Books


One of the very few good habits of mine is reading books. I have somehow understood that reading widens the outlook.

I like Chris Anderson as much as I like Malcolm Gladwell. Chris’ first book   The Long Tail is out. I am kinda longing to get my hands on to that.

A quick summing up of the books goes like this….

Essentially the book explains how the market for lots of items that sell a few units is often as large as the market for a few items that sell a lot of units. Furthermore, the profitably of selling a few units of a lot of items may exceed the profitability of selling a lot of units of a few items. All this is possible because the Internet and other modern technologies have driven down the costs of production and distribution

I hope Jaga lives upto his promises of getting me the book when I return to Chennai. 🙂

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The first was from Warren Buffett's partner, Charlie Munger:

On the importance of reading: "In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn't read all the time — none, zero… You'd be amazed at how much Warren reads — at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I'm a book with a couple of legs sticking out."  –Charlie Munger's Worldly Wisdom   

The second commentary was from Barton Biggs:

"Reading is definitely  my thing, too and I think you have to read not just business stuff but also history, novels, and even some poetry. Investing is about glimpsing, however dimly, the ebb and flow of human events. It's very much about breasting the tides of emotion, too, which is where the novels and poetry come in. Besides, sometimes you have to refresh your mind and soul by consuming some crafted, eloquent writing." –Hedgehogging

We all know about, Kaavya Viswanathan, the Harvard undergraduate who signed a cool half-million book deal during her freshman year, stands accused of plagiarizing.

I was kinda interested on the level of "copying". Here it is,

From page 7 of McCafferty’s first novel: “Bridget is my age and lives across the street. For the first twelve years of my life, these qualifications were all I needed in a best friend. But that was before Bridget’s braces came off and her boyfriend Burke got on, before Hope and I met in our seventh-grade honors classes.

From page 14 of Viswanathan’s novel: “Priscilla was my age and lived two blocks away. For the first fifteen years of my life, those were the only qualifications I needed in a best friend. We had first bonded over our mutual fascination with the abacus in a playgroup for gifted kids. But that was before freshman year, when Priscilla’s glasses came off, and the first in a long string of boyfriends got on.”

Wow ! Here are more examples of the passages she lifted

Even more embarrasingly, Viswanathan tells the Harvard Crimson that any similarities were completely unintentional and unconscious.

A fascinating (if not troubling) piece from the Providence Journal. Excerpt:

Kaavya Viswanathan is the daughter of two New Jersey doctors who sent her to a competitive private high school. She was a good student, and apparently a good young writer. But was she good enough to get into Harvard on her own? To get a book published on her own?

Perhaps. But in each case, she had a whole lot of help. She had help from a new phenomenon that might be referred to as "packaging agencies."…

Her parents hired an outfit called IvyWise to help get their daughter into a top college. It's headed by Katherine Cohen, who graduated from Brown University in 1989, and is one of the most successful college consultants out there. The New York Times says she charges $33,000 for two years of consulting … The agency does far more than help kids with applications. It structures their whole lives — for years — to enhance their chances … I checked the IvyWise Web site, and learned they … even offer help for nursery-school applicants.

So Kaavya wasn't just another "student" applying to Harvard. She was an elaborately packaged "pitch."

One of her former instructors has surfaced at Metafilter to offer some perspective:

Kaavya was my student last spring (in a section where I was a TA). I was surprised to learn she had written a book, as her writing was awful– I had given her low grades on her papers.I feel bad for her, even though she was always falling asleep in section (as if you don’t notice a snoozing person sitting at a conference table for ten). Plagiarizing from chick lit has to be some kind of double whammy against artistic integrity.

Another trivia here is , Kaavya is born in Chennai !! 😉

“Stumbling on Happiness” by Dan Gilbert, a psychologist at Harvard is  a book that I am longing to read.

 Malcolm Gladwell reviews the book: I suppose that I really should go on at this point, and talk in more detail about what Gilbert means by that—and how his argument unfolds. But I feel like that might ruin the experience of reading Stumbling on Happiness. This is a psychological detective story about one of the great mysteries of our lives. If you have even the slightest curiosity about the human condition, you ought to read it. Trust me.