I have heard many good things about Derek Siver’s new book β€œHow To Live” from a few people I trust. So, it was instinctive of me to purchase the book the moment I saw Derek announce it is launched. I had missed purchasing this when Derek shared a preview link β€” no idea why.

Anyway, I am excited to read this, both as a reader and as a writer.

I finished reading: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. In a way, it’s a must read for a lot many people πŸ“š

I am certain it isn’t for dummies neither does it claims to be so anywhere. It is for folks in a hurry, sure. I can’t remember the last non-fiction book that read so easy for me. This feat is even more praiseworthy, given Neil deGrasse Tyson attempts to touch upon some of the most complicated and buzz-wordy topics from the past 13 billion of existence of this universe.

“The power and beauty of physical laws is that they apply everywhere, whether or not you choose to believe in them. In other words, after the laws of physics, everything else is opinion,” says Tyson. I have rarely heard someone be so calm, yet extremely badass at the same time.

You can have a broad sense of direction without a specific goal or a precise vision of the future. I think of it like jazz, like improvisation. It’s all about meandering with purpose.

– A quote captured by Oliver Burkeman in The Antidote

I finished reading Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath. I wanted to love this book - the premise is brilliant. But it reads like a textbook, and that’s no way to make a message stick with your readers. For that matter, that doesn’t even look to be the author’s intention.

To start with, the book lacks a clear, central idea that every chapter circles back to - it’s all over the place. It digs into the history to find and describe every event, research or anecdote where a difficult message was conveyed effectively. Once it does that, the author summaries his understanding of why that worked.

First, the author nonchalantly tells you what the learning is – “Which message do you think works best? Of course, second”. I’m sorry, but let the reader come to that conclusion. Don’t beat him on the head till he gives up and agrees in frustration.

Second, each time the reasons that the message was effectively conveyed in each story are too varied – it references almost every phycological/managerial techniques - Maslow’s hierarchy and five whys and on & on.

Finally, suggestions like be simple/concrete, don’t bury the lead, capture attention etc are easier said that done. They are a set of skill that all understand they should have, but not every person has in equal doses. Please, your suggestion cannot be “become a master public speaker or leader or designer”.

Sigh, it was frustrating to read through this book. Ironically, it fails to follow the message it wishes to convey - talk about one message, be simple and concise. It would have stuck with me then. πŸ“š

Currently reading the audio book : Made to stick by Chip Heath πŸ“š

I finally stopped reading The Guest List. A quarter in and not hooked yet to any character’s plot, I just couldn’t go any longer. It became tiring. I also didn’t enjoy the shifting view point across 4-5 characters. Interesting, but put me off every single time.

I finished reading Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day today. I cannot apply all the suggestions that the authors have to offer. But it’s a fascinating list of a few easy to follow tactics, presented in a no-nonsense manner. The authors stay to the point; they don’t ramble along as many authors of the self-help books tend to do.

I did find a few of the suggestions pretty useful and have already incorporated a couple. I can clearly see the benefit. What helped is that the authors worked in an industry and in roles that I can closely associate with. So, I could relate to many of the problems they talked about and was keen to hear what changes worked for them.

If you are at a full-time job and are struggling to get the right balance between work and life, this book would have a few strategies that you might find useful. πŸ“š

I have been reading many books from Christie recently. Every time I get into a reading lull, I pick up a Poirot mystery and start reading. I was facing one such lull and Dame Agatha was to the rescue again. Her books always help me get back to reading more.

Anyway, after I read another of her wonderfully crafted mysteries – Lord Edgware Dies – I wondered why are these books not generally adapted to TV series and films. Most of her books are perfect. Yet, we hardly see any adaptations. Is it due to licensing?

Anyway, the one attempt I had seen recently was the disappointing Murder on the Orient Express from 2017. It was unnecessarily stylized, the adaptations need to let the story take over. The complex simplicity is the most important virtue of the Christie’s stories. Then there is the old, yet long-running, TV series Poirot – again, enjoyable in parts but tries too hard. That said, I have liked whatever I have managed to see (mostly on YouTube).

There’s so much scope for something in the middle, not too stylized and yet, a modern adaptation. Preferably in the form of a film or a TV mini-series. I did come across one such adaptation, the 2015 three episode television mini-series of And Then There Were None. IMDB Plus has made all the episodes available on YouTube. I enjoyed this particular form. I felt it worked.

So sad that there isn’t much readily available.

Just a few pages in and I was excited to read Factfulness by Hans Rosling. Given the times we are living in today, whoever claims that “the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think” has my attention.

I finished reading Endless Night by Agatha Christie and am not at all impressed. This review might contain spoilers, but I can’t help I have to rant.

Nah, I am not letting the ending influence the overall rating for the book again. It is easy to get wowed by the intelligent ending and rate this book highly. But it wasn’t a good read for me.

Right from the start, I didn’t trust the narrator. I guess I’ve been fooled by many first-person narrations for my liking. Michael is a poor narrator - not sure if it was intentional on Christie’s part. None of his actions, his reactions made sense to me, further heightening my suspicions about what I was being told by him. So the twist towards the end fell flat - it was as if I already knew deep down and was just waiting for it to be revealed.

Oh, and I was waiting a lot of time throughout the book. 2/3rds in and there is hardly anything that takes place. To me, the love story between Mike and Ellie was not interesting. The way it played out was dull. It got tiring at one point to read Mike tell what was happening. The suspense around Gipsy’s Acre wasn’t built at all. It was supposed to be a “gothic story with gypsy’s warnings” - wasn’t the case.

This may have been a brilliant psychological thriller for its time. But a lot has happened since 1967 and too many have been inspired by the style of surpriseful narration from this mystery master for this style to create the necessary impression anymore. This read was so unlike any other from Agatha Christie and this time it is not in positive sense.