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Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance - A book on philosophy, can go as deep as you like. Was written over 25 years ago, but feels very fresh. My key take away from this book was that you should be humble enough to appreciate various models of the world - e.g. Science or Religion. Favorite quote: "When you have a Chatuahaha in your head, you can't resist inflicting it on innocent people". Still makes me smile :-)

Life of Pi - Bought it following the buzz of the movie. Read the book first, then saw the movie. A good simple read. Sort of reinforces, the 'various models' idea of the 'Zen...' book. Found the movie slightly better than the book, which was a surprise. Ang Lee has made subtle changes, which makes the story more peppy.

Perfect Rigor - Captures the story (and math) behind, the turning down of a million dollar prize by Gregory Perelman. The genius Russian mathematician, who solved a 100 year old standing problem, of the missing proof of the Poincare Conjecture. It was perhaps my best technical read of the year.

I am feeling Lucky (by Doug Edwards): Google's emplpyee number 59, writes about his experience at Google. I found it the best book on Google. Better than some of the others, which seem a bit like officially authorized versions.

Below ones I read it in 2011. But haven't posted here, so here goes:

Born to Run (By Chris Mcdougall): A health book. Has really helped my running. Highly recommended to all.

A guide to a good life: The ancient art of Stoic Joy (By Joseph Irvine): A very good book on philosophy. Read it on the reco (http://sivers.org/book) of Derek Sivers.

I tried to read Zen a couple of years ago but lost interest. I picked it up again this year and got through it this time.

I think [one of] the basic messages of the book, that of paying attention and enjoying the little things of life like understanding and servicing your BMW motorcycle is great. Unfortunately I didn't get much out of the philosophical ramblings about arete (quality) and the author's nervous breakdown, which takes up most of the second half of the book. I did enjoy the description of the road trip though, if I were living in the US right now I'd love to do it.

Yes, I think, there are various takeaways at various levels in that book. The way I understood it, at the surface level, there is the lovely story of Father and Son on a road trip.

At deeper levels a lot of things are left to the interpretation of the reader, as it is with most abstract things. He uses the word Quality in the most fundamental way. To me that word held the meaning for his life. Quality in the way in which he understands and reacts to the world.

Before he learned to fix his motor cycle, he was at the mercy of various kinds of mechanics with varying skill levels and attitudes. He particularly cites an example of some listening to music while working on the machine. Which he does not like. For him working on the machine or writing technical documents for his job, is a spiritual activity.

Also, he makes a point regarding his nervous breakdown, that for others it was a nervous breakdown. But for him, the way he saw it, it was the deepest of meditations. Following which phase the understanding and meaning of Quality, dawned on him, and he was at peace with his life.

Also, I found the way he treats his 11 year old son, i.e like an adult, very interesting.

Another delightful thing, was the book full of philosophical quotable quotes. Like the (approximate) one I have cited in my above comment.

But most basic reason I liked the book, is because, it talked to me in the tone, I wanted it to talk to me. For example the moment any book becomes very specific (for example 'Life of Pi' is very specific in being inclusive to all religions, in a rather simplistic way), as a reader I tend to start to disagree. But if it is abstract, and "Zen.." is very very abstract in portions, I can provide my own concrete implementations!

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