Book review - Destiny Disrupted

Destiny Disrupted is a rather captivating result of Tamim Ansary’s successful attempt at delineating world history through the eyes of Muslims and, in his own words, telling their story as if he were a coffee shop raconteur. I was caught off guard; I never thought a history book could turn out to be such an enjoyable page turner. The book isn’t long (it’s around 400 pages) but it covers more than 1400 years of history. Due to the constraints imposed by the length of the book, the author does not linger too long on any one event and yet doesn’t let the reader feel any lack of detail in his simple and laconic writing.

The book covers the complete history of the Muslim world: from the revelation to the present. Well, not actually to the present; the writer opines that the years post 9/11 can’t be categorized into history just yet. We read about the birth of Muslims in the Prophet Muhammad’s time, their proliferation during the Rashidun caliphate, their golden age during the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, their decline as a result of Turk and Mongol conquests, their reascendance as the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal empires and their inevitable capitulation at the hands of the western civilization. We read about how Muslims, who were once the superpowers of the world, ended up in their current state of squalor, depravity and religious extremism.

The author has taken a neutral stance and is humble enough to aver that he presents all the knowledge in the book not necessarily as what may have actually happened but as what Muslims think happened. This is not to say that the book is in any way biased; quite the contrary, the author presents copious references in footnotes throughout the book and has made his best effort to not take sides in his articulate and pellucid explanation of events. I would highly recommend the book to everyone; read it even if you haven’t read history before. Read it if you are, even minutely, curious about the succession of events leading to the current quandary of the Muslims. The book is a light, quick and enjoyable read, full of eye opening facts and sentiments.

Thoughts of a Dota addict

The first step in overcoming addiction is to admit that you have a problem. I’m addicted to Dota 2. I’ve been playing this video game on and off for a few years. I’ve invested more than seven hundred hours of my time into it.

Crunching numbers, one can comprehend how much of my life this game has cost me. Seven hundred hours is about a month of twenty four seven gameplay. It takes me an hour to read twenty five pages of a book. I could have read seventeen thousand five hundred pages in this time. Assuming that the average size of a book is five hundred pages (and I know I might be overestimating), I could have read thirty five books; not counting school books, that’s more than what I have thus far read in my life. I could have burned three hundred thousand calories if I’d spent this time exercising. I could have worked on numerous open source projects to gain knowledge and improve my skills. I could have watched hundreds of informative documentaries and videos on the internet. I could have made a few new friends. Yet, these seven hundred hours are insignificant compared to what most serious players have put into the game.

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Book review - The Final Empire

If you believe in fate, you believe that there can only be a finite number of troubling events in your life. And whenever one occurs, you would know that thereafter your life could only get better since fewer of them are left.

This is the first book of the original Mistborn trilogy from Brandon Sanderson and it’s fantastic. I really enjoyed reading it and I’ll be reading the next two books as well. I like how Sanderson can immerse a reader in his story with simple and clear prose. The book alternates between the points of view of two characters, although only one of them is the protagonist. Character development is excellently done and the reader finishes the book with having developed bonds with a lot of characters. Fights are very intense and enjoyable and you’ll find yourself frantically turning pages whenever one comes.

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Book review - The 5th Wave

I haven’t read Twilight but I think if you switched vampires with aliens in it, you’d get this book. The first few pages were kind of good although my dislike for the protagonist started from the very beginning. There’s just something wrong with her. I hated her till the end. After the initial good read of an hour or so, a part describing her high school crush started. It was horrible. I remember Googling the age group targeted by the author and cursing Goodreads for not explicitly specifying it. What does young adult mean anyway?

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Book review - Long Walk to Freedom

Recently, I finished reading Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The book takes you on a journey in Mandela’s shoes and you experience his life starting from his childhood to the days when apartheid was finally demolished in South Africa. It’s an autobiography and a large part of it was written by Mandela when he was in prison.

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