Saturday, February 4, 2017

Important Reading - 2016

Books read 2016

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande 

What happens to the body as we age, the transformation of old age care, geriatrics , hospice care, the transformation of society from a joint family system to a nuclear family set up, more elderly people living alone, the troubles they face, why taking care of sick or terminally ill people at home is better, what is the point at which medical intervention should stop and nature allowed to take its course ? a very interesting thought provoking book. I see it more relevant for indian context because the social network that existed in my grandmothers time ( when we took care of her at home during her last days with doctor visits and help from family members) is no longer around and no longer feasible too…

Verdict: Must Read

Quiet by Susan Cain

For a long time, I thought of myself as Shy till my friends told me that I talk well with people I know or on subjects that I know. I realized later that I am what people call as Introvert . And unfortunately for Introverts, we all live in a world where the quiet, serious and less talkative are overlooked in terms of the more open, talkative and loud types.
The book starts with the transition of how  character gave away to the idea of personality as a judge of people. And moves on to how this transition made the idea of a charismatic leader more popular. Talks about how brain storming is a bad idea, takes help of biology to look into whether the temperament is something a person is born with and how extroverts and introverts think differently. Book also looks at how Asian Culture gives space for Introverts ( in fact encouraging it ) while American culture is opposite in nature. The last section of the book talks about introvert kids, introverts at work, introvert extrovert marriages, problems faced and suggested solution.

The book is highly recommended and a must read if you are interested in people or work with people.

Verdict: Must Read

Mindset by Carol Dweck

There are two mindsets. One is Fixed. This makes people believe that their qualities (intelligence, ability and potential) are fixed. People form a certain image of themselves and need to perform to validate that image. 

Failure is looked upon as an inability or shortcoming of the potential and not as a means to learn something new and extend one’s ability. The other mindset is growth. People with this mindset believe that they can improve and look at failures as opportunities to learn rather.  This is not to say that the mindset alone is enough. Planning and working to achieve the goals or targets set is important.

Some kids are smarter than others. When there is too much focus on the results of the performances, the kids mindset becomes Fixed as they are under pressure to confirm to a certain image and there by impacting their growth. for e.g. Ms Dweck suggests that Parents should get kids to focus on putting in the best effort and not worry too much about the results. Praise and focus should be on the effort put in and not on the results.  

I have taken notes while reading the book and hope to write a separate post about the book.

Verdict: Must Read

The Climb by Anatoli Bourkeev and G. Weston DeWalt 

The climb of three groups that turned  fatal due to a ferocious blizzard and Anatoli Bourkeev’s rescue of  a number of climbers by risking his life is a first person narration and makes you feel sorry for the mountaineers who lost their lives attempting the climb. Poor planning, communication due to English and Russian, lack of proper radios, cost cutting in selection of oxygen cylinders, poor coordination… you can see all classic reasons for project failure throughout the book. And when you are against the mighty nature, over planning and over preparation is any day better than sufficient planning. In Military, there is a saying ‘ Amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics’.

Verdict: Worth a read

Blockchain Revolution by Dan and Alexi Tapscott 

This book talks about the potential of blockchain and the kind of potential changes it can bring about. It is nontechnical and focuses on the areas where Blockchain can be used. It is comprehensive and a good read if you want to understand Blockchain’s potential. 

Verdict: Must Read

H for Hawk by Helen MacDonald.

 A woman and the story of how she overcomes the sudden death of her beloved father with the help of Falconry. The English landscape, the archaic languge that is unique to falconry, an author whose memoirs of failed experiments with falconry that weren’t meant to be published, but got published - all these have come together beautifully in this book. The prose is delectable and have never enjoyed a book for the language used this much in recent times.

Verdict: Must Read

World Economic Forum Report on  Blockchain

The future of financial infrastructure -- An ambitious look at how blockchain can reshape financial services

The report looks at different sectors like Insurance, Banking and takes use cases and how BlockChain can reshape financial services. It is an exhaustive report and is also more pragmatic in assessing the technology and discusses the limitations too. Unlike other books, this report doesn’t talk about as blockchain as the only thing, but the report is very careful to call out the technology as one of the fundamental building blocks.

Verdict: Must Read , if you are interested in knowing the potential of Blockchain and potential areas of implementation. click here to read the report

Read from my son's Library

Matilda by Roald Dahl
Couple of Geronimo Stilton whose titles I forgot J
Amar Chitra Kathas and few other kid books

Websites frequented for all stuff that interests me for Science Maths and Computer Science related developments
Pocket for interesting articles

Articles worth a mention

Books referred to or went back for selective reading

Books started and hopefully should be completed in 2017 :-)

The curse of Cash by Kenneth Rogoff
Mastering Bitcoin by Andreas Antonoupolos  

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