Sunday, March 22, 2009


Author: Bram Stoker
Published: 1897
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I first read this book some 30 years ago when I was in high school. But I hardly remembered the plot of the novel. Happened to read it once again a couple of weeks back.
It is a gripping story of 6 brave people banding together to fight and kill Dracula a blood sucking vampire. The spine-chilling exploits of Dracula are vividly described and so are the details of all the planning and preparation that went towards killing it. However I felt that after all this the narration is rather weak at the point in the novel where Dracula is actually killed. Dracula meets a tame death . But I believe that is the only way it could have been killed - in day time when it is most vulnerable and is resting inside a coffin. But on the whole it is a book worth reading at least once, if you like horror fiction.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Outwitting Writer's Block and Other Problems of the Pen

Author: Jenna Glatzer
Published: 2003
Publisher: The Lyons Press

Over the last 16 years my writing skills have been confined to preparing power point presentations and process documents. Ever since I joined the Toastmasters club last September, I have to write out my speeches before delivering them. I have also started blogging recently, writing book reviews in my blog. I also hope to write a book someday . On what ? Yet to decide ! I am sure this book which I picked up at Strand Book Festival at a bargain price of Rs. 175 ($3.5 vs the marked price of $14.95) will stand me in good stead in my writing ventures.

The book contains lots of tips and techniques for overcoming the writer's block. Just to enumerate a few - planning your writing, letting the ideas percolate, dealing with self-doubt and self-criticism of your writing, training your brain to write, relaxing, dealing with deadlines etc.

One technique among several others mentioned in the book that I can definitely vouch for by my experience is writing your draft on an ugly cheap notebook (real rough note book !) . Elegant and high priced notebooks makes you think that you have to write neatly and correctly. You don't feel like dirtying it with your scribblings. And that leads to the writer's block !
I need to try out other techniques. They seem doable.

The book is written in a conversational manner with lots of humor. It is pretty light read in that way , if you are interested in the subject of the book.

I only wish that all the tips and techniques were summarized in an appendix. Such an appendix would have made this review of mine even better. I really wanted to extract some good tips and put it here, but the absence of such an appendix made my job difficult. So I gave up the idea.

Nevertheless a must read for both a newbie and an experienced writer.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Gita Darshanam

Concept, Themes: Swami Srikantananda
Paintings: Purushotham Karanth
Commentary: Dr. K. Subramanyam
Published: 2003
Publisher: Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence, Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad

This excellently produced book contains a selection of 105 verses from Bhagavad Gita and a few Upanishads. Meaning of each verse is explained briefly followed by a lucid one page commentary . The theme of each verse and commentary is illustrated by a beautiful painting. The objective of this book as stated in the foreword by Swami Parmarthananda is to bring an awareness of the essence of great wisdom contained in Gita and other Upanishads to the children ,youth , foreigners and others who are interested in culture and heritage of India in a very simple and easy to understand manner. The book definitely meets this objective. Priced very economically at Rs 75 (approx. $1.5) , it is highly recommended for anyone interested in knowing about the essence of philosophy of Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads.
This is also available in online version at