Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli – Book Review

I’ve not read a book on Physics since school but I do recognise how Physics is at the essence of our existence. I was keen to start with something that was simple and accessible and this book did not disappoint.

I do intend to read more foundational books on Physics to better understand the principles at play.

Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling – Book Review

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone right now, in 2019. After many, many years of constant persuasion by family and friends, I finally picked it up. And I found it to be just incredible despite of being aware of all the hype around it and having watched some bits of it from the movies.

I remember, I first picked it up in the eighth grade immediately after reading the Lord of the Rings but I dismissed it then as being too kiddish. Silly of me to judge it so quickly. Well, never too late because now I can not only appreciate the story, but also the writing.

I was left amazed by the writing as the characters in this book develop not so much because of streams of consciousness but because of the movement in the plot itself and that’s an incredible skill. 

I think as we get old, we tend to get more jaded and become more of a “muggle” so this book basically reaffirms your belief in the power of magic and imagination, which we tend to lose over time. 

Finally, if you have ever lived inside another world in your head, if you have ever believed even in a hint of magic and if you really, really care about great stories and still haven’t read these books, go unmuggle yourself right away, like I have.

Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag – Book Review

Ghachar Ghochar is a tight, riveting book about a family that experiences new money. There is a sequence that describes how a colony of ants infest their home. That is pure genius. In a small book, that detour, talks about the writer’s command over the story and using ants and the way the family deals with it, is revealing of its politics and again, at the cost of repeating, just genius.

A haunting, open-ended book that could soon end up on my all-time favourites. Masterfully translated as well.

To read and know more about the writer, Vivek Shanbhag, here’s a fine interview.

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman – Book Review

Call Me By Your Name was a book I unexpectedly took to. It came highly recommended by Megha, a dear friend, and people who’ve watched the movie have sung such high praise, including, Sharanya who’s been after my life to watch it.

So, as it must be, I read the book first. Call Me By Your Name is a slow, meandering read that delves deep into the inner world of Elio and his coming of sexual age, that fine summer in the Italian countryside.

Aciman’s writing, like an endless summer, has the quality of slowing time down. There were some parts that were a bit laboured.

But the reflective, meditative writing also evokes sensuality.

It makes you yearn for the slow life. Of reading, swimming, apricots and the endless rapture of first love.

I did eventually watch the film. It is true to the medium and takes the heart of the book and turns it into visual art. Both the book and the film are a feast for the senses.

Normal People by Sally Rooney – Book Review

“If people appeared to behave pointlessly in grief, it was only because human life was pointless, and this was the truth that grief revealed.”

Sally Rooney’s Normal People is exhausting and brilliant. To see these two people, Marianne and Connell, struggle to circumvent their fate and keep looking at the other for life support, almost, was so frustrating and yet, from the lens of my own life it felt so normal. And to know, through them, that our failures and shame are normal and binding to the rest of us is comforting.

That’s what a great book does. It lets you talk to yourself while you’re reading it. This book triggered many memories of my time in school and college. It made me peek into my inadequacies and loneliness and think about my choices in trickier times. The friends you choose, the peer group you try and impress, the validation you need – Normal People made me ask those questions, again, after all these years.

And may be that’s the thing. Our lives aren’t covered in one protective layer. We shield our innermost with an endless draping and this book, like a few rare others, lets you un-layer a little bit by the end of it.

This one is for the ages.

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou – Book Review

“Those who the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”

Bad Blood makes you pause and reflect on the nature of ambition. Is wanting to do good a true, selfless motivation or a function of the ego and a twisted kind of narcissism? 

Elizabeth Holmes’ relentless pursuit to change the world with Theranos, inspired by the legendary Steve Jobs is both cautionary and illuminating. Sitting in India, Silicon Valley represents the hallowed ecosystem of the world’s most influential startups and yet, within that supposedly bright and agile universe, two people were able to pull off this multi billion dollar fraud makes for a fascinating and often unbelievable read. 

As a reader, the book was a page-turner, riveting and all consuming. It’s great storytelling with the plot constantly driven by facts and action.

Truth is scarier than fiction, and this book, you so wish were a writer’s imagination but sadly it isn’t. 

Nonetheless, I highly recommend it.