Thursday, October 28, 2010

Built To Last - James Collins & Jerry Porras

This was the bible of my previous company, and we were all given a copy on joining. Took me almost 8 years to  pick it up and read it though!

Not a bad read, although its again on topics I don't usually read or know much about. It basically traces companies which have 'stood the test of time' so to speak, and are still around to make their presence felt. The authors have tried to find commonalities in these companies which were built to last.

Its a decent read.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Updates and The Little House - Philippa Gregory

This was the week, when many job cuts were announced at work. Some colleagues have got their notices. The rest of us have been told the numbers, but not the names, while we play the 'who's going to go' game.

And someone in the team, has already calculated, how a potential job loss would be pretty devastating for most of the men in the team, ( most of whom don't have working wives) but not so for the women ( who of course can easily live off our husbands)

And as I went home to a, yet again, maid-less day, trying to keep the house from disintegrating into dirt and chaos, attempting the much hated cooking, I began to read the 'little house', finished it off within 2 days. Its a book that leaves you angry.

The story is basically a working woman, who loses her job and then gradually gets drawn into the rut of 'family politics'. The perennial power struggle that follows every marriage, where the odds are stacked unfairly.  In the novel the woman is an orphan, an affect our lofty culture attempts to achieve through kanyadaan, bidai and tradition.

Its hard to describe it really, although its a conversation about the little things which I've often had with friends. The constant clashes over 'how' to run the house, how to manage the baby. The additional balance of power, controlled by money. The division of what constitutes house work, and how is it to be managed. The changing  nature of relationships and the struggle against the change.

Overall it was a pretty gripping book, and although the end loses touch with reality in one way, its one thats interesting and chilling in more ways than one.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Inspite of the Gods - Edward Luce

Good read about the politics and economics of India, even for people like me who don't normally read on these topics and have only a nodding acquaintance, if that, with the concepts.

The book is written in an engaging style, and does not make too many sweeping judgements. It touches on most of the topics that the political and economic issues touch on, and also included some social ones which aren't usually that popular among the more mainstream media. ( corruption, fundamentalism and political extremists are easy to blame, there are other issues for which its not so easy to find scapegoats.)

But most of all, I love the way he ends a few of his chapters with a wicked one liner, which leaves one laughing for a while.

Worth a read.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

How to stop worrying and start living - Dale Carnegie

Good common sense advice as usual. Of course the hardest part of all these self-improvement/productivity/etc kind of things is following the advice, and I don't think I've been able to do that much.

Worth a read, perhaps to remind yourself of the obvious!

Monday, October 04, 2010

How to Kill Your Husband and Other Handy Household Hints - Kathy Lette

It was picked up on a whim - the title looked funny and the blurb assured me it was.

Have to say, it didn't turn out to be quite as funny as I thought, or its very possible that my sense of humour is drying up. Perhaps it was just me, but the caricature of the husband seemed far too close to reality and got me more pissed off than amused.

As if the subject was unfunny enough- the style of writing tended to get rather jarring too, what with attempts to fit in a funny similie in every damn page, heck in almost every sentence. har cheeze ki ati buri hoti hai - including the trying too hard to make everry line funny.

Overall passable at best.

Animals People - Indra Sinha

Its a fictional account of Animal - a young man who walks on all fours, his back having bent badly, and who absolves himself of all humanity.

Its set in Khaufpur, which is a pretty straightforward take on Bhopal, and you know pretty soon, what 'that night' is about.

But its a story that needed telling, without adding the million facts and figures to it, which is just how its done. The kampani and the sleazy politicians, are the ever present backdrop , but the people are real, alive. And when there's no 'magic realism'/'artificial plot development' going on, its a rather gripping book. Its not a long litany of everything wrong that was done, and the statistics of the suffering. Its a story, set against those things, which reminds you of the humanity around - lost and found.

Its worth a read, but I didn't quite fall in love with it. It again has long abstruce passages, which don't make a lot of sense to me, and the story really falters at places.( Aside - did a google, and it seems these passages are an exercise in magic realism, something which Rushdie specialises in - that makes a lot of sense, since I found all of midnights children and satanic verses completely incomprehensible. )  The worst I think is the end, which just goes on and on, as I rapidly fast forwarded the pages.

Still worth a read, I used to lament why indian books and movies often seemed to skim over our own history and geography, seems like that is changing.