Rich dad, Poor dad

Author: Robert T. Kiyosaki

My Rating: 4.6 / 5

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“Working hard for money is an old formula born in the day of cave man”

Go to school, get good grades, find a secured job, work hard, save money and retire – this has been the mantra of our life. But by following this mantra the middle class will remain as middle class only passing on the same cycle to the next generation. The reason for this (as the author puts it) is that we haven’t been thought financial intelligence in our schools i.e we haven’t been thought the art and science of making money. The author illustrates a few examples of how cash flow works and explains the differences between cash flows of poor, middle-class and rich people and thereby emphasizing why they are the way they are. It all comes down to how well we manage our asset columns. I would like to mention the highlights of this book.

Middle class/Poor vs Rich:

This difference comprises the core of the book. The author stresses on the fact how to make money work for you instead of working for money. He uses two terms viz. “Rat race” and “Fast track” predominantly throughout the book. The former refers to the mundane middle class habit of working hard at the job, paying bills and liabilities, saving in a conventional way not bothering to build on the asset column. In simplistic terms he defines asset as something which puts money in your pocket and liability as something which takes money out of your pocket. The latter refers to a smart habit which according to the author pushes people from middle class to the so called rich. It incorporates the idea of building our assets until our asset column alone is sufficient to meet our expenses with or without our day job. According to the author, assets are stocks, bonds, mutual funds, income generating real estate or anything that produces income, appreciates and has a ready market.

Playing safe vs Playing smart:

The author puts spotlight on the fact that many people never become rich because they show reluctance in taking risks and hence they make “safe investments“. But the problem with these investments is that they give very low returns. And of course the author acknowledges the fact that there is a higher risk involved when you make investments which have the potential to milk higher returns. But that is exactly where financial intelligence comes into picture. He further asserts that there is not a single rich person in this world who hasn’t lost money while experimenting. You lose, you learn from your mistakes, you learn new formulas and you invest again – this time more sophisticated. This is how smart people invest.

Controversial views:

The author contradicts the popular saying “Our home is our greatest asset“. Instead he views it as a liability unless you have generated an asset column which pays for the bank loan. A bigger house usually means higher expenses as we have to refurnish everything matching the requirements of it. What many people fail to consider is the property tax which will be incurred upon them. Also, we miss out on the opportunity to make other investments which would have grown faster in value simply because we have no money left to invest. Another controversial view is “Pay yourself first and others later“. Even at times when you realize that you will not have enough money left to pay bills, the author still asks you to pay yourself first. Our asset column should be far more important to us than anything else. He claims that it is a good money habit because when we pay ourselves first we get financially stronger and when we pay ourselves last, we let people like bosses, tax collectors, bill collectors and managers push us around all our lives. Though I wasn’t fully convinced with the author’s views personally, these insights gave me a different approach to look at the same topic.

Who can buy this book ?

Anyone who has a fire in their belly to become rich. But, doesn’t that mean everyone ?? No, it doesn’t. There is a fine line between people who have the desire to become rich and people who take steps towards it. The author illustrates by using an example that it is strange to see people who give 10 percent of bill as a tip but are hesitant to give 5 percent of fee to a broker. This book definitely serves as a great inspiration to take action but it alone isn’t sufficient. Personally, I would say it is a very good start for anyone who plans to invest.

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The God of Small Things

Author: Arundhati Roy

My Rating: 3.4 / 5 the-god-of-small-thingsIf you ask me to summarize the entire book into a single line, I would say it as ” An ugly story written in a remarkable style of writing. “ As if like the author is trying to entertain us with tragedy weaved with innocence by introducing us to a woman who could not resist her sexual desires, an Indian who marries a foreigner against the dislike of his parents, a paravan ( a sect of backward caste ) who could not realize his limitations in the society and most importantly two twins: Ambassador Elvis Presley and Love in Tokyo who represent themselves as “we” and “us”, as if they are one soul residing in two bodies. I would like to mention the highlights of the book.

1. Siblings affinity: Truly,things can change in a day. Separated and united by destiny, the author illustrates the love between two twins of opposite gender who knew each other even before they began life. I loved a particular line in the novel where Rahel opens the door for Estha though he didn’t knock the door. Strange and almost difficult to understand how a person can realize the presence of other, when they come close to us. I felt a little uneasy when I came across such lines or like a white moth spreading its wings on my heart, if I had to say in the style of author. Because I never had or seen someone else experience love to such an extent !!

2. Indians of 80’s and 90’s: Or perhaps I should mention as Keralites specifically. Right from childhood I always loved Kerala due to its low population growth rate compared to other states which I personally believe as a good factor in the growth of India. Let it be the influence of Christianity and its education or the history of the world’s first democratically elected communist government or the oppression of people belonging to backward and scheduled castes or the Plymouth car or the tangerine radio, Roy gives a brilliant narration of all the tangible and non-tangible things of the late 20th century which are adored by a reader of early 21st century, someone like me.

3. Needs vs feelings: Sex, perhaps one of the most uncontrollable desires of mankind, the root of many wars and casualties, the reason for many pages in the books of history finds its way into our story too. A young teenager who lusts a Christian father and expects him to satisfy her, an woman, most importantly a widow and mother of two children creeping through the shadows of night to quench her desires, a divorced man who uses the special door of his house for his secret visitors or his man’s needs are all real characters in the world just represented as a fiction in the book. But, astonishingly you will also find this natural desire making its way between two twins when they meet after years of separation !! Where all the above cases were needs, this one was a feeling and where all the above cases were sex, this one was a way of expressing love !!!

Who can buy this book ? If it wasn’t for Roy, I would have rated this book much lower. If you are a kind of person who enjoy a good storyline ( unless you admire tragedy ), you can move on without looking at it. But if you are a kind of person who fancies the narration of an author and the way he/she uses the language to picture the characters and their inter-connections, or the beauty of story-telling as to simply put it, then definitely add this book to your cart for a literature sized hole in your heart !!!

The Street Lawyer

Author: John Grisham

My Rating: 3.7 / 5

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One thing for sure to be known by all the readers of this book after its completion: “Basic attributes of Law”.  I had never read a novel ever before which puts you into engaging excitement right from page 2. Such was the impact left by Grisham but however you will never find that rush of adrenaline again apart from several minor occasions. The entire mood is primarily based on the lifestyle of squatters and the suffering of homeless people. Grisham too like Archer kept the vocabulary simple, perhaps to impress readers like me. I would like to mention the highlights of the book.

1. Trivial nature of money:

I loved this theme used by the author when the hero of the novel moves away from a million-dollar firm to a non-profit organization as a result of several circumstances faced unexpectedly. Ultimately he finds the joy in helping the dying and the destitute. The greediness of rich people and the unwillingness shown by them in helping the homeless is highlighted by the author. However, the lead of the story finds a radical change within himself from the extent where he used to charge a thick amount for his clients at the old firm and to the extent where he whole-heartedly refuses to charge even a single penny at his new firm. He recalls the memories from his graduation where all of his classmates promised to use their law education to help the righteous side without the lust for money. Money which once made him to stand up on his heels and chase down anything and almost everything has slowly become trivial to him.

2. Tenderness of relationships:

Probably, one of the common scenarios which we seldom observe in our own lives. In my opinion relationships get anchored when you spare and spend time with the other person and will break when you fail to do it. More or less this is what that happens to the hero of the story, he aims to become a partner at the firm and works hard and in order earns a lot from his billings but fails to better his relationship with his wife Claire. Claire, who works as a doctor doesn’t succeed in finding time as she too like her husband runs back of money and finally gets divorced to end an unsatisfying marriage. However, the hero finds an another woman later in the story but nevertheless, the author gives a beautiful message regarding the effects of uncompromising attitudes and imbroglios in relationships.

3. Uncertainity of future:

30 days is all that takes for the lead of the story to change his life drastically between two ends of his life. It thrilled me when I realized the fact about how unsure the future is and we never know what tomorrow holds for us. But, we do believe change is good and it happens for good reasons. We may lament for several events which occur in our lives but as our life progresses we realize that everything happens for a reason and it starts making perfect sense to us. The same theme is applicable to the hero who is initially bewildered by the circumstances he had faced but at the end he turns out to be a happy man, in fact a lot better than what he actually was !!!

Who can buy this book ?

The reason why I rated this book below 4 is due to the belabouring of the author on the lifestyle of homeless people which appeared unnecessary to me. Apart from that the book had a very good story-line with essential elements mixed up to keep the reader engrossed. All the newbies and first-time readers can buy this book due to the simple usage of vocabulary. Also, voracious readers looking for a slight change of genre can opt for it.

KANE & ABEL

Author       :  Jeffrey Archer

My Rating :  4.3 / 5

Kane and Abel

My first book of Archer and most probably the lengthiest novel I had ever read. The best part of it is that the level of the language used is not too high and would be appealing to any moderate speaker. A story spanning around 60 years including the struggles,  challenges, love, success and revenge of two men, one a native to America and the other, a Polish immigrant starting from their childhood spirits to youthful ambitions and to old age regrets and wishes. The historical incidents of The Titanic, World-war 1, 1929 depression, World-war 2 along with the parallel presence of U.S presidents from Hoover to Kennedy keeps the novel interesting and gives a gripping read. I want to mention the highlights of the book:

The Harvard Debate:

One of the splendid part of book, where the issue of the debate is primarily between the quality of life benefits and sustainability benefits of capitalist and socialist ideologies respectively of which one of the two heroes is a part. Four people with four different styles of representing themselves, some conventional and some unconventional, some taking a good initiative and others giving a good conclusion, one of them who had let his emotional intelligence come in rather than rational thinking, one of them who logically attacks the political platform, one of them speaking well to the point and the other with a gentle and persuasive presentation. From the incantations of American radicalism to failure of democratic socialism, the debate had a lot of aspects covered along which makes it one of the striking features of the novel. I kept wondering what it would be like being a part of such an intellectual session !!!!

 Struggle of prisoners:

The second hero of the novel, a native to Poland struggles himself against the fear of death and apprehensive future who has been kept in the dungeons for three years by the Germans during the World-war 1, later captured by the Russians and taken to the prisoner camps faces many brutal treatments in his life and finally reaches America to begin his new career full of hope and optimism. The author sharply points to the dealings of the prisoner camps and the pains and humiliation faced by the Polish people from both the sides during the war conditions. Can you believe that combining the fatalities of both the world wars, Poland has the highest number of human loss more than any other country on the planet including Germans? Even I was not aware of it till reading the novel……!!!!!

The ’29 depression:

I first came across this terminology during the 2008 recession period and all that I knew was depression is the next stage of recession and the situation in 1929 was worse than what we were facing in the early 21st century. Never before has such an interest been invoked into me particularly while reading a novel, which made me to browse the social and economic conditions during the Great Depression and the factors which have lead to it and how the situation has been pulled back completely. The author, of course, highlighted the mental disturbances faced by people during the period where many cases have even ended up into miserable suicides, how people changed from something to nothing within a matter of days, heavy growth of unemployment and nevertheless the struggles of both the heroes to fight for themselves and their trusted ones. This phase of chronology acts as a key changing point to the rest of the novel where the two heroes actually meet each other in person.

Who can buy this book?

As the age of both the leading characters ranges from birth-death, this book would be suitable for all the age groups. Some readers wish that the novel should never end. For such voracious readers, the good news is that there is a sequel for this book named as ‘The Prodigal Daughter’. Even I am looking forward to read it at the first opportunity. If you are a reader who imagine yourself as one of the characters in the book, then go ahead because I bet this one will not disappoint you and that’s for sure.

CHANAKYA’S CHANT

Author – Ashwin Sanghi

My Rating –  4 / 5

History is the most fascinating thing when it comes to novels. I heard the name of Chanakya for the first time during a budget session being carried out by the finance minister of India, denoting him as an ace economist known till date. After reading the novel it appeared to me as if most of the Indian movies have been inspired from various themes of Chanakya’s biography such as revenge, fighting for justice, sacrificing love etc. The history of Chanakya interweaves with the politics of modern India suffering from religious differences, caste feeling and corruption. These two stories run parallel to each other, with the latter inheriting the ideologies of the former. I would like to mention the highlights of the book:

340 B.C:

The history has been effectively narrated as it deals with the tyranny of the lustrous emperor Dhanananda, who controlled the major portion of present day geography of India and who executes the innocent and revolutionary Chanak, father of Chanakya for his selfish needs. This marks as the beginning of the story, which is later followed by the journey of Chanakya to Taxila University, arguably the first established university in the entire world which graduated many students and princes from India, China, Korea and central Asian territories in various streams. The epic picks up its pace as Chanakya grows to the position of a teacher at the University. He believed that strength lies in unity and wanted to unify Bharat under an able emperor to protect the country from external forces. At a point of time I felt that I reopened my history book of 9th standard as I passed through the phase of the Greek hero Alexander’s invasion of Sindh defeating the powerful emperor Paurus in a battle and reinstalling him into the throne as an honour of his bravery shown in the battlefield. The later epic deals with how Chanakya succeeded in making Chandragupta Maurya, one of his trusted disciples as the emperor of unified Bharat using his cunning tactics.

For a brief period I wondered whether Chanakya was positive or negative. He misuse’s his childhood crush, asks his disciple to trap a princess under an illusion of being loved, play’s dirty political tricks in order to achieve his personal goal, but what keeps him positive throughout is the very goal which he wants to achieve.

Modern politics:

                                         The fiction part of this historical fiction begins when a man by name Gangasagar finds an ancient tabloid in Sanskrit language at the ruins of Pataliputra, the capital city of Chandragupta which contains the chant as mentioned in the title of the novel encrypted on it. He resembles the Chanakya character of ancient India. The character of Chandragupta is inherited by Chandinigupta, dramatically both Chandra and Chandini meaning the same word moon but surprisingly the latter being a female. Even this story gave me the same feeling that whether Gangasagar was a good or a bad guy. He forces Chandini to be single and never lets her to fall in permanent masculine relations. He deceives several people and never let them to grow in their political career after using their popularity. He involves in share-market scams, bribes several journalists, misuses the electoral voting machines and uses every dirty trick possible to bring his beloved and selected candidate Chandini closer to the throne of Prime minister of India.

I wonder what impression would Pakistani and Chinese citizens will have once they read this book, as it deals with the possible operations undertaken by RAW(Research and Analysis Wing) agents in the interiors of respective countries. Well Sanghi, though it is an open truth, you cannot tell it openly !!!

Women power:

                                     It appeared to me as if there was lust, prostitution and fornication in almost every chapter, both in ancient and modern India. Many downfalls of emperors and destruction of politicians are a result of these carnal desires. Though the author didn’t make any such statement, I realized that women are not only the positive power who result in the creation of humanity but can also be a negative power if they are misused or when their mental instability of control are taken as an advantage. After all, this is what we learn from history or literature……..a lesson !!!!

Who can buy this book ?

                                         I can assure you that this novel is not a history textbook. Actually, anybody can read this book irrespective of their age and gender but I recommend it to people who have a reasonable knowledge in politics as well as economics. Here, I don’t mean to say that you can’t enjoy this book if you don’t, but you can’t enjoy it to the maximum because the particular phase of novel where it deals with these aspects may turn out to be dry. If you want to witness the possible political change in India, then go ahead as this book provides a thrilling visual