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Wednesday 29 January 2014

Book Discussion: The Fault in our Stars By John Green

“Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
This quote from the book itself pretty much sums up everything that I feel for the book, yet I venture into writing more about it.
This is a quintessential book for a fangirl. Augustus-waters fetish. Cancer perks. An Imperial Affliction. Van Houten. Support group.
These words and phrases hover in the reader's minds long after the reading has been finished. In a market brimming with books of mediocre quality, (and although I am positive that there are as many brilliant masterpieces to make up for that), reading a book which would be cherished and relished forever is a proud feeling.
And although it remains inexplicable what this book has done to me, I dare to try give words to its magical effect.

A smorgasbord of emotions: what else can one expect from a novel which is a tale of two cancer-afflicted teenagers, waiting to fall n love with each other? The novel is so high on its emotional meter that the measuring gauge just burst, okay? Maybe, Okay will be our always. Okay?

A honeycomb of overwhelming thoughts: The marks humans leave are most often scars. I just died with choking from a deluge of sweetly-saddening emotions.

Crying on the verge of Choking: Oh, yeah. If nothing else could ever make you cry, Augustus' eulogy in the end will do. And by nothing else, I mean anything else. Ever.

Undying poignancy: Right from the beginning when people in the Support group narrate their tales of misfortune, to the various cancer perks. And remember that instance when Augustus asks Hazel her story, and she reminds him how she got cancer, to which Augustus retorts, “No, not your cancer story. YOUR story. Interests, hobbies, passions, weird fetishes et cetera. ”

Love and Companionship: Telling a friend in the manner of consolation, “Thats the thing about pain. It demands to be felt”. Communicating with your girlfriend's favourite author to know what happens next in her favourite novel, and managing to elicit a response. Going to meet the author with her. Its the little big things, you know?

Unconditional love: Sorry, can't define it. Because that would mean conditions, right?

Endearing characters: The guy compares the girl to Natalie Portman. He loves metaphors. And he writes a eulogy no one ever could. And the girl thought he was a tenured professor in the Department of slightly crooked smiles with a dual appointment in the Department of having a voice that made her skin feel more like skin. Isaac, whom you can feel nothing but a weird sympathy for.

Aesthetically exotic practices: Hazel's thirty-third half birthday, or encouragements at Gus' house.

The unfaltering, yet convincingly spontaneous chemistry and harmless flirting: and you say we don't know each other” And they discussed books with each other. So, it just keeps getting better and awesome. Hazel could hear his crooked smile!
A Pandora's
box of heart-rending quotes: 
Sometimes people don't understand the promises they are making when they are making them. But love is keeping the promise anyway.
I don't believe I have a crush on a girl with such cliche wishes.

The writer's efforts: He saw it from the perspective of opposite sex. He just did it! 
Damn! John Green is a genius, man!

This book just made the best part of my teenage. Go grab your copy NOW, like right NOW!!!

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Book Review: The Thirteen Great Economic/Business Myths That Dominate Our Lives by Sanford W. Kahn

About the book:

Myths--these unconscious or semi-conscious beliefs have a strong influence on how we orient our behaviour and actions. The ones that seem to influence us the most are directed towards our personal lives. But, there are business and economic myths as well that have a profound impact on our decisions both personally and professionally.
The problem arises when some of these myths are believed to be true when in actuality they maybe false or only partly true. For example, a popular myth explored by the book, is that we live in a world that is changing quickly. This myth is widely believe to be true, but in reality is only partially true. The goal of the book is to explore some of these business and economic myths and their accuracy. It is to give you a different point of view that is somewhat out of the mainstream of popular belief.

About the author:
Sanford Kahn has been speaking professionally for over 30 years giving individuals an understanding of the future business challenges they will be facing and how they must orient their strategies to capitalize on the opportunities and avoid the pitfalls. He produced and hosted the cablevision series Ask the Economist. Please see
 My Review:

We probably have myriads of books and other literature which talks about the myths that people have about how an economy functions, how different variables react in an economy/business set-up. This isn't just another addition to the pile. What sets this book apart is that it takes into account a very important, yet utterly underestimated variable: the behaviour of people. And even after introducing such an intricate and complex variable into the equation, it manages to keep the facts and statements simple enough to be comprehended. No doubt, it has a technical aspect to it, which no one can deny has jargon understood by few casual readers, but if you belong to that chunk of readers who

A knowledge-imparting study totally worth your time. Much effort has gone in writing it as an intelligible and coherent cohesion of 13 myths that appear infallible. But the arguments put forward by the expert author are certainly incontrovertible.
How certain established beliefs are only partially true, or not true at all, is interesting to note.
Reading this book is like a journey of exploring the myths in multifarious dimensions, then dissecting them under expert glare and bringing them to the scaffold. And it is such a satisfying experience, like the one you have when you watch a documentary and go convinced of the factual accuracy.
The best part has to be the explanation as to how such gobbledygook-ridden theories also affect us at personal/individual level. There is perhaps no flaw, expect maybe, that this book is for a niche readers, who are really into stuff of economics, business, investment!

The author certainly has a radical approach, as mentioned before, in that he begins the book by dismissing the myth of Economics being a science as “pure nonsense”.

Also, his serious knowledge is punctuated by bouts of humor, puns and sarcasm (and believe me, you are going to love them).
He goes on to give practical tips about how to tackle the busted myth of the paramount importance of attitude in life. Well, that is actually a revelation.

If you think that the purpose of any investment is to make money, think again. Or even better, grab your copy.

Best lines:
“This myth is true- if you could remove humans from the face of the planet. Outside of this, the business cycle will always be here. It is part of the human psyche and behaviour.”

I thank the author for providing me with a review copy.

Book review: Uff Ye Emotions 2 By Vinit K Bansal

About the book:

Like the lyrics of an old song, which keeps repeating themselves in our mind or a fever dormant in the blood or an importunate lover impossible to get rid of, the memories of love or 'love' itself keeps returning in our lives again and again at the oddest of times and the strangest of places.

Randomly, beautifully, haphazardly or passionately, love lives up again—for it has been waiting for you, waiting for this union, waiting to merge with YOU at last.
So, keeping the trend alive and after the roaring success of our novice, Uff Ye Emotions, we are back once again with Uff Ye Emotions-2.

With Love, comes many emotions—some of them being pain, betrayal, hatred, hope and friendship. We fall IN and OUT of love time and again, but we can never be tired of it—because it is one of the only few aspects of life we can’t keep ourselves away from, isn’t it?
Selected and edited by Vinit K. Bansal, this time again 11 touching stories from authors across the country, will be delighting the readers who swear by love stories. And for those who don’t read love stories much, come and discover why they are so engrossing.

About the editor:

Vinit K. Bansal, born in Tohana (Haryana), is fond of reading, writing and composing stories since childhood. He earned his Masters degree from Kurukshetra University and was bestowed awards both at college and university level. He continues to nurture his dream of writing till today and has succeeded in giving shape to his thoughts in his books. As a voracious reader and an avid writer, his vision extends to the realm of social service too. In his own words, “I derive inspiration from India's former President, Prof. APJ Abdul Kalam.” At present, he is working with the State Bank of India in Delhi and loves to pen down his thoughts whenever he finds time.

My Review:

The 11 stories of the anthology have dealt with human emotions well, digging out crucial aspects of life and bringing to the fore a concoction of inexplicable emotions.
With the story, The Client, the book kick-started well. It added a dimension of hitherto unexplored emotions in the initial stage itself.
The stories have the potential to stir the soul if you read ardently, both the plots and the honeycomb of thoughts of characters. But then that is again a challenge because too many of them have attempted to make an impression, so much so that the attempt to do so dominates and cloaks the impression that has been created.
There are some stories which, at the risk of sounding too critical, better be made into a Bollywood movie. Some of them already have been. The others just seem to be crying for a cinematic adaptation, a better one of course.
The best story, if I had to choose one, would be “I'll be there”. The story which succeeded in conveying the social message that it had to was “Hickey”. “Dilemma” was yet another heart-rending tale. The anthology ended with the story “Love and sacrifices” which indeed adorned the ending with the lyrical pieces.
The expressions used by authors blend in effortlessly and create a realistic picture of the events.

It is not an immaculate compilation, nor is it the perfect edifice of an anthology, but there certainly are moments where you feel touched and moved.

Best lines:
The truth remains the same, but people quarrel in the hope of altering the truth. The truth still doesn’t change and people use their wit to buy the truth.

I thank the contributor Meghant Parmar for contacting me for review!

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Book Review: An Incurable Insanity by Simi K Rao

About the book:

Her heart fluttered when she heard the sound of the key turn in the lock. She quickly adjusted her maroon silk sari with the yellow border, the one that had caught his eye, and waited eagerly for his footsteps. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven... Yes, exactly seven steps before he stopped, hesitated for a few moments, then removed his shoes one by one and arranged them neatly side by side on the shoe rack. She smiled. He had been mindful of taking his shoes off every day now. "I am not used to it, but I will if you want me to. It's probably a good thing to do anyway." As he settled down, he would pick up the TV remote and, without looking at her, would say in his smooth baritone, "So how did you spend your day, anything interesting?" Shaan Ahuja found himself bowing to tradition and agreeing to an arranged marriage to the beautiful Ruhi Sharma. He went through the motions but had no intention of carrying through on his vows. His last foray into matters of the heart with an American girl had left him scarred and unwilling to try again. Thoroughly disillusioned and disgruntled he wasted no time in making his intentions clear to Ruhi on their wedding night. But, he was completely unprepared for what his new wife had in mind.

About the author:

Simi K. Rao was born in India and has been living in the United States for several years. Her contemporary romance novel An Incurable Insanity, published by Tate Publishing, was released on October 8, 2013. An Incurable Insanity is her first foray into writing. The inspiration for the story came from what she has seen transpire among and within the immigrant community. Some of the experiences included are her own; some have been garnered from friends and casual conversations with acquaintances. She also writes poetry, is an avid photographer, loves to travel, and is a practicing physician. She currently lives in Denver with her family. 

My Review:
Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage.
—Ambrose Bierce
This tale is an attempt to prove the reverse
or at least give it a chance.

The first positive point in the author's kitty goes straight: her ability to prove what she said, that is quite an achievement for the author is able to give what she claimed to offer and not disappoint the reader.
The book compels the reader to rethink their ideas of love, the institution of marriage, arranged-marriage, the intricacies of relationships, the nuances of “compromising” and “reconciling”, two of the most deployed phenomena in relationships these days. The author has sculpted such abhorrent characters which one deems worthy of utmost contempt, for example the near relatives in both the families- the boy's and the girl's.
The approach of the book is highly engaging, and the writer certainly knows where to hit the reader to keep him glued. The characters are fickle, real and palpable. It may even be interpreted as a typical Bollywood-kind fairy-tale whereby the incorrigible man is melted by the purity, vulnerability and gullibility of his wife. The scenes and the depictions come alive on the palimpsest of the reader's minds, almost making it a blockbuster in the genre of romance. And the best part of it all is the fact that the reader does not feel like putting it down, rather gets hooked so much that one feels like finishing it as soon as possible. Certainly the male protagonist shaan was not entirely at fault when he says, “I don’t want to live under false pretences. I do not
Want to be instrumental in ruining an innocent life” which is known to all readers, by and by. The surmise is that it is probably the reason the characters are endearing: they know their mistakes, and yet have little in their control. The best characters to look out for are Sujoy and his wife, who at times manage to play the cupid, or at least ease the strains in the atmosphere.
The book has a very Indian touch to the whole plot, but its major low is that the narrative is highly chauvinistic, and more often than not, anti-feminist.

Best lines:
 Consider the sarcasm here: Given the mental state I was in, instead of telling you, I’d have probably preferred to kill you. Consider yourself lucky.
Or how it mocks the husband-wife relationship: Isn’t it nice how rapidly things change when husbands and wives become friends?  We become human.”
Or the poignancy in these words:
But what I admire most about this society is its openness. Back home, people play around behind
closed doors and carry on like saints, so when the river breaks its banks, the destruction is immense, irrecoverable.

So, if you hail contemporary literature to be an agent/harbinger of change, you need to think twice before announcing your belief because this book just establishes a contrary belief.

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Kritika's bookshelf: read

Angels & Demons
The Story of My Life
The Hunger Games
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
A Tale of Two Cities
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
Sense and Sensibility
A Christmas Carol
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Time Machine
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Da Vinci Code

Kritika Narula's favorite books »


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