the man who couldn't stop

This is a fascinating insight into the world of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorders) patients, who are forced by their own minds to perform meaningless routine activities over and over again to lessen the anxiety they feel when an unrelated obsessive idea grips their mind. The author, who is an OCD patient himself and has had to suffer the personal ignominy of putting himself through such repetitive behaviour over a number of years, describes in this first-person account how the obsession takes over & overpowers all other thoughts in the mind. He cites examples and instances which, to an outsider may feel slightly humorous, but which hides the potential terror & lack of control that only the sufferer can feel.

The book describes how OCD manifests itself in people, explores how the condition has been perceived since early times and the treatment options that have evolved alongside. He writes about how some forms of obsessive behaviours are present in other species, how other forms of repetitive action can be perceived as OCD, the influence of religion, culture & traditions on OCD, the triggers for the condition to manifest itself and how it can be passed on, sometimes, in families.

The book concludes by looking at how OCD has now been classified as a mental disorder, with a growing awareness among the medical fraternity on how to treat patients with the condition. David talks about his own struggles with the disease, how he has now learnt to deal with the compulsive thoughts that still intrude and concludes on a positive note that patients and others who may know someone who potentially has OCD have a light at the end of their dark tunnel.

The book is interspersed with incidents, sanitised stories of sufferers and enough new information to keep the reader interested all along. I found it quite fascinating. A condition that I would otherwise just label as quirky and a sufferer as crazy is now something I can look at in a new light.

the murder book of j g reeder

This is a quaint collection of short crime stories highlighting the criminal mind of the affable Mr J G Reeder, a detective at the Public Prosecutor’s office. His USP, as he keeps reminding his boss, is that he has a criminal bent of mind and views everything from that perspective, allowing him to second-guess and anticipate the actions of the criminal fraternity.

The stories themselves are fairly straightforward, with the denouement often nicely crafted. The first set of this collection is better than the second set, with the endings in the latter relying on coincidences that are only borderline believable. Nevertheless this is a good collection of short crime stories for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

alex through the looking glass Mathematics for many people is either hugely interesting or very unnerving. Either ways, numbers make us think, and think deeply. This book provides a thrilling – that’s the right word – journey through the world of numbers, starting with simple things such as number patterns & triangles before taking us down some of the more trickier paths into the worlds of pi, e and calculus. We learn many of these concepts in school and college, but I wish they had been presented in the way that this book does – using refreshingly straightforward language & illustrations and connecting them with real-world scenarios. The chapters on coneheads and calculus brought up latent memories of tough classroom sessions with disinterested professors, but also a sense of amazement that the concept itself is so logically simple to follow had it been put across the right way.

I think I enjoyed the last two chapters the most, covering logical deductions and cellular automation. Concepts such as the Game of Life show us how simple techniques inspired by mathematics & developed by mathematicians can go on to develop highly complex structures using nothing more than a handful of rules. It was almost disappointing when the book ended – it leaves us wanting more!

Mathematics can fascinate and inspire a sense of awe, yet its magic is within the reach of every one with a high-school education. The author’s love & passion for the subject shines through on every page. His selection of concepts to cover in this book and the manner of explaining them through everyday examples helps to retain the interest levels all through. At times it becomes a little complex, but skipping over a few paragraphs doesn’t leave a gap in the understanding.

Thoroughly enjoyed the book. We need such books to develop & sustain our interest in this most fundamental of subjects.

smashing physicsThis is an amazing book on the journey leading up to the discovery of the Higgs boson. I have always been fascinated by Physics and have eagerly followed (or tried to, with my limited understanding!) the developments in particle physics theories and the experimental results. The search for the Higgs boson has been in the works for a long time, but the interest levels accelerated since the opening of the Large Hadron Collider in 2009. Jon Butterworth is an experimental scientist who has been associated with the collider and its search from the start, so in this fascinating book he takes us on the journey leading to the culmination of the search and the formal announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson in the summer of 2012.

The book provides a view of the theory & data that existed prior to the LHC’s commissioning, then a step by step and ringside view of the progress made between 2010 and 2012. Along this journey, Jon describes the theories and the experiments using (close to) layman terms & analogies where possible. I will not claim that I followed every word and every aspect of the sub-atomic world of hadrons, fermions, quarks, matter and anti-matter, QCD & QED, etc but at a broad level it is hard not to get a small feel for the sense of excitement that the author tries to convey. Even for someone who is not a hard-core physics person, this book should be a fascinating read – some of the sections may be a bit “heavy” – but if one persists and refers to offline (or online) content referred in the book, it is possible to get a glimpse of the incredibly complex science behind this discovery.

One of the criticisms of this book is the amount of personal narrative that the author has put in – space that could’ve been filled up with science – but I view that as a way for readers – lay readers – to connect with the human persona of the scientists who are engaged at the cutting edge of high-energy physics research. In that, this book does a wonderful job.

Also, one book is never enough to understand the continuous search for new physics. Theories abound so every such book is a step towards establishing a better and clearer picture in our minds. Again, in that direction, this book is a fantastic view of what the LHC did and why it did what it did.

Smashing Physics is a well-deserved contender for the Science Book award from the Royal Society’s Winton Prize for books on science. That alone is a good reason to buy and read this book.


Patrick Fort is an intelligent boy with a one-dimensional view to life because of Asperger’s Syndrome. He has a clear quest to understand what happens when someone dies. In this excellently paced murder mystery, Belinda Bauer weaves the story of a man in a coma who is murdered with Patrick’s quest to understand death. Where the two threads meet, Patrick realises that his quest has morphed into knowing why someone died rather than how.

The author has captured the behavioural nuances of Asperger’s Syndrome in a a very positive light. At times the murder mystery seems to almost take a backseat, with the focus more on the behavioural trait rather than on solving the puzzle on hand. Indeed, until about the last third of the book when the action starts to pick up pace, we do not even know that a murder has been committed. We come across this realisation only through Patrick’s viewpoint, which is a reflection of the excellent character control that the author has across this book.

I also liked the fact that the author has  given the murdered person a voice unlike traditional murder mysteries. The murdered man has a view almost upto the point of his murder, which was a little unnerving to me because one doesn’t expect people with a voice to then go & get murdered. That was the only jarring note for me in an otherwise excellent novel.

Rebels in Rajasthan 1This is the first book of the Flying Magic Jharokha series. It tells the adventures of Deeya and Vayu, as they try to save their uncle Jadoo from an evil Djinn. The djinn has captured their uncle when he was working in his lab.

Deeya and Vayu have got a code letter from their uncle Jadoo. It tells them to go straight to his house, but when they reach there they find that their uncle is missing. With the magic Jharokha’s help, the two of them find the first key to their uncle’s cage.

Flying on the Jharokha feels fun, though you would never be able to ride on one.

My name is Vidya and I am 8 years old. I have just started reading this series and hope to put up a review of each book in the series. Looking forward to reading the next book.

I always thought Bond will be good only in the movie format, but this book proved me wrong. This is typical Bond stuff, with plenty of gadgets – including a jazzed-up iPhone, action spread around the world from Serbia to South Africa, and an assortment of girls. The action is more or less fast-paced and Bond is as we have come to expect – suave, well-prepared and someone who has already thought out the moves far ahead of the game.

Bond is sent to Serbia to investigate a cryptic message intercepted by the secret service, warning of deaths and destruction in a week’s time. An outwardly clean businessman who runs a company specialising in refuse & recycling seems to be involved, assisted by a mysterious but very efficient planner. With time running short, Bond has to take some bold steps to get closer to the action, figure out the plot and stop it before people die. There are the usual distractions, sub-plots and hurdles in his way, but the story has been well-constructed with good twists & turns to keep the reader engrossed.

The book form gives the reader greater explanation and offers the author more space & opportunity to tie up all the loose threads by the end. Its a little long – I made the mistake of reading a few reviews before I started on the book and most of them seemed to complain about the length of the book – but in my view, the action manages to retain the reader’s interest all through.

Enjoyable, first-rate thriller from an established writer.