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Strategy and Entrepreneurship

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Books and Me: The Laptop Millionaire

Book Title: The Laptop Millionaire

Author: Mark AnastasiThe Laptop Millionaire Book Cover

I love reading about entrepreneurs. Since entrepreneurs constantly find new ways to create value for their potential audience and for themselves, I learn so much from their activities. I picked this book up as part of my reading especially to know more about entrepreneurs who make a living in the virtual world. While my idea of a laptop entrepreneur was someone who sits at a cafe and builds a cloud based product or service, Mark, the author of this book proposes a totally different model. While it seems like plausible, I would also like to lean more on the school of micro entrepreneurs who create enterprises without too many resources. Why am I then writing about this book? For more than one reason – read on!

I am not too sure if I belong to the school of thought proposed in this book. But, I must accept the fact that I was bowled over by the writing style of the author. His storytelling ability keeps you gripped to the book. The better part of the writing is the strong push it gives the reader to get off the chair or cot and try something online. A well written book needs to be read and especially one that drives you into action. While I don’t intend to apply a lot of the principles in the book as they are suggested, I did learn more about how the online world works. I am sure some entrepreneurial minds who see the world as a global village will find some business ideas.

The tone of the writing and the numerous examples provided make the book an interesting read as well. The author provides short cases of people who have used his methods and made considerable sums of money. In fact more than once while reading the book, I thought I should go down the suggested route, but the principles of my school of thought remain too strong to allow me to use them. But nevertheless I am sure it would work for some who believe in them. So the best way to know about them is to read the book.

The other reason I liked the book is because the author bares all the tools he has used to make money online. He not only provides the secret sauce of how it has worked for him, but also the tools that he has used along the way. In fact he applies some of the suggestions as he writes the book because he asks you to subscribe / buy some of the tools for better results. I am sure he or his affiliates will make some money out of it. But isn’t that you also want when you trade your products and services – that people pay for the value that they receive! After all don’t we all know that there is no free lunch in the world?

I also learned a lot about the number of tools, services and approaches that people have used online to generate wealth for themselves. I was simply amazed at the way simple and freely available tools such as Facebook and YouTube can be leveraged for wealth generation. But behind all of these tools and techniques was the constant reiteration to find and solve a problem or challenge that someone in the world faces. Additionally the author also strives to focus on making profits through collaborations.

“Collaborating to create value for others is the way to make value for oneself.” This is my strong message from the book. I still will continue to work along my way based on the principles of my school of thinking. But the book will remain an interesting read and will also encourage some of its readers to make money as well.

Happy Reading!

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Books and Me: Dhandha

Book Title: Dhandha – How Gujaratis do Business

Author: Shobha Bondre (Translated by Shalaka Walimbe)Dhandha Book Cover

‘Dhandha’ is another inspiring read for entrepreneurial minds. It is a given that Gujaratis are born business people. Gujaratis are referred to as a benchmark for reference when it comes to business sense. But most of what people speak about Gujarati businessmen (women included) is hearsay. There is very little that is written about of the Gujarati way of doing business, at least in English. Hence a lot of the business students and aspiring entrepreneurs outside of regional literature like Gujarati and Marathi have not had privy to this knowledge. Shobha Bondre’s works in Marathi seemed to have had a wide readership. But the non Marathi speaking population will now have access to her works – thanks to Shalaka Walimbe’s interesting translation.

The book describes the journey of five Gujarati business persons (one woman as well). Each of their stories are truly entrepreneurial. They are typical of how many of the Gujarati business persons have grown and built their own communities. The book is first and foremost, very inspiring. Every story traces the growth of an entrepreneur from rags (almost in some cases) to riches. The stories also highlight the fact that they were ordinary people like all of us. One can easily relate to these people since the stories are so intertwined with their personal lives. This makes the reading very human and realistic. It is not that they have not had problems or that they did not have set backs, but every story is about determination to be in business, to be successful and to be fair to their lives. They have taken tremendous risks as well. The success and the ongoing challenges of some of their lives are useful lessons for teaching entrepreneurship.

Every class that I teach on entrepreneurship rarely goes without a remark about Gujarati business acumen. But instead of accepting their natural inclination towards business and speaking at the macro level, we can now bring at least five real stories to class: Bhimjibhai Patel (Diamonds are forever), Mohanbhai Patel (The Circle of Life), Dalpatbhai Patel (Motelier becomes Mayor), Jaydev Patel (Life of a Salesman) and Hasu & Hersha Shah (Not Only Potels).

The book is an easy read for anyone. One of the highlights of the book is the absence of smart statements and prophetic advices. The suggestions are all about being honest to the profession, thinking long term, working hard, building strong relationships, etc – all of which are so simple, that it may be exciting. But it is this simple advice that has created generation after generation of Gujarati businessmen and women. A lot of learning for entrepreneurs lies subtly embedded in the stories and that is what makes story telling interesting. Lessons can be milked out by the reader based on their level of extraction. Overall a good read which goes beyond inspiration. With a foreword by the chief minister of Gujarat (Narendra Modi) and an introduction by the state’s brand ambassador (Amitabh Bachchan) – the book has received a generous introduction.

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Books and Me: Bird by Bird

Book Title: Bird by Bird – Some instructions on writing and life

Author: Anne LamottBird by Bird Book Cover

As one who is keen on keeping my writing spirits high, I love to read books that speak about the art and craft of writing. Though I have begun to see redundancy in the inputs provided by the self-help variety even in this segment, I still enjoy reading them. Amongst this genre I truly enjoy books that strike a chord at the philosophical level. Since most of the ‘to-do’ aspects of this genre is repetitive and becomes an excuse from actual practice, the philosophical intent needs tremendous reiteration to develop and retain the right attitude.

Anne Lamott’s beautifully titled book speaks about the only way to making big projects happen, including big writing projects. In fact it is the only way to make any project happen. How does one finish a 800 page text book project – in Anne Lamott’s language: ‘bird by bird’. This little piece of advice is all that one needs to imbibe before getting down to work. If one learns to look at all the writing tips provided in the book from this overarching idea, it seems simple. But the biggest challenges for a writer trying to put the ‘bird by bird’ philosophy to work are:

  • Being disciplined and committed to the art called writing
  • Understanding the vocation called writing in spirit

As a thinker and writer I loved the philosophical underpinnings of the author. I am sure many other readers could have found the book a little preachy and spiritual. Many readers could have been disappointed from the book as it provides very less inputs on what to do to improve the writing. There are many other books for that – but something that every artist needs to understand and internalize is that writing itself is the reward for writing. Every artist needs to internalize this subtle piece of knowledge and remain immersed in it as we produce, rather attempt to produce one more piece of creative work.

The book contains some interesting anecdotes, personal experiences of the author, number of beautiful and deeply influential quotes, and further references for reading. At some portions of my reading I found the author bordering on strong philosophical concepts. As a student of Vedanta, I found this an interesting extension of philosophy in practice. Overall I enjoyed the book and convinced myself that I must continue to write for writing’s sake. The book also has induced in me a strong thought to re-look at my priorities with respect to writing and everything else I do in life. At many points in the book one is bound to stop, put down the book and delve into contemplation. This deep reflection and thinking is essential to all creative pursuits and many times even to live life at large. The book is a strong trigger of passive passion and I am sure it will make you ponder on the innermost purpose of life. While most of the discussions in the book are from a writer’s perspective, it will not be too difficult to extend the learning to other spheres of activities as well.

Happy Reading and hopefully happy writing as well!

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Books and Me: BRAG – The art of tooting your own horn without blowing it

Book Title: BRAG – The art of tooting your own horn without blowing it!

Author: Peggy KlausBRAG Book Cover

When you give a man a horn, he will blow it or toot it! Whether it sounds like cacophony or music will depend on how he does it? If the “horn” meant talking about yourself, then you must ensure the resultant sound is like music to listeners.

Peggy Klaus is a definitive communicator. She gives her message to the reader loud and clear. Her book “BRAG” is a recommended read in today’s hyper competitive world and attention deficit community. She clearly elucidates the need for self promotion and also the negative meaning attached to the phrase. At times to someone who realizes the need for the skill at self-promotion, the repetition of reasons against or obstacles may seem redundant.

The book details a lot on the excuses people give themselves for not tooting their own horn and why one needs to convince themselves about the need for doing it. Another thing is also to ensure that doing it anyhow is dangerous and can seriously backfire. If not done correctly it can also assume wrong connotations.

Preparation as the key (using the take-12 questionnaire) has been rightly given its due place. Especially in the case of such a sensitive skill, preparation and practice can help avoid embarrassing moments and failure in self-promotion.

The book elucidates numerous instances where self-promotion is much needed. The detailing using examples makes it amply clear “how-to” and “how-not-to” –toot your own horn in all of these situations.

Amongst the many situations where the bragging skills can be applied, I found “When you’re out on your own” chapter to be the most relevant for an entrepreneur. In my role as a researcher, teacher, author, writer and entrepreneur I think this skill is much needed. All entrepreneurs will need to perfect the art. The book’s inherent message that self-promotion is not bad when done right is a basic input to all entrepreneurs. Selling is an inherent part of entrepreneurship and the salesman / saleswoman (entrepreneur in this case) is the most important in the sales process. But most entrepreneurs never learn this skill – they try to hard sell their way or don’t sell at all. While it may come as a surprise to many, it remains the reality. One of the reasons why entrepreneurs (especially in India) don’t naturally tend towards selling is their cultural upbringing of being advised not to ‘brag’ about oneself. While the intent of the advice is noble, its practice requires skill. If one learns the art of ‘tooting’ one’s own horn without sounding like ‘bragging’ – it could bring attention and eventually open the potential for future sales.

The best parts of the book include take-12, brag-nags and the chapter on bragging for the self-employed or entrepreneurial variety. This topic was / is and will be very important. In today’s attention deficit world, the art of subtly promoting oneself is very important and is slowly becoming a necessity. This book is important for entrepreneurs and anyone who wants to establish oneself in a group. The book is an easy read, easy to carry around, has excellent binding, printing and is almost devoid of any English error. It does not have distractions except for the often-repeated reason of why one should not detest tooting. For more information on the book you can look up at www.bragbetter.com

Happy Reading!

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Books and Me: Become a Key Person of Influence

Book Title: Become a Key Person of Influencebook

Author: Daniel Priestley

The book begins by stating that ‘Your best thinking from five years ago is your baggage today’! So true, isn’t it? Citing numerous examples the author provokes us to re-think and re-imagine our work today. How can we do what we are born to do? How can we engage in actions where we remain ‘in the zone’ most of the time? How can we fall into that small group who remain the greatest influencers of all time? How can we become a key person of influence in our trade or domain?

Any book that speaks about thought leadership is an immediate must read for me. I normally don’t miss a chance to see what I can learn from the author’s experience and research. This book shared a lot of tips and initiatives that I could take away and apply. As a thinker and writer myself in the area of entrepreneurship, I am always seeking fresh ways to experiment.

Two specific subjects that the author speaks about will make complete sense for every entrepreneur. The identification of micro-niches and approach one can take to reach these through thought leadership. This is a topic that has been on my research agenda for over two years now. I find this reference (though a small one) of immense support to my findings on the field.

The approaches to making pitches and what are the critical things needed to be a key person of influence, are solid and implementable takeaways from the book. Six P’s for pitching was interesting and practical. They are Position, Problem, Projection, Proposal, Proof, Project. The author clearly makes the case for everyone to become a small entrepreneur in today’s world. He also cites examples of how enterprises have built highly valuable and high growth enterprises by giving away their primary services free. They way the thoughts are shared get you thinking about your own ideas and dreams that everyone of us keep secretly within ourselves.

I am sure the world is ripe for big revolutions in entrepreneurship. Every emerging economy is striving hard to use entrepreneurship as the tool for socio-economic development. The author’s ideas and examples in the book make a clear case for people who are on the sidelines with an interest, but are still scared to jump into the game.

Read the book! Become an entrepreneur around an area that is close to your heart! Become a key person of influence in your domain! Change the World! Leave it a better place than what it was when you landed on it!

You may also want to read more from the author at: http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com

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Books and Me: Tribes

Book Title: Tribes – We Need You To Lead Us

Author: Seth GodinTribes Book Cover

This is a book whose subject is so common that it is so easily missed. Ironical as it may seem, every human being inherently seeks connection. It is very difficult for a normal human to stay alone and avoid human interaction. The difference lies only in the quantity and quality of connections. So what gets people connected?

From time immemorial till recently people have always attempted to group, be it for hunting or for launching a rocket to the Mars. In each of these cases we can notice that the word “crowd” is conspicuously missing. Seth Godin in this little book attempts to codify this inherent need amongst people.

Every tribe seems to be a group of people with a shared interest and a way to communicate. Every tribe has a leader whose only job is to enable people who share similar interests to join, connect and communicate. With huge reductions in communication costs and the internet destroying geographical boundaries, we are now seeing the possibility of forming tribes who have no limits. Today we have tribes around people, around causes, around common interests, around products, around companies, around artists, around brands, and every possible way in which we can belong. Belonging is such a longing for every human being (social animal). The book also shares characteristics of a good tribe, what makes a good tribal leader, and how to make tribes thrive. It is very clear the tribes do not form around commercialization or personal benefits of the leaders or sponsors.  Real tribes have a far greater shared interest, want to share their uniqueness, and are willing to let go of those who don’t belong. Tribes are becoming voluntary and they are getting easier to start, sustain and scale. Trust, honesty, transparency enable the creation of tribes and evangelists within them. Tribes grow by members bringing more members. The leader just strengthens the platform and amplifies the voices of the members.

Creation of tribes is an interesting activity especially for entrepreneurs.  Every start-up essentially should be a tribe. It must be in Seth Godin’s terms a purple cow (remarkable) which intends to make change happen and hence difficult to ignore. Tribes are also a great way for start-ups to find fans and evangelists for their radical ideas. The book contains the usual dose of challenging questions, interesting quotations, numerous cases and examples and a bunch of further readings. Thanks Seth Godin for triggering in me to think deeper around tribes in my domain of work (Entrepreneurship and Small Business).

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Books and Me: Tiya – A Parrot’s Journey Home

Book Title: Tiya – A Parrot’s Journey Home

Author: SamarpanTiya Book Cover

‘Tiya’ is not just a story book. It is not just another novel. It is not a fable with prescriptive lessons at the end of every chapter. It is a very differently done book with a subtle message weaved beautifully inside a well structured fable. The story is about a parrot named ‘Tiya’. Her journey out into the world and how she finds her way back home.

Losing our way in the world is not a new thing – after all we all do it every day. The beauty is more in the way the author describes the experiences we face. I think the very first instance of the parrot listening to his inner voice and moving away from the banyan (his comfort zone) is in itself not a common happening in many of our lives. We rarely listen to the voice within, and even if we do we give in to the worldly necessities, peer pressures, attachments, and routines. This does not let us move out of our comfort zones at all. I stopped reading this book at this point and fell into deep reflection. How can we listen to the voice (a Swan’s in Tiya’s case) within and make that courageous step to let go and move ahead. If you are one who has faced this situation and has made that great decision, you will be happily surprised that you are an exception.

The various worlds that ‘Tiya’ passes through are simply fascinating. Every world is made up of imaginary creatures, who share a lot of the characteristics with various types of people we meet in the process of our journey. The world is actually made up of many worlds! Many times during the reading, I also felt that many of these worlds are what every one of us passes through.  Few of us fall in love with the sight, its beauty and stay stuck, only to realize that what we see is not the complete picture. A few of the worlds described by the author are nothing but the attitudinal types that we interact with every day. Some may even be the behaviors that resemble how we behave in different spheres of our life.

The beauty in describing the various types of worlds that a person will go through if they decide to start this journey is amazing. On deeper reflection, they also resemble worlds that we may encounter if we attempt a journey back to our source. If I get a chance to meet up with the author, then one thing I would ask him is if these worlds are inner worlds or outer worlds? Apart from the descriptions of the characters and the world’s they live in (actually they create), the beauty with which we fall prey to their illusory attractions is another amazing feature that makes the book interesting. Tiya and her various traps, some where she almost gets caught, but manages to escape to continue the journey is what makes the book interesting.

At every point of exasperation, there are two choices in front of ‘Tiya’ – one to get back to the Banyan tree (or the earlier worlds) from where she started or passed through or see the little ray of hope in venturing further. While the past always provides firmer views to hang on to, it is in keeping the curiosity of the search alive that makes one move ahead (Tiya in this case). Tiya’s plight during those moments of decision making brings out the challenges and the immense courage to wage that inner battle to move ahead. It is a tough journey to evolve in life. No wonder every philosopher cites courage as the basic requirement or spiritual evolution. Towards the end of the book, Tiya’s experiences get confusing as she begins to see highly developed but not evolved beings. The last stage before she finds her way back to the question that initially made her leave the place seems the hardest. But the beauty is that after all this struggle ‘Tiya’ returns to her good old banyan tree (looked on as eternal by the entire population of the tree). What made her take this arduous journey? What question or statement pushed her out of where she was so comfortable and seemingly happy? I will leave it to you (the reader) to find out. After all if there is no suspense in life, then what fun?

I came away feeling eternally grateful to the author for a strong and intense reminder of one of the most important questions that we refrain from asking ourselves in life. As I am myself in the early stages of my search, this book came as a soothing reminder of its importance as well as the pleasure of going through all the struggle and pain. Answering the most important question in life is why we are here?

It will make our life just like how ‘Tiya’ feels when she was back on the Banyan after all her travels.  This journey begins only when one doubts the life we are living to be unreal and the possibility that reality is something beyond what we see today. Even spiritual evolution starts with a doubt – isn’t it?

Before I close the review, let me also complement Harper Element to have made such a lovely sized, light weight, well printed and well bound book. It made carrying it and reading it so easy. Hope to read more in this imprint and also more from the author.

NOTE: 14th to 20th November is celebrated annually in India as the ‘National Book Week’. As part of the celebration I am posting ‘book reviews’ daily. Happy Reading!

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Books and Me: The Unreasonable Fellows

Book Title: The Unreasonable Fellows – Journeys of ten entrepreneurs from around the world, whose unreasonable attitude is changing the lives of millions

Author: Myshkin Ingawale and Nikita SinghThe Unreasonable Fellows Book Cover

I have read number of books which chronicles entrepreneurial stories. They are generally a source of great inspiration. I share them in my classes on entrepreneurship so that the next generation of students try their hands at it. This book is one such collection of ten stories, but the theme here is even more focused – socially minded entrepreneurial journeys.

I picked the book up since it referred to something known as the Unreasonable Institute and the people chosen by them, ‘Unreasonable Fellows’. One of the co-authors (Myshkin) is himself an unreasonable fellow. He has written this book to chronicle the stories of his peers who spent the fellowship time together at Boulder, Colarado. The other co-author (Nikita) is probably the one who catalyzed the project and made it come in a book form soon. Credits to both the authors for bringing us a good collection of inspiring journeys in the area of social entrepreneurship!

The book helps us in two ways – one it helps gain inspiration for making life entrepreneurial, and two, it helps us look at social challenges across the world very differently. There is a strong sense of passion that comes out of reading every story. The protagonist in every story has a unique story, they have unique backgrounds, they have unique upbringing, and unique routes they have taken so far. Their stories are not about just social start-ups. They are about themselves, their families, friends, and their formative years. The stories are filled with experiences that have shaped them in becoming unreasonable fellows.

There are stories from across continents, across demographics, across lifestyles, across cities and towns. There are people who have struggled for basic school education and there are those who have been educated in the best of universities. Irrespective of their backgrounds, their locations, early years, and education, all of them have taken courageous steps towards their inner calling; they have all braved social pressures; they have all taken risks; and the driving reason behind all of them has been a real social cause. Some causes were discovered by them through their own experience, some through the experiences of their families and friends; while some were discovered while studying, as part of immersion programs, and at times due to lack of meaning at regular high paying jobs.

How so many of them let go of promising lives in high paying corporate jobs to struggle for the sake of the causes they relate to most, still remains a mystery. When one completes the book, one will be very inspired to reflect on whether such a magical opportunity lies within every one of us? The surprising but simple answer is a big yes. We all have hidden passions that make the innermost core of us – but we don’t listen to that voice and take the bold step to live life for the sake of that reason. We give in to excuses from every quarter and eventually to our own as well. We get caught up more and more in the rigmarole of life and after a while, we almost live like machines. Books like these are meant to remind us that, there are ordinary people amongst us who lead extraordinary lives, albeit quietly.

Hope a lot of our aspiring entrepreneurs, especially the socially inclined ones, read books like these. They surely and convincingly show us that doing business can be done by doing good, and it does not require any great talent or lucky birth or great education. All it requires is only tremendous will and the courage to live our passion. Finding one’s true calling is something that education is not really teaching us these days, but in the coming weeks, I will review a few books that seek to find ways of helping us find our true nature.

In the mean time read books like these and find opportunities around areas close to your heart. Build businesses that not only create value for you, but also for your society at large. After all if there is no society, where is the need for business?

NOTE: 14th to 20th November is celebrated annually in India as the ‘National Book Week’. As part of the celebration I am posting ‘book reviews’ daily. Happy Reading!


Books and Me: Phantoms on the Bookshelves

Book Title: Phantoms on the Bookshelves

Author: Jacques BonnetPhantoms on the Bookshelf Book Cover

I wonder how much we, book lovers will miss if good souls did not translate interesting works from native languages to languages we know. This book ‘Phantoms on the bookshelves’ is one such French work translated into English by Sian Reynolds. Thanks for this kind gesture.

As the book proclaims up front, this is a ‘book about books’. It is for bibliophiles by a bibliophile. The book speaks about the ‘personal library’ and how it reflects the attitude of the collector. The concept of a personal library is slowly reducing in intensity since space is becoming a constraint and so is the time to maintain them. We read books for a variety of reasons.  Some may be pure pleasure, sometimes to learn, at times to dream, and many times to forget. Whatever be the reason, books are man’s greatest friend. They support and they scorn distance. They take us to places and introduce us to people who we don’t know.

Many times even people who buy a lot of books feel that it is not a great investment since they are not able to read many of the books. But as the author says, books sometimes are not bought to be read right then, they may come in handy for reference, or like how I picked this book up to read after almost two years of purchase (delayed reading). I bought this book during one of my book buying expeditions. Since I picked a lot of books then, I could not read them. They remained in my personal library till a few days back, when I was wondering what would be a good book to review as part of the National Book Week celebration. I remembered that there were a few books that I had picked long time back on books and decided that this weekend was the best time to go through them.

As is beautifully captured in the words of Alberto Manguel, “The truth is that a library, whatever its size, does not need to have been read cover to cover to serve a useful purpose.” I totally agree. There are times when I have just walked into my personal library and simply felt nice being in the midst of those lovely tomes, small and big, white and yellow, with varying fragrances coming out of them; but they simply relax us. Peace happens.

As one reads the books, it reflects the crazy passion of book lover. It is love without a reason. It is love one way. It is amazing to simply be around them. But all of this is not easy to come by and is also not easy to keep. As the author rightly conveys, it is the book lovers who mostly do with less money than needed to buy the books. It is they who look for cutting corners everywhere else to ensure that books are bought. A lot of people question their rationality, without knowing that man is inherently irrational. But nothing stops the bibliophile from collecting them.

The books are difficult to maintain. With rats, worms, dust and borrowers always trying to move them away from safe zone, it takes a lot of effort from the bibliophile to keep the book to the shelf, safe and sound. I have personally tried many times to make an inventory of my personal library, but have been quite unsuccessful. I know where I have kept certain books, I can remember them like a top end inventory system; but without me it is simply chaos. No one else can locate it. The author talks about the many ways in which people stock their books, by name, genre, and purchase date, amongst others. No one standard here – only personal choices. After all it is a personal library, isn’t it?

With too many options to take man away from books including but not limited to television, mobile phones, social media, communication apps on handhelds, etc, it is difficult to find too many voracious readers. Finding books collectors and people with personal libraries is becoming rare too. The Kindle and other reading apps are also reducing the purchase of physical copies of books. Even though, I am also exploring the Kindle with a few books, there is something magical about a book that is irreplaceable. So, it is not surprising that even after having a Kindle to read, I still end up purchasing physical copies of books, especially ones that have such a fine finish. These good looking ones are sometimes low cost paperbacks – even their finish is attractive.

Love for books must continue. They are man’s best friend – especially because they express themselves one way. They only give and have no expectations from us. They transport us to another world. They give us knowledge, make us imagine, dream and derive immense peace and happiness. There is nothing that can replace the joy of finding the book of a favorite author. The only thing that comes close is reading it and going to bed.

This book is filled with quotes, thoughts, ideas about books from the author (a bibliophile) and also other authors who have written about books. And not to forget, the book, in its little sized, hard cover is beautifully done and is still light enough to carry around to read at a coffee shop or during a travel. Keep a pencil with you when you leave – the notes on the margins will speak to you when you pick the book up many years later! Highly recommended for books lovers and book collectors!

NOTE: 14th to 20th November is celebrated annually in India as the ‘National Book Week’. As part of the celebration I am posting ‘book reviews’ daily. Happy Reading!

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Books and Me: The War of Art

Book Title: The War of Art – Break Through the Block and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Author: Steven PressfieldThe War of Art Book Cover

Steven Pressfield and his work, the War of Art has been a recurring reference across many of my readings in recent times. I gave myself enough reasons to delay its purchase. Something in me kept resisting to pick this book up. So here I am eventually writing a note of me overcoming the resistance to read this book which incidentally is on resistance.

Every individual who engages in any form of art recognizes the importance of acknowledging and overcoming resistance. Many times we don’t even recognize that the force which is not allowing us to create is sitting right within us. Pressfield’s book aptly titled the War of Art bears it all. Inside every artist (veterans included) this battle ensues daily. This battle is actually between the life we are living and the unlived life within us. The first part of the book clearly defines this enemy called resistance in every form possible.  As we go through the various definitions of resistance and its manifestations, one is bound to acknowledge experiencing its presence. If we have any doubts after this, a section titled symptoms of resistance quickly makes us sure of it presence.

Resistance is universal. It cannot be done away with. But it can be beaten. It requires a conscious move from being an amateur to becoming a professional. The way Pressfield defines who a professional is seems interesting and demanding. As we move through the book beyond this point, the text slowly but surely leads to some fundamental truths about life and giving. These pages are an extract of the wisdom of the world’s greatest teachers. There are references to Indian scriptures as well as western ones. The importance of owning the right to action and not the results thereof is beautifully captured from a variety of perspectives. There are references to scriptures of the east and west as well as poems and movies that showcase these truths. The author also attempts to differentiate between the ego (philosophically, the little self) and the self. These require not just plain reading but extensive reflection. The author’s detailing of the importance for an artist to find their territory and his description of what a territory means is simply fascinating. Some of the questions in this section are simple and straight, difficult to handle for people without courage. One of the last sentences I made note of before completing the book was this, “Don’t cheat us of your contribution, give us what you’ve got”. Isn’t that a clarion call to live the life we are meant to live?

I read the e-book version and kept wondering how such an interesting book albeit a small one would have been made in print. Sometime in the future when I decide to reread this book, I may prefer to pick a hard copy. While it should be compulsory reading for all who consider themselves artists, it definitely makes good reading for everyone.

NOTE: 14th to 20th November is celebrated annually in India as the ‘National Book Week’. As part of the celebration I am posting ‘book reviews’ daily. Happy Reading!


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