Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

This is by far, one of the most entertaining books I've read in some time. I must admit, I don't read a lot of fiction, the last major novels I've read were probably The Hunger Games or the Divergent series (and only because they were so popular I had to see what the fuss was all about). Now Good Omens is in a league of its own, more about it in a while.

I reserved this book from the National Library after reading an article that featured Neil Gaiman in conversation with Kazuo Ishiguro where the former briefly mentions the book in question.

What can I say? This book is funny from start to end, which was what the authors intended it to be. A book of much laughter and fun. 

*Spoiler alert*

In short, the story about an angel (Aziraphale) and a demon (Crowley) going about, doing their jobs, and trying to raise a boy who is the Antichrist until they realise that he isn't. When they finally find him, they see that he prevents Armageddon from happening and continue about their daily lives.

That was a woefully inadequate summary of a book that is so much more.

What I liked about it was how it used the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse and turned them into characters in their own right. Fascinating how they did it.

The story moves on at a brisk pace and quite rightly speeds up at the end.

I would recommend this book to jaded and cynical readers of fiction, or even non-fiction, or anyone tired of life in general. This book is one that shifts paradigms and makes the world a must better place to live in.

Thank you Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett!

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Undercover Economist Strikes Back - How to run - or ruin - an economy by Tim Harford

I picked up this book from Popular Bookstore a couple of days after I had a chat with an economist who is the husband of a good friend of mine. He made economics sound so interesting and after flipping through the book to get a sense of it, I thought I'd get it.

Tim Harford makes macroeconomics a fun thing to read. That's a pretty difficult thing to do considering that I got a D in "Introduction to Economics" in a cross faculty module back in university. Using a conversational, question-and-answer style of writing, the reader is gradually inducted into the world of macroeconomics.

A wide variety of real-world examples illustrating various concepts in economics are used in this book and this makes abstract ideas easier to grasp. I had found myself immensely enjoying the economics education.

Things got rather difficult midway through the book with all the talk on currency that I couldn't really wrap my mind around. Or perhaps it was an overload of information. Still, I gleaned some useful lessons out of it.

I guess the main things learnt were that there are two main branches in economics - Classical and Keynesian and the impact both have on the world in the past and present.

I would recommend this book to the layman who has more than a passing interest in economics and is a little stupefied when reading newspaper reports on GDP and the economy. This book goes a long way to help you make sense of them.


P.S. For microeconomics, you can check out his earlier book, "The Undercover Economist". I've not read that book yet, and will do so once I get my hands on a copy.