#100books – 2.The one self-help book I finally liked

What is #100books ?- I wanted to share the details of some really amazing books that I read but need not always be the typical bestsellers. I accidentally “discovered” most of them – some in airport stores of different countries, some in friends’ old hard disks and some are new releases. So, sharing the awesomeness. Check out my earlier review here.

Here we go with the second one….

I became a fan of the author Rolf Dobelli after reading his book “The Art of Thinking Clearly” last year. When I saw his latest book “The Art of the Good Life” on the stands, I wasn’t sure about picking up this book, given it’s cliched title. But I did anyways and this turned out to be one of the most to-the-point and impactful books I read in a while. Similar to his earlier book, this book is divided into multiple chapters (52), each contributing for the so called “good life”.

This is a “no rhetoric”, “straight to the point” book with summaries on topics like – modesty vs self importance, outer vs inner scorecards, being a specialist vs generalist. I read some interesting points of view & theories for the first time . Ex. (a) Sturgeon’s law – how 90% of everything is just bullshit and to be selective in our choices of people, information, etc, (b) “Secretary problem”- how to effectively choose from a given sample set, (c) “Decision Fatigue” – how increased choices are impacting our decision process.

It also addressed some of my long term dilemnas on reading efficiently, reacting to the world around us and role of volunteering, dealing with negative emotions like self-pity and envy, building a “mental fortress”, understanding and operating within our circle of control, dignity and competence in life, (non)importance of having opinions on various topics. I was surprised at the author’s take on most of the above topics.

He uses examples from history and his personal experiences to illustrate them better. He ends every chapter with a clear “call-to-action”. While reading, I found many of the topics personally relevant and above all, his ideas were “refreshing”.They are useful and actionable for bettering our personal and professional lives.

Advertisements

#100books – 1. I’m Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork

samuel-bjorkWhat is #100books ?- I wanted to share the details of some really amazing books that I read but are not the typical bestsellers. I accidentally “discovered” most of them – some in airport stores of different countries, some in friends’ old hard disks and some are new releases. So, sharing the awesomeness. Here we go with the first one!

I’m Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork

This Nordic Noir is a definite page turner and I could not stop reading after a certain point. The characters are simple and and their emotions are relatable. There are so many plot twists, open ends and it appears messy at certain points. But the author does a very good job of bringing them all together in the end. Though the climax seems a bit cinematic with surprising reunions & too cheesy, it is a highly commendable work in keeping the reader guessing!

It is about a series of murders of six year old girls in a complicated pattern with vague & intertwined clues. It is dark & scary in the beginning, but then the following investigation pattern by the homicide specialist team where they connect the clues, separate the noise from actual stuff, get distracted by the killer, keep guessing different theories is what makes it interesting. I really like some characters like Tobias Iversen, a brave & responsible 13 year old boy who basically raises his much younger among a dysfunctional family and later goes to rescue a girl from a religious cult, Emilie, a good teacher who cares about her students, and of course the lead characters Munch & Mia, who, despite al their flaws are dedicated & very good at their job. The book revolves around the personal demons from the past that these lead characters deal with. But they are not the typical geniuses for whom all this crime business is a cake walk like how they show in fictional crime content on TV. These characters break their heads, get played by their rivals, get stuck with dead ends and yet make it in the end.

The killer is portrayed as someone who is very clever and planned this for years and is also in the protagonists’ lives for years without their knowledge. This gets even creepier when the murders of little girls follow a pattern with the storyline carrying an impending tragedy when we know that “there will be more”.

The book is neat with a balance of different kinds of relationships, no typical hot female detective characters or underlying sexual tension & flirting  between lead characters to sell copies. Instead, the author balances this with family drama between sisters, brothers, fathers & daughters, granddaughters, etc. It also speaks of team work and caring between colleagues of this close knit special homicide unit in Norway.

The best part about this Scandinavian crime fiction is its  gripping narrative which kept me on the edge throughout. This was a total paisa wasool the investment of my time & money. Finally a fun fact – when I Googled the author Samuel Bjork, I found out this is just his debut novel and he is also a songwriter!