Saturday, November 1, 2014

#BookReview: Because Life is a Gift by Disha

On the jacket:

He is ten years old and confined to a wheelchair. But that's not his identity. To the world, he is India's youngest patent holder for inventing variants of chess for six, twelve and sixty players.  Have you heard of the Army Major who was declared dead in the Kargil war, but is India's first blade runner today?  Do you think a woman without hands can be one of India's leading painters?  What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you see a differently-abled person? Pity? Sympathy?  The real-life success stories of fifteen differently-abled people charted in Because Life is a Gift will make you think otherwise. You will sense pride replace all feelings of pity and sympathy for they have fought against all odds to achieve their dreams.  This book is a tribute to their courage, passion and zest for life. They will challenge your notion of the impossible. They will inspire you to live life to the fullest, because life is truly a gift.


There comes a time in all our lives, however positive we are, when we want to give up and just leave. And at such junctions, the coward in us needs to be shown how people with bigger problems have tackled those very problems headlong and come out winners. I was in one such junction when I read Disha's Because Life Is A Gift. I doubt it has made me stronger ready to face my problems boldly, but I know this book gave me the guts to sit up and address my problems. Ideally, this is your cue to read this book but if you need more convincing, I'l do that too.

Disha's first book was My Beloved's MBA. It tackled something I have wondered about a lot. Many of my friends, with wives/husbands and families, had given up their high paying jobs and gone back to study. MBA. And I have always wondered, how are they managing. Not just financially, but emotionally as well. My Beloved's MBA had touched a topic which no one had till then and did a very fine job with it.

Disha has again ensured her book is different from the regular. This book isnt about brilliant scholars who had everything going for them, turned entrepreneurs. This book is about people who had nothing going for them, yet emerged more successful than most of us reading this review.

Right from Disha talks about Suresh, her batchmate at IIM-C, and how he gained the inspiration to write this book from him to the individual fifteen stories about fifteen people, this book is emotionally exhaustive. I read one story a day, sometimes, two. A friend had once said - until the problem landed in my own life, I too was never sensitized about the problems other people face and how they emerge as winners. But that's not right, is it? From a little kid like Hearty, to grownups, all with disabilities owing to which they couldn't have easily, very easily given up on life and lamented at their fates. But they didn't. They worked against what life gave them and in term emerged as bigger people. And we have a lot to learn and practice from these people. The book needs sharper editing, but that can be ignored purely because of the content.

The best part about this book is that at the end of each chapter, mail ids are mentioned for readers to contact. You can contact them to connect or just to tell them how inspirational they are!

Rating: ****.5/5

[This review is for Srishti Publishers & Distributors. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

#BookReview: The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson

On the jacket:

The computer and the internet are among the most important innovations of our era, but few people know who created them. They were not conjured up in a garret or garage by solo inventors suitable to be singled out on magazine covers or put into a pantheon with Edison, Bell, and Morse. Instead, most of the innovations of the digital age were done collaboratively. There were a lot of fascinating people involved, some ingenious and a few even geniuses. This is the story of these pioneers, hackers, inventors, and entrepreneurs—who they were, how their minds worked, and what made them so creative. It’s also a narrative of how they collaborated and why their ability to work as teams made them even more creative.” 


Walter Isaacson's The Innovators starts at delightful note, at least for me. When I began reading the book, I was looking at reading something about development of computers and the Internet, right from the times of Ada, Countess of Lovelace & Charles Babbage to all the way till today. Which is what the book is about, no doubt. But, a few pages about Lord Byron and poetry set a beautiful pace for me.

The only legitimate child of famous poet Lord Byron, Ada never really saw her father since her mother had taken her along, away from her father.  A romantic like her father, Ada's imagination raced when it came to machinery and her meeting with a much older Charles Babbage left a lasting impression in her.

When I had read Isaacson's Steve Jobs, I had marveled at how in-depth the content of the book was. If that had bowled me over, imagine what The Innovators did to me. When we talk about computers and the internet, it's not easy to fathom exactly how large the web is, that needs to be spoken about. So, while reading this book, you need to be patient. Specially, if you are a non-techie like me. But then the first chapter talks about the Byrons and the Shellys, even a literature lover gets lured in. 

Thing about innovations, specially to do with computers and the internet is that, they cannot be attributed to a single person. What one had invented, was added to by some one else, modified by yet another and few innovations added by a completely different person - and then we have a product that has evolved over the years.

In a very easy-to-read style, Isaacson doesn't boggle you with too many tech jargons. And in one book, we have history, science and art, all packed together. The fact that he has included so many innovators and no just written what they have done but given a sort of a backgrounder on the kind of people they were - which threw light on how they go about to be the innovators they were! Isaacson has also, almost spoken about everyone who needs to be named when talking about computers and their advancements - from Lovelace and Babbage back in the 19th centure, to current day Gates, Wozniak and Jobs. 

If technology interests you, this could be your bible. And if doesn't, this book has a lot of good-to-know information for anybody who uses technology, which most of us do.

Rating: ****/5

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