WRITING STYLE: 4.5/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 3.5/5
Sporting a sophisticated, minimalist cover and an interesting summary, a copy of Fluid on a bookshelf will certainly make someone stop and pick it up, maybe thumb through the pages and speed through the text.
It’s certainly what I did when I first laid my hands on the book. However, I believe that for a book like this one, no preliminary experience can live up to the actual experience of reading it. Tackling the age-long battle of the science vs. the arts and many other related concepts, Fluid succeeds at answering questions we didn’t even know we had.
“Great minds who have changed the fate of humankind are actually the ones who failed, faltered or remained uncertain, yet never bothered to stay
They were more. They were fluid.”
As Indians, most of us have grown up with a very rigid association of a successful life with an idealized career of the sciences. An association that has, in fact, developed into a class-based lifestyle – where a person belonging to a science background often looks down at people from other educational backgrounds.
Fluid addresses not only this reality but also talks about why it’s simply foolish to do so.
The book starts with the concept of a left and right brain and the distinction that it creates within humanity. Left brainer – the most “analytical and logical” of the lot are often considered as too robotic and mechanical by the right-brainers (the supposedly thoughtful and creative group).
The author does an excellent job of debunking this myth and explaining why it’s impractical and downright unintelligent to live life by these rules.
The book starts with a few stories. Four characters – all different in their personalities, educational backgrounds and outlook – serve as an archetype throughout the rest of the book. As you read them, you might find that they mirror – in whole or in parts – some people in your life.
The author, Ashish Jaiswal, goes on to use these characters as examples throughout the book, interspersing fiction and non-fiction effectively.
As you move along the book, you’ll find that each chapter is organized and tackles a specific perspective. Each chapter is different from another. A fresh perspective, a new story.
I found this to be useful because sometimes the chapters can get technical. For instance, while explaining the overlap between the engineering feats of Da Vinci with his work in architecture, the author uses diagrams and a fair bit of technical language.
While it is easy to understand, it was also easy to get bored of these. However, the fact that it was followed by a fresh chapter dealing with a new topic entirely was refreshing. However, it cannot be denied that the graphical aid was a very useful addition to the book.
Though this may bring a personal bias into play, I especially liked this book because of the brief biographies that it was made up of. Speaking for myself, examples of real people who have left their marks on history bring an element of inspiration to any book.
The author brings to light stories of many great scientists and artists. These are not stories of what we already know about them – no, these are instances from their personal lives that lead us to realize that they were just like us. Real people with real struggles, who fought through their fair share of obstacles before changing the world.
With the stories of these people, the author explains that no accomplished individual owes his greatness to one single discipline. They built their success on a foundation of overlap – overlap of the sciences, arts and everything in between.
“The educational journey of these wanderers inspires the idea of being fluid.”
These stories were my favourite part of the book. Who knew that C.V. Raman is not only the pioneer of determining the effect of light as it passes through a transparent surface – but that he also was an expert Mridanga player!
As the book moves forward, the stories turn into sources of solution and ideas. You are not only inspired by the accounts but motivated to apply them. Original letters, diagrams and illustrations make these applications that much easier to understand.
The only drawback that I’d like to point out that this is not a book that can be read fast or mindlessly. It is difficult and resultantly, it’s easy to get lost in the technical aspect of it all. Although I commend the research done by the author for every topic, the length of a chapter and the mechanical, textbook-like parts of it left me bored and in distaste.
“The approach applied by geniuses over centuries” – a very effective way to describe this book. In the end, you’ll be left with an insight like no other and possibly, an idea to apply that insight to your life.
The book succeeds at breaking the myth of rigidity in a discipline and throw light upon the reality of fluidity. You can read this book in parts – in fact, you can come back to it every now and then for a little guidance.
Stories, ideas, anecdotes and inspiration – Fluid is an experience everyone should experience.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy Fluid using the link below.