Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Family and Other Animals - Gerald Durrell

"My Family and Other Animals" is the bewitching account of a rare and magical childhood on the island of Corfu by treasured British conservationist Gerald Durrell.
 Escaping the ills of the British climate, the Durrell family - acne-ridden Margo, gun-toting Leslie, bookworm Lawrence and budding naturalist Gerry, along with their long-suffering mother and Roger the dog - take off for the island of Corfu. 
But the Durrells find that, reluctantly, they must share their various villas with a menagerie of local fauna - among them scorpions, geckos, toads, bats and butterflies.
Recounted with immense humor and charm

Goodreads Rating - 4.28 out of 5 (15010 Ratings; 1078 Reviews)

My Review:
I really enjoyed this book. 
The humor Durrell brings  while narrating the incidents (and accidents !!) involving the  animals and his family during their sojourn in Corfu has to be read to be enjoyed !
I don't count myself as an animal enthusiast. 
But the descriptions of the lifestyles and mannerisms of the animals featuring in this book were so vivid and captivating that I could not resist searching the web to see their pictures and know more about them.
A fabulous read !


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Monday, December 29, 2014

Manage It! - Johanna Rothman

Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management
This book is a reality-based guide for modern projects. 
You'll learn how to recognize your project's potholes and ruts, and determine the best way to fix problems - without causing more problems.

Your project can’t fail. 
That’s a lot of pressure on you, and yet you don’t want to buy into any one specific process, methodology, or lifecycle.
Your project is different. It doesn’t fit into those neat descriptions.
Manage It! will show you how to beg, borrow, and steal from the best methodologies to fit your particular project.
 It will help you find what works best for you and not for some mythological project that doesn’t even exist.
Before you know it, your project will be on track and headed to a successful conclusion. 
  •  Learn all about different project lifecycles
  •  See how to organize a project
  •  Compare sample project dashboards
  •  See how to staff a project
  •  Know when you’re done—and what that means.
You won’t need expensive tools or fancy software. 
Manage It! shows you how to use low-tech techniques to directly address the most pressing problems of modern software project development.

 [Book Description Source:  The Pragmatic Book Shelf ]

Goodreads Rating - 3.89 out of 5 (120 Ratings; 16 Reviews)

My Review:
A very useful guidebook for managing projects in a very pragmatic and sensible way.  
Will enable smooth transition from traditional project management to agile project management wherever needed.


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Saturday, December 20, 2014

The World of Malgudi - R.K. Narayan

In a writing career spanning over half a century, R.K. Narayan created the imagined landscape of a town called Malgudi, located somewhere in South India. 
Malgudi is a town just like any other, its inhabitants like old familiars one might meet round the corner of any ordinary street. 
With deft strokes of his pen, Narayan is able to flesh out characters and situations that entertain us on the first reading and linger in our memory for years afterwards.

The World of Malgudi brings together four of Narayan's most memorable novels set in Malgudi. 

In Mr Sampath, we are told of the collaborative efforts of Srinivas, the editor, and Mr Sampath, the printer, who work together on a local weekly .
We next meet Margayya, in The Financial Expert, who sits under a banyan tree and gives advice on methods of extracting loans from the local cooperative bank.
In The Painter of Signs, we encounter the unlikely love story of Raman, the local signboard painter, and Daisy, a birth-control propagandist who is on a visit to Malgudi. 
Finally, in A Tiger for Malgudi, a venerable tiger looks back over his life, from his early days roaming wild in the jungle to his unhappy years in captivity. 

Available for the first time in a collectors' edition, with an illuminating introduction by S.Krishnan, the novels in this volume will be a delight for Narayan's fans as well as for first-time readers.
  [Source: Book Cover ]

My Review:
I have been a great fan of R.K. Narayan ever since I first read his novel "The Dark Room" when I was a kid.
It was a real pleasure to read this anthology of four of his novels in this book.
The novel "A Tiger for Malgudi" in this compilation is  totally different from any other novel the author has written. It has a unique blend of philosophy, satire and humor. I liked this one the best in this book. [All Project Tiger enthusiasts will love it too !]

  • I remember reading somewhere that the name "Malgudi" was created by R.K. Narayan by combining the names of two well known localities in Bangalore - Malleswaram and Basavanagudi
  • R.K. Narayan's grandson was my colleague and we often used to discuss about Narayan's writings , during our 40 km commute back home from our factory.

    Buying Options 

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    Friday, December 12, 2014

    What Works for GE May Not Work For You - Lawrence Solow and Brenda Fake

    Using Human System Dynamics to Build a Culture of Process Improvement
    This book provides new tools for managing and sustaining process improvement in today’s complex non-linear environments and helps readers apply new, relevant theory to their own management practices. 
    With more than 50 combined years of change management and process improvement consulting experience, the authors offer valuable practical insights for creating dynamic organizational change. The first section of the book describes the key bodies of knowledge and process improvement processes (Lean, Six Sigma, and Human Systems Dynamics) used throughout the text. 
    The next two sections focus on the case story of TryinHard Marine. 
    The authors first highlight the dynamics of a typical linear process improvement implementation. 
    They then present ways to combat a range of complex, non-linear, and emergent organizational issues as they arise during the implementation of a Six Sigma initiative. 
    The last part explains how to assess readiness to begin a process improvement initiative, select consultants and internal "Belt" candidates, and choose the appropriate tools for projects. The authors also introduce additional tools and concepts to enable adaptive action at all levels of an organization.
    This book provides useful information for thinking and behaving in adaptive ways that can be applied to any organization. 
    By using the concepts, models, and tools presented, readers can improve their own business improvement processes.

     [Source: ]

    Goodreads Rating - 3.0 out of 5 (2 Ratings; 0 Reviews)

    My Review:
    Being a process improvement professional for so many years has taught me that you cannot ignore the human element in any process improvement initiative. 
    Nor can you take a cookie cutter approach of installing a methodology, model or framework without adapting it  to the needs of your own organization.
    This book is a very good introduction on how to take into account the complexity of human interactions in an organizational level process improvement effort. 
    Though the example given in this book is about Six Sigma the concepts are equally applicable for any process improvement initiative.  
    Be it Agile, CMMI, Lean or any other flavor of the day.
    A must read for all process improvement professionals !


    Buying Options 

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    Readers in Other Countries 
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    (Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones and tablets.)