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<title>Book Review for Feb 2009 | Divya Manian</title>
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<time datetime="2009-03-15T00:00:00+05:30" pubdate><span class='month'>Mar</span> <span class='day'>15</span> <span class='year'>2009</span></time>
<h1 class="entry-title"><a href="/book-review-for-feb-2009.html">Book Review for Feb 2009</a></h1>
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<div class="entry-content"><p>Wow, I can&rsquo;t believe it has been two months since I moved to Seattle. The difference in the efficiency of services (private or public) here as compared to Singapore is striking. For anyone who is used to Indian (or other developing nations) service standards, the customer service here is indeed several times better, but coming from Singapore, service is definitely not as great as in Singapore. The time it takes for someone to pick up your call, the delivery times, the incessant background checks, wireless oligopoly, etc., sap you of any energy to start life &ldquo;fresh&rdquo;. But, thankfully, all that is behind me (I hope!). I have even bought a car, which is like the last stop in the process of &ldquo;settling in&rdquo;. Now, I have to learn to drive :)</p>
<p>I am also now in a &ldquo;full time&rdquo; job, after being a freelancer for two years. I find myself better equipped for work than before, but it is tiring to do anything else after work (and I had dreams of doing more illustrations). I would have to get more energy by working out (which I have stopped after moving to Seattle!).</p>
<p>Seattle has its perks too. I have relaxing weekends, am going for tweetups, making new friends, and generally enjoying a cheaper standard of living (I am not kidding!). I can&rsquo;t read as many books as I used to (mainly because of dedicated work hours), but I think I am not that far behind. Here is what I have read so far:</p>
<ul>
<li>
<h3>Soul Music</h3>
<p>I borrowed <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061054895?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0061054895">Soul Music</a> from the Seattle Digital Library which has lots of new Adobe Digital Edition books. I had read &ldquo;Going Postal&rdquo; by Terry Prachett, which was humorous in parts but nothing comparable to the humor of &ldquo;Good Omens&rdquo;. Soul Music is more like &ldquo;Good Omens&rdquo; and I really liked it. The book has Death (as a God) in a philosophical mood and interestingly uses capital letters to denote the &ldquo;voice&rdquo; of death (first time I have seen such a use of capital letters). Death&rsquo;s grand daughter temporarily replaces Death (as he has abandoned his post) and whenever she is speaking as the God of Death, Prachett uses the same capital letters (she mostly speaks &ldquo;normally&rdquo; though). I found it extremely funny that the &ldquo;Guild of Musicians&rdquo; seems to be very similar in operation to the current <abbr title="Recording Industry Association Of America">RIAA</abbr> (except RIAA targets the audience and not the musicians!). A great read!</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>Best of Everything</h3>
<p>
I found <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0143035290?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0143035290">The Best of Everything</a> on <a href="http://www.flashlightworthybooks.com/The-Books-of-Mad-Men/343">list of books of Mad Men</a>. It definitely is the pick of that era and the book is, not surprisingly, reminicent of Mad Men. But I am not fond of drama or romance, so this book did not appeal to me. I struggled to finish reading this book (skipping many pages). I would love to see this book as a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Best_of_Everything_(1959_film)">movie</a> - going to watch it this week on <a href="http://netflix.com">Netflix</a>.
</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>Buddha of Suburbia</h3>
<p>
I identified with the protagonist of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0571200435?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0571200435">Buddha of Suburbia (FF Classics)</a> as he escapes from Suburbia into London where he confronts with people with different ideals, higher education, and refinement than what he was used to (quite the same experience when I landed in Singapore). The book, while exploring sexuality, is more about Karim (the protagonist) blending in. A good read, though I don&rsquo;t think I will read it again.
</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>The Stranger</h3>
<p>I really LOVED <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0679720200?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0679720200">The Stranger</a>. I generally don&rsquo;t like books with unhappy endings, but this was different. The protagonist is someone who is honest with his feelings (and does not fret over why he does not feel suffering or pain) and hardly feels anything anyway. The book is all about how the world does not understand his point of view and punishes him for being the way he is. In a way it is about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stranger_(novel)#Philosophy">Existentialism</a> but it is also a great study of humanity in general. Must read for all existentialists!</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>Anathem</h3>
<p>
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061474096?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0061474096">Anathem</a> is a book that I was most looking forward to reading. This is the first <a href="http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/">Adobe Digital Edition</a> book I read. And it took the longest to finish (at 928 pages)! The ideas expounded here would be a mathematician&rsquo;s delight. The ending is a little too fantastic (even for speculative fiction!), and has a fundamental theme of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-worlds_interpretation">Many Worlds Interpretation</a> (which was not clear to me this time when I read). When I was reading this book I was just focussing on getting the story and ignored the different discussions about mathematics that occurs in the book, so I missed some of the good parts of it. The idea of living in a monastery, where you spend most of your waking hours in the pursuit of intellectual curiosity (without access to any distractions), is highly appealing to me. I won&rsquo;t be surprised if such monastries do not <em>already</em> exist. Definitely a book to read again!
</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>Dune</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0441013597?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0441013597">Dune</a> is a highly acclaimed science fiction novel that takes place in a far far future where &ldquo;Spice&rdquo; is the new Oil. Like Anathem, it has its own vocabulary and provides definitions for new words and phrases. In a way this is no different from the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_of_the_mohicans">Last of the Mohicans</a>. The interesting part is the subtle approval for <a href="http://baheyeldin.com/literature/arabic-and-islamic-themes-in-frank-herberts-dune.html">Islamic Culture</a> which is obvious from the phrases and the kind of culture shown among the Fremen tribes. I think this novel is sexist in a way, and I was not too impressed with putting one person (the protagonist) on a pedestal as <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muad'Dib">Muad&#x27;Dib</a>. It was an engrossing read I must say.</p>
</li>
</ul>
<p>Whew! That covers it! What books do you recommend?</p>
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