July 04, 2012

Reads in the First Half of 2012


1. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman  By Haruki Murakami
The reading season for this year commenced with this book in late Feb/March. Though this book has been lying around with me for sometime, i never got a chance to read the entire book at one go - always read a few chapters and let it sink. A trip to Kodaikanal and loads of free time made this a very entertaining read. This is a collection of short stories form Murakami and i am not sure what more i need to review. Just read it :)

2. Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma and the Family Feud That Forever Changed the Business of Sports  By   Barbara Smit
There are books on Corporate History that impress you, and it mostly happens that you know that went with the company - for eg. Lee Iococa's or Google's - these stories are well read and the books are everywhere around. But Sneaker Wars was a totally different book. I picked up this book with no expectations, and it turned out to be impressive. The narration of the shoe industry and the bloodshed and how the dynamics work to the present day are explained in the BEST way. I would rate this book very high in my list of books read on Corporate History; the author has taken a very niche industry(which many would easily overlook) and has given her 100% research and brought the best out.

3. Swag By Elmore Leonard
This book was supposed to be a game changer in the crime fiction world. The story is about 10 rules which are called as "Ryan's Rules" and how a duo use it to get rich with the least risk; and what happens when things start falling apart. This is a nice quick read, but do not expect anything great, as the present crime fiction novels have probably taken this precedent and are much more thrilling; this book was written much earlier in the crime fiction genre and guess was the harbinger of the revolution.

4. Golda By Elinor Burkett
This was probably the best biography that i have read in sometime. The "TRUE" Iron Lady, much stronger than Thatcher or Indira Gandhi; in fact, calling Indira Gandhi as an Iron Lady having read the life of Golda Meir would be a mistake. Golda - an epitome of how a girl from very simple background grew in one of the most hostile environments , was instrumental in the birth of a new nation and went onto head the nation and navigated it through some extremely tough times. READ READ READ this gem.

5. Bobby Fischer Goes to War : How A Lone American Star Defeated the Soviet Chess Machine  By David Edmonds and John Eidinow
This was probably my first book which is related to sports. Few snippets from this excellent read which would characterize the book better that my verbiage reviewing the book:
  •   Chess is the most unforgiving of Sports; there is no comeback, no second chance, from such a careless gaffe.
  •   Loss to Fischer somehow diminishes a player. Part of him has been eaten and he is that much less a whole man.
  •   Fisher was guilty of serial 'psychic murder'.
  •   Fischer's idiosyncratic and asocial behaviour marked him as un-American for many of his compatriots.
The narration/story-telling is apt and the author has done a commendable job of portraying the life of Bobby Fischer and his sporting career.

6. Thatcher's Britain By Richard Vinen
I was led to reading this book after reading Golda, as i wanted to know more about the other Iron Lady, but it turned out to be a boring one. A dull read with an equally dull narration. You are not going to lose anything if you do not read this book.

7. The Watson Dynasty: The Fiery Reign And Troubled Legacy of IBM’s Founding Father And Son By Richard Tedlow
The Big Blue had a troubled legacy and not many know about this, and this is exactly what this book talks about. More in terms of the senior management/founder's story with the IBM than the products that came out of IBM's stables, this is an interesting read into the dynamics of the team which ran one of the Biggest companies of our generation.

8. Life of Pi  By Yann Martel (Illustrated by Tomislav Torjanac)
A simple and elegant read about the 'travails' of a boy who gets onto a boat with Richard Parker(a tiger) and loads of luck and what happens during his castaway episode.

9 . Understanding Oil Prices : A Guide to What Drives the Price of Oil in Today's Market By Salvatore Carollo
Review : http://www.businessworld.in/web/guest/storypage?CategoryID=0&articleId=409758&version=1.0&journalArticleId=409759

10. From Stonehenge to Samarkand: An Anthology of Archaeological Travel Writing   By Brian M. Fagan 
If you are into travel, civilizations and architecture, then this book would be a nice read. This is not a quick read, and its better if you have some knowledge of the different civilizations, their birth, growth and demise and how they flourished. The author narrates from the point of view of an archaeologist and hence this makes the read interesting (though not a MUST read).


11. The Artist and the Mathematician By Amir D. Aczel
A quick read into the life of Nicholaus Bourbaki, probably the greatest mathematician(s) ever, and how art and mathematics have a strong correlation. The author has done a good job with the narration of the life of Nicholaus Bourbaki(who is not much known), but the first half of the book is a dull read.

12. The Lonely Planet Story  By Tony Wheeler and Maureen Wheeler
A nice auto-biography of the birth and the growth of what is a Bible to many travellers around the world, this simple(yet long) read could have been better if the authors had spent a little more time/effort in talking more about various geographies and share some humorous insights. Nevertheless, this is still a good read.

13. Velocity – The Seven New Laws For a World Gone Digital By Ajaz Ahmed and Stefan Olander
Review : http://www.businessworld.in/web/guest/storypage?CategoryID=0&articleId=416093&version=1.0&journalArticleId=416094

14. Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance By Robert M. Pirsig
Am reading this now.

15. Imagine: How Creativity Works By Jonah Lehrer
Review : http://www.businessworld.in/web/guest/storypage?CategoryID=0&articleId=424518&version=1.0&journalArticleId=424519

16. Impeachment By Anjali Deshpande
Review : http://www.businessworld.in/web/guest/storypage?CategoryID=0&articleId=425713&version=1.0&journalArticleId=425714

17. Whiskers For The Cat And Bilderoo Is Coming Enid Blyton's Mini World series 

18. The Art of Intelligence-Lessons from a Life in the CIA's Clandestine Service By Henry.A.Crumpton
Review :http://www.businessworld.in/web/guest/storypage?CategoryID=0&articleId=428634&version=1.0&journalArticleId=428635
    
19. Barbarians at the Gate By Bryan Burrough and John Helyar
Am reading this now.
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