The British Asian Blog

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Category: Book & Reviews

I Own Something Special: Steve Jobs Biography

I finally own Steve Jobs Biography by Walter Isaacson.  There was no particular reason why I waited this long.  Maybe because I wanted to absorb the news that Steve Jobs was actually dead, so the more I waited to get hold of his biography the more I’d appreciate it as time goes on.

So, on Saturday, while I visited my local town centre – I happen to pay a visit to my local Waterstones store.  My real intention was to search for a another Project Management related book and have a coffee – but the Bibliography of Steve Jobs caught my attention.  This is no way a promoting post for Waterstones but to be honest, they had reduced the book to only £11.99 making this the cheapest place to buy the book after Tesco at £14.00.

While, I sat in front of the fire at home, I happen to take Steve Jobs biography out of its bag, and just simply hold it in two hands and stare at the front cover – his photo.  I felt as if I was holding something special in my hands, not felt like this before with any other book or biography – was I holding a revolution, a piece of history one which I was very much part of?  I don’t know – but whatever was in my hands seemed to be special and I could feel it.

As a result of my feelings around this biography – I have decided to put all other reading materials aside, and to make reading this biography a priority.  I honestly don’t know what or how I might feel after I have read it, but something tells me – I’m in for some inspiration.  I guess a lot is due to the fact that Information Technology (IT) is a big part of my life, something I was fond of since a child, through my GCSE’s to College, and then through University.  I studied Software Engineering, Software Development Applications and later e-Commerce and e-Solutions for the World Wide Web.  My career although is in healthcare the main area is mainly focused around Information Technology – so I can no doubt relate to the visions of Steve Jobs, probably since childhood.

This was a brief post, just to share my feeling with you all.  I will however share my views and thoughts with you once I have completed reading the biography and have absorbed the information.  When I get the feeling of being a little nervous before reading a particular book – I know something special is in it.

 

 

Are Public Libraries Dying or Thriving?

Are Public Libraries dying or thriving – By The British Asian Blog

There are moments in life when issues that you are most concerned about, that are occupying your thinking time suddenly come out into the open in the news, as if the news medium tapped into your mind and decided to publish your deep concerns for the wider community to see.  Such moment happened to me last Thursday and Friday.

While commuting into work, I picked up this thing you get for free in the railway station called ‘Metro’, which I make a point of never reading.  I don’t know what it was but my instinct took me to a news article which addressed an issue.  This was the exact same issue I had been debating silently in my mind for over a week.  You can find the same article here.

If you have time I do suggest you read the articles here and here, you will then understand my concern relating to Libraries.  The big question for me is “Are Public libraries in the UK dying or are they Thriving?”  Allow me to highlight some of my concerns, my views and opinion below:

Libraries have been a big part of my life and I’m sure going forward they will continue to be.  For me a library is a magical place, a place where knowledge of the world is contained for everyone to access.  It a place where you can break away from daily life distractions and open a new phase of life, possibilities and endless dreams and visions.  A library for me is the place which contributes to your character and shapes your personality of who you are and what you’re going to become.  I may write another blog post about how important libraries have been in my life.  But for the sake of my concerns I’ll limit what I write.

Discussion:

My opinion on this issue is that libraries are being used less by the public.  This is evident in at least in my own city, where once a thriving 8 floor central library has over the years shrunk to just 2.5 floors.  This I believe is linked to two main reasons:

1. People now have PC’s with Internet access in their homes, information is available at their finger tips and the information is almost endlessly available via the Internet.

2.  With the recent development of technology, we as people are using our handheld devices more and more for everything including reading.  Technology has therefore been developed to provide us with information digitally no matter where we are.  iPads, tablets, E-readers and Kindle devices have become a big hit with general public.

It’s common to see these e-readers or kindle devices more commonly while commuting to and from work; books will slowly fade away as people choose digital books over printed material.  The impact is obvious as less and less people will use their local library.

What makes matters even worse is the current economic situation, with the UK heading towards a double-dip recession funding for libraries is being cut on a massive scale, resulting in some small libraries closing, big ones having to reduce their operations and scale down on their facilities.  Does this mean Libraries are dying?

Although I believe libraries are not the same as they once were.  I am also optimistic that libraries will evolve and survive these turbulent times.

It can therefore be argued that precisely because the financial situation for everyone has changed for the worse by the current economic crisis that people and families have less money to spend.  People who once purchased a book online will now have a less expensive option in simply borrowing the book for free from their local library.

For this reason, Libraries are being used more and more, more so now than before the credit crisis.  Although its true people don’t take books out as often (if you compare to last 30 years or so) instead poorer families still rely on the library as their main source of information and resources:  PC, Internet Access, News papers, travelling guides are very popular.  What’s more is that libraries have evolved to accommodate community activities, hosting meetings and conferences, running charity events and become a hub for youth services.

The one real threat to books is ebooks.  There is always going to be a debate about piracy and security of ebooks but some public Libraries have embraced this form of reading material.  Evidence suggests some libraries have actually started to loan out ebooks to people with compatible devices.  For this they need to visit their library.  The loan time is the same as borrowing a book, and once your loan times expires the device deletes the ebook.

I’d like to read your thoughts on this matter.  To make people opinions count as statistics I have added a Poll below asking the question:  “Are Public libraries in the UK Dying or Thriving?”

My Latest Reads

My Latest Reads, The British Asian Book Reivew

Few days ago, I completed my review for a Saraswati Park By Anjali Joseph.  Although this book a little long to read then my normal maximum one week per book dealing (due to a business holiday in between) it was still worth sharing my review.

This morning, I made my routine Saturday morning visit to my library and from the availble books I managed to pick a few for my latest reads.

For those who are not familiar with my style of reading, let me just explain that for the sake of this blog I mainly focus on reading novels based on British Asians or authors who are British Asian or Asian.  That said, I don’t limit my readings just to this category but do read on many other categories too.  But since my blog theme is mainly around British Asian I’d like to keep my readings limited to this.

Here are a list of books (not in) order:

1.  Londonstani – Gautam Malkani

2.  Something to Tell You – Hanif Kureishi

3.  Black Mamba Boy – Nadifa Mohamed

Londonstani - Gautam Malkani Something to Tell You - Hanif Kureishi Black Mamba Boy - Nadifa Mohamed

As and when I finish each book (I hope a week for each novel) I will share my review with you guys.  In the interim if you like to comment on these books, or have other books in mind that fit the bill and believe it will be a good read for me, then I’d like to hear about them too.

Saraswati Park By Anjali Joseph – Book Review

Author:  Anjali Joseph

Title:  Saraswati Park

Publisher:  Fourth Estate

Published:  3 March 2011

Pages:  300

 

Review by The British Asian Blog

I’ve never been to Mumbai in India, but the novelist Anjali Joseph made me feel as if I had been there during the time when Mohan is working as a letter writer, and there with Mohan’s nephew Ashish who is sent to live with his uncle and retake his final year at college.  The story forms around three main characters, Mohan and his nephew Ashish and a secondary character Lakshmi who remains slightly out of focus in this story as Mohan’s wife.

Mohan is the reason why I like this book so much, because his story forms the foundation on which the story is set on.  Not only does Mohan makes me see the things he sees, he makes me feel the things he feels but there is allot going on than just his regular daily routine, and Mohan gradually opens up and tells you about it.

Mohan’s job as a letter writer is a job which once flourished, and he explains how so many people use to sit outside the courts under this huge tree writing letters for other people and over the years he has seen his work colleagues fade away to only a handful.  His job use to be one of pride and being able to write letters fill in forms and simply write things for people who couldn’t.  But now he feels stuck between a job which no longer pride but only a necessity.

Mohan is joined by his Nephew, a teenager who is struggling to find his feet.  A character which is opposite to Mohan in many ways.  Both male characters share their struggles with you as a reader and because most of us have gone through similar feelings some point in our lifes – we can relate and feel for them.  Lakshmi on the other hand appears at first to be a women in control and like a robot stuck to her routine.  But just like the other two male characters she shares her concerns and issues gradually and you can help but feel for her.

Saraswati Park is filled with interesting characters and what makes this book so interesting is how the surroundings are explained.  You can simply picture yourself inside the scenes of this book.

Saraswati Park in its self is half a character in this book; it’s a place where all emotions are captured and a place which brings together the goods, the bads, the highs and the lows.

The author Anjali Joseph has done remarkably well with this debut novel, although the ending is somewhat disappointing in comparison to the start and middle of the story – but I guess this is a clever little move by the author to keep you engaged with the novel right till the last words.  I have formed my opinion of the author as someone with potential and I am keen to see what else is in the pipe line.

Overall, I would rate this novel 7.5 out of 10.

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