Natural Causes: Life, Death and the Illusion of Control

Natural Causes: Life, Death and the Illusion of Control provides an interesting account of how cancer can affect a human being by underlining this reality that a person can end up with an uncertain future because of a health issue, in spite of having led a healthy life. This is owing to ‘macrophages’ – white blood cells which hold the possibility to create blood vessels that sustain or push around tumors; macrophages basically increase cancer cells in a person’s body. In my outlook, the message regarding cancer which the book sends out is quite morbid and disheartening – that advances in medicine, such as examinations to catch a disease and stop it at its tracks, are not always successful in doing so. And not just that, the book also tries to compel you to miserably accept that death is a natural course of life which can happen too soon to a person that no health ritual, such as eating right, could have turned around.

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A Piglet Called Truffle

The book is about a piglet called Truffle and it holds a very emotional story. Truffle was saved by a girl called Jasmine, whose parents work as a vet and a farmer. But after Truffle is rescued and looked after by Jasmine, uncertainty brews over whether or not the piglet can remain with Jasmine – this is where the story turns plain barbaric; what would have been better is if Truffle could somehow remain with the girl who saved the little pig from almost dying. Also, because the story is so emotional in nature, it is quite surprising that the book is meant to be one for children – the tale is quite mature for that.

 

When Engineering Becomes Practical

Great books on the impact of engineering

Engineering is about the future. It is about the invention of products, which can aid humans in their daily lives. Three books brilliantly portray this practicality associated with engineering and how it always helps humanity to move from primitive ways.

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future

Technology could in the future put added pressure on both the middle class and the working class, as robots emerge as workers of a superior quality than humans. Professions, such as journalism, could also be affected and all this is supposed to happen as consumer culture takes center stage. The book presents alternating realities: one where technology will not harm and one where it could. It’s an interesting take on the grim realities that sometimes must be contemplated because of human inventions.

The Design Of Everyday Things

The book intelligently suggests that the aim of product design should be to simplify the design of an object. And whilst it does so, the object should provide great practicality in use. The book also explores the relationship that human psychology has with the design of products, which we make use of in our daily lives – great product design should most definitely be appreciated for simplifying lives and helping out with saving lots of time.

Longitude

The man behind the marine chronometer – John Harrison, had spent forty long years to build the timekeeping device. Previous to that invention, measuring longitude had always proven a very difficult experience for sailors – they couldn’t find any appropriate way to navigate seas and as such, had gotten lost pretty soon. John had managed to save the day, in the end, when he, rather fearlessly, went against the tide and thought of creating a mechanical device to determine longitude, when big names in science, such as Issac Newton had instead opted to work with astronomical concepts.

The Lincoln Lawyer

Capsule Review

In The Lincoln Lawyer, the leading character is a lawyer called Michael Heller, who trades his principles with legal representation of prostitutes, drug dealers, con artists and likes, and practices from his Lincoln Town Car. Michael’s perspective on the law is that it aims to manipulate and result in a settlement – trouble strikes when Michael chooses to defend a rich playboy who claims he is innocent but has still been arrested for physically attacking a woman from a bar (that he had picked up). The book is a thrilling take on the contemporary law medium in the United States but what really makes it compelling is the protagonist, who is such a perplexing man, with very unique shades of character – Heller isn’t easy to connect with but it is still somehow tough to resist rooting for him because Heller has a humane side to him, which appeals and manages to soften the otherwise largely practical environment in Michael Connelly’s book.

The Break

Capsule Review

Marian Keyes’ latest novel is a wonderful story about two people, who have been together for a very long time, but then suddenly take a break from the relationship. The two protagonists in the story, Amy and Hugh, lead perfectly normal lives until the brief separation, because after it everything just goes topsy-turvy: Hugh, suffering from a midlife crisis, jets off to Southeast Asia, and so amidst ideas of women in bikinis there is also the possibility Hugh will end up sleeping with women, whilst Amy falls into a romantic trapping, with another man she’s known for quite some time now. The book provides a mature look into a relationship falling apart but the circumstances which threaten the marriage feel surprisingly close to you – it’s really hard to not sympathize with Amy here over how nerve-wracking that experience of having Hugh deal with a midlife crisis in that way exactly, must be like. What I liked about the book was that when the mistakes are dusted away with, the comfort of the long relationship between Hugh and Amy still hooks the possibility that the relationship will return to its old ways once the troubles are truly over – very heartwarming.

Books On Classic Films

Many Hollywood films come out every once in a while that are so brilliant. But then big budget production houses also make the most epic of disasters, with their casting because one wrong look – as in, how the protagonist naturally looks so ugly, even when in character, in my opinion, makes it a film as something that’s not worth my time at all.

It’s pure idiocy on the film crew’s part and it happens quite frequently because it seems to be a very difficult job of always getting the look right – sieving through, what’s great and what’s not, for seasoned casting episodes, clearly don’t always work. Luckily, that’s not what always happens and a good place to start with are a revisitation of some of my favourite classics.

Poster Pack: Classic Hollywood Films: A Collection of Classic Posters

Beautiful posters

The book is a beautiful collection of posters of some classic Hollywood films, like Gone with the Wind and Singin’ in the Rain. The art that was associated with old Hollywood movie posters is nowadays really preserved in the vintage compartment of Hollywood. I am really tempted to call that concept of cinematic illustrations as the primary theme for movie posters ‘a lost art’ even though vintage works are also celebrations of a moment in time. Featuring stars in the posters range from Audrey Hepburn to Marilyn Monroe and the posters are all coloured reproductions, reflecting on an important chapter of film history.

The Lord of the Films: The Unofficial Guide to Tolkien’s Middle-Earth on the Big Screen

A look inside a modern Hollywood classic

The book is an exclusive look into Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of J R. R. Tolkien’s classic series. It provides a scene-by-scene look into the movie, The Lord of the Rings, coupled up with interviews with the filmmakers. The scenes are very detail-oriented and it has four sides: the first, visit’s the scene’s plot and action, the second is a behind-the-scenes look, the third is a look into the mistakes, and finally, the last is what the viewers’ perceptions were of the masterpiece(s). There is also coverage on the animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, and other interesting insights into the cinematic universe of the brilliant piece of fiction.

1000 Films to Change Your Life

A collection of ‘classic movies’, which explores the length and breath of human emotions

Time Out‘s selection of the 1000 films that can change the course of your life is an exploration of movies, that may generally be deemed as cult classics of some sort. It’s a pretty good assessment of what’s great and what’s not by fifty people, ranging from film-goers to film critics. The movies are explored through emotional themes, such as wonder, desire and exhilaration, and talks about classics, like Spirited Away, Singin’ in the Rain and The Wizard Of Oz.

A Good Indian Wife

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Two cultures and worlds apart

A Good Indian Wife explores the differences between American and Indian culture through numerous identities. The protagonist in the novel is a thirty-year-old Indian girl called Leila, who is married off to an Indian-American boy. When the story begins Leila works as a local teacher in a South Indian village – she teaches English, and because of her age is considered by her family as already too old to ever have a marriage. But then Neel arrives from the United States and although Leila, who has seen too many suitors come an go, thinks that Neel will be just the same, his family propose marrying the two off, which makes Leila’s family very happy because it’s almost as if this is an event they had thought would never come; after the marriage, Leila moves to San Francisco, with her husband.

Neel, meanwhile, comes across as an ideal-type of romantic Indian hero. He’s a handsome young boy, thirty-five-years-old, and works in a hospital as an anesthesiologist – he was actually very psyched about his life, until his marriage to Leila. Neel also has a tall blonde girlfriend, Caroline, in San Francisco, who he continues his romantic relationship with despite his marriage to Leila. Neel had to go back to his hometown because his grandfather was dying but then during the trip he was tricked into a marriage with Leila – Neel’s mother and aunt, during the trip to rural India, seem to be unaware of his relationship with Caroline because they consider him to be single and the only reason he gets married in India is because Neel’s fearful of disappointing his grandfather.

Neel promised himself he would divorce Leila soon after his grandfather had died, but Neel doesn’t. Neel’s trapped inside his traditional Indian identity, despite his character having overarched shades of modernity – Neel knows, all too well, his family would never accept Caroline as his bride. After Leila and Neel’s marriage, Neel does not touch his wife – she spends most nights and weekends by herself.

It makes for a good read to find Leila as a somewhat-independent young woman, with good looks and intelligence to boast, so it’s hardly surprising when Leila portrays that she’s got a vague idea about what her marriage is truly like, what it could really be, on the surface. Leila turns to a support group, as a result, she contemplates studying creative writing at Berkley and even confides in Neel’s best friend’s wife – he’s a Bengali but married to a white woman.

Everything complicates itself when Neel discovers Caroline’s family will never accept him – this kind of propels Neel to piece together another romantic story but with Leila instead. In the course of this, Leila becomes pregnant but Caroline is still waiting for Neel to divorce his wife so that the two can be together, which judging by what Caroline had in mind, is way past due already since this was supposed to happen after Neel’s grandfather had died.

Anne Cherian (the author of the novel) seems to write from her own Indian experiences – she’s originally from Jamshedpur (India), was also brought up there but resides in San Francisco now. The story brilliantly etches out both the Indian-American identity and the kind of experiences an Indian woman can have whilst living in the United States. It’s a superlative and traditional experience of two incompatible young people drowning their incompatibilities, and a good insight into Indian cultures (in the United States).