Work High Sleep Low by Vinay Singh- A Review

Vinay Singh/Non fiction Memoir

Publisher: Self-published

My rating:★★★★☆

[★-lost me ★★-average ★★★-worth a read ★★★★-excellent ★★★★★-amazing]

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A strong academic foundation – how his father’s efforts helped him build it during his school years, how it helped him get admission in the University of Roorkee and IIM-Ahmedabad, how it helped him bounce back after what the author calls a ‘lean period’ in his life and how he is determined to help primary school children of the village Chanchli build a strong academic foundation which will help them become self-learners as they navigate school after primary school, through his free school Shiksha Vikas Vidyalaya (www.svvindia.org) – that is the theme running through Vinay Singh’s first book.
Although the title of the book refers to a pattern of training used in mountaineering to help climbers’ bodies acclimatize to rarefied atmosphere at high altitude, the appeal of the book is not limited to mountaineers. The world of mountain-climbing may be far removed from the world of formal education but, with Vinay’s experience in both fields, this book is his attempt to explain similarities in practice of one concept in two disparate worlds. Following the principle of work high, sleep low, mountaineers acclimatize by climbing higher than their campsite and then descending to spend the night. This can be equated to going further after the initial goal has been achieved. A similar concept has application in the field of education and is referred to by psychologists as “overlearning” – the practice of rehearsing a task beyond the point when initial proficiency has been achieved.
According to Vinay, his father’s approach to learning which can be equated with overlearning, helped him build a strong academic foundation. Told with humorous reflections and hard-earned insight as Vinay takes the reader on a journey through his childhood and a career that begins in India and continues in the United States, the book is certain to keep the reader engaged.

Explaining the concept in simple words and anecdotes from his personal mountain-climbing experiences, the book will also promote awareness about high altitude living and the dangers faced by our defense personnel while defending our borders. At the same time, the book will also appeal to the sense of social responsibility as the readers learn about Vinay’s setbacks and success in setting up Shiksha Vikas Vidyalaya, a school to impart education free of charge, in his father’s village.


The phrase ‘work high sleep low’ is a method of acclimatization used by mountaineers where the climbers hike to gain latitude and then descend to their camp site before calling it a day. Through this book, Vinay Singh has shown how he has used this same technique to also get through life, apart from mountain climbing.
Born to a police officer, Vinay grew up in the typical style of a government employee’s family; travelling most of the country and getting many privileges. Though they weren’t necessarily rich, they still managed to get by and Vinay studied in some of the best colleges and Universities; University of Rourkee and Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He was also  accepted into the National Defense Academy, though he chose to opt out respecting his father’s wishes. He then shifted to USA to get work in his uncle’s business, and after a while set up his own. Meanwhile, he married and had kids. He also traveled to Brazil one of his assignments and fell in love with the country, while discovering corruption. Being a mountaineer himself, he also initiated his daughters into mountain climbing and many happy hours were spent in this activity.
After he got divorced, his parents passed away, and he remarried an American, Linda, he went to his village, Chanchli and was appalled at the state of education there, in spite of the Government’s various measures. Vinay then set up English classes for the children then and was pleased with the response, which made him set up a school there. While he was setting up school and classes, his wife Linda set up Sitara Collections with the aim to empower India artisans and communities and to showcase their handcrafted products, which has now spread to other countries like Guatemala, Peru, Indonesia and Brazil too. In one visit to India to his school, Shiksha Vikas Vidyalaya, The School For Development of Education, he extended his stay and wrote this book.
The book is humorous and with insightful knowledge about Education in India and how we can change this situation.

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