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.






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