Sunday, January 05, 2014

2013 Books Roundup

I do this yearly roundup of books I have read. [ Here is the 2012 list2011 list and 2010 list ]

I let myself be influenced by books. And for this reason I choose books carefully!


Books made me a runner. Books made me a honest salesman. Books made me a Vegetarian. Yes - books are dangerous :)



Black Swan - The Impact of Highly Improbable

by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

I did not get to the end of the book. Dropped out somewhere in the middle. However it was an eye opener. It made rubbish of the expert analysts - in every field - especially economists. This book resonated with Tim Ferris's philosophy ( 4 Hour Work Week ), that it is futile to read news daily - and to read magazines instead - as the news gets consolidated and refined. When World War 2 was being fought - no one called it World War 2 when they were in the middle of the war - the historians later christened that phase as World War. 


I doubt if there is any useful takeaway from this book other than the fact that it is foolish to trust Expert Analyst Reports on anything - as they are as wrong as a layman - and base your career or investment on that subject. 



In Search of Schrodinger's Cat

by John Gribbin

Somewhere in 2001 I met a Masters student who had a Graduate Assistantship in Physics Department of LSU and had the opportunity of going to Antartica for a field study - don't remember if he made the trip. I got bitten with the thought of exploring Physics further and thought I will do a dual degree on Astro Physics - but I was lazy and wasn't daring that time - and let a good opportunity pass by. The curiosity of the outer space is what is pushing me to explore spirituality. Perhaps I will enrol myself as a student once again and explore the unknown. 


Coming back to this book was an interesting journey through Quantum Physics and how scientists are slowly unravelling the mystery around us.  If you are a science head - you will love this. 

Snow Crash

by Neal Stephenson.

I heard about this book in 2006, and searched in Strands Book Store in Bangalore - but couldn't find it. Finally got hold of this through Audible.com - and accompanied me through almost 2 months of my runs and long local train journeys ( bad for the ear as I have to keep full volume on my phone ). This book is all about Virtual World and some major history lesson on languages and its viral nature. Tough one - kept losing interest but since I run listening to this had no option but to continue listening through the boring parts. 


Clockwork Orange

by Anthony Burgess

The movie by Stanley Kubrick is based on this. Its a book of violence and gore - not for the faint of heart. The language is very British - once you get the hang of it you can start enjoying the flow. This book is captivating in a weird way and perhaps might explain how some can commit crime without any remorse. 


Eat and Run - My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness

By Scott Juke

Even if you are not a runner, not interested in running or ultra marathon ( crazy sport of running for 24 / 36 hours at a stretch through forests and deserts ) - you should read this book. He makes his super human feats look so human - I brimmed with pride listening to his exploits - much like the feeling you get when you read about Man stepping on the Moon.


And it will make you rethink about food - like it did for me. One of the primary reasons me turning vegetarian [ Rest Easy Chickens ]


I can attest for the dietary change and how it impacted my running positively. After I quit meat I can run for a 10k and still go around that day without any pain and go for a run the very next day. It was never possible before - plants heal me faster and helps me recover quickly.


My Big Toe Awakening

By Thomas W Campbell

This is a very tough book. He is a nuclear physicist. He tells all the secrets from the other side. Could it be true, or it is just his imagination. We will never know. Fascinating nevertheless. 


Thinking Fast and Slow

By Daniel Kahneman

Our Brain is made of 2 parts - System1 and System2 - the Left Brain and Right Brain. One is parallel, one is sequential. One is emotional, one is analytical. One works on Gut, one works on Facts. 


This book is like reading a research paper. Study after Study on how both these systems work and how they are different. 


I couldn't get to the finish - as I kind of got the idea after a while and also lost interest. There is only so much of case studies my Systems can take. 


Enders Game

By Orson Scott Card

Brilliant Book. If you dig Science Fictions you should definitely read this. After Dune by Frank Hebert - this book captured my imagination and kept me in Enders World for the period I was reading this book.  A movie based on this book also came out in November but I missed it. 


Buddha

By Deepak Chopra

This is more of a fiction and less of spirituality. The story takes one through the formative years on how Siddharth became Gautama and then Buddha. After Buddha became enlightened he lived for 40+ years - and gave countless discourses - this book does not go into that - just till the day Buddha got enlightened - which is itself an interesting journey. 


This book triggered my curiosity on Buddhism and I started reading more on Buddhism. 


Awakening the Buddha Within

By Llama Surya Das

This is the book I am currently reading and here is where I am now. [ Buddhism. ] Its a difficult read as it is dense on the Buddhist philosophy - but its practical and logical - which I like and appreciate. 


Buddhism is not demanding and does not force one to accept the spiritual truth blindly - but lets you analyse and internalise it.  


Thats it folks for 2013. 10 books. Not bad when I look back - a few books have changed me tremendously. Like I said before - books are dangerous :)