Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Last Love Letter by Kulpreet Yadav (Book Review: 3.5*/5) !!!)

There are some authors who already have a fan-base but yet couldn’t become quite famous but whoever gets touched by their work remembers and respects them always; case similar to actors like Konkana Sen or Rajkumar Rao. One such author, I believe, is Kulpreet Yadav who has already written more than 6 books. I have read his latest release named “The Last Love Letter” which is my first attempt of the author’s work. The book is around 240 pages and published by Rupa Publications. There are very few books which can manage to keep you excited with their storyline keeping everything simple and yet entertaining and emotional. This book gives you the same experience.

TLLL is a light read but still talks about many things which matters to the lifestyle of a normal human being. We shall discuss it later in the review. This book belongs in the genre of Love, Romance and Relationships. Any book that belongs to this genre is scary to me because in last decade, I have read so many college romances that I just wish to stay away from any book talking about love affair between two people. It is generally all cliché and nothing else. But then comes a book like this one which doesn’t talk only about the conversations that the two characters have in love but much more than that. It talks about the dilemma, past experiences in life, belief and prejudice one has for love, other things that stops a person from falling in another relationship, memories etc.

This book speaks about characters which are very well portrayed by the author that you are able to understand their mindset where they are coming from. We have Akash who has just lost his wife and is single parenting his daughter and considering his responsibilities towards her and his true love which still exists strongly for his wife, he is questionable about falling in love with Subah. On the other side, Subah has been betrayed in love so horribly that she has started hating every man for the same reason and doesn’t want to get involved even in conversation with any man leave falling in love. But then she meets Akash and his daughter and comes to know about the tragic death of his wife and knowing his concern towards responsibilities he has for his family, she is questionable about falling in love with Akash. On the other hand, we have character of Rohit who gets attracted towards Subah before Akash and wishes to date her but when he realizes his friend and her coming closer, he steps back. There are many such characters who contribute to the love story of these two opposite characters and speaks on how they get together.

I like how author has given version of both the characters about each incident and scenario which makes you feel connected with both the characters as it seems both of them are thinking aloud to ensure you know what they are going through. The book is very well written and its narration is very powerful. Even though it’s a simple story it wants you to know what happens next with these characters and how are they going to cope up with their conditions.

Talking about the drawbacks of the book, the storyline is very predictable and I wished if author could have played more with suspense effects at few places and made the story little more interesting. And even if author wished to keep the storyline simple, at least the story could have been completed in 190-200 pages just as Anuj Tiwari does. Overall, the book is a light read as I said above and it could be a good filler between the big and thrilling novels that you must be reading. I give this book 3.5* out of 5.



Monday, July 15, 2019

I Keep Thinking I’m You by Thomas George Santhinagar (Book Review: 1.5*/5) !!!

I am always skeptic before picking a collection of short stories or a book by an author I have never heard about. This time I picked up a book which had both these factors named “I Keep Thinking I’m You” written by Thomas George Santhinagar. The book is around 125 pages and published by Rupa Publications. The book is based on the concept of all the following keywords I am going to write next:- black humour, irony, satire, sarcasm, spirituality, allegory etc. The book is a collection of 22 short stories which tries doing justice to the blurb of the book.

I won’t say that all the stories are fascinating or mind-boggling but some of them surely are. What I found special was which I have never read in my reading experience is how Jesus is being used as a concept in some of the stories. It was very new for me. Some stories definitely have those black humour, satire and irony elements in them which makes you smile cunningly at the portrayal of few characters associated with it which makes the chapters interesting. Few chapters are kept emotional which also connect with you in terms of story but not in terms of deep emotions that it wants to touch you with.

I would like to mention few stories out here- The main chapter which is titled same as book is the story on relationship between grandpa-grandson and how a shadow brings change in his parents is the best read in the book. In another story, how fire keeps on disturbing a soul is narrated and its quite chilling to read its climax. The story of Rachel on how she is controlled by a Satan gives good insight on this concept. The chapter named “Robbery” is quite entertaining as it has a touch of Robinhood in its concept. Mesmeric Advertisement- is a nice satirical comment on the modern society. Bindi is one amazing chapter with emotional touch to it. “Quite Near, Yet Quite Far” is the best write-up by the author and with a thrilling ending does justice to the story in the climax. Choosing “Under a Vow” as the closing chapter of the book is a nice decision.

Author has used simple and easy language with good vocabulary to narrate his stories but I would say, many of these stories are not understandable and I couldn’t understand the thought process behind those chapters. Similarly, few chapters are so nicely written but their climax is so cold that you don’t connect with the author. The spiritual chapters doesn’t feel like its genre at all. The biggest problem with this book is that it could not connect with you. May be because author has chosen the concepts which are not so regular with us hence we are unable to comprehend what it being tried to be spoken but overall, the book is very under whelming and confusing at times. I will give this book 1.5 stars out of 5 only.



Thursday, July 11, 2019

Shine Bright by Rashmi Bansal (Book Review- 4.75*/5) !!!

There are few authors who are not writing books just for the sake of their interest or earning royalty but their will to spread motivation and leadership among the old and new generations is something which is doing a very great job for the nation and the world. These authors are equivalent to renowned teachers. One such author whose books I always look forward is Rashmi Bansal since I read her first one- Stay Hungry Stay Foolish. I am just done reading her latest release named “Shine Bright” published by Westland Publishers. The cover page of the book is very distinct as even though the title of the book contains words like “Shine” and “Bright”, the theme of the cover page is dark black with a shining diamond in between.

The book is not about the entrepreneurs who are leading a start-up or a Corporate brand, generally, about whom Rashmi writes, but, about intrapreneurs- the one who is an employee by designation but a CEO by the stature of the work they have done for their organization. I liked this concept and with the stories that Rashmi has selected for the book to share with us are different from each other and inspires you like anything. I, being in the managerial side of things in my organization, could feel how I can change the world around me without considering that it’s my CEO, Director or MD’s job.

The book is divided into three different segments with story of two-three intrapreneurs in each segment:- Srishti- stories where the intrapreneurs are such that they are no less than co-Creators, Drishti- where the Organization was old and stable and then comes an intrapreneur who show the people how the change and transform can be brought and the last segment, Sewa- the intrapreneurs from Governmental departments where bringing any kind of change individually is considered impossible.

I liked the kind of personalities that Rashmi Bansal has considered in the book known-unknown but belonging to leading Corporates/Organizations who discovered their own potential with time and did something which led to the Introduction of new product/vertical in the company or in a case or two- launch of a new company in the country itself. I will talk about the personalities who motivated me through this book- Pawan Goenka- how he with multiple challenges including his cancer-stricken wife ended up giving Mahindra Auto a success like Scorpio, even the small piece on how his wife, Mamta Goenka, fought against cancer is mind-blowing; Manu Jain- how he from being an Entrepreneur shifted to being an intrapreneur in a company which didn’t even have an imprint in India and now, Xiaomi, is leading Smartphone sales in India; Vineet Gautam- how he kept on changing his jobs and interests to finally landing up in a space through which his brands are our favorites now- Vero Moda, Jacks & Jones etc.; the formula of A>>R defined by Nitin Paranjpe through which he was able to open 5,00,000 outlets of HUL within an year when the organization generally did 10-15,000 per year. His service to Taj staff post 26/11 is another great piece in the book; Chitra Gupta- The last chapter is about her and what a way to end the book- so emotional and inspiring, how she being just a normal teacher ended up being some phenomena is- well, I am speechless now.

Rashmi Bansal uses very easy language to narrate these stories to us. I liked how she keeps the format static for all the stories. Her writing style is quite perfect for biographies and even through these small stories of 40-50 pages on each personality, she manages to engage her readers. Her narration is so perfect that it feels we are listening to a fiction story and sometimes it’s only in the end when you realize this was a true account. I liked the words directly from these personalities’ mouth in the end of each short biography. It was great knowing their advice to the young managers like me.

Now talking about the drawback, yes, the book has One- author has talked majorly about the work done by these personalities and not how these personalities prepared for it, their schedule or what they believe in etc. Major part in the book goes in explaining the success of the brand that they worked for rather than the small stuffs that we like reading about these personalities. Except this one thing, the book is a masterpiece and something that needs to be read about everyone getting into the world of job and corporate and who are already working and believe that nothing can be changed until Top Management asks for. I give this book 4.75* out of 5. Yes, indeed recommended!



Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Lead with Purpose Like Anand Mahindra by Rajiv Agarwal (Book Review: 4.25*/5) !!!

Constantly reviewing books makes you aware even about the strategies that the Publishers implement and believe it or not, that impacts the reading experience for good actually. Rupa Publications have initiated a new series named “Management Lessons From The Masters” in which they talk about personalities who have built their brand with their management skills. The first one was on the management lessons by Kumar Mangalam Birla whereas the 2nd book that I have just finished is based on Anand Mahindra, one of my favorite entrepreneurs too. The book is titled “Lead With Purpose Like Anand Mahindra” and written by the same author, Rajiv Agarwal, who is a family business consultant.

The book has around 17 beautiful chapters across 153 pages where each one of them provides us wonderful insight on specific management lessons inspired from the corporate life of Anand Mahindra. I work in an IT company where Mahindra Insurance Brokers Ltd. is one of our clients and therefore even before reading this book, I was quite aware about Anand Mahindra and his achievements. The book describes his humility along with the successes that he has achieved. How he has enabled the strength in the employees of his company-either at the board level or just a young candidate who has joined in is narrated with examples and results which is really something that one can learn from.

The way Mr. Anand used to hear out his employees’ ideas and boost them take it up without interfering in the project is an amazing read as it really tells about his personality and the reason why Mahindra is so big today. Also, the equation of Anand with Ratan Tata is an entertaining read and how in one of the instances, Anand treated a comment by Tata as a pat on back by elder brother is beautifully highlighted by the author. It teaches a lot. Similarly, for every merger and acquisition, the treatment with the other party by Anand is also mentioned which tells his dynamics and decision-making capabilities.

Along with such instances which are generally common in all the entrepreneurs, the new things that we get to learn is what makes this book a recommendable option for the readers such as how Mahindra encouraged innovation through the concept of Mavericks and Skunkworks. Similarly, the concept of Blue chip conferences, Annual War Room, Roadshow and shadow boards is afresh and something that can really motivate other leaders to follow to understand everyone’s point of view. How Anand Mahindra went against the theory of core competencies and followed Value Chain Theory describes how he manages risks and competencies. Along with the successful points of Mr. Anand Mahindra, author has also discussed how he has also failed in some decisions, mostly in the automobile department. I liked how author has covered many aspects of this personality which I can surely not cover in this short review but reading this book makes you a little better professional, I certainly believe this. The book is also summarized beautifully in the end which serves the purpose of keeping the reader focused towards self-motivation and improvement.

Now, talking about couple of drawbacks: - In the first half of the book, many points are repeated quite some time which bores you as the same point are later on, covered up in a specific chapter based on it. Also, in the initial chapters, as big numbers are continuously discussed, it gives a negative impression that you might dislike the book due to too much technical stuff being discussed. But thankfully, later, nothing as such is faced. Except these few points, I didn’t find any such lacking points in the book which should be pointed out specifically. I give this one 4.25 stars out of 5.



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