Books I read this year.

Going through my book orders, the following are the books I read this year. It is certainly true that other than a re-reading of the epics and interpretations, I haven’t followed a pattern. This list would exclude the in-store purchases but since those have been few this year, they aren’t important.

The order is reversed ie. you see the books recently purchased higher. Check my Goodreads Profile too.

  1. Viral Loop: The Power Of Pass It On by Adam L. Penenberg
  2. Delhi: Adventures In A Megacity by Sam Miller
  3. A Romance On Three Legs: Glenn Gould’s Obsessive Quest For The Perfect Piano by Katie Hafner
  4. What The Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
  5. A Tale Of Two Revolts: India 1857 And The American Civil War by Rajmohan Gandhi
  6. Boyhood: A Memoir by J M Coetzee
  7. Youth by J M Coetzee
  8. Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
  9. South Of The Border, West Of The Sun by Haruki Murakami
  10. The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami
  11. Reader by Bernhard Schlink
  12. Zero Percentile – Missed Iit Kissed Russia by Neeraj Chhibba
  13. Snows Of Kilimanjaro And Other Stories by Ernest Hemingway
  14. Adoption In India: Policies And Experiences by Vinita Bhargava
  15. Grammar Of The Bengali Language Literary And Colloquial (1891) by John Beames
  16. Concepts, Techniques, And Models Of Computer Programming by Haridi Seif (still being read)
  17. Zero : The Biography Of A Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife
  18. Bootstrapping by Sramana Mitra
  19. Nine Lives: In Search Of The Sacred In Modern India by William Dalrymple
  20. Yuganta: The End Of An Epoch by Irawati Karve
  21. Design & Evolution Of C++ by Bjarne Stroustrup (still being read)
  22. Phantoms In The Brain by V.s.ramachandran & Sandra Blakeslee
  23. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  24. The Rig Veda by Wendy Doniger O’ Flaherty
  25. In Xanadu : A Quest by Dalrymple William
  26. Bazaars, Conversations And Freedom: For A Market Culture Beyond Greed And Fear by Rajni Bakshi (still being read)
  27. Bonk: The Curious Coupling Of Sex And Science by Mary Roach
  28. 2 States The Story Of My Marriage by Chetan Bhagat
  29. Perfume by Patrick Suskind
  30. The Art Of Possibility: Transforming Professional And Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander, Benjamin Zander, Benjamin Zander
  31. A Whole New Mind: Why Right-brainers Will Rule The Future by Daniel H. Pink (still being read)
  32. Essentials Of Programming Languages 3e by Daniel P Friedman (still being read)
  33. Natural Language Processing With Python by Bird (still being read)
  34. The Professional by Subroto Bagchi
  35. The Difficulty Of Being Good by Gurcharan Das
  36. Element: How Finding Your Passion by Ken Robinson, Lou Aronica
  37. Out Of Our Minds: Learning To Be Creative by Ken Robinson
  38. Dictionary Of Printing And Typography by Manoranjan Tripathy
  39. 97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know by Richard Monson-haefel
  40. A History Of Indian Philosophy (vol. 1) by S. N. Dasgupta
  41. A History Of Indian Philosophy (vol. 2) by S. N. Dasgupta
  42. History Of Indian Philosophy (vol. 3) by S. N. Dasgupta
  43. History Of Indian Philosophy (vol. 4) by S. N. Dasgupta
  44. A History Of Indian Philosophy (vol. 5) by S. N. Dasgupta
  45. Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky
  46. Poem By Faiz by Faiz Ahmed Faiz (still being read)
  47. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  48. Happiness by Matthieu Ricard
  49. Free by Chris Anderson
  50. Offence: The Hindu Case (manifestos For The 21st Century) by Salil Tripathi
  51. Best Of Faiz by Shiv K Kumar (tr.)
  52. Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
  53. Mouse Or Rat? Translation As Negotiation by Umberto Eco
  54. Serendipities: Language & Lunacy by Umberto Eco
  55. Experiences In Translation( Series – Toronto Italian Studies / Emilio Goggio Publications Series ) by Umberto Eco, Alastair Mcewen
  56. The Idea Of Justice by Amartya Sen
  57. Jinnah: India Partition Independence by Jaswant Singh
  58. The Road To Jerusalem by Jan Guillou
  59. Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert M. Pirsig
  60. Stranger To History by Aaitsh Taseer
  61. In Search Of Schrodinger’s Cat by John Gribbin
  62. Identity & Violence The Illusion Of Destiny by Amartya Sen (still being read)
  63. The Society Of Mind by Marvin L. Minsky (still being read)
  64. Free To Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton Friedman, Rose D. Friedman
  65. Subtle Is The Lord: The Science And The Life Of Albert Einstein by Abraham Pais
  66. In The Skin Of A Lion by Michael Ondaatje
  67. Aunt Julia And The Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa
  68. A Place Within: Rediscovering India by M.g. Vassanji
  69. Shadows Of The Mind by Roger Penrose
  70. Betrayed By The State: The Anti-sikh Pogrom Of 1984 by Jyoti Grewal
  71. The Emperor’s New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, And The Laws Of Physics( Series – Popular Science ) by Roger Penrose, Martin Gardner, Martin Gardner
  72. Cultivating Communities Of Practice: A Guide To Managing Knowledge by Etienne Wenger, Richard Mcdermott, William Snyder
  73. The Long Walk Home by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar
  74. Quantum by Manjit Kumar
  75. The No Asshole Rule: Building A Civilized Workplace And Surviving One That Isn’t by Robert Sutton
  76. Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change The Way The World Learns by Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn, Curtis W. Johnson
  77. Better A Surgeons Notes On Performance by Atul Gawande
  78. Creativity: Flow And The Psychology Of Discovery And Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  79. Flow: The Psychology Of Optimal Experience( Series – P.s. ) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  80. Hinduism Omnibus by Nirad C. Chaudhuri
  81. Imperial Life In The Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran (still being read)
  82. Giving Notice: Why The Best And Brightest Are Leaving The Workplace And How You Can Help Them Stay by Freada Kapor Klein, Martha Mendoza, Kimberly Allers
  83. Eat Shoots & Leaves, Updated Edition by Lynne Truss
  84. Talk To The Hand by Lynne Truss
  85. The Zahir by Paulo Coelho
  86. Entrepreneur Journeys Vol 1 by Sramana Mitra
  87. Atonement [film Tie-in] by Ian Mcewan
  88. Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein
  89. Empire: How Britain Made The Modern by Niall Ferguson
  90. The Pixar Touch: The Making Of A Company by David A. Price
  91. The Ascent Of Money by Niall Ferguson
  92. Map That Changed The World/winchester by Simon Winchester
  93. Influence Without Authority by Allan R. Cohen, David F. Bradford, Cohen
  94. Letters To A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
  95. The Three Signs Of A Miserable Job: A Fable For Managers (and Their Employees) by Patrick M. Lencioni
  96. The Mahabharata (2 Vols):a Modern Rendering by Ramesh Menon (still being read)
  97. Pragmatic Programmer, The by Andy Hunt, David Thomas
  98. The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre
  99. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff Omnibus: Simple Ways To Keep The Little Things From Overtaking Your by Richard Carlson
  100. A Better India, A Better World ( Narayan Murthy ) by N R Narayana Murthy
  101. The Innovator’s Solution: Creating And Sustaining Successful Growth by Clayton M. Christensen, Michael E. Raynor
  102. Indian Epics Retold by R. K. Narayan
  103. Servants Of India by R. K. Laxman
  104. Ethnicity & Populist Mobilization by Narendra Subramanian
  105. The Ramayana : A Modern Translation by Ramesh Menon
  106. The Professor And The Madman: A Tale Of Murder, Insanity, And The Making Of The Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester
  107. River At The Centre Of The World by Simon Winchester
  108. Spice Route by John Keay
  109. Dont You Have Time To Think by Richard P. Feynman
  110. The Children’s Machine: Rethinking School In The Age Of The Computer by Seymour A. Papert
  111. Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas by Seymour A. Papert, John Sculley
  112. A Practical Bengali Grammar by W.s. Milne
  113. Bengali Household Tales Vol 3 by William Mccullagh
  114. Bengali Household Tales Vol 4 by William Mccullagh
  115. Aids Sutra by Negar Akhavi

Does it happen to all of us ? The small doubts and the cold feeling at the bottom of the feet when thinking about a decision or, an incident. These come at unguarded moments. Moments which are inconsequential in their existence but of great annoyance when they arrive. In spite of the brutal confidence I have in decisions or steps that I take, sometimes I get caught. Not unawares, just experience that fleeting moment of cold feet. Surprisingly enough, most of the times it reminds me of the fact that I am mortal. I am prone to mistakes. And, that introspection makes me better.

I had such an epiphany, if it can ever be called one, yesterday. I was transitioning from awake-reading-a-book to sleepy-nuzzling-the-blanket when all of a sudden it arrived. A somewhat creepy chill around nothing in particular. Just as if the room became too cold for comfort for a moment. There’s nothing that I do when it happens. Just let myself be in the stillness wrapped inside that thought which cloaks me.

And, then it passes. Life as I know it, feel it, surrounds me. And, it feels wonderful to be loved.

The Wrestler – movie of the weekend

Zee Studio was running a promo about The Wrestler being telecast this weekend. They started the movie with the disclaimer about “suitably modified for family viewing” which, to me, seems like a short-hand for “we have butchered the movie into meaningless sequences infrequently”. With all that handicap, it was a movie to sit through. Poignant, touching and fairly gritty it had inspired acting from Mickey Rourke (till date perhaps best known for the noir film 9 and 1/2 weeks) and Marisa Tomei. The movie has enough of lump-in-the-throat moments and yet it doesn’t make you feel that way. Good watch.

Yesterday I caught A Woman in Winter. A very quirky movie.

It is a Monday today. Mondays make me fill up with dread. One is expected to shed away the comfort and warmth of a weekend and plunge headlong into the maverick nature of work. That is somewhat of a bother on most Mondays. Today especially. I feel I could do with a bit of sleep and, perhaps with a bit of hot chocolate. Yes, hot chocolate would be a good thing to have.

If it is Christmas…

…and I am at Kolkata, it would be highly amusing if I weren’t hanging around Park Street. For a number of quaint reasons the street acquires “character” during various days and events. Christmas is one such. It would also be odd not to drop by Nahoum’s at New Market and indulge in some weight-gain delicacies. Lastly, before the sun dips across the river, it would be a good thing to get yourself to the banks of the river and try and take in as much fresh air as you can.

I am going to miss the Book Fair *again* this year. That doesn’t really make me happy. I have this urge each year to trade-off the Durga Puja centric visit to the city with the Book Fair centric one. We don’t get the Bengali books here at Pune and, this is the only chance that I get to turn the pages.

Anyways, what do you call a “pencil sharpener” in Bengali ?

Forgive, forget and so on

A couple of days back I ended up on a conversation thread, on Facebook no less, about forgiving and forgetting. The essence of my side of the conversation was that complete forgiveness should be accompanied by complete forgetting. You start off with a clean slate as if the incident never happened. Practically, that is a fairly difficult act to engage in. We are somewhat “trained” to hold grudges even though we may pardon foibles. However, I hold on to the theory that we there are memory residues, there are chances of recollect-recoil (that’s a completely made up term by the way) – the notion is that at some point in time in the future, the grudge of the past would rear its ugly head and paradise would be lost again.

I can honestly say that I try to do this – forgive and forget. And, it is complicated. There is a bunch of incidents which I have neither forgotten and hence never forgiven. They are festering sores, incremental liabilities and, major dents in relationships. I don’t really know whether this is the right way of doing things. However, when I did forget and forgive, I felt much more lighter, cleaner and, have maintained relationships without having a guilt or, a complex of “look I did forgive the transgression”. It has had its unique moments though. I have had friends who initially thought I was pulling on some sort of ‘act’ that is in some ways holier-than-thou. It took a while to build the trust, but that is all there is. It could also be a blessing in disguise because my long-term event memory is totally messed up. That is how it has always been – I can tell you precisely what an event was last week, but ask me something from a decade back, the specific details which folks pepper their memories with evade me.

Interesting huh ? Foolish ? I don’t know.

Avatar – Mind-boggling 3D effects.Just that !

Watched Avatar in 3D last night. That link has the story details. Do (re)read the concept of avatar as well. It was a rum crowd in the movie hall – boorish and annoyingly ill-mannered. At some point it would become the bane of the movies – high ticket prices do not generally guarantee a civil crowd.

The story of Avatar isn’t original or, one that has not been told before. High on morality, spiced with tales of indigenous or, native legends, it is a tale well known. Did one require such tremendous amounts of monies and technical wizardry to tell the tale ? At the end of the effects-fest you remain dazzled by the panoramas that unfold but would you remember the story ? If you are a bit of a geek or, have read about rendering and computation farms used during movie production, would you be marveling at the raw CPU power thrown to paint the screen in the lushest possible way with the minutest possible detailing or, would you absorb the environment theme of the movie ? I don’t know.

To me Avatar is like an into-the-future car. One that would bring about massive technological changes in the ways movies are made, viewed and even presented. Similar to what happens when an set of innovations push the envelope and, you end up seeing ripple effects. Avatar could be the first pebble in that pond. And, just like books have been written about Pixar changing the technical boundaries of animated movies, Avatar would have its place in history. But, that is all what I think of it.

The movie has competent acting but the characters are weakly fleshed out and saved the complexities of having to question or, doubt themselves – they reach decisions fairly quickly. The lead character has shades that were seen in John Connor (from The Terminator) – an everyday guy who figures that it is up to him to make things happen. However, the biggest let-down for me was the music by James Horner. He disappoints greatly. The somewhat lack of diversity in the background score and, the absence of musical juxtaposition that actually ends up elevating the scene beyond the mundane was missing. I’d expect much more of that.

Having said that, I’d be interested in obtaining the DVD should it be out soon. The backstory behind the language of the natives and, their music should be as interesting as it was for LoTR.

Pocket mein rocket hain

We just returned from a show of Rocket Singh – Salesman of the year. And, I liked the movie. At various levels.

The sheer level of detailing in the opening sequence (also seen during Luck By Chance) makes it a warm introduction to the lead character “HP”. Ranbir Kapoor does a wonderful job putting heart and soul to a character that is somewhat unfamiliar to his public image. In the foundation scenes, the grand old man Prem Chopra picks up the lines and, runs with it. I wasn’t expecting Gauhar Khan to be a competent actor and, yet she does her role with a verve. The other characters – Giri, Mishra-ji, Nitin also chip in with lines that are redolent with wit and, appreciation of reality. Shazhan Padamsee might just be the find of the movie. The fleeting sequences where the characters bravely deal with the post-job roles that have their small indignities is so subtly done that you’d miss it if you blinked. As you will at the jokes on the venerable Bajaj scooter.

It is difficult to live up to the hype of Chak De India. It is somewhat interesting to try and outdo it. Shimit Amin does the next best thing. He directs an “everyman” movie. A movie that is built around a story that has sequences all of us can relate to. At many points in our lives we have felt emotions similar to HP or, faced situations very much like those faced by him. We may or may not have emerged as champions, but we root for him in the movie. We want him to emerge unscathed and, we want him to gain wisdom. In the end, we want him to speak up all the lines we have poured to our friends, wives and others countless number of times but as protagonists we have failed to say them out loud.

Ranbir gets the most trite and corny lines. And, he delivers them with all seriousness and honesty and, with aplomb. And, he shines through the movie. The movie isn’t one that is going to be getting critical attention for theme, story or treatment. It is going to be a movie one might just consider renting on a day you want a pep talk – that not-so-spectacular movie that we keep returning to. We all have some of them. Rocket Singh would be an addition to the library.

I was reading this article on book covers and how they influence reading patterns. It isn’t a study in aesthetics or such. But this did provide a throwback to the books I like and, I wondered if they had something to do with the covers. For example, can you recall a book that you went back to because the cover was appealing as the content ?

Looking at my bookshelf I guess that I have a somewhat varied taste in book covers. Some might say that I have a varied taste in books, but that’s just beyond the point. I noticed that there are two prevalent trends – I have books that have sepia tinted pictures on the cover and, there are those which have calligraphy – artisanship with characters.

What do you like ?