book reviews 

 

BAD BLOOD by John Carreyrou

 

By now, almost everyone connected with the Silicon Valley would have heard of Elizabeth Holmes -- her meteoric rise and dramatic fall from grace.

Holmes’ digressions from integrity and unending greed put not just established ethical values at risk but also the lives of patients, endangering the very values that the healthcare industry has striven to uphold while balancing its profit motives.

The narrative spun by Holmes was so endearing that she would have easily managed to stretch her story for at least a couple more years, had it not been for the work of John Carreyrou, a journo with the Wall Street Journal, and also the author of Bad Blood. Carreyrou diligently investigated Theranos, Holmes' biotech startup, and exposed the whole episode to be nothing but a scam. 

 

Why should you read this book?

 

  • Gripping narrative Carreyrou doesn't waste time delving into Holmes' childhood or spend time trying to justify her greed – it’s factual and objective reporting at its finest

 

  • Nuanced and Rich You can watch all the documentaries out there on Holmes but still miss out on so many aspects, especially the ways in which this scam was perpetrated by her and how she almost got away with it

 

  • Greed and Faith The unique stories especially of Theranos’ employees who had signed up to revolutionize healthcare but instead ended up working for a sham company run by a greedy megalomaniac who faked everything, including her voice…

 

Carreyrou gives the right amount of details at all stages. His way of keeping the narrative focused on individual events while connecting them to a bigger picture, that of fraud, is quite gripping and reveals his maturity both as a writer and a storyteller. Carreyrou goes into the workings of an industry that is still looking for its next Steve Jobs and how that zeal underlined everything that went wrong with Theranos

 

At various times, Holmes and her minions tried to scuttle  Carreyrou's investigation through threats and coercion. She even tried to get Rupert Murdoch who owned WSJ to get Carreyrou to stop the investigation. It is to Carreyrou's credit that he didn't allow that to happen.  

 

This book also serves as a warning to startups that seek to take unethical shortcuts to higher valuation and personal glory for founders.  

 

Pick up Bad Blood from MyBookWorks today and get started with this unputdownable page-turner.

 

Reading Time Approximately two days (three hours each of dedicated reading) 


Recommended Post-reading Research Watch Maria Shiver's interview with Holmes on NBC (before and after the scam broke out). The Inventor, HBO's documentary on Holmes, is also recommended.

 

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR by Paul Kalanithi

 

“If the unexamined life was not worth living, was the unlived life worth examining?”

 

Just one of the questions that author Paul Kalanithi poses to readers in his autobiographical work When Breath Becomes Air.

 

To say that this book is well-written and composed would be an understatement. When Breath Becomes Air forces the reader to investigate the relationship between life (symbolized by breath) and existence (symbolized by events --- or rather the casual drift that carries us to the end of life while keeping us occupied with the mundane, keeping us from conducting a deeper examination of one’s own living.

 

When Breath Becomes Air begins with the author being diagnosed with cancer. In the next few chapters, the author delves a bit into his childhood, bringing out memories and people while outlining how he ended up becoming a neurosurgeon. Paul dives deep into his imagination, drawing broad and narrow strokes while painting a vivid picture of his memories.

 

While there have been countless books on the life of terminally ill patients, this one brings out various facets that have been hitherto untouched. The transformation of Paul from being a doctor to a patient who is wheeled in for examination in the very room where he had himself examined many patients is a high point in the book. Without getting carried away, Paul handles the episode with finesse, gently placing the irony on the lap of the reader while setting the larger context for all the changes that are to occur in Paul’s life in the days to come.

 

Paul’s relationship with his wife Lucy is another facet dealt in depth by him in this book. The relationship between couples transforms when one of them is diagnosed with a terminal illness and has days to live. In this book, we can see the relationship between Lucy and Paul slip into a realm of ease where they accept the inevitable and plan for the days ahead without constantly worrying about the burden of memories that will haunt Lucy as Paul moves on.  

 

One can truly feel Paul narrate the story of his life to us. It is almost as if he is reading those very passages to you as you move along the pages of the book. Every chapter is a highly relatable chapter of life itself and while the last few pages bring a closure to Paul’s story; the reader is gently nudged to examine her own life in various ways.

 

When Breath Becomes Air doesn’t talk about how short life really is but instead talks about how vast it could be if only one were to invest attention and effort in identifying the ironies and contradictions that life presents us. Because this is where life reveals itself and its mysteries. A life sans irony is but a dull canvas waiting to be drenched in hues.

 

So go ahead and pick up this book from MyBookWorks today and get ready to experience a new reality – one that will help you not just understand but appreciate life a lot better.   

Perspective By

Prayukth K V

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For Prayukth, life is mostly about books and the immersive experience they offer. A book, according to him, is a treat in more ways than one. According to Prayukth, a book feeds the mind and soul, and connects one with a deeper sense of belonging and meaning, that the universe offers only to those who pursue it.

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