2021; The Second Innings Reading List

Almost the end of the year. Read some great books and some not so great. See this post for my reading list from the first six months of 2021. . The year’s second innings, in books. From the must reads, to the hmmm and to ho-hmmm.

The absolute stunners and must reads

This Is How They Tell Me The World Ends by Nicole Perlroth

An absolute stunner, this book chronicles the shadowy world of cyber arms race and is sobering reminder of how vulnerable we are. This book has been named Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year for 2021.

The World For Sale by Javier Blas and Jack Farchy

This book chronicles the “wild west” of the global economy – commodity trading and the swashbuckling traders. The authors tell us stories of billionaire traders who buy, hoard and sell the earth’s resources and stories so fascinating that this book reads like a thriller. This book is my personal favorite, and thought it deserved the FT / McKinsey prize for the year.

Attention Factory by Matthew Brennan

This book is a story of TikTok and ByteDance and describes how the platform managed to capture the attention of consumers and helped create a new generation of internet celebrities. If you enjoyed reading Sarah Frier’s No Filter, you will enjoy reading this one too.

Liftoff by Eric Berger

Elon Musk is the most important entrepreneurs of our generation, Liftoff chronicles the early days of SpaceX and how it almost went bust before becoming the world’s leading rocket company. The book is a rich narrative of Musk’s audacity and the sheer dedication and tenacity of the SpaceX team.

The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell

At one level, The Bomber Mafia is World War II story and a chronicle of the contrasting philosophies of the “Bomber Mafia” with their precision bombing and General Curtis LeMay’s scorched earth tactics in Japan. But at another level, this book raises deep questions about the costs of war and holding on to one’s beliefs.

Indian Icon by Amrit Raj

The thump of the Royal Enfield motorcycle could be deemed as India’s road anthem. Indian Icon chronicles the brand, from its near-death experience to its rebirth and its evolution. 

Autonorama: The Illusory Promise Of High-Tech Driving by Peter Norton

In Autonorama, Professor Peter Norton argues against the claims made by the automobile and tech industry about “autonomous” or “self-driving cars” and makes a pitch for investments in sustainable and efficient. public transport systems.  Irrespective of what you believe, this book is a great ‘contrarian’ read – going against the conventional narrative that surrounds us.

Lady Doctors: The Untold Story Of India’s First Women In Medicine by Kavitha Rao

A fascinating account of the pioneering women in medicine, how they defied conventions and braved odds to build a career in medicine.

Wanting: The Power Of Mimetic Desire and How To Want What You Need by Luke Burgis.

This book is about the theory of mimetic desire, i.e. what most of want is imitative and not intrinsic and we want the same things that others want. This book offers a guide to uncover what you truly desire to help you channelize your efforts. You may either love this book or simply hate it.

The Hmmms

Invention: A Life by James Dyson

James Dyson famously made over 5,100 prototypes of his cyclonic vacuum cleaner, in this book he reveals how he set up his own company and led it to become of the most inventive consumer durable brands in the world. The book is a good read, but gets a tad tiring in the sections where Dyson writes about Brexit and rants about the system.

Delusions Of Brandeur by Ryan Wallman

Rip-roaringly funny. Sarcasm. Wit. The only reason why it figures in this section is because the book was pricey.

The Key Man by Simon Clark and Will Louch

Arif Naqvi ran a private equity firm – Abraaj and is accused of running a multi-million-dollar fraud.  This book is a chronicle of greed and how Arif managed to fool the worlds business and political elite.

Empire Of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe

This book examines the history of the Sacker family, their company Purdue Pharma and their infamous role in marketing opioids and America’s opioid epidemic. It’s tale of greed, corruption and how capitalism can be abused leading to disastrous public consequences. The book is very US -centric and requires some patient reading.

Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data And What The Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz.

Everybody Lies is a fascinating read about how much we can discover about ourselves through google search, both surprising and shocking in parts. 

To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink

An interesting read; argues that when we pitch or “sell ideas” most of us are into “non-sales selling”. Offers a framework for “selling” in the age of information glut: ABC – Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity.

The Ho-Hmmms.

How Come No One Told Me That? Prakash Iyer

A compilation of short tales and personal anecdotes proffering advice. A light, breezy, Chetan-Bhagat-like read, probably more suitable for younger professionals.

The Tata’s, Freddie Mercury & Other Bawas by Coomi Kapoor

Tales of India’s most illustrious community, the Parsis. Just too many names and a confusing narrative mars what could have been an absolute stunner.

Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding From Anywhere by Tsedal Neeley

Many of us have been working remotely for close to two years now, this book, published by HBS, covers topics like developing trust with remote teams, managing across cultures and more. A half-decent read, but nothing new that you haven’t read about in blogs and articles.

The Man Who Bent Light by Narinder Singh Kampany

Autobiographies are never easy. While this book educated me about the inventor of fiber optics and his passion for Sikh culture and art, the author seemed to dance around his political beliefs.