Thursday, February 16, 2017

[Book] चार नगरांतील माझे विश्व : Dr Jayant Naralikar

It is rare to see an autobiography of an Indian scientist. It's even more rare to see an autobiography of Indian scientist in Marathi. So, coming across चार नगरांतील माझे विश्व by Dr Jayant Naralikar was something special.



Dr. Naralikar is well known for his Quasi-Steady State Theory, an alternative theory to Big Bang Model of the origin of the universe. 
In his autobiography, Dr. Naralikar narrates his life as a sequence of his living in four cities: His childhood and formative years in Benaras (Varanasi), doctoral and research years with Fred Hoyle at Cambridge, a professorship at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, and as Founder- Director of IUCAA, Pune. 
The narrative is extremely detailed, running about 600 pages, and has a good collection of photographs, and a superb index. In fact, I read the book primarily using the index rather than the traditional start-to-finish approach.
The book has received a Sahitya Academy award.

Monday, January 2, 2017

[Book Review] Tap Dancing to Work : Warren Buffett


Frankly, I wouldn't have picked this book in a library, forget about buying it. 
But when Bill Gates writes a compelling review of a book on his site Gates Notes and your wife brings the review to your notice, you better read the book. 

Last weekend, I finished reading "Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything", compiled by Carol Loomis, editor of Fortune magazine... and am glad I did read it!

Here are some excerpts...



There is never just one cockroach in the kitchen.
~ Warren Buffett in "Tap Dancing to Work", implying that when you notice a defect/bug/fault, almost always many more exist.


You are never right or wrong just because people agree or disagree with you. You are right because your facts are right and your reasoning is correct.

On management:
I have seen too many companies in which the top management should rather focus on managing the business rather than managing each other.

On his senior managers:
Jack and Bill only do two things: Set clear goals and clear obstacles... including themselves. That's just what any manager should do.

On career:
When selecting a career, choose the work that you would do if you were independently wealthy and didn't have to work for a living. 

On success:
Most people have 400-horsepower of IQ or talent and through sheer laziness they make do with 100-hp output. I would rather have a 200-hp engine and get 150-hp through hard work and focus. 


And, here's the last one... 
Why some smart people succeed and most don't? It's because people get in their own way. Success needs talent, focus, hard work and perseverance; but it's also much to do with rational, logical thinking... doing the right thing no matter what the temptation to do otherwise be.And more than anything, success is about your habits and character. I have one small suggestion for you: Write down the names of five successful people you admire and five good habits you'd like to learn from them. Next write down five habits that you really hate in others. If you make those five good habits your own and avoid those five bad ones, you would go a long way to be successful.

Sharing more excerpts would diminish the ROI for those who wish to read it. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Goodreads challenge 2016

Against a target of 25 books to read this year, I somehow managed to read 36 books, totaling about 12000 pages. That averages to 3 books / 1000 pages a month. Not too bad, but still quite a long way to catch up with my icon Bill Gates, who reads, on an average, a book per week. And he is much more a busy person than the most of us.










Tuesday, December 20, 2016

हाच माझा मार्ग (Haach Maajha Marg) - Sachin Pilgaonkar

हाच माझा मार्ग (Haach Maajha Marg), the autobiography of Sachin Pilgaonkar is perhaps one of the most detailed memoirs written by a contemporary Indian film star, and rightly so… His repertoire across Hindi and Marathi films spans a staggering 50+ years. 



The book measures about 320 pages and almost each page has a photo, many of them quite rare ones. Text is lucid and we get to read many behind-the-scenes, personal stories about movies and movie legends. The author shares his feelings, views and thoughts candidly and at times bluntly, which is great for a book about film industry notorious for its hypocrite ways.

The problem with this book is, after a while, it starts sounding a bit too much of "I, Me, Myself". At first glance, this may seem inevitable in an autobiography, but in the hands of a good editor, so many sentences could have been written in a much better way to make Mr. Pilgaonkar appear less of a narcissist. 

Secondly, and more importantly,  nowhere in the book does the author offer any deep, substantially meaningful insights into the soul of the industry he worked in for 50 years. The book reads more like a chronology of films and events than a retrospection of a thoughtful veteran.  

Monday, December 5, 2016

Daemon and Freedom - Daniel Suarez

Do you love technology-focused, fast-paced thrillers with multiple plots converging at the conclusion? 
Did you enjoy the movie "Transcendence" but wanted the story to be on a grander scale? 
Do you feel -- or rather, fear -- that rogue artificial intelligence (AI) will one day overpower humanity? 

You should read these two novels. 



And if you are a fan of FPS and MMORPG type video games, you must definitely read them.

AI has been featured in many books and movies, but the one in these novels is truly novel, something we haven't seen before. What makes it even more terrifying is, unlike other sci-fi components that require a leap of technology (wormhole, quantum computing, time machine), this one practically exists in our modern world. The author worked as cyber security adviser to many Fortune-500 companies, and he draws on all his expertise in depicting the technical details.

"Daemon" and "Freedom" constitute a two-novel series. If you read one, you gotta read the other.