Books review – Malala, Maus, Batman Year one, Batman- The killing Joke and the Future of Competition
Recently I finished reading the above mentioned books and of all the book reading marathons that I have had over the years, this week was truly filled with some of the best books of all time.
Here are my snippet REVIEWS of each of those amazing books:
1. I Am MALALA
2. MAUS – The complete MAUS
3. The Future of Competition: Co-creating value
4. Batman – Year One
5. Batman – The Killing Joke
1. I AM MALALA:
Never before have had I read a Book that has moved me so much.
This book humbled me right from the start of it. Brilliantly written by Christina Lamb and the real story of MALALA YOUSAFZAI inspires us as we realize (even though merely in a nutshell, so to speak) what pain and grit truly mean and that too from a young teenager facing the harsh realities of her everyday life with a glimmer of hope and with tremendous conviction.
MALALA, no doubt won the NOBEL PEACE PRIZE for 2014 (with the legendary Kailash Satyarthi) but this story tells us of the nerve this little kid showcased at a time when most of us would have crumbled.
The start of the book talks about what transpired during the shooting and then MALALA continues by saying, “Who is Malala? I am Malala and this is my story.” This is the point in the book, where your hands almost tremble as you read the ordeal and then your heart races up as you realize how simply has she taken that tragic experience and made it into an inspiring tale for the world to learn from it.
There are amazingly awe inspiring moments, gut wrenching aspects of her life where she talks about the threats, her father’s courage and support, (his life story growing up), her grandfather’s influence and so much more. At every stage, it is as though you can see and feel that Malala was destined to inspire the world right from the very beginning.
It is said that one cannot understand his or her life when we try to look straight ahead, but it is better understood when we take a look at our past and we see the connecting dots vividly that have made us who we are today. This book for sure reaffirms that aspect of life. Her influence from her father’s work, his beliefs, her mother’s conviction and her upbringing all connect us to the fact that, there was in fact no doubt at any point of time that Malala would become who she is today, a global icon!
Malala talks very passionately about the fight to equality and most importantly, her ideals and values which would amaze you and then leave you dumbstruck when we again realize that, this is the story from a teenager’s real-life. The brilliance, humility and sheer perseverance speaks volumes of the greatness that’s instilled in this world icon even at such an early age.
There are scores of people, who have inspired us over the decades one way or another, but I am positive, there won’t be another Malala.
She has changed millions of lives as she fights for something that most of us around the world take for granted – THE RIGHT to education. Her fight brings back quotes in the form of words from the Great MAHATMA GANDHI – “Equality and education for all.”
She is truly an icon and an amazing inspiration.
If you are one of those readers who feel a certain book gets recognition only because the author or the writer has won a prestigious award, then I would seriously suggest you to keep aside that presumption at least for this moment. Don’t miss reading this book; I assure you, this real-life story will become one of the most epic tales for centuries to come.
God bless her & may she keep inspiring billions across the world.
An amazing book and a must-read.
BOOK Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
MAUS won the Pulitzer prize award and yes, it is the first graphic novel to do so.
It was created by American cartoonist Art Spiegelman.
I came across this comic book and got inspired to read it completely as part of a MOOC from University of Boulder from Professor William Kuskin. I started writing the essay / thesis for this comic book and few of its pages as part of that amazing course and I found myself engrossed more and more in this book’s sheer brilliance and simplicity.
I have shared few insights that I have written in my thesis submitted as part of this course’s project as a review for this book here too.
This graphic novel (Comic book) describes in an art form, an experience that is extremely tragic in human history. This award winning comic book is more than just another Holocaust story. It is a bridge between the past and present. It focuses on Spiegelman and his complex relationship with his father Vladek.
Spiegelman has expressed the events of the Holocaust that have seemed to not just influence his father’s life, but at certain levels, still continuing to haunt Vladek. Vladek’s attempt to ‘explain’ to Artie, shows desperation to convince Artie to believe in him otherwise of the rationality or despair in making the decisions he had to, during and after the Holocaust.
Spiegelman has used animals to represent faces of different ethnic groups, Jews are mice, Nazis are cats etc, but when observed in their complete forms, the rest of their body moves and expresses with human emotions. This brings together an amazing tale in a very creative manner.
The detailed descriptions of ‘false wall’, ‘hidden by chandelier’ in this book give us a view of the frightened state of Jews seeking solace during these tragic years.
Using art, Spiegelman has expressed about different member’s state of mind at various points of time. There are scenes in this book wherein you can almost feel the emotions that are going through each character. The fear, anger, frustration, hope, despair, the need to simply unwind etc have been showcased brilliantly by the artist.
There are moments in this book wherein you are taken inside the WWII Holocaust period, the bunkers, ghettos etc when we see betrayals even among friends and family members for the mere sake of survival. These were the times when things went from bad to worse to absolute hell.
Art has shown brilliantly the grim aspects of the barbaric Ghetto, the army ‘cats’ sketched with details of whiskers depicting their fierce nature, lack of pupil filled with white space expressing scary personality coupled with guns pointed towards prisoners, thus overall creating an eerie scene. These minor details create and powerfully exemplify the command of the army during those horrid years over the submissive prisoners depicted here as MOUSE.
If historic events (sad, tragic or others) if such stories inspire you and if you enjoy the virulent form of comic art, then Art Spiegelman’s MAUS is a book that you need to read for sure.
It is a work of pure genius.
BOOK Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
3. The Future of Competition –
An insightful reading with some real-industry case study examples by two prominent experts in business industry.
Clear-cut, precise with actual industry based case study examples.
That’s what this book is all about.
The focus through the entire book is on “PERSONALIZED” experiences. Consumer experiences enhanced with ease of communication options and tools shared with customers, completely personal solutions customized to suit their requirements and needs. It talks about sharing solutions and feedback with your end users in a way that genuinely makes them feel that you have not only listened, but also showcases to them that you are putting maximum efforts to work on those to the extent possible from your end too, as a brand or an organization of course!
The core in this book is not merely on developing the solutions, but ensuring the choices of consumers are met and delivered as per their convenience. For eg, there is a very interesting case study of how a ‘house-boat’ in the form of a ‘getaway home or vacation home’ was designed step-by-step for the end user by integrating technology in the form of live feeds via video and web connect wherein the customer could actually see as his beautiful weekend home was being constructed at every stage as per his ideas and need of the same.
There are discussions about pricing products in supermarkets, technology driven innovative solutions and so much more that form part of this insightful and resourceful book.
The authors, C K Prahalad & Venkat Ramaswamy both experts in their field have shared examples from their presentations at Harvard about the same concepts few years ago. They discuss connect across suppliers, dealers, and support staff with customers and customers with one another as part of this complete process thereby further reiterating the importance of “listening” to customer needs in the true sense of the word. Here again, they have expanded the details of the same through a process called as the ‘nodal company’.
It is a wonderful book for any individual / professional in the field of corporate and or business management, especially if they are the ones interacting and engaging with the customers on a regular basis.
BOOK Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
You can get this book here – The Future of Competition – Co-creating unique value with customers – By C K Prahalad & Venkat Ramaswamy
4. BATMAN – Year One
“Batman: Year One”, is an American comic book story written by Frank Miller, illustrated by David Mazzucchelli, colored by Richmond Lewis, and lettered by Todd Klein.
Batman is truly a superhero across ages and genders. There is something about the Dark Knight that keep his fans coming back for more.
On the back of my mind, the one thing that stands out the most about this caped crusader is the fact that he is well, just human. He is a superhero who does not really have any superpowers, but appeals to the everyday common man who has been putting up a lot with the harsh realities of life. He is a man who is unlucky in love, life and fate has kept pushing him down every now and then, but he keeps coming back and hits harder than ever. He is the ultimate superhero who does not need to be the ‘good guy’ every time!
For me, being a BATMAN fan since early childhood (Batman – After two years, why I celebrated BATMAN 75 today) and the fact that BATMAN 75 has been celebrated worldwide, was another reason enough to engross myself in this amazing comic book:BATMAN year One, written by none other than, one of the greatest comic book artists of all time, FRANK MILLER!
For the regular BATMAN Movie fans, this Comic book would be very different than what they would have come to expect after seeing scores of BATMAN movies, including the epic iconic series by Nolan. BATMAN Year ONE is as much about Bruce Wayne and BATMAN as it is about the story of Jim Gordon. In fact, Gordon shares equal or may be even more screen-time in these comic book pages than the caped crusader himself.
Brilliant use of the Tiers, panels, splash and wide screen styles have been used in illustrating this epic comic book in a way, that one feels as though, you too are a part of this journey. The expressions, intensity showcased through the call-outs, illustrations, the use of contrast and dark colors throughout this book, makes it an unbelievably amazing feast to comic book fans and readers across ages.
This book runs across chapters and as each page progresses the connect between Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon begins, but not in a friendly way, might I add. In fact, it’s almost in the end chapter section panels that Gordon and Batman are shown to trust each other.
There are epic scenes in this comic book which showcase the transformation of BRUCE WAYNE to Batman – It shows the death of his parents, his training, his vengeance and the “SIGN and SYMBOL” that makes him, BATMAN.
Selina Kyle is depicted in an extremely different circumstances, she is shown in a role in which the average BATMAN fan cannot fathom and Gordon is shown to be a great fighter,a strong cop who faces and fights scores of people on his own. Most importantly, BATMAN is shown to be more human than we have ever seen him to be. This comic book, shakes the very foundation in which this amazing superhero story was built, especially for fans of BATMAN in today’s world.
This comic book, if not yet read, should be in your list for “Read RIGHT NOW” without a doubt and according to me, “BATMAN YEAR ONE” makes it to the list of Top 5 comic books in the world till date for sure.
There are also special sections wherein the artist and writer showcase their brilliance in terms of a very special “AFTERWORD”, BATMAN comic book sketches, pencil artworks (original ones scanned by the artists) and of course, the amazing scores of POSTERS released for the many editions and advertisements of this COMIC BOOK over the years.
It is a spectacular comic book, brilliantly written, flawlessly created in terms of artwork and brilliantly put together to make it an iconic comic book for fans and readers across the globe.
BOOK Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
5. BATMAN – The Killing JOKE
Batman: The Killing Joke is a graphic novel written by English author Alan Moore and drawn by English illustrator Brian Bolland published in the United States by DC Comics in 1988.
Right from the very first page, the details of the Arkham asylum, the UNKNOWN name plate where the JOKER is kept captive (or what seems so!), Gordon putting his faith on the caped crusader to do the questioning ‘by the rules’, the cell block with the JOKER in view in silhouette all this time and with that, the entry of the DARK KNIGHT, in silhouette of course, creates an amazing cinematic scene in front of you.
In those very moments, you almost forget that this isn’t a movie, but a comic book. Plus, this one being the SPECIAL DELUXE Edition of the comic book, the coloring and the details are truly flawless and impeccable through each and every panel and tier of the comic book pages.
The first conversation, between JOKER and BATMAN are not something that you would expect, though the scene would bring back the epic movie experience from NOLAN’s – The Dark Knight Rises where BATMAN meets The JOKER in the jail cell.
There are scenes throughout the comic book wherein, as a Tier panel and page ends, the next panel continues in the same style or creative as the earlier one as though with an attempt to soothe readers into the changes in the plots and scenes. It’s like the intention of the artist is, for the readers of this comic book to read it as though they are watching the movie and the camera angles are providing the best views so as to ensure the viewers sights blend into each scene smoothly from one plot to another.
This Comic Book,as the name suggests, is about the origin story of the JOKER. The whole book revolves around this one tag line – “ONE BAD DAY” and how that day transformed this ‘common man’ to become BATMAN’s greatest nemesis and the super-villain as we all know him to be.
It also takes a powerful twist as it showcases The JOKER inflicting chaos, pain, suffering like we have never seen before and that too on Gordon and his daughter. Readers should note that this is no ordinary Comic book – It comes with a special text – For Mature Audiences only and yes, the illustrations in the book really mean it!
In this, the Clown Prince of Crime, The JOKER, takes things to an extremely personal level, more than we could imagine him to. He is simply vicious and has only one clear goal in mind – To make people experience ONE BAD DAY, break them and drive them insane! What’s more, he wants them to embrace that insanity with flair too!
This graphic novel won the Eisner Award for ‘Best Graphic Album’ and garnered Alan Moore the ‘Best Writer’ award in 1989.
Even though this book has been rated as one of the greatest comic books of all time (only to follow BATMAN Year ONE), I personally would rate this as the Greatest Comic Book of all time. May be it is the ferocity in the pages, may be it is the story of a common man, or rather, two regular men, just living their lives, facing death of loved ones, being the victim through no fault of their own, but two people, who take very different paths to deal with their pain.
The intense sketches, powerful graphic illustrations that showcases blood, gruesome fights and mature scenes inflated with a dose of insane genius, coupled with an amazingly brilliant story-line creates the greatest COMIC BOOK of all time. That too, when I view the pages of this DELUXE Edition of the comic book, it’s simply out of this world.
Another important fact to note is that, this book has been one of the serious discussions in the subjects of FEMINISM, for depicting the violence towards the way Gordon’s daughter is treated by the Joker in this comic book. Yes, I felt that too, at times, as I flipped through the pages, I definitely questioned the reason behind depicting so much violence on Barbara Gordon and the answer is no, no…. it was definitely not necessary. It hurts me to say that about this epic book, but all I can quote here is that, I can merely hope for the writers of this book to come up with a perfect story that showcases Barbara surfacing as the Batgirl (Though the debate ensues for her either as the ORACLE or the BATGIRL, I would like for her to recover from the paralysis due to the bullet from The JOKER gushing through her spine and for her to return as the awesome BATGIRL) and doing some power packed kickin’ as she brings justice in the coming years side by side with the caped crusader.
Then there are these amazing scenes too, inside the circus (The freak circus). The confrontation between the BATMAN and the Joker here are simply amazing. You can feel the insanity of the Clown prince in these scenes as he speaks through the microphone as though trying to build a relationship and connect with the BATMAN on why they both are the way they are.
This is one of my most favorite scenes in the comic book where you can see, you can almost feel the clown prince at the edge of ‘sanity’ as he is then pushed beyond those lines in the coming panels that drives him to become THE JOKER. Also, the panel before this scene (showcased below), was yet another brilliant way of creating the link and connect from one plot to another by the artists. In the earlier scene, there is an exact same body language and structure shown, except, in the place of the clown, we can see the JOKER’s wife with her arm extended as she smilingly expresses her love towards her husband.
At the end, there is the AFTERWORD by the artist himself, the sketches, few of the original artworks scanned, the story and illustration of the “INNOCENT GUY”, the real story behind the re-coloring, story-line etc of BATMAN – The Killing JOKE, all of which are brilliantly showcased through these amazingly spectacular comic book pages.
If you love reading comic books, then I am sure you have already read this one for sure! If not, then I really doubt whether you love comic books Just kidding! 🙂 – Hey, why so serious? 🙂
Have a blast reading this epic book some day soon if you haven’t already.
Looking forward to more such brilliant masterpieces in the near future from these artists and (yes, for the sake of our very own sanity) do showcase a story with Barbara as the BATGIRL……..SOON!
BOOK Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
Well, that sums up the 5 Books that I read during these two weeks. Each were brilliant at their own expertise and genres. I loved reading all of them.
I love reading books of various genres, especially – Management, Social media Marketing and Branding, Biographies / Autobiographies, Self-help, Fiction and Graphic Novels.
Some of my all-time favorite books from each genre are:
- Graphic Novels: MAUS, BATMAN – The Killing Joke, Batman – Year One, Batman – The Dark Knight returns
- Biographies / Autobiographies: Steve Jobs, Churchill: A life, Maus, I am Malala
- Management Books: The Essential Drucker , The One Minute Manager, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People , The Six Sigma Way, Who Moved My Cheese, The Toyota Way, The IBM way, Edward De Bono – The Six thinking hats, Bhagavad Gita, Bible, Ramayana
- Self-help books: Think and Grow Rich, Awaken the Giant Within, The monk who sold his Ferrari, Rich Dad Poor Dad
- Fiction Books: 100 years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera, Living to Tell the Tale, Memories of My Melancholy Whores, Autumn of the Patriarch, The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor, Innocent Erendira, The Great Gatsby, A portrait of the artist as a young man, David Copperfield, War & Peace, The Brothers Karamazov, The Lord Of The Rings , To Kill A Mockingbird, The Da Vinci Code
- Favorite Authors: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Leo Tolstoy, Sudha Murthy, Robin Sharma, Dan Brown
BOOKS written by me:
- Poem: Expressions (Check out the TOI interview – CLICK HERE to read it) – Expressions by Ananthanarayanan V at Barnes & Noble
What books do you enjoy reading? Do share your comments and views with me here.
Have an amazing weekend ahead.
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