Tag Archives: book

“Life Mantras” – a book by Subroto Roy – I’m Not Joking!

I was surprised last week to see a philosophical book by Subroto Roy at an airport book stall. It was titled “Life Mantras”.
Life Mantras

I believe the book was launched in ‘absentia’ of the author (who was in jail) with many heavyweight celebrities and politicians. There were, of course, Sahara employees who hoped for some announcement about their pending salaries.

The book is published by Rupa, is priced cheap and available easily.

I hope the book generates some of the money that Sahara has to deposit with the SEBI :-).

Maybe, now Vijay Mallya will be inspired to write a book titled “The Greatest Escape“?

Or, the Congress party high-command can write “Win Some, Lose Some Lose Some, Lose Again“.

Please do share your comments / interpretation, in the comment form below.

More Such Posts here rajeshnaik.com/category/musings/


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Book: Headhunter by Michael Slade

Headhunter Cover Image

Title Headhunter
Author(s) Michael Slade
Initially Published In 1984
Publisher W H Allen & Co.
Formats Available Paperback, Hardcover
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.

Headhunter is a murder mystery, a psychological thriller,  a whodunit and a horror story with plenty of details of police investigation procedures and methods. The novel is based in Vancouver, Canada in the 1980s and revolves around a set of grisly murders of young women, whose bodies are found headless. While the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is investigating, more victims are discovered. Graphic violence, traumatized bodies, and perverted sex are all depicted with powerful imagery in this extremely well-written book.

I have read Headhunter three times, and each time I am gripped by the narrative and held spellbound even though I knew the ending.

“This is, beyond all doubt, a real chiller!”

 Robert Bloch, author of Psycho

Continue reading Book: Headhunter by Michael Slade


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Book: The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

Speed of Dark Cover Image

Title The Speed of Dark
Author(s) Elizabeth Moon
Initially Published In 2002
Publisher Orbit Books
Formats Available Paperback, Kindle, Hardcover
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.

The Speed of Dark is a near-future story about a young autistic man, Lou. Lou is computer analyst, who is also a good fencer. The novel is a combination of science fiction and a thriller, often narrated from the autistic man’s point of view.

“Every once in a while, you come across a book that is both an important literary achievement and a completely and utterly absorbing reading experience—a book with provocative ideas and an equally compelling story. Such a book is The Speed of Dark.”

Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

The main character in The Speed of Dark has been inspired by the author’s own autistic son.

The World

The Speed of Dark is a futuristic story, where the world has found treatments to manage the condition of autism. This treatment is administered in very early childhood.

In this scenario, autistic children born before the treatment was available try to live ‘normally’ with their condition, and also work hard to be useful members of the society.

Continue reading Book: The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon


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Book: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Enders Game Cover Image

Title Ender’s Game
Author(s) Orson Scott Card
Initially Published In 1985
Publisher Tor
Formats Available Paperback, Kindle
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

Ender’s Game brought immense fame and recognition to its author, Orson Scott Card. It is a science fiction book, set in the future with a ‘military’ theme.

“Superb! This is Card at the height of his very considerable powers–a major SF novel by any reasonable standard.”

— Booklist

The novel won the Nebula Award for best novel in 1985, and the Hugo Award for best novel in 1986.  Ender’s Game was also nominated for a Locus Award in 1986.

The World

Ender’s Game is situated far ahead in the future, where human beings have left the confines of the earth and started expansion to other planetary systems. During this expansion, humans encounter another species on a similar expansion drive. This results in two wars between the two species. At the end of these wars, both species retreat to locations near their mother/ home planets. There is no communication between the humans and the alien species, who are officially called ‘formics’ and unofficially called ‘buggers’ (because they look like insects) by the humans.

Continue reading Book: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card


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Book: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

The Name of the Rose Cover Image

Title The Name of the Rose
(originally published in Italian under the name ‘Il Nome Della Rosa‘)
Author(s) Umberto Eco
Translator William Weaver
Initially Published In 1980 (Italian) 1983 (English)
Publisher Multiple –  Bompiani; Martin Secker& Warburg; Harcourt; Vintage Digital; Everyman’s Library; Mariner Books
Formats Available Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

I was planning to re-read and post the review of this book after a few months. However, when I heard of the death of Umberto Eco (the author) on 19th February 2016, I decided to pick it up ahead of my original schedule.

The Name of the Rose (Italian: Il Nome Della Rosa, 1980), is the first novel by the Italian author Umberto Eco. It is an intellectual murder mystery set in an Italian monastery, in the year 1327. It combines semiotics, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory. It was translated into English in 1983 by William Weaver.

“The most intelligent and at the same time the most amusing book in years”

— Der Spiegel

Continue reading Book: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco


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Book: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude Cover Image

Title One Hundred Years of Solitude
(original Spanish title: Cien años de soledad)
Author(s) Gabriel García Márquez
Translator Gregory Rabassa
Initially Published In 1967 (Spanish) 1970 (English)
Publisher Multiple –  Harper & Row (US); Jonathan Cape (UK)
Formats Available Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

One Hundred Years of Solitude, originally published in 1967 in Spanish and later translated to English in 1970, is considered to be one of the best novels of the century.  According to some reports, the number of copies of the Spanish version is next only to the Bible.

“The narrative is a magician’s trick in which memory and prophecy, illusion and reality are mixed and often made to look the same.”

— Robert Kiely, The New York Times

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Book: The Shore of Women by Pamela Sargent

The Shore of Women Cover Image

The Shore of Women, originally published in 1986, is treated as one of the classics in the science fiction genre. It is also a romantic story (with a mild dose of eroticism), and a story about a dystopian society. Some label it a feminist novel.

“With her luminous prose and vivid characters, Pamela Sargent has written a compellingly and emotionally involving novel”.

–Publishers Weekly

The World

On the earth, far away in the future,  the human society is gradually being rebuilt after nuclear devastation brought on by men wielding immense power and devastating technology. As the society is being rebuilt, men and women live separately – the women in city-enclaves and men in the wilderness, in small bands. The women have taken charge of the world and make sure that the men remain savage, superstitious and ignorant and have no say in running the world.
Continue reading Book: The Shore of Women by Pamela Sargent


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Book: The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin

Dispossessed Cover ImageThe Dispossessed, originally published in 1974, and in print ever since then, is possibly Le Guin’s most intellectually challenging novel.

It is placed far away in the future – a long distance from the earth; yet it is easy to identify with.

It is a book about two societies – one a model egalitarian, anarchist, resource-strapped society (with its flaws) and another a resource-rich, capitalist society with huge inequalities. It is a story about a physicist (also an idealist) who wants to learn from others and share his findings with the whole of humanity. It is about the benefits of community collaboration while celebrating the lonely journey of the creative genius.

The Dispossessed is a timeless tale, with a science fiction setting, but appealing from a literary point of view. It is rooted in the political issues, communal counter-culture, and women’s movement of the late 1960s and early 70s.

It is hard to put down, once you start reading it. I have read it four times over the last 20 years, and I am likely to read it many more times.

The book has been studied and analyzed by scholars and students and is a subject of research.

Title The Dispossessed
Author(s) Ursula K Le Guin
Initially Published In 1974
Publisher Multiple – Orion Publishing Group, Harper Voyager, Easton Press, Harper & Row, Gateway
Formats Available Hardcover, Paperback
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

“Le Guin’s book, written in her solid, no-nonsense prose, is so persuasive that it ought to put a stop to the writing of prescriptive Utopias for at least 10 years.”

The New York Times 

The World(s)

Far away in the future and far away from the earth, human beings have occupied and thrived on other planetary systems, while the earth has been destroyed (our earth is not the focus in this book).

Continue reading Book: The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin


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Book: Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

Breakfast of Champions - CoverThis must be the fourth or fifth time I have read Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut Jr– I had first read it in the late 1970s, and have always considered it as a ‘classic’ that needs to be read again and again.

It is difficult to categorize this book, but here are the categories that it may fit in: fiction, biting satire, black humor, science fiction/ fantasy, and serious literature. The fact that the book has alternate titles may provide a hint on the unpredictability, and difficulty at slotting the book.

Title Breakfast of Champions or
Goodbye Blue Monday
Author(s) Kurt Vonnegut
Initially Published In 1973
Publisher Random House
Formats Available Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

“Marvelous . . . [Vonnegut] wheels out all the complaints about America and makes them seem fresh, funny, outrageous, hateful and lovable.”

The New York Times 

The Plot

It is the story of “two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was dying fast.”

Dwayne Hoover, is a charming, rich man – he runs a Pontiac dealership, owns land and is franchisee for many chains (like the Holiday Inn) in and around Midland City. Dwayne’s mind is disintegrating because of bad chemicals that his body is producing. However, no one appears to recognize the signs of his mental disturbances.

Continue reading Book: Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut


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Book Series: Song of Ice and Fire Series by George RR Martin

This series is an exceptionally well-written, addictive, and brutal epic fantasy set in an imaginary world based on medieval England/ Europe. It is less of a fantasy and more of a political thriller – some say that it is loosely based on the War of the Roses in England in the years 1455-1485.

The first of the series (A Game of Thrones) was published in 1996 and the series has 5 books (often sold in 7 paperbacks) already published. The sixth and the seventh (whose titles are announced) will be eventually published. Each book of the series has been a bestseller and there are a huge number of fans waiting for the next two books.

The epic has also been converted into a HBO serial. Some video games, based on the series have also become very popular.

Here are the images of the covers of these books:Song of Ice and Fire Series Cover Images

The High-Level Story

The story is set in a fictional world, and most action takes place in two continents – Westros and Essos.

The back story (the background for the series): Seven Kingdoms in Westros have been united and ruled for several generations by the Targeryen dynasty (helped by fire-breathing dragons) –  the old kings of the seven kingdoms continue as vassals. Around fourteen years before the start of the series, the dynasty, ruled by a mad king (the dragons have all disappeared) is overthrown by the ‘usurper’ Robert Baratheon. King Robert maintains peace for a few years.

As the series starts, King Robert dies under mysterious circumstances. That starts mutiple rebellions. There are many claimants to the throne of the combined Seven Kingdoms – the brothers and the son of the dead king. Some of the vassals (descendents of earlier kings of the Seven Kingdoms) break away  from the combined entity and declare themselves as kings of their part of Westros. There are also members of the Targeryen dynasty (now living in exile in Essos) who start their journey to reclaim the throne. The result is a heady mix of chaos, treachery, brutality, intrigue, betrayal, honour, battles, duels, torture, magic, and constant political manoeuver. There is also a severe seven-year winter that is about to descend on Westros.

Broadly, the story is played out in three places:

  1. In the Seven kingdoms part of Westros. Here there are constant battles, and realignment between the various claimants, their supporters and independent kings
  2. At the Wall, in the northern most part of the Seven Kingdoms, where the Wall (guarded mainly by convicts who are exiled from the society) divides the Seven Kingdoms from the cold northern part of Westros – the part that is believed to be inhabited by wildlings, giants, whits, ‘children of the forest’, and a species known as ‘others’. The forthcoming winter is expected to make the people and species beyond the Wall move towards Wall to enter the Seven Kingdoms.
  3. In the continent of Essos, where the descendents of the Targeryen dynasty are attempting to raise an army and mobilize resources (including dragons) to reclaim the Seven Kingdoms that they believe rightfully belongs to them.

The series has reached volume 5 (in 7 paperback books). The story has spread itself in multiple directions.  There are two more volumes planned by the author. Let us hope he starts tying up some loose ends.

The Setting / World

In the Seven Kingdoms on the Westros continent, there is a King. Next to the King there are vassals (lords) who rule large parts of the Seven Kingdoms in the king’s name. These lords have other vassals under them (called bannermen). The titles are passed hereditarily with complex and conflicting rules (each conflicting rule has some precedence) which often lead to disputes (like – is the next in line the eldest son? or daughter? or the brother?). There are knights (addressed as ‘Ser’) who protect the king and each lord. The kingdom is run by a king’s council consisting of the Hand (like a prime minster), the Master of Coin (finance minister), the Master of Whispers (spy chief), etc.
Continue reading Book Series: Song of Ice and Fire Series by George RR Martin


I'm Rajesh Naik, and this is my personal website If you are interested in contacting me professionally, I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. You may also check out my professional website, Alignmentor.com.