What Happened To You? by Bruce D. Perry, Oprah Winfrey

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

We elicit from the world what we project into the world; but what you project is based upon what happened to you as a child.

‘What Happened to you’ deals with the topic of developmental trauma and how its impact can travel through peoples’ adulthood. It’s written in a conversational format, with Oprah asking Dr. Bruce various questions, and both share stories about themselves and the people they have met. It’s a refreshing read, which provides an insider view into a sensitive topic.

Before I picked up this book, I had limited understanding of developmental trauma and its impact. I have read a few articles and watched some content on the topic, but I lacked the correct vocabulary or a deeper understanding of the various nuances that can play out of childhood trauma. This book did a good job of bridging those gaps and providing me with a better perspective.

The main core of the book, is that often we look at people and ask “What’s wrong with that person?”. However, we should be asking “What happened to that person?”. How we respond to certain situations or how we handle our emotions is heavily impacted by what we have been through in our childhood. We are raised in different environments and circumstances. For most this innocent phase of our lives has been interrupted by some form of abuse or traumatic event. This trauma can travel to our adulthood, and its aftermath may impact the way we respond to a certain situation. The book advocates for having a more compassionate view and understanding that childhood trauma is more common than it appears.

Monthly Quotes: January 2022

The best thing about rock bottom is the rock part. You discover the solid bit of you. The bit that can’t be broken down further. The thing that you might sentimentally call a soul. At our lowest we find the solid ground of our foundation. And we can build ourselves anew.

Matt Haig, The Comfort Book

Curiosity and passion are the enemies of anxiety.

Matt Haig, The Comfort Book

If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here. Walking one foot in front of the other, in the same direction, will always get you further than running around in circles. It’s about the determination to keep walking forward.

Matt Haig, The Comfort Book

I used to worry about fitting in until I realized the reason I didn’t fit in was because I didn’t want to.

Matt Haig, The Comfort Book

To know which path to take, it helps to take a few wrong ones.

Matt Haig, The Comfort Book

There will be other days. And other feelings.

Matt Haig, The Comfort Book

The most powerful moment in life is when you decide not to be scared anymore.

Matt Haig, The Comfort Book

You don’t need to deny the reality of the present in order to have hope, you just need to know the future is uncertain, and that life contains light as well as dark.

Matt Haig, The Comfort Book

Language gives us the power to voice our experience, to reconnect with the world, and to change our own and other people’s lives

Matt Haig, The Comfort Book

Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

who wishes to fight must first count the cost

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.

Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

Creative people need time to just sit around and do nothing.

Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes.

Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

Always be reading. Go to the library. There’s magic in being surrounded by books. Get lost in the stacks. Read bibliographies. It’s not the book you start with, it’s the book that book leads you to. Collect books, even if you don’t plan on reading them right away. Filmmaker John Waters has said, “Nothing is more important than an unread library.” Don’t worry about doing research. Just search.

Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

Pretend to be making something until you actually make something.

Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

In the end, creativity isn’t just the things we choose to put in, it’s the things we choose to leave out.

Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

More data means that we need to be even more aware of what the evidence is actually worth.

David Spiegelhalter, The Art of Statistics

Signals always come with noise: It is trying to separate out the two that makes the subject interesting.

David Spiegelhalter, The Art of Statistics

The Art of Statistics by David Spiegelhalter

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

All models are wrong, but some are useful.

Art of Statistics is a crisp and very engaging introduction to statistics. Prof. Spiegelhalter has used stories and anecdotes as a medium to introduce the concepts and methodology of various statistical techniques. As a person who has studied statistics at an academic level, I found this method of explanation highly effective. The book introduced me to many new concepts that I haven’t studied in-depth and has a lot of quotes that I can borrow to explain similar concepts in layman’s terms.

This book is divided into multiple chapters ranging from data analysis to hypothesis testing. Every chapter comprises various real-life stories, projects, and case studies. Prof. Spiegelhalter used these as the tool to break down very complex and advanced concepts into simple ones and doesn’t through off anyone with heavy mathematical terminology. This is the reason the concepts stick better and can be read by all people irrespective of their prior knowledge of the subject.

I particularly like the first chapter that introduced the Harold serial killer case. How data analytics was used to solve a decade-long murder spree. The way of storytelling made the statistics book seem like a thriller book. The last few chapters, which talk about data journalism are a must-read for everyone. Since we all consume data in everyday life and nobody can escape it in their daily life, developing a better understanding of what quoted data implies and why we need to consume statistics with a grain of salt. is essential. The exploitation and misinterpretation of such reporting are very common, and it’s as much important that we read between the lines by improving our understanding of data thrown at us in big headlines.

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes.

Steal Like an Artist is a small and crisp book with advice on creating art. The author says there is no original idea. Instead, all ideas are modified versions of some other ideas. And while that concept sounds like plagiarism, he makes a convincing argument on how good ideas are personalized copies. The individualist touch and the vision differentiate and make the idea great.

It’s not necessarily a descriptive book like most books in this genre are. It states the advice to the point and leaves it to the reader to interpret and modify the information at their disposal. It is something you can go back time and time again quickly.

I don’t work in the creative field. However, aspects of this book can be applied to any field of work. I liked the pace of the book and the sequencing of the chapters. It is well put together, and easy and quick read.

The Art of War by Sun Tzu, Thomas Cleary (Translator), Pulat Otkan (Translator)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity

Art of War is a book consolidating strategies of war and politics, written by a Chinese military leader of the time, dating back centuries. While the book recapitulates various tactics and moves one must employ to defeat an enemy in the war, we can draw notable parallels to the business and leadership strategies required in today’s lives. It is alluring since these strategies and ideas are based on human nature and behavior. Be it war or living in the 21st century, you need a deeper understanding of human behavior and a strategic methodology to achieve your goals.

Over years, I have had multiple people recommend this book to me. But I didn’t understand the appeal of reading a book about military strategy with the nature of my work. It was when I started reading it I could see why it has caught the attention that it had. It’s like Chankya Niti, which you probably won’t employ in a war, but you can easily borrow those principles and philosophy from your modern life to attain a more disciplined and structured life.

The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There will be other days. And other feelings.

This book is precisely what its title says, a comfort book. The author describes this as the rough notes he has written over time, a rough write-out of his thought about life and other stuff. For this reason, it feels more personal and closer to you as a reader. Since this could be anyone’s journal notes, its impersonal nature makes it more personal to everyone. It is a goldmine if somebody is looking to read a feel-good book or an uplifting book. It’s on my reread shelf, and I wish to reread it multiple times. It’s easier to flip through has no particular chronological order to it. You can dive in from the end or the middle, and still land at the right place.

It was my first book by Matt Haig. I have been meaning to read ‘The Midnight Library’ for a long time. But I haven’t got an opportunity to do so. After reading ‘The comfort book’, I am eagerly looking forward to it.

Words don’t capture, they release.

Monthly Quotes: December 2021

…you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit

Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning

Sometimes, just saying that you hate something, and having someone agree with you, can make you feel better about a terrible situation.

Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.

Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning

They didn’t understand it, but like so many unfortunate events in life, just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it isn’t so.

Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning

Your initial opinion on just about anything may change over time.

Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning

Signals always come with noise: It is trying to separate out the two that makes the subject interesting.

David Spiegelhalter, The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data

We need to distinguish what is actually dangerous from what sounds frightening.

David Spiegelhalter, The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data

Anger demands you DO and sadness requires you be

Casey Wilson, The Wreckage of My Presence: Essays

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong

I picked up this book in hopes of reading the books that I couldn’t read in my childhood, and I am happy that I didn’t read this as a child. Mostly because I don’t think I would have understood the book or the dark humor the way I do now. It still, at the very core, is a children’s book.

The series of unfortunate events is a book about three siblings who lose their parents in an ‘unfortunate’ turn of events. Since they are all minors, they are then under the guardianship of their only relative Count Olaf. What transpires after this is the siblings trying to save themselves from all the ‘unfortunate’ things that happen to them. Occasionally the author breaks the narrative to talk to the reader directly and warn them of the incoming bad events. This method of the narration gave me Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke vibes where this pattern was evident.

It’s a gripping story of three siblings, who time and time again displayed bravery. All of that wrapped within dark yet sophisticated humor. I believe this book is meant for both children and adults. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series. Let’s see what more bad can happen to the Baudelaire sibling

Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar, Translated by Jerry Pinto

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

I sometimes go and sit there. it is my museum of broken things.

Cobalt Blue is a beautifully tragic story translated from Marathi. It’s is a story about two siblings, Tanay and Anuja, who fall in love with their tenant. The tenant ends up leaving both of them. His departure has turned their life upside down, causing significant emotional turmoil. It’s a shared yet isolated heartbreak for both of them.

It’s told in two parts. The first part is in the first-person narration, with the brother, Tanay. He narrates the events from the start, when he first saw the man, how he fell in love with him, and how his departure has affected him. The second part of the story is by the sister, Anuja. It starts where the Tanay has left it, and occasionally she delves into the past. She narrates her account of the same man from her point of view. Throughout the story, we never hear the man, who is the love interest of the siblings. We only know him from both of these narrations.

Tanay and Anuja’s heartbreak is a one-of-a-kind situation. Anuja is free to seek and express her grief with her family and friends. Tanay is unable to do so. Their narration feels like watching two broken-hearted people on a split-screen. How the same man’s love has affected each of them, and how they are dealing with it differently, how it’s both a communal and isolated experience. It’s a strange circumstance between the two because Tanay is going through the same betrayal. But he can’t accept that his betrayal was caused by his sister. Anuja is entirely oblivious to Tanay’s feelings or the pain she has caused him. As a reader, you can’t shy away from the intensity of emotions that Tanay emits. The first-person narration of Tanay’s story is really powerful. Anuja’s narration is a mix of events happening around her and her internal dialogues. It’s doesn’t feel as impactful as Tanay’s.

Monthly Quotes: November 2021


When you’re looking for a relationship, the process weakens you. you feel you have to bear with whatever the other person wants. Each of the people I have met has made this a little more clear.

Sachin Kundalkar, Cobalt Blue

Those who choose differently must suffer the consequences. They must take the pain their decisions bring

Sachin Kundalkar, Cobalt Blue

I sometimes go and sit there. it is my museum of broken things.

Sachin Kundalkar, Cobalt Blue

Once you start living together and you see the same person day in and day out, you begin to wonder: was it for this I struggled and toiled? Did he feel that way?

Sachin Kundalkar, Cobalt Blue

When I think about my childhood, I feel the best times came before one began to seek pleasure in the bodies of others

Sachin Kundalkar, Cobalt Blue

I have only men like you n novels, men who lived their own idiosyncrasies.

Sachin Kundalkar, Cobalt Blue

To wake quietly from a deep sleep is a rare thing and, when it happens, you can almost imagine that the world had begin again, at least for a few seconds. Or so you said.

Sachin Kundalkar, Cobalt Blue

He had slept with many people, he said, but he had never found someone to talk to

Sachin Kundalkar, Cobalt Blue

you made lonliness easy on yourself

Sachin Kundalkar, Cobalt Blue

Black Vodka: Ten Stories by Deborah Levy

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Rating: 2 out of 5.

It was my second book by Deborah Levy, after reading The Cost of Living. I wanted to read more of her works. The Black Vodka is a collection of ten short stories about love, relationships, and life.

I wanted to like this book since I loved her living autobiography. But for some reason, the stories didn’t stick with me, except the first one. The first story sets the tone of the book. It is also where the book gets its name. But it’s only because of the characters and not the story.

I would still be looking forward to reading the author’s other works. Her living autobiography stood out to me exceptionally, and it’s something I look forward to rereading later sometime.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg 

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Rating: 2 out of 5.

The book does what it says – it explains the power of habit. In the process, it ended up overexplaining the power of habit. It’s divided into several chapters. Based on the individuals, businesses, and how to manifest these in practice. The initial chapters introduce an idea about how to make habits stick. There needs to be a cue for triggering the task, and there’s a reward for completing the task successfully. This one single idea is stretched throughout the book. Using different stories in different scenarios. It felt repetitive. All the stories start in a fictitious tone, and somehow they end up in a preachy tone. Explaining how this cue-task-reward cycle helped achieve success in the story.

In Summary, I did not find it helpful. It felt stretched out, repetitive, and the cue-task-reward idea seemed overly exploited. The chapters failed to stick due to a lack of any actionable item.

The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru

Rating: 5 out of 5.

India has known the innocence and insouciance of childhood, the passion and abandon of youth, and the ripe wisdom of maturity that comes from long experience of pain and pleasure; and over and over a gain she has renewed her childhood and youth and age

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This book was written by Jawaharlal Nehru during the end of the British reign. It captures a summary of Indian culture, its people, and the states. How these have evolved through the centuries. And how history matters while establishing the first democratic and republic government of the nation. India is a country that has survived multiple rulers and invaders. It has been a hub for cultural exchanges and has stood strong with several religions and beliefs under its hood. The book beautifully captures the essence of the age-long evolution of the country and its people. He puts into perspective how the freedom movement leaders probed this knowledge to retain this cultural integrity while building a new nation.

The book is rich in historical facts. It’s planned out properly and written in a structured manner, which doesn’t let the information overwhelm you or get over your head. It paints a beautiful and definite picture of India for anyone reading, irrespective of how much knowledge they already have about India. It’s interesting for another aspect as well. It was a great gateway into the mind of a figure who was pivotal in setting up the base of the republic nation.

I believe this book be a must-read for everyone. Whether you don’t know anything about India and want a comprehensive picture of the building of the new India, or even if you think you know everything about India.

Monthly Quotes: October 2021


Life falls apart. We try to get a grip and hold it together. And then we realize we don’t want to hold it together

Deborah Levy, The Cost of Living

Sometimes we want to unbelong as much as we want to belong

Deborah Levy, The Cost of Living

When our father does the things he needs to do in the world, we understand it is his due. If our mother does the things she needs to do in the world, we feel she has abandoned us. It is a miracle she survives our mixed messages, written in society’s most poisoned ink. It is enough to drive her mad.

Deborah Levy, The Cost of Living

It’s hard to write and be open and let things in when life is tough, but to keep everything out means there’s nothing to work with

Deborah Levy, The Cost of Living

As Simone de Beauvoir had told us, women are not supposed to eclipse men in a world in which success and power are marked out for them. It is not easy to take up the historic privilege of dominance over women… if he is economically dependent on her talents. At the same time, she receives the fatal message that she must conceal her talents and abilities in order to be loved by him.

Deborah Levy, The Cost of Living

Freedom is never free. Anyone who has struggled to be free knows how much it costs.

Deborah Levy, The Cost of Living

It is so mysterious to want to suppress women. It is even more mysterious when women want to suppress women. I can only think we are so very powerful that we need to be suppressed all the time.

Deborah Levy, The Cost of Living

It was not that easy to convey to him, a man much older than she was, that the world was her world too.

Deborah Levy, The Cost of Living

I have seen a man cry like a woman but I’m not sure I have seen a woman cry like a man

Deborah Levy, The Cost of Living

Life was hard and I had no scrpt. Perhaps I was writting one.

Deborah Levy, The Cost of Living

I’am unhappy with you and I’m unhappy alone

Deborah Levy, The Cost of Living

Life is only worth living because we hope it will get better and we’ll all get home safely

Deborah Levy, The Cost of Living

A language is something infinitely greater than grammar and philology. It is the poetic testament of the genius of a race and a culture, and the living embodiment of the thoughts and fancies that have moulded them

Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India

India has known the innocence and insouciance of childhood, the passion and abandon of youth, and the ripe wisdom of maturity that comes from long experience of pain and pleasure; and over and over a gain she has renewed her childhood and youth and age

Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India

A country under foreign domination seeks escape from the present in dreams of a vanished age, and finds consolation in visions of past greatness. That is a foolish and dangerous pastime in which many of us indulge. An equally questionable practice for us in India is to imagine that we are still spiritually great though we have come down in the world in other respects. Spiritual or any other greatness cannot be founded on lack of freedom and opportunity, or on starvation and misery.

Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India

And yet fear builds its phantoms which are more fearsome than reality itself, and reality, when calmly analysed and its consequences willingly accepted, loses much of its terror.

Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India

Nationalism is essentially a group memory of past achievements, traditions, and experiences

Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India

Someone said the other day: death is the birthright of every person born—a curious way of putting an obvious thing. It is a birthright which nobody has denied or can deny, and which all of us seek to forget and escape so long as we may. And yet there was something novel and attractive about the phrase. Those who complain so bitterly of life have always a way out of it, if they so choose. That is always in our power to achieve. If we cannot master life we can at least master death. A pleasing thought lessening the feeling of helplessness

Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India

Life is too complicated and, as far as we can understand it in our present state of knowledge, too illogical, for it to be confined within the four corners of a fixed doctrine.

Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India

Misery by Stephen King

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

At about two-thirds of the book, the only thing I could speak was ‘AAAAAAAAHHHH’. It was a ride. Misery was my second book by Stephen King, and it didn’t disappoint me. The premise, the story, and the ending, everything was gripping and intense. I had to stop reading the book at around one-third of the book, and I did dream-like Paul that night. It was only till the weekend that I could complete the book.

Misery starts with an accident of a very famous writer, Paul Sheldon, who has written the Misery Novels. After the accident, he wakes up to find himself not in a hospital but a dark and damp room. And a nurse by his side. The nurse also happens to be a crazy fan of the Misery series. What entails during Paul’s recovery is a gruesome tale of obsession and psychosis. It has so many ups and downs that you can’t afford to not turn the page and read what happens next.

I like the premise of the book. It’s unique in a way that supports the story very well. The writer and fan relationship dynamic add a different twist to the psychotic angle. The power dynamic provides so much control over the characters, not only of the main book but the ones in the Misery Novels. Throughout the book, the scenes and story progress with Paul and Annie, the nurse. But in the background, the Misery Book characters come out in the light. And we the ideas that flow from the main story to the Misery story and vice versa. This exchange and the narration were immersive.

The only thing that did not sit with me correctly was the unnecessary buildups. In some places, the buildups gave me goosebumps. At some places, they felt like a boring monologue in Paul’s head.

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

The book is a compilation of Naval’s thoughts combined with his tweets and insights into his already done interviews. Naval Ravikant is the Founder and CEO of AngelList and has had several other successful businesses under his belt. He started sharing his knowledge and thoughts on startups and life a few years ago. He quickly gained popularity and has several eyes and ears on him. He is seen as someone who has a mix of philosophy and technology. Since he is a thinker who has time and time again proven his capability, he has amassed a few million followers who want to listen to his ideas. I am one of those people.

I got introduced to Naval’s ideas through several podcasts. He has a very famous compilation on YouTube around the idea of how to create wealth and be more creative with our jobs. Similarly, his tweets are quite rich of these quotes that he keeps jotting down from time to time as a journal. This almanac provided a great view into these ideas and his thinking. Though if you have already consumed his other podcast or tweets, it might feel repetitive. Also, it would be better to familiarize yourself with Naval’s work and his thoughts before reading this book. He talks about a lot more than what is in this book, and in a more streamlined and detailed manner. Otherwise, it might come across as half-baked because it’s not his all ideas or in a streamlined flow.

This book is available for free at https://www.navalmanack.com/

Monthly Quotes: September 2021


“You can’t accommodate a hundred different opinions, and you can’t ignore them. All you can do is provide people with the illusion that they participated in the decision. For some reason, that’s enough to make people happy.” This is the basis for all democracies.

Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle

Everyone is an idiot, not just the people with low SAT scores. The only differences among us is that we’re idiots about different things at different times. No matter how smart you are, you spend much of your day being an idiot

Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle

Life is just too complicated to be smart all the time.

Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle

I see the world as a massively absurd endeavor, populated by people who struggle every minute to rationalize the silly things they do

Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle

By definition, risk-takers often fail. So do morons. In practice it s difficult to sort them out.

Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle

My story will be over soon. But it’s not something to be sad about. Remembering those who went ahead. Remembering those who will follow after. And someday, we will meet all those people again, out beyond the horizon

Hiro Arikawa, The Travelling Cat Chronicles

If you have to consider what’s going to happen after you die, life becomes doubly troublesome.

Hiro Arikawa, The Travelling Cat Chronicles

If you don’t mourn a dead cat properly, you’ll never get over it.

Hiro Arikawa, The Travelling Cat Chronicles

How could I ever leave him, having experienced that kind of love? I will never, ever, leave him.

Hiro Arikawa, The Travelling Cat Chronicles


Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not

Cal Newport, Deep Work

Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love—is the sum of what you focus on.

Cal Newport, Deep Work

what we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore—plays in defining the quality of our life.

Cal Newport, Deep Work

If you can’t learn, you can’t thrive.

Cal Newport, Deep Work

To simply wait and be bored has become a novel experience in modern life, but from the perspective of concentration training, it’s incredibly valuable.

Cal Newport, Deep Work

The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams

Buy Dilbert Principle, The: A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings,  Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions Book Online at Low Prices in  India | Dilbert Principle, The: A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses,

Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘The Dilbert principle’ is a classic satirical comic strip comprising office culture and the different types of people who reside in these offices. In the Dilbert principle, Scott Adams approaches the same satire with a funny essay along with the comic strips.

He has a very unique and comical take on leaders, bosses, engineers, salespeople, etc. All of which is stereotypical but very true. This book can rejoice you of the corporate culture that exists in almost all the modern offices. The managers and high-level employees might not like it as much. Since there are various bits where the joke is at their expense. It would be safe to not recommend or mention this book around your manager as well.

Dilbert Classics by Scott Adams for September 20, 2017 | GoComics.com |  Dilbert comics, Work humor, Marketing

Along with the essays and the comic strips, the author also includes various emails that people have sent him around the topic, which are the normal work email that one might get. Combined with the satire, these emails provide a hysterical and genuine bridge between the author’s satirical take and the reality of these takes. It’s a light and fun read, definitely recommended if you work or have worked in Corporate.

Dilbert And The Blockchain, in the Dilbert principle originally... |  Download Scientific Diagram

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, translated by Philip Gabriel

Buy The Travelling Cat Chronicles: The life-affirming one million copy  bestseller Book Online at Low Prices in India | The Travelling Cat  Chronicles: The life-affirming one million copy bestseller Reviews &  Ratings -

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As we count up the memories from one journey, we head off on another.

After reading Before the Coffee Gets Cold, I was fascinated by the Japanese literature themes and characters. I wanted to read more of the translated Japanese literature when I got a recommendation of traveling cat chronicles. I immediately wanted to read the book. It’s a story about a cat, who is adopted by a man. How their life changes with time after being in each other lives. It is yet again a cozy, heartwarming read for people who love animals and particularly cats. 

The entire story is told from the point of view of the cat. She is a nameless street cat before she comes across Satoru. Satoru has had a cat as a pet previously but had to separate with her due to a reason, which is also explored in the story. He names the nameless cat Nana, and both of them together complete each other. Through Nana’s lens, we get a peek into Satoru’s life, his past, and his relationships. It provides a transparent and honest narration of Satoru’s life.

The writing is beautiful, and it was a breezy read. It incites the feeling of warmth, coziness, and loyal companionship. I found this book at a perfect time when I was looking for something familiar and comfortable. The ending is not as lovely. It’s heartbreaking, yet it’s genuine. As a reader, you can see the ending coming from a long time, but there’s nothing you can do but accompany the characters till the end.

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World eBook : Newport,  Cal: Amazon.in: Kindle Store

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Deep Work by Cal Newport is based on the basic idea that high-quality work is made of two things, time spent and intensity of work. Since we all have a limited number of hours each day, there’s only so much we can stretch in terms of long hours. Hence, we should focus on maximizing our input and improving the intensity of the work in these hours. He provides various action points on how to do it, combined with supporting examples for all points. He didn’t deter from the main idea of the book. And most of the points are easy to incorporate. That made the book practical and actionable.

Out of various ideas that he proposed, I borrowed about ten action items for myself. I tried to incorporate it into my work for the last month, and it did help me. The only roadblock I felt was being aware of these ideas. It will probably take some time to convert these ideas from actionable items into long-term habits.

The action items I worked on were (rephrased based on my understanding)

  1. Eliminate Distraction:
    1. Batching your work: Divide your work into small milestones
    2. Reduce connectivity: take your work offline, as much as you can
    3. Be offline: Reduce time on social media, stay offline as much as possible. If your work is based on online resources, download or save the work that can be done offline
  2. Focus on Important Stuff: Start prioritizing your work and focus on the high priority work
  3. Classify – Shallow and deep topics: Reduce or automate the admin or recurring work, as much as you can
  4. Find a Deep Work philosophy: There are 3 types of Deep work philosophy introduced. It has to be customized according to your working style
    1. Bimodal (Deep / Open)
    2. Chain Method (Working in a rhythm)
    3. Switch Method
  5. Ritualize
    1. Decide a dedicated place for your work
    2. Decide the starting and ending time for your task
    3. Decide your process, how you will approach and proceed with the task
  6. Structured Goals
  7. Downtime/Shutdown: Compartmentalize, do some other work to take breaks, and relax
  8. 80/20 Rule: Evaluate which tasks are high impact and drop or deprioritize the low impact tasks for later
  9. Evaluate the use of Social Media: Optional, try to evaluate how SM is supporting you in your work and evaluate the daily/monthly usage justifies that benefits. Reduce the usage if input and output is not aligned
  10. Recognize Shallow work: Allocate the work and learn to say no to unimportant task

While I did find many action points, some of which I am still working on. There were a few points I cannot adopt pertaining to the nature of my work. For example, becoming hard to reach or quitting social media entirely. I don’t think it’s one size fits all, so it’s ok to customize the principles according to your work, as long as you can act on the core idea of maximizing your intensity of work.

Since Cal Newport is a researcher, he cited a lot of books. I am looking forward to checking out these whenever I get the opportunity to do so. I read one of the books that he cited, How to Live on 24 Hours a Day by Arnold Bennett.

Monthly Quotes: August 2021


The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

To define is to limit.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. 

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

I am too fond of reading books to care to write them.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Some things are more precious because they don’t last long.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

How to Live on 24 Hours a Day by Arnold Bennett

How to Live on 24 Hours a Day: The Complete Original Edition eBook :  Bennett, Arnold, Fotinos, Joel: Amazon.in: Kindle Store

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I came across this book from Cal Newport’s Deep Work. What fascinated me was that this is a century-old book. I was intrigued to see how the ‘self-help’ or productivity books were like back in the day and how different it is from the ideas of productivity today. It is a well-written book, straightforward and short. It doesn’t beat around the bush and tries to be occasionally harsh. While I did find some ideas that could be adopted for the 21st century working people, I can’t say if this book has aged well.


One idea that I like was how to treat time like money. When you wake up, you have certain fixed dollars in your bank account. That only depletes and cannot be replenished. It’s something I can borrow from the book and use in my real life, but that’s the most. It’s a good one-time read, a concise book will give you an idea of how our idea of productivity has evolved in a century.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde | Dorian gray book, Classic  books, Dorian gray

Rating: 5 out of 5.

How would one live, if one was to live without consequences and change?

‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ is a story of a young fellow named Dorian Gray. Dorian is no ordinary boy. He is handsome and remarkably attractive. His very close friend Basil, a painter, paints a portrait of him. When Dorian sees the portrait, he is mesmerized by his beauty. Another man known as Lord Henry corrupts him and introduces a thought that his beauty will fade as he gets older. Corrupted by this thought, Dorian sells his soul! He replaces the soul in the painting such that he remains young and the portrait gets older. All his sins and wrongdoings do not affect his nature, and the painting of his soul bears the consequences. Since he has no realizations or guilt of his actions, there’s no limit to what Dorian can do. Covered in controversies and darkness, there more to this book than a mere sad incident. It’s dark and haunting.

The characters are well developed and introduced. You pity basil, and you hate Henry. Oscar Wilde has made Lord Henry so unlikable and nuanced. Anytime he spoke, I wanted to punch him. He has the most misogynistic and ‘corrupted’ thought process, and he doesn’t shy away from proudly sharing his opinions. Basil, the painter friend of Dorian, is a simple and honest man. He finds his meaning in life in the paintings he draws. He is also a supposed lover of Dorian. Oscar Wilde had originally introduced an affair of Dorian and Basil, but it was removed in the published version. They didn’t change much of the context, just merely censored some words. Hence, it’s very easy to spot this secret affair from the text available to us. The new replacement words are somewhat funny and weird to read because you can easily sense the spark between the two.

There are many layers to unpack in this book. There’s more to this book than just a story of a man who sells his soul to preserve his beauty. If you read about Oscar Wilde and his life, he has taken a lot of inspiration from his own life and the people he knew. It’s more likely the Wilde projected himself in Dorian Gray, which makes this book even more fascinating. It’s not just a dark philosophical novel, but in a way, Oscar Wilde did a self-projection of his darkest thoughts and his desires. It’s a must-read classic for all more reasons.

The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.

Monthly Quotes: July 2021


People who live in glass houses should shut the fuck up.

Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

Going outside is highly overrated.

Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

You’re probably wondering what’s going to happen to you. That’s easy. The same thing is going to happen to you that has happened to every other human being who has ever lived. You’re going to die. We all die. That’s just how it is

Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

You were born at a pretty crappy time in history. And it looks like things are only gonna get worse from here on out.

Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

For a bunch of hairless apes, we’ve actually managed to invent some pretty incredible things

Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.

Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

A river of words flowed between us.

Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful.

Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful things

I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful things

Don’t surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn’t true anymore.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful things

Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful things

You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful things

The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful things

The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of it.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful things

You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful things

Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful things

But the reality is we often become our kindest, most ethical selves only by seeing what it feels like to be a selfish jackass first

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful things

Wanting to leave is enough.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful things

Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful things

Be brave enough to break your own heart.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful things

The place of true healing is a fierce place. It’s a giant place. it’s a place of monstrous beauty and endless dark and glimmering light.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful things

You get to define the terms of your life

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful things

This is not “how your story ends”. It’s simply where it takes a turn you didn’t expect.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful things

How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface. To make a map of my movement – no matter how temporary.

Craig Thompson, Blankets

Maybe I’m sad about wanting you. I’m not too comfortable with wanting someone

Craig Thompson, Blankets

Even a mistake is better than nothing.

Craig Thompson, Blankets

Shame is always easier to handle if you have someone to share it with.

Craig Thompson, Blankets

I wanted a heaven. And I grew up striving for that world– an eternal world- that would wash away my temporary misery.

Craig Thompson, Blankets

Which is scarier– lust or temptation?

Craig Thompson, Blankets

At night, lying on your back and staring at the falling snow, it’s easy to imagine oneself soaring through the stars.

Craig Thompson, Blankets

For what matters if I gain the whole world, but lose my soul?

Craig Thompson, Blankets

Except heaven is a hope , and eden is a memory .

Craig Thompson, Blankets

We experience a discomfort that may be foreign to others, but that pain opens up a world of beauty. Wouldn’t you think?

Craig Thompson, Blankets

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One - Wikipedia

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A river of words flowed between us.

It’s been a while since I have read a book in one sitting. RP1 glued me to my seat, and it was a wild ride! I usually don’t read much of science fiction because sometimes the books are so far from reality that my weak imagination can’t keep up with it. RP1 was exploring things beyond us but in a feasible way. It’s set in the 2040s when the internet has evolved into a space called OASIS. In OASIS, people can form any avatar and do anything as they please. Halliday is the creator of the OASIS, and he announces a quest on his deathbed. A quest to inherit his entire net worth. There are three keys to complete the Quest, and everyone on the planet is trying to crack the codes.

Some people are working full-time to crack the puzzle. And since capitalism doesn’t die in the 2040s, there are corporations that employ people whose job is to work day and night to crack the codes. It’s very amusing how many parallels you can draw from the non-OASIS world. Our protagonists are young kids who have recently graduated and are Halliday’s fans. It’s amusing to see how everyone involved goes to different ends to achieve the feats and how different their motives are.

This premise of the book sounds so simple. Yet, the writing and the elements make it very appealing. Even though it’s 20 years in the future, it’s not talking about bizarre things. Most of the things evolve from our era. Since Halliday was a 90s kid, there is a lot of reference to 80s and 90s pop culture. It made the book worthwhile to me. There are themes of friendship, sacrifice, love, and relationship, all intertwined within the main quest. A lot is happening in the book, but the writing is so brilliant that the plot doesn’t feel strangled. The plot was very well layered out.

I also watched the movie adaption of the book right after reading it. And I found it good in its own way. It’s very different from the book. Only the plot of the quest and the characters are the same. The Quest, clues, and keys are changed completely. It’s good in a way that they didn’t attempt to copy the book line by line and butcher it. Instead, it adopted the idea and created a great standalone movie.

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

Buy Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar Book  Online at Low Prices in India | Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and  Life from Dear Sugar Reviews

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose.

Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of advice columns written by the author on their website in the early period. It’s interesting to see how a set of life problems and their thoughtful answers could be compiled to form a beautiful piece of writing!. The questions that the author answers are asked by strangers, who are unrelated to each other, and comprise their life problems. The only common thing among these columns was life and Cheryl’s personal stories.

There were questions about love, children, infidelity, parents, etc. They write their stories and problems to a stranger and expect to get answers and solutions. Cheryl doesn’t promise them to give the correct answer, but she helps them with a story, part advice, and part her own experience, which puts things into perspective.

I believe that is what makes this unusual book so mesmerizing. It doesn’t preach or tell you to do one thing. It helps you see through the problems via another person’s life story. Cheryl’s life stories and her anecdotes keep the books together. She is not only the columnist of the book but also a supporting character of the book. She helps the main character (the reader and the asker) see things differently and find the answers for themselves.

The best way to describe this book is comfort book. But it can give you things to think about. I believe if anyone reads this book, they should take the advice with a grain of salt. It’s a good read, but before using the advice at face value, one should check the circumstances and other factors involved in their own life.

This is not “how your story ends”. It’s simply where it takes a turn you didn’t expect.

Ayako by Osamu Tezuka

Ayako : Tezuka, Osamu: Amazon.in: Books

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Ayako is a graphic novel about a girl being born in an abnormal family, growing up and finding her place in the world. To say the least, nothing is normal about this book or its characters. That’s the way it challenges you to step out of your comfort zone. And read about the things which are out of bounds for everybody, culturally, ethically, and morally. There are themes of incest, murder, rape, and violence throughout the book. The ending is weird as well. I liked this book because of how unlikely I am to read something this creepy ever again. The illustrations are just beautiful and opposite to the storyline essence.

The book is named after the girl, Ayako, born out of an incest relationship and isn’t treated well right from a very young age. Everything about her life and her family is abnormal, and how she comprehends her surroundings and how her life and thinking process shape is mainly the plot of the story. In the background, there are various political themes of the Cold war and how her family plays a role in WW2. But everything circles back to Ayako. This book might not be for everyone. But it’s challenging and will introduce you to something out of your comfort zone.

The ending of the book was something I did not like. It wasn’t a great or fitting ending. But then, what in this book was normal or appropriate anyway?. So it is what it is.

Blankets by Craig Thompson

Blankets: A Graphic Novel: Amazon.in: Thompson, Craig: Books

Rating: 5 out of 5.

How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface. To make a map of my movement–no matter how temporary.

‘Blankets’ is a memoir-based graphic novel by Craig Thompson. It involves the author’s coming-of-age story, his relationship with his brother, and the account of his falling in love. It is well executed in terms of illustrations. It’s colorless, but the panels are exceptionally beautiful. The story in itself is also very engaging. I was left wanting more once I finished the book and found myself researching the author and his work.

It’s one of the must-read graphic novels, which you should pick up if you are trying to read more of the genre. From the story front, it was breezy. I did, however, feel that the character of Raina was a little off track. Whenever I was reading, her actions were very calculated yet very unpredictable. It felt odd while reading. Later, I got to know that there were some parts of the book where the author has fictionalized the story. Which made more sense to me. Nevertheless, it didn’t deter me from liking this book. It didn’t bother me much.

There are few pieces of Raina and Craig, which are nothing short of magic. The one with the blanket and the tree on the wall was brilliant. There are multiple places where Craig used his art as a metaphor to explain his feeling, like the tree on Raina’s Wall, which transpires to something so beautifully tragic in the later parts that left me in awe.

Marks On a Blank Surface: Craig Thompson's Blankets (2003) | by Joshua  Grasso | Medium

Monthly Quotes: June 2021


We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime

Language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime

Nelson Mandela once said, ‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.’ He was so right. When you make the effort to speak someone else’s language, even if it’s just basic phrases here and there, you are saying to them, ‘I understand that you have a culture and identity that exists beyond me. I see you as a human being

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime

Being chosen is the greatest gift you can give to another human being.

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime

We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to.

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime

The first thing I learned about having money was that it gives you choices. People don’t want to be rich. They want to be able to choose. The richer you are, the more choices you have. That is the freedom of money

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime

Comfort can be dangerous. Comfort provides a floor but also a ceiling.

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime

Language brings with it an identity and a culture, or at least the perception of it. A shared language says “We’re the same.” A language barrier says “We’re different.”

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime

A dog is a great thing for a kid to have. It’s like a bicycle but with emotions.

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime

He’s like an exotic bird collector… he only wants a woman who is free because his dream is to put her in a cage.

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime

it is easier to be an insider as an outsider than to be an outsider as an insider.

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime

When you have no voice, you don’t exist

David Small, Stitches

The odd thing about recurring dreams is that, no matter how many times you dream the same thing, it always takes you by surprise.

David Small, Stitches

Stitches by David Small

Stitches: A Memoir eBook: Small, David: Amazon.in: Kindle Store

Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘Stitches’ is a very personal illustrated memoir of the author. It encompasses the author’s childhood and growing up with tough parents, and dealing with illness alongside. He has incorporated magic in the mask of tragedy which feels more real than a sketch and closer to you than a stranger’s story. I read this book a month ago, and still, I can’t find a good set of words to describe the reading experience. I was immersed in the book and the story and the drawings! It was like a movie. End-to-end, it was a bitter-sweet reading experience.

I am very fond of literature and knowing people’s stories. Memoirs are a mix of both, and I wholeheartedly love them. There’s a sense of personal touch in Memoirs that somehow is missing in other fictional stories. They are stingy but oh so real. Yet, the storyteller chooses to tell you the important parts and lets you be in their shoes for a few pages. It feels real when a person tells you the story by showing it via their art.

The stories that David Small tells us of his childhood are not happy ones. They are real and heartbreaking. And he’ll make you cry, but all of it will feel closer than it is. He shares his story of being a cancer patient, running away from the house at the age of sixteen, his relationship with his parents, and how he used art as a coping mechanism. And once again, I felt nothing short of magic. Highly recommended.

One illustration strip that struck me highly is below, it just said so much in one simple action that I can’t get over it.