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Being Mortal

I discovered this book thanks to a couple of podcasts, I came across. Also a cousin whose taste in books I quite like, highly recommended it.

The podcasts had Atul Gawande, sagaciously explain the issues around caring for the old and infirm. Atul Gawande brings in a lot of data, a lot of empathy and accepts that a lot of medicine is work in progress.

Fair warning, there are plenty of triggers in this book, as it does tackle a difficult topic. The topic of growing old, or falling sick and being mortal.

There are some beautiful and profound insights in the book. The writing is often arresting and sometimes beautiful.

Below is one of my favourites from the book

As our time winds down, we all seek comfort in simple pleasures — companionship, everyday routines, the taste of good food, the warmth of sunlight on our faces. We become less interested in the rewards of achieving and accumulating, and more interested in the rewards of simply being. Yet while we may feel less ambitious, we also become concerned for our legacy. And we have a deep need to identify purposes outside ourselves that make living feel meaningful and worthwhile.

From Being Mortal
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A couple of books about our world

I recently picked up a couple of books on Kindle. Starting with the An Era of Darkness by Shashi Tharoor. The book is highly recommended by many friends and relatives who have read it, have been surprised on India’s colonial history. I personally did not find An Era of Darkness as illuminating, but then I have been reading about colonialism for a while now.

The other book I am reading and finding interesting is “The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith” and it was thanks to a quote by Noam Chomsky – 

People read snippets of Adam Smith, the few phrases they teach in school. Everybody reads the first paragraph of The Wealth of Nations where he talks about how wonderful the division of labor is. But not many people get to the point hundreds of pages later, where he says that division of labor will destroy human beings and turn people into creatures as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be. And therefore in any civilized society the government is going to have to take some measures to prevent division of labor from proceeding to its limits.
He did give an argument for markets, but the argument was that under conditions of perfect liberty, markets will lead to perfect equality. That’s the argument for them, because he thought that equality of condition (not just opportunity) is what you should be aiming at. It goes on and on. He gave a devastating critique of what we would call North-South policies. He was talking about England and India. He bitterly condemned the British experiments they were carrying out which were devastating India.

– Chomsky

The bold letters are my emphasis. I am actually surprised how I managed to not read this book all this while.

I am looking for recommendations on books that explain our world practically and philosophically rather than spiritually.

Drop in your recommendations, I would love to check them out.

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Tolstoy on Hypocrisy

I was reading Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism by Peter Marshall. On a chapter on Tolstoy, it quotes him about writing and exposing the hypocrisy of the wealthy and respectful, including himself.

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Some books in my reading list for this year [2017]

Over the last year, I have sort of stopped reading books. I read a lot online. But there is something interesting about reading a book.

The stillness of reading a book is deliberate. The past year has been difficult personally and professionally. So stillness would be a good thing to find in everyday life.

So a few weeks ago I started putting away titles and collecting them for reading, partly inspired by this post.

I borrowed a book from an uncle yesterday – Demanding the Impossible – A history of Anarchism by Peter Marshall. It promises to explore key anarchist ideas and values throughout human history.

The other one I plan to read is Mao – The Unknown story – by Jung Chang, Jon Halliday. The book was recommended by my girlfriend. I know very little of China’s history over the last 100 years, and this could be useful place to begin.

Then there is the The Code Book by Simon Singh on the history of codes and encryption.

There is also P. Sainath’s Everybody loves a good drought. It is an important read to know about the systemic propagation of poverty and debt in India’s agrarian society.

I want to re-read Foundation and the Second Foundation by Asimov. Both of these books made me think about things and life differently. I want to see what happens this time round.

I have bookmarked Critical Theory since Plato edited by Hazard Adams, Leroy Searle. It is pretty heavy reading and expensive to buy outright. So if you know of a place in Pune or Mumbai I can borrow it from, let me know!

I should probably read more than just these books in 2017. But I am looking for suggestions right now.

Bonus

I was also recommended Homo Deus – Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuva Noah Hariri.

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5 Books I Enjoyed Reading In 2011

books_read_2011Reading is a passion for me which started with Asterix, Archies and Tinkle. Graduated to Jeffery Archer, Leon Uris and Sidney Sheldon. Then being interested in History, I got addicted to non-fiction books. I wish I could have read more books this year but did manage to read a few.

Here are 5 of my favourite ones in 2011…

Steve Jobs Biography by Walter Isaacson

I was never too concerned by Steve Jobs as I am not really an Apple Inc fan. But I appreciated his genius for design and simplicity. The book brought about the complex, brilliant and at times not such a nice person behind the the legend to life. Even if you are not a Apple or Steve Jobs fan, it is a great chronicle of how technology companies evolved over the past 30 years.

Augustus: The Life of Rome’s First Emperor by Everitt Anthony

Never had read much about Ancient Rome before, but this biography of Augustus (the first Emperor of Rome) was fascinating. It was not too dramatic and did not take artistic licenses (as far as I know). It was not exactly boring either. Augustus is a great personality to study when it comes to governance and how it evolves.

I, Claudius by Robert Graves

This books is a fictional auto-biography of the Roman Emperor Claudius (grand nephew of Augustus). It brings alive the way of life of upper class Romans in a way that no one could imagine. The book is pretty old and was written in 1934. It is one of the rare books set in ancient history which is extremely witty.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Another non-fiction. It chronicles super successful people and the reasons they were successful. The idea behind the book is simply, no one is self-made completely. It takes a certain environment and luck along with it.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

First few days of 2011, were dedicated to reading the original Dracula. This one is eerie at times but fascinating. The book was written in 1897 and they are still telling vampire stories (albeit all lame compared to this one). One can say this book is where all modern horror films began.

I managed a few more books but most of them were not my favourites. All of them were interesting though. Did you read any books this year? Drop in your favourites in your comments.

Also you can look up my book lists at my GoodReads profile (Goodreads.com/aditya80)