Money and Moguls @ BYOB Party in Jan 2020 (Part 4)

Ankit likes to read books on personal development in all spheres – financial, emotional, spiritual, etc. ” I know you don’t encourage the odd bestseller but here I am,” Ankit said as he talked about what he called the Bible of financial awareness — Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter. This is a story about two dads one who lacks money and one who loves money. The book is framed around six main teachings and lessons from both dads.

Kiyosaki mentions his biographical details to give context. He talks about his business decisions, free enterprise, risk-taking and investment options.

Jaya added a word of warning, “There is no doubt that the book introduces many readers to financial literacy. However, the advice is careless at times.  You need to be careful before making business decisions.”

Then there is the argument that while 80% of people are employees or small business owners. it’s the 20% risk-takers who own 80% of the world’s wealth.  “This is nothing but survivorship bias,” Abhaya said, “We only hear success stories. What about the many who have failed?”

“Reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb will overturn any such mental distortions,” Bindu said.

Cohen countered this with his belief that even business and investment can be understood via fiction. “Books by entrepreneurs don’t really read as fiction,” he said. He then elaborated on the famous book A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute, which tells an entrepreneurial story of Jean Paget, a woman who works in Malaya and must flee when the Japanese attack. She ends up setting shop in Australia.

Cohen likes books of the didactic sort that reminisce on the human condition. “When I ran out of fiction by Ayn Rand, Bernard Shaw, Robert Pirsig, Nevil Shute and Paulo Coelho, I turned to books about civilization and society. Fantasy fiction like LOTR is actually history in a non-factual way. I like this kind of history, so much better than the ridiculous dates and facts that we use to teach children in the classroom.

“I’ve also enjoyed reading  RK Narayan though I found VS Naipaul’s interpretation of Indian culture in India: A Wounded Civilization completely off the mark. On that note, I would like to introduce you all to Travels in the Mogal Empire by Francois Bernier.

“It’s astonishing to read an account by someone who witnessed firsthand the succession battle that took place between Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb. It had an almost Game of Thrones feel. With fiction, maybe you couldn’t really ask the question why did Voldemort do such and such but with a real life account you do ask that question and that quest leads you to history or what really happened. There’s a fine level of detailing in this translation. Occasionally we get glimpses of Aurangzeb’s chaste conversation in Dakhani Urdu, not to mention the emotions, personal insults, betrayals, brutalities and intrigue that filled the Mughal courts. For some reason, Shikoh’s murder reminded me of Bernard Shaw’s famous play Saint Joan where a young peasant girl on a mission is branded a witch — a classic example of a politically motivated murder. Travels in the Mogal Empire is better than any historical narrative fiction I have read after Babarnama.”

Other historical fiction book titles that cropped up in the ensuing discussion were White Mughals by William Dalrymple, Partitions by Kamaleshwar and Cuckold by Kiran Nagarkar.

More books in Part 5.

Maple Syrup, Talent and the Joy of Cleaning@ BYOB Party in March, 2016 (Part 4)

There were many non-fiction books that readers discussed besides the classics and fiction discussed (Check Parts 1, 2 and 3)


Sudharsan read War Plan Red by Kevin Lippert, a book that begins with British rule in Canada.The book is about the secret cold war between the United States and Canada. Some motives for the plan: capturing all the world’s supply of maple syrup, ice hockey players and natural resources. Conversation veered to the upcoming elections in the US.

little book of talentMadhu Sagar talked about a non-fiction book by US journalist Daniel Coyle. The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving your skills. This book takes you all around the world in search of the greatest talent.  It’s a manual in a world where performance is rated highly and it’s not self-help. The handbook contains scientifically proven methods that can help improve the skills of a child and an organization.

There are two kinds of skills- hard skills are acquired by repitive practise and soft talent is more organic and fluid. Madhu read out a couple of tips to us. For instance, if you want to have a genius in your home, you don’t need to get the child air conditioning. Spartan existence is conducive to innovation as necessity is the mother of invention. So we have thinkers like Ramanujan who wrote reams of theorums in his head because of an acute shortage of paper. And Russian coders who coded in their head. Watch Hackers wanted to understand this better.

RomanAjay got a biography titled Roman by Roman Polanski. The world famous director of great movies like Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown vindicates himself by writing his side of the story.  “Polanski writes in a very mater of fact style and there’s absolutely no self-pity,” Ajay says. He went on to narrate how Roman the boy who lived in Poland lost his mother and sister to the extermination camps. He survived as did his father with whom he reunited much later. But tragedy followed him even later when he was a director in the US. His wife and unborn child were murdered by the grusesome serial killer Charles Manson. Polanski later was charged with stauotory rape and he fled the country. If you are a fan of this controversial director and want to hear his side of the story, this book is a must read.

the hard thing about hard thingsNilesh picked up The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s top entrepreneurs. This book is based on his popular blog and talks about the stuff that business school won’t teach you. In the book, Horowitz shares insights and anecdotes about the problems running a startup involves.

“I completely agreed with author when he says that most of the advice that we get is not applicable. Horowitz provides simple solutions that are really not simple. For example, there is a misconception in companies that if you come to the manager with a problem, you need to bring in a solution as well. This makes absolutely no sense,” Nilesh said.

That was the business book of this BYOB party.

spark joy

Sumaa went by the recommendations of her friends and chose a highly unconventional  bestseller book called Spark Joy by Marie Kondo. This illustrated version of the KonMari method deconstructs the cleaning process with how to clean everything from folding socks to organizing pictures.” What worked for me as that the book is not preachy. It doesn’t touch on over-consumption, feng shui or spirituality. For Kondo, cleaning should create joy. You keep only what you need and what gives you joy. She also traces the emotional journey of many of her clients.It’s an unusual book and inspiring.”

What a list of books! Can’t wait for the next BYOB Party…..what are you reading now?