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Books

Books I’ve read

23 Books

Can't Swim, Can't Ride, Can't Run: From Common Man to Ironman

An unfit, injury-prone common man librarian’s journey from unfit to Ironman.

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Gizelle's Bucket List: My Life with a Very Large Dog

I’ll write a review once the tears have stopped.

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Mr. Iyer goes to war

Interesting, fairly fast moving novel. Mixes present day Eastern UP with its religion, castes, corruption and politics with a hallucinating religious warrior ;)
The writing tends to go overboard a bit at times, but that may just be due to the nature of the story.

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The Billionaire Raj

A really good book covering the state of money power and politics in India over the last decade. The title is a misnomer as the book looks way beyond just the growth and dominance of Billionaires. It covers, apart from the Billionaires, politicians, bureaucrats, media, cricket and more.
Anyone who has followed developments in India closely may already be aware of most of the facts in the book. But even for them, the description of interplay between various sections of the power set will be useful. The analysis of how things work in India, how they got to this state, the challenges ahead, and the potential paths forward are all interesting.
The author pulls his punches, specially when criticising the politicians. This could be to maintain access for himself and the media organisations he works with. This may also just be the journalistic prudence at play—presenting facts not judgements.

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Getting Things Done for Teens: Take Control of Your Life in a Distracting World

An easy-to-grasp version of David Allen’s GTD process. It’s titled ‘for teens’ but I’d recommend it to everyone. A comprehensive yet simple introduction to getting a handle on things to be done, improving productivity and freeing mental space. The processes and tactics are invaluable together, but extremely useful even if adopted in parts. I would recommend everyone to read this book, at least twice.

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Gun Island

Picked the book up from the library last night. Read it at the cafe, read it in bed before sleeping, read it in bed after waking up, read it in the loo, read it in the morning instead of running, and then finished it before lunch. The only breaks were for visitors and sleep.
It’s an unputdownable book, specially for anyone who likes Amitava Ghosh’s mixing of cultures and timelines, fiction and facts. The ending was a bit sudden, but it may just be in preparation for the next episode.

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Range

I enjoyed the book. It is packed with an understanding of, and tools for generalists. The topic, the research, the details felt like they’d been written for me. Read it for an understanding of the other view, opposing the early and hyper specialisation that rules the current social and business structures.
Yet, it was a slow, sluggish read. Shorter by a third, and it’d have been a crisp 5* book.

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The art of running faster

Inspired: How to create products customers love

Food rules: An eater's manual

Messy: How to be creative and resilient in tidy-minded world

Amongst my favourite non-fiction books this year. Tim gives an interesting account of how messiness helps through variety, improvisation, flexibility, speed, and more. He covers a variety of areas and discusses the impact and understanding of messiness in them—from the current trend towards AI and automation to the humanity-old question of children and their play areas.
Combined with Range by David Epstein, this book has provided to me one set of perspectives and inputs. Another set is from Make Time by Jake and Jack, and Deep Work & Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. Combining these—focus in the moment, and variety, improv and range in the themes—are a great direction for improvement.

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The Miracle Of Mindfulness: The Classic Guide to Meditation by the World's Most Revered Master

The deal of a lifetime

Short story, with some illustrations. Typical good-hearted emotional Backman, though with a small twist near the end.

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Beyond Impossible

Decent book by a great athlete. Better/stronger editor (or author) would’ve massively improved the book. 5* for her achievements, struggled to give 3 for the book.

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After Mandela

A really good assessment of South Africa during years of Mbeki’s presidency (starts with transition from Mandela, ends with rise of Zuma). Uses a wealth of interviews, anecdotes, and historical perspective to cover all key areas of the society - the party, the violence, failure to deliver, Afrikaners, AIDS, BEE, Zimbabwe and more.
It had its slow moments, specially in the beginning, and a tiny bit of (Western?) proselytising, but they are rare.

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The fifth risk

An assessment of a fundamental execution and institutional capability that’s under attack. By Trump and allies in the US, but also broadly across the world, and not just by the politicians. Good awakening book about the boring truths.

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Into thin air

I really enjoyed the book. I had seen the movie, so knew what was coming. Yet, the Jon has written beautifully to bring out the experience of an Everest expedition. If only he hadn’t spent sections of the book defending his actions and articles. Recommended.

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Digital Minimalism

A good book about managing the overwhelming digital impact on our lives. Full of tips and tricks. I like Cal’s writing style. I enjoyed this book despite already reading Deep Work and Make Time in the last 6 months.

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Sprint

Full of tools and …

North

Really enjoyed this book. The descriptions of the trails, the people, the personal relationships and the injuries were all great. My favourite bit tough was the mental battle in the last quarter. We all hit the wall. Some like me hit it at 20 miles. Some like Scott hit it at 1800 miles. Reading his and Kali’s thoughts around that was a huge learning and sobering experience. It’s been a huge inspiration reading the book after following Scott’s movements on social media during the actual event.

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Who Thought This Was a Good Idea

Make Time

Jake and JZ mix personal experience, academic studies and humour to deliver an excellent list of tactics to help focus, and improve energy and productivity.
Personally, it was good to see the changes I’ve made in my life in the last two years listed in the book. More comforting was that their reasoning was similar to mine in deciding at those changes.
The best bit was the list of more changes I can now experiment with to further improve focus, productivity and calmness.

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Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World