Saturday, February 29, 2020

9 books that stayed with me. 6

6. Who moved my cheese - Spencer Johnson

This was the first book that I read in the self-help book category. I was then at a perfect age to read self-help books. When I look back at myself in my teens, I don’t resemble that person even a bit, I have grown up to be so different, part of it definitely is life experiences, people that I met and the self-help books that I read.

Self-help books give you different perspectives on the world around you and how you interact with people, your environment and yourself.  Most of the time, these books are a life's accumulation of knowledge by some pretty brilliant people. But don't take everything in the self-help books to be the ultimate truth. It is just another point of view, a way of thinking. You sure learn things from books but use the perspective you gain cumulatively along with your real-life experiences and experiences of others to shape your core values. It's those core values that will help you be a better person. Books are just one of the various tools, and an important one, in that process. Always stay open and keep learning. If you are an avid reader of self-help books balance your reading across different topics. E.g read about money but also read about the soul, read about productivity but also read about mindfulness. This will help you gain more from each book.

Who moved my cheese is the first book that I read in this genre and so it remains close to my heart. Some of my favorite self-help books are - The power of your subconscious mind, Power of positive thinking, Seven habits of highly effective people, Grow younger live longer, Rich dad poor dad, Tough times never last but tough people do, I am okay you are okay, Eat that frog, How to win friends and influence people, The four agreements, Grit: The power of passion and perseverance, Count your chickens before they hatch, The Happiness Project, Feeling Good, and my most favorite is Essentialism - the pursuit of less.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

9 books that stayed with me. 5

5. 5 point someone - Chetan Bhagat

Yes! A book by Chetan Bhagat is on my list! I am saying this guilt-free that I loved this book and that is why I kept reading all his next books - until 3 mistakes of my life - after that I gave up. But anyway, this book opened a new avenue of books for me - English books which were written by Indian writers. Then I read books by Jhumpa Lahiri, Arvind Aadiga, Amitav Ghosh, Abraham Verghese, Salman Rushdie, Sudha Murthy, Deepak Chopra, Anurag Mathur (I love his book The inscrutable Americans). I was blown away by the ‘Palace of illusion’ - the rendition of Mahabharata from a female perspective. ‘Palace of illusion’ emphasized the prominence of how every story is multidimensional and everyone’s point of view is equally valid and interesting, Palace of Illusion remains amongst the top five books that I have ever read.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

9 books that stayed with me. 4

4. Selfish Gene

As a kid I had innumerable questions for my parents, why is there life? Why does the world exist? What is God? If God created us then who created God? Why do you worship these idols? I did not feel even an ounce of faith and was made to be part of worships, prayers, and whatnot. When I expressed that I do not think that the idols people worship exist or ever existed - I was warned that bad things happen to people who say such things. After hearing that I did not create a scene ever again because I was afraid.

I was afraid that I was the ignorant one and maybe there is truth to what everyone around me believes and follows, whenever something bad happened to me I felt guilty that it happened because I do not believe in God. Fear tactics. It was a frustrating phase for me.

Richard Dawkins is the man who helped me understand that it is perfectly normal to question the existence of a creator. I can not thank him enough for pulling me out of my quandary and feeding me with all that easy to understand knowledge. And I have to thank my brother too who introduced me to books by Dawkins.

Today I am a non-closeted atheist who is not afraid of any fear tactics. People are killed in the name of God/ religion more than any natural calamities.

And then started the phase of reading loads of science books - I read all books by Richard Dawkins and by many more scientists. Brief history of time, Short History of Nearly Everything, Mapping human history, The Sun’s heartbeat, The blind watchmaker, The magic of reality, The ancestor's tale, Universe from nothing: why is there something rather than nothing, Pale blue dot, Demon-haunted world, Physics of the impossible, The elegant universe, Why does the world exist, The god delusion, Death by a black hole, Astrophysics for People in a hurry… are all great books.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

9 books that stayed with me. 3

3. Cheaper by the dozen

I was asked in an interview at my first job, which book influenced you the most? And this was the book I said influenced me the most and the weird thing is even after reading so many books from then and now this book still remains the one that has influenced me the most. 

It is a true story of Frank Gilbreth who brought the idea of time management into industries, he was a time and motion expert. He always thought of a more efficient process that can be followed to take care of any given task or chore, be at work or at home. He also brought the idea of parallel tasking in industries.

For example, Gilbreth used to play German language learning cassettes when his youngest kid (who would be 4 at the time) took shower, that would be 15 minutes every day and by the time the kid was 16, he was fluent in German without spending any extra minute over it.

Till today I try to form an efficient process for everything that I do and parallel task all the time. I can not work in an atmosphere where availability is more important than efficiency. 

Anyway, the book is called Cheaper by the dozen because Frank had a dozen kids. Frank was asked in an interview ‘what you do with so much time that you save by doing everything efficiently and faster?’ He said in that time I do things that I like, drink wine and listen to music (and apparently make kids too ;-) ).

If it was not for this book then I would never have been able to do the 100 things that I want to achieve every day.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

9 books that stayed with me. 2

2. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand

I don’t read anything and everything now, life is too short to do that and there is a lot of quality available, but it wasn’t always the case for me, not until I conquered the language barrier.

I had read enough Marathi books, so when I went to the library I had read most of the books by good writers and had to read books by ‘Popatrao Bhase’ because I wanted to read something new. If you haven’t read books by ‘Popatrao’ then you wouldn’t know the level of low-grade books I had started to read. And that is when I saw my second brother, also from Marathi medium, read an English book called Atlas Shrugged. I decided to give it a try, and boy oh boy how glad am I that I did. 

It took me 8 months to finish reading this book - considering it was my first English book and I wasn't accustomed to the language and also because the book is huge.

From the first scene in this book where a girl gets out of a train and is teased by some men for questioning why the train stopped working, and then she shuts them up by saying she is Dagny Taggart - the owner of the train that they are traveling in. From that first scene onwards every scene in the book gave me goosebumps, it made the feminist in me proud too. I do not want to divulge the plot in case you are planning to read this book. But the basic theme is about creators and leeches, creators are ignored by the public, that is by us, and leeches are worshipped who exist because of the creators. This book was written in the ’50s and one can not help but wonder the kind of vision Ayn Rand had, the theme applies to today’s world too.

And then the next book I read was ‘Fountainhead’, again by Ayn Rand. A man who doesn’t let go of his principles and values, can he attain success? Considering everyone around us is ‘compromising’ some way or the other. At one point I got so mad at the man that I threw the book to the floor (I do not remember doing this to any other books that I read), such are the emotions that Ayn Rand makes the readers go through. I read Fountainhead a couple of times after that and it remains one of my favorite books. 

I enjoyed reading many English books after that - like Animal Farm, Alchemist, Pride and Prejudice, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Da Vinci Code, Veronica decides to die, Tell me your dreams and many more.