On Books & Reviews

An army-style love story

Combat SkirtsCombat Skirts by Sahana Ahmed

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Being from Calcutta, this book brings a lot of familiar places to mind. A journey of a college student finding love and herself makes for a fun light read.

Saba is an army girl out to carve an identity for herself as she steps away from home to pursue law (or her dreams) in another city. It’s about her finding love and losing it and finding it again in other places. An average life of a college girl well-blended with the topography and history of that period (1998), this book is a good read if you are into romantic fiction.

Way better than what we have around, in either case, the book is a good read.

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On Books & Reviews

Simply unputdownable

Leila: A NovelLeila: A Novel by Prayaag Akbar

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sensitive, warm, fuzzy, scary, painful. The entire book is a roller coaster of emotions. If you read it over days, you would want to immediately go back and start again lest you missed something in the beginning which was telling of the end.

An emotional journey of a mother searching for her daughter in a dystopian world which seems so close to reality that it’s almost disturbing. Shalini, the main protagonist of the book, takes us back and forth in a crumbling world where freedom to love, marry and live life on your terms is looked down upon. Where in the name of culture and tradition families are torn apart and live in fear of being torn apart. The entire fabric of society seems so fragile in this world that you tiptoe into the next page fearing that your ‘democratic’ world isn’t suddenly destroyed.

At times you feel is this where your country is eventually headed to with all that is going on in terms of moral policing or do you think better sense will prevail. I certainly wouldn’t want to live in a world where Shalini, Laila and Riz can’t be together, but you need to read the book to find out more.

All in all, it’s a must read and I promise you it’s not disappointing.

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On Books & Reviews

A trip down memory lane

Your Ad Ignored Here: Cartoons from 15 Years of Marketing, Business, and Doodling in MeetingsYour Ad Ignored Here: Cartoons from 15 Years of Marketing, Business, and Doodling in Meetings by Tom Fishburne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I discovered Tom’s blog when I was searching for filler content for our Design Studio’s Facebook page some six years back. His book was nothing short of a trip down memory lane. Each strip has a unique story for us besides what Tom has to say. Be it product ‘innovation’, word of mouth, social media or customer service or simply the kind of brand managers we deal with at a daily level.

For those who haven’t read his blog or don’t know who he is. I first recommend you buy the book and then make sure you get on his subscriber list. It’s one of the best blogs on marketing that you could possibly have in this generation.

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On Books & Reviews

Embroideries – A graphic novel

EmbroideriesEmbroideries by Marjane Satrapi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just what the back cover promised – Sex and The City, Middle Eastern style.

An afternoon tea party where conversation veers from sex, love and marriage between a group of women is bound to be intriguing, funny and catty.

A quick read for a lazy Sunday evening, Marjane Satrapi and her exquisite illustrations are a refreshing delight.

Lighter than Persepolis, the book offers a quick window to the repressed world on the outside and the liberated ideology on the inside.

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On Books & Reviews

The story on Alibaba

Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma BuiltAlibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Most people think of Alibaba as a story, It’s not just a story, it’s a strategy.”

Rarely does the last line of a book carry as intriguing a summary as above. Having taken almost two months to complete the book on Alibaba, you don’t fail to miss out on how Jack Ma has evolved the Company from a B2B business to a conglomerate in various sectors with a clear focus.

For any business to be successful in the long-term, and I resonate with this philosophy, he says always put consumers first, people second and profits third . Without consumers you don’t have a business and without having a happy workforce driving that business you can’t have profits.

Here’s a story of a school teacher from a province in Southern China going strength to strength with his single focus on giving the best to his consumers and workforce without really concentrating on profits.

Inspirational, intriguing and detailed, the book gives a detailed account for those interested in understanding what has shaped the new internet economy of China today. Besides talking about Alibaba, it also reflects on the regulatory and competitive environment of the sector.

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When you question everything

Franny and ZooeyFranny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having read Catcher in the Rye, you sort of expect that Franny and Zooey would go to the disturbed, absurd space in a while.

Franny goes to meet her boyfriend over a weekend and is lost and listless. Nothing seems right, everything feels a farce – the only now she is voicing it without concern for anyone else’s feelings. When she faints, Salinger wants us to believe she is finding meaning through prayer, a kind of nirvana by telling the Jesus Prayer incessantly.

Back home, Bessie, Franny and Zooey’s mother, is appealing to Zooey to try and talk sense into Franny or at least find out what’s wrong. As in Catcher in the Rye, we see a special sibling bond between Franny and Zooey. One of irreverence yet concern. Zooey tries to make her see reason from the point of view of the world outside, but Franny seems beyond that, eager to hold on to something which gives her reason to be.

The beauty of the plot lies in how Zooey convinces Franny to see otherwise without disrupting what she believes in.

The book is intense and does take a toll on you while reading it at one go. Too many emotions to handle. Suggested time of reading – during an extended weekend or when you are desperately searching for a different perspective.

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From another’s point of view

According to MarkAccording to Mark by Penelope Lively

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this book up a couple of months ago from a British Library clearance sale. It looked like a promising read right from the start. Until the end, you really don’t know what will really happen. Since I just got back from tripping over France it had a special connection.

The story is about a biographer Mark and his journey of gathering facts, lies and silences on his muse. Saying anything more would land up just ruining the book. It has twists and turns while being so straightforward. At the end, you land up empathising, with both Mark and his muse. You understand their actions and why they did act in a certain way.

A good holiday read, According to Mark, can’t be dismissed as frivolous, but a light read for sure.

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