For last months update, please go here.

I haven’t been writing much of late, been a little busy with an idea I’m working on. Weirdly enough, as mentioned in the first reading update on my blog, this does keep the habit alive haha.

I read a total of 9 books in November in a variety of topics.

They were:

  • Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts

Far too many people had recommended this book to be over the years.
I borrowed a copy from a friend back when I was in college and it was stuck in my bookshelf until I picked it up last month.
It’s a fascinating book, it romanticises poverty and crime, humanises the criminal ( the author himself being one ) and paints a lovely picture of Mumbai from memory ( a city that I love )
I don’t know where it stands as a work of literature, it is some parts biographical, some parts fictionalised but, mostly engaging.

[Source : Paperback - borrowed from a friend]

  • Siddhartha - Herman Hesse

This was another book that had been recommended to me over the years, especially by a close friend who has even named his son after the titular character in the book.
The book is not about Gautama Buddha, it is about a fictional contemporary of Buddha and his path towards enlightenment.
It’s a good read, I enjoyed it.

[ Source : Various online pdfs ]

  • Tell me a story - Narrative and Intelligence - Roger. C. Schank

I came across this book earlier this year, written by an AI researched in 1990.
While it touches on topics like AI, it focuses more on the nature of Intelligence itself and the different ways in which it can be approached.

I’ve often found that the default way to determine intelligence seems to be linked primarily with prior knowledge or IQ or a certain type of behavior, this has always seemed limiting because in my experience I’ve met incredibly smart people who societally would not be termed intelligent.

This book gives an interesting, although not exhaustive, framework to determine intelligence which is rooted in the art of storytelling.

Fantastic read, highly recommend. Problem is the book is available only on Amazon.com and only in Paperback.

[ Source : Paperback - Amazon ]

  • The Ingredients of Love - Nicolas Barreau

I saw the movie ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ a year or so ago and I loved it, I recently looked it up and found that it is based on this book, so, naturally, I picked it up.

I thought for once, and maybe this is because I already knew what was coming having watched the movie ( although that wasn’t case with Tell me your dreams by Sidney Sheldon and Anniyan ), the movie was much better than the book.

It’s a light read, but, I was a little let down.

[ Source : Amazon]

  • The Age of Kali - William Dalrymple

I recently attended a book launch and signing by the author for new book ‘The Anarchy’ in Chennai, I picked up both books then.

The title is a reference to the Kali Yuga and is an overview on different parts of the Indian Subcontinent based on the authors travels.

I enjoy travel books, and, as travel books go this was enjoyable, the descriptions are vivid and the throwbacks to historical highs are well done.

[ Source : Online/Various]

  • For Whom the Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway

This is another one of those recommended books that’s been on my list for a while now.
This is not an easy book to read, a lot of context is needed to understand the setting and then the weird language hits you.
The book is written in this mix of archaic English and a censored translation of what is assumed the characters are actually saying in Spanish.
While the literary themes in the book are well done, especially with some of the background characters, the language made it very hard for me to enjoy it.

Maybe a re-read will help.

[ Source : Online/Various ]

  • Let’s call him Vasu - Shubhranshu Choudhary

A friend asked me to read this book when we were discussing the Maoist conflict in India.
Written by a journalist based on his experiences meeting and even staying with Maoist leaders in Chattisgarh.

It provides a lot of context about the lives of Maoists, the origins of the movement, current troubles, and possible futures. I didn’t particularly enjoy the narration after a point, it became a little too opinionated for my liking, but, a good book nonetheless.

[ Source : Paperback ]

  • On the Shortness of Life - Seneca

This is an essay written by Seneca the Younger to his father in law, somehow, the version I got came with 2 other essays, one called Consolation to Helvia (his mother) and On Tranquility of Mind.

3 lovely representations of Stoic philosophy, mostly lucid, sometimes abstract.
I plan to re-read this, applicability of Seneca’s writings is fantastic.

  • Where Buddhism meets Neuroscience - Dalai Lama & Neuroscientists

I picked this up while waiting for a flight back home in November.
It’s a compilation of a few summits held between the Dalai Lama and eminent Neuroscientists and covers various topics in the realm of consciousness, reality, the mind-body problem, and existence.
Surprisingly, since it reads like a conversation, it’s a reasonably light read despite the topics up for discussion.

[Source : Paperback]


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Thank you for reading what I’m reading

Sainath