Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Book Review: Wicked - The Life & Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

One of my favorite books growing up was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum which chronicles the adventures of a young girl Dorothy& her dog Toto who get swept into the Land of Oz via a cyclone. There she helps the people of Emerald City by defeating the Wicked Witch of the West and subsequently returning home. A children's book, it is a simple tale of good triumphing over evil.

Gregory Maguire flips the story's perspective - asking the readers to view the tale from the Witch's side. What makes the Witch so Wicked? Where did she come from? Why was she "evil" ? He then weaves a thoroughly engaging, enjoyable story about the Wicked Witch of the West - her beginning, her life and the circumstances that shape her to be "Wicked" and her ultimate encounter with Dorothy
Not a children's book, Gregory Maguire masterfully inserts pertinent questions about how does one define good and evil. He transforms the world of OZ into bustling, caste-driven, religion bound  society - one that shapes & creates the 'Wicked Witch". By the end of the book, you will be viewing the original classic in new light and will be forced to ask yourself - "Was the green witch really wicked?"

A definite must read, especially if you've read the original classic as a child. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Anti-Office Syndrome

Monday Blues? Hate the work-week? Keep looking forward to the day ending even before it’s started? Day dreaming of earning money off a hillside cafĂ©? You are suffering from “the Anti-office syndrome”
Let’s face it. For us middle class folks in the late 20’s, we would be looking at trying to make a living at least for the next 20 more years. Some of us will quit the corporate sham and start up something of their own – while a majority of us will continue with the drudgery for most of our adult life.

There is no escaping it. But what we don’t realize is a lot of the so-called drudgery that we call work is often brought upon us ourselves. We’re constantly measuring ourselves with standards set by others that eventually lead to the demise of the optimism that we had when we started working as freshers.
So here’s a ready (WIP) reckoner for all of us – one that reminds us daily wage earners that there is more to life, than an occasional work-day blues

1.      Don’t compare. One of the biggest mistakes that we make is making comparisons with other peers/superiors, anyone. What we tend to forget is that whatever it is that working for them does not mean that it would work for us too. Let others be. Focus on yourself and your work – figure out ways of doing it better in context of your own abilities. Comparing your salary, appraisal status, etc only disturbs you and you alone. It does not affect the other person you are trying so hard to bring down.

2.       Stay away from office politics. Often, most of the so-called office politics are created by us, stemming from the above stated point. However tempting it may seem, the more embroiled you get in it, the worse your work-day blues become.  Remember, the guy who’s doing well and is respected most is the one who focuses only on his work

3.       Respect. Everyone. At every position. It does not matter the number of experience you have or don’t have. Everyone working around deserves the same kind of respect that you demand for yourself

4.       Appreciate. It’s OK if it wasn't your idea that got through. Learn from the one that did and appreciate it’s owner. One pat on the back is not going to make you a loser.

5.       It’s not personal. Its just work. A part of your life. Not your whole life. Have other hobbies that help you take your mind off work. Help you detach and unwind. Constantly fretting over how to get into your boss’s good books is not going to land you that promotion. Similarly, not every comment made, every feedback given is aimed at you personally. Always remember to keep it within the realms of your professional life

6.       Have your priorities cleared. What is it that you are working for? What personal/ professional objectives do you want to achieve from your current role/profile, etc? having a clear objective will help you focus better and allow you to slide through the tough times at work. Because at the end of the day, what you do will matter, rest everything else will become incidental

These are just some ways of keeping the work blues at bay. What are some ways you stay focused on work?

Book Review: Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Accidentally discovered this book while vacationing in the hills. A fantasy that puts scientific knowledge and application on the forefront, the book is a must-read for fantasy lovers. Don’t judge the book by the badly made movie – The Golden Compass. The book, fist in the trilogy of “His Dark Materials” is an enjoyable read. Without giving out much on the plot – the book is about a young feisty girl Lyra and how she embarks on a journey to save her friend, eventually leading up to her discovering a whole new world. 

Will definitely give the book a 4/5 for plot, character and eventual climax that builds the foundations for the second book.

Give it a read.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Review: The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

Loved reading this book. Quite an unexpected thriller. My first Japanese fiction.

Quick summary - a single mother kills her exploitative ex-husband and gets the unexpected help from her infatuated neighbor (who is a math teacher). All of this happens in the first few chapters of the book. What happens next is how they try and cover the murder leading the police on a wild goose chase.
While on the surface, the book is a thriller with an excellent plot, it loses out on narrative because of shoddy translation. The book reads like a teen novel and the characters lose their depth and appear much amateurish than the author may have intended it to be.

All in all, a 7/10 and a must read for all thriller fans! Have already bought Keigo Higoshino's Salvation of Saint, which is next on my reading list