Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Ready Player One: A Novel



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Originally published: 16th Aug 2011
Authors: Ernest Cline
Page count: 374pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Crown Publishers
Subjects: Sci-Fi
Language: English
ISBN-10: 030788743X
ISBN-13: 9780307887436
Product Dimensions: Kindle eBook / Audiobook

100 Word Book Review:

Wade Watts, along with other global players, dedicated his life studying hidden puzzles. These puzzles are in the virtual world, and it is based on the creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. Individuals and teams, everyone is using all ways to win the final prize. In this narrative story, as the race drags on Wade needs to win in order to stay alive. At the end of the day, Wade needs to face the real world that he tried to turn away from.

Who should read:

Anyone who has a passion in gaming will enjoy this book thoroughly. From the hardware specifications, to the software requirements, this book is peppered with many IT lingos, concepts and terms. Common terms include, ‘experience points’, ‘level up’, ‘high score’. If you are a gamer, you will find these terms very familiar.

Who should NOT read:

If you are looking for romance, or something close to real life, please stay away from this book. It is not entirely according to the typical boy meets girl and fall in love while they go on dates. It is a complete story of how Wade overcome the game and life challenges. Surely it is not a romance story as that is not the focus.

Takeaway points:

Overall as a gamer myself, I find this book very appealing and comfortable to read. I finished it in one seating, immersed in the literary world that the book has described vividly. At times it brings me back to my younger days when I was gaming delirious, a little similar to the character (Wade) in the book.

About the Author

Ernest Cline is an internationally best-selling novelist, screenwriter, father, and full-time geek. He is the author of the novels Ready Player One and Armada and co-screenwriter of the film adaptation of Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg. His books have been published in over fifty countries and have spent more than 100 weeks on The New York Times Best Sellers list. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, a time-traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic video games.

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris

 

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Originally published: 11 January 2018
Page count: 288 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 4, 2018)
Subjects: Romance/History
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062797158
ISBN-13: 978-0062797155
Product Dimensions: Kindle eBook / Audiobook

100 Word Book Review:

Based on a true story, a powerful evocation of everyday horrors of life as a concentration camp prisoner. In the worst circumstances, there is no excuse for pessimism. In the test of extremes, being positive is still a choice. And even in hell, love can be found. The unspoken horrors of what humans are capable of reveal the unbreakable strength of what the human body can endure, physically and emotionally. This illuminates humanity greatest strength: Hope. Towards the end even with liberation, there are myriad of aftereffects and scars that will be etched and cast forever in this lifetime, permanently.

 

Who should read:

What is true love? To answer this question, reading this book might be a good start to it. While it will not give the full complete answer to the question, it captures the essential fundamental definition of love. Anyone in mood to read a love story, this is a good short book that is based on actual events.

No doubt it is a positive ending, the book gives a comprehensive coverage after the story ends. In this way, readers get to know what happens after that. It somewhats give a closure, a full picture of what happens after in the real. Unlike other romance stories, this is the real love story that brings tears and smiles.

 

Who should NOT read:

Perhaps the survivors of concentration camps or anyone who is not in the mood for romance stories in rough times. Not forgetting the faint hearts who cannot stand reading the gruelsome human experiments in camps. It is horrifying and shocking, almost like reading the proof of a living hell. It is painful, and hard to accept that humans as sentinels, can bring themselves to perform such cruel acts according to one’s volition.

 

Takeaway points:

Love is simple, love is sweet. It is what one can do for the other, in good and bad times. Love is not fair, never fair, and it is not a transaction of this for that, or to have a partner at someone’s beck or call. It is an eternal promise to each other, to pamper and care mutually, to converse casually in daily events, to have mutual support and rapport even in the simplest thing that one does not agree at all.

Where can we find love? In all places, in all ways. Which in this case, it is in the concentration camp, where it is almost the last place where love can be found. Yet, Lale and Gita proved us wrong. Love was found.

Personally, I really love this book, and I am glad that I picked this title. It reminded of my happier days. A good and easy book to read when I was travelling alone.

 

About the Author

Heather Morris is an Australian writer and social work administrator. For several years, while working in a large public hospital in Melbourne, she studied and wrote screenplays, one of which was optioned by an Academy Award-winning screenwriter in the US.

In 2003, Heather was introduced to an elderly man who ‘might just have a story worth telling’. The day she met Lale Sokolov changed both their lives, as their friendship grew and he embarked on a journey on self-scrutiny, entrusting the innermost details of his life during the Holocaust to her. Heather originally wrote Lale’s story as a screenplay – which ranked high in international competitions – before reshaping it into her debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Superfreakonomics – Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

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The New York Times best-selling Freakonomics was a worldwide sensation, selling over four million copies in thirty-five languages and changing the way we look at the world. Now, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner return with SuperFreakonomics, and fans and newcomers alike will find that the freakquel is even bolder, funnier, and more surprising than the first.

Four years in the making, SuperFreakonomics asks not only the tough questions, but the unexpected ones: What’s more dangerous, driving drunk or walking drunk? Why is chemotherapy prescribed so often if it’s so ineffective? Can a sex change boost your salary?

SuperFreakonomics challenges the way we think all over again, exploring the hidden side of everything with such questions as:

  1. How is a street prostitute like a department-store Santa?
  2. Why are doctors so bad at washing their hands?
  3. How much good do car seats do?
  4. What’s the best way to catch a terrorist?
  5. Did TV cause a rise in crime?
  6. What do hurricanes, heart attacks, and highway deaths have in common?
  7. Are people hard-wired for altruism or selfishness?
  8. Can eating kangaroo save the planet?
  9. Which adds more value: a pimp or a Realtor?

Levitt and Dubner mix smart thinking and great storytelling like no one else, whether investigating a solution to global warming or explaining why the price of oral sex has fallen so drastically. By examining how people respond to incentives, they show the world for what it really is – good, bad, ugly, and, in the final analysis, super freaky.

Freakonomics has been imitated many times over – but only now, with SuperFreakonomics, has it met its match.

When Breath Becomes Air

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Originally published: January 12, 2016
Page count: 231 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (January 12, 2016)
Subjects: Biography
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0812988418
ISBN-13: 978-0812988413
Product Dimensions: Kindle eBook available

100 Word Book Review:

A doleful recount of Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon’s last surviving years, the sudden transition of role from being a doctor treating the dying, to becoming the dying patient himself. As he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality. In the face of death, Paul went about the preparations, reflecting on choices, goals, his infant daughter and the continuity after his departure.

Who should read:

If you are looking for a deeper meaning of life, a serious view on the perpetual continuity in the face of death, reading this book may help to align your goals and seek what your answer to your question may be. It is a very practical book exploring the last days and months of a dying patient, who happens to be a doctor too.

Overall it is a good book exploring the feelings, emotions and the process of being sick, the pratical roles of doctor and patient. It is sad, yet beautiful. Bittersweet.

Who should NOT read:

On the contrary, if you are looking for some happy ending, some ‘everything is awesome regardless so’ theme of biography, do not try this book. It is sombre and serious in general even though the author has written in light humor, looking at daily things from amusing perspectives.

Takeaway points:

Life is simple, life is short for some. Sometimes things that are fated to be. No science, religion or philosophy can alter the course of fate. If it is meant to be, it is meant to be. Regardless how science have advanced and may cure the most deadly disease, it is a little beyond what even the best doctor can do.

About the Author

PAUL KALANITHI was a neurosurgeon and writer. He graduated from Stanford with a B.A. and M.A. in English literature and a B.A. in human biology. He earned an M.Phil in the history and philosophy of science and medicine from Cambridge and graduated cum laude from the Yale School of Medicine, where he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society. He returned to Stanford to complete his residency training in neurological surgery and a postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience, and received the American Academy of Neurological Surgery’s highest award for resident research. He died in March 2015. He is survived by his family, including his wife Lucy, and their daughter Elizabeth Acadia.

Chan Heart, Chan Mind

Chan Heart, Chan Mind: A Meditation on Serenity and Growth

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Originally published: 8 March 2016
Authors: Master Guojun (Author), Kenneth Wapner (Editor)
Page count: 176 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Wisdom Publications
Subjects: Philosophy, Religon
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1614292620
ISBN-13: 978-1614292623
Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches

100 Word Book Review:

Master Guojun narrates his life with his ordination master, Master Songnian to Chan Master Sheng Yen, documenting the major memories and lessons from his apprenticeship to being the present abbot of Mahabodhi Temple, Singapore. Each contemporary master has his own way of teaching and sharing. Through these experiences, he shares and educates readers basic Buddhism concepts, how simple things hold great meanings. A change in perspectives unfolds insights into the basic things performed in life. In the age of technology and instant gratification, Master Gunjun illustrates how Buddhism is a life philosophy, adaptable yet unbending, applicable to any situations.

Who should read:

Readers who are keen and curious of Buddhism, or interested to know how the daily life of a monk. Master Guojun keeps the narration simple in order to deliver the clearest message. Though this book, readers realise that some things in life is so much easier than it looks. And many of the times in life, it is the mentality and perspectives that complicates things, resulting in frustrations.

Who should NOT read:

For readers who are expecting a deeper and advanced explaination of Buddhism, this book will not be the right title. The book intends to bring forth an introduction to the uninitiated.

Takeaway points:

Life is simple, fall back to basics. Unhappiness, frustrations, anger, and all the negative emotions are unnecessary. It arises from inflexible perspectives which narrows the mind resulting in complications. To see is to not to see. Many things are not be viewed as its form itself.

About the Author

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

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Originally published: 1997
Original title: Чернобыльская молитва
Page count: 256 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Picador; 1 edition (April 18, 2006)
Subjects: Political Science
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312425848
ISBN-13: 978-0312425845
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches

Awards: National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction

100 Word Book Review:

An extremely depressing and devasting book that compiles 500 eyewitnesses, including firefighters, rescuers, cleanup crews, politicians, physicians, physicists and ordinary citizens over a period of 10 years. The author has effectively captured the details of misery, confusion and misinformation on the effects of radiation from the terrible disaster. From the narrations from various parties, it gives different experience and perspectives through the victims/survivors’ eyes. It is clear at that point of time that there was a horrible lack of information of radiation effects on humans. Lives were lost right after the explosion, and many, many, more after that.

Who should read:

Survivors who went through physical and mental hardships. People who been through crisis and fels that the world is ending. This books explores the though process of depression, survival and recovery. The possible things that can be done, and should be done for a gradual recovery.

Who should NOT read:

Readers who are expecting a happy story, should avoid this book at all costs! It documents the sufferings of the affected, the physical and mental torments and injuries due to radiation burns, and the lack of knowledge to handle radiation. There is no way it can be a happy story, no matter how the author writes it. It is indeed sad and depressing.

Takeaway points:

Science brings the best, and the worst to mankind. Knowledge is of paramount importance to ensure survival.

Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World

Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World

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Originally published: 18 September 18 2018
Original Title: Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World
Author: by Tom Wright (Author), Bradley Hope (Author)
Page count: 400 pages
Publisher: Hachette Books
Genre: Non-fiction
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0316436502
Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches | 635 grams

100 Word Book Review:

Descriptively, it traces and dissects the events that transpire from the beginnings to the massive international financial scandal till the present day. From interviews and third-party observations, it documents how Low used tricks and ways to achieve his aims, giving a glimpse into the Low’s mind, and explaining Jho Low’s modus operandi. This book does not simply include and involve Low himself. From Wynton Group to Najib to Otaiba and a myriad of celebrities, it focuses on every individual, every company and governments that have been, unfortunately, implicated in this unbelievable scam. A true-life thriller that reads like Hollywood movie.

Who should read:

People who loves financial thriller and mystery which remains unresolved. At the same time, those with some basic accounting knowledge and corporate structures, in terms of subsidiary and shell companies, will enjoy this book much more.

This is largely because 20% of the book discusses on the framework and layout of Jho Low’s thinkings, as well as execution. With the required knowledge, be it professional or academic background, reading the book feels almost like meeting Jho Low himself.

Who not read it:

Surely those who are seeking fictional or fantasy stories will be disappointed.

As much as the book indicates that any error is on the authors, the book is largely based on witnesses and observations. So it is very easy to believe that the accounts are true and accurate.

Lastly, perhaps those who have a grudge against 1MDB and other related parties. When such unresolved cases are still pending, there will be other sides of the story which are unaccounted for.

Takeaway point:

Greed has no boundaries, and some will go to great lengths to satisfy the insatiable wants.

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

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Originally published: 09 Feb 2016
Original Title: The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Author: John Perkins
Page count: 384 pages
Publisher: BERRETT-KOEHLER
Genre: Non-fiction
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1626566743
Product Dimensions:55 x 83 x 10mm | 498.95g

100 Word Book Review:

Personally I think business is just business, where willing parties cut deals together. The author describes his career in Seychelles, Honduras, Ecuador, Libya, Turkey, Western Europe, Vietnam, China, and, in perhaps the most unexpected and sinister development, the United States, where new EHMs (Economic Hit Man such as bankers, lobbyists, corporate executives) to con governments and the public submitting to policies that make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Yet author also provides hope, offering a detailed list of specific actions we can take to transform into a model that provides sustainable abundance for all. So not all is lost.

Who should read:

Readers who love spy stuffs, thriller and corporate covert missions will enjoy this book better.

Probably also suitable for those who are interested in solving corporate mystery, the one of the kind of the greatest and unspoken white collar crime.

Who should not read it:

People who are looking for gore and violence will be solely disappointed.

As much as there are some partial mentions of murder and ‘accidents’, this book does not divulge much on the bloody details.

Surely not for those who are seeking adrenaline pumping actions or fighting scenes.

Takeaway points

  • There is a blurred line between right or wrong. And to be able to discern right or wrong, it greatly depends on perspectives.
  • Governments which run like corporates are the most efficient and effective to achieve goals.
  • But is it justifiable at the costs of others?

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

 

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

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Originally published: 24 April 2017
Original Title: Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy
Author: Sheryl Sandberg, Adam Grant
Page count: 240 pages
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Non-fiction, Self Help, Psychology
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1524732684
Product Dimensions: 222 x 144 x 25 mm

Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Nonfiction (2017)

100 Word Book Review:

Sheryl opens up describing the grief and isolation in the wake of her husband’s sudden death. No proper farewells, no premonition nor physical indications of an end. Abrupt as it is, life goes on. Option B illustrates that deep within us, we all have resilience and adaptation. A dynamic evolutionary process that fits us to our current circumstances. While Sheryl was certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again, her psychologist friend Adam Grant guided her. Indeed, it is a sad book to read but this will help readers to seek the recovery strength within themselves.

Who should read:

Ironically, Option B is very suitable for those who are upset, depressed or despondent. The author been through possibly the lowest point in life one could ever be.

One may argue what she been through is worse than having suicidal thoughts. But this is not the point here. If anyone is upset and depressed for prolonged period of time, he or she should seek help. Of which the author did, and she is using herself as a living example to guide those in need too.

Who should not read:

Obviously readers who are expecting a happy story, or maybe a sad-first-then-happy-ending-story, should not read it.

Option B focuses quite a bit on the author’s feelings and emotional state. Unknowly, one will eventually feel equally depressed or probably even worse after that.

Also, the positive turn comes much later towards the end of the book. So it takes a bit of patience to get to that part.

Takeaway points:

  • Life is short, unexpected, a constant struggle
  • It is natural to feel sad, but it is important to snap out of it and recover.
  • Life goes on, and there are so much more.
  • Happy and sad things happen for a reason, and at times, happen unexpectedly without a reason too. And events that happen without a reason usually will have the greatest impact.

 

Sheryl Sandberg is chief operating officer at Facebook, overseeing the firm’s business operations. Prior to Facebook, Sheryl was vice president of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google, chief of staff for the United States Treasury Department

Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future

Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of Spacex and Tesla is Shaping Our Future

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Originally published: 19th May 2015
Original Title: Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future
Author: Ashlee Vance
Page count: 400 pages
Publisher: Ecco
Genre: Biography
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062301233
ISBN-13: 978-0062301239
Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 7.4 inches

100 Word Book Review:

SpaceX, Tesla, SolarCity, Paypal, and the recent The Boring Company are founded by South African Elon Musk. He is an entrepreneur and innovator who seeks to explore self-sustaining solutions, changing the world to be a better place. The book begins by documenting his difficult environment and rough childhood in South Africa. By 17, he finally moved to Canada which he desired very much. In a chronological order, along with management issues and engineering innovations, it reveals the turbulent personal life of Elon Musk, who called his estranged father ‘a terrible human being’. Overall, Elon prefers not speak about his personal life.

 

Who should read it:

Entrepreneurs who are in tech start ups looking for a role model to emulate and look up to. Not to mention, readers who are in admiration and respect of Elon Musk should read this book too. It gives a sneak peak to the man, his logic and his thinkings.

 

Who should NOT read it:

For readers who are totally NOT in to technology stuffs. Personally I think this book will rather bore you to death. If you are not keen in techs, or Elon Musk, pick up something else. It will save your life.

 

Takeaway points:

Invention is the creation of a solution to a need. It is a both innovation, knowledge and grit to make the dream into a reality. Elon is determined to make it happen, and his mindset, as well as mentality, allows great things to happen.

 

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