A booming stock market and the prospect of hordes of youngsters pocketing their first pay cheque have created a thriving market for personal finance books. These range in sophistication from tomes which spill the beans on the secret sauce of successful portfolio managers, to slim volumes that stop with extolling the virtues of compounding that many of us studied at school.

Financial Felicity by Rachna Singh sounds and looks like a book on personal finance. But this is a book you clearly shouldn’t judge by its cover, as it is really a crash course on everything that has transpired and is transpiring in the world of finance. What marks it out from academic books is its irreverent and interesting take on difficult subjects, its extremely brief treatment of them and its very contemporary commentary on everything it takes up.

At the end of this 201-page volume which you can riffle through in a matter of hours, you’ll find you’ve sprinted through 46 hot topics on finance and can now claim more than a nodding acquaintance with them.

If you’re the academic type, this book may leave you a little breathless for the rapidity with which it whirls you from one subject to another, as the author cuts a breezy swathe across issues ranging from insolvency resolution, to candlestick charts, to Masala Bonds, to Jallikattu, prohibition and bitcoins, rounding it off with the inevitable note ban and GST. This staccato treatment doesn’t offer much room for delving very deep into the weighty issues chosen.

But as a journalist, I still found the book very engaging. While grammar Nazis may take issue with mixed metaphors and the abundance of adjectives, the book does score a ten for catchy headlines (‘Fist-fight on Bond Street’, ‘Whipping Soured Assets into Shape’) and flamboyant writing.

Broadly, I found the essays on subjects I don’t know well (Jallikattu, prohibition, league sports) insightful, but those on the subjects I do know (personal finance, markets) a little shallow. Strangely enough, the driest chapters of the book are those towards the end dealing with recent changes to direct tax provisions.

The author has made considerable effort to ensure that she offers the latest available information the many evolving developments she discusses, be it the GST, insolvency code or cryptocurrencies. But in some cases, this preoccupation with the here and now could reduce the shelf life of the essays presented.

For instance, the chapter on ‘The Game of Crude Oil’ discusses the current dynamics of oil prices using shale exploration, OPEC cuts and India’s recent renewables push, but skips any discussion on the infamous Peak Oil theory that set the stage for the recent price action.

The chapters on the stock and bond markets deal almost wholly with developments since April 2017 – foreign investor behaviour and the fisticuffs on g-sec prices. But some discussion on the FIIs’ long-standing love affair with India and on the debate on the phase-out of the SLR (Statutory Liquidity Ratio) would have added heft to these essays. The book’s tendency to cite statistics without attributing a source can also be an impediment to using it as reference material.

Given that only a few sections deal with personal finance, the book may not allow you to wrest the management of your money matters from your portfolio manager, as it intends. But it is nevertheless an excellent buy for those who are not steeped in finance or business news.

Non-finance managers or professionals keen to stay updated on finance, or management students hoping to get a bird’s eye view of everything that is current in the world of finance, may find it a great read.