Thursday, April 30, 2009

Book Review: April 2009

Even as I write I am fretting about the fact that I have been able to read only two books this month. I shouldn't be that obsessed with it. Its not like I am competing against someone. But there's just so much I haven't read that it makes me uncomfortable I won't be able to read them all...but maybe I should relax a bit...before I get labelled as suffering from OCD.

Anyway, the books being reviewed this month are:
1. The Game Of Life And How To Play It by Florence Shinn
2. Discover Your Destiny with the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin S. Sharma

The Game Of Life And How To Play It
Florence Shinn

This book was published in the year 1925 by the author herself after being unable to find a publisher for it. And it may have been a publisher’s loss considering the amount of popularity this book enjoyed.

‘Most people consider life a battle -- but it is not a battle, it is a game.’ This quote pretty much summarizes the book. It aims at convincing the reader that life ia a game and one can win if one plays by certain rules and laws. It goes on to elucidate on each of these laws that span topics like prosperity, health, relationships etc. The author mentions various demonstrations that she witnessed in support of the points she tries to drive home. Most of the demonstrations are simple; for instance, getting a particular amount of money, which was unduly lost, back. But they help lend weight to the author’s points. Ultimately the book does leave an impression and makes life appear much simpler than we make it out to be. The book also scores in being a very short read. And I completely enjoyed.

For anyone who’s read The Secret, this book will sound very familiar and serve only to ingrain harder what The Secret would have talked about. In fact this may have been one of the precursors to The Secret too. Nevertheless, it is a book worth picking up and giving a try. See if you can play the game and win.

Discover Your Destiny with the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
Robin S. Sharma

This book was a Woman’s Day gift from one of my sweetest friends and I will be forever indebted to her for it. I really liked it. In fact I liked it better than The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, which started seeming like a string of old clich├ęs somewhere along the way. Discover Your Destint quotes many people too but it does so with some grace. The book makes good reading because of the way in which the Monk interacts with the narrator and also because I believe that the principles outlined in the book, if practiced, can really make a difference in our lives. We spend too much time living a fake life whose priorities are defined mostly by others. Very few of us delve deep into what we really want fpr ourselves, what we are really capable of doing and going the distance to do it. We are too scared, too bound and too sane for that kind of a thing. And our real potential remains buried deep under the layers of this external garb which is mostly not even us.

Discover Your Destiny seeks to provide pointers to shed that garb and explore what we really want and can do in life, to let us realize what we can really become before we die. It does not provide concrete steps…only 7 principles or stages that one needs to go through to become who he truly is. And yet, it is a starting point. The sooner we realize we were born to do great things and start working towards getting there, the better it is…all of us. And this book will surely help.

Happy Reading!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fix You

The song for the moment is Coldplay's Fix You. It has never failed to pull at my heart's strings and I feel like singing this song at this point. What amazes me is that as much as we would all like to believe that our problems and life situations are unique, they aren't. There are many others who have experienced it going by the fact that it is possible to find a song for every emotion you feel and every situation you are in. We are unique in who we are but probably not in what life does to us. Maybe life has very limited capabilities while we don't. And maybe it is possible to find a solution to these situations also then since someone else has definitely experienced them...or at least find the person who can help you deal with the situation. But because we believe/want to believe that our situation is unique, we hesitate to ask. We try and deal with it all by ourselves...alone. It might be painful that might give others pain to see us in pain...but it is the mind that always wins the battle when the trade-off is between vulnerability and protected suffering. All these and more thoughts running through the head at this point...I just hope it does not explode.

When you try your best but you don't succeedWhen you get what you want but not what you needWhen you feel so tired but you can't sleepStuck in reverse.
And the tears come streaming down your faceWhen you lose something you can't replaceWhen you love someone but it goes to wasteCould it be worse?

Lights will guide you homeAnd ignite your bonesAnd I will try to fix you
And high up above or down belowWhen you're too in love to let it goBut if you never try you'll never knowJust what you're worth
Lights will guide you homeAnd ignite your bonesAnd I will try to fix you
Tears stream, down your faceWhen you lose something you cannot replaceTears stream down your face and I...
Tears stream, down on your faceI promise you I will learn from my mistakesTears stream down your face and I...
Lights will guide you homeAnd ignite your bonesAnd I will try to fix you.

Fix You (edit) by Coldplay on Grooveshark

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Seeing Angels

I have been lucky three times over. I discovered three beautiful songs today. And this one is definitely the most beautiful of them all…for being someone else’s acknowledgement for that fact that things happen for a reason. They happen when they should and not one of them is random. The Universe always has a plan. Even finding the right music is part of that...the songs with the right words. Like this one...
“Why Me?” is a question which is difficult to answer…mainly because it is hard to put into words the surge of emotions one feels sometimes. It is a million different things that cross your mind in one flash and it is impossible to elucidate on them, try to fit them into the limited vocabulary our languages allow us to use. It is “Blink”. One thinks one feels a particular way unaware that the mind has its own reasons. And hence, it is always better to just believe certain things without trying too hard to find the answer to questions that lurk in the rational mind. Questions like ‘Why do I deserve such a visit from the one I thought I’d never meet…?’

Love the lyrics of this one…

Why do I deserve such a visit
From the one I thought I'd never meet.
Beyond my greatest expectations.
You exceeded everything.
Well here I am

Take me for what you see
For I'm transparent in the light of you.
And look inside,
See that fire burning bright
The same one that you rekindled inside me

My mouth was dry
only you quenched my thirst
I thought I was last
You told me I was first.

And I thought I was seeing Angels
And now I know I was.
your wings around me
Feel good they always does.

So there I was
Ain't the same man I used to be
But do you still like what you see in me.

Still see through,
always will be with you.
can you stand to see my vulnerability

For I am frightened
Shed so much I clung onto
The only things I have left is this guitar and you.

Nowhere to run
Been out here too long
Under the sun.
Am I too afraid
To get some.
To afraid to give myself some shade
I hope and pray I do some day.

Thanks to the John Butler Trio for Seeing Angels…
And for showing them to me too…

What You Want

There are songs. Some lift the spirit, some soothe the nerves. Some are just nice to listen to. And then there are songs. They make you think. I found one today - What You Want by John Butler Trio.

And it made me think...what does one want at the end of the day -

To see a face
And wish for a smile...
To hear a voice
And let it linger awhile...
To ask some questions
And answer a few...
To revisit memories
And to create some anew...
To care and pamper
And spoil to the core...
To do routine small things
And yet not make them look like a chore...
To smile at all times
And have it be the energy...
To be the pillar of strength
A lighthouse in rough sea.

Here's how the song goes...I love the beat of this one...and I love the part when the song goes quiet in the middle and just the guitar is playing:
What you wanna say,
Wait until you get home.
I'm sick of communicating now over the telephone.
Tell me how you feel,
For I am lonely too
Need you to know
I'm just as cold and numb as you.

But I could fly away,
Or I could be no one.
And you could be the
Sunshine falling over the mountain

You could come to stay
Yes you could come right home
I don't see why I have to
Live this life all alone.

I know there is a way to make up for mistakes
I know what's happening is for a reason.

I love this one : ) ...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Choice: Book Review: March 2009

I read only one book this March. But I have no regrets about it. I am glad I read what I read. It is what I should have read as the moon started a new revolution. It is what I should have read as buds blossomed on trees and everything seemed to take on new life. It is absolutely what I should have read as I tried to carve out a new and definitive plan for myself in the New Year and the new season.

That book was The Choice by Nicholas Sparks.
The Choice
Nicholas Sparks

I was on a vacation at home in the last week of March. I ushered in the Gregorian New Year with friends and the plan was to usher in the Lunar New Year with family (life is so generous it always gives you multiple chances!). I caught up on some of my favourite pastimes at home and consequently one of the evenings had to be dedicated to browsing books at the new (and only) Crossword in town. I was looking for Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks but they didn’t have it and I was disappointed since I hadn’t been able to find it in Crossword Bangalore either. The guy manning the desk at Crossword Nagpur told me while walking to the shelf marked Fiction that they had only one book by Nicholas Sparks and in that they had only one copy of it. I was already beginning to lose interest yet I continued to follow him to the shelf while looking around to see if I could find something useful.

I was handed The Choice by Nicholas Sparks and the assistant left me with it. I looked at the book…it was bigger than usual books in the same category. I liked the Teal colour on the cover and the way it made the book look. It looked subdued, sophisticated, gentle and inviting. There was a bokeh of a woman on the cover and I was curious about her expression…she was smiling slightly and looking at the ground…the kind of smile that would appear on one’s face at the recollection of someone they loved or a memory associated with that person. It made me smile that way too. And then I read the tagline and that was all I needed to decide to buy the book; it said, ‘How far would you go to keep the hope of love alive’.

I turned to the back cover page and it had more reasons than one to reinforce my decision…among them was a short blurb mentioning the protagonists Travis and Gabby…it sounded sweet. Yet I wanted, in some way, to check if the book did not end in tragedy…I wanted a book that would make me feel warm…all the reasons I mentioned would have been void if the book did not end on a hopeful note. So I decided to read the last page of the book. And it was only once it was amply clear that the book ended on a happy note that I finally bought it.

The Choice is a nice book. It is not dramatic. It is, as the cover hinted, subdued. It is even tired at one point. It has a constant pace that takes one through the lives of Travis and Gabby and how they get entwined. The book is about finding true love…that person who makes you feel alive, that person whose presence makes everything seem right with the world, that person who makes you feel like you can take on anything in life. It is about trusting your instincts about that person when you find him or her. And it is about hope…that fundamental element that brings anticipation with it and makes life beautiful and something to look forward to.

The development and detail of Travis and Gabby’s relationship has been done very nicely…keeping it concise when required and elaborate at others. The cardinal reason why I loved the book is because I found so much of myself and my life in the book…it became special for that reason. And the fact that they had only one book and one copy of it at the store almost sealed the fact that it was meant for me…in every way.

Readers of Nicholas Sparks books might not find this to be one of his best…this book is more about quiet courage, patience and wait. I did not find myself crying or even getting choked while reading since I went on with the book at its pace as it drew me into the lives of Travis and Gabby. I did utter a sigh of relief when it so entailed but that was about emotional as I got. For most part I was smiling enjoying the fun of watching/imagining Travis and Gabby together. So my word would be that the book is definitely worth being read once.

As for me I took away a lot from the book. I learnt that hopeless optimism is not without its rewards. That patience and the ability and willingness to wait are virtues and not signs of foolishness. That love transcends boundaries of the cognizant and shows the way when one is lost…it always helps one make the right decision and that one should trust the decision one makes out of pure love. This book could as well have been a person in my life…a friend, philosopher and guide who might have solved a predicament by relating a story like a good friend does…I am left with taking a leaf out of that story and making my decision…of how far I would go.

Happy reading!