About 20 years ago, four of us – Chetan bhai, Abhay, Karthik and I – came together to start an informal Book Club. We would meet every month or two in rotation at one of our offices to discuss books that each of us had read. Each of us spoke for about 30 minutes about the book. The book club lasted for about a decade. To this day, I credit those interactions with expanding my world of what I read and therefore learnt.
All four of us came from different backgrounds and therefore we all had varying interests. This resulted in a diversity of titles being discussed. For me, our Book Club became my book recommendations engine! I would leave the meeting with at least two new books to read. The Book Club also instilled a discipline of reading – because there was no way one could show up for our meeting without having read a book.
As time has gone by, we all feel hard pressed to find the contiguous, uninterrupted time that needs to be invested to read books. So, we find solace in newsletters, Whatsapp forwards, short essays, podcasts and news headlines. I think of this as the “flow” – the new stream that flows by for us to pick from. What we are missing if we do not read books is the “stock” – the foundational insights that we need to make us less dependent on the flow. Books help us better distinguish signal from the noise that the flow so often contains.
For a moment, think about a book. For a few hundred rupees, you get a distillation of someone’s mind – and in some cases, a lifetime’s work. You get to go inside their mind and see the world the way they see it. The money investment in the book itself is insignificant because the bigger investment is the time you need to spend reading it. A good book is one that immerses you for a few hours into a world very different from the one we physically inhabit. It offers insights that make you think. It provides new ideas that can spark the imagination. It is a window to a world beyond.
Reading a book alone can sometimes be challenging. And this is a where a Book Club can help. It can create the right incentive to force the discipline of reading – which hopefully becomes a habit over time. So, find three other people whom you can partner with and create a Book Club of your own. Because through good times and bad, books can be an entrepreneur’s best friend.
Tomorrow: My Proficorn Way (Part 35)