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Last Updated : Dec 24, 2018 06:44 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Here are the best books Team Moneycontrol read this year

Read on to know more about what we read in 2018.

Moneycontrol News @moneycontrolcom
They say that reading nourishes the mind the way music nourishes the soul. In between replying to emails, paying off bills and making that hasty vacation, we at Moneycontrol managed to flip and scroll through a few books, and stumbled across some gems that we could not resist sharing. Read on to know more about what we read in 2018 (Image:Reuters)
1/16

They say that reading nourishes the mind the way music nourishes the soul. In between replying to emails, paying off bills and making that hasty vacation, we at Moneycontrol managed to flip and scroll through a few books, and stumbled across some gems that we could not resist sharing. Read on to know more about what we read in 2018 (Image:Reuters)

India's Railway Man by Rajendra B. Aklekar | Ideally, I would like to retire by 40. The problem is that I have less than 300 days more to build that retirement corpus. The stark reality facing me is that I will have to slog it out till the ripe old age of 60. E Sreedharan will not appreciate not-so-driven people like me. Take a look at his career. After spending nearly 40 years in Indian Railways, Sreedharan was about to retire in 1990. But instead of enjoying the fruits of his labour, he took on what was the probably the toughest assignment, not just in Indian Railways, but the history of global rail transport. The Konkan Railway was first considered, and abandoned, by the British over a hundred years ago. It is probably for this reason that Aklelar’s biography mostly glosses over Sreedharan’s pre-Konkan career. That is both, the good and not so good thing, about the book. Good because it has all the details on how Sreedharan and his team built that Konkan route through mountains and over rivers (over 90 tunnels and 2,000 bridges had to be built). And not-so-good because I wanted to know more about the challenges and run-ins that Sreedharan had in his career, and how those experiences shaped him. There are a few instances, but not enough to underline the near four decades that he spent in Railways. Overall, it's a good read and Sreedharan's career a true inspiration. Especially for sloths like me. – Prince Mathews Thomas (Image: Amazon)
2/16

India's Railway Man by Rajendra B. Aklekar | Ideally, I would like to retire by 40. The problem is that I have less than 300 days more to build that retirement corpus. The stark reality facing me is that I will have to slog it out till the ripe old age of 60. E Sreedharan will not appreciate not-so-driven people like me. Take a look at his career. After spending nearly 40 years in Indian Railways, Sreedharan was about to retire in 1990. But instead of enjoying the fruits of his labour, he took on what was the probably the toughest assignment, not just in Indian Railways, but the history of global rail transport. The Konkan Railway was first considered, and abandoned, by the British over a hundred years ago. It is probably for this reason that Aklelar’s biography mostly glosses over Sreedharan’s pre-Konkan career. That is both, the good and not so good thing, about the book. Good because it has all the details on how Sreedharan and his team built that Konkan route through mountains and over rivers (over 90 tunnels and 2,000 bridges had to be built). And not-so-good because I wanted to know more about the challenges and run-ins that Sreedharan had in his career, and how those experiences shaped him. There are a few instances, but not enough to underline the near four decades that he spent in Railways. Overall, it's a good read and Sreedharan's career a true inspiration. Especially for sloths like me. – Prince Mathews Thomas (Image: Amazon)

Man’s search for meaning by Viktor Frankl | The book is a gripping first-hand account of a Holocaust survivor’s experience in the Nazi death camps and how not losing hope was the biggest victory for him during those testing times. The writer was a psychologist and has written events describing the psychological analysis of inmates. I liked the book because it made me question my day-to-day reactions to small things. It helped me look at the bigger picture, to keep expecting more from life. In our day to day life, we go through a lot of ups and downs, and we may not be where we want ourselves to be. But we should keep doing our bit as we don’t know when times would change. It also made me realise that while we find our troubles so big, there are people in some part of this world who are struggling to survive, and we should in some way work for it. – Ruchi Agrawal (Image: Amazon)
3/16

Man’s search for meaning by Viktor Frankl | The book is a gripping first-hand account of a Holocaust survivor’s experience in the Nazi death camps and how not losing hope was the biggest victory for him during those testing times. The writer was a psychologist and has written events describing the psychological analysis of inmates. I liked the book because it made me question my day-to-day reactions to small things. It helped me look at the bigger picture, to keep expecting more from life. In our day to day life, we go through a lot of ups and downs, and we may not be where we want ourselves to be. But we should keep doing our bit as we don’t know when times would change. It also made me realise that while we find our troubles so big, there are people in some part of this world who are struggling to survive, and we should in some way work for it. – Ruchi Agrawal (Image: Amazon)

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell | In Outliers, Gladwell busts a lot of myths. Like for example, that of the self-made successful man. Gladwell shows that people don’t miraculously rise from nothing, but extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard make a difference. Essentially, where and when we are born makes a difference, he argues. I like the book because it made me realise the importance of opportunity. It is also relatable with my own life because the opportunities I had are a key reason I am where I am. – Sabahat Contractor (Image: Amazon)
4/16

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell | In Outliers, Gladwell busts a lot of myths. Like for example, that of the self-made successful man. Gladwell shows that people don’t miraculously rise from nothing, but extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard make a difference. Essentially, where and when we are born makes a difference, he argues. I like the book because it made me realise the importance of opportunity. It is also relatable with my own life because the opportunities I had are a key reason I am where I am. – Sabahat Contractor (Image: Amazon)

Sabrina by Nick Drnaso | Periods of grief and trauma call for some quiet time for the friends and family of the deceased. But even that could be considered a luxury in today's fake news era. A story that begins with a missing woman being murdered, weaves together the intricacies of modern society in a compact graphic novel. Very few stories leave one with a sense of helplessness with the state of affairs of our society. A society where masses have moved from the philosophy of 'seeing is believing' to attaching conspiracy theories to every incident. The use of pale colours, as well as the sombre settings of the home and office atmosphere, present a state of despair and constant anxiety that we live in - trying to pretend that things will get better, when in fact they only seem to be getting worse. Literary purists would argue that a graphic novel on such an issue distracts the reader, but I believe that this was the most appropriate medium of storytelling. – M Saraswathy (Image: Amazon)
5/16

Sabrina by Nick Drnaso | Periods of grief and trauma call for some quiet time for the friends and family of the deceased. But even that could be considered a luxury in today's fake news era. A story that begins with a missing woman being murdered, weaves together the intricacies of modern society in a compact graphic novel. Very few stories leave one with a sense of helplessness with the state of affairs of our society. A society where masses have moved from the philosophy of 'seeing is believing' to attaching conspiracy theories to every incident. The use of pale colours, as well as the sombre settings of the home and office atmosphere, present a state of despair and constant anxiety that we live in - trying to pretend that things will get better, when in fact they only seem to be getting worse. Literary purists would argue that a graphic novel on such an issue distracts the reader, but I believe that this was the most appropriate medium of storytelling. – M Saraswathy (Image: Amazon)

The Spider Network by David Enrich | Of the dozen-odd books I read during the year, The Spider Network by David Enrich was the most enjoyable. What I liked about the book is that it is well researched, has lots of people in it, and does a very good job of detailing the scam and its implications in an easy to understand manner. For me, Den of Thieves is the gold standard for books on the 80s insider trading scandal in the US stock market. The Spider Network easily ranks alongside it in chronicling one of the biggest bond market frauds in living memory. Till I read the book, I felt the Libor scam was the handiwork of a few rogue traders across the banks. I was stunned to learn from the book that the fixing of Libor rates was not just an open secret, but it was also institutionalised. – Santosh Nair (Image: Amazon)
6/16

The Spider Network by David Enrich | Of the dozen-odd books I read during the year, The Spider Network by David Enrich was the most enjoyable. What I liked about the book is that it is well researched, has lots of people in it, and does a very good job of detailing the scam and its implications in an easy to understand manner. For me, Den of Thieves is the gold standard for books on the 80s insider trading scandal in the US stock market. The Spider Network easily ranks alongside it in chronicling one of the biggest bond market frauds in living memory. Till I read the book, I felt the Libor scam was the handiwork of a few rogue traders across the banks. I was stunned to learn from the book that the fixing of Libor rates was not just an open secret, but it was also institutionalised. – Santosh Nair (Image: Amazon)

The City: London and the Global Power of Finance by Tony Norfield | This is a book about the city of London and how it occupies a central place in the global financial system. But it’s very different from the usual run-of-the-mill books about finance, because it also says in whose interest the system works. It explains how a handful of rich countries dominate the world financial markets and how they use their control over finance to project and protect their interests and boost their profits and privileges. It lays bare the relationship between high finance and power. The author has worked for decades in the financial markets and writes simply, lucidly and insightfully. – Manas Chakravarty (Image: Amazon)
7/16

The City: London and the Global Power of Finance by Tony Norfield | This is a book about the city of London and how it occupies a central place in the global financial system. But it’s very different from the usual run-of-the-mill books about finance, because it also says in whose interest the system works. It explains how a handful of rich countries dominate the world financial markets and how they use their control over finance to project and protect their interests and boost their profits and privileges. It lays bare the relationship between high finance and power. The author has worked for decades in the financial markets and writes simply, lucidly and insightfully. – Manas Chakravarty (Image: Amazon)

The Nationalist: How A.M. Naik Overcame Great Odds to Transform Larsen & Toubro into a Global Powerhouse by Minhaz Merchant | I have always been fascinated by the success stories of professionals who rose from the bottom to reach the top. AM Naik is one such man and his biography aptly charts his rise. The book is peppered with classic anecdotes and portrays Naik’s rise along with that of the economy. Getting to know about his steely resolve to prevent L&T from being acquired by rivals shows his leadership qualities and is a lesson for top honchos on how to safeguard the interests of the organization and its employees. His achievements are bound to provide inspiration for future corporate leaders and shows that hard work and honesty can help any professional reach the zenith of his career. – Soumalya Santikari (Image: Amazon)
8/16

The Nationalist: How A.M. Naik Overcame Great Odds to Transform Larsen & Toubro into a Global Powerhouse by Minhaz Merchant | I have always been fascinated by the success stories of professionals who rose from the bottom to reach the top. AM Naik is one such man and his biography aptly charts his rise. The book is peppered with classic anecdotes and portrays Naik’s rise along with that of the economy. Getting to know about his steely resolve to prevent L&T from being acquired by rivals shows his leadership qualities and is a lesson for top honchos on how to safeguard the interests of the organization and its employees. His achievements are bound to provide inspiration for future corporate leaders and shows that hard work and honesty can help any professional reach the zenith of his career. – Soumalya Santikari (Image: Amazon)

Ready to Fire: How India and I Survived the ISRO spy case by Nambi Narayanan | Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. Nambi Narayanan, a top rocket scientist is charged with selling technology secrets to Maldivian women. The top police official in Kerala, where ISRO facilities are located, is accused of complicity and political vested interests use this to target the government. Investigations reveal this to be a totally cooked up plot by a police inspector who had a romantic interest with one of the Maldivian women. If this doesn't read like a spy potboiler or an Abbas-Mastan movie script, what does? Narayanan had a harrowing time in proving his innocence. But this ordeal is only one part of the book. But what I liked particularly about the book is how it traces India's rocket science programme. It details how a team of young scientists like Nambi and Abdul Kalam pushed India into the space age step by step at a time when international assistance was not all that forthcoming. While there are parts when it gets a tad too technical, overall it is written in a manner accessible to the lay reader. Another thing of interest: Narayanan says that rocket science secrets can't be transferred by just sharing drawings, one has to acquire the 'know-why' along with the 'know-how'. Spy movies will ever be the same again! -- Ravi Krishnan (Image: Amazon)
9/16

Ready to Fire: How India and I Survived the ISRO spy case by Nambi Narayanan | Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. Nambi Narayanan, a top rocket scientist is charged with selling technology secrets to Maldivian women. The top police official in Kerala, where ISRO facilities are located, is accused of complicity and political vested interests use this to target the government. Investigations reveal this to be a totally cooked up plot by a police inspector who had a romantic interest with one of the Maldivian women. If this doesn't read like a spy potboiler or an Abbas-Mastan movie script, what does? Narayanan had a harrowing time in proving his innocence. But this ordeal is only one part of the book. But what I liked particularly about the book is how it traces India's rocket science programme. It details how a team of young scientists like Nambi and Abdul Kalam pushed India into the space age step by step at a time when international assistance was not all that forthcoming. While there are parts when it gets a tad too technical, overall it is written in a manner accessible to the lay reader. Another thing of interest: Narayanan says that rocket science secrets can't be transferred by just sharing drawings, one has to acquire the 'know-why' along with the 'know-how'. Spy movies will ever be the same again! -- Ravi Krishnan (Image: Amazon)

 Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee | I loved Disgrace for its dense themes — an intersection of power dynamics, sexuality, history, and race politics. What stayed with me was how the main character, an egotistic academic, managed to empathise with those he had wronged, and achieved a sense of meaning and redemption in his life. Coetzee manages to show this in a unique way, without being righteous, preachy or stale. The dog is a constant metaphor throughout his book, and he has masterfully used the animal in varying contexts. This book made me think about how powerful literature can be in changing one's perspective. – Siddhesh Raut (Image: Amazon)
10/16

Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee | I loved Disgrace for its dense themes — an intersection of power dynamics, sexuality, history, and race politics. What stayed with me was how the main character, an egotistic academic, managed to empathise with those he had wronged, and achieved a sense of meaning and redemption in his life. Coetzee manages to show this in a unique way, without being righteous, preachy or stale. The dog is a constant metaphor throughout his book, and he has masterfully used the animal in varying contexts. This book made me think about how powerful literature can be in changing one's perspective. – Siddhesh Raut (Image: Amazon)

The RSS: A View to the Inside by Walter Anderson and Shridhar Damle | If there is one organisation that has a profound influence — I wouldn’t use the word ‘power’ — on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), it is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Today, the BJP is in power in 19 states and the Centre, and the RSS has more than 50,000 shakhas across India. Many of its senior leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have been associated/are associated with the organisation. Given these facts, it’s important to understand the organisation, it’s functioning and this book helps in throwing light on several of these areas. Whether you agree with its ideology or oppose it; or even if it out of academic/professional interest, this book can be a resourceful text. – Viju Cherian (Image: Amazon)
11/16

The RSS: A View to the Inside by Walter Anderson and Shridhar Damle | If there is one organisation that has a profound influence — I wouldn’t use the word ‘power’ — on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), it is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Today, the BJP is in power in 19 states and the Centre, and the RSS has more than 50,000 shakhas across India. Many of its senior leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have been associated/are associated with the organisation. Given these facts, it’s important to understand the organisation, it’s functioning and this book helps in throwing light on several of these areas. Whether you agree with its ideology or oppose it; or even if it out of academic/professional interest, this book can be a resourceful text. – Viju Cherian (Image: Amazon)

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown | The book that I read recently and would remember for a long time is an old bestseller from Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code. First and foremost, the novel was a welcome break from the equity/financial market research reports that usually consume most of my reading time. That aside, the book itself had a great blend of history and suspense that kept me glued on till the last page. The relentless adventure right from the start, the scholarly intrigue and the cutting wit sets this book apart. This intelligent thriller was surprising at every twist, absorbing at every turn and unpredictable till the end. – Madhuchanda Dey (Image: Amazon)
12/16

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown | The book that I read recently and would remember for a long time is an old bestseller from Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code. First and foremost, the novel was a welcome break from the equity/financial market research reports that usually consume most of my reading time. That aside, the book itself had a great blend of history and suspense that kept me glued on till the last page. The relentless adventure right from the start, the scholarly intrigue and the cutting wit sets this book apart. This intelligent thriller was surprising at every twist, absorbing at every turn and unpredictable till the end. – Madhuchanda Dey (Image: Amazon)

Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande | Of all the books I read this year, the one that stood out was Atul Gawande’s ‘Complications’. Even though Gawande, an Indian-origin doctor practicing in Boston, wrote this book over 17 years ago, it is still absolutely valid today. Gawande writes about his personal experiences as a surgeon and about the mistakes he made during surgery. While we tend to treat doctors as Gods, he allows us an honest peek into the other side where doctors are merely overworked human beings putting in long hours under pressure. What I liked the most about the book is where he talks about how owning up to a genuine mistake during surgery gives him closure and forgiveness from a patient instead of a malpractice lawsuit, which is so common in the US. It made me realise the importance of apologies and owning up; that sometimes, a sorry is all people want to hear. – Jasmine Makujina (Image: Amazon)
13/16

Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande | Of all the books I read this year, the one that stood out was Atul Gawande’s ‘Complications’. Even though Gawande, an Indian-origin doctor practicing in Boston, wrote this book over 17 years ago, it is still absolutely valid today. Gawande writes about his personal experiences as a surgeon and about the mistakes he made during surgery. While we tend to treat doctors as Gods, he allows us an honest peek into the other side where doctors are merely overworked human beings putting in long hours under pressure. What I liked the most about the book is where he talks about how owning up to a genuine mistake during surgery gives him closure and forgiveness from a patient instead of a malpractice lawsuit, which is so common in the US. It made me realise the importance of apologies and owning up; that sometimes, a sorry is all people want to hear. – Jasmine Makujina (Image: Amazon)

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari | After tracing the history of mankind in Sapiens and imagining its future in Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari attempts to size up the present. In 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Harari looks at society through the prism of the most important challenges it faces: the rise of information and bio technology. Those who have read Harari’s past works will be familiar with his broad theme. But in 21 Lessons, the historian has a pronounced dreariness in his outlook and an urgency in his tone. For instance, he says liberal democracy as it exists today is on its last legs and the world is about to witness the rise of a giant class of “useless workers”. Harari makes these points using his signature imagination, pointed arguments and by drawing from his solid understanding of technology, economics, philosophy and history. – Nazim Khan (Image: Amazon)
14/16

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari | After tracing the history of mankind in Sapiens and imagining its future in Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari attempts to size up the present. In 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Harari looks at society through the prism of the most important challenges it faces: the rise of information and bio technology. Those who have read Harari’s past works will be familiar with his broad theme. But in 21 Lessons, the historian has a pronounced dreariness in his outlook and an urgency in his tone. For instance, he says liberal democracy as it exists today is on its last legs and the world is about to witness the rise of a giant class of “useless workers”. Harari makes these points using his signature imagination, pointed arguments and by drawing from his solid understanding of technology, economics, philosophy and history. – Nazim Khan (Image: Amazon)

The Ten Commandments For Business Failure by Donald Keough | Enough books had been written about success, so Keough thought he would write on failure. He worked with The Coca-Cola Company for close to 40 years and retired as president and CEO, with enough experience of the ups and downs seen in most careers. According to Keough, a business can fail if it quits taking risks, is inflexible, isolates itself, assumes infallibility, doesn’t take time to think, over-relies on experts and outside consultants, loves its bureaucracy and is afraid of the future among other things. It is a clearly detailed account of the pitfalls firms should avoid in order to continue remaining successful. I am not the only one recommending book. So are Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Jack Welch! – Jitendra Gupta (Image: Amazon)
15/16

The Ten Commandments For Business Failure by Donald Keough | Enough books had been written about success, so Keough thought he would write on failure. He worked with The Coca-Cola Company for close to 40 years and retired as president and CEO, with enough experience of the ups and downs seen in most careers. According to Keough, a business can fail if it quits taking risks, is inflexible, isolates itself, assumes infallibility, doesn’t take time to think, over-relies on experts and outside consultants, loves its bureaucracy and is afraid of the future among other things. It is a clearly detailed account of the pitfalls firms should avoid in order to continue remaining successful. I am not the only one recommending book. So are Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Jack Welch! – Jitendra Gupta (Image: Amazon)

The Devil’s Advocate – The Untold Story, by Karan Thapar | Everybody loves to hate Karan Thapar, especially the people he has interviewed or can potentially interview. Thapar’s interviews - mostly through his popular program called The Devil’s Advocate - are known for his hard-hitting questions. What about the back-stories, though? Did they come to blows later? What did Thapar himself think of his subjects? Before we get to the spicy details, the book - aptly named after his TV show- spends the first half or so taking us all the way to his growing up, graduation and early career years, the latter of which he spent in the United Kingdom for about eight years. He then returned to India. His love for his late wife is a moving account and shows a rare soft side to an otherwise hard exterior we’ve known to accept. A majority of the book, though, is spent on what went behind the scenes of some of his most memorable interviews. Amitabh Bachchan’s unexpected mood swings when asked about Rekha, the bitterly hostile air around J. Jayalalitha, Tamil Nadu’s former chief minister, and the most famous one where India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi who walked out after just three minutes into his interview are just some of the most fascinating accounts Thapar recollects in this autobiography. The book reads like a thriller; read it. - Kayezad E. Adajania (Image: Amazon)
16/16

The Devil’s Advocate – The Untold Story, by Karan Thapar | Everybody loves to hate Karan Thapar, especially the people he has interviewed or can potentially interview. Thapar’s interviews - mostly through his popular program called The Devil’s Advocate - are known for his hard-hitting questions. What about the back-stories, though? Did they come to blows later? What did Thapar himself think of his subjects? Before we get to the spicy details, the book - aptly named after his TV show- spends the first half or so taking us all the way to his growing up, graduation and early career years, the latter of which he spent in the United Kingdom for about eight years. He then returned to India. His love for his late wife is a moving account and shows a rare soft side to an otherwise hard exterior we’ve known to accept. A majority of the book, though, is spent on what went behind the scenes of some of his most memorable interviews. Amitabh Bachchan’s unexpected mood swings when asked about Rekha, the bitterly hostile air around J. Jayalalitha, Tamil Nadu’s former chief minister, and the most famous one where India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi who walked out after just three minutes into his interview are just some of the most fascinating accounts Thapar recollects in this autobiography. The book reads like a thriller; read it. - Kayezad E. Adajania (Image: Amazon)

First Published on Dec 19, 2018 07:38 am
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