I handle the 'Life' section of Forbes India. In previous lives, I was an advertising creative director, voice-over artist, RJ, TV host, web producer and content architect, freelance travel writer, columnist, and consultant to NGOs. I've been blogging since 2003, and co-founded the South-East Asia Tsunami & Earthquake and Mumbai Help blogs (which, with other similar initiatives later became the WorldWideHelp group), and the writers’ community, Caferati. I'm a keen student of collaboration and online culture. I also co-curated the Literature section of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival from 2006 to 2012. Aside from Twitter (link below), you could also follow me on Facebook or Google+.
The good thing about print is the finite space you have in which to say what you want to; it makes you think hard, prune, choose carefully. Sometimes that can mean having to discard stuff you would rather keep in. That was the case with our year-end issue's list of books to look forward to.
We had started by asking publishers to send us four or five picks from their lists for 2013. They were more than generous, and sent us much, much longer lists. Which gave us a much, much, much longer long list than we had bargained for. We did an initial prune to around 50 books, then chopped it again to around 25, from which we selected 17 and then leaned back with deep sighs of accomplishment. Then, of course, our design team, as design teams are wont to do, said that was way too many and would we prune to 13. Which we did, and which you’ll see in print in our year-end issue.
But we felt that being, as we are, staunch lovers of good reading, we should point you to a few more titles than the tyranny of the page (and our demanding design team) allowed us. Here you go. More books to make space on your bookshelf for. (Note that this selection is guided by what I think our readers will find useful, with a few personal choices included as well.)
This Unquiet Land: Dispatches from India’s Fault Lines - Barkha Dutt - Aleph Dutt as a veteran TV journalist is one of India’s most recognised faces. In her first book, she writes about her experiences “from the front lines of every major news event in India over the past decade-and-a-half.”
Business Sutra: Leadership Secrets from Hindu Gods and Goddesses - Devdutt Pattanaik - Aleph
Bestselling author Devdutt Pattanaik provides leadership and management lessons derived from Indian mythology. He has his fingers on the public pulse, does Patnaik, so you can be sure of a decent read.
How to Spend Times Alone - Naomi Alderman, How to Connect with Nature - Tristan Gooley, How to Build Confidence - [author not given] - The School of Life series - Pan Macmillan
We saw the first four books in the series earlier this year, and were won over by their easy-to-grasp lessons, lack of pre-digested marketing faff, elegant design and their size (you can slip them into a shirt pocket). Worth carrying around to sip at leisure or read at one go.
Forecast: What Extreme Weather Can Teach Us about Economics - Mark Buchanan - Bloomsbury
How physics and meteorology can inform our view of the markets, Intriguing premise. “..our basic assumptions about economic markets - that they are for the most part stable, with occasional interruptions - are simply wrong. Markets really act more like the weather: a brief heat wave can become a massive storm in a matter of a few days, or even hours.”
Cities Are Good for You: The Genius of the Metropolis - Leo Hollis - Bloomsbury
We’re pretty much committed to cities, right? Might as well find out how the much maligned city life can be good for us.
Helium - Jaspreet Singh - Bloomsbury
Not much has been written about the 1984 pogrom in Delhi that saw Sikhs being massacred. This novel starts off a day after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, and takes it protagonist to a period many years later, when he confronts his family’s past and their role in the violence.
The Barons of Banking - Bakhtiar Dadabhoy - Random House
Such biography as we see in India tends to be about undoubted titans who strode the national stage. It’s nice to see books about people who were less well known, but who nevertheless affected our lives. This book profiles Sir Sorabji Pochkhanawala the founder of the Central Bank of India, Sir Purshotamdas Thakurdas, businessman and central banker, Sir Chintaman Dwarkanath Deshmukh, the first Indian Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Raj Kumar Talwar, a chairman the State Bank of India, AD Shroff, eminent economist and institution builder, and HT Parekh, chairman of ICICI and founder of HDFC.
Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead - Sheryl Sandberg - Random House
Even in this age, the number of women who rise to the top of governments and corporations is still not what it should be. This book by Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, says the blurb, “is a call to action for women everywhere to reignite the revolution, step up to the challenge and ‘lean in’ to their careers and their lives.”
The Future - Al Gore – Random House
Al Gore always makes for interesting reading. In this book, he talks about the political, social and economic forces shaping our world.
Tiger Fire: The Definitive Book of the Indian Tiger - Valmik Thapar - Aleph
Thapar knows his tigers, and has been writing about them for decades. And the publisher calls this ‘the definitive book on this endangered and magnificent creature.’
City Series - Aleph
A new series from Aleph, featuring books by Nirmala Lakshman (on Madras), Indrajit Hazra (on Calcutta), Malvika Singh (on Delhi), Amitava Kumar (on Patna) and Naresh Fernandes (on Bombay).
The Skeptical Patriot - Sidin Vadukut – Aleph
Vadakut is a funny writer, but this book takes a different route, looking at the ‘historical and contemporary myths that abound about India and Indians.’ As long-suffering recipients of chain-mails about India’s imaginary achievements, this is a book we can endorse, sight unseen.
Tigers for Dinner; Tall Tales by Jim Corbett’s Khansama - Ruskin Bond - Red Turtle (a new imprint from Rupa)
Ruskin Bond. ’Nuff said. (The only reason this book didn’t go into our print list is because it’s targetted at children. We’ll buy it anyway.)
Inspired by India: From Exoticism to Style- Roli
We like well-made coffee table books. This one promises a look at how the West incorporated Indian motifs, and how that sense of style has become part of the international ethos.
A Bank for the Buck- Tamal Bandyopadhyay - Jaico
This is the story of HDFC Bank, by a writer who has been following and commenting on India’s financial sector for over 15 years. Should be interesting.
Calcutta – Amit Chaudhuri - Penguin
Chaudhuri is one of our best novelists, and his portrait of Calcutta, from its origins to its present, should be of interest to a far wider community than the bhadralok.
Dirty Love - Sampurna Chattarji - Penguin
Chattarji’s is a wonderfully evocative voice, so this set of short stories set in Bombay should be worth your money.
Classic Sunil Gangopadhyay - Penguin
Translations of three historical novels by the legendary Bengali writer: Those Days and First Light, which chronicle the Bengal Renaissance (translated by Aruna Chakravarti) and The Lonely Emperor, the story of India’s greatest professional stage actor Sisir Bhaduri (translated by Sreejata).
The Troubled Indian Newsroom - Shantanu Guha Ray - Macmillan
The Indian media has changed beyond recognition over the last twenty-odd years. The writer has spent even longer in the business, and his views would make for a good read.
How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm - Mei-Ling Hopgood - Pan Macmillan
A journey through different cultures, examining how we bring up our children.
Cell Phone Nation: How Mobile Phones Have Revolutionized Business, Politics and Ordinary Life in India – Robin Jeffrey and Assa Doron - Hachette
From a land where you waited for years for a phone connection, we now have (I think) more phones than people. And the cellphone revolution is what created that enablement. Worth a good study, you’ll agree, and the publishers promise extensive research and an ‘engaging narrative.’
Untitled – Subroto Bagchi – Hachette
That we at Forbes India like Bagchi is clear: he’s written a very popular column for us since we first hit news-stands. His books have also sold in truckloads, and in this one, he distils his years of experience as an entrepreneur into lessons for everyone chasing success.
Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times - Nilanjan Mukhopodhyay - Westland
Like it or not, Modi will play a larger role in our country’s future. This book, by a seasoned journalist, rests not just on research but also detailed interviews with its subject. Best to get to know the man, perhaps?
Skin: A Biography - Sharad P Paul - Harper Collins
A whole book about the largest organ in our body? You have our attention.