Saturday, January 31, 2009

Book Review: January 2009

I figured I have a lot of trouble recollecting how I felt about a book when I try to review it almost a year later…so the idea of an Annual Book Review is defeated for that reason and I have decided to post monthly reviews. Also coz I’d like people to know earlier than year-end if I really like a book : ) . I hope they help.

The books being reviewed this month are:
1. Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt
2. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin S. Sharma

Critical Chain
Eliyahu Goldratt

Those who have read The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt will not be surprised by this book or think its phenomenal. He takes the concepts of Identifying Bottlenecks, Tuning Processes as per the bottleneck, Optimizing Inventory etc. from Operations Management and extends them by applying them to Project Management. Having said that, it is a book that can be used for effective Project Management if the concepts are taken seriously and used. Looked at as a stand-alone, the book is definitely an eye-opener in terms of Project Management and those who have witnessed/are witnessing project management failures or catastrophes will relate very well to it.

The book reads easy for most part as the story in which the concepts have been weaved is quite endearing. It’s a story of a B-school Professor struggling for tenure. So the book does not load you up with concepts and desert you at the end. It is easy to absorb and read.

I would recommend all those who are remotely associated with Project Management (in any field and as either the managers or the resources) to read this book. If we can do even one thing differently that can make lives at work easier for all of us, this book will have achieved its purpose.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
Robin S. Sharma

Ok, don’t go, “You hadn’t read it earlier???”. I picked it up late, ok?

The reason I started reading this book is that I like Robin Sharma’s books. Many accuse him of being to trite, stating what’s obvious a tad too often and bringing nothing new to the table. Well, if that’s really the truth, why is everyone’s life in some sort of mess or another? Why do most people get their priorities wrong and have their personal lives going haywire? They reach the mountain peaks of success at record speeds while their personal lives are wallowing in their own Mariana Trenches. And don’t tell me that there is always a price to be paid. I think that’s the worst excuse I have ever heard. Its only the most obvious things that we miss all the time. It’s the simplest of things that we always miss doing. And it is these small and simple things that fill the crevices and emptiness of life like glue and keep it all together. And yeah I think it needs a Robin Sharma to come and tell you what you are doing wrong in your life even though it is so obvious, trite and oft-repeated. So sue me!

I have read Megaliving, Who Will Cry When You Die and The Greatness Guide already and since all my to-be-read books were in Slovakia, I was bookless in the Czech Republic and forced to read this e-book (I HATE e-books).

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is disappointing. I have found most of Robin Sharma’s blog-posts to be more inspiring and original. The book starts off well and grabs the reader’s attention. It then leads the reader into the story of one Julian Mantle, a hot-shot lawyer with his personal life in shambles. He suffers a massive heart-attack in the court one day and that proves to be his moment of truth. He quits the firm and leaves for India in search of lasting happiness. The narrator of the story John does not see him for another few years. Upon his return and metamorphosis, Julian starts telling John about all that he learnt.

The book then goes on to elucidate on ten principles that can change everyone’s life and bring lasting happiness, youth, contentment and peace. It runs well even halfway through and actually the whole book makes sense and has pointers that all of us can use. But the second half of the book is truly full of clichés in terms of the writing…it is as if Robin just ran out of original words and certain narratives are just a string of quotations. I continued to read despite the apparent degradation of narrative but the straw that broke the camel’s back was this part – ‘Yogi Raman said that when we are born, we are crying while the world rejoices. He suggested that we should live our lives in such a way that when we die, the world cries while we are rejoicing’. I just lost it after this point and just wanted to finish the book (thankfully this part comes in the last 20 pages!).

So yes, full of clichés and disappointing in the second half but try extracting the juice and leave the outer covering aside if you are reading it for the first time. If you have read his other books, you probably already know the message and might want to give this one a miss.

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