t understand the hype around¬†Apple¬†products. I mean yes they are great and set a precedent for others to follow but I don’t feel the need to stand in line to buy such an expensive phone only to become a part of the closed environment where everything I buy has to be bought from Apple. But then some would say I am not an emotional guy. ūüėÄ
 
Whatever.
 
This book is supposed to be the biography of Steve Jobs but it lacks his personal story the way it should have. By the end, what I do know about him really well is that his stare used to really intimidate people. I also know the team that created Apple and kept carrying it forward though its unique designs starting with the ipod. But there is no denying that Jobs was a visionary and a tough man to please. He was two-faced, arrogant, impulsive and a natural leader.
 
This book ends up being a lesson in leadership. The book is filled with some lessons which people can follow and which people can avoid. It is ironic that when this book ended a Leadership course started in class. Guess which taught me more?
 
 
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Liar’s Poker

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Michael Lewis¬†is the author of¬†Moneyball– you know…the movie with¬†Brad Pitt¬†in it about that baseball team which has no money and yet they use statistics to form a formidable team which does really well and surprises everyone.
 
This book is not about that.¬†Liar’s Poker is his first book about his experiences in¬†Salomon¬†and the bond market in the US and UK. This book is a bestseller, though I think it is because in 1989 (when this book came out) it was one of the few that really talked about the happenings inside a financial corporate powerhouse.
 
I found it quite okay and it was funny in bits and pieces. Although I think Michael Lewis has chosen some interesting topics for his books since then and I would not mind reading them in the future. Also, you need to have some knowledge about finance, bonds and mortgage lingo to really get this book.
 
 

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From My Bookshelf