I fell in love with biographies after I read Jay-Z’s Decoded. It’s one of the best ones I’ve read. Not only does he talk about his origins but also about rap music. I was one of those who didn’t understand it or like it but he completely changed my perception. Now at least I appreciate it, and realise good rap is poetic. He admits a lot of the new music just caters to what’s expected out of the genre instead of being true to it. You need to pay attention.
It made me understand the power of stories, and good writing. Unfortunately a lot of good stories get lost because of bad story-telling. Indian greats like Milkha Singh and Mary Kom have such a powerful story to tell but their writers have let them down. And the movies made on them have let them down further.
This year I read some good biographies.
- The Meaning of Mariah Carey: I loved her music as a teen but never knew her struggle. She’s portrayed as such a diva without ever getting into her struggles. She clarifies all about her life, relationships, and music. Her struggles with maintaining her relationship with her mother is so heartbreaking. The place supposed to be your only safe space becomes toxic, then where do you go?
- Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain: I have to admit that I didn’t pay much attention to this man till it was too late. The outpouring of grief after his death made me curious what inspired such love and loyalty. I was not disappointed. This is one of the first books he wrote and it’s a very real look at the service industry and how to survive it. He also has some good tips for home cooks.
- A Promised Land by Barack Obama: This was just part 1 of his time in the White House. I had read his earlier book, Dreams from my Father, detailing his younger days which was interesting enough. This book has a lot more details on the processes of making things happen, and the thought process behind decision-making at the big house. Those details are not interesting for everyone, but it is an honest insight into the inner workings of a powerful world leader.
- Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love by Per J. Andersson: It’s not just a book about the love story but a glimpse into the life of someone plagued by poverty and caste discrimination in India. Some manage to defy their limitations and excel but more languish in their restricted lives.
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