Category Archives: Book Review

My Association With Sri Ramakrishna And The Kathamrita

My copy of Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita as told by Sri M.

Today is the birth anniversary of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa (18 February 1836 — 16 August 1886). Although I had heard about him since my childhood, I didn’t know much about him. I always thought him to be similar to several other saints and divine personalities that this land has produced. I became more and more interested in him after reading Swami Vivekananda literature, who used to refer to his Master time and again. I got one small book containing compilation of quotes by Sri Ramakrishna, and was immediately touched and moved by the utter simplicity of his words and thoughts. It is remarkable to even think that such complex ideas of Indian philosophy and spirituality could be explained and elaborated in such simple words.

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Book Review: ‘Goodbye Phone, Hello World’ By Paul Greenberg

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Good Bye, Phone Hello World: 60 Ways to Disconnect from Tech and Reconnect to Joy by Paul Greenberg was the last book I read in 2020 and the first one that I am reviewing in 2021. In my opinion it is an important and an urgently needed book. That is the reason that I decided to start the book reviews this year with this book.

Good Bye Phone is about how we are losing out on our lives, our own interests, in small small bits and pieces, for the sake of something which is not even worth it. The focus of the whole book is to convey the urgency to get rid of smartphone addiction. In the first few pages of the book, the writer highlights the various ways in which smartphone is robbing you of your life. And remember that he is not just talking about the effect on your health or effect on your relationships. He tells you how seriously it is affecting your whole life and how you are being deprived of the various beautiful things which really mean to you.

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Book Review: ‘Is It Serious?’ By Burton Paul

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Today I will tell you about the book Is it Serious? How to Search for Health Information on the Internet by Burton Paul. I did not find any negative points in the book, so this ‘review’ may appear to be a summary of what this book is about. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘The Fickle Finger: An Inventor’s Lot’ By Martin Fone

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One of the most depressing and frustrating things to witness in today’s world is society’s apathy towards science and scientists. It is true, even after centuries of technological progress, people don’t seem to appreciate what science and technology mean to them, and what life would be without them. Everyday things, objects, devices, gadgets, which they take for granted, they don’t seem to care how that came into being if not by technological innovation. Note that science and technology need not mean only explorations like nuclear energy or Apollo or Chandrayaan, but also something as simple and small as a safety pin, or a TV set, computer operating system, or Hansom cab. Or it need not be reflected in the form of a palpable device, instead a scientific explanation of some phenomena like nuclear fission, properties of gases or child mortality. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘101 Facts You Didn’t Know About Space’ By Mark Thompson

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Physics is generally called as the queen of all sciences, perhaps because of its elegance, beauty, charm and glamour. And among the various branches of Physics, from mechanics to thermodynamics, and from electromagnetism to acoustics, none attracts so much attention as astrophysics. It is true that astronomy and astrophysics are among the most glamorous branches of physics; most of the young students who choose physics do so mostly due to their infatuation with astronomy and astrophysics. Also, as we progress in our research career, sooner or later we do try to link our research work with the terrestrial and celestial worlds. That being said, astrophysics is also the subject to invoke if you want to attract young students to take up science education, in particular physics. After all, the lessons do start with star gazing and solar/lunar eclipses! But at the same time, it is also interesting to note how less do we know about space. No, here I am not commenting on how little do we know about space even after so many centuries of research. Instead, I am taking note of the various facts which are known, and is supposed to be in public knowledge, yet the general audience is either ignorant of it or oblivious to such information. Mark Thompson has compiled about a hundred such pieces in his book 101 Facts You Didn’t Know About Space. His aim is to bring the fascination of space science to general masses, and to educate them in an entertaining fun way. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Bright Dreams: The Brilliant Ideas of Nikola Tesla’ By Tracy Dockray

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You have heard about scientists who were artists. In some of earlier posts, I have talked about collaborative efforts between artists and scientists. For example, the book Periodic Table presented scientific knowledge accompanied by beautiful graphic illustrations. Likewise, I talked about scenes from the movie 15 Park Avenue, which depicted struggles in the life of a physics professor. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success’ By Mark Jaccard

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Today I will share my views about The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success: Overcoming Myths that Hinder Progress by Mark Jaccard. This is a very interesting book. The moment you open this book, you will be drawn into reading it in full. Honestly speaking, I found it really hard to put this book down after having started it. The tone is neither overly passionate nor dull. The writer maintains a balanced tempo throughout the book, and except for few scattered passionate outbursts, he does not leave it. He talks to you slowly, allowing you sufficient time to absorb the knowledge that he is trying to impart. He ensures not to feed you too much information with each morsel, while at the same time makes sure that every page contains something new to learn. This book was an eye opener for me, and even though I took about three months reading it, I would not mind reading it again. It is because the book contains so much stuff which would stay relevant for years to come. This book does not aim at entertainment as it is addressing a very serious issue. At the same time, nowhere does it create any impression of a boring treatise. At one place the writer acknowledges that scientists are poor communicators and this has been one of the reasons behind the knowledge gap between (climate) science and general public. This book will certainly fill that gap, and considering the scarcity of texts aimed at general audience, it will remain a valuable source to refer to. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘The Urban Sketching Handbook: Drawing with a Tablet’ By Uma Kelkar

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Our occupations may not allow us to be regular in practice of art, mainly because a lot of time is wasted in avoidable activities. For example, you work in an office and travel to work by metro or local train, and it is not possible for you to take all your art equipment with you, or may be your business allows you tiny fractions of time which are not sufficient to arrange your equipment and do reasonable amount of work. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘The Periodic Table’ by Tom Jackson

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This year we are celebrating 150 years of the Periodic Table of Elements. It is a landmark considering the pivotal and stellar position that this wonderful piece of scientific art or artistic science — whichever way you prefer to look at it — occupies in the progress, growth and development of science, especially modern science. The Periodic Table is the one entity which binds the two different branches of science — Physics and Chemistry together. It is also the first encounter of any school student with the fascinating world of science. If in doubt, consider how the study of Chemistry would look like had there been no such periodic classification of elements. That this classification exists, implies that you do not have to study and rote learn the properties of each individual element, instead just understanding the properties of a ‘group’ would suffice. It made the life of chemists and modern physicists so much easier! And not just that, the Periodic Table had provision (’empty slots’) for yet undiscovered elements. This way, it revealed the pattern in the nature around us and at the same time opened doors to the ingredients of the nature which were not yet known. Several names like Lothar Mayer, Dimitri Mendeleev and Moseley are associated with the history of the Periodic Table. While reading this history, every student participates in the logical reasoning and scientific thinking which went into the development of this process of classification. In a way it was all about observing and noting the pattern in the properties of elements found in nature. That everything fell into such an elegant piece of art must have been really exhilarating for the scientists of that time. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Manet And Modern Beauty’ By Scott Allan, Emily A Beeny, Gloria Groom (Editors)

Manet

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Book writing and publishing is an art. Nothing gives more pleasure than holding a book which has been put together with utmost care, compiled with clear illustrations, written by experts in the field who exercise restraint and do not give in to the temptation of showing off their knowledge and expertise before general audience. Books teach and books charm. This was the impression I formed after going through the book Manet and Modern Beauty by Scott Allan, Emily A Beeny, Gloria Groom (Editors). Continue reading