This page contains the books that I have read and brief reviews about my reaction after reading them. Since these are personal opinions, they may be subject to my biases.
In this piece of fiction set in 1860s Russia is a masterpiece of character development and introspection of the after effects of commtting a murder. The story follows Rodion “Rodya” Raskolnikov who is an impoverished former law student in St. Petersburg. Raskolnikov believes that the root of his anguish and mental state lies in his surroundings - the underbelly of St. Petersburg and stricken with poverty - and proceeds to murder an old pawnbroker and her sister. The rest of the book takes a look closely at how Raskolnikov sinks into madness and restlessness. Has a very rich set of supporting characters and the setting and tone of the entire novel is just awesome.
This is an epic description of the history of the world from the point of view of trade, from the time of the rise of Mesopotamia, where warring kings subjugated outlying kingdoms and their peoples, to the modern world where the US, China and Russia are trying to project their influence over other nations, this book touches upon the human history from the point of view of trade. Peter Frankopan weaves a very grand story of how trade and the fight for domninance of the important trade routes - the silk roads as he calls them - have always been the top priority of civilizations, and how the fight for them continues even now. He also illustrates why and how religions and scientific ideas also spread along these routes. The book is filled with interesting and intriguing anecdotes and stories of rulers, emperors, and civlizations. Will definitely recommend if you are a history enthusiast.
Autobiography of Sid Meier, the man behind some of the most iconic games of the 80s and 90s, and the well known Civilization series. A relaxing read since this book does not contain dramatic politics, fall outs or other twisting drama generally seem in other biographies. Sid Meier also touches upon his personal life at times, but his narrative mostly revolves around the companies he initially co-found, the people he worked with and of course, the technology and games he helped create.
This is a good and practical guide for improving your skills in the art of negotation. The authors argue that negotiation is a tool that is so universal that having the upper hand and arming yourself with certain tricks will always help you sway your opponent to see and even possible agree with you. One of the most interesting things I learnt from this book is that negotiation, contrary to what I believed earlier, is not a rational decision making mechanism, and that human emotions, and the unconciousness do have a significant role to play.
Hailed as the poster boy of fiction set in dystopian societies, this is really an epic work. Orwell beautifully manages to convey to the readers what life in an oppressed regime can look like where every move is monitored and you can “vanish” overnight for speaking out your mind. The fame and the cult followint that this book has is definitely justified.
This is a fascinating read about how genomics can help understand the evolution of Homo Sapiens, and in cases where there is not much archeological evidence available, fill in the gaps of the evolutionary lineage of the Homo Sapiens, and the other pre-historic species that predated or existed alongside us. This is defintiely not a light read and involves use of heavy biology, genomics, maths and stats, so definitely will need to Google a lot and look up explanations for specific things! Overall, highly recommend this book if pre-history or the evolution of Homo Sapiens intrigues you.
One of the best personal development books I have read, the idea of “deep work” and its benefits are even more relatable in today’s “modern” workplace where “openness” and disruptive collaboration are so much of a norm that the value of deep work is even more needed. Cal Newport presents many ideas here which arguably are relevant more than ever.
This phenomenal book, which is the re-telling of the investigative journalism done by John Carreyrou on Theranos, and it’s founder, Elizabith Holmes, which was supposed to be a game changer in the field of bio-informatics. The tale of Holmes’s and Theranos’ dramnatic rise (at one point Holmes was the yongest woman billionaire and Thernos was a startup with a valuation higher than Uber) on a foundation of lies, deception of stakeholders, and threats of litigation to prospective whistleblowers, and the subsequent downfall is a cautionary tale for both startups and investors backing them.
This was definitely a good read, and mostly lists out high level techniques that people can use to discover lies, or signs of lies. I felt that this book is more geared towards professionals who have to deal with “lies” a lot in their are of work, and probably not for people like me. Moreover, the techniques outlined in the book are only helpful if they are actively practiced and utilized. I would probably recommend skipping this book.
I picked this book up on the impulse after reading about Molly Bloom and her exlusive underground poker club in an article. This book was an “okay” read and mentioned Bloom’s interaction with some celebrity hotshots like Toby McGuire and Ben Affleck. This is a book that you want to pick only if you have nothing else on your reading list.
One of the most philosophical and engaging books I have ever read. Harari puts the question of “the meaning of human civilization” right from the beginning to the reader and goes to show that contrary to religious notions of humanity being “special”, there is nothing in fact special about us. He briefly touches over how Homo Sapiens came into being, how ancient civilizations first sprung up, what the effects of European colonialism were on humanity and so on, and each of his examples and narratives are to the point. The effect that this book had in me was that I became more confident in my nihilistic worldviews!
This is a light, but interesting, read about Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Scott Galloway raises some of the questions that others have raised about big corporate behemoths like these. He does sometimes over exaggerate the “evil” that these organizations embody, and some of it is just pure personal opinion.
This is one of the most interesting and intriguing books I have read hands down. Partly a biography of one of the greatest scientific minds to have ever lived, John von Neumann, the core of its content is to introduce the concept of game theory, a field that von Neumann pioneered. The author presents several interesting instances and questions about the implications of using game theory in the real world had, especially concernning the preemptive firest strike policy that von Neumann staunchly favoured.
In this wonderful book on the history of cryptography, Simon Singh is able to illustrate the art beautifully. He starts from the ancient times with simple ciphers and slowly works his way to the modern world with illustrative examples that kept me enanged. This book is perfect for someone who, without the required mathematical rigor, wants to understand from a high level how cryptography works.
This book talks mainly about John Romero and John Carmack, and the gaming behemoth that they created in the form of id Software. David Kushner walks us through the humble beginnings of id software, how they churned out popular titles in the 80s and beginning of the 90s and finally brought one of the most highly controversial, yet wildly successful video game franchises of all time - DOOM - that not only earned money and fame to id Software and its top echelons, but also the lasting legacy id Software has left.
Just like the cult-like following of Steve Jobs piqued my curiousity, so did Elon Musk’s fame. This book also paints a very honest and realistic picture of what Musk is like and how he is not only a brilliant marketeer, but also rather a formidable expert of the domains he leads his flagships - Tesla and SpaceX. Vance not only does a fantastic job in painting the grand schemes that Musk has set out for himself which Musk believes will help furthur the scientific cause of humanity, but he also is able to shed light into the mind of Musk.
Having initiated the creation of two highly important pieces of software - the Linux kernel and the DVCS Git, David Diamond does not mince word when he calls Torvalds an accidental revolutionary. The book is a biography of Torvalds and David Diamond playfully crafts the narrative of Torvalds into something that is fun to read and at the same time gives an insight into the mind of this accidental revolutionary. As such, I have nothing in specific to mention about this book since Torvalds is relatively well known in IT circles and anyone curious about how Torvalds started the creation of Linux, this book is a good read.
I went blindly into this book after the recommendation from a book review on Reddit and wasn’t disappointed - John really does die in the end! Jokes apart, David Wong did a beautiful job of crafting this spicy story between a few misfits. My take on this book is that if you are looking for a short book for entertaining yourself over a weekend, do not hesitate to pick this one up!
Having loved the first book, A Game of Thrones, in the ASoIaF series, I started reading this and again, like book one, this is a great piece of work in the grand fantasy genre. GRRM’s writing is perfect and flawless in this book as well.
Since the show Game of Thrones was at the peak of its popularity in this year, I decided to give the tomes written by GRRM a try. As good as the TV series adaptation of Game of Thrones was (discounting season eight of course), the books are even better! Also, GRRM’s style of writing is really perfect, which allowed me to keep a constant pace and stay with the narrative in book one of A Song of Ice and Fire. If you loved the show (minus season eight, again), you will love the books even more.
From a very young age I have seen Steve Jobs get idolized to a point where he now has a cult following. I wanted to know and understand the life of Jobs better and Walter Issacson did a fabulous job in penning the image and evolution of Jobs throughout the years. Issacson also mentioned that it was Jobs who approached him to work on the latter’s biography, hence will “assume” that the facts mentioned in the book are balanced. After reading this book, the opinion I formed about Jobs was that the guy was definitely a genius at marketing and selling. He saw the potential of the personal computer, and was one of the faces of revolution in home computing. However, he was also very selfish and self-centered, and sometimes behaved totally like a jerk. Getting ousted from Apple and his subsequent return and leading from the front to turn Apple’s fortunes around did humble him a bit though. Recommend this book since it neither glorifies Jobs, nor undermines his legacy, and just gives a straightforward account of his personal and professional life.
It was around this year that I had discovered Stephen King and all accounts of his work proclaimed that he is the “King of Horror”. I gave this book a shot purely based on reviews on the internet, and was not at all disappointed! This definitely is a must read for any fan of the horror and supernatural genre. Jack Torrence will forever be one of the best (or should I say worst?) characters I have encountered in horror.
I decided to give this cult-classic a try based on the hype around this book, and was definitely worth it! Since this was a comedy, it served as a nice break for me from my spree of reading only thrillers. I liked out how Douglas Adams laid out the setting and general mood of the character, especially the protagonist Aurther Dent and his companion Ford Perfect. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a not-so-long, but at the same time, entertaining, read.
This is by far the best book featuring Dr. Robert Langdon, and is one the most epic thrillers I have read. The plot of the book revolves around a philosophical dilemma and the cat-and-mouse chase that Dr. Langdon has with the antagonist had truly kept me hooked for the entirety of the book.
After I watched the movie Phantoms (based on this book), I resolved to read the book, since the plot and mood of the movie had much much more potential and clearly did not do justice to the book. I was not disappointed the least. Dean Koontz is a fantastic horror thriller writer and I don’t regret reading this book at all!
This book is probably the “least exciting” of the Robert Langdon series in the way that the climax and its resolution was not THAT dramatic. Overall, Dan Brown still managed to pay attention to details and created a nice story.
After reading Dan Brown’s work exclusively, I wanted to try and explore other authors and picked this book up after a recommendation from my English teacher at that time. This book definitely was a good read, and I remember having mixed feelings after reading this, primarily because I had been reading thrillers and expected jaw dropping twists and turns in all subsequent readings!
The first Sherlock Holmes book that I read. I think based on the time and era it was written in, it was really good and Sherlock Holmes has influenced later literary works in the crime genre (for example the character of Feluda by noted Indian film maker and writer Satyajit Ray). Also, what was interesting is that limited technological advances had been made with forensics, so Holmes’ success solely came from his logical deduction abilities and his expertise of doing so is illustrated clearly.
This book needs no introduction and is considered one of the best books out there! I really liked this satirical allegory of the Russian revolution and Orwell’s embodiement of each of the real world characters in Animal Farm. The progression, climax and finally the end is perfectly written and is a very enjoyable read.
After reading Deception Point, I picked this book straight away and again, had mixed feelings after finishing it. Nothing much worth mentioning of the reading experience of this book.
I had picked up this book, the first work of Dan Brown that I read which did not feature Dr. Robert Langdon, and had mixed feelings after reading this. On the outset, I felt that the book definitely had the characteristics of a typical Dan Brown novel, but somehow didn’t live up to the level of his other works.
Hands down one of the best books in the thriller subgenre I have read till date. The perfect and balanced blend between history and fiction was brought to life by Dan Brown and I finished the book in two days! This book continued to build my fascination with Dr. Robert Langdon’s character.
This was the first piece of fiction that momentarily piqued my interest in Dan Brown’s work and seek out similar “thrillers”. My reaction after reading this was to research all about the Freemasons, secret societies and the Illuminati! This book also had such a gripping effect on me that I have since read all of Dan Brown’s books featuring the symbologist Dr. Robert Langdon and his various adventures.