Category Archives: Reviews

Book Review – Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Image of a hand holding Infinite Jest paperback edition

My Rating : 5/5

Infinite is the right word for this book. It is an absolutely immense book. Not just the sheer volume of it – the print version goes above eleven hundred pages, but even in the different number of themes it touches. It keeps jumping between genres with changes in the narrators, who are all quite wildly different but somehow brought together through a most inconceivable plot, if it can be called so. Apparently the word for it is an ‘encyclopedic novel’, considering the level of detail it gets into describing this postmodern world conjured up by the author – where we no longer have numbers for years but rather something called ‘subsidized time’ – with most of the action taking place in the YDAU (Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment).

It has a rather depressive beginning, and this general sense of a mental abyss keeps going on for quite a while making one wonder if there is any kind of jest in it as the title indicates. Time slows down as someone high on weed describes a bug on a wall, which goes on for pages. Then we have a father who failed at the two loves of his life – tennis and acting, trying to distill the essence of both and somehow managing to bring them together in a monologue to his son where individual sentences go on for pages. And let me not get started about the point where the narration switches to the absolute bottom dregs of the Bostonian society, for whom life is just about getting from one score to another and the will to do any heinous act to get there.

However, the subtle hints at humor emerge as the book grows into you. You have an ‘Experiealist’ (as opposed to Imperialist – as in forcibly giving away their territory to another nation) power, ie USA, at the helm of a grouping of North American countries – an entity who’s name abbreviates to a term which may be best described as someone enjoying themselves. And an unlikely and ‘specially abled’ Quebecois separatist group violently opposed to any such union. The humor reaches its zenith in a rather unique annual game held at the ETA (Enfield Tennis Academy – central to the story and also where the protagonist Hal Incandenza is a promising talent), where mostly pre-pubescent boys and girls engage in a sort of world ending event, filled with jargon and events which will make any geopolitics nerd (almost everyone if one goes by the level of expertise one sees on Twitter) laugh themselves silly. Not to forget about the current US American President, a mad as a hatter ex crooner who has an OCD about germs and infections – everyone getting close to him had to go through a UV machine and put on gloves, masks and put on foot covers (no shoes allowed), somehow seeming quite prescient about the current COVID pandemic.

The author David Foster Wallace was quite a polymath and it shows with the level of detail he goes into quite varied subjects. He was also blessed with an immense vocabulary (can’t recall any book where I had to hit the dictionary so often). I like reading books which expand my mental horizons and this book definitely fits the bill. All one needs is the patience to get through the epic scale of it.

What makes you not a Buddhist

What makes you not a Buddhist

My rating : 5/5

A highly accessible book on Buddhism. Most of us assume Buddhism to be an ascetic religion where one gives up all worldy things and puts on a maroon robe and shaves off their hair. But it is not about these superficial changes.

The foundation of Buddhism are the four seals, or eternal truths. As long as you follow them, you are a Buddhist, even if you are a CEO, politician or a housewife. If you don’t, adorning maroon robes and shaving your hair is not going to bring you any closer to Buddhism.

Highly recommended. The teachings are applicable to every day life, how you behave with others, with what intentions you do things, etc, and help you lead a peaceful life.

Book Review – Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

My Rating : 5/5

This is probably one of the most important books that I’ve read in my life. Even considering some of the claims made by the author on the immense number of issues lack of sleep can cause to not be true as per the PS#1, quite a lot of them ring true based on personal experience.
It remains a fact that LED lights, personal electronic devices, unhealthy eating habits, late TV watching among others are actively affecting the quality and quantity of our sleep. While we are aware of some of the shortfalls of the lack of sleep, the magnitude of the importance of a good night of sleep on most facets of our life is lost to us. This book showcases the benefits of good sleep, and the detriment of bad sleep throughout its 400+ pages, with startling facts being revealed on almost every other page (my highlights crossed the publisher threshold so could not view full text outside the reader app, but easily going above 40 pages). It goes to the extent of possibly scaring readers who suffer from bad sleep.
Cannot recommend this book enough to everyone. Because everyone needs a good night of sleep.

#1 Suggest reading the criticism by Alex Guzey ( ), with no official response by the author as yet.
#2 Bill Gates’ review

The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss by Jason Fung

The Obesity Code by Jason Fung

Among a few other books related to health and general well being, a must read book which blows a hole through unscientific habits drilled into us via so called “experts”, including even doctors following long held dogma.
I was told this is essentially a guide to ‘ketogenic’ diet but it actually argues against it.
It does not take a simplistic route to better health, but rather a holistic view addressing multiple reasons which could have lead to obesity and individually targeting them, and backing everything it says with a good amount of science and long term studies ( you can’t research obesity causes over a 1 month study).
Read it even if you’re not obese for the wealth of nutritional information you will gain which will hopefully lead you to a long life of good health.

Book Review – Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and its Silent Past by Giles Tremlett

Fabulous book. If there is one book you want to read on modern Spain, this should be it. Covers a wide breadth of topics including nearly all provinces, El Caudillo and the horrors of the Civil War including how its left Spain divided and the guilty unpunished, Basque and Catalan nationalism and their uniqueness, Flamenco and gypsies, Costa del Sol and the invention of package tourism, Galician idiosyncrasies, the Spanish way of life (endless nights and mid day siestas) and much more. Written by a British journalist who’s been living in Spain since the mid 80’s, I found this book in most reading lists for potential tourists. Highly recommend getting the latest copy as the author has been adding on newer events with every edition.