Book Review – “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator” by Edwin Lefevre

Title: Reminiscences of a Stock Operator

Author: Edwin Lefevre

Published: 1923

Number of Pages: 308

Price: Kindle – Rs. 60, Paperback – Rs. 890 (Amazon.in)

My rating: 3/5

This disguised biography of Jesse Livermore has been highly recommended by stock market pundits over the years. One can see why, given the fact that the observations about human nature and stock trading ring true almost a century after the book was written and first published.

What however might make this a cumbersome read is the fact that most of the practices and anecdotes mentioned here are no longer relevant today. Institutions have been replaced and there are strict rules against “manipulating” stocks.

The book does give you a glimpse into the kind of courage and daring required to make big bets in the stock market. Apart from that, for the general learning, I recommend reading through the quotes from the book on Goodreads.

Read more about ‘Reminiscences of a Stock Operator’ on Goodreads. Buy the book here.

Advertisements

Book Review – “The Audacity of Hope” by Barack Obama

Title: The Audacity of Hope

Author: Barack Obama

Published: 2008

Number of Pages: 375

Price: Rs. 325 (Amazon.in)

My rating: 4/5

When Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States of America, he kindled hope not only in America but across the world. This book outlines the basis of that hope.

Obama argues that in spite of their differences, Americans want the same basic things: jobs, good education for their children and a safe, free environment. And then there are the challenges created by the ideological differences between the two major political parties, the manner in which laws are created and how the legislature works. Not to mention the social and economic challenges brought on by globalization. In ‘The Audacity of Hope’, Obama confesses to not knowing all the answers but does outline a road-map that he says can take everyone ahead.

What I particularly liked about this book are the lucidly explained ideas. Even as someone has never followed American politics in great detail, I was able to grasp most of what was being explained about the legislature. This isn’t a book heavy with details and complexities of how the legislature works but gives us a peek into the lives of U.S. Senators and how they try to align their personal, political and national interests.

I would also say that this is not necessarily an ‘American’ book. The challenges that Obama lists and the common aspirations of the people are a universal story and as applicable to us here in India as to the citizens of America.

Read more about ‘The Audacity of Hope’ on Goodreads. Buy the book here.

Book Review – “The Speed Reading Book” by Tony Buzan

Title: The Speed Reading Book

Author: Tony Buzan

Published: 2000

Number of Pages: 217

Price: Rs. 726 (Amazon.in)

My rating: 4/5

Tony Buzan lists out various techniques to speed read books, newspapers and magazines. Given that the book was written in 2000, there’s not much on how to speed read on mobile or computer screens.

Still, the book is helpful in order to get started on the speed reading journey. What I think is more important is to persist through all the techniques mentioned, which require regular practice and persistence. Scanning and skimming books and articles also might help to skip through portions which don’t necessarily help in building one’s knowledge base.

Overall verdict: definitely give this a read. I think of this book as a “building block” to reading other books and the benefits will start accumulating over a period of time.

Read more about ‘The Speed Reading Book’ on Goodreads. Buy the book here.

Book Review – “The Complete Guide to Memory Mastery” by Harry Lorayne

Book: The Complete Guide to Memory Mastery

Author: Harry Lorayne

Published: 2008

Number of Pages: 302

Price: Rs. 219 (Amazon.in)

My rating: 3/5

I have been wanting to read this book ever since I was in college. So to be able to finally persist and finish this book almost a decade later is a matter of no mean happiness.

Almost everyone I know wishes to have a better memory. More often than not, they tend to fumble over small things: little daily errands, remembering birthday and anniversaries, etc

What Harry Lorayne does in this book is give us little techniques that can aid us to remember things which we did not think were possible. For instance, the greatest help was linking numbers to words and remembering a mental image. It sounds complicated but is much simpler once you read it.

The book also describes various party tricks and also tricks to remember all the 52 cards in a pack; at one point, I do feel there is an overkill with the number of techniques he suggests. But I understand what he’s trying to do: give us a variety of options and let the reader choose whichever one works best for her.

The second half of the book, “The Secrets of Mind Power” feels more like a self-help book and I personally wasn’t interested in it at all. Still, I feel the first half of the book more than warrants the money one spends on it.

Read more about ‘The Complete Guide to Memory Mastery’ on Goodreads. Buy the book here.

Back (?)

I know I haven’t been running for a while now. The Airtel Hyderabad Marathon happened at the end of August (which, I must admit, I was very glad to have finished the Half Marathon in 2 hours 30 minutes in spite of absolutely no training since January), but since then, there have been many things that have been happening in life that have just prevented me from running.

(Sometimes, I think of it as a cycle: Do I run and relieve my stress or am I unable to shrug off my stress and find a way to go for a run early in the morning?)

However, I did manage to sneak in a 10k today morning. Felt good to be back on the road. Ran alone, and perhaps, I needed to, because it helped clear my mind.

 

Weekly Running Review -4th to 10th Jul 2016

I would like to make two observations about things I learnt from my running experience last year.

One: Acknowledge the ‘off-season’. For the hot and humid city of Calcutta, where humidity levels are easily more than 90%-95%, it doesn’t make much sense to run during March to June. Sure, some of my friends even finished 42 km training runs in this heat (with temperatures approximately in the 30-38 degrees Celsius range), but I’m not too certain that helps you as a runner/athlete. Unless you’re a professional who must compete in similarly trying conditions, I don’t think it is an exercise which aids you much. Hence, I did take these months off. I should have utilised this time to swim and/or go to the gym in the mornings and you can be certain this is a learning I’m to carry forward and improve on next year.

Two: I have now decided that I’m going to NOT run on days when I haven’t slept at least 6 hours. Or at least reduce such instances to a minimum. I’m all for giving up social night outs (hey, not that I had too many of those) so that I can focus on early morning runs. However, I’ve realised that running on just 3-4 hours of sleep, which I have done a lot of in the last year, leaves me exhausted (duh!) the next day. And as a result, work suffers. Not to mention the detrimental health effects. And I just cannot allow that to happen. Hence, I’ve decided that I’d rather NOT go for a run than spend the day moving about like a zombie.

The second of these two reasons is why I did not get many runs in during the last week. The only two days on which I did run were Saturday and Sunday because although I hadn’t slept enough even on these two days, I was sure I would be able to go home and crash for a couple of hours. Hence, here are the runs for the last week:

9th Jul (Sat) – 6 km easy run

10th Jul (Sun) – 10 km easy run

20160710

My friends and I after completing our 10 km run

New running season

Wow! 6 months have just flown past, haven’t they?

In fact, the last time I wrote a blog post, I hadn’t even completed my first marathon. Yes! I did it. I ran my first every full marathon at the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2016. I didn’t quite finish it as soon as I’d expected (5 hours 27 minutes), but what the heck, I did finish it and that in itself is a big thing.

What needs to be done next is improve.

I haven’t run any events after SCMM 2016. I was planning on going to Sikkim for the Running and Living 25k, but had to back out at the last moment since a friend who I was going with pulled out due to unforeseen circumstances. Tough luck.

Anyhow, I did run a couple of times in the interim, but it has just been very hot and humid here in Calcutta. Which is why I ran today morning because there have been some showers this last week, bringing down the temperature and the humidity levels. I managed to do a 10 km run, although I did have to take a few walking breaks. Still, felt good to be back to running with the buddies.

TSBC Top 10 of 2015

TSBC Top 10 Of 2015

As a part of the activity that The Sunday Book Club (TSBC) ran on Twitter (their Twitter handle is @tsbookclub), I put up a list of the top 10 books that I read in 2015. This is a random list and isn’t a ranking; simply those 10 books that brought me the most joy in the year gone past.

You can read my reviews of some of these books here:

My Salinger Year – Joanna Rakoff

Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime – Oscar Wilde

The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri

The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

Arjun: Without a Doubt – Dr. Sweety Shinde

One Part Woman – Perumal Murugan

It’s been a good year for running

2015 Running bibs

Phew!

Trust the process. The idea was to run as much as I could, to be healthy and being fit right throughout. I think I have more or less achieved that goal this year.

On to the numbers. Last year, I had set myself a target of running 520 kms (at an average of 10 kms per week), and fell woefully short. So this year’s target was 260 kms (at an average of 5 kms per week). Although not consistent, I have run 507 kms this year. Out of which 130-odd kms have been while participating in events.

The net result has been that I’ve had a wonderful running year. I’ve travelled to some beautiful places (Cherrapunjee, Srirangapatnam) and made some great runner friends in different cities and in my own city of Calcutta. And most importantly, I’ve become a better and stronger runner.

I do wish I had been able to write more blog posts about how the runs are going. I especially wanted to write about my experiences of running in Airtel Run For Education 21k, Puma Urban Stampede 10k and the Tata Steel Kolkata 25k. Thanks to these events, I’m ending this year on a high. It was easier to keep myself motivated and run in these well managed events that were organised here in Calcutta.

All this would have absolutely not been possible without the camaraderie of the members of Kolkata Running Squad, and especially the guidance of Vernon Morais. Thanks guys! Somewhere along the way, EACH ONE OF YOU has motivated me and pushed me to do better. You folks are the best. 🙂

Here’s looking to an even more wonderful 2016. Cheers!