Ashokamitran’s Ottran

April 22, 2021

It has been quite a while since I read a book in Tamil. And, I have almost forgotten the pleasures of reading Ashokamitran. While reading the book, I was often reminded of the experience of reading his other classic, 18-aavadu atchak kodu and the discussions I had about the book with my friend Ela. Fortunately, if you can not read Tamil, N Kalyan Raman has translated the book into English (titled Mole)! Strongly recommended! Have fun!!

Paul Steinhardt’s The second kind of impossible 

April 15, 2021

During my PhD days, even though I was not directly involved, quasicrystals, rational approximants and forbidden symmetries are all topics which were discussed often and fervently. For those of you who are interested, here is a nice interview, for example:

Profssor S Ranganathan on his fascination for quasicrystals

I also got to meet some of the people involved and interact — with Professor Eric Lord and Professor Alan Mackay, for example, just to mention a couple of names!

So, it was with great interest that I read Steinhardt’s book on the discovery of natural quasicrystals. It is written like a thriller and there is plenty of materials science that is woven with the story. It costs about Rs. 800 and odd on Amazon.in and I strongly recommend the book — for those of you who are interested in materials science and those who want to know what materials science is all about! Have fun!!!

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun

March 27, 2021

With genetic editing and artificial intelligence, humans are becoming more and more like machines (designed in the lab) and machines are becoming more and more like humans. Is this Dystopia or simply Animism? For answers, see Ishiguro’s deeply thoughtful new Klara and the Sun.

This is a tweet from Pico Iyer.

But great artists, like Ishiguro, are distinguished by their more expansive vision. I know that’s something of an old-fashioned conceit, as is the word, “masterpiece”; nevertheless, I’ll go for broke and call Klara and the Sun a masterpiece that will make you think about life, mortality, the saving grace of love: in short, the all of it.

This is Maureen Corrigan in NPR.

Corrigan’s review starts with “This is unberable”. At many places, it is! Moving and sad and a remarkable read! Strongly recommended!!

Janet Browne’s Darwin’s Origin of Species: a biography

March 18, 2021

I like reading about books and about the process of writing and reading; and, given that books have their own stories to tell, it is not a surprise that I loved reading the biography of Darwin’s Origin of Species. Browne has written a short book — about 150 pages; but it is packed with information which is presented in a lucid and interesting manner. Given that she has written what is probably one of the most authoritative biographies of Darwin (which has now gone onto my to-read pile), she is able to situate the Darwin, the process of his writing the book, other associated players and the book itself in the Victorian era rather nicely; she has also given, towards the end, a sort of an update on the book and its current status as a classic. Strongly recommended! I am sure this book will also make you go looking for not only Origin of species but also several others including his Beagle diary and autobiography.

Rebecca Roanhorse’s Black Sun

March 11, 2021

It was lots of fun and a very engaging read. Looking forward to the next two. Strongly recommended!

Elizabeth Strout’s Oliver Kitteridge

March 5, 2021

Even though I did not enjoy the book as much as I did the other two of Strout that I have read so far — Anything is possible and My name is Lucy Barton. I wanted to read this before reading Olive, Again. Having said that, the writing is sublime and so, it certainly is a couple of notches above average read. Recommended with some reservations!

Nnedi Okorafor’ Binti: triology 

February 25, 2021

Completed reading the book 2 (Home) and 3 (The night masquerade). Liked the second book the best!

Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti 

February 16, 2021

A short novella; not as great as I expected it to be — but I will try the other two volumes before I make up my mind.

Wendy Wood’s Good habits, bad habits: the science of making positive changes that stick 

February 7, 2021

A good read and a book full of tricks, tips and suggestions that are implementable. I am trying a few and will know in a few month’s time how successful I am in making and breaking habits. Recommended!

David Sumpter’s Ten equations that rule the world: and how you can use them too

February 6, 2021

A very racy read that describes everything from Bayesian analysis to neural networks and artificial intelligence with variance, and other such statistical concepts described along the way! I enjoyed reading it and recommend it strongly — for both the mathematically and non-mathematically inclined!