XS Bookworm - Ravi Kiran


You would think a loner child is a negative sign in the growing years but in the case of Ravi Kiran, CEO, South Asia, Starcom Mediavest Group, it helped him come close to books and develop an immense love for them. Kiran managed to take some time out of his busy schedule to talk to Correspondent Nidhi Jain about books, books and more books…

Can John Grisham make you so pensive?

Who introduced you to reading?

I guess my dad. Or perhaps my elder brother. Don't really remember. Our home was full of books and you just couldn't have avoided them, unless you had a strong ability of pretension.

Kind of book collection you have

I started buying my own books when I was in junior school. Some of the early ones were Marxist theories sold on the street really cheap, published by Mir Publications in Moscow. I later learnt that most of them were subsidized by the USSR government to propagate Soviet beliefs. I also bought a lot of books when I went to engineering college in Kashmir. I spent almost 80 per cent of my pocket money on books then - classic literature by Aldous Huxley, Charlotte Bronte, books on behavioral sciences, philosophy, and satire. Since it took me a couple of years to get a room with a book rack, my room used to have books everywhere, and some of my room mates used to make a mockery of that.

Taste in books

I like most kinds. My choice at a point depends on my mood. I like philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, marketing, organizational behaviour, human relations, technology, thrillers, war stories, human history. I haven't developed a taste for stuff like culture, geography etc. I have read a few books on science fiction, but not of late. In general, I do not like 'how to' books.

Browsing in the FMS Library - Delhi

On favourite authors and well written books

Dr Eric Berne, Jiddu Krishnamurthy, Jean-Paul Sartre, Aldous Huxley, Antoine de Saint Exupéry, Seth Godin, Alvin Toffler, Malcom Gladwell, Harry Beckwith, Tom Friedman, Amartya Sen, Sumantra Ghosal, Edward de Bono, John Grisham, Jeffery Archer, Alistair McLean, Robert Ludlum. I have been lucky to have read very few poorly written books. I like The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, Being and Nothingness by Sartre and The Mirror Makers by Stephen Fox, Heart at Work by Jack Canfield and Jacqueline Miller, Purple Cow by Seth Godin, First Break All Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, What do you say after you say Hello by Dr. Eric Berne, The Mechanism of Mind by de Bono, The Mind's I by Douglas Hoffstader, The Textures of Silence by Gordon Vorster, Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. These are some of the books that have had a life and behaviour changing effect on me.

Do you find interesting things in every book, how do you choose books you read?

Before the internet, I used to decide by reading back-of-the-book. I am also sure many of my friends have had an influence on my choice of books. Now I browse for books online and often spend time in bookstores browsing. I am not a speed reader; my reading speed is really low. I go through every word, every page, and some times I read the same page or section many times over. There are books I have been reading for years. There are books I have read several times. Every time I read a book, I get new meanings. I guess the meaning has something to do with what I am doing at that point in time or what I am going through in my life.

The early student collection - Kashmir

What do you think of self help books?

I don't particularly fancy them now, although when I was in college, I liked a few of them. I guess it all depends on how sure you are of yourself and who has written a self help book. Most of them are too preachy.

Money and time you spend on books

The time I spend on books has come down a lot in recent times, since life's so hectic. But of late, I have been listening to audio books or reading them off my Palm Treo handheld, when I am traveling. It's not as enjoyable as a book in your hand, but it's convenient.

Your reading pace

As I said before, very slow. I take three times as much time to read a book as my wife does. One reason behind that is my mind's temptation to drift away on a tangential thought chain. I have never felt the pressure to finish a book.

Your first book

Not sure, but I think it must have been a story from the Panch Tantra.

Browsing and e-reading

A lot of late. On my PC screen, on my hand held and through the audible software. I also browse the net at least 2-3 hours every day and love reading stuff on my feed reader.

Currently you are reading

I think about eight books simultaneously. Here are the ones I remember: Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared M. Diamond, The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly, The World is Flat by Tom Friedman, A Prison Diary by Jeffrey Archer, The Argumentative Indian by Dr Amartya Sen.

Books that do not hold you

Cannot remember.

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