Naga Chokkanathan

Archive for August 2013

This is an interesting self help book, which promises to unlock the door to success, by providing a set of keys.

Author proposes a methodology called HLP. This focuses on three time periods which need different treatments:

  • Healing your past
  • Living in present
  • Planning future

It sounds very obvious, but within in each of these items (H, L & P), author provides useful tips on what to do and what not to do. Each chapter contains wonderful stories and anecdotes while not deviating from the central theme of the book.

One thing I enjoyed a lot is, the book’s simple style. You can finish reading it very fast as this is not a buzz word rich book. Practical stories, practical lessons, simple points that anyone can understand, appreciate, and most important, tell others (which is really the acid test when it comes to this genre of books)

Also, each chapter has a nice cartoon attached to it, When you read these, within five minutes or so, you got the total gist of the book. Then you can choose the chapters you are interested in and do a full read eventually. This may sound odd, but is a useful trick to impress the twitter generation!

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I got introduced to this book via a very interesting Facebook campaign. I saw number of people posting a picture of a book, along with a mug. That mug had the book’s cover printed on it.

Later, in the same facebook page they started posting interesting dialogues from the book, again with the strong book wrapper branding. This not only promoted the book’s content, but also made sure people will remember the wrapper when they visit a book store next time. It was a very useful marketing campaign, at least for an Indian book.

Oops. The CRM consultant in me took over, even when I just wanted to just write a book review. Let me return to the topic.

Amit Shankar’s “Love Is Vodka” Novel, published by Vitasta, is an interesting read. It will be criminal to summarize a full novel in one sentence, but for the twitter generation, this is a journal style story of a young girl.

To be fair, this book has less story and more characterisation. Amit Shankar seems to be focusing on providing snapshots of people, how they behave, how they interact with each other, and put them in interesting situations. Once this is established, the reader can have fun in being inside the book, than expecting twists and turns in every corner.

This works to a large part of the book. You learn about Moon Ami, a girl born to a French father and an Indian mother. Due to various circumstances, her mother raises Moon Ami as a single patent, even though the father is technically still “in touch”. This puts lots of complexities in the girl’s personality and she starts looking at the world, people around her in a different manner.

When Moon Ami wants to make a career, she faces lots of interesting people. Many times she is cool because no decisions are to be made, she is after all a simple girl and can afford to be irrational sometimes, even in the matters of love.

But the world becomes totally different when she becomes famous. She is not able to handle the fame and its aftermaths. Love as a word and as a concept confuses her a lot and she is torn between choices, because she is not able to put things in buckets like good, bad etc.,

Amit Shankar’s writing style is simple, works perfectly fine. You can finish this book in a single sitting, and you would still remember the important characters. That is a big thing, given the fact that the book is marketed under popular fiction.

Few negative things about the book, while the main character is strong enough, her thought process is not well explained in certain scenarios, especially when she makes never before decisions. So the reader is confused if she is acting as per her personality, or not.

Similarly, most of the secondary characters are not described enough to support the story. They are just there while the story seems to be moving on with the main characters alone.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

R. K. Narayan’s famous “Swami and Friends” novel has a portion where the hero looks at an Atlas and wonders how they were able to draw those complex maps accurately.

Especially, Shape of some European countries really confuses him. He starts thinking how people live in those strange countries? Do they look different from us?

Next, he starts thinking about how to really “see” those countries in the shapes they are drawn. May be he should go to the top of town hall and see around, then India will look exactly same as how it is drawn in his Atlas.

Of course, we all know this is an imaginary thought process and only kids can think like that. But in reality, how do they draw these maps? With technologies like GPS, Crowd sourcing etc., it may be easier today. But in ancient days, when these maps were originally drawn (and they remain largely unchanged till date, at least on the macro level), how they would’ve done all these.

Again, a piece of fiction. In Jeffrey Archer’s “Paths Of Glory” novel, he introduces a character who is used as a human scale, to measure and document hills.

With all these fancy (and imaginary) answers, I expected a lot in Sanjeev Sanyal’s “Land Of The Seven Rivers”, and the author gave me much more than what I wanted.

This book is a wonderful example of how a non fiction should be written. Till I read this, I was thinking Geography is a boring topic (and hence, I largely forgot it after class 10). Sanjeev Sanyal changed my perspective about this topic by wonderful research, simple narration style, and surprises in every single page. It is such an enjoyable read you won’t even realize you are digesting so much of solid data in this magical book.

“Land Of Seven Rivers” presents India’s history in a unique manner. As you read this book, you will see the familiar Indian map getting shaped in your mind’s eye. A Brilliant book and strongly recommended.

(Land Of The Seven Rivers : Sanjeev Sanyal : Penguin Books : Rs 399)

Couple of years back I read Sachin Garg’s novel “I’m Not Twenty Four” and liked it. After that I Started following him regularly, via books and social media.

His latest novel “Come On, Inner Peace, I Don’t Have All Day!” is a very good read. Especially for its wonderful characterisation and dialogue.

This time, Sachin Garg has picked a much serious topic (something with a potential to change lives), yet handles it in a light style that is typical of his books (and something which suits his readers very well).

Sachin takes couple of characters from one of his earlier novels, and continues to write what happened in their lives. But the treatment is very different from his earlier works and he has focussed more on philosophy, life lessons, while carefully avoiding boredom by knitting wonderful characters and incidents in a picturesque setting (Rishikesh).

As the back wrapper says, this book makes you think about the face paced life we have, and motivates us to spend time and show love to fellow people.

I know it is a very basic thing, and the fact that someone had to write a full novel to push this obvious message tells you the state we are in!

(Come On, Inner Peace, I Don’t Have All Day : Sachin Garg : Grapevine India : Rs 100)

PS:

After reading this novel and writing this review, I was searching online for its wrapper image to post along with this review, and found an interesting picture from “Hindustan Times”. They had listed this book under “Non Fiction”.

My immediate reaction was “Wait a minute, I read a whole non fiction book thinking it is a novel? Oops!”

Fact is, Hindustan Times made a mistake by posting this novel under “Non Fiction” category. But, I won’t blame them. With this kind of a title and wrapper image, anyone will assume this book as a spiritual analysis paper or a self help text 🙂


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The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Organization He works for / belongs to.

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