Screw it, Let’s do it!

Last year one resolution which I tried to fulfill to a large extent was getting back to my reading habit again. Once a voracious reader, my reading habit has almost gone to nil since the day I started working. With other priorities and absolute paucity of time, I hardly managed to read much book in last 3-4 years. So, in 2008 one of my resolutions was to get back to reading books. I knew I couldn’t get back to my old count of reading which was almost a book every week, so I thought of setting a reasonable target of 1 book every month :-). Well, I didn’t accomplish it fully but still I’m happy as I managed to read 10 books – 7 fiction & 3 business in 2008 as against only 2 books in 2007 :-(. And the good thing was whatever I read turned out to be good or you can say that I only went for popular and positive review books. I just thought to share my views on some of those books and recommend it to my blog readers as these are really good reads as per me.

One of the books which I read last year and really liked was “Screw it, Let’s do it” by Sir Richard Branson. Though I am not much of a motivational or gyaan book loving person but still I liked it. In fact I liked it a lot! It’s a quick read, engaging from start to end and very-very positive. It stirs your mind & leaves a very different kind of impact on you. You just keep on thinking, “oh all this happened to Richard Branson before he became Sir Branson??? Though I was very much aware of the story of his life but still reading it again in this book was a very nice experience. I got so impressed with this book that I gifted it to two of my close friends who are into entrepreneurial ventures. I think this book is a must for all those who are working in some start-ups, or are entrepreneurs or are planning to start something on their own. And yeah number of pages are quite less, so you can finish it off quickly. I have already rated this book 5/5 on many book sites 🙂

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves!

I sometimes wonder what would my reading world have been without P. G. Wodehouse :-)? I somehow can’t seem to be ever bored of his marvelous pieces. Just finished off “Stiff Upper Lips, Jeeves” by Wodehouse yesterday and I think its one of the best of Wodehouse which I would have read ever. Infact I read a Wodehouse after a long time and as usual it was full of brit style humor and a very-very interesting read. Throughout the book, not even once you get turned off and instead of feeling monotonous about Wodehouse, the book just leaves you wanting more and more of him :-), so much so that I’ve already decided to buy another one of him during my next book shopping 🙂

The story is also of Bertman Wooster (as is the case with most of the Wodehouse’s) who hates his Uncle Watsyn but somehow lands at his place Totleigh Towers to sort out certain nuances of his life. And in his noble effort to play the raisonneur, how he ends up messing his own life. It’s a funny read to go through the complications and impediments of Bertie and his interactions with Jeeves. As earlier I won’t like to divulge the exact details of the story in the benefit of those who want to read this book, but I can tell you very confidently that if you like reading good humor, you will surely love this book. And this is a very short read as in it’s hardly a 200 page book, so you can quickly finish it even between your tight schedule and work life. To summarize, “Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves” is an example of Wodehouse at his best! It’s a definite must for all Wodehouse fans and for those who have not read any Wodehouse till now I think it’s a must must & must as humor like Wodehouse is very rare to find these days.

BTW, I also read some other very good books mainly Indian Fiction and Business Books reecently, but guess will leave my comments about those for some other day. Well, daily traveling in Bangalore traffic and out of city tours have atleast one advantage – you get time to read more :-). So, more traffic jams mean more books and more tours also mean more books. I’m now off to this new book which I bought from Mumbai airport other day– an Indian Story written by an American author. Hope this turns out to be good too!

Shelfari acquired by Amazon

Ah another acquisition of a web 2.0 startup by and I must say an interesting acquisition. Read it today on news sites as well as on Shelfari’s official blog that Shelfari which is a social networking site for book-lovers has been acquired by online book transaction giant amazon.com. While surfing amazon.com today I didn’t see any direct link or connection to shelfari whereas shelfari.com already shows linking to amazon.com now. Maybe it will happen on amazon also pretty soon.

I have been a member of Shelfari for quite some time now and I have always found this site to be very interesting. They have always been innovative and engaging enough and their mailer communication makes you click the URL atleast once. Though I don’t have many friends on shelfari simply because it’s a niche site and not all of my friends on other social networking sites are book lovers so to say. Also unlike Orkut or Facebook, the purpose of my visit to this site is not interacting with friends but the content of the site which matches with my taste. I love reading books and hence sites like these help me being updated about what to read by its release and user-generated reviews section. This site was already having small associations with Amazon like their “buy” option leading to Amazon’s website on their own website as well as their Facebook app but an acquisition like this has definitely given Shelfari a huge edge over all its existing and potential competitors. Start-up book lovers’ networking sites competing with each other was ok but now start-ups competing with Amazon.com? Very- very tough!!!

Well, as is the case with most of the vertical-specific social networking sites, I don’t think even Shelfari was having huge number of registrations / large community which would have made Amazon acquire this site. For Amazon which is the obvious leader as far as books recommendations and transactions are concerned, it’s a natural progression to have a social networking site around books and what better option than to acquire a budding but promising site instead of starting its own! I will say it’s a good move for both these sites, for Shelfari things could not have turned out to be better than this and for Amazon another feather in its cap. Knowing Amazon’s capabilities (their recommendation engine is my personal favorite and I think they have the best recommendation engine globally) and Shelfari’s commitment, I’m sure bibliophiles like me will have a more engaged and pleasant user experience.

Joker in the pack – Book Review

Just finished reading this book yesterday. I had picked up this book while traveling at some airport. Well, the cover design as well as the line “An irreverent view of life at IIMs” were self explanatory & it was no-brainer to guess that its another one after “Five Point Someone”, “Mediocre but Arrogant”, “Anything for you ma’am”, “Above Average” etc etc. I still picked up the book as I wanted to read some light stuff.

After Chetan Bhagat’s huge success I guess it has almost become a trend to come out with some novel with theme around “Life at IIM/IIT/X/Y/Zs…”. Surely five point someone was interesting and I personally had enjoyed reading it but similar theme of campus fiction repeated over & over again… ummm nah, I guess its too boring now L.

Joker in the pack written by Ritesh Sharma & Neeraj Pahlajani is all about Shekhar Verma (the main protagonist) & the great Indian middle class dreams. Its about Shekhar’s run in the same rat race of performance & excellence in education so as to get a good job with lots of money & foreign placement. Its about all the extras in life who take so much of interest in your performance and the world where performance doesn’t meant your own performance but performance as compared to others, well as you say typical RG (relative grading) culture!!! It surely gives a detailed view of life at IIMs, hostel life, summer placements, final placements & professional-personal life balance. Well some of the things like summer placements, hostel-life etc are so relatable to not only IIM guys but to other business school pass-outs as well. The hostel life description & Shekhar’s encounter to reality during summer placement days definitely made me nostalgic J. The summer placement part & placement description created some excitement in me as reader but rest all other parts were too predictive. Hmmm and like a general happy-ending plot this book also ends with Shekhar realizing his ultimate dream of job, foreign placement & money. The only sentence which touched my heart was the last sentence “I realized my dream but in all this never realized that I’ve lost the main force who was the motivation for my dream”. Well, in this performance obsessed world I guess this is happening with many professionals of our generation.

To sum it up, I will say it’s an average book with some interesting plots. Its one of those books which you can read casually, finish up fast & forget it immediately. Positive points – light humor filled language & effort of the authors (I must say it’s a commendable job to write a whole book with full time jobs) & Negative points – Too predictive & repetitive plot, well old wine served in a new bottle.

Piece Of Cake

Just finished off the delicious, tasty & yummy “Piece Of Cake” & mmmm….I am still relishing its taste. It was simply great, so delicious & so funny. FUNNY??? Yes, funny. Arey I am not speaking of any cake from some famous bakery shop rather I am speaking of the“Piece of Cake” baked by Swati Kaushal. It was such a fun read & kudos to Swati Kaushal for coming out with such a relatable & captivating story.

Piece of Cake is about a 29 year old girl Minal Sharma who has got loads of attitude with a hyperactive conscience. Its about a girl who is struggling hard to survive & succeed in the tough corporate world without losing her ethics & morale. The best part is that the character Minal is not someone who is really idealistic, i.e., neither an extraordinary combination of beauty & brains type, nor resembling to any of those present generation very beautiful mangal-sutra, sindoor & gold clad Bollywood/ TV female protagonists who are an idealistic bahu, patni, ma, tyag ki devi & what not at their home and at the same time running a successful business empire or having a great corporate career. Minal Sharma has been given a very realistic image, a simple girl with average looks who has to struggle hard to fight against pompous people like Rana Bhatia (opposition character in the book) in her organization & at the same time facing the nuances of matrimonial candidates selected by her mother & juggling hard to find a suitable match for herself.

The style of writing is really humorous with all those satires & funny dialogues by Minal. Having worked on a similar portfolio, I found the story to be too interesting & so relevant. I was so engrossed in that book that I almost jumped out of my seat while reading the chapter where Minal realizes that her ads have been leaked, as if it has happened with me!!! Good lord, what a misfortune. But hats off to the determination & spirit of Minal that she took on everything & finally managed to prove herself right.

Swati Kaushal herself being a management graduate from IIM & with her work experience in similar field has managed to give a very pragmatic picture to the corporate world. I think it’s a MUST READ for all brand/product managers as it will give them a very true insight to a real marketing career & I am sure they will enjoy every bit of it.