Friday, January 29, 2016

Smoke gets in your eyes (by Caitlin Doughty)

A quirky and a zippy ride into a topic that is either brushed aside or comes with oodles of melancholy -death, or more accurately the aftermath. A story that had to be told in a macabre and yet funny fashion that author has chosen here. Not for the faint-hearted though. Author, a millennial working in a crematorium, is able to hold attention for 240+ pages while she details out 3 planks of her story. Her own saga as a modern age undertaker, bizzare and yet purposeful walk through burial traditions and a shocking peak into the future of death industry. Loved it.

PS - read this book my mother's death anniversary, 26th Jan. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Machievalli - A Portrait (Christopher S Celenza)

Long live Battery Park NYPL. Came across this  mushy ode to medieval Florence, Machiavelli’s hometown was the epicenter of the Italian Renaissance in the fifteenth century, a place of unparalleled artistic and intellectual attainments. But it was also riven by extraordinary violence. War and public executions were commonplace—the protagonist himself was imprisoned and brutally tortured at the behest of his own government. These experiences left a deep impression on this keen observer of power politics, whose two masterpieces—The Prince and The Discourses—draw everywhere on the hard-won wisdom gained from navigating a treacherous world. Worth a read during a macabre winter storm!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Internal Medicine (Terrence Holt)

Picked this up at EWR. Bad decision, lacked any structure or coherence. Was attracted to the subject - a resident doctor using a thinly veiled layer of fiction to bring some real life stories is a good idea. But in the end, it is patchy and doesn't deliver at all. Life is too short to waste on bad books, left it after first 50 pages. Onto next one.

The Checklist Manifesto (Atul Gawande)

Continuing with medicine/healthcare theme, picked this up at Mid Manhattan branch of NYPL. One piece of honest advice, visit this branch after taking a flu shot and buying a good pair of surgical gloves.  Battery Park branch in lower Manhattan is a better choice. Back to the book - simple advice with multiple anecdotes showing how keeping a checklist saved lives. Author keeps you interested, centered on the basic idea through the book. Easy read, took couple of hours and plethora of examples from several industries. A good find.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Being Mortal (Atul Gawande)

Finished this on the flight from Bangalore to Delhi, 200 pages poof, gone in 3 hours. If you liked Siddhartha Mukherjee's book on cancer (Emperor of Maladies), you will love this one as well. An absolute gem - turns a dark subject of terminal illness into a page turner. Fascinating to see a doctor talk about his nemesis - death with such finesse and practicality. Author offers a middle path - one between an aggressive treatments and "assisted suicide" for dealing with terminal disease. And most importantly a lesson on the finitude of  our lives.