Show your Work!

Author: Austin Kleon

When I read books like these, the reaction is as I expect to have going in – very little surprise overall. But what I do get out of them are reminders. In this case, to “Show your work”. Austin Kleon is compelling with his ten tips on what he believes are different ways in which you can show your work. Work that is tangible, work that is an act of constant progress and work that while humble, is effective. Both, from a sense that demonstrates your growing skill in any field that you choose to show your work in, and in a sense that you have the satisfaction of having journaled work sufficiently to look back on time well spent.
Now much of what I’ve said above are what I interpretively took away from the book. and not what was exactly said in it. And I think that is the job of the book well done. In fact, at this point in time I cannot even remember the ten tips that he’s provided. I think there is one that relates to social media, one that tells you that if you show your work, people will find you, a couple of quotes and …I don’t know. More stuff. But the point is, it made me remember to work on sharing my work but more importantly, Doing the work. Work isn’t meant to be done to be shared. The sharing should be a natural action that follows the doing, but the doing is not an option. And while I don’t remember much of the Content of the book, I do remember that I found myself disagreeing with very little of what he said.
This was a good book for simply reminding me about things I knew but hadn’t taken consciously seriously.
I will likely read it again.

Subjective rating : 4.5/5

The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden

I’ve come to understand that while I do not know all the forms of humor I love, I Undoubtedly love the Swedish sense of humor – that form of writing that elicits a laugh not at the end of a line or two or even ten, but at the end of three pages when you understand how the irony works, how the accidents work, how the coincidences work, That form of humor is beautiful. There is also another form of writing Jonas Jonasson Nails and that is dry humor – when he performs reveals about the three Chinese women or about how a group of the unlikeliest people are bundled together in a place you’d never expect, or when a Mossad agent finds himself outwitted by a cleaning woman but that isn’t written in a slapstick sort of way, but extremely gracefully – like a bird gliding to a slow and steady landing. I suppose that’s the only way to describe This humor style – graceful comedy.
Then there’s the whole drama with the Twins – Holger and Holger II and the way the non-existence of the latter (you Have to be there) is portrayed both as extremely tragic to the afflicted and as hilarious to the reader – the whole set of experiences left me grinning ear to ear on walks as I heard the encounters one after another and many a passerby probably wondered why I was smiling so much.
You simply must read about The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden, because Nombeko, the star of the book has had quite the interesting journey 🙂

And Then There Were None

I’ve tried to start this book thrice before and everytime I’ve stopped short of moving past the first chapterfor reasons I cannot remember anymore because this time, I crossed the first 20% within minutes of picking the book up. The rest of it built up in excitement and intensity with each….milestone and the crescendo culminated in a loud bang at one point (in my mind 😉 ). A childhood poem “Ten Little Indians” is used as the template around which the plot is woven, but just when it seems like things could be predictable, the story takes a turn. Now, generally, towards the 80% mark, one is able to atleast guess what the ending might be like. But this book gave away nothing till the very end and That was the most satisfying part of all, to me. There are ten characters that are of importance in this story and while none of them is memorable, all of them were extremely interesting in their presence whenever they appear. I’ve been told that this is “the Best Christie”. The description leaves a sour taste in my mouth because it makes me wonder if it’s all downhill from here, given that I’ve only read 4 other Christie novels.We’ll see! 🙂

Subjective Rating: 4.5/5

Dumb Witness

Author: Agatha Christie

It was okay, you know? I’ve read 3 Agatha Christies so far and this was my 4th. I’ve gotten used to the way Poirot starts getting involved in a case by now and I’ve begun to welcome it. Unfortunately, I’ve also begun to welcome a plot in which I cannot pinpoint the ending with much confidence. I have become comfortable in the role of Captain Hastings accompanying Poirot as he muses, reasons and solves a crime. So when I found myself at the 60% mark hitting upon a revelation that I found to be the very way things unfolded, I was disappointed. Yet, I did complete it and it was a good tale overall. Nevertheless, it is the charm of the crime genre and more so of an author/authoress who has multiple such books to their name that you can safely continue to look forward with confidence to finding yourself enthralled in a lovely mystery once again.
And so do I. 

Subjective Rating: 3.5/5

Anxious People

I think the best thing about Backman is the way he introduces people to you. You would think introductions are possible only once. But he introduces the same people multiple times and you see them in a different light each time. And when you finally see them wholly, the way he intends for you to see them, you cannot recognize the person you first saw and you realize you are happy to be proven so wrong.
This book is probably about a lot of things – a bridge, money, relationships, circumstances, death.
But most crucially, maybe this story is really about idiots.
And that’s why I loved it so damn much.

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe


*No spoilers*

The 23rd Hercule Poirot story, but only the fourth Christie I’ve ever read. Perhaps I should have started in sequence of publication, I don’t know, but no matter. The story here begins with pain. Dental pain that Hercule Poirot faces, like every man and is eyeing his fellow patients as he waits at a dentist’s’, with great suspicion. It is true and AC displays some brilliant observational skills of the human psyche when she relates personal pain as being projected onto the world, giving one a negative view of everyone while in that state. Shortly after being freed of said pain, Poirot is given news of the passing of his dentist, Dr. Morley and this is really where our story begins. An innocent dentist is dead; did he kill himself or was he killed? The see-saw of this question keeps shifting sides throughout the story till the very end and every co-patient of Poirot’s or co-inhabitant of Dr.Morley’s establishment at the time of the death is understandably a piece of the puzzle. There aren’t many remarkable characters in this book, save Poirot himself. Inspector Japp (who I’ve not seen in any of the other books I’ve read) and Poirot share a something of a cross between a Sherlock-Lestrade-and-Sherlock-Watson-ish bond, chiefly because of Poirot’s more amiable personality and that is nice to see.
The story is fast paced for a while but towards the 60% mark, it seems to start dragging a little. I haven’t felt this in the other 3 works of hers I’ve read. But towards the end, it accelerates again to the point of impossibility of putting the book down because “you Just Have to Know”.

On the whole, a pretty good mystery. I liked it.

Subjective Rating: 4.2/5

The Travelling Cat Chronicles

Author : Hiro Arikawa

*No spoilers*

So I started this book in the first week of August and I didn’t make much progress for most of the month. But day before yesterday, I hit the 40% mark and that’s where I was hooked.
Nana is a stray cat who’s fiercely independent and doesn’t care for humans; He even only begrudgingly and helplessly accepts the care of the human who nurses him back to health when he’s hit by a car. Once he’s healed, he stays with him out of sheer “eyeroll-y” gratitude but then eventually warms up to him. The cat’s travelling chronicles begin when Satoru, after 5 years of living with Nana, has come to the decision of finding him a new home for reasons that are divulged way later in the book. And at every stop that they make, Nana finds a way to create problems just enough that Satoru has to accept failure in making that place Nana’s next residence and the journey goes on.
Hiro Arikawa does not shy away from wilfully taking time to describe the sights along the journey, the flowers, the Pampas, Mount Fuji and other beautiful scenes that they pass through. He also fleshes out the few but memorable characters that Satoru interacts with , so much so that you cannot forget them and the relationships they share with Satoru as friends or as a family member or even a former pet. I’m blown away by the consistency with which he’s put himself in the paws of a cat throughout with zero slips and as a reader, so are you.
And then there is the moment where there is the equivalent of a series of plates crashing where you don’t see it coming or rather, I didn’t see it coming and before I knew it, I was sobbing like a little baby. And even though I’ve said what I said and you’ve read what you’ve read, you will forget my words and you won’t know when to expect the tug at the heartstrings. It will happen when it does and I hope you can find your way back to this post to tell me it did.
And you are right, Nana :’) Humans can never claim to be as smart as a cat 🙂

My pace of reading the book over time

Subjective Rating: : 5/5

Flowers for Algernon

Author : Daniel Keyes

Yes, there are spoilers. Please don’t read this if you haven’t already read the book and intend to.
Charlie was just a guy who wanted to fit in, you know? He just wanted to be smart “like everyone else” and understand what people said in. That’s why he tried so hard. He jumped through every hoop Dr.Nemur and Dr. Strauss showed him and he got his wish. He became smart. He became smarter. He became the smartest person humankind ever possibly knew.
Life would be so simple and happy if that was the end of the story. We love happy endings, don’t we. We want the underdog to succeed. We want a triumphant person at the end of a story. Maybe that’s what we get at the end; I’m not going to give anything away. But I will tell you about the process to that end. Charlie Gordon has an IQ of 68 when the story begins and life has been extremely hard for him – being abandoned by his parents, working at a bakery where he seems to have been given a chance from his perspective, but we can see they’re plain bullies there, having fun at Charlie’s expense and he bears it all with a grin and a laugh, because he wants to have friends. He thinks they Are his friends. And that heart of his is what makes you want to take the entire journey with him through his journal, go through everything he’s gone through, through his memories of his mother – Rose, his father -Matt and his sister, Norma….
The only glimmer of sunshine Charlie has or seems to have through this gloomy cloud of a fast-paced IQ-rising life of his is Alice Kinnian, one of his tutors at the facility where Charlie is to undergo treatments and eventually therapy sessions. In her, Charlie finds love and safety and I love that Daniel Keyes had her as a character.
Another character that is constantly alluded to and is really, the titular character is Algernon, a mouse that Charlie is pitted against at the beginning. It’s heartening to see how Charlie’s relationship with Algernon changes, even if one-sided – first as a goal, then as a rival, then as a subordinate and subsequently as a pet. The symbolism of Algernon’s microcosmic journey is telling and when flowers Are placed for Algernon, one can’t help but feel the ground drop from under them even if they have been expecting it.
At the core of it, Flowers for Algernon is, in my opinion, about relationships – the relationship with one’s self, with those you count friends, those you count lovers, those you count superiors and others. Underneath the veil of a man climbing a ladder of IQs was a man ..

  • a man who wanted to climb it purely to be like everyone else, to have that which was taken away from him his whole life,
  • a man who never had a childhood other children seem to have,
  • a man who never felt the love of his mother for who he truly was or the pride of his father for what he could be if he could be anything at all,
  • a man who eventually wanted to love and be loved by his friends, by a partner, by a sibling.

A man who wanted to matter.

If there was one thing i would have liked that seemed missing, it would have been a proper reconciliation with his father. But oh well…

This was a beautiful story.
Thank you Daniel Keyes.

“She said never mind but I shouldn’t feel bad if I find out everybody isn’t nice like I think. She said for a person who God gave so little to you did more than a lot of people with brains they never even used.”

Flowers for Algernon, Pg 26

Subjective Rating: : 4.9/5

The Silent Patient

Author : Alex Michaelides

This book got me out of my reading slump and into a frenzied reading pace, resulting in me finishing it in less than a week. And this should be review enough to serve as a recommendation for anyone else considering to pick this up as their next read, but there’s so much more I have to say about it.
When you think about a book, there are a lot of factors to consider – the plot, the characters, the locations, interpersonal relationships, facts, consistencies etc. The strongest factor in this debut book by Alex Michaelides is definitely Time (or timelines, if you prefer). The narrative alternates between the voices of Alicia Berenson (the titular character) and Theo Faber (the psychotherapist, who is determined to make her talk), but the shift is always seamless, and that I believe is an excellent trait in storytelling. Their timelines are the past and the present respectively. The former goes about narrating her, Alicia’s life with Gabriel (her husband) and their relationship, their stories that circle around Max (Gabriel’s brother), Paul (Alicia’s brother) and a couple of other recurring characters. While she is battling a lot of antagonistic external elements in her life, there are some inner demons as well that she constantly is forced to face. The latter revolves around Theo’s own journey into his profession and his life post joining The Grove, a life he’s decided to begin with the sole purpose of “rescuing” Alicia, all the while coming to terms with his own challenges at home. What follows is a tale of following-the-breadcrumbs, as Theo undertakes a investigative trip down Alicia’s memory lane and goes about meeting all her former associations to understand her life and to attempt to help her break her silence.
I will not tell you if he succeeds or fails. But I will tell you that this book is more than a set of psychotherapist-patient interviews, not that you ever thought it was. Jokes apart, it’s a thoroughly well written book that destigmatizes therapy a lot, and also makes you introspect, delve into your own psyche…question your voids and wonder if you are as whole as you thought you were or if you’re really at peace with yourself, make you feel lucky for having a wholesome childhood, because, as Alex believes, that’s where it all begins –

As babies, we are innocent sponges, blank slates, with only the most basic needs present: to eat, shit, love, and be loved. But something goes wrong, depending on the circumstances into which we are born, and the house in which we grow up. A tormented, abused child can never take revenge in reality, as she is powerless and defenseless, but she can—and must—harbor vengeful fantasies in her imagination. Rage, like fear, is reactive.“.

The Silent Patient, pg. 141

Oh, and it has one heck of a plot.
You’ll never see it coming. And when you do…🤯

Subjective Rating: 4.5/5

Six of Crows

Author : Leigh Bardugo
Succeeded by : Crooked Kingdom

I didn’t know what to expect when I started the book. I just associated it with the word “heist”. I didn’t read the blurb at the back for some reason before I started it, but I was given to understand that it was good , so I decided to give it a shot. I went in thinking about “Ocean’s 11”, “Now you see me” etc.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover the characters as they were being fleshed out, each more enigmatic than the last – the best of all being the main anti-hero Kaz Brekker. What a well-created character! But just as I falling in love with him, the other characters – Jasper, Inej , Nina and even Matthias and Wylan were given their backstories and it was impossible to restrict my affection to just the bastard of the Barrels. I liked that none of them were..perfect. They all had their flaws, their weaknesses and most of all, motives. Each of them had a reason for being a part of the plot. This is a good segue into the plot itself – It wasn’t a straight B & E and the number of obstacles in their path were to be many. The fact that Matthias and Wylan were familiar with the target destination was of assistance without making it too convenient. The minor twists towards the 60-70% mark were very welcome even though things were never boring, even till then. I loved the non-overt romantic relationship between Matthias and Nina, the description of discovery of feelings Kaz has for Inej and vice-versa and even the dynamics between Jesper and Wylan. It was a nice journey to see of a somewhat dysfunctional team coming to trust each other over the course of the mission.
The introduction of the Grishaverse terminologies took some getting used to but despite not having read the other books in the universe, I was still able to understand the different specialties of each of the Grisha – the Fabrikators, the Heartrenders etc. Good magic system. All of this takes place in a city called Ketterdam and Bardugo builds place descriptions just as vividly as she builds character sketches.
Overall, I completely enjoyed the book and, being part of a duology definitely has a story to complete. I look forward to reading “Crooked Kingdom”.

Subjective Rating: 4/5