Reading Round One
First Fiscal month of reading
If you’re new, welcome! I’m Arjun Agarwal and this is my newsletter. I hope it convinces you that reading books is the easiest way to spend an eternity in heaven.
So basically, I have added all the people from ‘Thirty under 30: The reading challenge you should do before you turn 30’ to my main newsletter. If you are from there, welcome.
Books Read: 27
Pages Read: 6200
Longest Book: Magnus Chase and The Sword Of Summer(500)
Shortest Book: The Gopi Diaries: Coming Home(91)
So I am five books behind my normal reading goal, as I haven’t been able to visit the library for a week cause my exams are going on. Also I keep forgetting to remind my dad to pick up the book he took and forgot in his workplace.
Hall of Fame
#5 Daily Inspiration From The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari (5/5)
This book is great. I had recommended Robin Sharma’s Who Will Cry When You Will Die in the 30 under Thirty project as well. The daily advice he shares is invaluable and like makes you feel motivated.
The book partly inspired me to do my own daily advice sort of thing. I do it on reddit at r/decidingtobebetter. I am planning to share the cumulation of advice from Jan 27 to Feb 27 on this newsletter on Feb 28.
Interested in reading the advice omnibus, subscribe to receive it in your inbox.
#4 Amulet: Escape from Lucien (5/5)
Amulet was one of the best series I read since I burned through the Death Note manga. It has twists, it has fantasy, it also has <mini-spoiler> sci-fi.
And of all the eight books(The ninth and final one is yet to be released), this is the only which made it to the top five and that is for good reason. It wraps up a lot of the loose ends from the earlier books and proficently and cleanly switches between the two parties. I don’t want to spoil too much but it is a (mostly) good series with very little bad points.
#3 48 Hour Startup (5/5)
Another classic book which I recommend to all who are interested in startups. Unpopular opinion: I like it better than The 7 Day Startup by Dan Norris.
I had read the book long ago, 2 years ago, but decided to re-read it again for research for a series on the newsletter about Starting up with low budget(100USD) and time(7 Days). Again, I don’t want to reveal too much of the book or the upcoming series so I’ll stop here.
#2 The Cartoon Guide to Physics (5/5)
So I study math and science for recreation and I decided to read a book on (comparitivly) basic science.
And was it a great read. The cartoons, the puns and the analogies were all great. Only if physics was taught in such a way in schools, we would have all be much well educated.
#1 The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (5/5)
I liked the sequel to Hitchhiker’s Guide better than the original. It is funny, it is witty, it is incredibly senseless and makes me question the meaning of life. Also it has something else going for it which is a nine letter word starting with n:
Hall of Shame
#5 Safe Cracking for Students (3/5)
So how should I say this without being rude, THIS WAS THE WORST THING TERRY DEARY HAS EVER WRITTEN. EVER.
Basically the book is about a bank robbery in the first bank in a small English town but that’s not all,
Their is this bussiness fraud backdrop going on regarding one partner cheating another partner for money
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL
Their is this double espionage going on among the crooks but, like a tv commercial, that not all.
Their are multiple viewpoint upto four in a single chapter.
You can see why it might have gotten convaluted due to the short length of 205 pages. If the book had been slightly longer, maybe additional 50-100 pages, it would have made it in the top
#4 Amulet: Firelight (3/5)
So for some reason Goodreads likes it. I don’t so it doesn’t matter what good reads thinks.
The series was a high-fantasy + science fiction; which is great.
Problem is, this book goes off track.
See, this is epic fantasy yes? A group of heroes in a fictional world, fighting to save their entire world from the big baddies? With strong elements of science fiction that is high powered fighting machines & self aware robots. It's a cool mix & it works well with the strong magical elements of the cursed animal people & the powers of the stones.
And then it suddenly throws in that the shadows & the stones' voice are aliens? Why? It seems totally bizarre and pointless. Why aliens? We had a great enough story going, what with a possessed King waging war against the rest of the planet! Was his stones' corruption not enough of a motivation?
It doesn't even make a lot of sense!
#3 100 First Prize Make It Yourself Science Fair Projects (2.5/5)
Ok, see this is an old book written for humans way younger than I am, with scientific knowledge way less than I have.
So keep in mind my rating is incredibly subjective, and that doesn’t mean that I hate this book, it just means that it was utterly useless.
So utterly useless that this eleven minute video by Mark Rober is better. At least one Avogadro constant times better…
#2 One Hundred Years of Solitude (2/5)
This is a very controversial pick. I don’t want to say anything bad about the very foundation of Encanto, a film I hold in very high regards. But here we are.
One Hundred Years of Solitude is not a great novel. In fact, I'm not even sure it qualifies as a novel at all. Rather it reads like a 450-page outline for a novel which accidentally got published instead of the finished product. Oops.
I am not trying to dispute that the story is interesting or imaginative, it surly is.
But what about dialogues, emotions, motivations and character arcs. By focusing on the external side of things, and by never allowing his characters to speak for themselves (the dialogue in the book amounts to about five pages, if that), Marquez keeps his reader from getting to know his characters, and from understanding why they do the things they do. The lack of characterisation is such that the story basically reads like an unchronological chronicle of deeds and events that go on for ever without any attempt at an explanation or psychological depth. And yes, they're interesting events but they're told with such emotional detachment that I honestly didn't care.
I kept on wishing that the author would focus on one Aureliano(there are 20 characters named Aureliano) but no.
And before someone argues that even Asimov did this, Asimov had dialogues and his world set up the rules way before the story started. It was like playing a game. Hundred Years of Solitude is the kind of book I would only and only re-read if I gain amnesia and forget how slow and boring read it was.
#1 Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1.5/5)
I am not gonna say that the entire book is rubbish and trash, its just not for me.
Also it is very, very canny that the first position in the Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame belongs to the same author.
Infinitely dull for long stretches, punctuated by brief flashes of humor and incomprehensibility, with an ending that's fairly amusing. Time well spent? No, not really. Recommended for lovers of dry British humor.
Thanks for reading,
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Comment below to tell me why I am very, very wrong about the Dirk Gently book.
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