Book Reviews

Financial Tips I follow- India

Some tips I follow to manage my personal finance in India (Tweet Thread)

If someone suggest insurance+ investment combo opportunity …RUN:
NEVER EVER mix insurance and investments. It makes no financial sense. So many of us are stuck paying premiums for junk polices like Jeevan Anand, just because our neighbourhood uncle convinced our parents that it is a good deal.
Should we start a “Jeevan Anand Peedit Sammelan”

Remember Benchmark:
Whenever someone talks about “great returns” always benchmark it against its peer. Eg in last one NIFTY 50 gave 42% returns. Almost everything did well post the covid market crash. I am pretty sure some agents are trying to sell you policies quoting an awesome 20% return last year . Ideally ignore the last year anyways

Nifty 50 growing 50% in last 12 months

Fee only financial planners ONLY .
Avoid your bank’s wealth managers at all costs. The incentive of anyone who makes money via your investing is not aligned. More often than not they would try and sell you what gets them maximum commission rather than be beneficial to you.

Direct mutual funds only: There is no real advantage of giving commission to the brokerage. Direct mutual funds not only give better returns, they are now super accessible. Just go open an account with Zerodha (referral link) and start investing there. I liquidated all my MF holdings after they crossed the threshold of exit load and moved to Zerodha

No point buying an apartment:
I personally see no point plonking in a huge sum of money into an apartment, especially in places like Bangalore.
– The rise in real estate is more or less correlated with stock market growth
– Rental yield is just 2-3%.
– The houses you want to stay would not have the same EMI as rent ( as some ppl claim). You just end up paying “Rent” to the banks, and its super expensive and you are locked in
– There is also cost of non mobility

The only reason to buy a house is emotional which obviously cannot be priced in. If owning a house helps you feel good and has a positive effect on your self image, thats your call. To me at the moment it makes no sense. I may eventually buy when I have enough spare.

Book I recommend

Lets Talk money by Monika Halan

More Book recommendations

Also see: My US stock investment ( I invest from India)

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Book Reviews Reviews

Black white and the grays in between- Book Review

**********A little  Disclaimer *********

Gosh! it is tough to review a book written by a friend. There are two reasons why it’s tougher for me: The author Abhishek Hemrajani is not only my friend from ISB(batchmate)  but was also my colleague in Microsoft. I consider him an extremely smart dude, so the moment I knew he published a book, I knew I was picking it up.

The issue with reviewing a book written by someone you know is ,that it is hard to be completely unbiased. You either are too forgiving or too merciless because you go overboard with trying to be “unbiased”. It is like being a teacher’s Son…Teachers are either too caring or too strict so that other kids do not feel a bias .
I will try my best to not fall for both the pitfalls.

***Disclaimer Ends**

TLDR Version : Black white and the grays in between is a great book especially considering this is Abhishek’s first book. An easy read .

Should you buy the book?: Yes

PS: Review coming from someone who is not a fan of this genre of books

Longer version :

Overall I really liked the book. The plot is pacy  and there were not many instances where there were unnecessary explanations or forced words

The story line is tight with no loose ends or over the top melodrama. Many sensitive situations have been handled beautifully . I wanted to talk about some of the situations but it may give away the plot :). What I liked most about the characters was that they were very relatable, they were just like you and me.They mostly behaved the way they were expected to behave. You could see why they made the choices they made.

I was able to imagine every character and every scene vividly in my head and can happily say that the author did a great job here .

Another thing that struck me was the amount of research the author seemed to have done about the doctor’s profession . Dude, you know a lot 🙂

What I would have loved to see though is more stuff about Kanak’s father Keshav. I felt that his character needed to be developed further , I just expected a bit more . Same is the case with Ashar .Would have to loved to read a bit more about his and Rukhsar’s story .

Another  interesting part of the book were couplets at a couple of places. It is fairly tough to pull this off . Couplets are very difficult beasts to tame and can break the flow of the story or just add another beautiful dimension altogether  . The author chose to use them very judiciously  :+1 to that.

Overall it is a very well balanced book. Considering that it is Abhishek’s first book only , I can only imagine what the expectations from his next books would be. He has set high benchmarks for himself :).

Read my other book review 

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DO NOT read this book before going to bed

DO NOT read this book if you are very happy with your career

DO NOT read this book if you are trying to relax

It is a good idea to read a book before going to bed but NOT if it is Elon Musk’s Biography. With most books you either expect to doze off mid-book  or finish the book and just sleep happy ,but NOT with this one.

This book will neither let you sleep easily nor give you the satisfaction of finishing a book , rather, it will force you to ask yourself , WTF are you doing with your life? It will kick you in your gut, make you feel energetic and wake you up as if you just drank 10 cups of coffee.

Let’s do some shit…you will shout

This is the man who is pretty much single-handedly trying to change the course of humanity. Many of his decisions do not make “business sense” but you know what? Musk Don’t Care

Many of his decisions do not make “business sense” but you know what?

Musk Don’t Care

Fossil fuels are bad…No problemo, musk has Electric car to the rescue with tesla , but how to charge those batteries? Well Solar city just reinvented how to store solar power …and if all that fails to save our earth , the man is planning to setup a colony on mars Via SpaceX.

This is not a childhood dream or an essay in school about “What do you want to do when you grow up”..This is real.

When most CEOs email their employees about goals, they speak about X users, Y revenue ..Musk talks about ..I want to secure Mars before I go public.

Ashlee Vance has also done a brilliant job in humanizing this godly figure of Elon Musk.

He is an imperfect Man, like all of us , trying to change the course of humanity by sheer, hard work , focus and an unimaginable appetite to take risks ….YOLO


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Dark Space – Book review

Not the best science fiction book I have read but neither the worst.

Dark Space is  good attempt  . The story has potential , though a bit cliche .


The story sure is very racy in the latter half. The writing style is captivating enough with enough twists and turns.

I read this over a period of 2-3 days without feeling pressured to get over with it (I generally try to finish the book I start, even though they may be bad)

Some concepts about society and overall how humanity and other races collided are well presented. For example, the arch nemesis Sythians who have no territory to defend , hence were the most powerful  , kind of poetic .

The story sure has a lot of potential and the author more or less played on his strengths

Liked the Brondi character .He was just uni directional evil character but was well presented .

It is definitely a fun read and you would want to finish it .


Cons :

Sadly the book could not really bring any great scientific literature to the forefront or explain anything about the workings of the futuristic stuff being presented. Perhaps it was wrong on my part to have expected that.

The story is a bit dab in the beginning but quite racy in the latter half. The author spent way too much time explaining the surroundings  which did not seem to add much to the storyline or add an imagery.

Most characters were quite shallow

Way too many coincidences added unnecessarily. Seemed the author went a bit overboard to bring in forced twists. The plot twists in themselves were enough


The book has its moments but misses the mark when taken in totality . Worth a buy if you get a good deal.

Might be buying the next books in the series. Want to see where the story goes


Check out the list of Must Read books below

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Internet Space and Renewable energy – Elon Musk Bio-Partial Review

Reading the Biography of the most fascinating man on this planet right now : Elon Musk .

Two Amazing nuggets that stood out till now(yes still reading)

He initially thought of making video games but then realized it would not have much impact on the world, hence dropped the idea.Shows how he is driven by a simple thing: Impact

He spoke about pursuing big projects in all three areas he thought would change humanity : Space,internet and Renewable energy. Some people thought he was being insecure , but he was just being honest and we all know what he did after that

Makes for a fascinating read

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Foundation And Earth -Isaac Asimov – Review

The decision has been made  but Trev ..oops Trevize  is still not sure why he chose what he chose. Why did he chose Galaxia ?He is searching for an answer and for that he needs to find earth , not sure why but it seems right.

Foundation and Earth
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As a stand alone novel this is brilliant , great twists and turns, science and action . This book alone can be made into a three part movie if required .

But going by the standards of other Foundation Series novels , I am a bit disappointed. Way too much time spent on altercations between Bliss and Trevize and an attempt to bring in some sexual scenes which seemed completely unnecessary . But again this was written years after the foundation series, it was possibly expected that the writing style could change.

The book has it’s edgy moments and connects well with the whole foundation series while also hinting it’s connection with the Robots series. A great deal of attention paid on exposing the [contextly_sidebar id=”WuR6I0Q42YvIc4zJ6eHf7g7XuMs99HHq”]weaker side of even Gia , showing that it too is vulnerable and there can be forces much beyond it, making it look much more humane that shown in Foundation’s Edge


All in All Foundation and Earth by Isaac Asimov is still a great book to read.


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Foundation’s Edge – A brilliant followup to the Foundation Series- book review

Very recently I had written a post about the foundation series by Issac Asimov and how it was one of the most important works of science fiction .

But Asimov did not end the foundation series with the trilogy . After the immense success of the trilogy , persuaded by his publishers , Asimov wrote 4 more books. One prelude ,talking about Hari seldon and 3 after the second foundation.

Seeing me go all gaga over the series, My dear wife decided to give me a perfect birthday gift . She gifted me all the foundation series books she could get hold of (and some more). Now my collection has all books except Foundation and Earth(Last copy in stock of which I was able to grab on amazon recently)Foundation's Edge Book cover

This is a review of Foundation’s Edge , the book that follows the original triology’s last book .

Generally whenever authors revisit their original trilogies and try to juice out whatever is left of the story , they lose the essence , the style , the soul of the plot.But , in case of Asimov, I am happy to report that it is not the case.

Everything from the gripping plot , the twists and turns ,and the doses of science is perfect. It does not seem that this book was written separately from the original series.

Plot Highlights (Mild Spoiler Alert):

//Spoiler Alert Start//

This books picks up where the last foundation series book left in which the Foundation is made to believe that Second foundation is wiped out . Many years have passed and another Seldon crises is averted. So much so that it seems the Seldon Plan is almost 100% on track. It is too good to be true ,and whenever something is too good to be true , you suspect 🙂 . That is exactly what some of the Foundationer’s do. This is their attempt to find the Second Foundation Again.

One of the best part of the story is on how Second foundation is finally shown in a more humane light. How in-spite of their mental strengths they are not immune to the basic human emotions such as jealousy , greed , ambition and how even the best of them can fall for them. The structure and expansion of the Second Foundation is also detailed out .

//Spoiler Alert Ends//

Nevertheless there are some pretty big plot twists and surprises which I cannot reveal without revealing the whole story .

Should you Buy this Book? HELL YEAH . There is no good reason to miss this if you have read the foundation trilogy.

I am sure my Wife regrets her decision of giving me these books since I have spent almost every free second I had in past few days , hooked up to the book.I was also part of a Clan on an iPad game called Clash of Clans , I got so engrossed that I did not even log in and was kicked out of the clan 😛 . Books Win over online Games :).

Now Awaiting the delivery of the next part of the series  Foundation and Earth


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Dan Brown’s Inferno: The The Book Book is is Repetitive Repetitive : Book Review

Finally finished the seemingly huge book Inferno by Dan Brown, and can I say, I am a tad disappointed.

I have only read one book by Dan brown before Angels and Demons
and thoroughly enjoyed it ,hence had very high hopes from Inferno.

Inferno is the same old stuff, A professor of symbols , a villain , some sci fi and globe trotting . All the symbols are based on a single work of Dante.

I am less disappointed with the plot than the narrative. Every thing starts with Robert Langdon finding a clue in Dante’s work , going to a particular fancy location(many times wrong) and telling himself how he has been here before and marveling at how he marveled the architecture with minute details and how this time would be different . It seems so repetitive that I felt the author had a fixed template to just fill in.

The action packed scenes just break when you try to fit in too much details about the surroundings.

Is it a bad book?

Not really , I did finish it ( I leave a lot of books midway if I do not like) . It has all the elements of a good weekend read, the pace is gripping but I had higher hopes from Dan Brown. I felt a lot of stuff could have been easily removed without affecting the impact or quality of narrative . Overall, I am sure this one should be getting made into a film .


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The fault In our stars

Reading every word, afraid that I missed a line or just skipped the meaning, not because I am not sleepy, but because it is almost impossible to put this book down.
Impossible because the book is so damn perfect!

You feel like you know the characters, Hazel and Augustus are you,  someone who are dying but still living. You feel the tinge every time they say OKAY. How can an author make such an inconsequential word so damn meaningful ?.

You feel the pain when they try to live a  normal life in spite of the abnormalities ..surreal beautiful heartbreaking yet ….

I am at loss of adjectives now.

You weep when they weep, you laugh when they laugh, and you fear what they fear. It brings you face to face with mortality yet preps you up to live.

Pain they say is relative, yet absolute.

I am not a fan of Sob stories, but this is no sob story, this is not about death or horrors dying, but about living, however brief it be.

It is not about being heroic, but about being humane and embracing our fears, fears of oblivion, fears of hurting others .

The book will make you cry, will make you smile, ponder, question, accept .It will take you through an emotional roller coaster while still keeping you transfixed at the miracle, the miracle of life. I don’t even know If I am making any sense any more. John Green from nerd fighters…You are a Genius !

I will leave you with 2 of my favorite quotes  from the book

It seems, the universe wants to be observed .

You don’t get to chose if you get hurt in this world, but you have some say in who hurts you

Go read the book Fault in our Stars


Other books by John Green

Looking for Alaska

An Abundance of Katherines

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Let it Snow

Paper Towns

Also , they are making a movie out of this book, which I assume is equally good

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Finishing a book is like saying Goodbye to an old friend: Book Review Foundation

Read this line somewhere “Finishing a book is like saying goodbye to an old friend” , it couldn’t have been more apt. This exactly what I felt when I finished the foundation trilogy by Issac Asimov .

I started with the Foundation ,imagining the galactic empire .I was there with Hari Seldon when he spoke about the Seldon plan and the concepts of Psychohistory. When he setup the two foundations at the opposite ends of the galaxy

Then I moved on to dreaming about the battles between foundation and the empire , some battles which went on for years, some that were over without any bloodshed . I was there when the Mule invaded, when the foundation fell and rose.

And finally I was there when Second foundation played the ultimate game to get the seldon plan back on track.

Almost every night I forced myself to leave the book , sometime because it was too late and sometimes because my mind was too slow to follow the complex scenery being built. Scenarios that seemed so complicated and yet somehow in the end were so simple and too apt. I was amazed at how deeply Asimov thought about it, did he really see the future? I read and re-read many chapters because somehow, i was not convinced, somehow every time I read, i found something new. For about past 1 month, I was a part of the novel, a character ,a Citizen of the foundation. I was a preacher, a scientist , a trader , a diplomat , a strategist . And now it is over. Wished the trilogy never ended. Perhaps the best series I ever read. Issac Asimov–I Bow to you The books in the trilogy:

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