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hsubu has read 0 of 7 books.

Siddhartha Mukherjee: Song of the Cell (Hardcover, 2022, Scribner) 4 stars

From the author of The Emperor of All Maladies, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and …

A deep look into cell biology: The stories, people, patients and science

4 stars

This is a good book that skillfully encapsulates a vast sea of cell biology knowledge. This one is wonky compared to Siddhartha Mukherjee's previous books and deals with many more technicalities. I did not mind that. But those looking for a more easy-going book, like his previous ones, might be disappointed. The best thing about this book is that you get to see the story of cell biology, the people and patients involved, and the science, all in one logically unbroken chain of descriptions. Most patient stories or the author's personal stories, interwoven into various sections, fit well. A few looked out of place and forced to fit. But overall, I liked the book.

Dava Sobel: Longitude (Hardcover, 2005, Walker & Company) 4 stars

The dramatic human story of an epic scientific quest and of one man's forty-year obsession …

Review of 'Longitude' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Short, crisp, and quite enjoyable history of the longitude problem. As a help to understand the mechanical devices described in this book, I looked at videos and animations of Harrison's chronometers available online. That helped a lot in understanding the scale of achievement of John Harrison. The author does not attempt to make a "what happened at the end?" mystery out of this story. The summary of what happened is stated right at the beginning. The author instead engages the reader by providing the context of the times, the details of the challenges, and so on. This approach works quite well.
Those of you who work in engineering will find the technology development challenges described in this book quite relatable!

Kurt Vonnegut: The Sirens of Titan (Hardcover, Octopus/Heinemann) 4 stars

The Sirens of Titan is an outrageous romp through space, time, and morality. The richest, …

Review of 'The Sirens of Titan' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

The thought that always dominates my mind when reading Vonnegut is the wish that I had read him when I was younger. I also wish that more young people come to read him and love his work. The reason for this is that he presents a way of looking at life and living that is kinder, gentler, and wiser than what our current society tends to teach us. He does not use any religious dogma to arrive at his wonderful perspective. He has a remarkable ability to put a smile on our faces, all the while criticizing our values and worldviews. He manages to do this in 'The Sirens of Titan' as well.

I did enjoy this book, and it did make me think of my own perspectives and values. I thought this book was the strongest towards the beginning and towards the end. The middle part is slightly sluggish …

Review of 'Rain Men' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

I laughed out loud several times while reading this book as it reminded me of many incidents I encountered while playing gully crickets during my childhood. As I am at the age where any iota of skill I had for cricket, or any physical sport for that matter, is long gone, I achieved some level of catharsis reading the funny stories of sad men like myself.
Funnily, I found a lot of similarities between the stories in this book to local chess leagues I used to play in New York. The same jostling among grown adults over petty things, sad year-end reports, petty rivalries, temper tantrums, etc.
The only thing that put me off in this book is some instances of clearly sexist language/content. Since the book is published in the mid-90s, these things might have escaped scrutiny. Other than this, the book was a fantastic read.

Douglas R. Hofstadter: I Am a Strange Loop (2007, Basic Books) 4 stars

Review of 'I Am a Strange Loop' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

The author's key strength is his ability to effectively explain complex topics in layman's terms using analogies. That helps a lot in this book, considering its complex topic - Consciousness. I found myself almost always agreeing with the author's idea about the existence/non-existence of the 'self'. Since I am not well-read on this topic, I will reserve from commenting too much on the topic of the 'self'. Instead, I will say that the author does a decent job of presenting the arguments objectively. And this is quite hard to achieve for a complex philosophical topic while keeping the text light and understandable.
The only minor complaint I have was that towards the end there are some sections - talking about musical tastes and their relation to the idea of self - that I found a bit out of place. I would not hold this against the author as the rest …

Anand Giridharadas: Winners Take All (2018, Alfred A. Knopf) 4 stars

Former New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas takes us into the inner sanctums of a …

Review of 'Winners take all' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

The book deals with the highly complex problem of how to bring about sound, sustainable, and scalable social changes. Being a neophyte in this subject, I cannot judge clearly the various arguments presented in this book. But this book did make me think more carefully about many things I took for granted and for that reason, I think it is a valuable read. Recommended!

Haruki Murakami: Kafka on the Shore (Paperback, 2006, Vintage International) 4 stars

Kafka on the Shore (海辺のカフカ, Umibe no Kafuka) is a 2002 novel by Japanese author …

Review of 'Kafka on the Shore' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This is my first Murakami book. And I really liked his style of writing. Murakami has a knack for capturing beauty, mood, and scenery perfectly. And that is what stood out for me among all the magical realism and philosophical ideas in the book. Just like how reality can be modeled by mathematics in a much better way if imaginary numbers are used, with skillful writers like Murakami, magical worlds can convey the truth and real feelings better than hyper-realism. I do not claim to have solved all the riddles the plot posed, but I doubt that is the point of the book. Unlike his mastery of building and conveying the mood and beauty, Murakami's attempt at conveying philosophical ideas is not as successful. Some of the philosophical ideas unintentionally felt like funny philosophical arguments written by Douglas Adams. But that is just a minor gripe I have in an …

Steven H. Strogatz: Infinite Powers (Hardcover, 2019, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) 4 stars

From preeminent math personality and author of The Joy of x, a brilliant and endlessly …

Review of 'Infinite Powers' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

A truly wonderful book. The author takes great care in taking the reader through the story and foundations of calculus gently without overwhelming the reader with jargon and unnecessary details. The examples from daily life he chooses to explain various concepts are very relatable and help us to get an intuitive feel for calculus. The stories and personalities behind calculus are fascinating on their own. You can feel the author's love for calculus coming through the pages and it is infectious.

Highly recommended!

Aravind Adiga: The White Tiger (2008, Free Press) 4 stars

The White Tiger is a novel by Indian author Aravind Adiga. It was published in …

Review of 'The White Tiger' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

This is definitely a well-written book that always keeps the reader's interest. But is it a great book that deserves all the accolades it has gotten? I am not so sure. I felt that the plight of the Indian poor in the 'darkness' is wonderfully captured in the book and the author's clean, clear style makes us think from the perspective of the central character, Balram. The author also manages to capture some genuinely wonderful and funny moments. I am also thankful that the author stays away from sentimentality. [spoiler ahead] But the book becomes a little shaky when the author attempts to capture how Balram, after feeling trapped, decides to break free of his shackles by murdering his boss. How did he go from feeling the need to escape to murdering his boss for stealing the money? The abruptness felt while reading this novel about Balram's decision to kill …

Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Paperback, 1995, Back Bay Books) 5 stars

Review of 'Long Walk to Freedom' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

An autobiography that is both moving and inspiring. I had read about very early struggles against oppression in South Africa in Mahatma Gandhi's biography by Ramachandra Guha. When reading it I wondered what happened to the struggle in South Africa after Gandhi left. This book tells us the inspiring story about the period after Gandhi in South Africa.

Mandela has a wonderful way of telling his story which gently takes us to a tour of the time, the place, the emotions. One never gets bogged down in detail. He also has a great way of convincing us the logic behind his opinions without being forceful. That might be one of the factors that made him a great leader.

Highly recommended!