Divya Manian

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Book Reviews for September

Hey, hey, hey, is it September already? I had no idea where all the days went by. Seattle is already moaning with fall weather. But thankfully I will be escaping to Sydney (to give a talk on Oct 15th on Active Web Development). If you are in Sydney or Melbourne, holler in the comments if you want to meet! Meanwhile, here are some books I read this month:

The Laughing Policeman

I love mysteries. Saurabh, on Goodreads, alerted me to The Laughing Policeman. The Laughing Policeman is quite slow but keeps you engaged throughout. Unlike American mysteries, the life of a policeman is completely without glamour. Awesome read.

The Art of Travel

There is a thin line between bullshit and insight, and The Art of Travel keeps zig-zagging that line often. There are several times when travelling I felt exactly what the author talks about. This book certainly is not about the “Art” of Travel, more like musings on the idea of “Travel”.

But it is worth a read as it brings out the emptiness of being a tourist (traveling on long weekends to “relax” on the beach, and forcing ourselves to feel happy while doing so).

Made By Hand

I was quite disappointed by the book, especially the way it begins. Mark Frauenfelder moves to a tropical island Raratonga and misses the conveniences of the country he left behind. While there, he learns to shred coconuts and that is how his love for hand-made stuff begins. Within 3 months he is back because he got sick of the “malaria, isolation, and ringworms”.

Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World documents his mistakes learning how to grow chickens, making furniture, or modding coffee machines. While, it is interesting (as reading anyone’s diary is), there is nothing to inspire you to start doing things on your own. It is also very preachy: less on facts, more on emotions.

There probably is some culture gap between me and Mark, because Amazon has overwhelmingly positive reviews for this book. So, if you have grown up in the US you might possibly like it.

Dictator Styles

Chew Lin recommended Dictator Style: Lifestyles of the World’s Most Colorful Despots. It is not as much of a “read” as it is a “see” Moral of the book: Never ever get inspired by the interior decor on Architectural Digest.

Breakfast of Champions

This is exactly how books should be written. Kurt Vonnegut was the father to absurdist fiction and this book is AMAZING. Just read Breakfast of Champions


If you are a hipster, you would want to read Wilson, the graphic novel, every time you feel like complaining about non-hipsters – mainly to remind yourself never to become a Wilson.


I am going to Australia’s Northern wilderness and I was recommended I read Voss to experience the wilderness as it existed in the 19th century. Voss was written in the early fifties, and has elements of skepticism interwoven with the fictionalized account of a real adventurer who disappeared in Australia, Ludwig Leichhardt. If you like tragedies, read it.

What books did you find interesting lately?