From My Book-Shelf


Modern Romance

by Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg

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My Rating- 0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)0755.rating-star-single.png-550x0 (2)Half rating star

I thoroughly enjoyed Aziz Ansari’s stand-up act & his show Master of None on Netflix & that got me to pick up this book. It is about dating & relationships in today’s age where choices are just an app away.

Aziz teams up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg & they conduct several experiments to understand the implications of such a dating scenario. The book is interesting, well written & is not lengthy at less than 300 pages.

Since Aziz has covered these topics on his show and his stand-up act, the book will feel a little repetitive if you have watched them. But it is a book which should be read by people who are in the dating world now & are used to the swipe-right-swipe-left phenomena.

Definitely worth a read.




by Jeet Thayil

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Jeet Thayil is a poet with a Sahitya Akademi Award for English to his name. Narcopolis is his first attempt at a novel. The book is an amalgamation of people who live or spend time at Shuklaji street in Old Bombay.

Thayil, an alcoholic & an addict for almost two decades wrote this novel as a memorial to all those people he met & hung out with during those days. It is based in the 70s and 80s Bombay when opium was being replaced by the more potent heroin.

Hookers, eunuchs, pimps, dealers, all of them turn up in this book & bring alive the underbelly of Mumbai in such a way that no movie or other book has been able to capture before.

Narcopolis is like a hallucinatory dream. It has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012, Man Asia Literary Prize (2012) and the Hindu Literary Prize (2013).

Even though it is beautifully written, it is not a book for everyone.




by C. Rajagopalachari

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Yes, my bookshelf this week has a book on opium right next to one of India’s biggest epics.

This year I decided that maybe I should include some philosophy & religious texts to my book-shelf. While I have watched this epic saga countless number of times on TV, I wanted to know how it was portrayed in the written word.

Also, reading this got me some brownie points from my mother. 😀

This English translation by C. Rajagopalachari is one of the most popular translations of Ramayana. He has also translated Mahabharata and was actively involved in the Indian Independence movement & was the last Governor-General of India.

If only today’s politicians could read & write or at least inculcate policies that would make more people read & write.

But this book falls way short. I was looking for a story which combines mythology, history & fiction but instead this is an extremely simple translation of the text.

It fails to bring the epic to life, has the author’s comments at the end of chapters for those who don’t believe this story to be true & is a pain to read. My hunt for a genuine translation of Indian & the world’s religious texts continues.

From My Book-Shelf

From My Book-Shelf


Serious Men

by Manu Joseph

My Rating- Half rating star

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This is Manu Joseph’s first book & the second one I have read. The Illicit Happiness of Other People blew my mind! It is one of the finest books I have read and Serious Men was also recommended by several people & it does not disappoint.

While I did not find it as good as the previous book, it is witty, interesting, and will keep you hooked.

The Serious Men in this book are the scholars & scientists of the Institute of Theory and Research who are divided into two factions: One who want to explore alien life by listening to their signals & those (mainly Arvind Acharya, who is the head of the institute) who believes alien life forms are falling on earth in the form of particles.

Ayyan Mani is a dalit who is living in a Mumbai slum & working as a peon at this instituteHe weaves his own plot to find significance & matter in this life where he is surrounded by people who are considered important in their own right. The story revolves around him along with the events & the people.

The book is a delightful read and Manu Joseph is another good Indian author who should be read by more people.


Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad

by Brett Martin

My Rating- 

 GoodReads Link

Let us make this very clear. This book is for those who watch American television shows. The ones who have watched either The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men or Breaking Bad. These are the shows which changed American television & introduced the concept of the lead actors who have their flaws.

This book takes us in the writers’ rooms of these shows & how the universe of these shows was created. Each lead writer has his own style and the book explores that well.

While tracing these shows, this book also traces the change in American television with HBO changing the business with The Sopranos and then following up with The Wire. Other networks followed suit and today the landscape has evolved with OTT platforms.

A fine book for those interested in television.


Moth Smoke

by Mohsin Hamid

My Rating- Half rating star

GoodReads Link

The second Mohsin Hamid book I have read and at 256 pages, this is not a long read either.

It traces the story of Daru Shezad, a man living in Lahore who is fired from his job and descends into drugs. He cannot pay his bills, falls in love with his best friend’s wife and ends up on trial for a murder he may or may not have committed.

His story is set against the backdrop of a Pakistan which was racing against India to acquire its own nuclear bomb at the expense of its economy. This was Mohsin Hamid’s first novel and it is well-paced.

There is not a moment when one wants to put down the book as we see Daru spiral in a rabbit hole.


From My Bookshelf


Q & A

by Vikas Swarup
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Slumdog Millionaire was based on this book by Vikas Swarup. I must say, the movie is much, much better. The premise is the same. A poor boy…chaiwala wins the million dollar prize at the popular quiz show on TV. He is accused of fraud and cheating and is thrown in jail.
That is all that is similar. After that, the portrayal of the story and the characters just change and take a life of their own. Danny Boyle has breathed new life in the film and plugs the holes that the book has. The book seems disconnected, stories are inconsistent and the writing is not really good.
This book is a case very similar to Kai Po Che. A shabby book adapted into a brilliant film. Avoid the book, watch the film..again.

Cold Steel: Lakshmi Mittal and the Multi-Billion-Dollar Battle for a Global Empire

by Tim Bouquet, Byron Ousey
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This book is very different from what I generally read. It is the account of the takeover of Arcelor by Mittal Steel. The book has been written by two people who were closely involved with this acquisition. This takeover changed the steel industry across the globe, Europe in particular. It also gives a glimpse of the steel industry and the direction it is headed in. I think this is a case study taught in B-schools for Mergers & Acquisitions. We do not have that subject in our college so I would not know.
Even though this may not be your cup of tea, the book is captivating. The battle for the takeover takes you from India to Russia to the European countries and to America. Big law firms, heads of Governments and bankers are involved.
It is a look as to how even the decision of law firms and bankers is a battle within itself. It gives a glimpse into how the M&As of big firms actually take place and how this one in particular was the one that changed the industry. This book is a very good read and is quite well paced. In fact, I could not wait for the moment when Mittal Steel finally takes over Arcelor.

Red Earth and Pouring Rain

by Vikram Chandra
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This is the first Vikram Chandra novel and the first one I have read. I think after Rohinton Mistry, Vikram Chandra is one of the finest Indian authors I have read. This book is a journey to the past with a riveting landscape and beautiful characters.
This book is rich in prose, magical realism and is very well-written. In fact, every time I read this book I was taken in entirely…so much so that I needed a few minutes to come out of this world created by Vikram Chandra in this novel and back to reality.
The book is about stories. Stories within a story, within this book. A monkey types a story in order to escape his death as the Yama looks on along with several people in a village (who continue to increase each day until it becomes a mela) along with Hanuman and Ganesha. There are several gaps and it becomes a little difficult at times to follow, but you come back to it.
This book is one of the finest written novels I have read and I am definitely going to read more of Vikram Chandra. I hear Sacred Games is good too.

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From My Bookshelf