"The agony and the ecstacy" is a biographical novel written by Irving Stone on the master sculptor, Michelangelo Buonarroti. Irving Stone relies mostly on Michelangelo's correspondence and the Buonarroti chroniclers for earlier history.

Despite being a master marble sculptor, Michelangelo was forced to take commissions on material he hadn't worked with under pressure from popes and aristocrats. In most cases, the work was abandoned due to the benefactor dying, going bankrupt or just changing their mind. In some cases, he had to modify his work midway because the benefactors forced changes even after signing off on smaller scale wax replicas. The agony of being forced to take up uninspiring work for clueless benefactors ruined the ecstacy he experienced working on his ideas with marble.

Despite not having a huge body of work, the few that he could complete are masterpieces. Imagine if he was given a free hand!

While Michelangelo lived in medieval Italy, I could draw a lot of parallels with software development - where projects get shelved suddenly due to circumstances or requirements/goals are changed midway and the frustrated team is forced to change direction.


Florence: The biography of a city

Fri 22 March 2019 by Thejaswi Puthraya

Another book by Christopher Hibbert and this is mostly a repetition of "The rise and fall of Medici" with a fast narration before and after the Medicis. The difference being a little more emphasis on the monuments of Florence. Possibly a good guide book if you are planning to visit …

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The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall

Sun 17 March 2019 by Thejaswi Puthraya

Christopher Hibbert is a historian for the tl;dr (too long; didn't read) generation. He condenses a huge span of history making it a great starting point to the reader who otherwise would be lost over where to begin.

The Medici family was one of the most powerful families in …

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The Gene: An intimate history

Wed 13 March 2019 by Thejaswi Puthraya

Very few authors have the capability of successfully explaining science to the layperson. Siddhartha Mukherjee is one of them. His previous book, "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer", brought out cancer onto our coffee tables and this brings genetics. Like in his book on cancer, the author …

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The Long March

Tue 05 March 2019 by Thejaswi Puthraya

Disclaimer: I know the author of this book personally and read an early draft.

When I first read the draft of "The Long March" in 2016, I remember informing Namita that the ending was too filmy. Boy, some words come back to haunt you! I am glad that she held …

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Atlas Shrugged

Thu 07 February 2019 by Thejaswi Puthraya

1200 pages and 47 days! That's the longest it has taken me to complete a book yet. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is a fictional story set in the United States of America where the government has been captured by crony capitalists who lobby to pass laws that restrict innovation …

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Kahlil Gibran Selected Couplets

Sun 13 January 2019 by Thejaswi Puthraya

I love Kahlil Gibran's poetry and have been collecting his couplets as I read his books. Here are a few that I loved:

  • A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.
  • He who does not seek advice is a fool. His folly blinds …
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Getting Things Done

Sun 30 December 2018 by Thejaswi Puthraya

Just looking at the title, I decided to take a dive into getting things done even before I started reading the book. So I started reading the book simultaneously with other books. And boy was I wrong! Not only does the book clearly discourage multi-tasking; it took me 3 months …

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Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists

Wed 26 December 2018 by Thejaswi Puthraya

Raghuram Rajan (former governor of RBI) and Liugi Zingales, a professor from Chicago's Booth School of Business have written this book to drive home the point that most capitalistic societies around the world are mostly crony capitalism; where the incumbents make use of a nascent market and capture it and …

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Coromandel : A personal history of South India

Thu 13 December 2018 by Thejaswi Puthraya

"Ashoka - the search for India's lost emperor" by Charles Allen was a mind-blowing book that showed how even history can be presented to it's readers like a thriller. To better such a book is a challenging task and thankfully Charles Allen sets the tone for the kind of book in …

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