Summary of Reading – August 19′

The Glass Palace; Amitav Ghosh – A book reliant on emotions and relationships. Really didn’t bode well with me. The end was depressing and cruel, with characters having been developed throughout the book being separated and consequently dying. I usually don’t read books in this category. This book just ensured that i’ll continue to do so.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Douglas Adams – One of the best books I’ve ever read in my life. Challenges the borders of imagination. The one thing that stands out throughout is just how absurd, and surprisingly realistic everything seems to be. Adams’s use of humour and sarcasm is also a defining aspect of the book. From mice being ‘pan-dimensional’ beings to depressed robots with brains the size of the planets, this book is one hell of a read for those who love what lies beyond. His little digs at some of our defining aspects also avoid failing to grab attention. There were two that I distinctly remember. The first being the one about construction crews demolishing homes, inflated to gargantuan levels by starting off the book with an intergalactic construction crew that demolishes the Earth (the dolphins knew!). The second is much more subtle – Dent’s use of various ‘stylistic devices’ to provide a feedback for Vogon poetry.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Douglas Adams – This book takes a more poignant tone, but not without degrading the humour. Zaphod entire argument of anyone wanting to be a president not being a good fit for president comes true, dramatically, with the ‘man who controls the universe.’ However, Ford and Arthur’s stay on prehistoric earth grabbed the headlines for me. I adored how Adams manages to use the Golgafrinchans to convey both humor and anger at us humans. Their insane amounts of stupidity, which was responsible for tree-dwellers dying out and being named cave-men, and war being declared on regions with no people did manage to capture the essence of what humans are. Personally, I feel Adams uses this to take a hit at the entire concept of war and egoism.

Life, the Universe and Everything; Douglas Adams – An absolutely brilliant read. Adams hilariously transforms the popular game of cricket into an intergalactic war that kills over 2 ‘grillion’ people. The element of realism makes this worth reading. Personally, I think there were strong connotations between the people of Krikkit and religion. Both behave similarly in the sense that they meet circumstances/events that oppose their ideology or beliefs, and then choose to destroy rather than embrace those self same circumstances. The way Adams uses the white krikkit robots as symbols of death and loyalty (in my opinion) is also spectacular. In all, another stunning book in the series.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish; Douglas Adams – This book takes on quite a different tone and setting from the previous books. Surprisingly, Arthur gets a girlfriend. This rounds off his character arc well. He’s settled, got back his planet, and has a person to relax and connect with. It brings out Arthur’s social side, while providing answers to some plaguing questions (but not providing THE question).

Mostly Harmless; Douglas Adams – In typical Douglas Adams fashion, Douglas Adams kills Fenchurch (not exactly kill, but shift Arthur to a universe where Fenchurch doesn’t exist). In addition to being uncannily depressing, it also brings about the destruction of the old guide. Furthermore, to compound this misery, Earth is destroyed yet again, and all of the main characters die. As I said, depressing. It does round off the series pretty well. Adams started by destroying the Earth and ensuring all of the main characters survive, and he ends by destroying the Earth and ensuring all of the main characters die. Perhaps Martin got his inspiration from here.

Summary of Reading – July 19′

Breakout Nations; Ruchr Sharma; 2012; non-fiction – A fascinating book that is made even more interesting given how it gives a somewhat unique insight into what the world was forecasted to look like almost a decade ago. This is wonderful given how some of the long-term predictions Sharma made in his book are visibly underway, whereas some have been woefully torn apart by economics, politics, and war. Lastly, I especially admired the section on the Indian subcontinent, specifically the portion where Sharma gives his views on the ‘rising’ Rahul Gandhi. A truly wonderful read that links together the past and the present.

Prisoners of Geography; Tim Marshall; 2015; non-fiction – Another brilliant book that managed to convince me that a field of study I previously considered alien and declining plays a much larger role in our world – geopolitics. Marshall successfully navigates the issues of explaining politics using nature. However, on the downside, his language is rugged and not wholly engaging – in stark contrast with the ideas he attempts to portray. There was also too much negativity buried in how most world maps were drawn by ignorant leaders (although I do not know whether it is right to question that).

The Soul of an Octopus; Sy Montgomery; 2015; non-fiction – A fascinating and complex book that enthralled me right from the start. As a presumption, I assumed that, even before starting to read it, that writing about octopuses would be incredibly hard. However, the author manages to weave together some alien facts into a cohesive structure. She also fuses together the best of fiction and non-fiction elements, giving the book a spectral quality. In fact, for a certain period of time, one feels galvanised to make his/her own aquarium. However, what I found lacking was the author’s focus (especially in the latter parts of the book) on worthless stuff that vitiates the flow of language and contradicts her purposes at the beginning. One such example is the chapter on getting octopuses to blind date, which makes no sense to me (given the context).

Contact; Carl Sagan; 1985 – Sagan, once again, doesn’t fail to impress. What I admired about this book was the constant sense of longing, longing to conquer what lies beyond our pale blue dot. Combined with the conflict between humanism and politics which dominates the plot, and the variety of character traits Sagan imbibes into his characters, the book is a stunning read. From people like Kitz, who is frozen in the Cold-War and thus elects to ignore fact and choose hypocrisy, to Hadden, the very definition of a mad scientist x tech wiz, the book contains a wide array of characters differentiated by not just nationality and ideology, but by opinions, thoughts and individuality. Although I fail to agree with Sagan’s final impression of love (cliché) being the only common denominator amongst ‘The Five,’ this book did leave a lasting effect – a will to wonder about whether or not such advanced civilisations actually do exist out there. I completely sympathised with Ellie’s character, and especially her stubbornness and arrogance when it came to denouncing opponents logically. Hadden too had a deep impact on me. His solicitude combined with his love for space and inability to stop believing in the most arcane theories possible made him a role model esque figure. Although his death came a bit too early, I couldn’t help but relate to his desire to see Jupiter’s swirling mass of hydrogen and helium. On the other hand, although I didn’t like it, but one has to accept that Sagan’s repeated emphasis on flawed human characteristics such as political borders transcending into science, inability to believe in the truth and willingness to accept religion did pay off by representing some of the biggest challenges we face as a species. This book will surely leave you shaken, and perhaps cause many to see how important space truly is and how fragile our planet is.


Currently Reading

Automate the Boring Stuff With Python; Al Sweigart; 2015

Programming in Python3; Mark Summerfield; 2015

The Glass Palace; Amitav Ghosh; 2016

Insights from ‘The Soul of an Octopus’ (Sy Montgomery)

It would suffice to say that this book was an eye-opener. It forced me into recognising octopuses as sentient and heterogenous beings. Some hints were even made, quite convincingly, to suggest that they are smarter than us. In short, I don’t often encounter instances wherein humankind’s intellectual credibility is questioned. Montgomery’s striking language further elucidates upon the emotions, facts and narratives she conveys. Some of these are mesmerising by themselves, such as her emphasis on how octopuses, like humans, savour food before consuming it. Another fact, more daunting than inspiring, is that humans are like twigs to octopuses. Mere dolls in the face of the monstrous forces these marine beings can generate. All in all, The Soul of An Octopus is both frightening and revealing. Frightening in that it makes octopuses seem to be creatures favoured by evolution. Revealing in that it removes the veil that makes us humans believe ourselves to be godly with respect to the planet.

To not see how cunning octopuses, one would have to be more than blind. For example, the tale of Octavia. Octavia managed to simultaneously greet five people with five limbs, while using her remaining three limbs to steal a bucket of fish. Genius. Accompanying such stories is some delightful language. Montgomery, like any good author, makes us feel as if the events are happening right in front of our eyes! She gives every tale a real-world link. The loss of a beloved one – the demise of an octopus. The horror of Alzheimer’s – the nightmare of Octopus’s senescence. Humans solving riddles – Octopuses pening boxes and operating levers to get to their food.

On the downside, the palpable sense of magic turned into boredom and frustration due to how the author attempted to force the readers into mirroring her feelings, especially towards the latter stages of the book. For example, near the end, Montgomery, chose to dedicate 20 odd pages to an octopus blind date. This made no sense to me. As the book approached its end, it became evident that Montgomery wasn’t trying to broach a topic, but wanted to transform the reader into octopus-fanatic overnight. Dull.

Having conflicted good and bad, let’s move on.

After I finished reading, there was one thing pertinently nagging at me – consciousness. The idea of consciousness, in broadly speaking all animals, was evoked again and again. Luckily, this paid off. Do correct me if I’m wrong, but the very idea, or rather concept of consciousness is rather ubiquitous. We don’t understand what it is. Not by any means. As exhibited in The Soul of an Octopus, even organisms lacking neural systems have displayed individualistic behaviours (I’m talking about the starfish). This idea of ‘consciousness bereft of a brain’ may seem absurd, but it is true. We have always thought ourselves to be distinct based on consciousness. Turns out, we’re not that different when it comes to being sentient.

Research teams around the globe have found evidence of both thought and curiosity in many different types of organisms. The octopus is one of many. Not only have octopuses exhibited traits of intelligence, but have shown curiosity by exploring new areas (eg. new aquarium tanks), using various types of solids as armour (eg. coconut shells) and interacting with humans. The most understandable of these examples is that of Octavia, who remembered her handler’s warming presence not by sight, but by touch! And then proceeded to envelop him in octopus slime, while ignoring her food.

It is hard to say if we will ever understand what consciousness is. Despite this, one thing is certain, we aren’t the only sentient organisms on this pale blue dot.

The Four – Scott Galloway

The perfect read for the businessman, this book ruthlessly analyses and uncovers the successful strategies behind the four, modern-day monopolies, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple. From target markets to competitors, from stocks to brick and mortar stores, from luxury goods to advertising, this book covers all aspects of a high school business management textbook. The way Scott uncovers the working DNA behind these four mega-companies makes the book intriguing and attractive. The author highlights future plans, industries and target audiences of the ‘big four.’ Also, perhaps the part of the book, the author talks about the next big company, the list of possible candidates include Tesla, Uber, Airbnb, Microsoft and Warner Bros. This book is the holy grail for an entrepreneur, the business strategies mentioned in the book could make your business rocket sky high.

The Black Hole War – Leonard Susskind

A brilliant read for the scientifically attracted mind. This book is full of scientific models and theories, but all of them are explained brilliantly, making this book truly blend into the ‘normal’ reading market. The Black Hole Theory, coupled with the String theory truly makes it a compelling read. Most importantly, the psychological and theoretical battle between Leonard Susskind, Gerard T’Hooft and Stephan Hawking regarding a relatively unknown object, black holes. What the human race is sure about is the fact is that there is a bone-crushing singularity right at the centre of a black hole, capable of exerting enough gravitational force to restrict light from moving past its event horizon. The concepts at battle make this book worthwhile, Stephen Hawking on one side despoiling the foundations of Physics by stating that Black Holes evaporate, leading to loss of information with Susskind and T’Hooft arguing that information is either emitted out as Hawking radiation or Black Holes don’t evaporate.

The Journey That Changed The Course of WW2

Well, this is gonna be a big thing. I’ve written my first book, a book! It’s titled “Survival Sandstorm: The Journey that Changed the Course of World War II” and the genre is historical fiction.

This book started with one idea, an idea which dominated my mind before it finally took shape in the physical world. Ever since 6th grade, I’ve been trying to write short stories, but none of them had variety, they were inspired from novels and movies such as interstellar, Harry Potter and well, Geronimo Stilton. This idea formed in my mind in 7th grade, when I brainstormed about writing a book. I mentally assessed my failing tries to write something significant, I thought and thought about possible, genuine story lines, story lines which would capture readers. A story line which would bring out the best in me. I settled down on this idea. Before I go into depth on this ‘idea, ‘ I would like to underline the fact that the idea and storyline I had at the start are radically different from what the book is now. Some major characters had to be added and removed, all in a quest for captivating the reader.

The basic idea I had at the start was about a Russian pilot, fighting against the Germans during the second world war. I thought about that pilot being commissioned to transport hostages across the Sahara desert, and certain events I thought would define the book. As I wrote more and more, as the story came to life and expanded and started to breathe, I didn’t need a schedule or a plan, the storyline seemed to dictate itself, it was as if a seemingly natural process was dominating my transmissions from chapter to chapter and event to event.

I would really like to thank my parents, they made this book possible. Sometimes, the story would get stuck, I would have problems with some details that on a general basis, amounted to very less but were very crucial to me. Sometimes, I would not write for a week or a month, my parents were always there for me and the book, they would encourage me to continue, they would encourage me to just write my heart out and not pay attention to minute details, they could be fixed at a later stage.

The book releases on 15th December, and I can’t wait for it.

Survival Sandstorm The Journey that Changed the Course of World War II

Here is the blurb for the book Survival Sandstorm: The Journey that Changed the Course of World War II:

JULY 12TH, 1941: The plane flew over the great Sahara, into the face of the devilish storm. The clouds were ready to swallow the plane, to render it useless, to destroy it and to mutilate it. Aboard the plane were three hostages, three hostages from Nazi Germany, three hostages who could’ve changed the course of world war 2 if they had reached their destination. This is the story of how Ivsker Vodkech, the best pilot in Russia battled against all odds to deliver those three hostages into allied hands, how he battled against all odds to uncover the devilish organisation operating in Africa, how he battled against all odds to survive.”

To purchase this book click here : Survival Sandstorm: The Journey that Changed the Course of World War II

Facebook Link : Survival: Sandstorm

The Martian – Andy Weir

We finally have a book which can rival dark matter, finally!!! The Martian is a book from beyond the boundaries of the earth(actually, it is based on Mars). It is a book full of tragedy, irony, comedy and just pure awesomeness. Every serious moment is atoned for by relief through comedy, the story is perfectly set and the factual details are correct to the core. This story almost feels like a real Martian adventure. The thing that is brilliant about this book is not the story, but how the author has connected it with real-life events in every small thing: hatred of disco music, a desire for coffee, human instinct to crack jokes and cry, tendencies to eat full meals and much more, the Martian truly is a mix of all the different, inspiring elements a book can have, a must read for space enthusiasts. The realistic-ness of the atmosphere generated by the author sucks the reader into the story, it absorbs you and it captivates you. What makes this book more amazing is the fact that the author has the technical details down to the wire, such as the chemistry involved in separating hydrazine molecules and creating water or the radiation given off by a plutonium cell.

MOSSAD – Michael Bar Zohar

In the Middle East, there is a Zionist nation with a supreme intelligence force which rivals the likes of the CIA and INTERPOL, this intelligence agency is known as the MOSSAD, and it belongs to the formidable power of Israel. Israel, in recent years, has emerged as the dominant force in the battle for peace in the middle east, sound ironic, right? With ramsads such as Meri Dagan and Little Isser, the MOSSAD has carried out thousands of successful operations from rescuing Jews from the clutches of the Ethiopian government to delaying Iran’s nuclear project. Created in 1948, the MOSSAD succeeded the Haganah, which was the Israeli secret service till 1947. With enemies like Syria, Iran and Egypt, the MOSSAD has operated with extreme precision and success. Agencies around the world rely on the MOSSAD to eliminate threats, assassinate terrorists, gathering secret information, delay nuclear projects and forge relations with other countries. This book is one of the best ever reads for nonfiction, it embodies the traits and values o countless MOSSAD operatives and ramsads. The MOSSAD is perhaps the most active intelligence agency around the world, performing and executing more actions than the CIA itself.

The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gawande


Brilliance at work! Never before had I thought that a basic thing such as checklists could improve and define our life and job in a new way, in fact, the overpowering data and statistics thrown into the book provide the innovative ideas of the author with a powerful spine. In fact, it is astonishing how even trained professionals, like doctors and pilots, forget routine procedures which sometimes eventually lead to emergencies and complications. In fact, the author clearly and effectively links the expertise of professionals with a reader and that relation, in the end, is much more important than the general idea, innovation, preventive measures and statistics. In all, this book is a must-read for people who forget a lot, and for trained professionals. Who knows? What if we see checklists for almost every job or endeavour on the planet. Checklists have already become an integral part of our lives, we see them every day: installing applications on a Macintosh, solving math problems using formulae, recipes for delicacies, having a sports team practice and flow of debate in competitions.


A Dance With Dragons(ii)- George Martin

An epic series comes to an epic end, at least for now until the winds of winter is published. As always, George RR Martin leaves the story in suspense, with Daenerys and Drogon facing Khal Pono’s khalasar, Theon Greyjoy about to die and Jon snow in a state of feeling only the icy cold but not the pain inflicted upon being stabbed four times. The seven kingdoms are ripe for conquest, but to go to the light you must pass beneath the shadow. The stage is set for yet another drastic war, this time with Daenerys in it. Will Cersei’s prophecy come true? what does the future hold? and yeah, winter is here!