I have decided to start a new series of posts to remember the books that I have read. It will be interesting to look back and see the kind of books I read at different stages of my life. Books that I read over the holiday months will take a post on their own since I have more time for reading during the holidays. I shall begin with December ’16:
1. François Lelord, Hector and the search for happiness
It’s my second time reading this book. It’s an easy to read, feel-good book. It’s a book about a psychiatrist who travelled to different places in the world to find out what makes people happy or unhappy. Hector’s adventures in different countries are rather exciting and funny. I really like the lines that Hector wrote in his notebook about happiness.
2. Robin Sharma, The monk who sold his ferrari
This is a self-help book about how to stop running in the rat race and start living a better, more contented life. It’s targeted at people who feel tired and miserable in their daily lives and long to live a better life. It’s a bit too preachy to my liking, I don’t really like other people who tell me what to do. Sharma shared many techniques in the book and out of all the techniques, meditation appeals most to me. At some point, I could possibly try.
3. Fredrik Backman, My grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry
Elsa loved the fairy tales and the world of make-belief that her grandmother created for her. When Elsa’s grandmother passed away, her grandmother left a series of letters for Elsa to give to different people. In this journey, Elsa learnt more about her grandmother as a person and her neighbours. The fairy tales are actually quite deep and they are loosely based upon the stories of her neighbours. This book also made me realize that everyone has a story to tell and sometimes we judge the people around us too harshly simply because we do not know enough about them. A great book!
4. Randy Pausch, The last lecture
Randy Pausch, who was a professor of computer science, was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. He gave a last lecture on “really achieving your childhood dreams” at Carnegie Mellon. After reading the book, I was quite inspired to go out and chase my dreams with all my might. A must-read I feel. I especially love this quote – “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” Some days when I feel jaded and disillusioned with all the pillars and false walls in the workplace, I would pick up this book again and try to find the courage to dream and chase the dream again.
5. Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, pray, love
Elizabeth was a woman who was unhappy in her marriage and decided to initiate a divorce. After finalizing the details of her divorce, she embarked on a journey to Italy, India and Indonesia. This book is essentially a documentation of her travels and her take-aways during the journey. To be honest, I did not enjoy the book though. I find that the protagonist focused too much on her inner world and it gets quite boring at times to read about how rejuvenated she felt after doing a certain meditation. I would also want to know more about the protagonist’s life when she was not travelling.
6. Eric Weiner, The geography of bliss
This is another book in which the author travelled around the world to learn more about what makes people happy or unhappy. Eric Weiner has a really good sense of humour and some parts really make me laugh out loud. I especially like his stories in Iceland, Moldova and UK. His observations about places and the way people behave are so on-point. For example, his interactions with the random guy in the British pub really reminded me of those days when I went for drinks with the English people after a day of work. Can’t wait to read his other books!
7. Jon Krakauer, Into thin air
This is a non-fiction book about the 1996 Mount Everest disaster in which 8 climbers were killed and several others stranded by a terrible storm. Jon Krakauer was a journalist who participated in that ill-fated climb and this book was his first-hand account of the preparations to the summit and the storm’s impact on the climbers that day. The first part of the book makes me realize that climbing Mount Everest really requires sheer grit and determination, I don’t think I have it in me to attempt the summit. The second half of the book on the storm makes me ponder about moral questions – should you attempt to save another person’s life if you have to risk your own life (as well as that person’s life) in doing so?
8. Robin Sharma, The saint, the surfer and the CEO
Jack Valentine is an unhappy man. He was involved in an accident and as he was recovering from his injuries, he met his dying father who was his roommate in the hospital. His father sent him on a journey to 3 places in the world (Italy, Hawaii, New York) to meet 3 teachers who would help him to find answers to 3 questions: how to 1) live wisely, 2) love well and 3) serve greatly. Yet again, it’s rather preachy and I don’t like so much.