Top 12 Books I Read in 2017

Unlike last year, I was almost certain I would not be taking up any reading challenge this year. It’s really something to wrap your head around so many characters and situations and not be affected. You cannot really purge the emotions easily. But, then we all like challenges; to push ourselves and surpass our own limits. And so this is what I read-1. The Fountainhead by Ayn RandA classic read and my favourite book this year also has so many career lessons to teach. An architect’s indestructible will to build is challenged on every step he takes. On his way to success he gives up love, honour, fame and money, only to regain it almost towards the end of his career. But is that what he always wanted?2. I Am Malala by Malala YousafzaiAn extraordinary story of a brave 16 year old girl, who fought for the cause of education in the beautiful Swat Valley of West Pakistan. Malala, is a Noble Prize winner with an iron heart who did not give up even when she was shot by Taliban and landed separated from her family in the United Kingdom.3. Devlok by Devdutt PattanaikAfter watching an episode on Epic Channel, Devdutt had me in rapt attention. An important Q&A book with important chapters on Gods, Goddesses, Demi – Gods, Traditions, Holy Texts, Avatars, Myths and more. A must read for teenagers and those who want to know about Hinduism.4. Devlok 2 by Devdutt PattanaikA continuation of Devlok 1, Devdutt Pattnaik covers interesting questions based on forests & fields, animals and more. Pattanaik’s lucid writing makes for an excellent gift especially for teens, students and NRI readers.5. The Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoLate to the party, yes, but I picked it up a couple of years ago and got bored. With no books available for Feb, I had to hunt for this one and finish it. The Alchemist teaches you about apprenticeship, belief and risks. More than anything it teaches you to keep walking.6. The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad by Twinkle KhannaThis book is divided into 4 stories. Each character is shamed by society but is fearless. The characters choose an unconventional path and change lives. Twinkle Khanna is an intelligent author who impresses without effort.7. The Krishna Key by Ashwin SanghiLord Krishna’s rebirth in his Kalki Avatar, to destroy the World is part fiction part real. The story takes you through lost cities of Gokul, Vrindavan and more. It enlightens the reader on the history of Somnath Temple and the Taj Mahal. Ashwin Sanghi, the Dan Brown of India is also known to weave similar plots just like the former. However, Chanakya’s Chant makes for a much entertaining read.8. Ignited Minds by Shri Abdul Kalam AzadA guide for everyone who aims to achieve greatness in life. This book is a blessing and a hand that guides the reader with it’s luminescent speeches, examples and snippets.9. An Unsuitable Boy by Karan JoharOnly brought it because I loved this season of Koffee with Karan. An Unsuitable Boy will interest you if you like reading about the Hindi Film Industry. It gives a peek into Karan’s childhood, films, friends and love life.10. Faction by Khalid MohammedI assumed it would be an interesting read because it’s a book based on stories by 22 film personalities. Very few were impressive. It’s an (anthology) compilation of short stories. Some of the better stories written, are by Akshay Kumar, Arjun Rampal, Bobby Deol, Deepika Padukone, Karan Johar, Shekhar Kapur & Sonam Kapoor.11. Bossypants by Tina FeyCannot relate, identify or understand the pages or purpose of this book. It contains too many American inside jokes which only fans of SNL – Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock will understand.12. Stories from Modern India edited by Suresh KohliAn anthology may seem like a good bargain, but in return I have noticed how they lack quality content. Ofcourse, Chicken Soup books are an exception. The stories in this book are based on emotions like love, betrayal, sacrifice, superstition and ambition. These are works of famous authors translated from Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi and English.

Vehemence for Tales

In 2015, I decided I needed to pursue my passion amidst work. I decided I had to read. I took up the challenge of finishing to read one book every month. I did it because I had to nourish my soul and feed my dreams. I had to travel through text. So I took up the 12 months, 12 books challenge. Most of the books I read were randomly picked, some were my loyalty to that particular author and some were must reads. I was always sure I would document my reviews for all my book reader friends. So, here I present my review of the books.January: The White Tiger by Arvind AdigaI started with reading a bestseller. This book is a revelation on the lives of car drivers in India. Their perception of the rich and poor. It takes you through the life of the protagonist who wants to lead a dignified life like the village bus ticket collector. However, he is corrupted as the story progresses. He manages to lead a richer life but how? This one definitely deserves to be read.February:Chanakya’s Chant by Ashwin SanghiA very cleverly written book that shuttles between two eras. Chanakya’s wisdom carves personalities merely to save India. A political backdrop makes the book interesting. Chanakya’s strategies prove to be useful in both business and politics even today. Do not skip this one, it’s worth the accumulating tension.March: Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul At Work by multiple authorsA light, motivational read, for when you feel unhappy with work. It’s many stories will help you keep going at work.April: ObamaMay: Princess Secrets To Share by Jean SassonJean Sasson, is an acclaimed author who is well known to convey the plight of women and their victories in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kuwait and more. This is a heart warming book that revolves around the life of Princess Sultana who is the central character in all of the books and her struggle to save lives of women and even men, this time from Yemen, the ISIS and Pakistan. Read it if you can handle bitter truths of our society.June: Get to The Top by Suhel SethThis book is a helpful guide on how to get people to like you, accept you in their social circles and become a social success. The language is simple and the rules are easy to remember. A fun book that is worth a read.July: India Vs Pakistan: Why can’t we just be friends? by Husain HaqqaniOne of my perpetual favourite topics of discussion. This book provides a surprising insight into the minds of Indian and Pakistani persons of authority. It also takes us to a time before India was divided, cricket and more. The author ends on a positive, hopeful note by providing solutions on strengthening the ties between the two lost brothers.August: Mrs. Funnybones by Twinkle KhannaI actually thought this book would be silly and it turned out to be a fun read. I finished it in a day. The book is a page turner. It gives you a peek into the celebrity life of Mrs. Funnybones ie. Twinkle Khanna, but it is not what you imagined it to be. You will like it if you like reading Moni Mohsin. Good job done by Twinkle Khanna.September: Family Wisdom by Robin SharmaMy mom received this as a gift on tour. DIY manuals are my least favourites, however, at this point I had no book to read and the cash was limited. Hence, I chose to read this one. Although, this book is meant for parents, I’m glad I read it at this stage in my life. It is a book that talks about creating great family values and goals and how to bond with your kids.October: One Indian Girl by Chetan BhagatYou may hate his work, but I read his books because of the love stories, Indianness and simple language. Yes, I am a fan of most of his books. However, you can give this one a miss. It is way too filmy. What I liked is that it is written from a girl’s point of view and CB has got that right.November: Collected Stories by Gabriel Garcia MarquezI got this as a gift from my best friend. If you get scared too easily or get bogged down by depressing sad stories, completely avoid this book. Almost all stories are about death and ghosts. What makes it bad is, it is very descriptive of the dark rotting details. Not for those who instantly sense negativity and disdain it. I returned the gift back to my friend but only with a look of disgust.December: MantoShort stories from the once celebrated author Sadat Ali Manto. His work is written during, pre and post Independence. He captures human emotions and their situations in a very raw way. Within the pages of this book, you will feel Indian culture and a Hindustan from a few decades ago.To sum up my experience, I was almost short of breath from the continuous reading of books. Only because I knew I had but, a month for every book. I’m glad to have made time for my hobby, once again. And as expected I am soul nourished, time travelled and with newer dreams! I hope you are able to reconnect with your hobbies just as I did.

Book Review – Psycho Cybernetics 2000

If you are feeling lost or that you are under achieving in your particular field, are lacking people skills or not happy with you life, Maxcell Maltz takes you by the hand on a journey, so that you can identify your problems. that are making you feel that way, he then shows you how to change your life.I have just re-read Psycho Cybernetics 2000 again, many years ago I read the original, but this latest edition is easier to read. Bobbe Sommer a psychotherapist was asked by the Maltz foundation to update it and bring it into the 21st century. This she has done making it easier to read as a work-book with a few additions like the summaries following the chapters.Since Maxwell Maltz wrote the book in 1960 30 million people have purchased it. His theories and exercises are just as relevant today.The book takes you on a journey from your current insecurites to becoming the master planner of your life. He illustrates how your current self-image affect your every-day life and how to program your success mechanism; how failure habits can become success habits and how to use your subconscious to help you.You will learn how to use your imagination to guide you to success and how to tap into your left and right brain. You will learn how to identify false beliefs, and how to change them, also how to overcome resistance to change and procrastination.There is an important chapter on learning to relax, beating stress, and how this will help you. There are also a variety of techniques. You will learn how reflective learning helps prevent stress from taking over, and how to turn stress into success.You can learn how to make choices over your life and not to live by another’s script. Find out how to move from goal setting to goal getting, once again with questionnaires to help you on your journey.There is help with shaping your success personality, and how to look for failure signals. There are directions to unlock the real you and start really living the life you desire.Quite a journey, one well worth taking if you aren’t achieving your potential and have areas you would like to change, or bad habits to correct. Maybe it’s that stuck feeling you need some advice for. Whatever it is, a weekends reading could put you on a new track. Best wishes for your success.

My Top 10 – The Best Books I’ve Ever Read

How I define my top 10 will definitely differ from others’. When I try to recollect the best books I’ve ever read, I have this criterion. How much did that book force me to finish in one go? Whether I was able to finish it in a single go or not due to other compelling reasons. Secondly, how much was I able to connect earlier chapters while reading later chapters. At times it happens you are at the end of the book but are not able to connect well with the story and flow. Third and most important point is how much did it fade away from my memory over a period of time. There are so many books that are as fresh in my mind as at the time of reading them. And there are books that you forget about within a week of finishing them.This criterion of creating the top 10 best books would vary from each reader to reader. In fact, for me, it is always an evolving list. That means, it is always under formation and development. So I call it an inchoate list. These are not in any order. But all of these 10 books are evergreen and favorite.The first book that comes to my mind is Fish. Even reading it during my college days, it still keeps knocking my mind and conscious from time to time. This is, in fact, a thin book but a lot of value inside.The second book is Goal. Both these books are powerful transformers. They have the power to transform the lives of any person.Next is The Prophet. In fact, this book I can read any number of times. Every time I read it, it gives me a different meaning of life.This book is by a very young author. The book has a strong message that comes in its purest form. That is why I have not been able to forget its story despite reading it a long time back. I am talking about The Helpline.My next favorite book is Slow by Digonta Bordoloi. There is a high level of depth in this book. We are right now in the middle of my list.The sixth book that I would like to mention is Sudhi Kannan. This book has a simple story. But the story has all the elements of adventure, hope, drama, and action.Living with Merlin is a story of deep pain that comes with a sweet fragrance.The Tallion Tale is an interesting spy story having a great message.Borderline is a book that probably everyone needs to read. It is about the psychological disorder.The last book on my list is A Cupful of Aha!That completes my top 10 list. The best books I’ve ever read. But that doesn’t mean these are the bestselling. In fact, I plan to write my next post on the Top 100.

Book Review: 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is one of my all-time favorites and considered to be one of the best leadership books ever written. In short, this bestseller packs a punch. The author, a leadership guru and pastor, has impacted thousands of leaders around the world. His message benefits anyone who has influence over others. This article discusses nine of the benefits.9 Benefits

Foundational

First and foremost, the 21 laws provide a solid foundation in leadership basics. The laws aren’t technical tongue twisters. Maxwell devised names you can pronounce and remember because they make sense.

Relevant

Second, the book is relevant. It appeals to leaders in different settings and levels. Parents, CEO’s, new supervisors, vice presidents, non-profit managers, school administrators, or anyone in a leadership role will gain invaluable wisdom.

Leadership Stories

Third, Maxwell presents interesting leadership stories to illustrate his points. They cover some well-known organizations as well as some that are not. Moreover, he uses stories from his life. Maxwell gained leadership experience as a pastor. He shares some of his early experiences along with lessons learned.

Applications

Fourth, readers can apply what they learn. Each chapter concludes with questions for self-reflection.

Evaluation Tool

Fifth, an evaluation tool is located at the end of the book. Examine your skills and uncover opportunities for growth.

Inspiration

Sixth, by reading this book you’ll either aspire to be a better leader or establish a new level of respect for leaders. This book inspires you to learn more about leadership. Maxwell begins each chapter with a quote and spreads anecdotes throughout.

Teachable

Seventh, the book provides instructional designers with material for a leadership training & development curriculum. The options for tailoring the information for different audiences are numerous. Create a PowerPoint presentation or online course for new supervisors. Hold roundtable discussions with senior leaders. There’s much to talk about.Regarding coaching and performance reviews, the questions at the end of chapters can be tweaked for professional development. Equally important, blend them into appropriate training modules as discussion questions. Lastly, 21 Irrefutable Leadership Laws should be required reading in college business courses. If you’re teaching a course on leadership without this book, your students are missing the boat.

Handy Reference

Eighth, the book serves as a handy reference tool. It’s like the leadership Bible. Anyone serious about succeeding as a leader should obtain a copy for his or her library.

User-friendly

Finally, the book is user-friendly. Each chapter highlights one of the laws. You can read them in-or-out of order. Furthermore, John Maxwell’s writing style is easy to follow, and it holds your attention.

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway – Book Review

Over the years I have read Susan Jeffers little book several times and recommended it to others. Recently I was working on a project and wanted to reference the book so my daughter sent me a “quick read” copy.I was surprised how good it was, all the essence of the book in a quick and easy to read format.The book first discusses fears and the various kinds we can be beset by. The biggest fear “I can’t handle it” is at the base of all our major fears. Possibly you were brought up by caring, well-meaning relatives who always told you to “be careful” or “Take care”, this could be ingrained in your thinking, actions and life.You have to learn whatever happens in your life “you can handle it”, and then there is nothing to worry about. Fear never really leaves us, even well-known actors and speakers are still fearful going on stage, but they have recognised the feelings as excitement and energy for the job in hand, and welcome it knowing they will give a better performance.The more often you do the things feared, the fear will lesson, until you try something new and have to become accustomed all over again. However with each new challenge you become stronger.What the author shows is how to use the fearful feeling to enrich our lives. We can learn to turn the pain into power. You can also learn about no-lose decisions and gain confidence as they are only steps until the next decision. Susan suggests saying yes to life and experiencing many new things and enriching your life.I first read the book when I was working with a young girl who was going through a rough-patch, it helped her enormously; that was 40 years ago.So are there things you would love to try or do, dreams you have almost forgotten. Take inspiration from Susan Jeffers and give it a go. Travel to distant places you have always wanted to visit. Make new friends, new choices, don’t let your fears delay you. Learn to paint or dance or sing; cultivate a garden or even start your own business, find a more fulfilling job or change careers. Anything is possible with the right mindset.A job for life is a thing of the past. Where will your new confidence take you? Make your life zing and every day a joy to be alive, learn to overcome the obstacles life brings like ill-health, or loss of a dear one, become strong again.You CAN handle it!Best Wishes for an exciting future.

Book Review of The Steel Queen

Endowed with the markings of an unforgettable debut read, Karen Azinger’s The Steel Queen, draws readers into Erdhe, a fantasy imbued realm ripe with intrigue, knights, bravery, swords, sorcery and pure evil. As the premier novel in her Silk and Steel Saga, this novel serves well as an introduction to the medieval type lands of the kingdoms of Erdhe, along with its various engaging inhabitants.Author Azinger provides a filling fantasy read built with a satisfying integration of action, intrigue and fantasy elements. The story engages instantly immersing the reader in a complexly woven storyline, which houses an abundance of varied and unique characters. The female characters bear particular appeal because of their determination and cunning in a world where their place is limited by male dominance.Foremost, the story, particularly follows the paths of several focal characters; Katherine/Kath, a young princess whose deepest desire is to lead and wield a sword. Blaine, son of a pig farmer who earns a seemingly impossible knighthood. Steffan, a dark character who seeks power at any cost and Liandra, queen of Lanverness who looks to preserve her wealthy kingdom. Meanwhile, events unfold, with the story told from their multiple perspectives with the narrative changing viewpoints frequently, as each moves toward their destiny. As well, furthering the character woven storyline, are brief appearances of additional engaging characters. Although, initially, it seems the characters are on separate paths, with their own goals to achieve, destiny dictates otherwise as a malevolent force at work threatens all of Erdhe.Consequently, what follows is an entertaining, adult themed, vibrant and at times quite violent, but well paced narrative, that artfully explores the sexual, bureaucratic, and religious landscape of a fantasy world facing the heart of darkness.Ultimately, I enjoyed The Steel Queen. With this work, Author Azinger has wrought the beginnings of an intriguing and thus far, fulfilling fantasy series. Furthermore, while there are a plethora of fantasy genre novels available, what separates this one from the some of the others is the quality and style of the writing and creativity. Author Karen Azinger wields a well honed knack for engaging and concise storytelling.Additionally, aside from the great story, I like the inclusion of the map of Erdhe and the Appendix explaining the background of various kingdoms. Overall, this was well worth the read and I look forward to the next in the series. This is a book I not only recommend for fantasy fans, but also fans of eloquently written, action packed adventures.

Book Review of Bollywood Invasion by Ricardo Alexanders

At once engaging and cleverly creative, Ricardo Alexanders’ Bollywood Invasion enrapts readers with a fun and fantastical coming of age story, set in a well posed merging of reality and fiction which surpasses the reaches of time and continents.Instantly the story draws you in, as initially, we meet John Palmieri living in modern times in Brooklyn; he’s a nerd and Beatles lover in high school and unsatisfied with his lower middle class existence. Things start with him in the throes of a dream, once again being bested by his arch-enemy Frank Castellano. He loathes Frank, who seems to have so much more than John; smarter mouth, bigger house, more friends, better stuff, including, the attention of the girl he secretly loves -Samantha.The real adventure begins when fate crashes into his life, via an accident, knocking John unconscious. When John awakes, he finds himself in a parallel existence, where he has been transported back in time to late 1950’s, India. He wakes up as eighteen year old Raj Scindia, a prince in the Indian royal family. Naturally, he’s initially confused by his sudden transportation to a completely foreign life and culture with many humorous moments ensuing as he tries to wrap his head around what has happened to him.Meanwhile, as John acclimates to his new life, he realizes he suddenly has the life he has always dreamed of, a life which now includes money, wealth, eager women and extensive privileges. However, as well as being rich and privileged, the prince whose life John has taken over, also includes several unexpected issues such as being engaged to a young lady through pre-arranged marriage, having the reputation of being a spoiled, adulterous scamp, as well as being a second year student in a mechanical engineering college. Ultimately, deciding to make the best of his new circumstances, John plays his privileged new life to the hilt; he fakes being psychic and parties not really taking his new life too seriously until he meets the best friend of his promised fiance, Ankita and falls instantly head over heels for her which within his new culture gives rise to many issues. While looking for ways to win her over, John forays into the world of music by joining a local band and uses his extensive knowledge of Beatles songs to propel his group “The Beetos” to “Beatles” status making him and his group rock stars, thusly creating a parallel universe with the Bollywood version of the Beatles. Consequently, their new found fame comes with unexpected repercussions, as the story progresses with scenarios that parallel events that really happened with the famed Beatles.Definitively, Bollywood Invasion proffers readers a compelling read that entertains the imagination with a unforgettable journey into adulthood. This was a winning combination with its twisted melding of Beatlemania, romance, drama, humor, fantasy elements, and intriguing characters, especially Raj/John who seems to a loosely posed reincarnation of John Lennon. This would make a worthwhile read for fans of fantasy or YA reads.