Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Thinkers of the East - Idries Shah

Studies in Experientialism
Thinkers of the East is a collection of anecdotes and ‘parables in action’ illustrating the eminently practical and lucid approach of Eastern Dervish teachers.
Distilled from the teachings of more than one hundred sages in three continents, this material stresses the experimental rather than the theoretical – and it is that characteristic of Sufi study which provides its impact and vitality.
The emphasis of Thinkers of the East contrasts sharply with the Western concept of the East as a place of theory without practice, or thought without action.
The book’s author, Idries Shah, says ‘Without direct experience of such teaching, or at least a direct recording of it, I cannot see how Eastern thought can ever be understood’.
[Source: http://www.idriesshahfoundation.org/books/thinkers-of-the-east]

 My Comments
There are over 150 short pieces of anecdotes and parables in this book dealing with various subjects (See below). Most of them convey very deep and subtle meaning which forces you to introspect. But there were several stories that I could not really understand. Wish the author had provided  annotations along with the stories  for the readers to appreciate them better. But  then any attempt to explain the underlying the teachings would defeat the purpose of experience and may not convey the entire meaning. Therefore I think it is good that the interpretation is left to the reader.

Goodreads Rating - 4.37 out of 5 ( 79 Ratings)

Subjects Dealt With in Thinkers of the East (click on the image to enlarge)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Third Man in Havana - Tom Rodwell

Finding the Heart of Cricket in the World's Most Unlikely Places
An uplifting tale of cricket – but not as you know it – making a difference in far-flung parts of the world.
When the author Tom Rodwell embarked on a cricketing tour of India, he had only thought of the game as great fun. But the simple joy of the local street kids when his team donated their kit to them made him realize that it could be more than that.
For six years Tom Rodwell ran cricketing programmes from Cuba to Zimbabwe, attempting to soothe the world’s ills with the curiously English balm known as cricket. 
Touching, amusing and imbued with a deep love of the game, Third Man in Havana documents the characters and experiences Rodwell encountered, such as Guantanamo Cricket Club opening bowler, Stalin, who perhaps unsurprisingly didn’t take kindly to his LBW appeal being rejected in Cuba’s first ever match against an England XI. 
From Beersheva Cricket Club pavilion in Israel – a converted nuclear bomb shelter, useful in the face of Hamas’ regular rocket attacks – to a game of ‘tapeball’ cricket with ex-Tamil Tiger child soldiers behind barbed wire in Sri Lanka, Rodwell discovers that the heart of the game is beating fast in countries more used to conflict than cricket.  
Third Man in Havana is a wonderfully positive story, revealing that the spirit of cricket is alive and well.
[Based on the book description on the book jacket and  Amazon.com]

 My Comments
Entertaining book written in a humorous vein. The impact of cricket matches on the communities could have been more elaborated upon. Nevertheless a good book to read for cricket lovers and people with the sense of social responsibility.

Goodreads Rating - 3.17 out of 5 ( 6 Ratings)
Buy the Kindle book version.
(Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones and tablets.)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu - Derek Lin (Translator and Annotator)

The enduring wisdom of the Tao Te Ching can become a companion for your own spiritual journey.
Reportedly written by a sage named Lao Tzu over 2,500 years ago, the Tao Te Ching is one of the most succinct and yet among the most profound spiritual texts ever written. 
Short enough to read in an afternoon, subtle enough to study for a lifetime, the Tao Te Ching distills into razor-sharp poetry centuries of spiritual inquiry into the Tao the "Way" of the natural world around us that reveals the ultimate organizing principle of the universe.
Derek Lin's insightful commentary, along with his new translation from the original Chinese a translation that sets a whole new standard for accuracy will inspire your spiritual journey and enrich your everyday life.
It highlights the Tao Te Ching s insights on simplicity, balance, and learning from the paradoxical truths you can see all around you: finding strength through flexibility (because bamboo bends, it is tough to break); achieving goals by transcending obstacles (water simply flows around rocks on its way to the sea); believing that small changes bring powerful results (a sapling, in time, grows into a towering tree).
Now you can experience the wisdom and power of Lao Tzu s words even if you have no previous knowledge of the Tao Te Ching. 
Insightful yet unobtrusive commentary that describes helpful historical background, explains the Tao Te Ching s poetic imagery, and elucidates the ancient Taoist wisdom that will speak to your life today and energize your spiritual quest."
[Source: Back Cover of the Book]

 My Comments
There are very few books which I rate 5 out of 5. This book is one such book. 
I am astounded by the wisdom of the ancients which holds true even in modern times.
Though Tao is something which has to be experienced not explained, the author of this book has succeeded to a great extent in providing us excellent pointers towards Tao.
Felt sad to see that such a priceless book had no buyers  and was being sold in a clearance sale at 50 % discount for Rs. 99 when I bought it.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Shroud for a Nightingale - P.D. James

Hailed as “mystery at its best” by The New York Times, Shroud for a Nightingale is the fourth book in bestselling author P.D. James’s Adam Dalgliesh mystery series.
The young women of Nightingale House are there to learn to nurse and comfort the suffering. 

But when one of the students plays patient in a demonstration of nursing skills, she is horribly, brutally killed. 
Another student dies equally mysteriously, and it is up to Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard to unmask a killer who has decided to prescribe murder as the cure for all ills. 
Two student nurses lie dead, the great hospital nursing school of Nightingale House is shadowed with terror, and a secret medical world of sex, shame, and scandal is about to be exposed.
 It is the job of Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard to probe even deeper into the macabre mystery and unmask a killer who operates as skillfully as a surgeon -- before the epidemic of evil gets completely out of hand 
[Source: Amazon.com]

 My Comments
This is the first book by P.D. James which I read.
I was expecting the story  to be in Agatha Christie mold, but found it to be different. The characters and situations are more realistic and down-to-earth. I did not find the plot and suspense build-up  as good as the ones in Agatha Christie books. But I won't mind reading a few more Adam Dalgliesh mysteries.
Invite anyone interested in this genre to try this book out too.

Goodreads Rating - 4.05 out of 5 ( 12376 Ratings)
Buy the Kindle book version.
(Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones and tablets.)