I happened to read some very thought-provoking books last year:
1. Shashi Tharoor’s The Great Indian Novel opens with “India is not an underdeveloped country, but a highly developed one in an advanced state of decay”. It is a masterpiece of writing in which he uses historical characters to depict the present (and future) state of Indian politics. If you’re not familiar with the Mahabharata, or Indian politics, you may be robbed of some of the multi-layered ironies. Even so, it is one of the best things a man has produced after a glass of whiskey touched his lips and his pen touched paper.
2. David Kushner’s Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture took me back on a journey in time that forced me to literally drop everything else and finish the book in a couple of sittings. It is the true story of the pioneers of cult PC games: id Software. It is also the story of how a group of men literally escaped reality by creating a universe of their own. For me it’s the most inspiring story ever of a programmer becoming a legend.
3. Last Seen in Lhasa: The Story of an Extraordinary Friendship in Modern Tibet by Claire Scobie is a well-written and vivid reminder of how an entire culture is being wiped out in our lifetime. Sadly they are not sitting on tons of oil or coal so nobody will come to “protect their sovereignty” or “defend democracy”. Even more sadly, India, being in a position of influence, is unable to make up its mind.
4. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: Figured I’d read this classic before it came true and became banned.
5. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell: I knew the basic theory, but I read this book more because I’m a big fan on Malcolm Gladwell’s writing. His storytelling is paralleled only by greats such as Asimov. Pure gold.