Review: A SELFIE as Big as the Ritz

A Selfie as Big as the RitzA Selfie as Big as the Ritz by Lara Williams

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had hit a reading slump. So took this one for a quick read, thinking the quirky cover might hide something quirky, funny and light. Contrary to my expectation, this one turned out to be concentrated-bites of luscious melancholy. It is a collection of short stories, sometimes really short, dealing with a plethora of emotions. #heartbreak #abortion #menopause #depression #postpartumdepression #postpartumdepressioninmen The book often sounded bleak, yet was captivating mainly because of the writing style. Some stories felt like repetition and writing sounded monotonous. I read it in one go and by the end, weariness crept in. I would have enjoyed it more if I had taken a break in the middle.

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Review: The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True HermitThe Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am not impressed with the book as much as I thought I would be. The foremost reason is, in the book, the author itself is debating on whether Mr. Knight is a hermit in its true meaning or not and on the other side, he has given the subtitle ‘The Extraordinary story of the Last true Hermit’. Other than inducing a mystic aura around the book, the title doesn’t stay true to the content. I might have interrupted it differently, still doesn’t fit with my level of reasoning. Another thing is, the author was not able to go deep into the subject ‘Solitude’ and its philosophical side, though he tried. The book felt like a documentary narration, with a few very good paragraphs to relish. The book could have been better narrated and reflected that’s my final verdict on the book. I will still go with a three star, considering the extraordinary tale of Mr. Knight, which kept my interest throughout the book.

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Review: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Astrophysics for People in a HurryAstrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading Cosmos, I am a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson. This book is a crisp reminder of things which I have read in cosmos and much more. Quick read and ever interesting, just like any Neil deGrasse Tyson. Just like the book Cosmos, the book reminds me how insignificant I am in the grand scheme of things. After finishing the book, you wander around a few days thinking about all the stars, the scent of stardust lingers. I would go with five stars for the book.

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David and Goliath review by Malcolm Gladwell

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling GiantsDavid and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Malcolm Gladwell had impressed me with his ‘Outliers’ and that’s the reason I picked up this book. Even though the book was a thought-provoking read,  I couldn’t get a grip on my wandering thoughts most of the times while reading the book. The author narrates many incidents to narrate the ultimate reasons why David was the obvious winner, not an underdog as people perceived him to be.
There is a chapter in the book narrating a true story of two California families, Mike Reynolds and Wilma Derksen who had to deal with the untimely death of their children. Though we should not be judgemental about their misery and their coping mechanisms, the author boldly draws a picture of parallels in their story. While one managed or rather tried to manage the grief with determination and activism, the other survived the pain by alienating herself from the path of any form of revenge. The author shows, how both the diverging paths lead to different outcomes, one better than another, in his perspective. I found this point to be profound. If we have learned anything from history, Peace has always achieved more than war.
With every country closing borders, with everyone turning against one another in the name of religion, race, what-not, a little of kindness will go a long way. We are ‘Bloody in tooth and claw’ by nature, a reflection of nature itself, and the act of selfishness is the tool for survival. But with acquired human qualities like love and empathy, how long it will take to balance out these two conflicting impulses. The book left me in a dispirited state, making me think of all the ways the world has lost all the hope.
On rethinking, I conclude that interpreting data by the author may not always true. While reading you always go with the flow and believe the author. Compared to the author’s previous book ‘Outliers’, this one is less impressive. I would have gone for a three-star rating for the book if not for André Trocmé. That one chapter affected me so much that, it didn’t leave my head for a couple of days after reading the book. Such a profound chapter it was. I would go with an overall rating of four for the book.

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The Prince Collection

Snippet from today…

While we were waiting outside the grocery shop, my daughter went into her usual talking-to-self mode. I didn’t interrupt until I heard her irritated mumbling ‘I am waiting here for a million years … arrrgg’

“Kunju, Who are you waiting for?”

“For my prince…”


“If we pay thousand dollars, he will come with us. I want to add him to my prince collection.”

Review: Behind the Beautiful Forevers

I somehow got the notion in my head that this book is a fiction. Only after reading a few pages, I realized I picked it from the non-fiction shelves. Once you realize that, abrasive, yet honest portrayal of the slums of Bombay hit you hard. It invokes a mix of empathy and helplessness. I am ashamed that such extreme poverty even existed in my country and I hope things have changed for the better now. The book showed me a few frames of a story and left me yearning for more. I would give the book four stars.