Thursday, August 3, 2023

The boy with a broken heart by Durjoy Datta (Book Review: 4.25*/5) !!!


29th Book of 2023


I started reading books in my early 20s. Unlike many readers, I started my journey with Indian authors. They have impressed me enough as I have been able to relate with every emotion they wanted to express. All the authors I read initially have become like a family for me. I never miss reading their books even if I get a chance after years due to other reading schedule in pipeline. I just completed reading Durjoy Datta’s “the boy with a broken heart” which was in my bookshelf since last 6 years. It’s the 2nd book in “The Boy” series- the 1st being “the boy who loved”.


This 327-pages book published by Penguin Random House is one of the most difficult books I have ever read. I had never imagined Durjoy getting so dark in his writings. There was a time I would write reviews complaining about the amount of sex he would add in his stories. I am just unable to comprehend how can the same author write something so deep which happens in such parts of India which isn’t exposed to many of us who have lived life in better cities/localities.


The book is again written in the form of diary entries – but this time from the girl’s perspective by the protagonist, Advaita. The initial part of the book is about her introduction along with complete detailing of her family. The initial pages describe the kind of life she and her sister, Divya, have spent since childhood. It is really tough going through the events. It makes you shift uncomfortably while reading as it becomes tough to relate and imagine a human being going through such bullying and violence since childhood.


Durjoy tries to explain how few Indian families have been under such patriarchal influence that they just don’t realize the kind of crimes they commit on daily basis. The book goes deep into making us realize how one human being can be so merciless towards another. Almost every character around Advaita except her parents are wild and wicked. Each one of them have a distinct type of evilness. I have felt lump in my throat so many times while going through this story that I wished to take action against any kind of bully I find in my life. That’s the impact this book has left upon me. I don’t know if that’s what Durjoy wanted to leave with his readers after they finish the book but this is how it has affected me.


There are various social issues about which Durjoy has focused upon ensuring that he doesn’t sound preachy at all. The book talks about how mean not only men but women of the family can also be. I am glad Durjoy took this stand as it’s only men who are being blamed in the name of patriarchy whereas the author tries to emphasize upon the point that even women can be equally harmful as men in a family. How the birth of boys is treated against girls is described very well in form of Advaita’s cousin brothers. Even their worst mischiefs are accepted and celebrated whereas Advaita and her sister are blamed and punished for just being themselves.


Through the character of Meghnad, we get to see the consequences of how few Indian families nourish boys that all they know about their existence is that they can tease and molest girls physically and emotionally without any fear and boundaries. The scenes where he forces Advaita to be with him are really tough to read and imagine. The story also throws light upon the way gay community in our country ends up living without ever letting anyone know about their sexual orientation. Durjoy also gets into how few Indian families never get to speak for themselves just because the man of the family is not powerful enough to take stand against others who try to oppress them.


Along with all of these concerns and many others, the book is also about friendship, hope, dreams, change, love, luck, redemption, belief, ambition etc. It is a fine read to experience the evolving relationship between Raghu and Advaita. The commitment that both of them shows towards each other – not exactly in respect to love but affection is nicely portrayed. The love between the sisters- Advaita and Divya reflects how few siblings always take stand for each other without being jealous or wicked.


The pre-climax is something that finally brings smile on the face of the readers who have gone through the trauma and pain for the first 300-pages. I liked how the whole sub-plot has been drafted by Durjoy. Finally, climax is something that doesn’t look relatable as, otherwise, the book feels like a real story whereas, here, it gets little Bollywood-ish. I wished Durjoy hadn’t gone on this path right at the end of the story which takes away the personal touch from the book. The last page of the book ensures that there could be a 3rd part of this series as well even though the synopsis mentions that this is just two-part romance series. But anyway, book ends at a very interesting turn where we can comprehend that the story can go in any direction and we might get to read something very magical again from Durjoy.


Overall, I must say that be ready to feel disturbed and shed few tears and relate with the trauma of the main characters if you are thinking of picking this book up. It will change you as a person forever and you won’t hurt anyone even a bit after this. It teaches us empathy in a very rare manner. I give this book 4.25 stars out of 5. I had to take away 0.25 stars just because of the Bollywood-ish end otherwise this book is a recommended read for sure if you have strong heart to bear the pain of the characters.






Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Love in the Time of Affluenza by Shunali Khullar Shroff (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!


28th Book of 2023

With this one, I am done reading 3rd book in row written by Indian female authors. After Koral Dasgupta and Preeti Shenoy, I tried my hands on Shunali Khullar Shroff’s “Lovein the Time of Affluenza”. This 292-pages book published by Bloomsbury is a wonderful take on the life of riches living in the prominent societies of Mumbai. It is always a fascination to know what happens with people who live in abundance of money - how is their life different from ours and what kind of struggles they go through. This book talks about the protagonist- Natasha and all the other characters closely associated with her.


Shunali, through her protagonist, speaks about the challenges that every person has to deal after marriage. We always discuss about how divorces have become a regular phenomenon and don’t take a minute to blame it on the rich society living around us for making this as common as having babies after marriage. The book discusses about how Natasha falls into a dilemma when she finds her best friend, Trisha, cheating on her husband. She wishes to break the news to Trisha’s husband- Nakul as well as to her husband- Varun as both the men are friends as well as business partners. She decides to maintain silence but the whole scenario makes her question about her own life and marriage. Here onwards, Shunali has been able to make us relate with her at all twists and turns. Natasha takes almost the same decision that any person would have taken but its impact makes us think about our own perception of what we had done in her situation.


Shunali makes us think about why marriages become boring after a point of time. She speaks of how women are expected to take efficient care of both – home and work together without faulting whereas men, conveniently, choose to be busy at work without giving much prominence to their family. She also raises a concern about how parenting is expected to be a full-time job for a mother whereas father is unapologetic for not being in touch with his children and their basic needs. She highlights how a man is always sandwiched between his wife and mother and has to balance off the situation between both of them. She has also highlighted on the responsibilities of a man to be a good-earner which is often taken granted by housewives.


I am glad the way Shroff has discussed about extra-marital affair in her story. Initially, it does sound immoral even from the way the protagonist of the book perceives it but author makes no mistake in signifying how it becomes the only choice for the person who is not even receiving bare minimum from their partner. This part of the book makes us a little uncomfortable but makes us question the reality of our modern lives where it’s so easy to find a new person to enjoy the missing part of our marriage with them or even end up falling in love without any guilt or shame. Authoress has also managed the Natasha’s part here onwards and didn’t let the story end up on the predictable path but gives it a good turn and make us feel good as a reader.


Shunali’s writing style is interesting which is filled with appropriate ingredients of detailing and specifications that helps us understand the ambience and aura of a scene and imagine everything as it’s happening with one of our acquaintances. The characters are nicely crafted as it helps us relate with all the protagonist’s friends and family members. We are able to understand their mindset and personality quite easily to know how they would interact in any scenario. This helps the book become a perfect page-turner as we wish to read how they’ll react and respond to Natasha when she’ll discuss certain scenarios or happenings with them. I wish if author could have avoided mentioning few characters in the initial pages of the book who didn’t have much to do with the story as it consumes our mind in remembering their names and references.


Shunali’s humour and sarcasm are the USPs of her writing as it is really wonderful and heartening to read about certain self-talk that the protagonist does with herself and her expressions when she deals with moments where she finds herself not responding in an idealistic way. Even the dialogues written while the characters converse with each other in light and tough situations are scripted mindfully as it makes us smile while reading them. I am impressed with the way Shunali has spoken about a married woman’s ordeals who belongs to a rich society - without being preachy or imparting modern woke feminism which is thrown everywhere these days - where even wrongs of a woman is always right whereas a man is wrong even for raising his voice on a legit concern.


Overall, this is indeed an entertaining book. I will rate it 4.5* out of 5.






Thursday, July 20, 2023

When Love Came Calling by Preeti Shenoy (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!


27th Book of 2023


Some books are like those feel-good movies where you know what will happen in almost every scene yet you like watching it because the director has shot those scenes in a way that it tells you a lot than just the scene itself. The last book I read named “When Love Came Calling” by one of my favorite authors, Preeti Shenoy, is exactly that. It speaks so much between-the-lines that you feel a life coach is talking to you. This is a simple love story about two individuals who are brought up in two different countries – India and Britain, meet on one of their solo projects and eventually fall for each other. The story then speaks about their individuality, their love for each other, the challenges that arises in their life, their separation, perception and a lot more.


This 270-pages book is published by Srishti Publications with whom Preeti started her career as an author more than a decade ago. The story is spoken in the first voice of the main protagonists and whenever needed; author has also made the other characters speak directly to us. This is one of the best ways in which Preeti is able to narrate her stories. This time, again, she has been able to weave magic by letting us know what each of the characters were feeling at every moment they shared with each other. This helps us to understand both- Arush and Puja as much as we know about our best friends. Both the characters are very likeable and even in the scenes where one of them is not being pleasant with their responses, we still support them knowing what they’re going through in their mind.


Preeti has a rare skill of philosophizing in her books without actually philosophizing. You navigate through the story but there’s so much spoken between the lines that you start relating everything with your life and realizations start hitting you. When I started reading, I felt young the way protagonists explored their life. Gradually, I could sense the difficulty around the phase in life when we aren’t doing great in academics and get confused about how to lead life ahead – majorly in our 20s and 30s. Lastly, the book made me think what kind of a person I am and what do I exactly need personally, professionally, socially, spiritually and in almost every aspect.


Author throws light upon the young phase when we find the person and feel genuine love for the first time in our life. Preeti also emphasizes upon the fact that how tough it becomes to maintain the love-relationship considering the challenging educational and professional scenario in our country along with the strictness of our parents. The parent-child relationship is spoken about descriptively on how parents never try to understand what their child is as an individual. She also focuses on how children are forced to be a certain way just because their parents think that’s the right way to live even if the child is dying inside every moment. The modern family set-up where all the members are ambitious is nicely explored which tells about the mental challenges for a child who is not able to do great in life like them.


Preeti also displays how siblings who are meant to be a moral support for each other can become the biggest hurdle in someone’s life due to their cold behaviour towards the other or regular comparisons between both the child by parents, neighbours, relatives, teachers and everyone around in vicinity. Love is also described beautifully and makes you feel romantic. If you have a partner, you will start giving them more time and importance and if you don’t have them, you will want to have a companion to share the emotions generated after reading this story. I liked how Preeti has balanced the immaturity of the protagonists along with the matured insight on the effect of love and relationship in one’s life. She describes wonderfully - majorly in the end – on how someone’s presence in our life can lead to value-addition in the way we see and perceive ourselves and our thoughts.


There are many instances when the book made me feel lump in my throat and by the time I reached the last 50 pages, I just couldn’t stop shedding tears. Preeti should apologize to me for making me feel embarrassed in the Mumbai local train for wiping my tears in front of all the people who take the same coach daily. The way pre-climax is treated is one of the most powerful aspects of this book considering that every sentence has enough power of directly reaching our heart. That section made me think a lot about how I would have responded to a cold behaviour after doing something very dramatic and out-of-my-league for someone. Shenoy also gives a very big lesson on forgiveness which will stay with me for a long time through this story.


The climax eventually gives a good and perfect closure to this book without disappointing anyone- either the characters or the readers. The book also taught about accepting someone being very different than us or even a complete failure in life. It tells that eventually some key moments impact a person and it might happen at some point of time with everyone. Until then, we should be supportive of our loved ones and stand by them rather than ridiculing them every now and then. This book is also a very big lesson on modern-day parenting regarding how to handle kids when they are struggling with their relationships, competitions, failures, confusions etc. along with their own career and ambition. This is one of the most emotional and heartful story I have ever read. Preeti Shenoy has always been on top of my list and will stay there forever. I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.






Monday, July 17, 2023

Summer Holidays by Koral Dasgupta (Book Review: 4*/5) !!!


26th Book of 2023


After letting the pages of this book turn yellow, I finally picked up Koral Dasgupta’s “Summer Holidays” after four years. This is the first time I read a book where the pages have turned yellow but the kind of story I got to read made me feel completely nostalgic and emotional. This 250-pages book published by Rupa Publications is a plot based out of a family and the love-hate relationship that goes hand in hand with it. The story talks about two cousins who are separated from each other for 16 years due to a feud between their parents. Rishi’s mother and Mira’s father are siblings but due to a rough argument and ego clashes, they don’t communicate with each other. After few years, when their children grow up and find each other on social media, they meet and share a great camaraderie with each other. As obvious, they plan to bring their parents back together and repair the damaged relationship.


This is the first time when I have picked up Koral’s book after knowing and regularly following her book updates for years now. I liked how she has been able to make us feel a part of this story because all of us have seen our parents distancing themselves from their siblings due to some or the other issue. More unfortunate are the incidents where the cousins who share great bond between themselves have to get separated from each other for life. I have personally gone through such events where I have not met my cousins since more than 1.5 decades now. Reading this book brought back all those emotions and memories back. The way Koral has captured the essence of both- sibling love as well as cousin love is beautiful. She is able to highlight the love and distance both these kinds of relationships endorse.


The narration is perfect where we are able to flow with the story without getting disturbed with the multiple characters the story has. There is a suspense throughout and as a reader, we keep on reading the book in fast pace to know how the siblings would meet each other eventually. Even though the plot makes you know what’ll happen in the end, you still want to go through the process of reading 250 pages. This speaks everything about the kind of justice Koral Dasgupta has done with the story. Even the other characters such as love interest of both the protagonists and other characters from their childhood whom they meet later again are given good backdrop which makes us connect with them as well.


There are many philosophical aspects that Dasgupta shares about life, love and relationships which actually makes us think about our opinion about the same and realize if the broken relationships in our life are justifiable or our ego has killed it prematurely. There are several conversations between the characters of these two different generations which leaves you teary-eyed. There is innocence, truth, realization, love, liking, acceptance, regret and what not in the words characters speak in their vulnerable state with each other.


Author is able to make us understand the importance of love that we can feel only with family. She makes it clear that even if separated, fought or never met for decades, blood relations still find just an excuse to get back with each other. This book is relatable to all the generations because of the set-up and premise Koral has created which is relevant with everyone. Also, this is going to be a great gift you can share with your cousins and siblings and make them realize how important they are for us. The only drawback that made my excitement drop has been the pre-climax and climax. I was expecting some drama in the end but author keeps things quite underwhelming without extracting plethora of emotions, tears and love from her characters and their reactions and loses a great opportunity. That’s the only reason why I have to take away half star away from what I had decided to rate the book. I rate it 4 stars out of 5. Recommended!






Wednesday, July 12, 2023

The Lion of Kashmir by Siddhartha Gigoo (Book Review: 2*/5) !!!

 25th Book of 2023

I generally avoid reading books based on Kashmir as I remember reading Basharat Peer’s Curfewed Night when I was about 20 years old and couldn’t understand anything about the state. I was too na├»ve to understand the complexity of this place which has recently been removed from its special status – a journey which has not been very easy from country’s point of view. Somehow, I believed that after all these years following news and current affairs, I must have got aware of the complete situation and picked up a fiction book named “The Lion of Kashmir” written by an award-winning author, Siddhartha Gigoo.


This 260-pages book published by Rupa Publication is typically about the relationship between a father and daughter who are primarily from Kashmir but staying far away from each other. Unfortunately, one day the father goes missing and from here onwards, the daughter Zooni’s character has been developed giving us a bit backdrop into her past so that we can know her better. Author has been able to keep things easy in terms of making us become friends with the characters and understand their rare emotions which we might have not gone through it personally.


Author highlights the difficult situation in the state and tries emphasizing on the fact of how the local people are divided in two ideologies – where few are pro-India whereas few have taken the opposite and unfortunate path of destroying the people favoring Kashmir being a part of India. The book has been divided in three different parts where I personally liked the 1st and last part. The first part is more about Zooni whereas the last part is more about her father’s emotions about his state and love for his daughter.


Gigoo has become philosophical at many parts and I am glad that he made full justice with this opportunity that the story provided him. I liked few paragraphs a lot where you start thinking about life and the raw emotions shared regarding what one goes through in their tough moments.


Talking about the drawbacks, I must say that the book lacks twists and turns. It could have also given book a completely different shape but author doesn’t explore the thriller aspect at all. The book is lengthy and I believe it could have been summed up well in around 150-200 pages itself. Thirdly, the middle section of the book where the character of Zooni imagines things and few characters is such a boring write-up and I had to push myself in not keeping the book aside. It just takes you away from the story and drops you in between of a process which has nothing to do with the tale. Also, multiple to and fro in the timeline confused me as a reader. Author has good writing talent but unfortunately, there are few good points about the book but the not-so-good are many hence I am going with 2 stars out of 5.






Sunday, July 9, 2023

The Fixer by Suman Dubey (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!


24th Book of 2023


I completed watching the first season of Inside Edge on Amazon Prime just last weekend. Co-incidentally I also finished reading a book named “The Fixer” written by author, Suman Dubey, almost at the same time. I was comparing both of them and I was surprised to realize that even though both the works are based on the same topic/theme but the execution is so very different. I am glad Suman took a completely different perspective while telling a story which speaks of something that’s equivalent to religion in India- Cricket. Moreover, as it has concept similar to IPL on which the match-fixing etc. has been based upon, I am glad that Dubey speaks in a manner that it still makes you feel excited and curious to know what’ll happen here and how.


This 290-pages book published by Rupa Publications is a perfect page-turner. It is a wonderful thriller where you wait as a reader to know what’ll happen with each and every character of the story. Author has not talked specifically about the world of cricket - but its more about how members of a dysfunctional family are trying to survive against each other and secure their future. It also dives into how a business family thinks about their business and what are the challenges that they have to go through not only professionally but personally as well. Later, the book explains how when such business gets into a completely new zone such as Cricket, the ideological shift is tough to adapt with which creates more feud among all the family members involved in the business.


Hence, Cricket is a by-product of the above themes which are majorly spoken in the book. The character of Neil Upadhyay is so perfectly written that right from the 1st page, you are with him and his thoughts. You feel for his loss every time he fails at proving himself. His role in the 2nd half of the book makes it very interesting and you keep on cheering for him every now and then. The way his conversations are drafted with all the characters are a masterpiece as they give you a sense of how the story takes a new shape as soon as the talk ends. His passion for Cricket and his firmness for his morals and values teach a lot in hindsight. His chemistry and topsy-turvy relationship with Kanika give the story the much-needed glamour and mind-game.


The match-fixing part is dealt in a very distinct manner than what we have already seen in movies. All the narrations related to fixing, dressing room, field action, post-match scenarios and the changing dynamics between characters are nicely executed and does justice to the cover page and title of the book. We get an overview on how different kind of Cricketers such as legends, new-comers, out of form players, in form players etc. see their game as. We understand the psyche of why few players go the wrong way without thinking of the future opportunities and after-effect. Similarly, author tries to give us a glimpse of how club Crickets which involves entrepreneurs in the game as well can never be as clean as international formats where countries play against each other. We get detailing on how money and popularity comes over the game in such Club formats.


Overall, the book is a power-packed story which keeps you glued to it. The second half gets more fascinating as compared to already interesting and over-the-top 1st half. The way author tries to give a backdrop and importance to every character involved in the story is a brilliant execution. We are able to empathize and understand the mindset of every character. Similarly, author doesn’t confuse us with multiple characters considering that even the players are a major part of the story. Somehow, we are able to remember their role in the story even if we read the book in different sessions. The struggle of a rich and insecure family is given prominence where reading about siblings and their view about each other makes you understand how selfish we, as human, get at times. The pre-climax and climax are a good closure to the story. Suman is a wonderful writer and I am wondering why he has still not come out with another book yet. I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.






Friday, June 30, 2023

Right Under Your Nose by R. Giridharan (Book Review: 3.5*/5) !!!


23rd Book of 2023

I wanted to read a short crime thriller and found another lost book in my bookshelf named “Right Under Your Nose” by R. Giridharan. This 234-pages book is published by Rupa Publications in 2020. The book starts with narration of few murders in the initial few pages itself. Thereafter, it is all about how the police gets involved with the same and starts cracking down one murder after another by targeting few people and finally, finding the main culprit. I liked how author has narrated the events which keeps you on toes while reading. The book is fast-paced which helped me finish it within 4 hours itself.


The research work of author is evident from the fact that the story consists of characters from different professions like scientists, magician, snake-catcher, teacher, godmother, ministers, pharma etc. It is similar to the web-series that we watch these days where initial few episodes are about one event after the another which aren’t linked with each other but the 2nd half of the show brings all of them together in a chain and explains how the events are inter-linked with each other.


The narration is powerful as author doesn’t get involved in useless description of unwanted or unrelated scenes. The writing is crisp which makes the book a perfect page-turner as every sentence takes the story forward. The book does get boring in between when the two police officers and a journalist is discussed more than the plot but still, author is able to bring it back in focus. The characterizations are nicely worked upon even in such plot-based story as we are able to relate with characters of Vijay, Padmini and Dalvi very easily. The chemistry between Vijay and Padmini is nicely mentioned in the first half of the book. Similarly, the camaraderie of Vijay and Dalvi is also articulated well which helps you understand how police professionals interact with each other.


Author does justice to the city of Nagpur as it has been mentioned specifically wherever necessary to help readers understand the locale of the city. Author has also spoken about the plight of men about how they are being charged for dowry cases which makes them hide until their bail application isn’t accepted. This is one thing about which India rarely talks where men are falsely charged because of gender-biased laws.


Talking about the drawbacks, I must say that the main culprit is recognized far too early in the book. Author doesn’t even try to confuse readers by making them think among 3-4 suspects but directly pinpoints at one obvious individual who even turns out to be the real culprit in the end. This was quite disappointing. Similarly, the way Vijay is able to crack the finale sounds unrealistic in terms of how he tracked and reached something which was completely out of zone throughout the narration.


Overall, this is a fine short read if you love thrillers with Indian setup of policemen and investigation. I give this book 3.5 stars out of 5.






Saturday, June 24, 2023

Sugar: The Silent Killer by Damayanti Datta (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!


22nd Book of 2023

Well, in the series of reading books that are sitting in my shelf since a long time, I picked up another such book named “Sugar: The Silent Killer”. It is written by Damayanti Datta in around 200-pages. I remember it was around 2019 when I thought of getting a full medical check-up done for my family and I. The report showed a completely different picture about what I assumed about my health. It had many parameters which weren’t in the healthy range. After few years, the report showed that I even reached a stage where I can be termed as pre-diabetic. My mother is already a diabetic patient since a long time. Hence, I was quite curious to read this book and know how has author dedicated a whole book on this food-item which we consume abundantly without thinking of its consequences.


There are many health and diet related books in the market out of which I have read couple of them. They are quite straight-forward in terms of what foods are healthy and unhealthy for our body. The USP of this book is that author doesn’t directly start speaking about ill-effects of sugar and creating a panic about it among ourselves. She has tried to go back into the history and understand how the diet and eating preferences of human beings changed over the time.


She starts with discussion around how humans found their love for sweetness for the 1st time when honey was generated with the help of bees. Over-the-time, humans progressed and found sugarcane as another source which helped them fulfill their sweet-cravings. Gradually, sugar production began but along with time, commercialization came into the picture which gave birth to the refined white sugar – something that has been a source of worry since its effects have been identified.


Damayanti discusses the book written by Dr. Yudkin around 50 years back where he highlights the danger that sugar brings with itself. Unfortunately, everyone started protesting him which resulted in the book ban. But decades later, when diabetes started becoming a common factor in the regular patients, people acknowledged the words of Dr. Yudkin. Datta discusses many of his theories in the initial chapters which helps us understand how he studied sugar and what were his findings about it.


Authoress, then, further progresses and talks about how the human body functions. She explains how dopamine is generated not only through the activities we love doing but also through consumption of sugar which makes us eat more of it. Similarly, she talks about all the other chemicals that gets generated in the process which makes our addiction with sugar stronger and inseparable. She gives glimpses about the role of insulin and glucagon in terms of maintaining sugar-levels in our body.


Her research is quite evident in the way she explains about how sugar-levels can be identified and measured in our body through different parameters. Similarly, she has dived deeper into other factors such as what amount of sugar is needed in our body and if there’s an excess, along with diabetes, what kind of different diseases get associated with us such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart diseases etc. She helps us understand how sugar is named differently in the ingredients list of the packaged products which we purchase without even thinking of the amount of sugar we are supplied.


In the last few chapters, Damayanti emphasizes on the various methodologies and substitutes that can help us control our sugar levels. She speaks about the ketone-diet and intermittent fasting which can help us achieve our goals. She also discusses how carbohydrates are being excluded from our diets whereas why it is as much necessary for our system as much as proteins. She then takes a very interesting turn and starts quoting from our religious texts regarding what it suggested thousands of years ago and how its relevant even today regarding our eating lifestyle. Similarly, she talks about the kind of prasad which has been associated with major temples and shrines which doesn’t include sugar but still helps us with our quest of sweetness. It tells us about how health-focused they were/are in their conduct.


Overall, this book is not a piece of work which will scare you right from the first page. It doesn’t talk about the facts that you already read regularly but gives you completely new insights about sugar. It gives you a very balanced perspective of how diabetes is becoming cruel and why we need to take it seriously. The book is also not written like a dieting guide but as a finding of a very long experiment and analysis of sugar and its impact. It is recommended for everyone to read as most of us have already fallen into the trap of sugar-love and we need to come out of it as sooner as possible. I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.






Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Living Spirituality by Meetu Bisht (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!


21st Book of 2023

I don’t know why is this a phenomenon that few good books keep sitting in your shelf for months until you pick it up. This has been happening with me since last few years. One such instance is with the book named “Living Spirituality” written by Meetu Bisht. I had got it right when it released but due to some or the other reason, I always kept it aside to be read slowly at the right time in my life. I don’t know if this is it or not, but I have finally completed reading it within 4 short reading cycles of 1.5 hours each. This is a short book written in 200-pages and published by Hay House publication.


The book tries to defy some myth regarding spirituality which has become quite a confusing topic these days because in the age of Internet, we have ended up following multiple spiritual and yoga gurus online. Meetu tries to make us understand how simple being spiritual is. She tries to explain that there’s nothing that we need to do beyond our limits to call ourselves spiritual. She has divided the book in 28 different chapters where each of them tries to speak on one perspective of Spiritualism. There are instances where we get to know about the new perspective whereas there are moments when you completely disagree with the author’s point of view. The goodness in her writing style is that you still don’t hate the book and continue reading it with the same charm and curiosity.


Meetu’s intent is very clear that she wants human to understand that they just have to be their natural inner-self rather than trying to do something extreme in order to be called spiritual. She has been focused on the title of the book and I am amazed how she could talk about it without failing or dwindling even once in 200 pages. Her writing style is very simple which will help even beginners to understand what she is talking about – something which is very difficult for beginners to grasp when they read books on spirituality or philosophies.


Because this book tries to give a new concept of spirituality, it becomes quite difficult to accept few of Meetu’s point of view but I am sure author knew about it while writing. Like, for example, I still don’t agree with her point that meditation doesn’t lead us towards spirituality. I believe it helps us lot in understanding silence and calmness which eventually changes a lot of things within us. Meetu tries to explain us how spirituality is all about our inner-self which already exists. We just need to maintain a lifestyle which helps us understand our core. She emphasizes that no external activity or achievements are needed to unlock spirituality in our life.


Author gives a nice insight upon why we have certain relationships in our life because we have certain Karma to be dealt with. Hence, escaping to some spiritual recourse in a different place does not serve the spiritual purpose as the Karma does not get settled because we don't engage in these karmic transactions. Similarly, she gives a very meaningful aspect of why we need to keep working like a regular person and earn for our bread-and-butter rather than thinking of being at a safe place like mountains etc. She explains how we can be spiritual even while pursuing our regular life.


Author also talks about the fact that until we don't learn from our mistakes, there are certain patterns that will keep repeating in our life and we’ll keep on suffering difficult situations until we don’t learn from it and complete the karmic cycle. By the end of the first half of the book, I was little frustrated regarding author continuously trying to tell us what living spiritually is but not telling us how but the way author has documented her second half of the book – took away all my complaints in a moment. She gives us insight into the detailing of how we can become spiritual by sharing elements like essentials when seeking spiritual growth, hurdles to self-awareness, A-Z of self-transformation, 99 traits of a spiritual person etc. I wished highlighting all the sentences written in these chapters. The 2nd half of the book definitely has repeat-value and everyone should go through it periodically to check if we have improved lately or not.


Overall, this is a light book but with intense capabilities of bringing change within us. I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5. I recommend it to everyone. Meetu Bisht has done a phenomenal job.






Thursday, June 15, 2023

The Power of Humility by PV Ramana Murthy (Book Review: 5*/5) !!!


20th Book of 2023

There are few non-fiction books which are written with pure heart and intent that by the time you finish reading the last sentence, you can sense the same emotions which you feel after reading a good fiction book where you end up falling in love with its characters. I have read multiple non-fiction books so much that all of them sounds similar to me now. I feel they speak the same thing. I rarely find books which bring something new out of the same topic. Luckily, I picked up one such book written by PV Ramana Murthy named “The Power of Humility” which also has a tagline- How Humble High Achievers are Rewriting the Rules of Leadership. This 225-pages book published by HarperCollins will help you understand the topic of leadership with a very new approach and mindset.


Generally, I have always found books on Leadership mentioning humility in just one odd-chapter. I was quite surprised to read the synopsis of this book where author has committed the whole book on this one specific trait of Leadership. Author has tried explaining the relationship and dynamics between the role of a Leader and the trait of Humility. How a Leader can completely transform his/her role by being as humble as possible without misusing the power of their title.


Murthy has provided two solid frameworks- namely, APPLE and IMAGE. APPLE stands for Appreciative Mindset, Positive possibilities, Path-showing, Lightheartedness and Evolution whereas IMAGE stands for Intensity, Mindful excellence, Ahead of one’s time, Gratitude and Emotional connect. Author has illustrated these frameworks very nicely in a circular diagram which will help us in being reminded of how to execute the different ideas provided by the author. Author deeps dive into each of these 10 pointers and provides definitions and ideas which are practical and implementable.


Murthy has spoken with around 30 leaders and personalities who are at a position which enables them to lead people in their own leadership style. He, then, tries analyzing their perspective on the pointers he emphasizes upon which needs to be considered in order to become a 360-degree humble leader. He explains how Humility is perceived different in different cultures where few of them even consider it as weakness. In the initial part of the book, Murthy has given a very long description before starting the main chapters. Kudos to him on ensuring that the readers have complete perspective before picking up the main topic in sight.


There are few pointers that I would like to mention below out of many that I rejoiced while reading the book:

Author gives great examples for how to find opportunities in adversity; something that our current Prime Minister Narendra Modi also insisted during Covid times.

Author talks well about tapping potential of other employees which helps everyone in growing together in the organization.

Evolution chapter gives the perspective on how leaders always want to learn something new. They know that the room for improvement exist and hence, they don't compare or compete with others but themselves.

Paranjpe’s decision of opening 5 lakh outlets against their normal 30000 outlets in a year is a very nice case-study on intense leadership. Author tries to explain clearly on how intensity is not about being aggressive through body language but in a way where their commitment towards their goal can be seen through their kind words.

The learning attitude is rightly highlighted wherein a PhD holder is sitting with MBA students whom he generally leads and studies MBA with them because he has never attended a business college before.

Trust is explained through a case where a superior approves a critical file mentioning that there are two modifications suggested by trusting upon the junior that it will be done and hence, he need not recheck it at all.

Murthy addresses mindfulness in this book of leadership and explains how leaders develop focus and relational engagement - and not just transactional. This helped them see future with clarity.

I got to know about attribution errors through this book – a term I never heard before.

Command-and-empower leadership style is promoted over command-and-control style.

Author clears that any leader who has negative layers of heroism, hubris, the propensity to hype and harass can never be called a complete humble leader.


Overall, this book is a very unique attempt and speaks of some very new fundamentals which has never been discussed before by any authors whom I have read. The book has great potential in ensuring that any leader can change their style and groom into a humble leader by adopting the frameworks mentioned here. In last few chapters, author has given a great counselling session to all of us in order to identify what is wrong with us and gradually, improve it. I am extremely impressed with this book. Author’s research is evident in every sentence. It seems that a Research Paper has been rewritten in an easy language for laymen like us. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to everyone above the age of 17 to the oldest person alive on the planet. Yes!







Friday, June 9, 2023

Bridges Across Humanity by Akhil Gupta (Book Review: 5*/5) !!!


19th Book of 2023

I remember the days when I stayed in hostel with around 99.99% Muslim population. Naturally, I had mixed experiences staying in such an imbalanced environment. As it is said that you always learn something out of every phase in your life, I never knew how importantly few people take their religion until I stayed there. When I saw Muslims commit themselves towards praying their God 5 times a day regularly, I couldn’t believe it. In lockdown, I started reading my religion and learnt so much about Hinduism. When I would see the commonalities in practices followed by both the religions, I always wanted to speak about it. Surprisingly, I found this book named “Bridges Across Humanity” written by the author, Akhil Gupta. This 425-pages book published by Rupa Publications also has a tagline: “Different Religions, Similar Teachings” exactly something that this book speaks about.


Author, Akhil Gupta, deeps dive into 5-6 widely-followed religions in the world and tries to find out what exactly are they trying to speak. He then discusses how these different religions formed during different phases and era speaks almost about the same goal-end. Author goes on discussing that despite having multiple similarities and same destination, people shed blood on the name of religion just to prove that the one they’re following is the righteous whereas the Holy book talks only about inclusion, acceptance and forgiveness.


Akhil has displayed immense maturity in writing on this topic as there’s a very thin line difference - crossing which could result in public outroar but his intent is crystal-clear that he wants to preach a purpose rather than gain any kind of unwanted publicity. The book is divided into 55 different chapters where each of them is based upon a topic and what different religions opine about the same. Author, then, gets into detailing about how the same context is being spoken or explained in holy books in distinct manners. It is really refreshing and exciting to know about the fact that even the smallest detailing pertaining to a philosophy across diverse religions is so similar.


Author also tries to explore a possibility through his theories that there may be a fact in all of these being just a mythology without any God or Prophet ever walked upon the Earth. He feels that most of the tales spoken in the religious texts may be metaphorical without having any reality attached to it. E.g. He says that he is very sure that Lord Krishna never spoke the whole Bhagavad Gita but the religious knowledge has been imparted by different human beings who walked upon the Earth for several years and kept on adding their inputs in the text. Similarly, he feels the same has happened with all the other religions too. That is also one of the reasons why there’s almost similar theories in all the religion as there must be an era when all humanity was together and started getting divided but said the same thing in different manners.


I was astonished by one of the chapters where author talks about the reference of shepherd being given as an example or story in almost every religion. Similarly, the birth or death of many prophets walked upon the Earth has the similar story attached to it. Gupta explains about the fact that every religion mentions about non-violence, peace, humanity, oneness, love, minimalism etc. yet the society ends up thinking that a religion promotes violence whereas people from the very same religion also thinks the same because they are being preached by distorting the facts. Author has purposefully quoted those texts from the Holy book and provided clarity upon this controversial topic. He has emphasized on how no religion promotes anything that can disrupt nature and peace.


Generally, I make comments whenever I find any book above 300 pages whereas this book crosses even 425 pages but I must say, it’s very engaging and keeps you interested as the intent of the author reaches the reader’s heart. The book is a perfect page-turner despite being a hardcore non-fiction. In fact, I wished if author could have covered many more aspects. I would love to read 2nd part of this book. Author’s research work screams through every word, sentence, page and chapter. I just couldn’t fathom the amount of work author must have put in bringing this compilation out to us. It’s tough to even go through one religion completely and he ended up studying multiple diverse religions in such a short span.


Towards the ending, Akhil speaks about how society ends up adding their belief systems upon us which corrupts our original version of humanity. He insists upon us to be authentic without losing our character rather than following the societal rules. The last chapter speaks about what does the whole book teaches us in particular which we should take away with us as key points. The chapter is really effective and the right manner in which the book needed a full stop. It motivates you to see the world and people differently. It helps us realize that the whole world has 99.9% of the DNA similar with just that one bit of difference which makes us all part of one big space with our own unique identities. Author highlights that we need to come together, bring the specialties, similarities and differences of our religion and create something spectacular than fighting over the minute differences for no beneficial reason.


Talking about the drawbacks, there’s actually isn’t much. I just wished if book also covered the aspects such as veg vs non-veg debates etc. which could help people understand what’s the theory behind certain religions promoting vegetarian lifestyle whereas some promoting killing animals as well. Similarly, I wanted to know about the wedding rituals of different religions and why certain things are followed particularly. There are many such popular topics that I was hoping for the book to cover but no complaints at all. Author has already covered enough and adding more would have made this book thicker than all the Holy books brought together. Haha!


Overall, this book is a necessity in today’s world where we are reaching different planets and accessing heights of scientific evolution but yet fighting on peculiar and minute topics which doesn’t even need our attention. I give this book 5 stars out of 5. Yes! Recommended for each and everyone.








Thursday, June 1, 2023

HAPPINESS IS SUCCESS by AiR/Atman in Ravi (Book Review: 3*/5) !!!


18th Book of 2023

Reading spiritual books help me understand a new perspective every time, hence, in the quest to get back into having some new spiritual knowledge, I picked up the book named “Happiness is Success”. This book is written by AiR/Ravi in around 176-pages and published by Rupa Publications. I read the Kindle version of it. Sincerely speaking, the book can be read within one or two sittings but as author has nicely divided it into small chapters, if you are a new reader, it would be great if you go through 4-5 chapters in one sitting which will help you understand the topics and perspectives well. Right from the first go, author’s intention is clear about making the readers understand about the difference between Success and Happiness.


Ravi, the author, gets an early success in life and like everyone, even he believed that he’ll feel complete happiness after it. With time, he understood that achieving success doesn’t mean that it can provide you ultimate happiness. Gradually, he became spiritual and understood that happiness is something we should be chasing every moment rather than running behind money and materialistic aspects of life and imagining to be successful after getting the same. There are few chapters which helps you understand the concept well. The quotes in the beginning of every chapter are inspiring and makes you grasp deep logics within few words itself. Similarly, there are some beautiful poems which will directly touch your heart. I wished to note down each of them separately to refer to them whenever I feel down.


Ravi discusses about different types of fear that a human being has about losing success. He tells how most of us are scared about this which doesn’t let us live peacefully. Similarly, author discusses about the importance of knowing about our happiness triggers. He also goes into details helping us know how we can know about the activities or experiences which helps us understand what our happiness triggers are.


In the latter part of the book, Ravi talks about meditation and how it can change the whole way of realizing about the reality of our being. The emphasis is given on how we are human being and not human doing. Just being ourselves can bring tremendous difference to our mental health. Author gets deep down and explains how we are not the body, mind or ego that we believe we are. He talks about how we aren’t any of these but something beyond this- a spirit/energy/soul. Just knowing this fact can change our perspective.


He gets into the details of Karma and how one can settle this account to not get rebirth and get rid of this materialistic human life. There’s another chapter which captured my interest. It speaks of rainbow love and explains how every colour of rainbow signifies different kind of love and we should be aware of it and realize this in every relationship we have. Ravi, then, talks about the main source of all these colours and what does that original form of love means.


Overall, this is a good book for any beginner who has not gone through other deep dialogues on the concept of spirituality and happiness. Talking about the drawbacks, I feel that the book just keeps on speaking the same thing repeatedly. After a time, you get bored of the same concept written in different ways. There is nothing new after the first 10 pages. You will get frustrated reading the two words “Success” and “Happiness” in almost every second sentence. I think author should have spoken about different concepts talking about this aspect. Also, the way author talks about success, it seems it is a negative thing to have. Author should have been little matured while writing about it as many youths can get a wrong impression that they don’t need to build career at all or have aspiring goals to reach heights in their life. These are the main concerns because of which I felt the book is less inspiring and impactful. Hence, I will go with an average 3 stars out of 5.






Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Afternoon by Nidhi Dalmia (Book Review: 2*/5) !!!


17th Book of 2023

People often ask not to judge a book by its cover but there are times when I still pick books based on their cover, title or just synopsis. There is one such book I read recently named “Afternoon” written by Nidhi Dalmia. This 225-pages book is published by Rupa Publications. It is based in the timeline of 1950s and 1960s hence reading it makes you understand what the world thought about many things during that era. The story revolves around different places in the world such as Kashmir, Delhi, San Francisco and New York. You get a gist of how certain revolutions took place globally and the way mindset of people was getting transformed gradually. It tells you about how people were themselves evolving and accepting many forms of relationships which earlier were considered as taboo and unacceptable.


 Nidhi’s writing style is powerful and keeps you engaged. He knows how to narrate even small setups that you read it so carefully as if there’s a larger meaning to it. The way he has used locations and its aesthetics speaks a lot about the research he must have gone through to understand how to portray them through the story. Similarly, the historical events are mentioned so beautifully that you never find them forced in the story setup. You are able to accept all such inclusions and want to know what happened simultaneously with the main plot of the story. Dalmia has also mentioned many poems and lyrics of the songs which are such a beautiful piece of literature and art that you wish this was a separate book altogether. If you are poetic, you are definitely going to enjoy reading these segments.


The story basically speaks about how the relationships define a person and also brings major changes in one’s life without any plans. The protagonist, Rajiv, falls twice in love. The 1st one mentioned with Ayesha is something I could very much relate to. The way book starts with their rising chemistry and eventually discusses how their kisses started getting better day by day. Frankly speaking, those sections are very sensuous and I just couldn’t stop myself from imagining things. Haha! How their love story gets impacted is also narrated aptly as it makes you emotional and empathize with the character. The 2nd part of the book which is Rajiv’s relationship with Catherine speaks about how nothing could come in between their feelings for each other despite of their own growth as individuals.


Their inter-continental love speaks about the challenges that occurs when people from two different cultures and time-zones falls for each other. The long-distance relationship and its difficult path are evident from few sections when the couple goes through the same. The book is basically going to resonate with people who are aware of multiple cultures beyond India as they can relate with many real-life incidents and other art-related development that the author discusses; otherwise, for me, this has just been a soft-porn where you will end up reading about two people kissing and getting physical every now and then. There’s not many twists and turns in the book and no deep-diving in terms of characters in love.


The story is very plain with nothing that can actually touch your heart. I found it very absurd in terms of how can someone write a book with no major set-up but only with over-description of few places, culture and sensuous scenes. It’s good to gift to your partner if you are below 25 as it can help both of you get more closer in terms of your love-making process but other than that, I don’t think that the story goes anywhere. Anyway, I give this book 2 stars out of 5. I wish I could have stopped reading it midway but my anticipation that some twist will bring an impact to the book made me stay up till the end.






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