My time in the US built on my attraction for books. New York had excellent book stores. My favourite was the namesake of the one in Mumbai Strand. Its collection of second-hand (read cheaper) books was too much to resist. It was then that I discovered poetry. In school, one was used to analysing each line from a reference to context viewpoint. But now, it was different. Poetry had emotion and depth. Even today, I treasure the one book which started it all a treasury of a thousand poems. Some brought back old memories of school and teachers, others heightened the joy of new discovery.
The Book Clubs in the US also created easy access. That was how I got my first Calvin and Hobbes. Through the years, the story of the six-year-old and his tiger has never failed to delight. It was a sad day when the series was ended by Bill Watterson.
In recent times, Amazon has been a delight, creating an almost infinite, connected (through recommendations) supply of books. Amazon has become one of the wonders of the Internet, delivering everything I want so faithfully.
As time has gone on and I have gotten more into business, my reading has also changed. The past decade has seen the reading change to more business and management books, searching for news ideas and inspirations. I have always found some of my best ideas have come while reading one of the reasons may be because it gives me chunky time which is otherwise difficult get.
When I was thinking about IndiaWorld in the fall of 1994, I came across Competing for the Future by CK Prahalad and Gary Hamel. As I read it over a two-day stretch sitting at a friends house in Sunnyvale, various ideas constituting the business plan of IndiaWorld came together. It was that book which gave me the confidence to think long-term and use a vision for the future as a competitive advantage.
Earlier this year, four of us got together and started an informal book lovers club. We meet once a week for about two hours. Each one of us shares with the others the books he has read (or is reading), and what is interesting. This has exposed me to a much wider variety of books and ideas. One of the reasons is that the world that each of us inhabits is very different, necessarily leading to diversity in ones reading. [A recommendation: try doing the same find three other people who are quite different from you with whom you can meet once a month to discuss books.]
I have written about books before heres a collection. Over the coming columns, Ill once again share some of the books I have read recently, others that I am reading (a distinct bias towards management and technology books), and a few unusual ones which are perennial favourites.
Tomorrow: Shackleton and Influence