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Book Review of Contagious by Jonah Berger

Contagious_BookCoverWhy do somethings catch on, while others don’t? Why are some stories and songs more popular than others? Why is rumor and negativity more contagious than facts and positivity?

Jonah’s book, Contagious, highlights some of such viral content, and factors that help make an idea big / sell-able and infectious.

The six principles of contagiousness shared by Jonah focus on the simplicity, effectiveness and credibility of ideas that make it viral. Social Currency (social relevancy, resonance), Triggers (stimuli that prompt people to think about related things), Emotion (evoking connect in terms of emotion), Public (creating behavioral residue that sticks and is visible), Practical Value (monetary value and otherwise) – all wrapped in to Stories (creatively shared for the viral effect).

Smartly, the six principles form the acronym – STEPPS, and showcase “the underlying psychological and sociological processes behind the science of social transmission”.

Diving into each of the principles, as separate chapters, Jonah takes you on a splendid journey of different brands that made it big, solely on “personal recommendation”. Remember: people share things that make them look good to others.

Rich with stories as examples, the book is a good read for anyone and everyone, who aims to be viral in this digital age. As long as the content is useful, worthy, and smartly put using one or more STEPPS, you can harness social influence and be contagious!

Contagious

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Book Review of Kiss That Frog by Brian Tracy & Christina Tracy Stein

For a person like me, shaken up by reality of people around, this book came as a much needed burst of positivity at the most crucial stage of my life.

KTF

The book highlights seven truths about us that we probably did not pay attention to. As humans, our conditioning is such that a negative thought, or feeling, pops us more often than not, instead of a positive one.

The books helps us introspect our natural state. And it is not the one that reflects sadness. It the happy state that we are born with.

The authors show us ways to unlock our potential, knowing that we are the best in all that we do, forgiving people and forgiving ourselves to unblock all channels in our mind that have hampered our progress.

Not all frogs are negative. We encounter them or meet them as a part of the bigger plan. We must have the belief and faith that there is a valid reason for them being in our life.

And as for the negative frogs, we have to be aware and alert enough to eliminate them from our life.

A Must Read!

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Book Review of The Persecution of Madhav Tripathi by Aditya Sudarshan

The Persecution of Madhav Tripathi

by Aditya  Sudarshan

This fast paced, yet gentle read, treads carefully the life and prosecution of Madhav Tripathi – an officer in the ministry. And its not just him. Others around him too become a victim. Madhav is abducted, he manages to flee, and gets back to his girlfriend. There on anyone and everyone become their suspects.

The Persecution of Madhav Tripathi

With the turn of events, you see Madhav facing prosecution at all levels – physical, emotional and psychological. People, things and events from his past surface creating a matrix with his present only to ruin it for his future.  There’s an uprising, of feelings, emotions (guilt), and people. There’s democracy covered by the garb of hypocrisy. A latent desire to know more than one must. And an active roar to reach the top.

The perfect tiff between the past and the future.
The author takes you on an enthralling adventure unveiling the truth of our society.

I’d say treat it like a work of fiction which it is. But when you read it, it feels more real than truth itself. Aditya’s style of writing has evolved and he can sure keep his readers captive, slowly. There’s violence, humor, wit, and more importantly a mesmerizing mystery to solve.

It took me a while to pick up the book, but I’m glad I did. The thriller is quite a work of art. A good effort.

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Book Review of ‘Shades of Sin: Behind the Mask’ by APK Publishers

‘Shades of Sin: Behind the Mask’
By APK Publishers

Shades of Sin

Shades of Sin

Call it my love for short stories but I simply loved this book

An anthology of 25 stories by six authors connected by a single thread: the dark side of human nature in all its hues.

Vices in us, we know, exist and breed. What fans them further and do we tame them (if at all)?

The diverse settings, relatable experiences, and the very humane nature of each story intrigued me. Every single minute of my “me time” was dedicated to the book.

The book is divided in to three portions: Light Grey, Dark Grey and Black. The stories in each section portray/reveal related darkness – not depression. Most of the stories are sure to linger in your mind even after you put the book down. They evoke emotions that we deny ever exist in us.

I appreciate the selection of the stories. I like the way each author has consciously contributed to each section, bringing out the apt “darkness”. It’s not easy to pen out such feelings strongly that stir the reader with each sentence. It reflects maturity – the work of seasoned authors.

The narrative skills of Vivek Banerjee, Upneet Grover, Saksham Agarwal, Aanandita Chawla, Vrinda Baliga, and Shreelatha Chakravarty are praise worthy, offering a different perspective, a refreshing take, a unique outlook towards the different shades of the dark forces within us all.

For anyone who loves short stories, I definitely recommend this book. Pick It Up! No second thoughts!!

This is one book I will keep going back to- just like the Urban Shots series.

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Book Review of “VICTORY INDIA” by Col Vinay B Dalvi (Retd)

A Key to Quality Military Leadership

A bold and trail blazing exposé of 65 years old selection & training system of the Indian Armed Forces Officer Cadre

A Campaign, A Crusade, A Commitment, An Inspiration…

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Amongst my latest reads is Victory India, by Col. Vinay B. Dalvi (Retd.) and what an eye-opener this one is!

We civilians, look up to the Officers of the Armed Forces. We admire and respect their brilliance, their courage, their strength and everything associated with them. But do we really know what goes behind the gates of the IMA and the NDA, and the other training and selection institutes? Barely.

For those who only see smart cadets walking around in crisp uniforms, this book will reveal a whole new world of pain that the “men” endure (physically and mentally), and the national leadership crisis that the nation is currently facing therefore.

An eye-opener for aspiring to join such prestigious institutes will know the truth behind their selection and training process and maybe (collectively) help in filling the gaps and loop-holes.

Having been a part of the armed forces, the author shows deep insight and a well-rounded research regarding the training and selection process of the cadets. The book offers suggestions towards effective Military Leadership Training – something a nation would always feel incomplete without.

The book is a rare compilation of articles, views, comments and recommendations of specialists and experts of various fields (serving and retired) connected with the entire selection and training system of the officer cadre. This combined, coordinated and cohesive effort by the contributing authors is indeed commendable. Their sense of concern and responsibility to the uniformed fraternity reflects in the rich and diverse insight offered in a holistic manner.

The book contains the necessary ingredients to formulate a practical, meaningful and effective course of action. It is an earnest, fervent and collective endeavour to attract, select, train, groom and promote our budding and dynamic youth into inspiring, effective and quality military leaders.

It is thus left to the highest leadership in the country – Political, Bureaucratic and Military to take note of the glaring shortcomings and drawbacks confronting the Nation and the Armed Forces, and search for solutions. May the issues be addressed and resolved, thus strengthening the ”military leadership” – the most important principle of war for any nation.

The book was released by Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC, Chief of Air Staff & Chairman COSC, in the presence of Maj. Gen. (Dr.) G. D. Bakshi, Mr. Rajan Arya, CEO Pentagon Press, Author & Editor Col. Vinay B. Dalvi, Lt. Col. Anil Bhat & Air Marshal T. S. Randhawa on 20th November, 2012 at ‘Vayu Bhavan’, Air Headquarters, New Delhi.

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Book Review of “2012 Nights” by Vipul Rikhi

2012 Nights

by Vipul Rikhi

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2012 Nights by Vipul Rikhi

Would the world really end as predicted by the Mayans in December 2012? And if it does we have a handful days to live life to the fullest and read as many books as possible.

Vipul Rikhi’s book, 2012 Nights, revolves around this (supposed) doomsday.

A paranoid and drunk writer, with a belief in the Mayan theory, begins the month (of December 2012) by telling a series of tales to his cat (Schahriar). Each night he spins a yarn of beautifully crafted stories – of Aladdin (with a mention of his brother Biladdin); of Abdullah; of Sindbad the sailor; of King Solomon; of Alibaba and the forty thieves; but all with a twist and a contemporary view. History, mythology, politics and a whole lot of wisdom become the weaving points of all the stories.

His wife (Karuna) has left him and he has no friends left (given his attitude and behaviour). All he is left with is a cat and thus the series of monologue that follow. The tales of greed, compassion, destruction, loss and search have a unique USP. You might feel you know all the tales of yester years, but reading it with the author’s perspective and narrative brings about a new experience.

The author captured my interest initially. But come fifth night and thereafter there was a massive drop. But then soon, his style picked up pace and I was hooked again. Most stories, you would realize, do not end on the night they start. That’s the connect…the temptation that keeps you hooked. The twists and turns are, no doubt, super. But at places it gets overtly preachy and makes you want to skip it all.

Totally worth a read.

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Book Review of “The Asocial Networking” by Dhiraj Kumar

The Asocial Networking

By Dhiraj Kumar

Social Media has intrigued me, more in the last couple of years when I realized the potential it holds. And on receiving a book review request from Dhiraj about his book I was more than happy to do it!
Thankfully, the book proved to be interesting enough for me to complete it, and not like a text book for dummies.

A debut attempt, this book somewhere reflects the author’s angst for the virtual world. This is one aspect I appreciate and would expect writers to keep in mind: Write what you truly feel- with convictions (but backed by strong facts/stats and data!)
The 150 odd essays (the author’s experiences) running over 300 pages reflect the debate between the real and the virtual world and how being offline is now a thing of the past. For those who aren’t online, they are as good as non-existent!
The author has some really stern views and I respect those, but maybe the virtual world is gaining prominence for a reason. Going all out and unleashing fury might not help at this stage. #justsaying
A slower evolution would do the trick, if everyone realizes the commercial propaganda that the virtual circle has in fact created around everyone one of us.
Many points in this book were too basic for me (sorry about that but I have read quite a bit in to social media) and thus felt repetitive at many places.
Most of the author’s points/experiences do make for a good read- given the style of writing. Like decoding personalities with the kind of status updates or pictures or activities one indulges in.
My only woe was the fact that towards the end it wasn’t all that intellectually stimulating or arousing. Too much of repetition got me disheartened. New approach yes, but the freshness fizzled out.
Had he supported his views “against” social media with staunch proven facts/stats-I’d be more than a fan! Certain points mentioned here were an #EpicFail. Really.
Another very prominent point is: the author talks majorly about FB as his point of reference for Social Media. More prominence to twitter or linkein or google plus would’ve made this more interesting.

Social Media has a lot many advantages for those who can harness its powers. And for those who suck the life out of it, they only see the short comings. Maybe Dhiraj hasn’t had good experiences on FB but he should give it a fair chance. And other social media sites too. There are successful stories floating around too!

Yes, quite a few of us are hooked on to it (for various reasons) but the smart ones do know where to draw the line. I say, newbies should give it a read. They are the ones who need to know where to stop and think about the effects of social media.

Overall, it did make for a good read for me – as it gave me a chance to notice the opinions of a social media critic.
I would recommend it to youngsters more so who still aren’t very clear about the Social Media assets and short-comings. This book will reveal quite a lot to them.

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