A lot irritated by the narration, but not the content.
May be it is my prejudice - I find the "fable" approach to self-help books tedious to read. The...moreA lot irritated by the narration, but not the content.
May be it is my prejudice - I find the "fable" approach to self-help books tedious to read. The last one I read, that took a similar approach, was Gung Ho! by Ken Blanchard, and came off thinking that the whole book was silly. The Monk Who... came highly recommended, and hence I plunged in.
The book starts off on a promising note - hot-shot lawyer has a heart-attack in court, right after winning a big case. What happens next?
Here's what happens - India - Himalayas - Yogi - "a lot of finding myself" - Mystical land - Mystical procedures (apparently even the Pareto technique!) - "share these with others" - another bad fable, within this already bad fable. You can fill in the blanks with that info.
And oh, throw in really really really (big emphasis on that third really) bad jokes as part of the "conversation".
Not to sound overly negative, there were things that hit home for me.
Summarizing them below - 1. Take care of yourself first. If you can't do even that, how can you take care of others / work? 2. Maintain strict discipline in training your body, and your mind. 3. Setting aside some "quiet time" on a daily basis. 4. Goal setting - committing to a goal publicly, so that you hold yourselves accountable in front of your peers. 5. Reflect on what you did good / bad the previous day, and make points for improvement on a daily basis. 6. Get your priorities right - not a lot of people on their death-bed wishing that they had spent more time at work.
This book could have been a LOT BETTER had the author dropped the "fable approach", and just presented his ideas in a straight-forward manner. I like Robin Sharma's The Greatness Guide (Book 2) better than this one, for this reason.
Skip it, if you can resist the folks giving over-the-top reviews for this book.(less)
What if Lord Shiva is not a God, but a tribal chief that lived in present day Tibet, 2000 years before Christ...moreThis book moves at a breath-taking pace!
What if Lord Shiva is not a God, but a tribal chief that lived in present day Tibet, 2000 years before Christ? What if Parvati is not a Goddess, but a princess that Shiva woos? What if Nandi is not a bull, but a bull of a man? What if indeed did happen, but to a "mortal" Shiva? That, is the premise of this book.
Think the Matrix trilogy - now delete Neo, and insert Shiva :) (Okay, that was a stretch, but you get the idea.)
A tribal chief (Shiva) is asked to come to the aid of the Suryavanshi nation (Meluha), whose princess (Parvati) he ends up marrying (not before lots of romance!), against the Chandravanshi nation (Swadeepa). Needless to say, he kicks ass!
Some of the issues discussed in this story have parallels in our times - immigration, universal health-care, non-proliferation, terrorism etc. Juxtaposed with characters named Daksha, and Veerabhadra - they sound amusing, but does make you think - what if? What if there was a "super race" that had already faced, and solved these problems, and now those solutions are just lost to time?
The story reads like a mainstream Indian movie - fights, and romance abound. The sequence of events when Shiva, and Parvati meet for the first time, is a joy to read (akin to Vanthiyathevan, and Kundavai, meeting in Ponniyin Selvan).
It is a fantastic read, and the author weaves in the reasons behind a lot of the Hindu culture / traditions as part of the story. Not an irrefutable or a scholarly resource, but informative never-the-less.
I am waiting for books two and three in this trilogy. Google for the "Shiva trilogy" for more information.(less)
This book is what it states - a common sense approach to web usability.
The book lays bare the facts, that - 1. Users do not read the text in a web pag...moreThis book is what it states - a common sense approach to web usability.
The book lays bare the facts, that - 1. Users do not read the text in a web page. 2. Users muddle through a web page, no matter how well thought out the layout, and menus are. And as a designer, your task is to take these two facts into account when designing your website.
The author, Steve Krug, is very perceptive. While this is evident throughout the book, what did it for me was the footnote about the Site ID being on the top right corner in web pages with right to left languages, and his comment about inconsistent navigation options in many sites once you are two or three pages deep. The first one is a nice call-out, the second - I've been burnt by it so many times!
The section that talks about how to resolve "design" (people) problems, when members of different teams prefer one design over another, is a life-saver for any Project / Development / Product Manager. It clearly brings the focus back to the problem - are we doing the right thing for the intended users of this website?
The graphic showing what a webpage means to a CEO, Developer, Designer, and Marketing, nails each group's perspective on the head.
The difference between a focus group, and a usability testing team is explained well.
The chapters on usability testing is a must read for all QA teams. The table showing how much it would cost to do "Get it" and task-based usability testing is very concise, and useful. I would recommend taking this no-frills approach; a part of my org's development methodology.
That said, the book is roughly ten years old. The principles, no doubt, still hold good. But, it would be nice to see an updated version that talks about 1. The proliferation of social media, and how to design for that. 2. Web-based Enterprise application UI design.
#2 above is closer to home for me. Type of question that I would like to be tackled - In web based Enterprise apps that specifically deal with a particular vertical (say Insurance), how much can you assume that the user knows about the domain, and consequently, how does that affect your design?
The book is well laid out, and you can see evidence of the author eating his own dog food. The footnotes offer interesting segues (sometimes not about web usability), and the Recommended Reading section is a big plus.
It is an easy read, at a little under 200 pages - no reason your web dev team can't find time to read (and re-read) it!(less)
The chapters on Sumo wrestlers - School teachers, Ku Klux Klan - Real Estate agents, and Why drug-dealers live with their moms?...moreA long overdue reading.
The chapters on Sumo wrestlers - School teachers, Ku Klux Klan - Real Estate agents, and Why drug-dealers live with their moms? - were an absorbing read.
The Sumo wrestlers - School teachers chapter illustrates the beauty of statistics - all you need is sufficient data, and you can pretty quickly debunk "conventional wisdom". This chapter is a must read for Stat 101 type courses, and also intermediate to advanced programming - to work out a mathematical model, and write a program to make sense of the data you have.
The chapter, Where have all the criminals gone? - while touted as Levitt's important work, was a little dense to read. Same goes for the chapters on parenting, and choosing names for babies. Although, the chapter on choosing names for babies provides another opportunity for math modeling (predicting how long a name will be in vogue), and programming.
A good exercise would be read The Economic Naturalist, and Freakonomics back to back. And then apply the principles in Freakonomics, to see if the explanations in The Economic Naturalist withstand the mathematical rigor that is the foundation of Freakonomics.(less)
In this second book, partly personal correspondence between Feynman, and family, and partly about Feynman's involvement in the Challenger disaster - w...moreIn this second book, partly personal correspondence between Feynman, and family, and partly about Feynman's involvement in the Challenger disaster - we get a closer look at this curious character.
While not quite as entertaining as SYJ, this book is a must read for Feynman's observations about how projects are executed in a large organization.
He dissects how NASA works, and is very focussed on getting to the facts leading to the shuttle disaster.
His findings on this subject (how large organizations work) are lessons one can hardly ignore. - Management trying / promising to do the impossible, ignoring sound engineering judgement - The organization on the whole turning a blind-eye to a persistent problem - Only encouraging good news
The Appendix in this book, which is (almost) the same as the one presented to President Reagan on the Challenger disaster, is a must read. Feynman remains true to his philosophy of presenting both the pluses, and minuses of a scientific inquiry, in this Appendix. The hoops that he had to jump through to get this published in the Roger's Commission Report is a story in itself!
If you ever find yourself heading a committee investigating a mishap - you'd do well to adhere to Feynman's methodology here.(less)
The plot pretty much is the hero, though, not as much in this case. The narration, however, is brisk, and keeps the reader engaged. Typical medieval k...moreThe plot pretty much is the hero, though, not as much in this case. The narration, however, is brisk, and keeps the reader engaged. Typical medieval knight hides a treasure, that gets a lot of people killed in the current world while trying to retrieve it, interspersed with secrets about the Vatican that are supposed to make you balk at Christianity - kind of fare. The author does present a balanced view of religion, and the good, and the evil that people do in the name of it. The characters are okay, and thankfully not wooden like Robert Langdon. Not a bad read.(less)
Read my first book on the creative process - so nothing to compare it against. Plus it is written by a choreographer, Twyla Tharp, and I am yet to see...moreRead my first book on the creative process - so nothing to compare it against. Plus it is written by a choreographer, Twyla Tharp, and I am yet to see a Broadway musical or a ballet. So, right at the outset, I knew that it will be difficult to connect with the author. I trudged along, and was pleasantly surprised in some places, and really did not care about others.
The ones I liked are the chapters that deal with identifying, what the author calls as "your creative DNA", and presents a list of twenty-one questions to do this. Simple questions like "What was the first creative thing you did, that you remember?", or "What is the best / dumbest idea you ever had?", if you take the time answer, do help you understand how you work, and what makes you click. This is equally applicable to dance, writing, photography, programming - any creative endeavor.
Loved the chapter on failure (lot of cliches, though). It details different types of failures (skill, judgement, being in denial, concept, nerve, repetition), and presents an example of how a Broadway-bound musical was saved from disaster. If you have the time, think about the last time you failed - chances are, it will fall into one of the above categories.
The chapter, Accidents will happen, is a must read. It calls your attention to two problems besetting creative professionals - striving for perfection; right from the start, and engaging in an activity out of a sense of obligation. With the former, nothing is ever ready, and with the latter, you are not being fair to yourself, and your benefactor.
Another very strong point that the author makes is the importance of having a disciplined routine, and sticking to it. Can't argue with her here.
The distinction that she draws between being stuck in a rut vs. being in the groove is nice. Not that I agree with her when she says that you don't realize you have been in a groove until you are out of it. I KNOW when I am in the groove!
The chapters that I did not care about are the ones where I could not see a real connection between what she was saying, and how I would apply it (duh!). May be it will help someone in the performing arts.
The production quality of the book itself is good, the type-setting, clear and legible, and the key ideas / phrases in a page are in a bigger, and a different colored font, than the rest of the text. Makes for a quick glance, if you have already read the chapter.
Would recommend select chapters, and I wish I had something to compare this book against.(less)
The book is a first person account of Feynman's adventures in life, err...Physics - doubt if he ever saw the distinction! The wr...moreRe-reading this one :)
The book is a first person account of Feynman's adventures in life, err...Physics - doubt if he ever saw the distinction! The writing style is breezy, and feels as if he is in the room with you narrating these incidents. You can just feel his zest for all things Physics while reading!
The lessons to be learned from this book are enormous. One could create an Engineering 101 course with the problems that he discusses in this book. Don't bother solving them - it is the thought process that matters - true to what Fenyman believed. Most of all, the biggest lesson here is that people are most enthusiastic, when they do what they love.
Stories that I enjoyed - - Trying to invent mathematical notation, and then figuring out why it would never work in practice. - Owning upto mistakes with the S pipe problem, and the biology experiment to see if all life was made of same matter. - Giving a lecture with Einstein, Pauli, and von Neumann in the room!!! - Asking for the map of a cat! (instead of a zoological chart!) - Asking for cream, AND lemon in tea! ("Surely you are joking Mr. Feynman!"). This dislike for all pretentious niceties is evident throughout the book. - Making up his mind about staying in Caltech, and refusing an offer that could not be refused from Cornell.
The human-side of Feynman comes out in the stories dealing with the show he puts up in his sister's school, and mourning his wife's death, a month after the devastating incident.
His talk about why "science education" in Brazil is lacking is equally applicable to India, and elsewhere in the Third World.
All said, the book is a fantastic read - the foreword says it all "It is amazing that so many wonderful things can happen in one life!"
I'll eat my words about the "fable approach" to self-help books - in this specific case!
The One Minute Manager has survived all these years - and it i...moreI'll eat my words about the "fable approach" to self-help books - in this specific case!
The One Minute Manager has survived all these years - and it is not without merit.
The narrative style is one where the author tells you something, and then tells you what he just told you about. This reinforces the points discussed immensely.
Very briefly, the "three secrets" discussed in the book are - Set clear goals - Praise your team - Reprimand your team and there are "rules" as to how, and when to do this. Basic stuff, and budding managers would do good remembering these.
The last quote in the book is memorable, because it summarizes the entire book in a few words - Goals Begin Behaviors, Consequences Maintain Behaviors.
The book is a very short read between an hour or two. And it is time well-spent.(less)
James Bond does not do it in the book! The character in the book is a lot different from the campy one portrayed on screen (surprise!). And the female...moreJames Bond does not do it in the book! The character in the book is a lot different from the campy one portrayed on screen (surprise!). And the female lead is not reduced solely to be Bond's love interest.
The book makes for a fairly light, and entertaining read.
The book was first published in 1955, and it is safe to assume that the story keeps up with the paranoia of those times. While it offers nothing in the way of technical wizardry, Bond's cars are cool :)
Bitterness, followed by a burst of warmth and laughter, and then sorrow - that's in a nutshell about The Elegance of the Hedgehog.
The first half of th...moreBitterness, followed by a burst of warmth and laughter, and then sorrow - that's in a nutshell about The Elegance of the Hedgehog.
The first half of the book goes on and on, with the ruminations of the central characters, Renee, and Paloma.
Renee's thoughts are fairly dense, have a superior air about them, at times arrogant, and patronizing. Paloma's are precocious, and that of an about-to-be-teenager's view of a "flawed" world. And they are united in their views of the French bourgeois. If you can get past this, a delightful second half awaits.
The book becomes un-put-downable with the introduction of the character, Kakuro Ozu. His is a character that provides a welcome respite in the lives of Renee, and Paloma, and the reader!
On type-setting - Renee's thoughts, and monologues are set in Times New Roman. Paloma's, in Arial. The prose is befitting of the character's age, AND the type-setting matches it. I have not read a book that had this kind of a presentation, liked it a lot.(less)