Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Best 10 Books I read in 2020

The Best 10 Books that I read and rated in 2020 out of the 52 Books are listed below (not in particular order as all of them have been rated 4.5 stars out of 5). In case you are getting into the habit of reading or one of your New Year Resolutions is to read books this year, I am sure the below list shall help in starting with picking up the good books so that you get boost to read more and more.

If you want to purchase any of the books below, just click the title of the book - it will take you to Amazon from where you can add it to your cart.


Best of Luck for your 2021 Reading Marathon…


Death:An Inside Story by Sadhguru

Raavan:Enemy of Aryavarta by Amish Tripathi

Legend of Suheldev by Amish Tripathi

A Hundred Little Flames by Preeti Shenoy

Nothing to Lose by Manbeena Sandhu

Aahwan:Khand 1 by Saurabh Kudesia

Believe to Succeed like Azim Premji by Rajiv Agarwal

You Never Know by Akash Verma

The One Invisible Code by Sharat Sharma

One Proverb One Tale by The Indian Proverb


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Wake Up, Life is Calling by Preeti shenoy (Book Review: 3.5*/5) !!!


52nd Book of 2020!

There are few authors whom you can’t afford skipping and that is what defines my relationship with Preeti Shenoy who is my favorite female author. There are instances when I have been unable to read her book just after its release but somewhere, I take out time and end up reading her book when I am in the zone to accept the deep stories she tries to share with her readers. I am just done reading my 52nd and the last book of 2020- “Wake Up, Life is Calling” written by Preeti Shenoy and published by Srishti Publishers. This 250-pages book is the sequel to Preeti’s first book- “Life is what you make it” which has been very popular since its release. Just for everyone’s information, even if you don’t read the 1st book, you can still go through with this without any concerns as even I had read it in 2011 but have completely forgotten the story by now. Haha!


The book talks about the protagonist Ankita who has seen a lot in her life which had led her to depression and mental health issues – now, she is wanting to reload her life with new experiences and forgetting her past but this comes with its own challenges where her own past and the people from this past are making it difficult for her to revamp her life. Preeti has ensured throughout her writing career that she focuses majorly on the mental health issues and specifically with the female characters. She has kept the same approach with this book itself where the character of Ankita is still dealing with the same in her 2nd chance to life too.


The book is little inclined towards darkness which becomes relatable and readable only if you have been through the same situation or have a bit of depression in your life currently otherwise you might find difficult in enjoying the book. Anyone reading this book must ensure that they read it completely if they pick up otherwise seeing the vulnerability of the character they might feel that there is no scope once someone has gone into the state of depression. Author has nicely covered as to how a person overreacts to things happening around them considering everything is against them. They forget realizing positives around them but keep on focusing to everything negative that happens. This makes life tougher than before.


Author has mentioned about the relationship of the patient in depression with their psychiatrist very aptly which I believe is very important to mention as having a doctor who hears you patiently can do magic for you in such cases. There are several notes that the protagonist writes whenever she feels that she has learnt something magical and transformational for her life which I believe are the highlights of the book as it displays the famous philosophical side of Preeti. I liked all those italic notes as well as many conversations she had with her parents, psychiatrist and teacher which makes you think about yourself. Preeti has somewhere tried giving hope to the people who have stopped trusting themselves or the world around them which I think shall definitely reach the sufferers.


The title of all the chapters are very creatively designed which I did notice while reading them as even those one, two or even five words makes you feel nostalgic. Later, in the end of the book, author reveals how she chose the title which made me feel proud about my instinct even though I don’t listen English songs. I also liked the suicide manual part as it did give some curiosity to know what’s mentioned in them and what it shall further lead to.


Now talking about the drawbacks, the book is very dark which makes it tough for you to read as it doesn’t move very fast and gets stuck at the same spot itself. Author just doesn’t leave the story mentioned in the first book and keeps mentioning it every now and then. Anyone who hasn’t read the first book shall not be able to connect with Ankita the way readers who have read the first one would. I also believe the things mentioned by the author about suicide etc. might make it feel appealing to some and they might also try to do the same which could have been avoided.


There is something missing about the X-factor that comes with Preeti Shenoy’s book in this one – I don’t know why. There isn’t much description about other characters or the locale in which the book is set or the philosophical depth and many other such factors generally on which Preeti emphasizes upon in her writings. I have never rated any book of Preeti below 4 ever but unfortunately this time, I have to. I give this book 3.5 stars out of 5. This doesn’t meet the standard set by Preeti. Also, somewhere my heart says that the pressure to do as good as “Life is what you make it” made Preeti write it in a certain way and not freely as she does.


That’s all for my reading journey for this year 2020.






Friday, December 25, 2020

The Night of Fear by Abha Sharma (Book Review: 3*/5) !!!


51st Book of 2020!

Sometimes, you pick up a book with a different perception but end up getting something else from it which can be disappointing at times but rarely, this turns out to be a special moment for the reader in you. Something similar happened with me with the book “The Night of Fear” by Abha Sharma. The cover of this 144-pages book and even the title reflects that this is more about the horror part in the story which made me expect something similar from it but what I got in return was something altogether different which was more relatable and preferable to me. This Rupa Publications’ book also has the tagline which says “We are not always what we think we are, but we can become what we choose to become.”.


The book starts like any other college campus story discussing about two girl-friends where one is concerned about another’s life as she can see she is being exploited by one of her schoolmates. She is trying to protect her which makes the friend angry. On the other side, the same protagonist is finding it hard to see her mother having blind faith towards some Godmen or Mahaguru and doing everything she is asked to believe in without any questions or logic. These two different sub-plots get intersected after some time after which the story picks up and becomes interesting. Now, the protagonist is all out to bust the myths without any support from her parents and friend. But the resolution and determination from her end makes the story a good read which will make you imagine things as shown in our media.


Author has tried to question the culture of superstitions, blind-faith and devotion towards priests and godmen through this story without being preachy which makes the book readable. The character development within such a short story is nicely crafted which enables your imagination to draft an image of all the characters mentioned in the story. The book is written quite like daily-soap episodes so in case you like short chapters where each of them ends at a scene where you want to know what happens next, you will enjoy reading this book.


Author has named most of the chapters in a single word such as Trouble, Danger, Fear, Disgust, Woman, Lonely, Love?, Hope etc. and the way those chapters are written which follows the concept of the title is amazing. I have seen people even in short stories not being able to justify their title of the chapter whereas here, Abha, has been able to do the same in a full-fledged novel in a linearly narrated story. I believe this is the USP of the book. Then, there are few paragraphs or sentences mentioned in italic form which are very insightful and philosophical and I really liked reading them. You can definitely note some of them in your diary.


Author, being a woman, in the 1st half of the book, when the focus is more on a character’s mindset and development does great justice with the character of the protagonist- Pritha. You get to learn about what a woman or a girl thinks about various topics, best friend, crushes, love, a boy’s advances etc. very nicely. I generally miss knowing a girl’s perspective while reading the male authors but even many female authors are not able to describe this properly. I am glad Abha won brownie points here.


There are various other issues too which are been highlighted such as how corruptively media works in our nation. How the women empowerment groups and NGO in India are doing things for women which are quite negative whereas it should be done with a positive approach. How a Muslim policeman fears even discussing an issue related to temple knowing that people would see it from a religious angle and there could be endangering circumstances to it. The book also talks about how teenagers take a wrong decision just in the name of love and end up being used, molested or raped by someone they know. There are many such topics which have been pointed out.


Now, talking about the drawbacks, I must say that the book could have been a lot more with the plot chosen for it but author didn’t do complete justice with it. As I have mentioned above, it is written typically the way daily soaps are scripted without much depth wherever there was potential to take the topic to the next level. For example, there is a situation where the protagonist touches the Idol in temple and feels a kind of enlightenment. Author could have given a spiritual touch or many more such references but she doesn’t play with this sub-plot. Similarly, when she tries to break the myth of temple, she could have shown many different perspectives in which the temple was misused but she doesn’t. The biggest point is that a murder happens in the book but the reason for which is not at all disclosed throughout along with why the priests were doing what they were doing. Author also had a chance of making this book in a powerful thriller format but even that opportunity is missed. I can’t mention more stuffs as above otherwise it shall end up being spoiler for you hence there are more such loopholes in the plot.


Overall, the book is a nice read and you shall be able to enjoy it with whatever the author found important enough to cover in this story. I give this book 3 stars out of 5.






Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Krishna – The Management Guru by Sunita Pant Bansal (Book Review: 2.5*/5) !!!


50th Book of 2020


People following me must be aware about how devoted I am towards Lord Vishnu and his avatars- Shri Ram and Shri Krishna. Every time I get to know about a book written on a contemporary topic taking references from their life and the ideology they have left for us to read, research and inculcate, I get my hands on it as soon as it releases. The same reason made me pick up the book titled “Krishna – The ManagementGuru” written by the author, Sunita Pant Bansal. The book discusses on various values and qualities needed for a person in Corporate or Entrepreneurial life by giving examples on how Shri Krishna carried himself in his era in about 190 pages.


The book covers around 20 chapters where each of them talks about a quality such as leadership, power, strategy, team building, communication, work-life balance, rules, stability, behaviour, decision- making, justifiable means, non-justifiable means, goals, personal growth, vision statement, karma, work etiquette, time management, greed and loyalty. I must say all these pointers chosen by the authoress are very well relevant as having 5 years of work experience, I must say all these qualities need to be there in you in order to ensure stability and peace of mind at work.


Bansal has chosen very simple language to explain her interpretations to us which makes this book a perfect pick for beginners or non-fiction lovers. All the chapters are of around 20 pages each which doesn’t get too exhaustive and you shall be able to create notes from each of them. Sunita starts every chapter explaining about the concern, then takes you through the root-cause of the same, what makes this root-cause occur, then she further elaborates on how it can be fought against to ensure you are able to follow the good practice and get away from bad habits. In her writing, you shall also realize multiple things that you have been doing wrongly without awareness.


As a self-help book, this is nicely written with many bullet points along with several quotes shared by the famous real-life personalities. Some of those quotes really made me read them thrice – in a positive way - to grasp the beautiful and inspiring essence behind it. The stories from Mahabharata on how Krishna took certain actions and the justification or explanation of the same is made because there are certain myths among readers about the character of Shri Krishna. I liked reading about these tales as I am a big devotee of the Lord Vishnu reincarnation. I liked how author didn’t end up getting in awe of the epic character but stayed focus on her subject.


Now talking about the drawbacks, when you see the reference of Krishna used so specifically on the cover page of the book and even in the title, you expect to learn a lot about him. Unfortunately, in the 20 chapters, you don’t even get to know 20 different tales of Krishna. The same tales are being repeated in almost every other chapter which started irritating me after a point. I started skipping those segments. On the other note, even the tales shared are the ones which are already known to people and except 1-2 tales, there are no such tale mentioned which could have added something more to my knowledge base.


Talking about the corporate and entrepreneurial qualities and their elaborations, even those points are something that you must have read in the management books in your graduation and post-graduation and doesn’t offer something more. If you are still in school, this book shall be very exciting for you but otherwise, it is just summarization of what you already know about management and Krishna.


Overall, this is a simple book which as per my reading experience, is strictly a fine attempt and not something which offers anything new. I give this book 2.5 stars out of 5.






Monday, December 14, 2020

The One Invisible Code by Sharat Sharma (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!


49th Book of 2020

It has been a long since I have read any self-help book so it was time for me to get into one and explore what new I can learn about life and how to make it better. This made me pick up one of the latest books- “The One Invisible Code” written by Sharat Sharma in around 190 pages. After reading multiple books by Robin Sharma, I hardly find anything new in any self-help books but I must say that Sharat has been able to draw some new insights through his outlook towards how one can approach mastery and explore the zones which are yet to be discovered.


The book is written in a very simple language which makes it easier for every age-group to read and grasp the knowledge shared by the author. The way book is divided into parts and then further into chapters and their respective topics and sub-topics makes it comfortable for you to understand things and make notes. It has been a long time since I found a book which could give me many important pointers and bullets to note down in my diary. Finally, with “The OneInvisible Code”, I got many such things to note which no other book could do in 2020.


Author has tried engaging the readers with different kind of contents in the book – so there are instances where author is talking directly with us where he is delivering different kind of insights and formulas, on the other hand, you will find many one-liner quotes which are an inspiration in themselves. Similarly, there are small stories of real-life personalities reading which makes you realize how humans have reached their maximum potential by breaking all the prejudices such as of Sir Roger Bannister, Usain Bolt, Srikanth Bolla, J K Rowling etc. whereas on the other hand there are many fictional stories too which also helps in breaking the complex topics in simple concepts for you. Along with all of this, author has also provided space for the readers to answer some difficult questions about their life, goals, aspirations, worries, anxieties etc. which gives you chance to evaluate yourself on the premise of the topics.


Personally, I liked the chapters on Beliefs and Discipline- reading them was something new and different than other self-help books. Author has also written the whole book in the form of conversation where one character is asking questions whereas another one known as Master is answering the queries which makes it perfect for readers to understand logic behind each framework as people picking up such books are generally confused about life. The Invisible Code(s) that author talks about is also genuine and practical following which I am sure the readers will find improvements in their life. Author discusses many concepts such as self-awareness, self-esteem, aspirations, goals, dreams, mindsets, priorities, actions, momentum, mastery etc. I liked how author went into further detailing on all these topics which helps you breakdown your routines and think on how you can build some great rituals to better your lifestyle.


Overall, this is surely an effective book especially, for the people who would be picking this as their first self-help book. I give this book 4.5* out of 5. The only issue is the MRP of this book which is quite high. I hope author and publisher shall look upon this.






Wednesday, December 9, 2020

One Proverb One Tale by The Indian Proverb (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!


48th Book of 2020


I have always been very vocal about my detachment from the genre of books which are anthologies, collection of short stories or poems etc. Rather than being rigid, I still ensure that I keep on picking up the books which are associated with this genre in case I might fall in love with it one day. This made me pick up the book named “One Proverb One Tale” written by the team running the Instagram page named “The Indian Proverb” about which I was unaware before picking this book. The cover page also has the tagline that says “Explore the wisdom of Indian civilization wrapped in tiny sentences”.


This book has 44 proverbs written in Hindi from our ancient civilization. To explain it better, author has also shared a small tale for each of them for us to comprehend and understand the meaning behind the same. Along with the Hindi text, author has also ensured to provide a translation for the same in English which made it little more helpful for me to proceed ahead with reading the small tales. All the stories sound simple but speaks big volume. There are some of them which makes you think about your approach and tendency towards others and your work. Author has narrated all the tales simply as a story but gives strong messages without being preachy. This is what makes these stories interesting.


The language used for writing the tales and stories are very simple. The editing is perfect as author could have stretched these short tales but it has been beautifully ensured that it gets completed within 1-2 pages itself. There is consistency in all the stories as they are written in one template itself as if author is describing someone else’s story and making them realize where they went wrong or remained unaware. Generally, authors tend to write as a first voice or third voice in different stories but here, such unwanted trials are not made.


Now, talking about few stories which shall always stay with me:

Overthinking” is a nice chapter speaking on how we stay hesitant of doing something and committing mistake or else we end up only thinking without doing anything.


"The Loss" speaks on how we end up losing what we own for something which we have only lusted upon.


"The Present-Past" is about our behaviour these days where we never enjoy what we are currently doing rather keep thinking of the next task in hand.


In "The Soldier", author talks about how we never look at a soldier with any kind of identity but only as a soldier who safeguards our nation.


How our worrying doesn’t have any medicine even with the doctors is nicely portrayed in "The Worry" where author tries to deliver the message of how we are getting unhealthy due to unnecessary worries.


“The Suspicion” chapter shows the humorous side of the author which came as a surprise in between.


"The Curse" is a very good take on karma and receiving kindness in return of giving kindness.


"The Noise" is so apt as per today's era where a person keeps boasting about himself and we get into inferiority complex but we later realize that the truth is different and we are better in many terms than the person.


"The Controllable" talks about the biggest lesson Bhagavad Gita gives- "Karam Karo, Fal ki chinta mat karo".


"The End" is the last chapter which tells the significance of Death and how it brings humility in a human being after realizing that everything could have ended in one moment itself.


Now, talking about the drawbacks, I couldn’t find any except that there are some typos and grammatical errors in the book.


Overall, this is a very unique concept which I have seen for the 1st time in last decade. This is a great light-read to which I am rating 4.5 stars out of 5.







Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Fall Again, Rise Again by Sandeep Aggarwal (Book Review: 4.25*/5) !!!


47th Book of 2020

It has been sometime since I stayed long with one book because I have got this bad habit of completing a book within 3-4 days as soon as I pick it up for reading. But due to certain events in personal life, I read Sandeep Aggarwal’s entrepreneurial-based autobiography named “Fall Again, Rise Again” quite slowly and peacefully maintaining notes of the same. Sandeep has co-authored this book with Sunny Sen. I got introduced to Sandeep Aggarwal when he judged a show based on Start-ups along with my favorite – Raghu and Rajiv on MTV. I got very much impressed with the kind of questions and interrogations he used to do with the contestants. It gave the vibes that he is a very knowledgeable and informative person in the field of Start-ups and creating something out of nothing. This book has just come like a surprise all of a sudden and I am glad I am done reading it.


The book stays very true to its title- “Fall Again, Rise Again” as the life of Sandeep has been almost on the same verge where he kept falling and rising again in almost every stage and big events of his life. I just couldn’t comprehend how Sandeep could create something new every time his last venture failed so badly – and this is what Sandeep speaks very vastly in this book by regularly sharing his personal experiences. His determination, hard work and never-quit attitude has been reflected in every page. As the book majorly speaks about how Sandeep developed ideas and then took it further in the market to get funding to develop it into a bigger establishment and finally, implemented several changes as the challenges kept coming in front of him, this serves as a very beautiful guide for anyone who has ever imagined himself/herself as an Entrepreneur or Start-Up creator.


Sandeep has written the book in the form of small chapters with smaller sections within them where each of them have some kind of a message for the readers- sometimes straight or otherwise for the readers to read between the lines and decipher what is the author trying to say behind this story. Mr. Aggarwal has shared how he learnt various lessons which he implemented later in his life while working in Microsoft headquarters – how not being fluent in English yet reaching up to a stage where he worked in foreign lands and even ended up becoming a person who gave regular speeches in different seminars and television programmes – how the power of building and maintaining relationships and networks can make you reach heights as opportunity can come from any direction etc.


Author has widely spoken on the challenges faced in entrepreneurship such as the hiring challenges where getting a good candidate becomes really difficult as no one wants to work with a start-up. Also, start-up needs some experienced candidates who comes with the requirement of a kind of package demand which a Start-up can hardly manage. As his most ambitious venture- ShopClues was more about operations, author explains how he learnt from this mistake which he corrected later when he founded Droom where he tried cutting off as many operational work as possible and became more reliant on technology.


Similarly, ShopClues was more about delivering products to the end-consumers where Sandeep has given an insight upon how courier charges vary in terms of the amount of orders received daily by the business. Also, how North-east region of India became a challenge for him as the delivery and transport is still a challenge for the rest of India to reach. When author talks about his internship days, he tells how he ended up facing 37 rejections after which he got a great opportunity with Charles Schwab. Along with sharing his life, author also gives many informative insights upon the other big and contemporary companies of the times he was struggling to make his mark. I also liked how it has been promoted in the book for the people to move to small companies even if they start their career with MNCs. How author ended up making this step is another memorable reading experience in the book.


Overall, the narration is very simple and even a layman can understand all the business and finance terms used by the author. The small chapters help you to read book taking breaks and gaps. Summing up the book within 200 pages is another positive point as such exploratory life of any individual could have gone for more than 400 pages also. The editing team should be credited for this. The book is going to inspire many youngsters from India who remain confused on various topics as author has shared the kind of challenges even an achiever like him had to fight through to be at a place where he is a big face but still going through several turmoil’s.


Talking about the drawbacks now, I must say that because the book is not written in a linear way, it becomes really difficult to understand the shuffling of the timeline. This has also ended up having many sections or part of the stories to be told twice and sometimes, even thrice. Hence, it becomes repetitive in many chapters. There are also some typos and spelling mistakes in the book which is surprising to have got missed when the book is drafted by two authors and proofread by Rupa Publications. Then, I also wished to know many things about author’s life which I think has been skipped like how he ended up becoming judge in MTV Dropout which made him known to other world of audience has not been mentioned at all. I wanted to know many more details about his routine, personal life, his philosophical beliefs etc.


Other than the few points mentioned above, this book is definitely needed in your book shelf. I give this one 4.25 stars out of 5. Please do read if you have aspired to be an entrepreneur or even if you are working as an employee.






Thursday, November 26, 2020

Nothing to Lose by Manbeena Sandhu (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!


46th Book of 2020!


I have been on my spiritual path since 2015 and from 2018, it has only become intense and I enjoy listening to several perceptions and ideologies towards finding our inner self and realizing what we really are – a dynamic ball or nothing at all. This has made me read many texts of different people who talk on Spirituality along with following and reading about many religious Gurus or Godman such as Sadhguru, Swami Prabhupada, Om Swami, Shubha Vilas etc. I was always curious to know a bit about Osho or Bhagwan Rajneesh as he is someone who is always referred whenever spirituality is the topic and definitely, the most controversial too.


I finally got to know about a book written by Manbeena Sandhu named “Nothing To Lose” which is an authorized biography of Ma Anand Sheela who served as secretary to Osho and later, also became the face of the religion created by him. To my surprise, there is also an official autobiography announced by Ma Anand Sheela which is to come within a month still she went ahead and discussed her whole life with Manbeena for this book. Reading this one has been such an experience that I couldn’t feel myself throughout and could feel that I had become one of the sannyaasis myself staying in the ashram of Osho and observing things myself.


I have never read a biography with such detailing and written with so much of clarity and outspokenness that it seems to be nothing less than an autobiography. I liked how the author went ahead with an unbiased nature of describing both- Ma Anand Sheela as well as Rajneesh and didn’t try to provide clean-chit to anyone but just tell us whatever happened as it is. There are times when you will be shocked to read such accounts which will really make you question the people in power and their real nature towards their followers, fans or employees.


The author starts the book with the life of Sheela Ambalal Patel and how her teenage years was like, how she met Osho for the first time casually and fell in love with him, how she married for the 1st time and then book shifts from her usual life to her devotion towards Osho and finally her life as Ma Anand Sheela. After the first 100 pages, the way book moves forward like a bullet train telling us so many things about the Ashram and the culture of Rajneeshism that you will not want to believe many of them. This book, though being a non-fiction, has been narrated in such a simplistic yet thrilling way that as a reader you will feel you are going through a fiction tale.


The author has assured that while speaking about someone like Osho who had many celebrities residing in his ashram doesn’t end up disclosing their lives there and assured the right to privacy for them. She has only detailed about those who have already come in public about the religious guru. After reading this book, you will question yourself if what Sheela ended up being for Osho is right or wrong, the kind of acts she ended up performing was way too much or she should have raised the flag quite early, or what happened to her because of Osho is justified or not, or how she got into trouble even after serving her term in prison is acceptable or not.


There are many questions you will raise upon our beliefs for people whom we idolize and up to what extent we should get devoted for them. The book teaches us a lot about how spirituality and religion is used a tool by few to get what they want. This book is an eye-opener for sure and made me very angry reading about injustice met by people who believed in Rajneesh like God. Manbeena has just written a book that will always be a discussion point for centuries to go- this book is an eye-opener.


Now talking about the drawbacks, I must say that the first 100 pages are not written in an exciting manner which makes it harder for you to get into it initially but once you do, you are just into it. I found author skipping many years in between of Ma Anand Sheela’s life which I believe doesn’t give us the complete picture of the person in spotlight. Author could have also mentioned many spiritual speeches of Osho which moved Sheela but she has only shared few of them. Similarly, many conversations between them could have also been added to make us reflect more upon their relationship for such a long time.


Apart from few of these drawbacks which are definitely avoidable, this book shall serve you with an experience in its 330+ pages which is very hard to find in biographies these days. I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5. Please read it if you wish to go deep into the path of spirituality.






Thursday, November 19, 2020

Meeting Yama by Manoj V Jain (Book Review: 4.25*/5) !!!


45th Book of 2020

I don’t know what it is but I am regularly getting books based on the concept of Death and the topic is really fascinating me. It pulls me so much towards itself that I wish I can leave everything and move towards understanding the meaning of Life and Death and what it feels like knowing Death from closely along with knowing about the process of Afterlife. And this is what exactly happens with the three characters in the book I have just completed reading named “Meeting Yama” written by Manoj V Jain in around 240 pages. This book published by Notion Press speaks about how these characters are fighting with something so internal and basic to them that they have to get it clear before they can process their life further and hence they end up reaching to the land of Shiva and Death – Kashi, popularly known as Varanasi or Benaras.


The book is written in a very simple language and it is easy to understand for anyone reading this even if the person is not in the spiritual space. The book is full of concept related to spirituality, mythology, religion and meditation but it has been written so beautifully that you will love going through them even if you have not read about them before. Author has mentioned that this book could have been a non-fiction but because he knows people grasp things better when it is spoken in a form of a fiction or stories, he has chosen to speak about this concept of Death through a story format. And I must say it is so nicely crafted that you will feel this to be true.


I have recently read two books on Death- “Death” by Sadhguru and “Between Life and Death” by Dr. Kashyap Patel and I must say, along with those two books, this one is at par with them. Though the one by Sadhguru is quite in detailing but this book can become a beautiful starting for the people who are wanting to read deep spiritual concepts.


Talking about few points that fascinated and touched me, in the very initial chapters, the scene where mother of one of the characters die, it made me so emotional that I spent the whole day doing nothing but being close and near to my mother. Further, in the other chapter, how the telepathy worked for the character with one of his friends when he asked to guess the number made me jump and sit up. I just believed it to be true and the concept of telepathy intrigued me.


Further in the book, author talks about mythology and spirituality in detail such as why Varanasi is an auspicious land is detailed very vastly which actually makes me want to go and settle there leaving this materialistic world. We have always heard about the King Harishchandra but this is the first time I got to know about the tale which makes him so popular. Puri Jagannath is another curious topic for me as the temple always seems to be little close to me even when I haven’t travelled there. Author has beautiful explained about the temple and rituals performed there.


Few meditation techniques were new for me which were discussed in this book such as Tratak as I had never heard about it before. The tale of Lord Vishnuji and Yama is also very insightful. The tale of Markandeya is very fresh to read which makes Lord Shiva grant him longevity.  Why the places are named Manikarnika and Avimukta respectively is nicely explained which makes you understand the depth about our history or mythology – whatever you believe in calling them. In the end, the story of Yama is described along with reference of Bhau Beej which lets you know so much about the God about whom we know nothing except that he is “God of Death”.


Now talking about the drawbacks, I must say that rather than conceptualizing the book such that it is divided as per itinerary of the Varanasi trip of the characters, author should have named chapters on each tale or concept that he has talked about which could have made reading them more enjoyable as you become prepared of reading what’s ahead. Secondly, I must say that the climax is little too abrupt and I couldn’t find any emotional connect with the characters when they finally achieve for what they landed up in Varanasi. I believe it should have been given more pages and detailing. I got quite disappointed there. Thirdly, the meditational techniques are just talked upon as an overview rather than going into its depth. I was looking forward to knowing how meditation is done by the characters and what experience it brings to one or all of them. Lastly, the concept of death is also not covered with the kind of depth I was looking forward to. I wanted to read about what one feels in the moment of death and the afterlife process that we often hear in our ancient texts.


Overall, this is a nice attempt and you will enjoy reading this book as it delivers ample of knowledge about our history and mythology. I give this book 4.25* out of 5.







Monday, November 16, 2020

Tales from the Himalayas by Priyanka Pradhan (Book Review: 3.5*/5) !!!


44th Book of 2020


There is something about anthologies that just doesn’t allow me to go towards it but I picked the book “Tales from the Himalayas” because of the word “Himalayas” in its title. It has been a long time since I wish to go to the mountain and explore the meaning of life like several yogis. This book is a collection of 17 short stories written by an award-winning authoress- Priyanka Pradhan in around 157 pages. To start with, I must say, Rupa Publications have surprised me with little elements that they have added to make this book look special. The title and first initial of all the chapters are represented in red font with attractive styling. Similarly, all the chapters have an artwork associated with it which gives power to your imagination.


Talking about the stories, they are of the kind which generally grandparents tell it to their grandchildren while sitting alone. And that is the reason, in every story, you will somewhere find the magic of Ruskin Bond or Sudha Murthy or Rudyard Kipling. The order in which the stories are arranged is done very wittingly as you will find the stories getting better with each of them with few exceptions. The stories are based in the mountains and some of them really make you feel as if you are there itself and enjoying the aesthetics of the location yourself. Even when the stories are sweet and simple, they are able to resonate with you and make you enjoy them.


As I started this review with, the stories are based in Himalayas hence there are chapters which specifically talks about factors such as fierce Himalayan predators, poisonous snakes, scorpion and even the hostile tribes in Tibet. Author also mentions the famous “Chipko” movement in a story which was initiated by Gaura Devi in the village of Reni in Garhwal, Uttarakhand in 1974. In the latter part of the book, in one of the stories, author throws a light on Choliya dancers about whom I wasn’t aware before reading this book. Similarly, there are many such elements which are covered somewhere here and there in most of the stories.


Talking specifically about few chapters, “The Snow Leopard” tells us how animals also gives back the kindness if we are kind to them. The “Mischievous Teeth” chapter is very funny and I really enjoyed reading it. The climax of it was such a surprise. “The Villain” is an eye-opener for few of us as it speaks about how body-shaming affects a school girl but the way author took it towards positive ending is commendable. “The Biggest Gift” is also a very inspirational chapter where author talks about greed along with ensuring that the culture of wearing “Nath” in the Himalayas also goes together with it. Finally, the chapter “A Night in the Dark Forest” talks about my favorite topic i.e. meditation and its power. My favourite chapter has been “Pilgrimage” which describes how a traveling experience can teach us things from small incidents which can shape our mindset and lifestyle.


Now, talking about the drawbacks, from the title of the book, I had expected stories on people who go to Himalayas and get fascinated by its beauty and spiritual aspect of it but this is more about the locale already residing up there. Hence, in few chapters, you will find few chapters which are just normal short stories which has almost nothing to do with Himalayas. I felt mainly why Himalayas is a fascinating topic for us is because of the yogis and power that gets developed there but except one chapter, none of them talks about it. Lastly, all the stories are predictable which didn’t go well with me.


Other than the above points, this book will be loved by all- children and adults as there are points with which everyone can relate with. I give this book a fine attempt 3.5 stars out of 5.






Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Disappointing 5 by Bobanga (Book Review: 3.5*/5) !!!

43rd Book of 2020!


So, the festival of Diwali turned out to be great irrespective of the precautions and measures that we had to undertake due to the spread of pandemic around us. Every year, on Diwali, along with decorating my home, I also assure that I end up reading a little as this is the day when Goddess Lakshmi is expected to visit our home. And as we know, Goddess Lakshmi comes only where Goddess Saraswati is respected and adored. So, this time I completed reading the book named “The Disappointing 5” written by the debutante, Bobanga. This book is of around 240 pages and it is all about the teenage stories which are not published often these days.


The book talks about the lives of five teenagers who are also very briefly introduced in the synopsis of the book as well- Akash Malhotra, Dhruv Kapoor, Sunayna Mahapatra, Bindya Shah and Robin Alberto. All of them have some kind of secret or some pain that they keep hidden with themselves without sharing it with anyone – even with their best friend. This is what makes each of these characters interesting and make them protagonist in their own way. After a long time, I have landed upon a book which has characters formed and played so well that you will find each one of them having their own identity and none of them get overshadowed due to over exposure given to any other character.


I must say, characterization is the strength of this book which keeps you hooked to it as a reader. How all of them are fighting their inner battles talks about the kind of stress and mental health issues the modern kids have to deal with. This is more of a contemporary issue than just a story as every day, you will find teenagers and schoolkids taking extreme action due to the burden of their inner battles.


The book also talks about many issues or concerns towards which we should give our attention. The book starts with a girl describing her pain as to how everyone sees her just as an object and keeps her name only because she is beautiful and she has to say NO to multiple proposals she get in her school. How a boy gets bullied by a strong boy after his sexual orientation of being gay gets revealed. How painful it becomes for the person to live each day with a fear that what if this gets revealed. Also, the fight against parent’s view about this is another challenge which is also spoken in depth later on. The trauma of getting pregnant before marriage and legal age is also mentioned which I am sure must be happening with teenagers these days.


The book also highlights how children’s psychic gets affected because of the environment at home. How the role of parents and their toxic relationship among themselves or with child affects the whole mentality of the kid and shapes their character. In one of the chapters, we are also told as to how the patriarchy dissolves the whole aspiration of the women after marriage and she has to literally beg in front of her husband to be able to do something of her own will. The book also gives us light upon the issue of child trafficking and how it transforms the whole maturity level of the story in the book is applaudable. I am glad to see the author’s maturity in embedding this social issue with the story and basing the whole anti-climax and climax with it. Reading the whole part was such a roller-coaster experience.


The narration of the book is very simple and you won’t feel any difficulty in going through the story. The language is very simple and this shall be good choice for all the beginners to start their reading journey with. The 1st half of the book is a completely teenage thing which school and college going crowd will surely like whereas the 2nd half is more about the thrilling aspect which is interesting for people of all the age group. The latter part of the book is actually a page-turner and you would want to know what happens next. Author has written the same in very Bollywood-ish manner including the climax but as a desi, it worked for me as my imagination levels were breaking the roof time and again. Haha!


Now talking about the drawbacks of the book – I must say the biggest flaw of the book is its typos, grammatical mistakes and editing. You will find many such incidences which shall make your reading experience irritating at times. Secondly, the binding is done in such a way that you will find it tough to read the left-hand pages as last word of the sentences gets hidden in it. Story-wise, the book is fine and I believe author could have done more with the dysfunctional arrangements of the families which is not considered much even though it is one of the pointers in the synopsis.


Overall, this is a fine attempt and you can pick it up if you want to read something light yet effective. I give this book 3.5 stars out of 5.






Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Between Life and Death by Dr Kashyap Patel (Book Review: 4.25*/5)


42nd Book of 2020!

Any book that talks about life and death intrigues me because I believe knowing about these elements is far more necessary to live a great curious life than knowing about current affairs. And this is the reason I got attracted towards the newly released book named “Between Life and Death” written by Dr. Kashyap Patel. The book is of around 220 pages and is published by Penguin Random House. The book’s cover page and synopsis have such a good feeling that you just can’t move over without having this book in your shelf.


Now, talking about the book and its subject, it is based upon the emotions a human being goes through when he comes to know that his death is near. Author has been a doctor himself who has treated many Cancer patients and has ended up experiencing many deaths in his life closely. This gave him the perspective which he couldn’t have achieved if he would not have been in his profession for years and seeing so many souls leaving their temporary bodies. Kashyap has just utilized the same and mentioned how sensitive the patients become when they find death standing close to them.


The book starts with one of the doctor’s patient, Harry, who realizes that he might not live much due to the spread of Cancer and he asks the Doctor to prepare him to leave blissfully. And from here begins the book which takes you through many experiences the doctor had starting with a young patient like Annie till the last patient covered named John. Reading about all these patients is such an emotional experience that in few of the chapters I was almost on the verge of crying. The vulnerability that a human being starts feeling along with a panicky situation with a will to still live makes them so weak and demotivated that they start seeing their Doctor as God, Life Coach, Role Model and what not. The relationship between a Doctor and Patient is so very beautifully covered in this book.


Apart from these experiences, author also covers many other knowledge about things associated with death such as the belief different religion and culture has about death. Author has descriptively tried to explain all of it without comparing them with each other. Patel also gives disclaimer when he talks about other religions citing that he might be wrong as he has limited knowledge about it as whatever he knows is only through his patients. How Death and its rituals were given duly importance in history is explained by letting us know about the Egyptian concept of mummificationHow embalming became a business scope in America after Civil wars for the purpose of funeral is nicely described. 


Then from the knowledge base, book gradually moves into the space of spirituality and I liked how author mentioned about Western culture finding the truth outwards whereas Eastern culture looking for the same inwards and the results turned out to be the same. The concept of meditation is given a light upon and author explains how it can lead to longevity as it actually does same structural changes with our organs. Along with this, author again explains what different religion and culture thinks upon the topic of resurrection, reincarnation and afterlife. It has so much information that you would be surprised to know such detailing. I had read Sadhguru’s Death few months ago where it covered only one practice but here author has talked about different rituals and beliefs which provides little more insights.


Talking about the climax of the book, the way Harry leaves us being the protagonist of the book will make you very sad. After reading this book, if you have never taken Cancer patient or any person who is aware of his death seriously, you will start taking so. You will become a big support for them. The kind of attitudinal change the author brings is phenomenal. You will also start seeing Death as just a part of your life rather than an end to it. Yes, this happens.


Now talking about the drawbacks- I actually couldn’t find much problem with the book as it only speaks what happens with us. But still I would like to point out few factors. I believe there was more potential for the author to cover when it came to a topic like this. Author could have gone into more spiritual depth in the later part of the book for which I was really looking forward to which I missed. Then, I believe author should have given more brief examples dedicating just one or two paragraphs to a patient and letting us know how many people decided to leave as here, we get to know about 3-4 patients specifically. Some photographs of the patients discussed would have added more personalized effect to the book.


Overall, this is a very feel-good book with great insights. I give this book 4.25* out of 5. Please do read it if you want to know what people go through after knowing that the death is closer.






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