Books I like

IKIGAI – Japanese secret to Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia

The book starts off with the blue zones where the individuals live longer remain fit. It moves on to Ikigai that to my mind is the passion and the commitment besides wanting to get up in the morning and going to work. In other words, look upon work as enjoyment. 

”We find our ikigai by concentrating on what is important, rather than what’s urgent. By constantly keeping an eye on what feels good, we are able to discover what our passion is.”- Mundo Urano

It talks about the flow which is about doing something where your heart is.  

The book is interspersed with many case studies and anecdotes that give an insight and help to relate to the concepts discussed therein. The style of writing is lucid and quite appealing. However, the concepts could have been more smooth flowing – at times it seemed to jump from one concept to another. At times, I wondered whether the book was about Ikigai or about growing old gracefully with the list of Do’s and Dont’s. 

The quotes are worth remembering and putting into practice. 

“The things we love are like leaves on a tree, they can fall anytime when the wind pops up.” – Emperor Marcus Aurelius

Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Theo Faber, the psychologist takes up a job at The Grove just so that he could find out more about Alicia Bereebnson who murdered her husband in cold blood. . What prompted Alicia to do that when she was happily married? Not just that – she stops speaking after the gruesome murder. Why does Theo Faber want her to speak? Alicia has cut her wrists before. Even the staff at ‘The grove’ feel that she is unstable except for Theo.
Alex Michaelides has woven the thriller in such a simple and interesting manner that it makes an easy read. The plot has so many twists and turns that you would want to read without thinking about putting it down. The author kept the best twist to the very end. A surprising and befitting finale. A good page turner novel.

Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

Here is a book that I just completed reading. – Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak. Ella takes on an assignment of reviewing a book that changes her life. It gives her a new perspective of looking at life in general. Ella is intrigued by the thirteenth-century Sufi poet Rumi and Shams of Tabriz and she starts her journey to get to know the author of the book. 
Forty Rules of Love is a book that grips you and urges you to read on. The author has beautifully entwined the sufi mysticism and the practical world in an interesting manner. The book is not meant for speed reading. Read it, mull over it and comprehend it. Here is one rule from among the 40 cited in the book that makes you think : “Every true love and friendship is a story of unexpected transformation. If we are the same person before and after we loved, that means we haven’t loved enough…”

At Montaray Harbour with a statue of John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath was the first book that I read written by John Steinbeck. Herein, he tells the story of a family of impoverished farmers during the Great Depression who lose their livelihood and are forced to trek from Oklahoma to California, looking for work and trying to survive.The Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author through his vivid and imaginative writing brought tales of California to life in several novels and short stories. John Steinbeck country is the Montarey harbour which I happened to visit last May. [2019]. A photograph with John Steinbeck.

Ashwin Sanghi is an author whose books I have enjoyed reading. There is a subtle blend of Indian Psyche traditional and a blend of modernism. Dark sides of an individual are exposed. Political trends and acceptable norms are portrayed. What more when i sent an e–mail pointing out the mistakes, prompt comes the reply with the website which lists out all the errors from the book! An author who is grounded.

Michelle Obama – the first African American to become the first lady, has chronicled her journey in her book. 

She, in her memoir ‘Becoming’ draws a picture of an ambitious, lower middle-class lass focusing on academics to raise her economic prospects. 

The book takes one through her experiences from childhood in Southside of Chicago to the most popular address in the world. Her meeting with Barrack Obama and the subtle romancing to the marriage vows, the trials and tribulations of balancing motherhood and work makes one identify with the first lady. It’s the narrative of an intellectual who stood by her husband’s side during the journey to the white house, has raised two daughters, balanced work and motherhood. It has a few lighter moments of her growing up years captured succinctly. She has captured her private and public life with equal ease.  The style of writing is simple, appealing and makes one want to read on.

Academicians deliver a last lecture reminiscing over the academic pursuits and mull over the legacy. Here is a book that moves from pancreatic cancer to life filled with inspiration and humour. Live life King size.

Make a beginning. Read and identify with the Indian Psyche’.

A book that I had read quite sometime ago but that which stayed with me creating a sort of cognitive dissonance. a real soul stirring book.

The Subtle art of not giving a *uck by Mark Manson

Read the book don’t get put off by the title. I set aside the book after reading the first few pages saying it’s not worth a read since every second sentence had the F word. The title has over 5 million copies sold. All of them could not be wrong! Curiosity got the better of me and picked it up to read. I am glad I did that. 

The author has made a few poignant observations. For instance, ‘the desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience. What creates or positive experiences will define the negative experiences. Similarly, the positive and negative emotions are explained – the negative emotions call for action. 

He lays a lot of stress on the values. It is the values that determine the matrices by which we measure ourselves. The values cannot be undermined. He narrates the incident of the loyal Japanese soldier who was stranded in Lubang for almost 30 years and continued his fight for his empire even after WW II was over! That is the strength of the value of loyalty. 

Life has its share of problems and the author in his inimitable way explains that the secret sauce is in solving the problems. Happiness comes from solving the problems. Accepting responsibility for our problems is the first step towards solving them. He cautions the readers  that nobody is responsible for your situation but yourself. 

He also discusses the relationships between individuals. For a healthy and loving relationship, there has to be giving and receiving rejection if necessary. 

Finally the life is compared to a set of dealt cards. Some get better cards than others. But the real game lies in how you play those cards. The finesse,  the play, the risks that one takes determines the consequences.

I would like to read it once again. Mull over the points highlighted by me and would certainly recommend the book. Worth a read.

Today I am Carey by Martin Shoemaker

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book that spanned over 3 generations of family saga. the author has touched on the fine points of the relationships subtly through the eyes of a humanoid who has the sensitivity to deal with it all. The Alzheimer’s disease and its concerns were dealt with sensitivity. the joys of childhood of Millie were so succinct and vivid. The ego battles between Wayne and Millie were so live. The Author has a knack for creating the family tussles, concerns and problems with ease. Book is meant for those who like to read tales spun with sensitivity.

Love and The Turning Seasons: India’s Poetry of Spiritual & Erotic Longing by Andrew Schelling
Love and The Turning Seasons: India's Poetry of Spiritual & Erotic Longing

The book has been well researched. the text made good reading but the poems did not. perhaps the vernacular poems would have made a better impact. don’t know. I wouldn’t recommend the book to anyone to buy.

The book is written in a lucid style meant for anybody with a rudimentary knowledge of personality. It delves into the concept of self talk – It could be negative or positive; based on the past or on the future. It hammers home the point that one should listen to the self-talk and identify the patterns. It is interesting to note how a positive input can turn a negative feedback loop into a positive one. It examines at length the constructive self-talk vs the destructive self-talk.

It goes on to explore the 5 important traits of personality at length. Openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. Openness includes novelty, curiosity, imagination and the like. Conscientiousness has to do with orderliness and industriousness. Extraversion is an orientation to the outer world. These people have high energy and ae very active. Introverts are just the opposite. Agreeableness has to do with the sensitivity towards others feelings and a desire for harmony and co-operation. Neuroticism is a disposition ti unpleasant emotion like anxiety, anger, depression and insecurity. Those who score high on this trait are also susceptible for low tolerance for stress!

The book cruises through the concept of learned helplessness, the Pareto principle  and finally focusses on self leadership. A book meant for the beginners. It provides a good insight into the concepts. Good read.

The book explains at length what is a system and the significance of systems thinking. Feedback is fundamental in the Systems. No feedback, no system. The book is divided into clear divisions viz.  The concept of system explained at length, the feedback system, mental models, learning as a system, thinking as a system and finally drawing conclusions.

The book examines the Loops of Feedback– reinforcing and balancing, explaining and illustrating with examples. The book goes on to examine how the reinforcing feedback loops, or positive feedback loops, occur when an. initial change is reinvested to further that change in the future. The bigger the initial push, the bigger the consequential push.

They build momentum. Balancing feedback loops, or negative feedback loops, on the other hand  are circles of cause and effect that counter a change with a push in the opposite direction. Balancing feedback loops bring stability or stubbornness to a system (depending on how it is perceived), so they are essential and pervasive. The basic structure of a balancing loop involves a gap between the goal (or desired level) and the actual level.

Balancing processes always try to bring conditions into equilibrium. The book explores the mental models and the factors that influence them. It refers to the mental models as floaters we see in our eyes. It was fascinating to read some of the examples listed out which the common man would have discarded as read several time. A must read, possess it and use it in academia.

Published by Dr. Pramila Kudva

I am a teacher educator currently worrking as a Principal of a reputed school in North Mumbai, have more than 30 years of experience, with several publications to my credit and have authored a book -"From chalk to Talk The Art of Teaching.

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