Category: Book Review

December 14th, 2018 by Sonam Choden

This three hundred twenty nine pages book is written in the first person point of view. The author uses simple language and the Bhutanese reader can easily connect to the story as the setting is in Bhutan spanning from 1940s to 1980. The book chronicles the life and journey of DashoShinkhar Lam starting from the time when he was groomed to follow the footstesp of his father as he was recognized as the reincarnation of the lama of Wamtshespa; the hereditary lama of Shingkhar village in Bumthang. The twist and turns of events bought him to be a retainer at the age of sixteen at Wangdicholing Palace in 1944 along with his younger brother.
He vividly takes us through the cramped store room (his bedroom) of the widow lady who gives him shelter at her house in Wangdichloing while he attends duty at the royal court. He narrates the long queues gathered to call on His Majesty The Second King JigmeWangchuckat the Wangdecholing Palace and later puts forth a typical day in His Majesty’s life. He touches exclusively on the preparations involved when the royal Court leaves for the winter Palace from Bumthang to TrongsaKingaRabten palace.
At certain segments in the book, you get to glimpse into his love affairs and how relationships were regarded then. The detailed taxation system during the reign of second King is brought to forefront as the protagonist was directly involved in collection of tax as well as in the reforms of taxation in Bhutan then. Though we learnt about the tax reforms in history, we didn’t know how it was implemented and how it used to be before the reforms. So history teachers can delve into the book and share with our Millennials the kind of life style Bhutanese led in the 1990s. School teachers and aspiring historians could use the information on taxation and how reforms were painfully done across the country during the reign of our third King JigmeDorjiWangchuck; a father’s dream realized by the son for the welfare of the citizenry in the country.
The reader gets to rewind history of Bhutan and fast forward the unprecedented development in the country; starting with Bhutan joining the Colombo Plan(1963) to becoming a member of the United Nations(1971), from the building of mule tracks to the construction of modern road from Phuntsholing to Thimphu (1972) and the architect involved behind the scenes.
DashoShingkhar Lam assumes the role of the 5th speaker in the National Assembly and takes one through low phases of time in the history of Bhutan when His Majesty the third King passes away untimely at Kenya. The atmosphere lightens up a little when he gets fully involved in the preparation for the Coronation of the 4th King, His Majesty JigmeSingyeWangchuck.
If parents want to let their children get a glimpse of how life used to be in the early 1930s to late 1970s in rural Bhutan, this book sheds light on it. One can’t help but admire and appreciate our Monarchs for their love and affection for their subjects to the extent that they neglect their health to work for the country. The Bhutanese people’s sentiments and bondresonate in the speech addressed by the Speaker in the 37th National Assembly;while His Majesty the 3rd King lay in state in Thimphu from 23rd July to 19th October, 1972.
“We experience peace and comfort due to the blessed unity and cooperation that exists between all the people. We are like amicable members of a household and we ought to be selfless enough to think about the larger interest of the country. Above all, there is unblemished faith and loyalty between the King and the people. We have a culture where the ruler treats his people with more love and affection than his off springs, and where people revere their King like a God and regard every act of the King as wise. The faith and loyalty between the King and the people is so constant that it can be hardly found anywhere else.”


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November 20th, 2018 by Ugyen Samdrup

The book ‘Discover Your Destiny With the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ is a magnificent self-awakening book by Robin Sharma. In this book, Mr. Dar Sandersen, International Hotel Entrepreneur, tries to take his own life after his world falls apart. Something miracle happens and saves him from killing himself. Later, he meets Mr. Julian Mantle, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari as his spiritual mentor and helps him reclaim his greatest life through 7 stages of self-awakening tactics.

The book is very enriching, philosophical and provides answers to life’s most important questions. It is a great book for leading a greatest life. I recommend reading this book.

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November 7th, 2018 by Jigme Dee

How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the best self-help books I have read. I’ve heard people mention it for years and years, and one of my good friends has been encouraging me (forcing me to be exact!) to read it for so long. All thanks to RIGSS, I finally got around reading it and here I am ‘TRYING’ to review it. Now that I am done reading it, I finally understand why my good friend has been after the life of me to read it. It is especially meant for a socially-awkward (sort of) person like myself who is constantly on the look-out for self-improvement and interpersonal relationships.

First published in 1936 by the famous Dale Carnegie, as the title suggest, it is a book about winning friends and influencing people from the heart. This book covers a wide range of topics such as how to motivate people, how to win them to your way of thinking, but also covers small and often overlooked things such as the importance of remembering someone’s name (and tips for how to do so).

Carnegie in this book recommends six ways to make people like you, twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and nine ways to change people without resentment. Applying these principles can (I think) will help you make personal connections with people in just a few moments, and increase your skills in negotiation, leadership, diffusing tough situations, and dealing with people’s emotions and egos.

To me, personally, what makes the book so valuable are the examples, stories, phrases and snippets of encounters from Carnegie’s interviews and research of kings, generals, and famous personalities like Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Here are just a few of the nuggets in this amazing book I really liked:

o The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.
o When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.
o You will never get into trouble by admitting that you may be wrong. That will inspire your opponent to be just as fair and open as you are. It will make him/her want to admit that he/she, too, may be wrong.
o Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.
o Criticisms are like homing pigeons. They always return home. Let’s realize that the person we are going to correct and condemn will probably justify himself or herself, and condemn us in return.
o There is a certain degree of satisfaction in having the courage to admit one’s errors. It not only clears the air of guilt and defensiveness, but often helps solve the problem created by the error.
o To be interesting, be interested!

The key takeaway for me— and where I really want to improve — is to try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view. As Dale Carnegie puts it, “one of the fundamental keys to successful human relations is understanding that other people may be totally wrong, but they don’t think so”. As he rightly put it, this is so simple, so obvious yet 90 percent of the people on this earth ignore it 90 percent of the time.

This book is a MUST read for everyone, who in their daily lives like myself are struggling on interpersonal relationships. I would highly recommend this book to anyone because it teaches everyone valuable lessons about human interactions.

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art of thinking clearly
November 6th, 2018 by Tashi Gyeltshen




How much harder the work is to think about how you yourself think? Our brains are so powerful, but also highly prone to taking short-cuts and producing what psychologists call “cognitive errors.” Meaning, we don’t often think as clearly as we might think.

Through this book, the author brings out a collection of simple errors we all make in our day-to-day thinking. It helps to spot biases and uplift self to make better choices, be it at work or at home. Dobelli uses examples and hypotheticals to illustrate each error. Some people who are short-readers and scanners may enjoy this aspect, but the long-readers may not find it interesting.

In daily life, we systematically overestimate our chances of success and remain in the illusion of not digging around in the graveyards of the unsuccessful. You hear only of successful authors and fail to recognize how unlikely its failure is. The same goes for photographers, entrepreneurs, artists, athletes, Noble prize winners, television presenters and beauty queens.

We tend to think that Harvard make you smarter without realizing the fact that it is recruiting brightest students around. The female models advertise cosmetics and many female believe that these products make them beautiful. In fact, simply, the models are born attractive and only for this reason they are selected for cosmetics advertising.

Unlike in the past, following other people is no more always right now. Social proof, sometimes make an individuals feel they are behaving right just because they are with many other people. The author described social proof as the evil behind bubbles and stock market panic. A novelist W.Somerset Maugham said “ If 50 million people say something foolish, it is still foolish.” I feel that in a democratic world, there is a possibility of social proof being supported by self-interested conglomerates to gain political interest. As such, it ultimately results into the concentration of wealth in few hands in the country. Hence, social proof may not be always a reliable basis of decisions nowadays.

The book reminds of brunt of our ignorance over small errors in our daily life. If small things are well taken care, bigger things will be in appropriate shape. As such, through creative art of thinking, we can easily overcome all errors, perhaps even most disastrous outcome that may occur otherwise. After all, for more challenging decisions in your life, The art of Thinking Clearly is a reliable source to refer to.

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November 5th, 2018 by Kunzang Gyeltshen

ROD JUDKINS is an artist, writer and lecturer at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art, one of the world’s well-known art schools. He has lectured widely about creativity at universities around the world.

His book, “The Art of Creative Thinking” talks about the habits and behaviors of a wide range of successful creative thinkers across the globe, describing their processes and showing how each one of us can learn from them to improve our lives.

After reading this book, it helped me to understand how we can transform our society and ourselves through a deeper understanding of human creativity. The author goes on to mention how schools and society suppress our creativity and make every one of us feel that our abilities are limited. Although we are born with incredible imagination, intuition, and intelligence, many people are trained not to use these creative powers, and as a result, creativity dies within ourselves.

Through anecdotes, the author explains some of the inevitable obstacles that aspiring creative thinkers encounter and the methods they have used to overcome them. He mentions that thinking creativity is not a professional activity, it is a way of relating to our life. Creativity is not all about creating paintings, house or a book but creating the self, creating a better future and taking opportunities that we are missing it currently.

All in all, this book is intended to let readers like you and me to learn on many useful creative thinking techniques and an examination of the thought processes and methods used by creative people. The author has put in his lifetime’s expertise into this book to make readers to think more confidently and creatively.

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November 4th, 2018 by Kinzang Norbu

John Adair, the author of the book tells us the importance of leadership, the types of leadership and the necessities of leadership by using the Confucian philosophy. The book can definitely help you become a better leader. Not only the author refers to the Confucius often, he illustrates some examples by using the quotes and stories of famous leaders in the world. He tells that the leadership theory used in the modern world today has been already used by Confucius and in fact originated from him some 2600 years ago. Confucius has not written any books however his followers have saved his sayings. Confucius is considered the teacher on leadership. The book with the Confucius’ sayings and analects will help you develop your confidence and your leadership skills.
The author describes in the book that the leader will require to learn about three things task, team and individual. Task will bring the individuals together to perform as a team to be led by the leader. He describes that the leader using his qualities to achieve the task faster and more efficiently. He explains in a simple language why it is important for the leader to bring the individuals together as a team to achieve the task and reach to the purpose.
The later part of the book is about the qualities of a leader like enthusiasm, integrity, warmth, humility and fairness. Each of these qualities has a chapter and messages conveyed using the quotes of Confucius. He also points the importance of trust quoting Samuel Johnson that it is happier to be some times cheated than not to be trusted. The author also points on the reason what men gains by telling lies through Aristotle quote, the answer too by Aristotle: “When they speak the truth, they are not believed.” Though the authors tells that a leader should remain with his followers by mixing with them, he also points that when occasion demands, the distance should be maintained by both parties between the leader and the team.
The book explains that one is not born a leader but you can become one. The models of career change like the hourglass model has been easily explained in the book. The author also explains why feedback is an important part in leadership where there is a risk that the leader might dismiss the critical ones. A leader has to serve. A leader can learn from any one at any place of time, which is also explained by the fact that one can learn from another person while on walk. One has to be able to learn from it, the good points to copy and bad points to correct.

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November 4th, 2018 by Sonam Choden

I was intrigued by the title of Bob Chapman’s book, “Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family”. It clicked instantly for it could relate to all people around us in a work place. The author chronicles how his family owned company named Barry-Wehmiller confronted near bankruptcy during the Great Recession in the late 2000s, yet they could pull through this very difficult phase when he used the power of people centric leadership role to touch the lives of his employees. Their simple approaches to inspire, lead and care for employees led to profound changes in the attitude, performance and fulfillment; resulted in bringing out the best in a person and had ripple effect in their society.
He went into acquiring companies which were running into losses due to conventional leadership flaws. He took advantage of the ‘Guiding Principles of Leadership’ developed by his own employees with an overarching phrase, “We measure success by the way we touch lives of people,” to restore the companies. He created an environment for his employees to discover their gifts, apply their talents, and be appreciated and recognized to feel valued; geared towards fulfilling lives both at work and at home.
I could connect personally to the teary and inspirational anecdotes in the book although the setting is far different from ours. Their narratives portray how to serve others without failing to live up to their principles. Their success work culture centers around employees trying to be a little better every day, listen with humility and work hard every day professionally and go home a contented person at the end of the day. Any institution or service provider in our country can pick up these amazing approaches and principles from the book and apply in their work place. I am sure it would definitely make a difference. The book leaves no stone unturned to limelight on how everybody matters not only at the work place but at home too. If there were more leaders and less managers, the world would be a far better place to live and work.

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November 4th, 2018 by sitharnorbu

The Tipping Point is a non-fiction book written by Malcolm Gladwell. Malcolm Gladwell defines a Tipping Point as “a point in any social situations, which starts a rapid change for that particular situation which is compared to epidemics.” The author used the example of about to go bankrupt Hush Puppies business becoming a global fashion trend and dramatic fall in crime rate in the New York City as the examples.

At a point of time, when Hush Puppies shoes were going out of fashion and virtually dying out of market, and on the brink of becoming a bankrupt company, some very influential, creative, and hip kids in downtown Manhattan, New York, started wearing those shoes and suddenly the Hush Puppies Shoes were back in the fashion trend and became a global fashion trend within a couple of years.

The author also used the sudden drop in crime rate in New York City. He states that the number of crime rate increased by three folds from 1965 to mid 1970s, maintained similar statistics for next two decades until it dropped to the lowest ever point in 1992.

The author states that the boom in Hush Puppies business and fall of crime rate in New York are text book examples of epidemics.

According to the author, social situations follow the three rules of epidemics which are;
1. The Law of the few
2. The Stickiness Factor
3. The Power of Context

The Law of the Few states that there are always people who will stand out of the crowd and help a social situation reach the tipping point. These people consist of three groups;
1. Mavens: These are the group of consumer expertise and innovators. These groups of people know a lot of details about anything compared to common people. These are the group of sharp witted people who pays attention to small details of everything that can help common people make important decisions.
2. Connectors: These are the group of people who are good at connecting with people and maintain good personal relationship with them. This sociable behavior/characteristic of them makes them important and influential in the society which helps spreading ideas and advocate new products in the society.
3. Salesman: These are the group of very persuasive people who can influence common people to take actions that will start social epidemics.

The author defines the Stickiness Factor as the quality that compels people to pay close, sustained attention to a product, concept, or idea. It basically means how well something compels people to take actions as certain elements in a message or a product have positive presence in the minds of the receiver. The author related two popular TV shows; Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues which revolutionized children television programs as an example. The producer of Sesame Street researched her idea extensively, consulting sociologist and scientists for the best way to pass on messages to children via television which indeed helped toddlers and preschoolers develop literacy. The Sesame Street has been widely praised for finding a way to make television sticky and instilled important ideas in the minds of children. In order for a message to reach out to all the people, the right person has to carry it and the message itself has to be sticky and simple for people to receive well and remember it.

The spread of an epidemic depends on whether the context is right. When the ideas and products are launched in the right place at the right time, it spreads fast and if it doesn’t fit in the right context, it doesn’t spread. For example, a wave of crime in New York City subway was halted simply by removing the graffiti from trains and clamping down on fare dodging. The context changed and so did the people.

Through the Tipping Point, the author tries to convey that in order to start a social epidemic, one must concentrate on deploying the three groups of people; Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen to start words-of-mouth epidemic. One must have able to convince people by introducing right ideas/products in a right context; by right people with right ideas/products at the right time in a right place as the environment determines the behavior of the people and moreover people are more influenced by their surroundings. The author also conveys that little things done in a right way can make a difference and can change the world.

Overall, this book was a great read and I would highly recommend it. Not only do you get insights into customer psychology, but you are also able to implement some of the ideas discussed and apply them to your business.

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November 3rd, 2018 by Chablop PaSsu

Bhutan history is not among the favorite subjects among the students. An average Bhutanese would know more about history of some other countries than they know about our own country. The history told to us in the school were merely fragmented events of perceived importance, lavishly glorified and often giving an impression of fairy tales. The core element of historical narrative is missing, isolating events and historical figures at superficial levels.

It can be justified that history taught in schools, which remains the only historical narrative most of us live with, is only foundational reading and therefore can’t be used as the yardstick to measure the width and depth of historical content on Bhutan, but even beyond school our frustration will only grow to discover that there aren’t much to explore further.

The History of Bhutan by Dr. Karma Phuntsho therefore is the answer to a national longing for a comprehensive narrative that connects the dots and illuminates the dark corridors of our historical memory. It not only provides a better alternative to the only few historical sources we depended on, which are ironically documented by either Indian or western historians, but also gives an unbiased account based on in-depth researches.

The 599 pages of the book contain captivating details and authentic accounts of our historical events, from the prehistoric period to the modern period, through a long thrilling medieval period. Bhutan history suddenly begins to sound real and without the gross exaggerations it’s already so compelling.

This book is definitely going to disappoint some of us who pride in our fairy tale like history, where we were made to believe in superpowers and flawlessness our historical figures, but knowing them with their humanly weaknesses and them with the abilities overcome the odds gives us stronger reasons to appreciate their contributions.

I grew up hearing secretive stories of assassination of Zhabdrung, and I remained confused till recently as to how Zhabdrung, who went into permanent retreat on his own in Punakha Dzong, could be assassinated. This book presents the detailed account on the question of succession after Zhabdrung, and how controversies emerged over the incarnations. In fact, the game of politics played over multiple incarnates gave rise to the beginning of the era of lay rulers. Only this book clarified that the stories of Zhabdrung I heard were of different incarnates and not of the great Zhabdrung himself.

The detailed accounts of different plots, conspiracies, rebellions, and assassination during the internal conflicts over long period of time make our history one of the most thrilling to read from a general reader’s point.

The accounts on the wars we fought with Tibet and later with British India make us see how we struggled, opposed to the easy victory we were told, to defend the sovereignty of this tiny nation even in those times, and one can’t help but feel proud of how our leaders played their cards well since Treaty of Sinchula, and how over the century they managed to amend the treaty to ensure our sovereignty. It’s the terms and use of certain words in these treaties that saved our independence when over 500 princely state disappeared to make up the republic of India, including Sikkim in 1975.

We like to believe that everything fell in place after the emergence of Jigme Namgyal and very much so after 1907 after King Ugyen Wangchuk was enthroned as the first king of Bhutan, but this book will surprise us with accounts of how much they had to go through to establish their dominance and maintain it. The same struggle to suppress fractions of power continued even during King Jigme Wangchuk’s time. The changing dynamics and political issues both from within and outside during the successive kings, beyond the lists of developmental activities we read in our textbooks, and how they used their tact and steadfast leadership to overcome those, gives us stronger reasons to appreciate and truer meaning to our loyalty to the golden throne.

Without reading this book, no Bhutanese can truly separate Myth and Legends from true historical accounts and therefore understand the depth of our history and appreciate the magnanimity of this last surviving kingdom between the two biggest nations on earth.

If so much resources were there, why couldn’t earlier historians bring them to us? Well that when we must acknowledge Dr. Karma Phuntsho’s unique strengths as a Buddhist scholar with mastery over choedkey, complemented by his experience as academic researcher at Oxford. These two attributes of his gave him special access to the hidden world of Bhutanese history in Buddhist texts and those that were archived in British libraries in England.

Note: This is the first draft, and shall be reviewed and edited

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November 3rd, 2018 by KarmaTenzin

The book “Why Nations Fail – the Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty” is an outcome of over fifteen years of collaborative research by Acemoglu and Robinson in explaining the inequalities we see in the world. It is a comprehensive account of changing societies around the world affecting and resulting in the world we see today with its inequalities.

The journey begins from the earliest times when humankind started agriculture, and through the numerous civilizations around the world till the modern times. One is taken to civilizations like those of the Romans and the Incas, the colonial era in the Americas, Africa, South and South East Asia, the feudal era in Europe and Asia, and their transformation to democracies and republics that we see today. Throughout, the authors test existing socioeconomic theories (cultural, geographical, and ignorance) to explain the growing inequalities in power and wealth in these societies, and find that these do not apply.

The authors then explain the theory of extractive and inclusive institutions as the answer for; why some nations fail while others succeed, and why some societies prosper while others face extreme poverty.

Inclusive economic institutions leading to prosperity are an outcome of societies where inclusive political institutions emerge. It welcomes incentives for the people embracing innovations and property rights. Inclusive economic and political institutions emerge in democratic societies and ensures these nations prosper through market economy as we see in North America, most of western Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia and similar democracies.

Extractive political institutions, as seen in the colonial periods in Africa, Tsarist Russia, and feudal Eastern Europe lead to extractive economic institutions. Innovations or changes are feared by the elite few, denying economic incentives for the lower rung in the society. These push people towards creative destruction in various forms like the: Glorious Revolution in England, French Revolution, Civil Rights Movement in America, Mexican Revolution, Egyptian Revolution, or the Meiji Restoration in Japan.

Depending on which forces prevail, such transformations could lead to: virtuous circles where extractive institutions are replaced with inclusive institutions, or vicious circles where extractive institutions are replaced with other forms of extractive institutions. The nations that experienced vicious circles with one extractive form after the other, irrespective of their glorious past, are poorer than others. With the exception of a few countries, these include countries in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa.

The book is a must read for those responsible in steering the country. These include bureaucrats, politicians, and those involved in framing acts, rules, and policies. Much of expertise in socio-economic field could be gained through academic textbooks, however, books such as this, ensures understanding the intricacies of how institutions affect societies or how societies come about setting up such institutions. The take-away of the book is really that it is the institutions that we set up which determines the future in becoming more prosperous or landing up in extreme poverty. Through choices of institutions, rich societies end with extreme poverty and poor societies with the right institutions embark on road to prosperity. Even as these may be thumb-rule in understanding simple societies, there are other factors explained as creative destruction and critical junctures, which could lead to setting a society in trajectory of a virtuous circle or that of a vicious circle.

NOTE: Daron Acemoglu is Elizabeth and James Killian Professor (Economics) at MIT, and James A. Robinson is a political scientist and economist at Harvard University.

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