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<title>Book Reviews for September 2009 | Divya Manian</title>
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<meta name="description" content="It seems like I read more books than there is space to review. So, Eric and Fiddlers (the last book written by Ed McBain) go unreviewed (in short: &hellip;">
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<time datetime="2009-09-15T00:00:00+05:30" pubdate><span class='month'>Sep</span> <span class='day'>15</span> <span class='year'>2009</span></time>
<h1 class="entry-title"><a href="/book-reviews-for-september-2009.html">Book Reviews for September 2009</a></h1>
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<div class="entry-content"><p>It seems like I read more books than there is space to review. So, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0380821214?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0380821214">Eric</a> and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0156032783?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0156032783">Fiddlers</a> (the last book written by <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evan_Hunter">Ed McBain</a>) go unreviewed (in short: good reads). Here are the rest of the books I read this month:</p>
<ul>
<li>
<h3>What is it all about? Philosophy and Meaning of Life</h3>
<p><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Baggini">Julian Baggini</a> is the common man&rsquo;s philosopher who uses plain english to explain and contrast different philosophies. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0195315790?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0195315790">This book</a> is about the &ldquo;Meaning of Life&rdquo;, the eternal human quest to find meaning and purpose to life — in religion, in altruism, in culture, etc. It was good to read reasoned arguments (with references!) on why religion is not the answer to that question (short answer: purpose is what you make of it). If you are interested in philosophy but can&rsquo;t be bothered to read Plato, Spinoza, Nietzsche, etc., read this book.</p>
<p>It is not the definitive book about &ldquo;Meaning of Life&rdquo;. Do not have high hopes on attaining enlightenment after reading this book.</p>
<p>The references section starts with &ldquo;You can also learn much which is true and wise in Douglas Adam&rsquo;s Hitch Hiker&rsquo;s Guide to the Galaxy books. For more &mdash; but not too much more &mdash; on why the traditional arguments for the existence of God fail, see&hellip;&rdquo; &mdash; can&rsquo;t agree more!</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>Maus: A Survivor&rsquo;s Tale</h3>
<p>Of all the movies and books I have read and seen about the holocaust, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0394747232?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0394747232">Maus</a> is undoubtedly the best. It is written in first person by the cartoonist and describes his conversations with his father (who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp) about the holocaust.</p>
<p>The deep set prejudice of Vladek ((the author&rsquo;s father) against blacks (despite being being subjected to the same as a Jew in germany) and the author&rsquo;s own anger/insensitivity to his father are described without any excuses.</p>
<p>The survival of Vladek is a remarkable story. It amply showcases how ingenious and resourceful he had to be to survive. If there is anything to learn from this, it is that, choosing &ldquo;Status Quo&rdquo; without reason and on hope is the worst choice you can make.</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction</h3>
<p>To be honest, I was really bored with some of the stories in this list (most likely because I didn’t understand them), but, “The Death of Doctor Island&rdquo;, &ldquo;Detective of Dreams&rdquo;, and &ldquo;Toy Theatre&rdquo; were amazing! <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Wolfe">Gene Wolfe</a> is highly regarded by critics and is considered an influential science fiction writer (though not the best-selling).</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>Create your own economy</h3>
<p>I was hoping to read a lot more about what it means to be the information-whore that I am &mdash; not to mention my maniacal urge to classify them. But this book spends a lot of time on what it means to be autistic, why it is not a disability and how a lot of successful people may be autistics (7 pages to explain how Sherlock Holmes might be one!). By the end of the book, you are left <em>hoping</em> that you are autistic, as you are convinced that you need to be one before you can be called a genius.</p>
<p>I was disappointed as I expected something else. But <a href="http://www.gmu.edu/jbc/Tyler/">Tyler Cowen</a> has an entertaining writing style and is my guru for how he processes information, so all is forgiven :)</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East</h3>
<p>The author is an unapologetic colonialist. I found his views disgusting despite his vivd, entertaining writing.</p>
<p>He berates the loss of &ldquo;culture&rdquo; and &ldquo;peace&rdquo; in South East Asia because of &ldquo;development&rdquo; — failing to mention the economic growth and improvement to healthcare such developments cause. He constantly stereotypes different races (it is appalling how he got away with that). I knew I was going to hate reading it when the word &ldquo;manageress&rdquo; cropped up every second page.</p>
<p>Nevertheless, he goes on like <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rime_of_the_Ancient_Mariner">the ancient mariner</a>. You feel compelled to read the book, despite his burdensome opinions. It gets repetitive, with every fortune teller saying almost the same things. There are times when he it seems like the so-called &ldquo;facts&rdquo; are just author&rsquo;s opinions.</p>
<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/060960841X?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=060960841X">This book</a> is written in the style of Ryszard Kapu&#x15B;ci&#x144;ski but it fails on so many levels.</p>
</li>
</ul>
<p></p>
<p>That concludes my reviews for this month! Did you read anything interesting? Do recommend in the comments!</p>
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