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A Love Life so Painful
Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai
Those enchanted four and half years
Shantaram
HEXAGON
One and a Half Wife
The Bankster
Love You Forever : Only In That Way
Nine Lives
The Mistress of Spices
The Fortune Hunters
I Too Had A Love Story..
Ladies Coupé
The Krishna Key
Mumbaistan: 3 Explosive Crime Thrillers
Of Tattoos and Taboos!
Left from Dhakeshwari
I loved a Street woman
Chanakya's Chant
Dreams in Prussian Blue


Readers Cosmos's favorite books »

Monday, December 24, 2018

Want to know what to read next? Try Book Summaries...

One quote every reader lives by today is from the popular writer of the Game of Thrones (series -television)/ A Song of Ice and Fire (series - books) has said:

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, 
while the man who doesn't lives only one."

Those of us who read, therefore wish to read even more. For that is one way to increase one's knowledge and grow as a person. However the outcome of hours invested in the process depends on one thing- the books you read.

Very much like your IQ and success are an average of the people you surround yourself with, same is true for the books. We often rely on 'word of mouth" and sometimes on social media posts of our connections for the next book recommendation, however it is not necessary that what one person finds useful the other person too. One might be having a very different mindset, life situation or simply a taste in what one likes to achieve 100% success in going by the other persons choices. So mulling on this problem, I tried a variety of approaches and the one that has worked for me are "book summaries".

These are not review of the books but a unbiased, plain presentation of what the book contains in short. So you get a complete idea of what is the scope of the book and what all you can learn from it before you actually invest in buying and reading it. The cherry on top is some of these summaries might in themselves teach you a thing or to. Even if you aren't super interested in a topic or what to delve deeper into it by reading a 400 page book about it, you can easily get acquainted to the domain knowledge by just going through its summary. For many self help book I have even found that the summary itself is sufficient and covers all you must know in the domain the book is dealing with. The come in both audio and reading formats so you can tune into them even when you are commuting or as I often use them, while doing mundane household chores.

"How to best do it?" comes the next question. So there are many apps on the market, which are not affordable for students /young professionals such as myself in developing nations. While browsing through however I can across a made in India product and to my delight they had a lot of book summaries, many of them free. The app is called "Bookbhook" which literally translates into "hunger for books" which is apt.



Here are some popular Indian and international titles have have summarised on the app.


They have about 200 plus book summaries and they add 4 new every week!!!

 Some of the best sellers that were free and caught my eye are:

Global Best Seller since years: Think & Grow Rich by Napolean Hill


They also have books for parents like- Exam Warriors written by Narendra Modi, which has been a best seller in 2018. 

 Or for leaders who want to grow with ancient Indian wisdom- like Devdutt Pattnaik's - The Leadership Sutra


Even the ones that aren't free cost you only 30 Indian rupees. They also list the details of how long will it take for you to go through the summary and eventually if you decide to to read the entire book, even that.

Check out these titles by Simon Sinek or the much loved Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom




Lastly the best thing I found was their subscription plans which are cheaper than any other book summary app in the market which is about INR 111 per month for a 3 months plan and less than INR 100 for 6 months plan. That's practically cheaper than the coffee you have at a coffee house!!! So wont you invest in knowledge that will help you long term?



 That is not all, they have a cherry on top. Two more sections, Book chat summaries on topics that might interest you (a first time experiment as I have not seen this anywhere earlier) and a micro learning feature where there is concentrated knowledge on topics that a reader would definitely be interested in.


So want to be smarter in how you pick up the next book? Download the Bookbhook app here (available for both android and ios:








Friday, December 21, 2018

Book Review: Infin-Eight by Prajeet Budhale

Title: Infin-Eight

Author: Prajeet Budhale

Publisher: Fingerprint Publishers

Genre: Self help

Date:  2018

Price: INR 177/ Free on kindle unlimited

Pages: 156

Snapshot: This is a self help, exercise based, workbook for your professional goals. Pick it up when you think you aren't able to achieve your professional goals and want to make major changes to improve upon it. 

The Review:  The writer begins with making you enlist your core characteristics, words that you can define yourself by or the world around you does. These words he believes is your core nature, irrespective of your nurture , household, etc. These are the characteristics that define you while making major decisions, ones relating to marriage, career choices, etc. He then suggests that you choose your career not on the basis of what is popular but  based on your core competencies. For eg. A fast paced person is better off in aggressive environments. The reason implied is one can be naturally successful here.

Then he urges the reader via multiple Q& A exercises on strategies to devise goals and meet them. For in the writer's own words; "without an objective, one is at best in a soccer field without a goal post", making life kite like, driven by the wind, not by ambition or aspirations. Apart from breaking the goal he also stresses on investing in eternal factors that affect ones success, these days which is "networking" and advises on strategies for the same. Lastly also touches upon methods of evaluating progress and maintaining emotional balance as well as predicting and managing burnout.

Pros: Every chapter begins with a very good story written in "Dr. Spencer Johnson" style (renowned writer of Who Moved my Cheese), which makes the reader gear up for the set of contents next. The book is to the point and the exercises are really helpful. I personally spent more than 8 days in going through the complete evaluation process that the book offered to see for myself if it really works. I am a critical analyst of my professional goals and progress, but this book gave me additional pointers to plan and consider, honing my analysis of self and hopefully the progress. The exercises are really useful and I urge the readers to do it with utmost sincerity for best results.

The book is not at all preachy or goes on and on about the same thing, like most self help books do, which is one major reason to pick it up.

Cons:  The examples at many places are not appropriate for the point to be explained and much better examples could have been used (especially the Interdependent partnerships chapter). Also all the examples are for people in regular jobs or still studying, a person of innovation aiming to startup cannot relate to many of them. Nor are the examples of great stalwarts which might motivate an individual further.

Conclusion:  If you are a person that goes with the wind and haven't really been analytical about your goals, often wondering what went wrong, this book is a good place to start, especially answering all the exercise questions in all honesty.

Though the book says it is for professional success management, one can use the same questions or slightly modify many sections and design to craft their personal life goals as well.

Overall a book to start with on the journey to your professional development.

RC Rating : 4/5

    About the Author: 

Prajeet Budhale is a certified coach from the International Coaching Federation (ACC ICF) with twenty-two years’ experience in leadership, sales, sales management, customer service, operations and consulting. He has a post-graduate certification from XLRI and a Masters in Psychology. 

Prajeet has worked with over 150 national and international organizations and 40, 000 professionals from more than 20 countries, using his consulting, coaching and training experience to help them enhance profits and productivity. He runs a successful enterprise that specializes in bringing ROI (Return on Investments) through Consulting and Training.
Infin - Eight is the result of his research and work to define denominators which bring professional success. It encompasses his learning and insights from working with innumerable professionals with varied backgrounds from different business sectors.



Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Book Review: Ashwatthama's Redemption: The Rise of Dandak by Gunjan Porwal


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Title: Ashwatthama's Redemption: The Rise of Dandak

Author: Gunjan Porwal

Publisher: Om Books International 

Genre: Mythological Fiction

Date:  2018


Price: INR 257/93.45 (kindle)


Pages: 264


Reading time: 5 hours

SNAPSHOT: Fantasy based Historical/Mythological Fiction is generally very predictable, as it generally uses a common or much used basic template, usually from some iconic author or book. It may still be fun to read, fast paced etc – many examples exist; but uniqueness is not the forte in quite a number of cases. Therefore, it is with genuine surprise that I note the presence of uniqueness in the current book under review – Ashwatthama’s Redemption : The Rise Of Dandak, authored by Pune based Gunjan Porwal.

INTRODUCING THE BACKGROUND

For those among us who may not be aware, or readers from outside India, Ashwatthama is a famed warrior from our past, from the Mahabharata era. This war, fought among all the kings of Ancient India, divided in 2 camps – Kauravas & Pandavas, resulted in a loss for The Kauravas, who were cunning and arrogant, bordering on Evil. Ashwatthama was the Son of the Guru {Teacher} of both sides & an accomplished warrior himself with Divine origins of birth, and in a fit of rage, after hostilities had ceased and the Pandav side won, killed all the major Pandav warriors – and attacked the unborn Son of the only surviving heir to the Pandav Line. For this act of Evil, he was cursed with eternal life of misery.


REDEMPTION

This above is established in innumerable scriptures and documents, {referred to in our ancient literature as itihaas meaning history, whether or not the West accepts it}. The author has chosen this Divine personality for a fictional story. {Ashwatthama is among the 7 chiranjeevi - which means blessed with eternal life; he cannot die, even as per ancient documents}. The concept chosen here is that life gives Ashwatthama another chance to redeem himself, when Evil rises once again on the planet.

 The time period is Ancient India, around 2900BC. A 100 years after the shattering epochal war, The Mahabharata, the Evil from the past rises once again, in the form of Dandak and his forces. The new kings, aware of Dandak’s capabilities, and having no experience of Warfare – let alone against such a powerful foe, look for the famed Ashwatthama to lead them against this new challenge to peace that has arisen so soon after the cataclysmic war that cost so much for Good to triumph over Evil. This book is the first part of a series that tells of how Ashwatthama rises above the ghosts of his past, reclaims himself and comes to lead the forces of Good…

THE ANALYSIS

First of all, the premise is unique – take a household name from Indian History, and write a completely fictional story around him. That takes imagination, knowledge, guts and research. And Ashwatthama is precisely that – a household name in India. The new character has to be in keeping with what everyone knows of Ashwatthama – and that is a serious challenge to take, given every kid in India will likely have heard of this epochal tragic character from the  Great War of Ancient India, The Mahabharata. Furthermore, we are talking of a legendary Warrior with unparalleled combat skills. Representing that is hard, period. Well, the author has carried it off with style!


Next, the story. {I ain't saying a word. Read it for yourself – no spoilers from me!}. Suffice it to state that it is a riveting story. The author has managed to draw in the reader, and keep him glued till the last page. The pace is rapid, with not even one false step anywhere; at no point does it slacken, keeping pace throughout. There are no detours, and no sensationalist stuff and expected things like the lady –the heroine getting kidnapped – usually a standard ploy of all authors. Just a simple no-nonsense focus on the main story – and that is the upcoming war. That’s it.   The characterization is excellent, and all the characters stay with  you long after you have completed the book.


THE CONCLUSION
RC Rating: 5/5. 
All in all, this is one of the finest in the historical-fantasy genre. This rating is for its uniqueness, its story, its complete lack of vulgarity and rough language, its splendid characterisation, its fantastic pace, and its treatment of the central character. This is a fast read, and is a riveting book, one you really shouldn’t be missing if fantasy and / or historical fiction is your thing. As you put it down after the last page, you feel a distinct regret that the next part is not available… I will go so far as to say I will mark this book to the king of Indian Historical Fiction – Vineet Bajpai, as recommend he read it!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Gunjan Porwal, engineer by day and writer by night, is fascinated by Indian mythology, especially the Mahabharata and Ramayana.
After graduating from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur in 2002, Gunjan worked in MNCs as an engineer while contemplating writing anything other than code.
Gunjan lives in Pune with his wife, children and parents. Ashwatthama’s Redemption: The Rise of Dandak is his debut novel.

Book Reviewed by : Vishal Kale