Category Archives: Book Reviews

Dreams & Desires


Disclaimer: This post is inspired by the chapter Desire from Think And Grow Rich.

What is desire? It’s the starting point of all achievements.

How can one achieve anything? Is hoping or wishing enough? One must have a burning desire to achieve any goal.

What is the difference between a hope and a wish?
Hope is when we think everything will finally work out and fall in place. The Law of Averages states that future events are likely to turn out so that they balance any past deviation from a presumed average. Hoping is when we want the law of averages to catch up. Whereas wishing is something definite. It’s a belief that one would achieve their goals by hook or by crook.

What is desire then?
Desire is when you don’t want anything else. Desire is an obsession about something in particular. It’s when you burn all the bridges behind you and strive to achieve the goal with persistence. It’s when we don’t look for any alternate opportunities. How can you focus on a single goal if you are aware of an alternative?

A long while ago, a great warrior faced a situation that made it necessary for him to make a decision on a battlefield. He was about to send his armies against a powerful foe, whose men outnumbered his own. He loaded his soldiers into boats, sailed to the enemy’s country, unloaded the soldiers and the equipment, then gave orders to burn the boats that carried them. Then addressing his men before the first battle, he said, “You see the boats going up in smoke? That means we cannot leave this shore alive unless we win! We now have no choice! We win or we perish!”

They won.

Every person must find a way to maintain this burning desire to win or to achieve anything.

Any achievement cannot be left to chance, good fortune or luck. We must realize that ones who have achieved great things, first went through a certain amount of dreaming, hoping, wishing, desiring and planning before reaching their goals. Every great leader from the dawn of civilization to the present was a DREAMER.

And DREAMERS DO NOT QUIT.

Henry Ford, poor and uneducated, dreamt of a horseless carriage. He went to work with whatever tools he possessed, without waiting for opportunity to favor him. This turned his dreams into facts. Only because he was not afraid to back his dreams. He made a plan and implemented it.

Every greatest achievement was, at first, a dream. So never stop dreaming and never let go of the burning desire.

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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The Diary of a Young Girl – Review


Author: Annelies Marie (Anne) Frank
Edited By: Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler
Translated By: Susan Massotty
Publisher: Amazing Reads
Pages: 315

Anne Frank was a Jewish teenage girl from Frankfurt, Germany. She was a happy, cheerful and chatty soul. The Frank family (father Otto Frank, mother Edith Frank and elder sister Margot Frank) moved to Amsterdam when Anne was four. Everything was normal and they were leading a happy life in Holland.

On her thirteenth birthday, Anne received a red and white checked diary along with many other gifts. She named this diary ‘Kitty‘ and started penning down her day to day thoughts in it.

Problems started after May 1940, with the arrival of the Germans and with them came in numerous restrictions on Jews.

During the war, Germans started to send call-ups for deporting Jews to Nazi forced-labor camps in Germany. This forced many Jews to conceal. The Frank family found a hiding place (Secret Annex) in Otto Frank’s office building. Their entire time in hiding was spent in fear. Not in fear of dying. But in fear of getting caught by the Nazis.

In her diary, Anne wrote about how they lived, what they ate and what they talked about as Jews in hiding.

“Terrible things are happening outside. At any time of night and day, poor helpless people are being dragged out of their homes. They’re allowed to take only a knapsack and a little cash with them, and even then, they’re robbed of these possessions on the way. Families are torn apart; men, women and children are separated. Children come home from school to find that their parents have disappeared. Women return from shopping to find their houses sealed, their families gone. The Christians in Holland are also living in fear because their sons are being sent to Germany. Everyone is scared. Every night hundred of planes pass over Holland on their way to German cities, to sow their bombs on German soil.”

The above passage clearly explains the fear and tension in Amsterdam during the second world war.

Anne also expressed her interests and views on politics, religion, mythology, foreign languages, genealogical trees and what not. She was certainly not like any other teenager. She was well read and knowledgeable. She had opinions about things which other teenagers were completely unaware of.

“Paper has more patience than people.”

“Memories mean more to me than dresses.”

“Laugh at everything and forget everybody else.”

“Laziness may look inviting, but only work gives you true satisfaction.”

Lines like these speak largely about her mood, character and personality.

The diary accounts for Anne’s experiences from 12th June 1942 to 1st August 1944. On 4th August 1944, the residents of the Secret Annex were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Later the diary of Anne Frank was published as a book and is still considered as one of the most relevant historical documents of the second world war.

The book has personal experiences of many historical events like persecution of the Jews from Germany and suffering of the Dutch under German occupation. The story of Anne Frank is equally disturbing and inspirational, disturbing because of their struggles as Jews in hiding and inspirational because of their will to fight against all odds. This makes The Diary of a Young Girl one of those books that everyone should read at least once in their lives.

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Review


Author: Mohsin Hamid
Publisher: Penguin Group
Pages: 184

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a metafictional novel by Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid. The story is a dramatic monologue with an autodiegetic narrative.

The story starts at a cafe in Lahore, where Changez, a bearded Pakistani man meets a foreigner. Changez presumes him to be an American by his built. He volunteers to introduce this stranger to different Lahori delicacies. They sit down in a cafe and as dusk deepens to dark, Changez talks about his years in America.

Changez had moved to New Jersey from Lahore to study Finance at the Princeton University. He was also a part of the varsity soccer team, but had to discontinue playing due to an injury. In his final year, he got recruited by the Underwood & Samson Company, a small valuation firm who hired less but paid maximum.

On a trip to Greece from Princeton, Changez meets Erica. They feel a striking emotional bond from the conversations they have there. Their relationship unfolds and gets complicated as the story progresses.

After having spent four years in New Jersey for college, Changez moved to New York to join the Underwood and Samson Company, where he was a part of a team of five. The team members were both different and similar. Different because of the gender and racial diversity. Similar because all of them belonged to elite universities like Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Yale.

During his stay in New York, he often thought about how New York was different from Lahore.

“Pakistan was many things, from sea-side to desert to farmland stretched between rivers and canals.”

Whereas, America had universities with funding more than the national budget of education in Pakistan.

The story takes a turn when Changez visits Philippines on his first work assignment. On 11th September, his last day at Philippines, a hijacked plane crashed into the World Trade Center at New York and everything changed overnight. He is then detained at the airport while returning to New York and is released only after hours of questioning.

He gets back to work, but keeps on hearing that Pakistani cab drivers were being beaten, mosques, shops and even people’s houses were being raided by the FBI. Changez thought all these to be rumors and certainly exaggerated. He thought these things happen to the poor and not to Princeton graduates earning eighty thousand dollars a year. But, disappearances of Muslim men and ghostly night-vision images of American troops dropping into Afghanistan were the only stories on news.

He just couldn’t take his mind away from this. It worried him as his family was still in Pakistan and Afghanistan was a neighbor to Pakistan. Muslims in America started to face discrimination in the business world. Rescinded job offers and groundless dismissals became very common.

That December, Changez travels to Lahore and finds out “things are not good”.

He fights a mental crisis and has doubts about his identity. Where does he belong to? America? Pakistan? Or neither? He is both nostalgic and cynical at the same time. He feels confused.

He returns to New York after spending few weeks at Lahore. He gets back to work, but continues to ponder over many scattered thoughts.

Finally, one day he decides to quit his job and permanently moves to Lahore.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an abstract and intelligently framed story. It continuously plays with your imagination and psyche. The narrative is unconventional but exciting. Also, being an Indian, the story gave me a different insight to the events of 9/11.

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari – Review


Author: Robin Sharma
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Pages: 196

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is a story about Julian Mantle, a brilliant, handsome and fearless trial attorney. A Harvard Law School graduate turned litigation lawyer whose courtroom theatrics regularly made the front pages of the newspaper.

Julian was very successful and affluent. He had a great professional reputation, a seven figure income, a spectacular mansion in a neighborhood favored by celebrities, a private jet, a summer home on a tropical island and a prized possession – a shiny red Ferrari.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is about a physically, emotionally and spiritually drained workaholic lawyer.

John, who was a junior to Julian, sees everything very closely. Julian had selected him to be his assistant for a case which later came to be known as “The Mother of all Murder Trials”.

The story begins when Julian Mantle suffers a heart attack on a Monday morning in the very court room where he had won many cases. Post the heart attack, Julian quits his law firm, sells all his material possessions and decides to set out on a spiritual journey to India.

The story skips to three years later when Julian returns to visit John.

When Julian had left for India, he was fifty-three years old and looked as if he was in his late seventies. Whereas, he looked much younger and appeared to be in pink health on his return. John was surprised to see this incredible transformation. He couldn’t believe that his former colleague, who always used to have a morbid expression, was now glowing radiantly.

Julian wondered in disbelief.

“Was it some magical drug that had allowed him to drink from the fountain of youth? What was the cause of this extraordinary reversal?”

John asks Julian about the secret behind this magical transformation.

Julian narrates his experiences and learning from his time in India and how he met the Mystic Sages of Sivana. He shares all the wisdom that he had learned to lead a more prosperous and rewarding life. He tells how physical, emotional and spiritual goal setting is as important as our materialistic goals. He describes all these life lessons through a fable which he had learned from the Sages of Sivana.

The book relays many secrets of leading a purposeful life. Although, it becomes monotonous and repetitive at times, it explains every life changing practice with logic and reason.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is not just a tale of wisdom from the mystical land of Sivana, it also raises some very hard and realistic questions to the modern way of life.

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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If God Was A Banker – Review


Author: Ravi Subramanian
Publisher:
Rupa. Co
Pages:
260

If God Was A Banker is a story about two management graduates (Sundeep and Swami) working their way up the corporate ladder. Sundeep from IIM Bangalore and Swami from IIM Ahmedabad met each other on their first day at the New York International Bank (NYB). Aditya, Head of Retail Banking for NYB in India hired both of them as they were the top minds of their respective institutes.

Both Sundeep and Swami had great intellect, but contrasting personalities.

Sundeep had no conscience and was everready to cross any limit for meeting his deadlines. Whereas, Swami would never compromise on his values, be it at the cost of falling behind in the race.  

Sundeep, son of an Army Major and the winner of the Director’s Gold Medal for the best all-round performance at IIM-Bangalore was overconfident and dynamic. 

On the contrary, Swami belonged to a very humble background. He lost his father very early and his mother had to work extremely hard to raise Swami and his sister.

If God Was A Banker

The story begins on a cold and dark winter morning in New York, where Sundeep is lying on his bed staring at the chandelier. He couldn’t sleep the entire night before as something had been bothering him. He had a meeting with the Group CEO of NYB the next day and the agenda was the poor and unethical conduct that Sundeep had shown over his time at NYB. The entire story unfolds as Sundeep ponders over his past while waiting for this meeting. 

He goes back to the starting days, when he and Swami joined NYB together as management freshers and what led him to this current situation. He repents about how things could have gone differently.

It is a classic tale of what happens when success gets into one’s head. The book is very gripping and continuously shows us the difference between breaking rules and playing by the rules.

The book also throws plenty of light on the financial domain and corporate politics. Overall, If God Was A Banker is definitely a page-turner.

Akash Chaudhuri
Email Id: akashchaudhuri93@gmail.com
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