Tagged: books

Post-its in books

Its ironic that that [[http://www.lifehack.org/|Lifehack]] is going around [[http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/advice-for-students-twenty-uses-for-a-post-it-note.html|telling students]] that some of the best uses of Post-its are to use them as bookmarks and to mark passages in books. Ironic because most libraries tend to have //very// strong views **against** Post-its usage. Here’s a sample:

Though they are easy to use and may be removed from most paper surfaces, DON’T be tempted to use them in books. These seemingly harmless “markers” leave behind their adhesive, even when removed immediately. The adhesive hardens and leaves a film that becomes acidic. This results in eventual discoloration and brittleness of the paper. They were designed for short-term application to expendable documents and have no place being used on permanent records and books.

Although these notes seem harmless, the glue they use is not acid-free, and can harm the books. Also, pages can be torn easily when the notes are removed. If you need to bookmark certain pages, we ask that you use paper or thin cardboard bookmarks.

We frequently point out to readers that they should not stick adhesive notes into our books. The readers are usually surprised because they believe them to be harmless. Any brand of mildly-adhesive repositional-note presents us with problems. Firstly, the notes can get trapped when pages are turned and the text gets ripped along the shear line at the edge of the notelet. Secondly, the mild adhesive is strong enough to remove the nap from fine antique papers and lift the print off the page. Thirdly, the notes were not designed by Conservation staff thinking about books that will be kept for centuries. And our conservators are concerned that the residual glue and chemicals, deposited on the pages of books, will eventually discolour or chemically change the paper.

Maybe you want to revise your list Lifehack? Or atleast give a disclaimer?

Iacocca: A frank autobiography

Iacocca: An Autobiography

Rating: 4 out of 5

Author: Lee Iacocca

Year: 1986

Publisher: Bantam

ISBN: 0553251473

I recently finished reading //Iacocca: An Autobiography// — I had earlier heard about the book (and Iacocca for that matter) when [[http://nakulmandan.blogspot.com|Nakul]] had read it back at IITK. But even then I didn’t really know who Iacocca was. Infact, I didn’t even know the book had to do with the automobile industry!

I really enjoyed reading the book though. Iacocca doesn’t use fancy words, but he’s straight forward and earnest. And he manages to be funny and satirical in some places.

For those who don’t know about Iacocca, here’s an extremely brief history: he worked at Ford for almost 30 years, the last 8 of which he was President of Ford. Then one fine day, Henry Ford Jr. fired Iacocca. Soon after, Iacocca joined Chrysler, the third of the big 3 auto makers in the US (the other company being GM, which Iacocca often likens to a country unto itself). At that time, Chrysler wasn’t really doing so well. In the years that followed, the country witnessed one of the greatest economic dramas in history as Chrysler struggled to get back on its feet. This book is Iacocca’s story as he moves from Ford to Chryslter, his triumphs and tribulations as he leads a sick company from pits to profit.

For me the book was interesting in multiple dimensions. First of all, I didn’t really know much about the Chrysler saga until I read the book, so it was just good from a general knowledge perspective. Secondly, there’s something humbling in the way Iacocca tells his story. I mean here’s this guy who was basically the top man at two of the biggest auto makers in the US for long periods of time. He was even rumored to be contesting for Presidency at one point! But the way he talks about his experiences and his pain and his struggles and his anger (he makes no effort to hide the fact that he hated Henry Ford Jr. for what he did for him), it comes across as a very honest and down-to-earth effort and I really appreciate that.

Of course there are always two sides to a story, and perhaps there’s Henry Ford’s side to this story as well. But I think the book remains a good read nonetheless.



Rating: 4 out of 5

Author: Hermann Hesse

Year: 1981

Publisher: Bantam Classics

ISBN: 0553208845

The best thing about Siddhartha is that its a very small book — I’m not sure I would have been able to digest a much longer book of similar “density”. There are lot of ideas packed into the 150 or so pages. Herman Hesse is a Nobel Laureate in Literature, so naturally my expectations going into the book were high. But what really intrigued me about the book was that two of my friends who had read the book highly recommended it saying that “it evoked emotions that they could not put down in words”.

True enough. Siddhartha is a book about a young Brahmin’s life, as he tries to find enlightenment. Its a book about life and the many questions that all of us keep thinking about but never dare to ask ourselves. What is the purpose of our lives? What is true happiness? How does one find peace — complete and final, devoid of any desires or attachments. And so on.

Needless to add, the book can be a little disillusionary. And perhaps inspiring, depending on your point of view. But no matter what your stand is, it certainly is thought provoking. Different people may take away different things from the book. Personally, the book just reinforced my belief that spiritual growth is a very personal concept. It can not be taught — no one can teach you to be free. Someone else’s “teachings” may help you get there, but eventually we have to find the way ourselves, convince ourselves, believe ourselves. Furthermore, no one person’s teachings will ever be perfect or complete or be “the” solution — each one of us has to find our own paths.

Highly recommended.

Tipping Point

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Rating: 3 out of 5

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Year: 2002

Publisher: Back Bay Books

ISBN: 0316346624

Much like a lot of other best sellers, I found the Tipping Point to be a little over-rated. Don’t get me wrong. Its a really good book and makes for an easy read. Infact, I think the book proves its point very well because its sales were itself in some sense an epidemic. But I would have enjoyed the book more had it not been surrounded by so much hype.

Anywho, coming back to the book. Tipping Point is a book about how social epidemics spread — be it the sudden popularity of Hush Puppies, the problem of teenage smoking, or the sudden drop in crime rate in New York city in the 90s. Malcolm Gladwell walks the audience through his “theory” on such phenomenon. The basic premise is that there are some underlying factors, some common patterns, some common actors and circumstances in each of these cases which make the epidemic “tip”.

As I said before, it makes for interesting read, though the book was verbose in parts. I liked the book because it offers a framework to look at such epidemics. While a lot of academic models exist to study such systems, I think this book makes the subject immediately accesible to the layman.

The Alchemist

The Alchemist

Rating: 4 out of 5

Author: Paulo Coelho

Year: 2006

Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco

ISBN: 0061122416

This book was given to me by a good friend of mine a couple of days back. I was told that its a really simple book with a lot to read between the lines. While I was reading the book, I asked a couple of other friends what they thought about the book, and I got mixed reviews. A couple of people thought that the book was //too// simplistic, too naive in some sense. Not a lot of depth or subtlety. Some remembered it as a fable. Some thought it was cute and simple, but nothing more. Some didn’t remember it much, so not very memorable or impressive.

Anyways, I’d been really lagging behind my reading so I tried to finish the book quickly. Which was not hard because its a short book and a really easy read. As you may know, The Alchemist is the story of a boy — a young shepherd — and his journey to find a treasure. His travels take him across Africa, all the way to Egypt, and en route he meets a lot of people who shape his life — a gypsy woman, a crystal merchant, an Englishman, and of couse, an alchemist.

Two things stood out in the book:
* it paints a really simple picture of the world. In some ways it reminds me of [[wp>Gita|the Gita]] — all situations, all dilemmas can be distilled to some basic questions, and those basic questions usually have equally basic answers. So the world is more black-and-white rather than grey. Most of the emotions depicted in the book are pure and intense — be it love, or fear.
* the recurring theme in the book is going after your //Personal Legend// and being able to speak the //Language of the World//. These concepts haven’t been laid out concretely in the book — instead Paulo Coelho tries to build up the concept using allusions and incidents. Thats one thing I really liked about the book. Since not a whole lot has been laid out as far as the philosophical issues go, its very open to interpretation. In some sense, as you read the book, you will build up your own concept of a Personal Legend and the Language of the World. For some of us, Language of the World may simply mean science — unquestionable, universal truth. For others, it may be something much more abstract, much more amorphous, such as [[wp>Gaia_philosophy|the Gaia philosophy]].

I liked the book because its uplifting. It fills me with hope and courage. And above all, it tells me that I should never stop dreaming. I like the Introduction by Paulo where he is talking about the four things that stand in the way of our personal calling. And so true:
* We grow up being told that pretty much everything is impossible to do
* We are afraid of losing our loved ones in pursuit of our dreams
* We are afraid of failures
* “the fear of realizing the dream for which we fought all our lives”