Saturday, May 16, 2015

A Tree Grows in BrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that I can read, read and read again. I never got tired of this one. It is the story of one Francie Nolan growing up in the poorer neighborhoods of Brooklyn and her coming of age. The story has struggles, pain, fear, courage, humor and all the other things that make up a good book. But what it makes it great is everything is so subtle. All the emotions are just below the surface lying there for us to experience. This is what makes it readable multiple times as we can delve deeper each time we read it.

All the characters are made endearing through Francie's eyes despite their weaknesses. It also revealed her strengths as a person. She was aware that she would always come second compared to her brother when it came to mother's love. Yet she bore the hurt, loved her brother, and mother all the time. As a reader, you felt for Francie. But like Francie, you eventually agree that Mother was right even if it hurt.

There is no grandeur nor any mystery in the book. It only describes the plain everyday existence and survival of the family. Yet, you feel you are the friend that Francie never had, experiencing the joy and pain together as if one. You want Francie to be happy, safe from any hurt and pain.
Other characters - Aunt Sissy, Francie's dad whom Farncie loved much, and Katie - like Francie remain with you long after the last page turns.

This book is not a page-turner and am glad for that as it can be relished slowly taking in each of the emotions and the book allows us to grow up again with Francie.

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Friday, November 28, 2014

The Wind-Up Bird ChronicleThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was a surreal book and although the overall pace slow, the pages went on turning at a nice pace. This the first novel I picked up from Haruki Murukami and I liked the way he built up his glass palace. He introduced characters miserly, however, each of them played their parts to perfection in building of the glass palace. However, if you are religious about cause and effect, this book might disappoint you a bit as some of things in there are there only to be believed.

The story is of Toru Okada who quits his job in a law firm and stays at hoe However, the story starts with losing a cat, searching for it and eventually his wife. However, the story is as much about the daily life of jobless Toru Okada like his ironing the shirt when restless, spaghetti cooking as much his struggle in getting his wife back. The pace is languid and you somehow enjoy the serenity of his life with surprises coming from some or the other corner.

This book is not a fast paced so may not be to everyone's liking. But it more than makes up by those hooks and the interesting characters that sprouts every now and then in Toru's jobless existence. Meanwhile, I will definitely go for Murukami's other works.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Time Traveler's Wife The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book is big jigsaw puzzle with different pieces falling in place at different points of time. As the book moves on, you feel the pieces falling in place and you can see the full picture. It is a story of Henry DeTamble who could time travel due to genetic disorder. It is also the story of Clare who first meets 40 year old Henry at the age of 6, falls in love with him and wait for Henry to appear from the future all her childhood and teen life. With Henry keeping pursed lips about the future and about himself, little Clare is left with her imagination to understand a mysteriously but endearing figure appearing in her meadow.

The most endearing part of the book was Henry talking about his multiple visits to the time when his mother died and seeing his younger self escape just because of time travel. The characters are beautifully etched and you feel that you ought not to leave them even if it means reaching work late. After a certain time, you feel the book itself is time travelling. All this points to a meticulously thought and brilliantly written book.

It is a must-read and the best about it is you can pick it up and read the book from anywhere and it would still make sense due to jigsaw nature of the book. And yeah there is a movie adapted from the book. However, reading the book makes you feel that you are part of the action rather than a mere spectator to the action. I will be watching the movie soon though to reminiscence my reading experience.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

The Hungry TideThe Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book is like the tide it describes. All the characters stays with you until the book is complete and then all that remains with you is the tide, forests, rivers and dolphins.

The story is of Piya a cetacean scientist who comes to Lusibari to study Irrawady dolphins, Kanai, a not so ideal guide who is in Lusibari to read the letters left to him by his late uncle Nirmal and of all the people living in the tide country of Sunderbans.

The writing is smooth as it transports you through the tide country and the life in it with the tigers, struggles, and the mythical story of Bon bibi. The passage of conversation between Fokir and Kanai leading up to leaving Kanai alone in the forest and the one between Kanai and Piya after the tiger attack were pick of the reads in the book.

The quoting of Rania Maria Rilke's Dunio Elegies at the end of Nirmal's letters describing the circumstances left you with something to think about.

There are smaller beautiful stories of places and people interwoven through the main narrative which are like the stories that you get to hear from guides at historical places.

Overall, a beautiful book worth every second of your lazy Sunday afternoon.

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The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

a beautiful book..never wanted it to end... story of a girl, the book thief who loved stealing books and many more who lived on Himmel street, when Hitler reigned narrated by Death haunted by humans

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Every Computer Performance Book: How to Avoid and Solve Performance Problems on the Computers You Work withEvery Computer Performance Book: How to Avoid and Solve Performance Problems on the Computers You Work with by Bob Wescott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a very concise and to the point book about application performance. It has captured the essence of performance of applications and capacity planning for an on field engineer. Additionally, Bob Wescott has also provided insightful tips on giving presentation tips especially when telling the bad news. It is a good read and any newbie in performance can take this as a starting point for understanding performance and capacity planning of applications

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (Jeeves, #11)Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit by P.G. Wodehouse
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I always connect with Bertie Wooster.. He ties himself into knots till jeeves steps in to untie the knots. Aunt Dahlia and the analogy of circumstances gave me the most chuckle and like all jeeves books, Wooster and co. along with a mug of coffee makes a Sunday afternoon worthwile.

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Best Kept SecretBest Kept Secret by Jeffrey Archer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The start was griping and Jeffery Archer again reminded me of what a great story teller he is. However, the pace of the story grags a bit after election of Giles Barrington and Alex Fisher. However, it gets compensated with an abrupt ending leaving you to try reading the blank pages in the end.

Overall it is a nice read and it is just about worth spending a weekend reading it!

PS: This is part of a trilogy and I haven't read the prequels of it. So my next stops will be the prequels!

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

[A-Z Challenge] Z for Zero

The final Quirk of Life for 2013 is Zero! It had to be zero and nothing else.

I am writing at the zeroth hour and after this there is zero posts to write for the challenge. Additionally, zero was invented by an Indian called Aryabhata. The last sentence wouldn't make much of a difference but then zero is supposed to not make a difference.

So what does this guy has which others don't? It has nothing. That is what makes it special. It describes nothingness.  You are quantifying nothingness.

It sits right at the middle of the number line. It defeats its only contender 1 in this. It doesn't have a negative counterpart unlike 1. It is unique. But the value it brings to table remains 0.

It remains at the beginning of most  things in life. You start with zero. You are born a zero. A  new day starts with zero. 

In the game of cricket, you can never score zero runs. If you have a zero against your name, it means you haven't scored and it will called as a duck.

Zero is the only number on which if you perform a mathematical operation, it will result in infinity.It is the divide by zero operation!

If you try teaching a  kid about numbers,you show 1 bead and say that is 1. Then you show 2 beads and say it is 2. But what about zero? Only at the end, when child understands the concept of numbers, you would run a scenario that when all the beads are removed, then you say there are 0 beads.

Thus  although the value of zero is 0, it is invaluable. Thus like zero, this challenge has brought immense pleasure to me. The only place I have never wanted a 0 was on my mark-sheet. 

I do intend to write Reflections post  for this. However, to present a gist, it has made me aware of my own strength and failings. More importantly, it has exposed me to so many wonderful people and their varied thoughts on so many different subjects! Thanks a ton to A-Z Hosts! It was truly a wonderful effort from you guys! Cheers!

With that I finish off the challenge!

[A-Z Challenge] You are late!

Ah! Those three words are rankling my mind again. This post explains the futility of measuring your life against the scale of time.

Well, time is off essence and being late is never accepted unless you become late. As humans we have created a standard time which had nothing to do with us just as it has nothing to do with the cow. Yeah - the cow. The cow has all the time in the world to chew on one straw of grass and yet they are not able to digest it. We, on the other hand not only have to ensure the food is digested but also have to burn calories off to remain fit.

People may argue that, if things were not time-bound we wouldn't have a civilization in place. True. But who needs a civilization?

Man did not invite fire or wheel in a time-bound manner. He did it accidentally. So why not keep it like that. Let things happen accidentally else, sit and enjoy the sun like a dog does. It is so much simpler.

Then there are birds that forage for food in the early morning only to return to the nest before sun-down. Yeah they follow time. But they have 12 hours where the only useful things they do are to eat and drop bombs. Instead, we slug it out, fill in time-sheets for the work done every hour and yet return home unsatisfied on most occasions. 

The next argument is if I am comparing everything to animals and birds, how do we differentiate between them and humans?  Well, we have such big egos which tell us that we are better than the rest of the species on earth.  If we consider the vast expanse of the universe then this superiority does not amount to anything.

We believe, if nothing is time-bound there will be only chaos. Don't we already have chaos by following time? Here, I rest my case!

Of course, since we have been working in the paradigm of working on time for some centuries, I do agree reverting to a care-free, no time zone will take some time and am not putting any time limit on that. However, I do request you folks to excuse me when I am late for I do not want to measure myself against time!

PS:  This post is already late! 
P.PS: Quirks of Life starting with Y is "You are late." With getting on time being the topmost priority, most of us (at least self here) gets that message every now and then. So thought of explaining my stance once and for all.