When I learn about a new interesting idea present in a book, I read the book to explore the idea deeply and explore similar concepts and other ideas in the vicinity. In each book, there are some certain points which stay in my mind for a longer time and I try to put them into practice. In this blog, I wish to explain such ideas from the books that I have read in 2020. The reason I wish to not write summary or reviews because there are already enough of them online. I wish to list down such things from each book that I have read.

My personal Favourites - What I feel everyone should read

  • Peak by Andres Ericsson: To know the psychology of expertise. The book also contains effective methods of learning a skill and acquiring knowledge. The world would surely change rapidly, if the ideas of the book are implemented in modern learning systems! To quote the author, “we would see ourselves as homo exercens”.
  • Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport: To understand the effects of social media and to realise that you don’t really need it!
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport: A surprising way to be happy and lead a meaningful life!
  • Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan: To get a good understand of some important economic ideas. The book doesn’t just let you throw facts. It is a kind of discussion on different ideas and how they affect us. It ignites a great interest for economics. Charles Wheelan is one of the coolest authors!
  • Courage to be Disliked by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi: To know Adlerian Psychology. Why you should care about Adlerian Psychology? - It gives a new perspective to look at events and relationships in life.
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Feynamn has really lived one heck of a cool life. You will surely enjoy the anecdotes, and there are many good things to learn.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

  1. Proactive nature: This is the first habit mentioned in the book. When things don’t go well, it is easy(and also tendency) to blame things that are around us for the situation. And hence we sit depressed or frustrated not making any forward steps. In such cases, by being proactive one can improve the situation, My definition of “Proactivity” is to work on things that are under one’s influence. For example, there is something that you plan to do it a group, if things don’t go as planned or people don’t cooperate - Stop blaming situation and people and try to figure out what went wrong, and slowly start doing things that you can do, and slowly you will find things getting better eventually. Even if the task remained unaccomplished, you will have learnt a lot and developed a positive attitude towards things.

  2. Start with End in mind: This is the second habit in the book. When you plan to do something, the general way people tend to start is with go with things currently at hand and start figuring out things as time passes. But a better idea(in fact the best) would be to plan till the end in the beginning itself with a proper timeline. This is helpful because it saves a lot of time as you go. Every time when at a certain stage of the process, you don’t have to start from scratch and you can work on improving and modifying things that were planned previously. But one can ask what is the use of a plan, if we are not going to follow it as it is. Some wise person had already answered it in this way…

    “No war has been won according to the plan, but also no war has been won without one”

    Even in investment, people suggest that it is better to have a bad strategy than having no strategy at all. For example, in the process, if something unexpected happens, the plan gives a better framework to deal with the unexpected things as you a have an idea of what is expected in the future, without planning you would completely be confused on what to do and it is more likely that it will lead to a bad decision. In the above sentences I have vaguely used the word planning. But to put it in simple words, start when you have a vision of how things are going to end. Though, it might turn out that things end up differently, but it is highly likely that they will end in a far better way than if you have not planned.

  3. Do what’s not urgent and important: We know the Cartesian 2D plane. Two perpendicular lines - X and Y axes dividing the plane into 4 Quadrants. With each Quadrant having a unique sign combination of pair of numbers, like in the 1st Quadrant, both the numbers have a positive sign, while in the 3rd Quadrant, both the numbers have negative sign. In this book, author the same concept to divide tasks - using the axes - “Important tasks” and “Urgent tasks”. Now this divides all your tasks into 4 categories - “Important and Urgent tasks”, “Important and not Urgent tasks”, “Not important and Urgent tasks” and “Not important and not Urgent tasks”. Now the author suggests, the one must plan a day to focus most of his/her time on the tasks that are “Important and not Urgent” and try minimising the tasks in “Urgent and Important Quadrant”. It might be tempting to make a to do list and perform the tasks that are at hand(Urgent and important) and feel productive. But one must note that it is important to give time to tasks which matter in the long run - the one that are important but not urgent. By planning to give time regularly to “Important and non urgent” tasks we make continuous progress and it gives enough time for making revisions and also for creative ideas to strike. Needless to say, one must try avoiding the tasks that are not important and not urgent.

The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters

  1. There is not one of you: There are times, when I hate my mind for coming up with unwanted thoughts and for distracting towards unnecessary things. On self-reflection, I used to get frustrated thinking “Why do I get such thoughts???”. This book gave me a change of perspective on how mind works. To give a high level overview, different parts of the brain give rise to different thoughts, the author calls the irrational part - Monkeys’ part and the rational part - the human(There is another part which the author calls the computer, which gives output involuntarily. Also there is a classification on the types of monkeys in brain too!). It is the tendency of the monkey to come up with thoughts and responses that are generally not advisable like getting frustrated and shouting on people, feeling emotional unnecessarily, trying to capture attention. The author explains in the book, that it is the default nature of the monkey in the brain, and one can overcome it not by fighting the monkey but by taming the monkey. For example, when something goes wrong, then the tendency of monkey would be react emotionally - shouting on people or breaking things. But if you pause for a moment, you will give time for “human” part of the brain to step in the picture and think what exactly went wrong and what to do next. This was a whole new paradigm shift for me on how I look at myself. Now when I get some unwanted thoughts, I try to remind myself that it is the “monkey” in my mind which is trying to command. All I need to do is, realise this fact, acknowledge it and let the human slowly take control over. If all this sounds strange, I may have done a very bad job in explaining things. Read the book more if you are curious.

  2. Anything is as serious as you want it to be

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

  1. It is not necessary to use Facebook, twitter and Instagram. You don’t need all of them: It is a general tendency of people to create all social media accounts and scroll through them whenever one is free. It is somehow expected from you to be active on these platforms and respond to posts and messages actively. But do you really need it? In the book, the author introduces a experiment, where he asks people to stop using this social media for a period of month. If you seriously feel the need of any of them - for example you need to check a Facebook page regularly, bookmark the page and visit it only once or twice a day, don’t spend time scrolling through any of the feed. At the end of the month, you realise that anything has hardly changed, and your life went smoothly though you were not active on any of the platforms. But there is a positive side effect of this - You get a lot of free time(really a lot!) and you are less anxious because you are not having any information to react upon. The author argues that feed of these social media platforms are designed to hook you. As a result, a lot more time is wasted than you expect(You can try tracking your usage time using an app like Moment). This has been a great realisation for me.
  2. But at what cost?: Some people argue that the social media help them to keep updated with the people they know. It also helps in exploring many new things. But at what cost? To know how your friends are doing, a better way would be to meet them directly or talk to them on a call. You will soon realise that a personal chat will be more effective than a comment on your friend’s Instagram story. As mentioned above, you lose a lot of time scrolling the feed due to its very addictive nature. And the information you wish to gain is only from a set of few specific web pages(which can be a subreddit page, a facebook page or an instagram page). It is a better idea to bookmark those pages and visit them periodically(once in a day). That will save again a lot of time!!!
  3. Using social media causes anxiety. Boredom is good for you: The author presents a study in the book, which claims that the number of depressed high school students have been increased due to increase in their usage of social media. The reason the author explains is that these kids don’t get any time to reflect on their own thoughts. Hence feel depressed, as they don’t understand what is going with them as they have never spent time thinking about themselves and their thoughts. In short, they never had time alone with thoughts. Whenever, they get free time, they scroll the feed and consume massive amount of useful information, most of which makes them anxious. Instead, if you are bored, stay bored. Boredom is good for you. Not yet convinced? - Watch this video!. I personally found my anxiety to decrease as a lot of information on the social media was disturbing for me. I used to waste time thinking - who the heck was the boy that this girl had tagged? And I ended up wasting time stalking that boy!!! And free time eventually became frustrating. Not going through the feed of any of the social media not only saves time but reduces anxiety.

Deep Work by Cal Newport

  1. You are happy when you spend time focusing intensely on a task: The central idea of the book is to introduce this idea of “Deep work” - intensely focusing on the tasks, that require mental efforts. Before suggesting ways on how this can be implemented in your work - the author gives psychological, philosophical motivation for deep work to be part of your life. And in these pages, he claims that there has been studies where happiness and amount of focused work are directly related. And this is true, the most satisfying times are when I get to think on something challenging for days! This was originally introduced by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi with the concept named “flow”. Once you realise this fact, you know how to increase the amount of happiness. By planning to spend time on more such tasks! But doing such tasks are mentally exhausting. The book offers many optimum ways in which one can do it efficiently. Do give it a read, if you are interested in learning more about productivity stuff.

  2. Planning the day: Inspiration is a limited resource and practically it is difficult to create it then and there to focus intensely on a task. Also sometimes, in the array of tasks, it is difficult to figure out what to do now and how long should you do it? Hence the best strategy would be to plan the day before hand. Plan what each hour of your day is going to be like. This will also help to not get lost on the immediate tasks you have at hand and will give you enough time to focus on things that matter in the long run. Read more about time blocking. The author explains that this regularity has been the key and how great people like Charles Darwin follow this seriously.

    Great minds think like an artist, but work like an accountant

    (The idea echoes with “Start with end in the mind” habit from the book - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. It is really fascinating to find principles and ideas in one book are used as foundation for building other good habits mentioned in some other book. And sometimes, you also find the same thing being explained at different levels in different books.)

How to live on 24 hours a day by Arnold Bennett

  1. Plan a day after your working day: The book was written in 1900s, to suggest the people of England not to waste time after their working day in useless things rather involve the time in better things like reading poetry or literature. It is a very short book - around 50 pages if I remember correctly. But the interesting argument I found in the book is he suggests that planning and investing time in such things will not make you tired as many people think. In fact, it will boost your enthusiasm if you find great interest in such things. The same argument is used by Cal Newport in the above 2 books I had mentioned. This is how I found this short book!

The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch

  1. It is really a cool idea: There is this famous law called - Pareto’s law which claims just 20% of the causes are responsible for 80% of the outcomes. The same law applies to different fields. To quote the book

    In business, many examples of the 80/20 Principle have been validated. 20 per cent of products usually account for about 80 per cent of dollar sales value; so do 20 per cent of customers. 20 per cent of products or customers usually also account for about 80 per cent of an organisation’s profits.

    In society, 20 per cent of criminals account for 80 per cent of the value of all crime. 20 per cent of motorists cause 80 per cent of accidents. 20 per cent of those who marry comprise 80 per cent of the divorce statistics (those who consistently remarry and re-divorce distort the statistics and give a lopsidedly pessimistic impression of the extent of marital fidelity). 20 per cent of children attain 80 per cent of educational qualifications available. In the home, 20 per cent of your carpets are likely to get 80 per cent of the wear. 20 per cent of your clothes will be worn 80 per cent of the time. And if you have an intruder alarm, 80 per cent of the false alarms will be set off by 20 per cent of the possible causes.

    The internal combustion engine is a great tribute to the 80/20 Principle. 80 per cent of the energy is wasted in combustion and only 20 per cent gets to the wheels; this 20 per cent of the input generates 100 per cent of the output!

    So, whenever there are too many things you want to deal with, focus first on right 20%!

Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude by Michael S. Erwin and Raymond Kethledge

  1. Solitude is necessary for a leader to make important and better decisions: The book contains various stories from different great leaders and how solitude played a key role in taking decisions at the crucial moments in their lives. The beginning part of the book contains stories, with military background. But in the later parts of the book - the stories of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Aung San Suu Kyi are really interesting and inspiring.

  2. Lincoln’s attitude: There are many great stories which depict Lincoln’s simplicity and great character. My favourite ones are

    When someone saw Abraham Lincoln shining his own shoes in his White House office, the onlooker asked, “Mr. President, why are you blacking your own shoes?” Lincoln responded, “Whose shoes would you have me black?”

    and the letter to his son’s teacher.

    This book contains 2 more interesting stories

    1. During civil war, Abraham Lincoln was angry on a person as he had missed an opportunity to end the war. Abraham Lincoln never reacted or shouted on the man. Instead, he went in solitude wrote a letter and NEVER SENT it. In fact, he would write on the letter: ‘Never sent. Never signed’ on such letters. After few days, Abraham Lincoln was back to work in great spirits. This really explains how catharsis can be really powerful. The mere act of writing down things really cools down your head and helps you think.

    2. Quoting directly from the book…

      As Doris Kearns Goodwin observes, Lincoln “possessed extraordinary empathy—the gift or curse of putting himself in the place of another, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.

      “He was uncommonly tenderhearted. He once stopped and tracked back half a mile to rescue a pig caught in the mire —not because he loved the pig,” but just to take the “‘pain out of his own mind.’”

Principles by Ray Dalio

  1. Finding out mistake is not wrong: It is generally a common notion that it is wrong to point out other’s mistakes or worry that if they do so, they might feel bad. But in fact you are helping your friend when you point out his/her mistakes. Generally for humans, it is difficult to find out our own mistakes. We believe we have been doing things correctly. So when next time when someone points out a mistake in you, thank him/her because you now have a wonderful opportunity to improve by acting on it. Likewise, don’t feel guilty in pointing out mistakes of your friend. Needless to say, don’t forget to be polite.

  2. Schools have been doing it wrong. Mistakes are necessary: In schools, we are punished whenever we do wrong. Schools think this punishment is the right way of feedback to the student to avoid mistakes and keep improving. But we learn our most important lessons from mistakes. In punishing, the school system discourages from you to try new things, because you are now afraid to make mistakes.

    Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new

    -Albert Einstein

  3. 1.6x effect: If x people are required to do a task. Ask 1.6x people to work on it. The rest are required to support the people working.

Zero to One by Blake Masters and Peter Thiel

  1. An interesting insight on why competition is bad: Peter Thiel argues in the book that competition is not good for innovation as people think. Because everyone is eventually doing the same thing. Innovation occurs when everyone does things differently as it suits them.
  2. Definite and Indefinite optimists: Optimists are divided into 2 kinds of categories - 1. Definite and 2. Indefinite. Definite are the ones who believe the future will be better and make specific plans to achieve it. They make bold and unprecedented steps and surpass their predecessors. On the other hand, Indefinite optimists believe that future will be better but don’t make any plans or work towards it. Instead they use existing traditional paths to achieve more or re-arrange already invented ones.

Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan

  1. An interesting way of writing: If you had to forcefully take a Economics course in your college, and felt it boring it is not your fault. The curriculum is planned in that way to make the student sleep comfortably through the lectures. Most of the things that are discussed are the details - You are forcefully asked to remember the jargon. The book Naked economics is a complete opposite. It starts with the discussion of things happening around you and explains how concepts of economics can help you understand what’s better. In fact, through out the book, it feels as if you are discussing things with the author. There is a beautiful explanation of things - Capitalism, Trade, what is money? and how exactly these concepts are useful and how these things rule our world.

  2. Punchline of capitalism:

    The market aligns incentives in such a way that individuals working for their own best interest

    The books starts with an interesting question -“Who feeds Paris?” - a way of asking how does the modern economy work? How is that when you go to the hotel and order fish, you hardly hear - “Sorry, we are out of fish”. And how do these fisherman bring the right amount of wish. Who does all this complex calculation. All this works well because everyone acts in their own interest. If there is a high demand for a particular kind of fish, then fishermen spend more time fishing. The book contains many more interesting insights on different economics’ ideas. Do read the book, irrespective of your background!

Naked Statistics by Charles Wheelan

  1. Not to mention the interesting way of writing - Its a book by Charles Wheelan.

  2. Garbage in, Garbage out: The book not only explains some of the key ideas of statistics like Central Limit theorem and p-value. It discusses the importance of having a “good” data. Analysis of Data is necessary but if you have a biased data then no matter how good analysis you do the results won’t get better. There are many interesting examples discussed in the book for example…

    …In 1993, a Harvard researcher compiled a data set comprising a group of women with breast cancer and an age-matched group of women who had not been diagnosed with cancer. Women in both groups were asked about their dietary habits earlier in life. The study produced clear results: The women with breast cancer were significantly more likely to have had diets that were high in fat when they were younger. Ah, but this wasn’t actually a study of how diet affects the likelihood of getting cancer. This was a study of how getting cancer affects a woman’s memory of her diet earlier in life…

    Again, I feel this is a book, everyone must read irrespective of background!

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman

  1. This story …

    “The French curve is made so that at the lowest point on each curve, no matter how you turn it, the tangent is horizontal.”

    All the guys in the class were holding their French curve up at different angles, holding their pencil up to it at the lowest point and laying it along, and discovering that, sure enough, the tangent is horizontal. They

    were all excited by this “discovery”—even though they had already gone through a certain amount of calculus and had already “learned” that the derivative (tangent) of the minimum (lowest point) of any curve is zero

    (horizontal). They didn’t put two and two together. They didn’t even know what they “knew.”

    I don’t know what’s the matter with people: they don’t learn by understanding; they learn by some other way—by rote, or something. Their knowledge is so fragile!

  2. Reality was so important for Feynman: When Feynman’s wife died he was not terribly upset and he was shocked on why he didn’t feel so(He really loved his wife - read this). He explained that it was so because he had known for years that something like this was going to happen(Her wife was suffering from Tuberculosis, Feynman married her though he was aware of this fact). He writes this in the book ….

    Reality was so important—I had to understand what really happened to Arlene, physiologically—that I didn’t cry until a number of months later, when I was in Oak Ridge. I was walking past a department store with dresses in the window, and I thought Arlene would like one of them. That was too much for me.

    This was a really an emotional moment for any reader when he/she would have read the above lines.

  3. Favourite Chapters

    1. Map of the Cat: Feynman’s habit of calling things straightly, the way they are, without concern for technical jargon. As Leonard Susskind put it, “Feynman hated baloney!”
    2. Lucky Numbers: Feynman’s command over numbers. In one of the talks about Feynman, the speaker mentioned - “Feynman was a good mathematician, and he always tried to hide it”. It is true, the world knows him mostly as physicist who is strongly driven by intuition than mathematics. That is true, but Feynman was really good with numbers and calculations. See this video for another example.
    3. You just ask them: You will know when you read it!
    4. Would you solve the Dirac Equation: Why Feynman gave up learning Japanese! A really funny anecdote.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

  1. Worrying is a dangerous habit: I always thought worrying is a natural thing and wouldn’t be too concerned about it. The book starts with telling us how worrying can cause different ailments and make your life worse. It is a well known to everybody that worrying is not good mentally but the fact that worrying can affect you physiologically was really shocking for me. After all, who doesn’t want good health. By avoiding worry, you can be more healthier than you regularly are. Here are few lines from the book, that capture the spirit of what I mentioned…

    Plato said that “the greatest mistake physicians make is that they attempt to cure the body without attempting to cure the mind; yet the mind and body are one and should not be treated separately!”

    When I interviewed Merle Oberon, she told me that she refused to worry because she knew that worry would destroy her chief asset on the motion-picture screen: her good looks.

  2. Benjamin Franklin’s self analysis:

    …He[Franklin] gave himself a severe going-over every night. He discovered that he had thirteen serious faults. Here are three of them: wasting time, stewing around over trifles, arguing and contradicting people. Wise old Ben Franklin realised that, unless he eliminated these handicaps, he wasn’t going to get very far. So he battled with one of his shortcomings every day for a week, and kept a record of who had won each day’s slugging match. The next day, he would pick out another bad habit, put on the gloves, and when the bell rang he would come out of his corner fighting. Franklin kept up this battle with his faults every week for more than two years…

  3. Lincoln’s attitude towards criticism:

    Suppose someone denounced you as “a damn fool”-what would you do? Get angry? Indignant? Here is what Lincoln did: Edward M. Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War, once called Lincoln “a damn fool”. Stanton was indignant because Lincoln had been meddling in his affairs. In order to please a selfish politician, Lincoln had signed an order transferring certain regiments. Stanton not only refused to carry out Lincoln’s orders but swore that Lincoln was a damn fool for ever signing such orders. What happened? When Lincoln was told what Stanton had said, Lincoln calmly replied: “If Stanton said I was a damned fool, then I must be, for he is nearly always right. I’ll just step over and see for myself.”

    Lincoln did go to see Stanton. Stanton convinced him that the order was wrong, and Lincoln withdrew it. Lincoln welcomed criticism when he knew it was sincere, founded on knowledge, and given in a spirit of helpfulness

  4. Why worry now?

    “Two months from now I shall not be worrying about this bad break, so why worry about it now? Why not assume now the same attitude that I will have two months from now?” - Dorothy Dix

  5. You worry because have the leisure to do so:

    “The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not.”

    -George Bernard Shaw

No time for worry! That is exactly what Winston Churchill said when he was working eighteen hours a day at the height of the war. When he was asked if he worried about his tremendous responsibilities, he said: “I’m too busy. I have no time for worry.”

  1. This small beautiful poem:

    For every ailment under the sun.

    There is a remedy, or there is none;

    If there be one, try to find it;

    If there be none, never mind it.

I made a note of some other beautiful and important things from the book in my evernote

Courage to be Disliked by by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi

  1. Adlerian psychology: The main theme of the book is to introduce the concepts of Adlerian Psychology, one heck of a Psychology which can completely change the way you view the world. Here is the basic idea. If you are currently doing an action “A”, then it is because of some incident that occurred in the past “P”. When you think this way, all your current actions are attributed to your past, which you cannot change. But Adlerian Psychology says, if you are doing an action “A”, that is because you have a target “T”, that you want to achieve consciously or sub-consciously. There might be different reasons for you to have target “T” - incidents in that past, suggestion or inspiration from somewhere else. But by thinking in this manner, you realise that you can bring a change in your actions, if you modify your target “T” by conscious effort. For example, you tried something new “N”, and its outcome was an embarrassing moment “E”. From then on, your excuse for not trying “N” would always be to blame the incident “E”. But if you think in Adlerian way, the reason you don’t want to try “N”, is because you have set a target “T” to yourself that you don’t want to face an embarrassment like “E”. But just by consoling yourself that such incidents(like E) doesn’t matter in the long run, you would be less hesitant to try “N” again. This is one of the best books on implementing psychology concepts in real life.

(This again echoes the ideas like proactivity from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey)

  1. Treating the young and the old equal: In general, there is a tendency among people to treat young ones and elder ones differently. They mostly treat the young as ignorant and try to praise them for their deeds. This is not wrong! But when you praise someone, this creates a hierarchy in both the minds. Instead, a better thing would be to appreciate as if you would do it to your friend or thank him or her. When there is no hierarchy, people would open up and speak freely, and that would make this world a better place. This idea can be established well with the example given in the book, if a son helps his mother with washing the dishes after dinner. Then the mother instead of praising the son with words like “good boy” or “obedient child”, should rather thank her son for helping her out! Then through such small actions, the mother would be like a friend and the son would not hesitate to speak freely to his mother.

Adlerian Psychology contains many such counter ideas, which seem wrong at the first instance, but when understood and implemented properly, brings a significant change in relationships and perspective of life.

Peak by K. Andres Ericsson

  1. Deliberate practice is different from just different practice: The main aim of the book is to introduce the idea of deliberate practice. The general notion of practice is to keep doing the same thing over and over on a regular basis, and expecting to improve. But that is not an effective way of practising. Such way of practising will lead to stagnation of improvement at certain stage. The author propose the idea of deliberate practice, which involves

    • Specific goals: For example for a music student, a specific goal can be to play the piece all the way through at the proper speed without a mistake three times in a row.

    • Focused attention during the period of practice

    • Get a feedback to know how you are doing it: While practising, a feedback by a more experienced candidate will help you find out what you have been doing wrong and how you can correct it.

    • Pushing out of your comfort zone

      The book explains the difference between a highly skilled person and other people in any field lies in the “mental representations”. Deliberate practice is a well defined way to improve them. A mental representation can be thought of how a skilled person looks at the situation. For example, how a Grandmaster analyses the pieces of chess board, how a surgeon analyses the situation in the operation theatre, how a theoretical physicist thinks analyses a situation given. This is a proper psychological book which explains the idea of deliberate practice firmly without any hand waving.

  2. There are no Super humans. They have developed(a lot) themselves to achieve it: In one section of the book, author debunks the stories which claim that some people were successful because they were born that way. For example, many believe the Mozart was born with the ability of perfect pitch. But if you dig deep, you will learn that Mozart’s musical training began at the age of 6. During childhood when the brain is in developing stage and it is trained hard towards something cognitively demanding, it develops faster and better. This is called the Bent Twig effect - If you push a small twig slightly away from its normal pattern of growth, you can cause a major change in the ultimate location of the branch that grows from that twig. But it doesn’t mean you have to start at a younger age or you cannot succeed. There are also examples in the book which depict no matter how late you start, through regular and deliberate practice you can always improve(including the example of Perfect pitch). It just requires more effort and motivation, which can be achieved if you keep doing things on a regular basis, once you start improving at a skill, you will be internally motivated to continue the practice.

The Stranger by Albert Camus:

  1. It doesn’t matter: In one of the scenes, the protagonist’s sweetheart’s asks him if he wishes to marry her. To that he replies he didn’t mind and if she was keen he was ready to get married. Then, she asks him if he loved her, that it meant nothing. And later she asks if any other girl would ask in the same way regarding marriage, would he marry her too. To that the protagonist replies “Naturally”.

The title is really apt to describe the character of the protagonist. He is really someone who is stranger to the customs of the society. In an common individual in the society, marriage is a serious concern, and they really think it as a new phase of life. But to our protagonist, it doesn’t really seem a big deal. I consider this scene special, because it shows how most of us consider few things super important just because they were told to us that they are important, but on moment of reflection we realise that it is not such a big deal.

The book really creates a great interest in the reader for the existential philosophy. The last pages of the book contains deep dialogues about the existentialism.

I’d passed my life in a certain way, and I might have passed it in a different way, if I’d felt like it. I’d acted thus, and I hadn’t acted otherwise; I hadn’t done x, whereas I had done y or z. And what did that mean? That, all the time, I’d been waiting for this present moment, for that dawn, tomorrow’s or another day’s, which was to justify me. Nothing, nothing had the least importance and I knew quite well why

I could see that it makes little difference whether one dies at the age of thirty or threescore and ten— since, in either case, other men and women will continue living, the world will go on as before. Also, whether I died now or forty years hence, this business of dying had to be got through, inevitably.