Books Read in 2016- 1

Before I begin this post, you may be interested in the list of books I read in 2015. The list goes here.  I had managed to read 35 books last year and how things are looking I may reach the same numbers this year too.

I used to review books and had done for a few publishing house and authors but after a time one must stop working for free, so I stopped. Presented below is first 10 in the list with small snippets on the book  or anything that the book reminds me of.

As a reader I would love to know

  1. Have you read any of these ?
  2. Any book you would recommend

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  1. Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac : I am a big fan of On the road by Jack, so I picked this one. Decent read, you may or may not like it.
  2. The Road by Jack London: I think Jack London needs no introduction. This book is considered to be a autobiography of his earlier days. Truly amazing, loved it.
  3. The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux : Sit on a train and enjoy the ride. If you are a travel enthusiast, this is your book. I think sometime, someday would love to take this route.
  4. Buddha in blue jeans by Tai Sherdian: Pondering on meditation, a short book like this may get you started.
  5. The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman: This books needs no introduction, mus must read on World War and horrors of war
  6. The importance of being Earnest by Oscar Wilde: A funny play by Oscar Wilde, pick it up for a easy, joy read.
  7. Norwegian Wood byMurakami : The book that made me a fan of Murakami. One specialty of this book was that it was so engrossing that even while returning from business trips I managed to read a major part of it on flights.
  8. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol: What a take on Philosophy
  9. Selected Short Stories by Jack London: Amazingly different kind of stories that you will get to read.
  10. Narcissus and Golmumd by Hermann Hesse: Amazing read on two lives, different paths, same goals

List of books read in 2015

Missed my target of reading 36 books by one . Here is the list of 35 books read this year. To choose one out of these is a difficult task but I will go with Open- The autobiography Andre Aggasi. Please do mention the best book that you read this year.Note that the list has many books which i re-read.

 

  1. Short Stories by Leo Tolstoy
  2. Call of the wild by Jack London
  3. White Fang by Jack London
  4. Bhagvad Geeta
  5. For whom the bells toll- Ernest Hemingway
  6. Waiting for the Barbarians- J. M Coetzee
  7. Many Life many masters- Dr Brian Weiss
  8. The Outsider- Albert Camus
  9. On the Road- Jack Kerouac
  10. Animal Farm- George Orwell
  11. Freedom in Exile- Dalai Lama
  12. Divine Glimpses of the Holy book- Dr Davinderpal Singh
  13. Where Men win Glory- Jon Krakauer
  14. I am Malala- Malala Yousufzai
  15. The immortals of Meluha- Amish
  16. Midnight’s Children- Salman Rushdie
  17. The secret of the Nagas- Amish
  18. Walking- Henry David thoreau
  19. On the move- Oliver Sacks
  20. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
  21. The Godfather- Mario Puzo
  22. Open- Andre Aggasi
  23. Nine Lives- William Darymple
  24. An Autobiography- Benjamin Franklin
  25. The brothers Karamozov- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  26. No Shotcuts to the top- Ed Viesturs
  27. Jonathon Livingston Seagull- Richard Bach
  28. India and the contemporary world- Social science text book NCERT
  29. Such a long Journey- Rohinton Mistry
  30. Eiger Dreams- Jon Krakauer
  31. Room-Emma Donoghue
  32. The Sense of an ending- Julian Barnes
  33. Eat,Pray Love- Elizabeth Gilbert
  34. Disgrace-J M Coetzee
  35. The Climb- Anatoli Boukreev

Back to writing

Don’t know where to begin from , probably let me start with books and as usual a few lines from a book

“We are, finally, all wanderers in search of knowledge. Most of us hold the dream of becoming something better than we are, something larger, richer, in some way more important to the world and ourselves. Too often, the way taken is the wrong way, with too much emphasis on what we want to have, rather than what we wish to become.” 
― Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man

As i have always written that every book you read has a story behind it. Have you had that feeling staring at your own collection of books wondering which one to pick next ? Sometimes it is like you run through the whole shelf contemplating on each book and sometimes just at the blink of an  eye you pick up one and say,” enough , this has been lying here for a long time”.Strangely it so happens sometimes that you deliberately leave one book aside knowing that it is good and it should be read at the right time and the right place. One such book was the lines of which I have quoted above. I went for a long long trek to Nepal almost ascending an altitude of 5500 metres. I read two good books during the trek , consider the fact that often by the evening one reached totally drained and wretched but not only were those books apt but also too engaging to read in dim light of the camps. It was so cold and i mastered the art of turning pages with my gloves ( believe me it was difficult ). The other book was Walden and especially the last chapter was intriguing.

Ideally i would be reading something at this moment of time but somehow i finished off the book that i was reading and this rendered more time for writing.Just finished reading, ” The Hungry Tide ” by Amitav Ghosh and at one moment of time probably the 300 page mark point wished that this book should never end.Sadly I think the book reviewing will come to an end , not because of paucity of time but probably the economics concept of opportunity cost. I would like to list down the few books that i have read in the past few months :

1) Walden by Henry David

2) 1984 by George Orwell

3) Education of a wandering man by Louis L armor

4) Crime and punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

5) Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

6) The Hungry tide by Amitav Ghosh

Ask me what i feel like currently probably it is like these lines from the fight club , ” I ran. I ran until my muscles burned and my veins pumped battery acid. Then I ran some more. “

Life has again changed for the good , amongst other stuff I do have a job now. It was good without a job though but then ways of the world are ways of the world. Since we are talking of books i picked up Swami Vivekananda on himself. I bought this book when i went to Kanyakumari two years back and since then it has been resting on my shelf and has been changing destinations and shelves.There are many stories i can tell of reading, one is of childhood when i explored all the free libraries in my home town. There was a section in the British Library , actually just a small shelf at the entrance which contained books one could read for free. I spent half of one summer reading books throughout the whole day in the free section. One day the guard probably impressed did me a favour and let me explore the whole treasure for the rest of the summer.

Time to sleep if i have to make up for the morning run.

 

Born to run by Christopher McDougall

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Title: Born to Run

 

Author: Christopher McDougall

 

Genere : Sport/Travel

 

Publisher: Hachette India

 

Non Fiction

 

ISBN: 9781861978776

 

Pages:281
“And what did running have to do with all this ? Was it a coincidence that the world’s most enlightened people were also the world’s most amazing runners? Seekers used to climb the Himalayas for that kind of wisdom-and all this time,I realized, it was just a hop across the Texas border.”
This is the best book on running both for the runners and non runners. After a really long time I came across a book which not only enticed me but at times send out shivers. Being a runner or so that I used to think of myself , this book talks of a tribe and plenty other runners who run ultra marathons ranging from 50 miles to 100 miles run spanning over an entire day.
To find an answer to the question on why his foot hurts on running the author sets out to find the Mexico’s Tarahumara Indians. What then begins is a series of incredible stories and theories of various people on running. It also spans the debate on whether shoes are good for running or are we naturally born to run. The mystery behind the tribe and who is Caballo Blanco also makes it interesting. The description of various ultra runs and especially the Leadville race in which Anne competes against the Tarahumara is incedible. The tribe lives in seclusion in the most primitive of conditions and for a running gear have a self made shoes. The diest they take , the lifestyle , the technique and every other aspect intrigues the reader on knowing about this tribe where everyone runs miles and miles for joy. Apart from talking about the Tarahumaras the author brings in many other great athletes and brings their life into perspective. All the examples are incredible and makes one understand the strangeness of love of running which unites so many different people in its own unique way.
However there is one point which caught up with me a lot. All the theory and all the analysis of how certain tribes used to hunt and our body functionality as compared to animals , our evolution , the nerves system in our foot , our body cooling mechanism etc just accentuate one fact that we are born to run. A message for all those who are sitting and not doing anything physical , pick up this book as it may inspire you to run or anyways run because naturally you were meant to run.
” just move your legs. Because if you don’t think you were born to run, you’re not only denying history. You’re denying who you are. ” 
Rating : 4.9/5

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzerald

 
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Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzerald
Genere : Classic
Publisher: Penguin
Fiction
ISBN: 9780141037639
Pages:172
Now a major motion picture
“One autumn night, five years before, they had been walking down the street when the leaves were falling, and they came to a place where there were no trees and the sidewalk was white with moonlight.”
There are some books which you have been planning to read for a long time and then all of a sudden one day you find time and read it at a go. This book falls in the same category for me. I had issued it twice before from the library but was not able to go through it, but somehow this time i found the time. There is something about these timeless classics which makes them extremely difficult to review. In fact this is one of those books where probably I would have loved to have a discussion with fellow readers. Whatever i write about this book in this review may or may agree with you but then it is this freedom that the online media has certainly bestowed upon us. In one line i would say that like all the classics, this one too stands out and leaves a profound impact on the reader all together.
The novel has a multitude of characters ranging from of course Gatsby to daisy to Tom. Gatsby’s tragic pursuit of his dream is often cited as the great American Novel. What is Gatsby, who is Gatsby is sort of mystery which shrouds throughout the book. The relationship between all the characters is nicely used by the author to weave a splendid tale. From the vivid descriptions of Gatsby’s parties to the tragic pursuit of lost love , the tale is said in simple words and is very readable. Actually one can do the character review of the important characters and feel that there was egoism , love , loneliness, prejudice and a mixture of other strong emotions.
There are a lot of dimensions in this tale. The one that struck me first is the age old necessity for men to be able to afford a woman. There was no illusion that marriage was all about love! Another dynamic that we see played is how badly women were treated by men. Yet another is the hidden identities and hidden agendas of most of the characters. What do they really want? What ever it is, they scheme desperately in hopes of getting it. A most intriguing book.
The book also carries an introduction and I would like to quote few lines from the same as somehow these lines fit in somewhere. “Did you ever see an amusement park? Go to one at night and stand a little away off from it in a dark place- under dark trees. You’ll see a big wheel made of lights turning in the air, and a long slide shooting boats down into the water. A band playing somewhere, and a smell of peanuts- and everything will twinkle.But it won’t remind you of anything, you see. It will all just hang out there in the night like a colored balloon- like a big yellow lantern on a pole…… but don’t get up close…..because if you do you’ll only feel the heat and the sweat and the life”
Last but not the least , a reviwer’s job is not to spoil the story for the reader. All I would suggest is that this book is definitely a good read.
Rating : 4.5/5

On the road by Jack Kerouac

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Title: On the road
Author: Jack Kerouac
Genere : Travelouges
Publisher: Penguin
Non-Fiction
ISBN: 9780141189215
Pages:408
Now a major motion picture
” I know by now the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers,cups the peaks in the West and folds the last and final shore in, and nobody, just nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old. “
This is one of those books which has been discussed a lot in the literature fraternity. There are some aspects which makes it totally unique. I came to know of this book in a book meet where someone had mentioned it to be his favorite. It is one of the most shop lifted books in America which was written on a roll of paper 120 foot long typed frantically over a period of three weeks. It is based on the authors trips around America and in the last part to Mexico with his friend Neal Cassady. All of it is true life stories about riding the roads across America with his mad friend , jazz, drink , girls, drugs, freedom.
The story is centered around the life of Neal, his  psychopathic irresponsibility and violence. There is a lot of drugs involved and mentions of benzandrine . Neal was caught up between two wives, drugs, no money and amongst all this the rash driving on the road, stealing of cars etc. There are a lot of instances where they party all night long listening to music in pubs amongst girls , sex etc. Neal at the end of the book had babies and was twice divorced. He had a strange urge of finding the meaning of life and leaving his one wife for the other. The word,”dig ” is used often and the first part of the book is strange where Neal tries to understand another male friend. Jack fits in the entire story as he bumps into Neal from time to time and travels with him to places like Califirnia, Denver, San Fransico, Arizona, Mexico etc. With the coming in of Neal , Jack starts thinking of going to the East.
It all starts alone when Jack hitch hikes to meet Neal. The entire travelouge has a lot of instances where they have no money and had to find some job for money for the fuel. Also the stories of hitch hiking are amazing and the descriptions of the cloud that the car leaved behind is amazing and breath taking. What makes it touchy and special  is the strange emotions that it delivers and the total strangeness and awkwardness of the trip , the things they do and  an insight into a junkies life per say .The book is very well written and has beautiful descriptions of the situations. The movie to the same was released in 2012 and I got a chance to see the same. Overall I must say a must read for those who are looking for something different. I completed this book two days but I must confess that it has left me with a feeling of a tale very different and it is still in my mind. I feel that this book will remain in my memory for a long time to come , of a story very different but nonetheless of travel, of fun and of being on the road.
“I woke up as the sun was reddening;and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all,that I didn’t know who i was…I was far away from home haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen,hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel,and footsteps upstairs and all sad sound too.”
Rating : 4.5/5

The greatesr my own story by Muhammad Ali

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Title: The Greatest, My own story
Author: Muhammad Ali
Genere : Autobiography
Publisher: Mayflower
Non-Fiction
ISBN: 583126138
Pages:510
“Forget every battle of man against man, of mind against mind, of soul against soul. This is one. This is the greatest.”
Every time I review a book I like to start  with something which would remind me of reading a particular book. I read a good part of this book over 10 classes which i was attending. I like Autobiographies for the fact that one book is equivalent to one life. This book is not only a reflection on his fighting career in the boxing ring but of a fight that he undertook for religious freedom and racial liberation. What Ali has done is not only difficult but also inspiring. While the other boxers on achieving success often chose the easy way of accepting what the Whites’ wanted, he went the extra mile for justice keeping his career at stake.
I had read a story where Ali threw away his Olympic medal in the sea and realized that it was taken from this book itself. I liked that piece a lot, a very emotional one which somewhat covers the crux of the matter, of what oppression can do to a human being and how some people stand up to the cause. Ali’s career can be classified as a very controversial one but I think it is controversial just because he did not succumb to pressure and kept on fighting for his right even if that meant a period of  exile. His turning into a follower of Islam and refusing to fight in the Vietnam War made him lose almost 4 years of fighting life at a juncture when he was at his peak, needless to mention that he was stripped off the heavy weight title.
“It had taken six years of blood, blows, pain, sweat, struggle, a thousand rounds in rings and gyms to win that medal, a prize I has dreamed of holding since i was a child. Now I had thrown it in the river and i felt no pain and no regret . Only relief and a new strength.”
The book is quite detailed and at times somewhat boring but whenever it is interesting, it is nail biting. Ali mentions everyone in his life, his coaches, his early career , Olympic medal, realizations that he was the fastest and the greatest , crowning the heavy weight champion, exile and comeback. His training regimen , food , self control and discipline have been mentioned in the book and was really inspiring to read. Of all the other things, the most interesting part was the fights and i hoped there were more. The most famous ones where he fights George Foreman and Frazier are absolutely magnificent. Ali prepared well both mentally and physically. He won most of his fights not only on strength, agility, strategy but also by speaking to his opponent and playing with his mind. The most astonishing part was that his prophecy of defeating an opponent in a particular round always came true. There was a lot of usage of poems for cheering and communicating to the opponent and a part which makes this book unique and fun at times.
Though this may take sometime to finish the book, I would advice you to have a read.
Rating: 3.9/5

Truth, Love & A Little Malice by Khushwant Singh

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Title: Truth , Love and a little Malice.
Author: Khushwant Singh
Genere : Autobiography
Publisher: Penguin
Non-Fiction
ISBN: 9780143029571
Pages:432
“in this world men of faith and self confidence are like the sun, they go down on one side to come up on the other side. translation of a wonderful urdu shayari.”
The above line is a translation of many shayari in this book which is one among the many wonderful lines quoted in this book. What makes a book special and memorable may vary from person to person but there will be something that one thing which you would recall whenever that book is mentioned. To me this book was special in many aspects. Among the Indian authors , he is one of those whose writing has inspired me not for the decorative language but for the simplicity by which he presents his thoughts. I have read his books and also a short biography named absolute Khushwant. Considering the fact that he is in his late nineties makes it all the more compelling read for the fact that the view of a century is covered and especially the most happening part of the Indian history. The other aspect which will remind me of this book is that i read it on the Delhi metro sometimes lurking on a rod amongst multitudes of crowd , sometimes tired and bored while returning from a hard days work and quite aptly all the time in noise and a lot of people around for this book is about India and its people.
The book is divided into many chapters arranged chronologically according to the events in the authors life.He talks about many people in the book and sometimes i am dumbstruck at his memory. Among the many chapters i liked the beginning of the chapter on mumbai and also the last chapter which is a general chapter. Khushwant is truthful and even after being a successful writer has presented the facts quite bluntly and in its true sense. It not only presents a picture of evolution of India since independence but also presents an idea on the distribution of power and politics that went on. It gives hope to those who may find themselves in a stage which is leading to no where and may have an idea of life which others may not agree to. His journey of writing amongst a lot of foreign trips , women and scotch comprises of small stories, in fact his most famous stories like,”The Mark of Vishnu” have been inspired by real life events. Amongst all things is his truthfulness and the courage to admit whatever happened in his life. There are many facts which have been presented which may seem astonishing but this is what Khushwant is all about. There is no doubt that how networking is important in one’s life and how he made the good use of it. Small stories, laughters, shayaris, names, scotch , women, politics, and so on is what this book is all about. This is a wonderful read on life in general and a review of history of India from a different perspective with a pinch of salt.
“Dhoondta phirta hoom aya Iqbal apne aapko

Aap hi goya musafir aap hi manzil hun mein

(I keep looking, oh Iqbal, for myself,

As if I am the traveler as well as the destination itself)”

Rating : 3/5

What I talk about when i talk about running by Haruki Murakami

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Title: What I talk about when i talk about running
Author: Haruki Murakami
Genere : Running /on self
Publisher: Vintage Books
Non-Fiction
ISBN: 9780099526155
Pages:180
“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life”
Every time  you read a book it leaves in you some imprints to last for long. I wonder what influence this book would have had in me, had I not been a runner. Reading a non fiction on someone’s life leaves you with a   feeling that you know someone even if you would never meet him. This is not only the story of Murakami  but of all the long distance runners. It covers all the aspects of long distance running. For non runners it may be quite difficult to totally appreciate some aspects of the book but i definitely feel that this would invigorate the hidden runner in you. He combines his running with writing and definitely has tips for an amateur writer.
He started running at the age of 33 . In spite of criticism he sold his jazz bar to focus solely on writing. He needed a routine going and strength and focus for better output. He started running then which not only made him quit smoking but also set in as an important part  of  his writing life. He says that writing is a mammoth task and often involves a lot of sitting in the same place and of continuous focus day in day out. Ideally writers consider writing as involving a lot of manual labour but he has always considered his writing to be a physical task of endurance somewhat like climbing a mountain. Though he talks of a lot of running experiences from the past and how running and writing have evolved together in his case , this book is primarily set in 2005, when he is preparing for the New York city Marathon and his 4 months of preparation for the same.
There are a lot of technical aspects of running covered in the book. His training regime symbolizes how important is mileage for a long distance runner, how does he sets himself to a routine of distance running and how he has to sacrifice all other things for running. Averaging 160 miles plus a month is commendable. He also speaks of certain aspects for example how the muscles develop for a long distance runner and how they are susceptible to relaxing too easily if adequate load is not put on them regularly.He compares his strength when he was much younger but like any other runner wants to keep running all through his life. One interesting aspect of his runs so far is that he has never walked in his long distance runs.  His descriptions of his solo run from Athens to Marathon where he speaks of a lot of white salt on his body is something Indian runners can relate to because the conditions here too are very hot.
Running is a strange activity for when asked one cannot tell what he was thinking of . Most of the time it was blank for him while sometimes it was a thought process of an upcoming event in his life. Sometimes it was just enjoying the scenery especially in the regions of Charles river where he talks of the colours of the sea. If you run on the same track day in day out you start recognizing the passers by to an extent that he talks of a 60 year old lady who had an impeccable dressing sense and would always give him a feeling of strange expectation. But apart form these running as an experience is totally internal , it is one’s own nostalgic silence.
This is one wonderful book which you should definitely give a try, probably inspired by it you may start running.
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Say you are running and you start to think , man this hurts , I can’t take it any more. The hurt part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand any more is up to the runner himself. This pretty much sums up the most important aspect of marathon running. “
Rating : 4.5/
This Book review is a part of  Book Review program at Flipitall.com

The old man and the sea by Ernest Hemingway

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Title: The Old man and the sea
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Genere Short Story
Publisher: Arrow Books
Fiction
ISBN:0099908409
Pages:106
“The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea.”
This is the first time that i am reviewing a short story and what better book to choose than this which won for Hemingway the Nobel Prize for Literature. It is a wonderful example of narrative art . Set in the Gulf stream off the coast of Havana this story is of the old man, a boy, and a giant fish.
The story may seem a mundane fishing experience of a fisherman but it is much more than that. It’s about a fight of a man with himself , against his old age , his search for strength in the most precarious of conditions. All alone in the sea the  man talks to himself much like what happens in real life. His talking to himself happens throughout the book amidst all the narrative of the surroundings and the work at hand. The description of the fishes, clouds and sea makes it very vivid and lively.
Ideally a literature prize is not awarded for a book in particular but in fact takes in to account all the books by the author.This book probably was the one missing in is armoury. A book for all ages for its simplistic language and at the same time quite complex for the varied metaphors. A story simply told but equally complex if you delve deep. Santiago, having gone 84 days without a fish again ventures into the sea for the 85th time all alone. Can he find a fish this time ? Is going alone a good idea ? Will he return victorious ?
Do read this story to get the answers. I would recommend this book for a short trip , something light and good to read.
Rating: 4.3/5