R Seshasayee, Vice Chairman, Hinduja Group
R Seshasayee, Vice Chairman, Hinduja Group

R Seshasayee, Vice Chairman, Hinduja Group

  • 1) Physics of the future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku

One of my favourite scientist writers, Michio Kaku presents a lucid picture of where science will take humanity in the next century. This is not sci-fi, not wild speculations, but real work being done in global labs.

While exciting opportunities lie ahead of us such as nanomachines in human bodies and robot chefs, the book also provokes thought on the humongous challenges that mankind needs to confront, as the relentless march of science and technology goes on.

  • 2) False Allies: India’s Maharajahs in the Age of Ravi Verma by Manu S. Pillai

In these days when history is being rewritten, here’s a well-researched one that opens up a new perspective on the history of Indian princes, put together in an objective manner, with no evident agenda.

It’s some consolation that at least some princely states did not offer the British the country on a platter, but made every attempt to resist the colonisers with the interest of their people in mind. I am also partial to Ravi Varma, the painter king, who dominates the narrative.

  • 3) A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

This is a non-threatening, non-high-brow, spiritual book. You can read it in parts, as I did. You can relate to almost all that’s discussed with personal experiences and that enables you to understand yourself – and others - better, even if incompletely.

  • 4) Indomitable: A working woman’s notes on Work, Life and Leadership by Arundathi Bhattacharya

I like stories of women, who have made their mark in a men’s world, by being true to themselves. I’ve watched Arundathi rise up the ladder in the State Bank of India and blaze new trails. That she has turned out to be a highly readable author is commendable.

  • 5) Sancharam by S Ramakrishnan

This Sahitya Academy award-winning novel in Tamil is about the life of Nadaswaram vidwans (savant). I love the author’s style of story-telling. It flows like a majestic river, with many tributaries, rivulets, and canals. It’s also a sad commentary on the ills of a caste-ridden society.

Shyam Srinivasan, MD and CEO, Federal Bank
Shyam Srinivasan, MD and CEO, Federal Bank

Shyam Srinivasan, MD and CEO, Federal Bank

  • 1) Ganbatte: The Japanese Art of Always Moving Forward by Liebermann

Maybe no other language has expressions that give life lessons in just one word ! Ganbatte is one such word and this book by Liebermann is replete with lovely examples and stories that talk of giving it all and going forward, whatever the odds.

  • 2) The heart of business: Leadership principles for the next era of Capitalism by Hubert Joly

A practitioner’s view on leadership using the philosophy of refreshing a business with a people focuses and learning from frontliners. To be inspired by a noble purpose as one’s True North is the central plot of this interesting read.

  • 3) Invent & Wander: The collected writings of Jeff Bezos

A rich collection of writings by Jeff Bezos. Each insight is instructive and when you thread them all, a clear pattern emerges and one can tell how he powered Amazon to be the giant organisation it is.

  • 4) The Wit of Cricket by Barry Johnston

A must-read for the diehard cricket fan! Hilarious anecdotes and dressing room wit/gaffes/sledges gives an insight into what goes on outside of the field in the lives of legends ( not just the players ) of the game. A fun read indeed.

Apurva Purohit, Co-founder, Aazol
Apurva Purohit, Co-founder, Aazol

Apurva Purohit, Co-founder, Aazol

  • 1) Socrates Express: In Search of Life Lessons by Dead Philosophers by Eric Weiner

I have always wanted to find a book that distils the thoughts of all the great philosophers from Epicurus to Thoreau and The Socrates Express is exactly that. The book takes us on a quest across centuries and through the minds of some of these great thinkers as they seek to answer life’s meaningful questions and teach us how to lead a wiser and happier life.

  • 2) The Slow Horses series by Mick Herron

I started reading these books after watching the series on Netflix and have been so transfixed by the books that I am on the 7th book has been unable to put them down till I race through the whole lot.

A spy drama a la John Le Carre, Mick Herron gives Smiley a run for his money with his protagonist Jackson Lamb and the rest of the Slow Horses who add intrigue, drama, and complex narrative arcs, written with astonishingly intelligent humour and verve.

  • 3) How to Make the World Add Up: Ten Rules for Thinking Differently About Numbers by Tim Harford

Tim Harford is amongst my favourite columnists in The Financial Times and his book reminds us once again to look at numbers clearly, empirically evaluate all the data being presented and make sense of it wisely and well. A must-read as we grapple with an increasingly misrepresented and complex world.

  • 4) LifeSpan: Why we Age and Why We Don’t Have To by David Sinclair

Dr Sinclair is among the foremost authorities on the aging process and amongst one of the most influential scientists in the world today. Lifespan is an important book to read as we move towards an ageing society so that each of us understands that the process of aging need not directly be associated with also becoming unhealthy.

  • 5) Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Both these books are absolute gems in the way the author has used language in such a fine and nuanced way to communicate some very fundamental moral issues. Her writing is as sparse as it is delightful and her sentences whilst seemingly showcasing her attention to detail unveil some patterns that are larger than life, almost haiku-ish in nature.

Sandip Ghose, MD & CEO, MP Birla Corporation
Sandip Ghose, MD & CEO, MP Birla Corporation (PIC: https://twitter.com/SandipGhose)

Sandip Ghose, MD & CEO, MP Birla Corporation (PIC: https://twitter.com/SandipGhose)

  • 1) Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner

Eric Weiner is a travel writer with a difference. He combines travel, philosophy, and humour to make delightful reading of esoteric and eclectic subjects like happiness, spirituality, and genius. Happiness research is a thing now.

In this book, he travels to countries that are alleged to have the happiest people to discover — “the search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness”. Happiness comes out of a new way of seeing things, he concludes.

  • 2) The New BJP: Modi and the Making of the World’s Largest Political Party by Nalin Mehta

It is the season of new books on Modi and the BJP, Nalin Mehta’s seminal work is neither a hagiographical “Modi-Shah Nama” nor a Modi-bashing trope. What sets apart his work from others is a politically agnostic and non-judgemental approach.

It is an enlightening read not only for those interested in contemporary politics but all those engaged in change management and reinventing organisations in a digital age if read with an open mind.

  • 3) Tata Leadership Experiment — The Story of Tata Administrative Services by Bharat Wakhlu, Mukund Rajan and Sonu Bhasin

The Tata way of developing leaders as visualised by JRD Tata, who believed the development of leaders is “a journey and not an event”. Though written by insiders who were products of Tata Administrative Services (TAS) the book is not a non-critical account.

It also examines reasons why TAS did not deliver its full promise and candidly discusses the Tata Financial Scandal, Niira Radia episode and Cyrus Mistry’s exit.

  • 4) Letters of Swami Vivekananda

This is one book I keep at home, at work, and on my Kindle. No matter how many times one has read a page, it never fails to inspire, providing new insight on how to deal with both highs and lows of life.

  • 5) Wordygurdyboom — The Nonsense World of Sukumar Ray — Introduction by Ruskin Bond

Nonsense rhymes of the father of Satyajit Ray. To say he was Bengal’s Edward Lear or Lewis Carol would be a grave injustice to his genius. So far confined to Bengal, some excellent translations published recently have made his work accessible to those who can’t read Bengali.