Monday, November 3, 2014

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

Author - Haruki Murakami

Genre - Fiction, Short Stories

Source - Print

Rating - 4

October 2014

Dated Review:
You know that I am fairly ambivalent about Murakami. I do not get him. 
That is going to get rephrased now.
You know that I am fairly ambivalent about Murakami's novels; I don't get them. 
I do get his short stories. They are special. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Silkworm

Author - Robert Galbraith (J K Rowling)

Genre - Fiction, Thriller, Detective, Cormoran Strike #2

Source - Audiobook

Rating - 5

September 2014

Dated review:
JKR is a genius. That's all.
If you are a lover of detective fiction, you would not miss this.Go on, what are you waiting for?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Tenth of December

Author - George Saunders

Genre - Fiction, Short Stories

Source - Print

Rating - 5

September 2014

George Saunders is a genius. No, a Genius. With a capital G. I wish I can write short stories with such a macabre twist, with such an evil forbearing and such a light touch. This man is a genius. A Genius.

Best Football Books of all time, as suggested by Football365

This is target, and I will scratch the ones that I have already read. Only scratch out the first word of the books that I have but have not read yet.
The Ball Is Round - David Goldblatt - The bible. The best football book I've ever read, documenting the game from ancient times until the present day around the world. Meaty, but wonderful
The Miracle Of Castel Di Sangro

How To Score - Ken Bray - Scientific look at football

Inverting The Pyramid - Jonathan Wilson - The tactics bible

Brilliant Orange - On culture and history of Dutch Football

Calcio - The same on Italy

Tor - The same on Germany

Feet of the Chameleon - Sameish on Africa

Morbo - Same on Spanish.

La Roja - Another same on Spanish

Futebol - Same on Brazil

Behind the Iron Curtain - Same on Russia

Bamboo Goalposts - Same on China

Teambuilding - Rinus Michels - The famous coaching guide

Why England Lose - Stats and science on England

The Manager - Barney Ronay

A season with Verona - Tony Parks

Those Feet - David Winner

The football men - Arthur Hopcraft

Dick Kerr's Ladies - Barbara Jacobs

World Is A Ball - John Doyle

Once In A Lifetime - Gavin Newsham

The Last Game - Jason Cowley

Beautiful Game? - David Conn
Left Foot Forward - Garry Nelson

Floodlit dreams - Ian Ridley

Broken Dreams - Tom Bower

Only a game - Eamon dunphy

The Glory Game - Hunter Davies

The Nowhere Men - Michael Calvin

Football Against The Enemy - Simon Kuper

Football Business - David Conn

Fever Pitch - Nick Hornby

My Father and other working class heroes - Gary Imlach

Bios and Autobios

Paul McGrath

Robert Enke

Cantona - Philippe Auclair

Bergkamp - Stillness and Speed

Garrincha - Rui Castro

Keeper of Dreams - Ronald Reng

Duncan Edwards: The Greatest

Paul Lake

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Death By Meeting

Author - Patrick Lencioni

Genre - Business

Source - Audiobook

Rating - 3 (High-3)

August 2014

Good. Not as good as the previous 'Five Dysfunctions...', and a little tedious at times - but the lessons are accurate and helpful. Was required to write a summary of this for office - am printing it below:


1. Some meetings are bad. Why?
a. Some meetings are bad because they lack proper context. They become a mélange of varying types of discussions with a wide-range of importance to the organization (with most being not-very-much).

2. Conflicts are a good thing.
a. This is true for every intelligent, intellectual pursuit. The only way that improvements can be brought about are by challenging the norm, challenging the status quo. Meetings, as in Yip, were bad because executives in the organization, while well-meaning, refused to indulge in healthy debate; thus what suffered was shared perspective, and thereby growth.
b. What to debate about? What should be the topics of conflict? This is probably an issue that the book did not tackle head-first. In my opinion, and I have seen it happen, it is possible for a state of debate-for-debate’s-sake to emerge, which leadership should be wary of. Conflict is welcome, it is GREAT, but is it the right conflict? Is the conflict well-meaning / purposeful? I have once been part of an organization which actively promoted debate (i.e. senior management favoured / promoted people who were seen as the alternative / contrarian voices), but knowing that debate is encouraged but not wanting to go the debate = conflict route, this led to heavy debate about less-important issues, and lip-service debates about the more important issues. A state of hyperactive inertia is still a state of inertia. Probably something that the book could have dealt a little more in depth about.

3. Grab the attention. Early.
a. This, I think, is a great lesson. It is ideal to bring the most important items to the table well and early. That is when the participants are eager, and creative. Also, I think an underlying point Lencioni wanted to make is that there is enough time to retrieve a situation, if the context is set early.

4. There is no one-size-fit-all meeting – and all different type of meetings have their purpose
a. Lencioni suggested the following:
  • Daily Check-In: Share daily schedules and activities - don't sit down, keep it administrative, don't cancel even when some can't attend
  • Weekly Tactical: Review weekly activities & metrics & resolve tactical obstacles & issues - don't set agenda until after initial reporting, postpone (park) strategic discussions.
  •  Monthly Strategic (or Ad Hoc as required): Discuss, analyze, brainstorm, & decide on critical issues affecting LT success - limit to 1-2 topics, prepare & do research ahead of time, engage in constructive conflict.
  • Quarterly Off-site Review: Review strategy, industry trends, competitive landscape, key personnel, team development - away from office, focus on work & limit social activities, don't over-plan or overburden the schedule.
b. I do believe there could be more / less as the company requires. There is no one-size fit-all company either. But the point is very well taken. Not all conflicts is the same. Not all requirement is the same. Not all meetings are the same.
c. Some similarities with Scrum methodology of software development could be noticed – however, I am not an expert in Scrum (far from it: I attended a 2-hour introduction to scrum, a couple of years ago). But some ideas are similar, for example- Daily checkpoint; extensive conversation (and conflict, not spelled out in detail) etc.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

সেই সময় (Those Days)

Author - Sunil Gangopadhyay

Genre - Historical Fiction, Bengali

Source - Print

Rating - 5

June 2014

A monster of a book. Very strong writing. Te history comes alive. I hope this is as good in English translation as in Bengali, though (I read the original) - this is about more than anything about the rise of the Bengali people and the Bengali language.
Do tell me, friends, if the translation works.

Monday, May 12, 2014

তুঙ্গভদ্রার তীরে (Tungabhadra'r Teerey)

Author - Saradindu Bandyopadhyay

Genre - Historical Fiction, Thriller

Source - Print

Rating - 4 

May 2014

First: About Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay. He is a fantastic writer of bestsellers that are NOT devoid of literary merit. If one has to make the parallel to an English writer, it has to be with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and Sharadindu's Byomkesh is almost the equal of Doyle's Sherlock).
Second: About the time and place. You'd say the novel has not dated very well. You'd say that some of the sentiments some characters display are rather out of our times (reg: religion, sex). But hey, this is historical fiction, and that too medieval history, how do you expect it to be in with the times?
Third: Sharadindu creates such amazing plots. And has such a strong, clean writing style. Two hundred odd pages finished off in one go. This is good stuff! 
Fourth: I am lucky that I can read Sharadindu in original Bengali. This is one of the first few non-Byomkesh novels of his that I read, and I am itching to read more.
Fifth: Nice to read about the history of Karnataka. This is about the Vijayanagar Empire.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Author - Neil Gaiman

Genre - Fantasy, Coming-of-age

Source - Audiobook

Rating - 3 (specifically, a weak 3)

May 2014

Hmm, not satisfactory enough. You expect the sun and the moon from Neil Gaiman... I do. I'm a fan. And he does not quite deliver here. 
Philosophy and imagery and lovely passages and Facebook quotes are all well and good, but there just isn't enough meat in the story here. This is one Gaiman book that I will suggest for a non-fan to give a pass. And other fans like me will read it anyway -- so how did you like it?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Place Of Execution

Author : Val McDermid

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Detection

Source - Audiobook

Rating - 4

April 14

The problem with reading two detective novels that are absolute all-time greats by masters of their games (namely 'The devotion of Suspect X' by Keigo Higashino and 'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn), is that a perfectly good, rather well-written detective novel such as this, would still leave you with a feeling of 'that's all?' after you are done with it. This is a fine example of a detective/police-procedural novel, really. Finished it in one go, and wasn't disappointed really. Just felt that it's not ... ah... how do you put it .... not in the league of the other two. Not saying that this one is bad, not at all. .... in fact, I would gladly read other stories by McDermid. Just cognitive bias, I guess.
 A high 3, this one. Almost 4. So, round off to 4.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gone Girl

Author : Gillian Flynn

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Source - Audiobook

Rating - 5

April 14

Shudder. A delicious, twisted, evil, satan of a book. Unreliable, lying, attractive, detestable, addictive narrators; the most realistic take on a crumbled marriage I've read in recent times; twists and double twists and triple twists and then --- just as we were slowly moving towards some kind of an expected conclusion, a whoosh-what-the-f**k-was-that howitzer of an ending. I hated, HATED the ending. Perfect ending. Hated it. Loved it.


Author : Dan Brown

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Robert Langdon

Source - Audiobook

Rating - 3

March 14

Not bad. Not great. As we call it in India, 'good time-pass'. It was ever such with Dan Brown.