I know only two extremes of Japan Literature : Manga Comics and Serious (ie, Nobel Prize Worthy) Novels. Never thought there could be anything in between.
“Salvation Of A Saint” by Keigo Higashino (Translated By Alexander O Smith & Elye J Alexander) changed my perception about Japanese writing. It is a mystery novel set in that country, unlike typical pulp novels, it is very well detailed and yet, a true unputdownable story.
After reading the novel, I did some web search about the author and came to know that there is an association for Mystery writers in Japan, and this author (Keigo Higashino) is it’s president. Wow, so much for my prejudice!
Now, about the novel.
First thing I liked about the novel is, it’s characters are very rich, Not in the money sense, but they are very well documented by the author, without disturbing the pace of the story. By the time you are half way into the book, you know every character very well, and could even predict what they will do in different story situations.
And then, the author goes one step above and starts teasing you, Every assumption you make is twisted, turned and you end up doubting how you could read those characters so wrong!
Detective Kusanagi, and his assistant Kaoru Utsumi are the ones trying to solve a murder case. It looks like a wife has killed her husband, but there are not enough evidence to prove so (in fact, the evidences are totally against that lady doing any murder), and they are running around to find what went wrong.
With this simple theme, Keigo Higashino has written a fantastic thriller. It has all the elements, from humor to suspense in the right mix. Most important, when the puzzle is solved, you are fully satisfied, not cheated (According to me, an important measure when it comes to success of a thriller story).
Now, a negative point which I disliked, Major one at that.
For a story of this kind, the amount of dialogues that are thrown in doesn’t fit. It helps in establishing characters, but after a point you start wondering ‘why these guys are talking non stop?’
In the beginning of the novel, I sort of liked it, because it gave an insight into the Japanese culture, but after a point it becomes dragging, because the premises explained via these characters is not something specific to Japan, you can rewrite this story with America or India as the backdrop, and not much would change.
Of course, I was not expecting a “Life In Japan” kind of book here, but the brand (and the way it is marketed) made me think it is a unique Japan novel, while it was only partly true.
Another point, The Indian edition of this book is published by Hachette India, and priced at Rs 350. Given the size and cost of other similar books (in this genre, I am not comparing talent here), this is rather high. I felt sub 200 would have been a good price for this.
Whenever I read any ancient Indian literature (Tamil or Other Regional Languages, translated in English) I always feel they contain so many gems, some of them can be used even today, in the same context, while many others would need modern interpretations.
These books can be split into two broad categories:
- Books like ThirukkuRaL, Naaladiyaar, NanneRi etc., which are written with a direct teaching purpose
- Books like RamayaNa, Vedas, Upanishads etc., which may have a different purpose (story telling, religious etc.,) but they too contain lessons which need digging out
First category is not a serious problem for us, either on our own, or on our schools, these lessons are taught and we seem to remember them well, and follow them whenever possible.
But the second category is very easy to miss for average reader (or non reader), Because these books are seen in a different context. For example, no one thinks of a lesson when a hero and a villain are fighting, they just enjoy reading about the fight and that’s it.
This book (Business Sutra, Written and Illustrated By Devdutt Pattanaik, Published by Aleph Book Company, 437 Pages, Rs 695) has done this difficult task of collecting business sutras from various indian ancient texts, hindu, jain, buddhist traditions, culture, compares it with the western and other culture based learnings, and the result is beautiful. Content is presented in a unique, simple style, with wonderful pictures to underline the points. I would say this is one of the very best illustrated books I have seen in the recent times.
Devdutt Pattanaik starts with the concept of belief, and encourages us to become CBOs (Chief Belief Officers) and then goes on to explain various other words and their business contexts, for example:
- Shakthi : Inborn strength, capacity and capability
- Shruthi : Personal Ideas that cannot be shared
- Surya : One who is radiant and attracts all attention
- Rangoli : A Pattern of thought
- Krishna : He who breaks rules to help others grow on their terms
- Ram : He who follows the rule at any cost to help others grow on their terms
This gives you a fair idea about what to expect from this book, If you are from India, almost every traditional word that you heard in a totally different context, finds a new meaning here, and used to teach a business lesson.
At the same time, this doesn’t make this book a mere series of thoughts, or comparisons, they are very well connected by good bird’s eye view chapters, interesting examples and case studies. This is different from any other business book you might have read.
After reading the book, I felt few things could’ve been handled differently. While most of the book unearths a different angle from a familiar thing, sometimes the same approach makes you wonder, ‘are we stretching this too much?’.
Also, this book is huge, by typical business book standards. It is easily readable, but not easy to carry. Means, you may not pick it in an air port and finish reading it in your next flight : typical use case for most business books. You need to dedicate time (and effort) to read, understand these business sutras.
I expected a concise pictorial representation of points expressed in each major subsection of the book, and preferably a larger chart / mind map to summarize the whole book. For a large book like this, it would have added lot of value.
Sometime back I tweeted about reCAPTCHA & how it helps digitize books. Many friends provided extra info, thanks to them, it made great reading and fascinating learning about this simple, yet powerful technology.
Based on what I learnt via those links, did a presentation today on reCAPTCHA and crowd sourcing in general to our team @ CRMIT. Sharing the slides & video here for those interested.
“The Tallest Of Smalls” is the first Max Lucado book I read. This well presented Kids’ book made me look for more of his works, especially those picture books with lovely tales, both imaginary or inspiring true incidents.
Compared to those other books, this “The Lucado Inspirational Reader” is a different kind of collection, it has series of quotes from various Max Lucado books, collected under various headings, excellent layout and simple presentation makes you read this in one go, but you will be thinking about it for many days to come.
In a way, this book also acts as a mini “Lucado Guide”, it gives small samples from various other books, and make you look for more. In many cases the book titles themselves create a curiosity and make you google for more details immediately. For example, think about this title: “Facing Your Giants”.
Publisher (Thomsan Nelson) deserves special kudos for making this 400+ page book easily accessible, by providing very good categories and index. This means you can read this book either as a reference for your speech / presentation, or just randomly open some page and start reading.
My only complaint will be, the chosen categories (of quotes) are not wide enough, I am sure Max Lucado has covered many other things (something I have noticed in my limited reading of his books), which could’ve been covered here, instead of making it circle around few topics related to faith.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Today I gave a talk on Time Management Basics (& few related topics), to a team of young engineers @ Moolya Bangalore. Special Thanks to my friend Dhanasekar, who invited me to speak on this topic.
Moolya wanted me not to use any Presentation / Slides and make it an informal session. So, all I have is a list of topics I covered (or wanted to cover and the MP3 Audio Recording. I used a tablet PC to record the audio, with no mike, So the audio quality may be poor, But I guess you can manage!
One note, this is a very basic talk on time management topics, don’t expect any advanced discussions / hands on practice, I wanted to cover as many topics as possible in the given time slot and this is the best we could manage. Hope it is useful to some.
- Time Management <> Scheduling
- Time Management : Macro Level / Micro Level
- Tracking your current usage of time / Comparison / Action
- Task List / Tools
- Time bound tasks
- Handling Interruptions
- Pomedoro Project
- Delegation & Automation
- Emails & Time Management
- Email Flags
- Phone Calls & Time Management
- Meetings & Time Management : As an organizer, As a participant
- Handling “Wait Time”
- Work : Life Balance
MP3 Audio Recording
<To Be Uploaded>
N. Chokkan …
09 01 2013
I am associated (As a translator / editor) with Pratham Books, a Bangalore based not-for-profit publishers who are committed to a vision of “A Book In Every Child’s Hand”.
Pratham is publishing books in English and multiple Indian Languages, at a very reasonable price, coupled with many projects to take them to libraries and NGOs for free, Recently they also started publishing “Story Cards” (Sort of MiniBooks) for very young children,
On this regard, they have planned a new project called ‘multiple language story card sachet’. Success of their story cards at schools has inspired them to think of ways to reach these story cards to children at an easily accessible kirana store or a shop around the street corner in a sachet. A transparent sachet contains 5 different story cards at very affordable price point of Rs 20. Each story card is a story written and illustrated to fit a folded A4 size paper in 4 colours and laminated to last for at least 2-3 years. And these come in many language options too!
Pratham Books stands to win a grant from a contest announce recently, called the “Spark the Rise” challenge. (http://www.sparktherise.com/ ) They need our support to make this dream real.
You can Help Pratham Books reach out to many more children and readers by voting for their project with a Missed Call Or SMS Or Web,
1. Give a missed call from your mobile phone. Call +912261850908 with your mobile phone to vote. A confirmation SMS will be sent to you after your call. Missed call votes will not be accepted from landlines. Only Indian mobile numbers can vote
2. Alternatively you can also vote via SMS. Type in – MHRISEP06880 and send it to 54646 (Charges : Rs.3 per SMS)
3. If you’d rather vote online, you can do so by visiting the site, registering on it and then voting. You can’t vote without registering on the site. The URL is : http://www.sparktherise.com/projectdetails.php?pId=6880
If you have any queries about the project, please write to email@example.com
On 17th November 2012, I did a presentation @ #TouthTour Conference, Chennai (http://www.touchtour.in/) on Mobile UX. This topic sounds technical, but my session was VERY non technical as I just wanted to create an awareness about good UX among the newbie developers and UI Designers. Guess the session went well, from the responses / offline interactions I had!
Here are the slides from this session, Browse thro’ and share your comments. Thanks!
N. Chokkan …
19 11 2012