October 9, 2017

Reading Before Bedtime

Yesterday being Sunday, I had a stupendous siesta. And due to that I could not go to sleep early at my regular time. So I started reading a book: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

This is the second book of Gladwell that I've started reading. First being Outliers.

The point of this post is the way I felt after reading a few pages of the book. Reading calmed my mind. After reading for an hour of so, my mind was lot more serene. On other days, I had this problem of not getting immediate sleep due to the constant chatter of my mind. But yesterday was totally different. I went to sleep easily and also got up early by half-an-hour than by regular days and still was feeling fresh.

While reading I observed that it relaxed my whole body too. In a way, it felt like meditation - away from all the notification and distraction world. It allowed me to connect with myself.

In a way, reading before bedtime is a good habit to cultivate.

June 11, 2017

Book: Outliers

Recently I came across this Amazon company named Audible. Audible sells digital audio books, TV Programs and magazines. To give it a try, as it was free for the first month or so, I downloaded it on my iPhone and was going through the various titles. And then, somehow, I decided to download the audio book: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

Listening to a book is altogether a different experience. And to listen a book on Success and its various factors, requires thorough attention. It's not as easy as listening to songs on your phone.

Anyway, I started listening to the Audio of Outliers. The book was narrated by Gladwell himself. And I must say that I loved his book.

Gladwell is an amazing storyteller and he captivates you with his resourceful topics ranging from hockey players to plane crashes. If you thought that success is all about hardwork; then you're wrong. Success has various factors along with hardwork. It has to do a lot with your upbringing, the place where you're from, you birth-date, the opportunities that come along the way and much more.
"Success is not a random act. It arises out of a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities."
Gladwell takes us to an amazing journey of what makes the outliers; outliers. As he says, the purpose of the book Outliers:
 "It's not enough to ask what successful people are like. [...] It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn't."
The book starts with the process of selection of Canadian Hockey players and why the players who're born in the first quarter of the year are more successful than those that are born later quarters of the same year. Age is a differentiating factor for selection in Canadian Hockey. A boy who is born on 1st January, 1998 and a boy who is born on 1st December, 1998; both get selected to the same team as per the selection process. But the one born in January is more stronger and powerful and has an added advantage of almost a year of practice than the one who is born in the last quarter of the same year.

At the core of the book, Gladwell emphasizes the rule of 10,000 hours. That's the number of hours of practice you need to be an expert in the field of your choice. He supports this rule with various examples from Beatles to Bill Gates.
“Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good.”
He also explains how demography and culture plays an important role in getting success; and failure as well.

In short; Outliers is a compelling read on why few people succeed and why few fail - thought from altogether new perspectives and filled with varied examples.

A few quotes I liked from Outliers:
“We prematurely write off people as failures. We are too much in awe of those who succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail.”
“It's not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It's whether or not our work fulfills us. Being a teacher is meaningful."
“Achievement is talent plus preparation” 
“No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich.”

June 10, 2017

Book: When Breath Becomes Air

I came across this book while reading Bill Gates blog where he shares the books he has read.

And then I ordered it and read it within 2 days. And I must say, this book left me in tears.

Paul Kalanithi, the writer of the book was a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

I've always enjoyed stories from the medical field, about their training and about the massive work they have to do.

But apart from his medical training and the intricacies of neurosurgery, what catches the readers eye is how Paul tries to find the answer to the question about life - What makes this life worth living?
Don’t think I ever spent a minute of any day wondering why I did this work, or whether it was worth it. The call to protect life—and not merely life but another’s identity; it is perhaps not too much to say another’s soul—was obvious in its sacredness. Before operating on a patient’s brain, I realized, I must first understand his mind: his identity, his values, what makes his life worth living, and what devastation makes it reasonable to let that life end. The cost of my dedication to succeed was high, and the ineluctable failures brought me nearly unbearable guilt. Those burdens are what make medicine holy and wholly impossible: in taking up another’s cross, one must sometimes get crushed by the weight.
What's more is he brings to us the stories of him as a patient with indomitable strength, a loving husband, a book lover and a writer.

And then the reader is engulfed with emotions when Paul and his wife, Lucy, decide to have a child despite Kalanithi's diagnosis. It's impossible to read it without getting choked. Here's a conversation between Paul and Lucy.
“Will having a newborn distract from the time we have together?” she asked. “Don’t you think saying goodbye to your child will make your death more painful?”
“Wouldn’t it be great if it did?” I said. Lucy and I both felt that life wasn’t about avoiding suffering.”
The book is also a must read for all the budding doctors. Here's a small excerpt in the form of advice:
“The physician’s duty is not to stave off death or return patients to their old lives, but to take into our arms a patient and family whose lives have disintegrated and work until they can stand back up and face, and make sense of, their own existence.”
I would like to end this post with Paul's thought on life and death:
“Everyone succumbs to finitude. I suspect I am not the only one who reaches this pluperfect state. Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described, hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed.”
I would like to read this book again sometime.