BOOK REVIEW – BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS – AUTHOR: STEPHEN HAWKING

Limitlessness is an inherent desire of each one of us. Very often innumerable questions flood our minds looking at the massive galaxies, stars, and planets, making us turn to the number one question probably of all the eras – Is there a God? which is followed by a series of other questions. Many of us are eager to find out the truth. Or let’s put it in simpler words – curious to know how it all works?

Stephen Hawking a renowned cosmologist, and physicist has spent his entire life studying the cosmos, let alone the health-related challenges he faced for over forty years of his lifetime, but that’s altogether a different story. Hawking often asked for the thoughts of the influential personalities about the ‘big questions’ and maintained an enormous personal record of his responses which took the shape of many books and essays. This is one such book that was in the development stage at the time of Stephen’s death. The book has been drawn from his archive and has been completed with the help of his family, academic colleagues, and Stephen Hawking Estate.

This book answers a wide range of questions – How did it all begin? Can we predict the future? Is time travel possible? Is there other intelligent life in the universe? And many more. Stephen also brings in insights from various celebrated scientists ranging from Albert Einstein, Robert Hooke, Isaac Newton, and many others on these subjects. Even though the books shall bombard you with theories related to physics and science from the very first page, you do not have to be a know-it-all in science to understand this. The entire research is presented in a very simple language infused with Stephen’s wit and humor attracting readers from every walk of life. He is distinctively sharing some of the mysteries of this universe unraveled throughout his noteworthy career. His remarkable work on the black holes, multiple histories and imaginary time take the minds of the readers to the furthest ends of the universe into a new exploration with every new paragraph.

Hawking strongly believed that science has all the answers to solve all the problems that the world is facing today – climate change, global warming, and nuclear war to name a few. His arguments and investigation prove as to where we, as an entire human race are heading and what is in store for the future of theoretical physics and space science explorations. This is an intellectually inspiring book that will make you feel concerned and interested not only for our planet but for that which is lying on the extreme reaches of the universe. This is the last book written by one of the greatest minds in the history of science, and it certainly should be on your reading list.

Reviewed By: Nazneen Kachwala

BOOK REVIEW – The Moment of Lift – Author: Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates, the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, wife to one of the most influential men and a mother of three, writes a very subtle yet impactful book that breaks down the philosophy of empowerment to the microscopic level of our understanding. The title of the book is a clear analogy between the space launches that she witnessed as a child to the direct elevation of the people, especially women across the world. Melinda chooses a very direct approach to citing the general issues faced by the women with her own life. She describes struggles and resolutions in her own marriage about voicing her opinion, family planning, taking a step back from her career during pregnancy and taking care of the children alongside a full-fledged profession. Her humble writings at every stage in the book, makes it clear to the readers about the connection she made with the women while working with them and for them in the far-off lands. She highly relates to their problems as her own.

Having said that, she delves deep into the issue of family planning, narrating how it robs women physically, mentally, financially and emotionally. She includes several stories of the women and girls she met in Africa and India who have had rough times and even lost their lives to this grave problem. Melinda talks about the dominance of the male counterpart and also provides solutions in bringing them to terms with the women for an appropriate momentum. Besides, she describes in detail about other glitches around inequalities and gender bias persistent in the society at large. Unpaid work, sending girls to school, child marriages, and women’s role in agriculture are the subjects dealt with great insight with reference to the first-hand information concerning these issues mentioned in the book.

Throughout the book, the author talks about pulling people from the margins back to the mainstream. You can know of Melinda’s journey of becoming an ardent feminist which to her means ‘women and men working in together to take down the barriers and end the biases that still hold women back.’ You will encounter numerous episodes of Melinda’s life in this book that shall compel you to broaden your viewpoint about the subject and the author herself.

Written with utmost empathy and compassion, the book is a must-read for all the philanthropy lovers and otherwise.


Reviewed by: Nazneen Kachwala

Book Cover

“Malinda Gates has spent many years working with women around the world. This book is an urgent manifesto for equal society where women are valued and recognized in all aspects of life. Most of all, it is a call for unity, inclusion, and connection. We need this message more than ever”

– Malala Yousafzai

BOOK REVIEW – Here, There, and Everywhere – Author – Sudha Murty

Sudha Murty, the chairperson of Infosys has had a long literary journey. Her simple art of storytelling is praised across the world and is rejoiced by the children, the young and the old alike. ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ is a book that carries a collection of twenty-two odd stories written by the author from her own personal and professional experiences. Some of these stories have been published earlier and some are new. You feel an instant connection with the stories and these will stay with you for a very long time.

Some stories that left a lasting impression on my mind are ‘The Red Rice Granary’ narrating how Sudha’s grandparents gave away the superior quality rice to the hungry and the needy and eat the one of a lower quality each day, ‘Cattle Class’ which is a tight slap on the face of the hypocrites, ‘Rahman’s Avva’ the story of a Muslim boy brought up by a Hindu mother who raised him as a Muslim, ‘A Life Unwritten’ wherein Sudha’s father, a doctor helps a miserable girl deliver a baby at the sake of his own life and unexpectedly meets her after decades to discover the fruits of the seeds of goodness which he had planted, ‘May you be the Mother of a Hundred Children’ describes the kind, organized and dependable nature of Sudha’s grandmother who is an expert midwife and a loving grandma and last by not the least, ‘Bombay to Bangalore’ an episode in Sudha’s life that changed the destiny of a little girl who she found on a train while traveling between the two cities.

The yellow cover of the book depicts a confident smiling face of the author herself. Reading this book is like eating popcorn, and you will be compelled to read one story after the other non-stop. This book can be your perfect companion while traveling or on a lazy afternoon.

Reviewed by: Nazneen Kachwala

BOOK REVIEW – SAPIENS – A Brief History of Humankind – by Yuval Noah Harari

It always intrigued me as to how we have reached where we stand today as an entire human race and ‘Sapiens’ has a perfectly scientific, well-researched answer to this. Written by Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli historian, and researcher, the book delves into the complete process of evolution even before the existence of the history. The book is divided into four parts, each narrating the three important revolutions of humankind, namely, cognitive, agricultural, and scientific and the unification of the humans. Yuval’s style of writing is simple and you need not have a very distinguished scientific knowledge to understand the most important processes, and build-ups that have led us here today.

It blew my mind away on discovering the fact how the Sapiens – the wise, ousted other human species before the time in history including the Neanderthals, Homo Erectus, Homo Rudolfensis and many more some 50,000 years ago. Our siblings no longer exist on this planet and what caused them to disappear? The question is beautifully responded in every line of the first chapter. The second chapter reflects upon the fact what led Sapiens give up the life of the hunter-gatherers, cultivate wheat and settle down. Certainly, this shall leave you with many thoughts one being – did we tame wheat or did wheat tame us? Gradually, the book picks a pace and while developing a smooth tempo with the readers, it talks about the unification of humankind by the means of birth of religion and God and our ability to create stories. However, the era in which we live, the Scientific Revolution that has occurred just 500 years ago, is the one in which we have achieved several breakthroughs along with several irreversible damages as the by-products which creates another significant question in the minds of the readers – are Sapiens here to survive, grow and succeed till eternity, our shall this species of Humans too shall be overthrown by some other species called the Super-humans? The book is well-illustrated with pictures and timelines for a better understanding of the readers.

How did we suddenly arrive at the top of the food chain, develop languages, kingdoms, money, economics, the idea of capitalism, consumerism, cloning and the future of the Sapiens is all left in the book for the curious minds to find out.

Reviewed by: Nazneen Kachwala