A very Happy New Year!!!

So, here I am. Back with another “year in books” post. I didn’t think I’d be able to maintain a streak [of 2 years :-P].

Here’s a snap from Goodreads. I completed my reading challenge and that too over and above the target :hurray:.

Continuing with the post, summarizing my reviews for all these books and their stories. This time I won’t add the review text from goodreads since there are a lot of books and pasting the reviews here is just redundant. I might be recommending some books as well but this post is not a “what you should read in 2022” or any sort. Purely about what I read and how I felt.

First things first, here are my Five Stars of the year:

Apart from these, following are the ones I really want you to read if you haven’t already:

There are more. To be honest, I would want you to read my full reading list of 2021.

Let’s start in order of reading:

Maya Angelou: The Autobiographies: Six BBC Radio 4 DramatisationsMaya Angelou: The Autobiographies: Six BBC Radio 4 Dramatisations by Maya Angelou
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I came across a quote by Maya, from some social media post. Which reads:

"Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time."

I had made it my life’s motto. It’s been few years since I read it and have consciously tried to live through it. Since I was so inspired by the quote, a desire rose in my mind to get to know her better. I have recently got this interest in the biographies of the people I admire. It gives me a peak into their lives and to learn from them.

The whole biography is a collection of 6 books which covers her life in parts. I had already poured my heart out on Goodreads:

From the world I came, I didn’t know her, her work, her life. I only was aware of the author by one of her quotes, which is the life motto for me. It was recently when I thought of trying to know her better. Of course, a person whose one line, one message inspires you so much, shouldn’t you at least know where they came from, who they were, what life they lived? Hence this book.
I actually first picked the first part of the autobiography called, “I knew why the caged bird sings” and eventually found the collection of all the autobiographies.

The first part is a heart wrenching story. It is hard to believe that one who has seen such heinous phases of life could ever have said the words which fills me with so much inspiration and hope towards life. My admiration and respect just grows.

The second part, “Gather together in my name”, tells the story of her adolescence. She just keep inspiring with her, “bring it on” attitude. Being a mother at 17, she is trying to keep her life together while falling in and out of love. In this part, she also gets her name with which we know her now.

The third part “Singin’ and swingin’ and getting merry like christmas” is all about her going high on life. She sings, dances and travel the world. There are moments where she feels guilty of letting her child down but she makes up for it and is back to life.

The fourth part “The heart of a woman” is about her engagement in the social movements taking place for the upliftment of colored people and also her longest marriage till now. Which happens to be a heartbreaking affair as time passes. I love the way she just takes on whatever role that is required and keeps going on. At the same time she doesn’t loose her self esteem and knows when to walk out.

The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and ExtendedThe Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended by Jason Fung
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a health enthusiast. Yes, that is a very strange term. You can’t be a health enthusiast, it is a full time job to keep yourself healthy. But anyways, whatever term you would use. Two years back I had started experimenting with fasting for cleansing purposes, then with time I learnt that I could use fasting for maintaining body’s balance and also to control and reduce fat. Then I came across this book through a medium post and it was a journey you can read below.
Review on Goodreads

Tuesdays With Morrie: An old man, a young man, and life's greatest lessonTuesdays With Morrie: An old man, a young man, and life’s greatest lesson by Mitch Albom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A friend had recommended this book. We are book buddies I must say. It is a very sweet book. It was as if I was sitting in that one room where the old man is narrating the stories throughout the book. Some books are your comfort places, this is one such.
Review on Goodreads

GitanjaliGitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore
This one I had actually gifted to a friend and borrowed it to read. I felt I shouldn’t have read it in English. I couldn’t enjoy the book much. Wish to read it in the original language (Bengali) or Hindi someday.
I haven’t rated it yet since I really couldn’t take much out.

Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day LongYour Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long by David Rock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t remember how I came across this book. Perhaps from Principles: Life and Work book or some medium post. I must say, this was one of the best thing I came across last year. A very simple and easy to grasp productivity book. It introduces you to some really interesting things about your own brain that you can use to run a less anxious and more sorted life.
Review on Goodreads

Unhurried Tales: My Favourite NovellasUnhurried Tales: My Favourite Novellas by Ruskin Bond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ruskin Bond. I had just heard of him and his stories being touching and nostalgic. So for my 25th birthday’s gifts when I was taken to a book store, I picked this up. Each story is close to my heart now. I have lived through each one of them in my head. Every now and then, especially whenever I hear the name “Mussoorie”, I get reminded of these stories. These stories live with me.
Review on Goodreads

High Performance DjangoHigh Performance Django by Peter Baumgartner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, I am a Software Engineer and part of my job is to stay up to date with tech especially on scaling systems. It was recommended by my book buddy for preparing for system design interviews.


A crisp and useful primer on Scaling systems in Django. There’s a lot of common advice too which might apply generically on any production setup. They’ve also covered few tools and have used code examples to put the point across but haven’t gone too technical, eventually being able to convey the idea in an easy to grasp manner.
On a side note, it can also help you prepare for that system design interview ;-).

Meri GitaMeri Gita by Devdutt Pattanaik
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I guess I came across this book from instagram or somewhere on social media where I follow Devdutt Pattanaik. I like his short explainers on mythology. I also liked his show on Epic TV where he used to demistify mythology. He has a different and open approach towards Hindu Mythology which interests my mind.
Review on Goodreads

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good LifeThe Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My book buddy had recommended this book and here is one of the instances where I dislike his choices. This was a complete waste moreover energy consuming because there was a set expectation and then it didn’t match. Even it instigates certain ideological conflict that I took some time to get it out of my head. I really had used the review to rant out my frustration of the book.
Review on Goodreads

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software CraftsmanshipClean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert C. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
48 notes & 100 highlights (All visible)

One of the bucket list item of my tech reading list and it’s worth it. Recommended by an X-colleague and a good friend, Timeless precious lessons on crafting good code is what this book is.

Rest from Goodreads:

The book is an exemplification of exactly what it is trying to convey. Each and every piece of suggestion/advice is well thought and summarises the years of experience the author holds. You can’t think so comprehensively unless you’ve been through the journey.
Everything that is covered here pushes the programmer towards one thing and that is treating code as their craft and giving the same attention, care and soul as a work of craft requires.

The book shows you how code is not just the language of computers, it is what you talk to people who use it. Programming is also a skill of effectively communicating through code and if done right, can save you from the perils of technical debt even before it knocks at your door.

The writing is done well. It has code examples for each instance so that different scenarios are conveyed to the point and don’t look like vague ideas/commandments. It requires you to work through those examples so that you don’t just skim through. Otherwise you don’t get it.

One glitch that I felt was some concepts only seemed applicable to Java. Given how alien Java is to me, those parts were difficult to stay connected to. But it is beautiful how author has made even an alien language seem familiar, and that is itself an example of how magical clean code can be.

To summarise: The book teaches you that being able to thoroughly communicate through code is a long journey and everyone could have their milestones because clean code is not about certain concepts or conventions, it’s so much more. It’s a change of mindset. Everyday as you grow as a human, you grow as a programmer too if you’re putting in the effort to write cleaner code. As the author says, “We should leave the code cleaner than it was when we found it.”

1 less star only for the Java stuff 🙈

Breath: The New Science of a Lost ArtBreath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Could I read anything better this year? I just love science books that helps me connect with my body better. This I don’t remember how I found (perhaps from another book) but I am sure I can never forget what I’ve learnt. Like last year I had found the gem about sleep, this year it’s breath and now I am as much conscious and “obsessed” about it.
Read the rest on Goodreads

RamrajyaRamrajya by Ashutosh Rana
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alternative take on the epic Ramayana? bring it on.

I just love to read different perspective on this epic. It is a way of scratching my brain and finding answers of the questions that the culture raises.
This book was gifted by, again, my book buddy. We used to have these arguments about the whole “Maryada Purushottam” idea about “Shree Rama”. I have been a critique of Rama’s take on expelling Sita and he had another angle to it. I, ofcourse, didn’t use to heed to him much and we used to settle our arguments with peace. He also told me about how the Uttara Kand is an addition by Tulsidas and it doesn’t exist in the original work by Rishi Valmiki.
When I read this book, two things happened. One, I partially changed sides on the argument, it was as if I had found a satisfying answer to my argument; Second, I became a fan of Ashutosh Rana. Phenomenal actor already, he is a brilliant writer too.
Find the review on Goodreads

The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and HappinessThe Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness by Morgan Housel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Found this gem on, actually I’m confused whether I found it in the instagram post of a friend or from another book. Anyways, whatever the source be, the book is really a gem. For the past two years I came across a lot of material on, why should I invest, how to invest, where to and so on but this book gives a contrast to all that stuff. While you need to have understanding and motivation for personal finance, you also need to understand the behavioural implications because at the end of the day, we humans are driven by that. Quite the right book to read in this stage of my financial journey.
Read the rest on Goodreads

Thinking, Fast and SlowThinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

No matter who recommended. This is a book, I guess the whole world [almost] knows about. A friend [the one who gifted me “Principles”] had introduced this to me and since then I have heard about it from many. And finally got a chance to read [/listen] this year. All productivity or behavioural books you’ll read, I am sure they’ve taken a point or two from this one.
Read the rest on Goodreads

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard P. Feynman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Recommended by the “Principles” friend, this book was one of the best biographies. IIRC, I had come across Mr. Feynman from some research or some science article or something and I was talking to my friend about him when he mentioned that he has this really good biography. I didn’t think it was this good and so engaging and funny.
I have idealised many people over the span of my life, some from my textbooks, some because my elders told me to. Mostly it was because they were portrayed as some great people who did great work. But as I am growing up and reading and getting to know more about them, a lot of that idealism has changed. I now follow people after getting to know about them by means of their writings, their interviews etc etc. I connect more with candor, simplicity, authenticity.
Mr. Feynmann is one such ideal for me now.
Read the rest on Goodreads

Killing the SS: The Hunt for the Worst War Criminals in History (Killing)Killing the SS: The Hunt for the Worst War Criminals in History by Bill O’Reilly
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have recently developed this interest in world history especially the secret services. As I last year read Mossad, I came across the name “Killing of SS” and this year I was so excited to read it. I had imagined about getting to know a lot about german history etc. Yes, I did get to know a lot. Before this book, I hadn’t bothered to read on the holocaust and after this book, I no more have the courage to. From that perspective, it has indeed given me a sneak peek into Germany. Other than that, it was a lot repetitive.
Read the rest on Goodreads

Apart from the above, I read many Hindi books this year. A total of 6. That’s the highest for a year.
All thanks to my sister and Kitabo. She used to get me books from there on rent for reading. Since hindi is my all time favourite, I enjoy reading and I finish faster. Almost all of these I finished in continuation, each taking ~3 days on average.
“Gaban”, although I bought from a bookstore. I was there to buy some hindi poems specifically of Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji but they were out of stock so I started looking around and stumbled upon it.
Then “Saye mein dhoop” is a favourite of my book buddy so he had recommended it sometime back. Recently I came to know that “Tu kisi rail si” is a poem of Dushyant Kumar and that was it. I bought the book. My favourite is “Ho gai hai peer parvat si” now.

So, this is it. This was a really good year in terms of reading. I hope to continue this way. Let’s see!