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<title>Book Reviews for December 2009 | Divya Manian</title>
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<meta name="description" content="Wow, so ends this year! I cant believe it is more than a year since I started reviewing books monthly. In all, I have reviewed about 74 books (+7 now &hellip;">
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<time datetime="2009-12-23T00:00:00+05:30" pubdate><span class='month'>Dec</span> <span class='day'>23</span> <span class='year'>2009</span></time>
<h1 class="entry-title"><a href="/book-reviews-for-december-2009.html">Book Reviews for December 2009</a></h1>
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<div class="entry-content"><p>Wow, so ends this year! I cant believe it is more than a year since I started reviewing books monthly. In all, I have reviewed about 74 books (+7 now) since last November. Writing book reviews was one of my excuses to get back to writing, and I am glad it worked. Here are the books I read this month.</p>
<p></p>
<ul>
<li><h3>Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!</h3><p>This book, by Art Spiegelman, was published before his best-seller <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maus">Maus</a>. What I really like about his work is that he does not try to justify his behavior but just presents it as is. This book is NSFW, but is an amazing insight into what goes inside the mind of Art. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0375423958?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0375423958">Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!</a> is a must-read if you like Maus and want to know about events that shaped the author before and after writing it.</p></li>
<li>
<h3>All art is propaganda: critical essays</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/essays.htm">Many of these essays can be found online</a>. I really like how Orwell implicates political jargon as propaganda (no doubt a basis for “newspeak” in <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four" title="Nineteen Eighty-Four - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia">1984</a>). There are some opinions which remind me of the era he thrived in (references to natives in colonies), but he is a brilliant thinker and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0151013551?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0151013551">All Art Is Propaganda: Critical Essays</a> is mandatory reading for any <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skeptic">skeptic</a>. </p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>The Tourist</h3>
<p>This is one of those mindless thrillers that is a must-read on any journey that involves planes. What is astonishing is that the author, a native of Eastern Europe, writes with such an “American” style. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312369727?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0312369727">The Tourist</a> is a book worth reading if you are bored out of your skull.</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Sixteen Original Works by Speculative Fiction&#8217;s Finest Voices</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0345496329?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0345496329">The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Sixteen Original Works by Speculative Fiction&#8217;s Finest Voices</a> is a bit of a mixed bag, I loved &ldquo;Sonny Liston Takes the Fall&rdquo;, and &ldquo;Daltharee&rdquo; the most, but I just could not go beyond the first paragraph of &ldquo;The Passion of Azazel&rdquo;.</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They&#8217;re Built</h3>
<p>I would have been an architect today, if not for a scholarship to study Computer Engineering at NTU. In 1999, I was very inspired by the work <a href="http://www.dakshinachitra.net/scripts/experience.asp">Dakshinchitra</a> did to preserve old houses from demolition. This book tells you why older buildings are resilient unlike the new ones. This book is a scathing look at the modern architectural philosophy of creating buildings that look good but are painful to work/live in (and opting for demolition instead of repair) — every wall is a window and every apartment, a glasshouse. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0140139966?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0140139966">How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They&#x27;re Built</a> is a book everyone must read, at least so that architects can no longer get away with inefficient but &ldquo;wow&rdquo; designs.</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>The Boss of You: Everything A Woman Needs to Know to Start, Run, and Maintain Her Own Business</h3>
<p>This book is not just for women, but for anyone who wants to start a small business. Do ignore their branding advice though (they ask you to think about questions like &#8220;what dress will your brand wear?&#8221; while creating a name — no idea what the authors thought when they created their brand of &ldquo;Raised Eyebrow&rdquo; for a Web Design company). It is filled with practical advice on how to go about starting your own business and do well at it. The authors of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1580052363?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1580052363">The Boss of You: Everything A Woman Needs to Know to Start, Run, and Maintain Her Own Business</a> also run a <a href="http://www.laurenandemira.com/">blog</a> for entrepreneurs.</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>The Other</h3>
<p>I really liked <a href="http://nimbupani.com/book-review-for-may-2009.html" title="Book Reviews for May 2009 | Nimbupani Designs">Another Day of Life</a> also by Ryszard Kapuscinski. This slim book &mdash; a collection of his lectures &mdash; touches on a topic that confronts all of us these days — how to deal with people who do not look or behave like you. I was annoyed by his reference to Europeans as the only group of people curious enough to know about the rest of the world, but otherwise <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1844673286?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1844673286">The Other</a> is quite an interesting read.
</p>
</li>
</ul>
<p>That’s it! As usual, do write in the comments, or<a href="http://twitter.com/nimbupani"> reply to me on twitter</a>, if you have any books to recommend. Hope you all have great fun during the holidays!</p>
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