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Category Archives for "Books & Reading"
6

My ‘Book Push’ theory!

Although I am not an avid reader like my friend Ankit I do tend to read stuff on and off. While I want to read a lot, lack of time (and lazyness) prevents me to read as much. Also, when I have some free time I use it to decide whether to read, or to watch an astronomy documentry or to watch a movie or……………or to sleep. And eventually I sleep.

So under such flikering conditions, how do I keep myself motivated to read stuff? Over the last couple of years, I have come across a few postulates:

  • At any given point in time, I must have a few unread books else I won’t read any particular book.
  • I stop reading when the number of unread books falls to two(2).
  • There must be two or three junk books with me, which I would never read. These books have been bought by mistake and discarded after reading a chapter or two. However the guilt of buying these books remains until I buy a few ‘readable’ books after them.

So that implies that as soon there are only two unread (and readable) books with me, it is time to order new books! This is what I call the ‘Book Push’ theory! In order to motivate myself to read, I push books onto the stack so that a couple of unread books pop out.

So the planned books you see on the left pane are the one’s which I already have and not the ones which are planned to be purchased.

Although wierd, the theory works for me!  Does it also work for you?  😉

3

On getting lucky..

I must announce that I won INR 1000 worth’s gift voucher from Indiaplaza(Books) by participating in the ‘Golden Quill 2008’ awards. Apparently the book I voted won the ‘Reader’s Choice’  award. 

Here’s what Indiaplaza has to say about the awards:

Concept Behind The ‘Golden Quill’ Awards

Indiaplaza is today India’s largest online bookstore with over a million customers worldwide and we are launching this awardto encourage Indian writing and also to further our commitment to the cause of reading in India.      

The Indiaplaza Golden Quill will be finally awarded to an author whose work of fiction in English is judged the best among a select lot of titles published in India in the calendar year 2007.

A good initiative to promote Indian authors I must say.

So which book won? Well, the following:

And why did I choose it? Honestly speaking, among the contenders this was the only book I had heard of. I had briefly browsed through it in a bookshop a week before voting. So I was lucky indeed.

I am going to order this one immediately!

Oh, did I forget to thank Ankit who reminded me to vote 🙂

The Tao of Physics : A Review

(Photograph courtesy : Amazon.com)

“Physicists do not need mysticism, and mystics do not need physics, but humanity needs both.”

Fritjof Capra

A couple of years ago, I happened to pick this book while casually browsing through a bookstore in Bangalore. Though I knew a bit of Physics, but I had no idea what Tao is. Little did I know that this book will turn out to be one of the best I’ve ever read (and will read I guess). No wonder it is on the best sellers list even today, more than 25 years after it was first published. While there are loads of reviews on the web, I would keep it very short and quickly mention my point of view. The book attempts to build a bridge between modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism, which are otherwise, pretty  antonymous to each other. A Modern Physicist would always disregard the Eastern Schools of Thought as baseless and unscientific, and an Eastern Mystic would always look down upon Science as being far from the reality. Fritjof Capra, in the most elegant and eloquent of ways, displays the striking similarities between the ancient arts of enlightenment and the modern discoveries in Physics. He has drawn numerous parallels between the two, which would make anyone, no matter what point of view they hold, appreciate them and think. The book starts upon building the concepts in both Physics as well as some Eastern Schools of Thought, draw parallels between them and towards the end consolidates and draws some conclusions. To me this book was simply amazing, not only because of the parallels it draws but because of the window it provides to quite a few concepts, which were alien to me. I had never ever appreciated quantum and modern physics as much as I did while reading this book (If I remember well, I had done 3 courses on these subjects during my engineering days!). The Eastern Mysticism was new to me (I did know in bits and pieces though), but the book gave a good precise overview. To quickly put through, the book provides a window to the following:

Classical Physics

Quantum Physics

Tao

Zen

Hinduism

Buddhism

More than this, it provokes a new way of looking at things around us and within us too! Fritjof Capra, being a front line Physicist himself and someone who has done enough research on Eastern Mysticism, was in a good position to look at the bigger picture, which can be seen in his work. However, it will take an open mind to appreciate this. The book simply added 15-20 books to my reading list! That is the kind of inquisitiveness it generates. Unless you are agnostic, I would highly recommend this book.

2

Indiaplaza is good!

Have been ordering books online for some time now. Indiaplaza seems to be fast and reliable. Books are usually delivered in a 3-5 day span (unless you’ve ordered something which is out-of-stock). Also, the packaging is good which keeps the books intact.

Usually the discounts offered are best when compared to other sites. Last but not the least; Indiaplaza seems to be generous in distributing gift certificates and coupons which adds on to the overall experience!

8

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : A Review

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence

(Photograph courtesy : Amazon.com)

“Since the ‘ONE’ is the source of all things and includes all things in it, it can’t be defined in terms of those things, since no matter what thing you use to define it, the thing will always describe something less than ‘ONE’ itself.”

– Robert M Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

If the above doesn’t make any sense to you and/or makes you inquisitive, do not pick up the book!

I just finished up this book and a couple of people asked me how it was and whether it is worth reading. This was the second time I had picked up the book. The first time, I just couldn’t read beyond the first fifty pages. But that was more because of the fact that I didn’t have any inclination towards reading stuff.

What fascinated me was the fact that this book was published first in 1974, i.e. more than 30 years ago and still is, widely popular. I wanted to start up on philosophy, and this book featured in the top-10 lists at quite a few places. So I decided to give it a go.

To cut it short, this book is about a few journeys. One of them being a literal one as long-distance, cross-country motorcycle ride, one of them into the author’s past life and a third one into a philosophical journey which pops up randomly as the book starts and takes center stage towards the second half of the book. I had not read anything on philosophy before this and yet I could get along with the book. The book starts on a lighter note with more emphasis on the travelogue and slowly emphasizing on the philosophical concepts which the author wants to communicate. I’d say, the pace is built up well even for a casual reader on philosophy.

The book will introduce you to some of the philosophical concepts, however doesn’t really define all of those. Also, the book is ‘open-ended’‘, i.e. although it initiates quite a few questions in mind, it doesn’t really provide answers to all of those. That pisses off quite a few people I guess. But then, I feel that the book achieves what it intends, i.e. generate the inquisitiveness to pursue some of the concepts discussed in the book. As an advice, do not attempt to understand and comprehend everything, as some of the concepts presented are not fully mature and conclusive. Just take it as a starter and if it really interests you, look for some more reads in the main course 🙂