Category Archives: Simon and Schuster India

This is How I Save My Life: A True Story of Finding Everything When You are Willing to Try Anything by Amy B. Scher

This is How I Save My Life Title: This is How I Save My Life: A True Story of Finding Everything When You are Willing to Try Anything
Author: Amy B. Scher
Publisher: Gallery Books, Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 9781501164958
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

Scher traveled to India for bold and controversial stem-cell treatments for her advanced Lyme disease after exhausting all options back home in the US of A. She had nearly spent a decade trying to find, research and even underwent several treatments, but no avail. She took a leap of faith and decided to travel all the way to India for a treatment – that could work or not. This book is about her life, her battles, her life in India and how she found a way to deal with every hindrance life threw at her.

I normally do not read books in this genre. Either they do not appeal to me or I get scared of breaking down while reading them. I do not know exactly why, but this time I allowed myself to weep and loved the read. This is most certainly not the typical sickness to health kind of book. In fact, how it is different is because Scher takes us through the journey with her and how she emerges as a more confident and independent person.

If you ask me personally it had nothing to do with the country as much as it had to do with Scher. Having said that, the book chronicles India like never before to me as well. It isn’t exotic or flimsy as most books tend to do. I love Scher’s tenacity, her exuberance and most of all her enthusiasm toward life.

“This Is How I Save My Life” is a book that makes you see life on a larger scale and not just limited to our bubbles or what we go through. Scher’s perspectives are unique and she extends it to the world that she encounters, relating it to her illness and recovery. Extremely inspiring and makes you want to live to the fullest, as cliché as it might sound.

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The Misfit’s Manifesto by Lidia Yuknavitch

The Misfit's Manifesto Title: The Misfit’s Manifesto
Author: Lidia Yuknavitch
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1471162329
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 120
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

We are all misfits in one way or the other, or so we would like to believe. What about the ones though who really are misfits? Where do they go? How do the broken, the damaged, the ones who perhaps do not belong, fit in ultimately? Or do they fit in at all?

Lidia Yuknavitch not only presents her version of who “misfits” really are, but also allows different misfits to talk about their lives and what being a misfit means to them and how by and large that affects their relationships and who they are. The fact that this book is multi-voiced makes it all the more interesting and dynamic.

Yuknavitch grapples with her losses, her mistakes and how it is being a misfit, weaving her past and present beautifully (and sometimes tragically as well), thereby lending brevity and a lot of clarity to her prose.

To those who have read her earlier, this book is way easier to read than “The Chronology of Water” of “The Small Backs of Children” and easier to bear as well. We all know about misfits, and yet it feels so new when Yuknavitch brings her perspective to it, with anecdotes and so much empathy.

What I found most interesting about this book is the way broken lives aren’t made out to be different. They are just lives. They are just misfits who fit perfectly well in other places and times and amongst others. So in the sense, Yuknavitch takes the idea of being a “misfit” and turns it over on its head, making the reader think of their own biases and prejudices.

“The Misfit’s Manifesto” is a must-read for all. To learn, to know about the different, to embrace them and in the process learning how to empathize and living life with a lot of heart.

 

My Daughters’ Mum: Essays by Natasha Badhwar

My Daughters' Mum Title: My Daughters’ Mum: Essays
Author: Natasha Badhwar
Publisher: Simon & Schuster India
ISBN: 978-9386797001
Genre: Essays
Pages: 264
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

Natasha Badhwar’s writing is comfort food. It is the hug you have been waiting for but just don’t know it yet. It is the reassurance of a loved on that takes its own time to come but when it does, your heart is filled with warmth like none other. It is the hobby that becomes a passion and you cannot wait to get back to it at the end of the day. I hadn’t known of Natasha’s column (very famous by the way – appears in Mint Lounge every week) or of her before I started following her on Twitter (Thank God I did) and I couldn’t have been happier knowing she exists. She is there somewhere on the Internet, spreading kindness, wisdom and sometimes nothing but just telling us stories of her life and that’s what this book is about.

“My Daughters’ Mum” is a collection of her essays which have previously appeared in Mint (some of them I think) and again since I hadn’t read any, it was a unique experience for me and my heart. I’ve always believed that books and reading can connect you with people like no other and this is what happened to me as I turned the pages of Natasha’s book. I wept. I laughed. I nodded knowingly. I wanted to reach out to her and hug her tight. I wanted to tell her children that they are loved so much (I am sure they know it as well) and all I ended up doing was healing myself through her words.

We all carry burdens, of various kinds. They come in different shapes and are full of different things – some recognizable and some don’t. Natasha’s writing is raw and makes us see what we cannot see through her struggles – big or small and that is where the connect lies I suppose. She writes nonchalantly about her kids, her husband, her in-laws, her parents, about how she feels and what she thinks and how she also connects with the world at large. This sense of putting your heart out there and knowing that it is okay to do so filled me with awe. I am in awe of her because she shows her deepest scars, her fears and knows that that is the only way she can connect and know people better. For instance, when Sahar (her oldest) doesn’t know how to express her anger – its all there or for that matter when Naseem (her youngest) knows some things too well for a child her age – Natasha bares it all and that’s why I could feel the emotions I did.

My review is not doing justice to the book as it should. I haven’t even scratched the surface of the book to give you an idea of how brilliant it is and why you should read it. All I can say is that you should read it. It is the kind of book that deserves to be read by everyone. You will find your own comfort in its pages, just like I did. Thank you Natasha, for this.

 

The Innovators by Walter Isaacson

The Innovators by Walter Isaacson Title: The Innovators
Author: Walter Isaacson
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 9781471138799
Genre: Non-Fiction, Computers and Technology, Business and Investing,
Pages: 560
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

I remember reading, “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson with great trepidation. I thought I would get bored. I thought I would not be interested in it for long. I thought these things and a lot of other things before I invested time in the book. I loved the book at the end of it, so much so that I thought there was not any need to pick up anything on “Steve Jobs”, since this book was most comprehensive. Walter Isaacson does it again this time with “The Innovators”.

There have been countless books written on the digitized revolution and the Silicon Valley. Walter Isaacson’s book is different in the sense that he takes a complete look at the innovators, the geniuses, the hackers, and the geeks and what they did and did not do to get the revolution going. “The Innovators” is a book which looks at everything – right from the start, to the middle and the future of entrepreneurs and creative geniuses.

“The Innovators” tracks the stories from the 19th century – to Lovelace and Babbage to the Ethernet and Xerox, the Manhattan Project, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs of course and Steve Wozniak. He covers almost all of these people and how their creativity helped them harness not only their goals, but also the clear and visible difference brought in an entire culture of people.

The writing is crisp and easy to understand. There are parts that do drag but one can overlook them in the larger scheme of the theme and essence of the book. The book is written with the view point of ideas. That is the core and essence of the book. The people of course play a very important role, but it is the ideas that take center-stage in a book like this.

Mr. Isaacson tells the story of individuals with brilliant ideas. There is sometimes collaboration of people, sometimes when people work on their own and yet at the end of it all, the reader is left with more clarity on them and the various eras in which different ideas were shaped and formed. One can then use the cliché and say then that the book is “well-researched”. The layout and the hyper-narration at times is perfect. The systematic building of concepts only lends to the overall effect of the book.

At some point, I thought that maybe some people were not included which could have been and some which perhaps did not need inclusion. The narrative is very strong and maybe again why one can see why the author could not have included everyone in the book.

“The Innovators” is one of those books that also help us to some extent see what technology could mean in the future and its implications. Overall, I would say that even if you are not a technology buff the book will appeal to you only from the point of view of knowing more about these people and the ideas they thought of. I highly recommend this one.

Here is the video of Walter Isaacson speaking about the book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3umNPsKUnzA

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Book Review: The Accidental Apprentice by Vikas Swarup

The Accidental Apprentice by Vikas Swarup Title: The Accidental Apprentice
Author: Vikas Swarup
Publisher: Simon and Schuster India
ISBN: 978-1-47112-824-0
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 436
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3/5

I had heard a lot about his new book from my friends. Though I sort of like Q and A and had not read Six Suspects, I thought of trying this one. I mean, it is good to get away from literary fiction once in a while and reading some pop fiction as well. It doesn’t hurt and at the same time I could observe a writer’s style and technique, which I sort of liked in Q and A. Though I must say that I did not like the movie Slumdog Millionaire however that is another story altogether.

“The Accidental Apprentice” is meant to read like a pot-boiler, thriller, and everything else rolled into one and it does. The book showed promise at the prologue. The story seemed to me like something out of the T.V. Show, “The Apprentice” however it was not that. “The Accidental Apprentice” is about Sapna Sinha, a middle-class working girl from Delhi, who by chance (or is it?) meets Vinay Mohan Acharya, one of India’s richest men who makes her an offer which she does not think is viable to begin with. However with her personal problems getting the better of her, she takes up the offer and has to prove herself through seven tests from the “textbook of life” (as the book states) or the deal is off.

The reader is then witness to the seven tests and the ways in which Sapna is tested, what qualities are needed to become the CEO of Acharya’s company. That is the deal, and then of course there is more to what meets the eye. The book also looks at Sapna’s life – her family, the tragedy in her life and speaks of the people close to her. The book ends on a surprising note though. It took me a long time to get through this one. The seven tests are taken from current affairs and somewhere down the line lose their touch. They almost become predictable and the writing cannot do much to save it. I had enjoyed Q and A to some extent and was sort of expecting the same from The Accidental Apprentice, given the similarity of the plot. In the former it was questions at a game show and the later had seven tests of life.

I guess I should not have tried to expect anything from the book. The plot is racy for sure but loses the reader somewhere down the line. It took me some time to finish reading this one. I did not struggle with it; however it was not an easy read either after the first one hundred and seventy five pages. I had to keep myself going only to reach the end and expect something very far-fetched. “The Accidental Apprentice” is only recommended to those who have not read any of Vikas Swarup’s books and that too only depends if they would like to read it after going through the prologue. I gave it a 3-star only because of the writing in bits and parts that is effective and the overall plot, which definitely had more potential.

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