Friday, June 11, 2010

A love affair

I can't remember when this love affair started. I have vivid memories of my mom bring a bunch of them to me everytime I was going to eat. What was on the plate never mattered as long as I had them next to me. It even didn't matter if my eyes and hands had gone over them many times before. I could still find the same happiness, I could still get lost just like the first time ever.

The first time I took one of my dad's I got scolded. He said it was not the right time. But then as most kids would do, I sneaked one. Soon I became well aware of what he meant. But then there was no stopping now ;)

Without adding more confusion, I'm talking about books. Books have been my constant (as in Lost). At all ages, they have been with me. I feel an immense peace of mind when I'm with a book. The number of times I find an excuse to go to the Borders at MSG or the Strand, even when I have nothing to's just something very personal. Many a time, my wife gets bored while I am in my own world. When we travel to other countries, the first thing on my list is to visit a famous bookstore. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit a bookstore in Oxford and Trafalgar square in London, what a memorable experience. Especially, the one in Oxford it had an old world charm, with all its rare collections.

My MBA applications had kind of taken me away from my books. Once I got the admit, one of the first things I did was to make a list of what all books I have to catch up on. I don't know whether it's just a pursuit of knowledge, pleasure or may be both. To each his own, as they say.

In the last few months, I have read many excellent ones on finance and corporate strategy topics and I seem to naturally gravitate towards reading even more on the same. Fiction has taken a backseat. Actually, the last fiction I read was a while ago. I couldn't even finish the Lost Symbol which I was eagerly waiting for. Hmm.

I highly recommend these books if you are interested in these topics, or may be you should just pick one and read and see if you find it interesting. I believe especially in terms of non-fiction- if you can pick up a book on an industry and find yourself tempted to read a few more pages before lying down, that could be an industry
you are passionate about and could excel in. Not sure if it's the right way to judge, but I believe in this test.

Age of Turbulence- I read this one start to end in just 2 days in summer 2008. Actually I was flying from NY to see my girl friend (now my wife) in Luxembourg and I finished the book in that round trip flight. I also met someone in the flight who was reading the same and had a wonderful conversation about it. This probably was the first book I picked up on this topic. The one thing you find out after reading a lot about this industry is that there is no constant villain or hero. It's good to be humble at all times. One never knows when the tide turns and why, just look at Mr.Greenspan.

Curse of the Mogul- This was my intro book into media and strategy. I've always been interested in media and technology and had started following the trends in these industries.  I learned a lot about what could be different in this industry and enjoyed the process as well. It's a great feeling to know that I'm actually going to be taught by these authors at Columbia Business School and this is actually a textbook for a media elective, ha!.

Competition Demystified- This gave me a decent intro on strategy across industries. The various examples they talked about to illustrate the points, I'm amazed. You learn without actually going through the motions. I couldn't finish the book though, as I got pulled into some other priorities. I'm hoping to finish this before school.

Accidental Investment Banker- I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I could say this was my primer into IB along with some other popular websites on IB out there. While reading the book, I started developing a liking towards working on corp finance/M&A roles in an industry group, preferably Media/Tech/Telecom. Hmm, let's see if I can find an internship in this role. Fingers crossed. Wish me luck.

Too Big to Fail- This is a classic. After reading countless NYTimes and WSJ opinion columns and editorials, this book helped me get an overall understanding of what went on during this recent infamous crisis. To actually read a book from the vantage points of various CEOs, how they interacted, the role Fed played, the role Mr.Paulson played...highly enchanting. I just got hooked into it. I found myself constantly debating each action of these players, what would I have done in this scenario, how does ethics find a place in these high pressure situations in unchartered waters. What Mr.Dimon quoted regarding Mr.Paulson, it was poignant and apt. This was one book I found myself unable to put down even when I felt sleepy. The last time I had this much urge to read more was when I was reading the famous speech by John Galt in Atlas Shrugged (while in undergrad).

There is no glory in sitting on the sidelines. One has to act at the best of his capabilities with the best interests of everyone in his heart. How it plays out is not in our control. Reminded me of Bhagvad Gita.

When Genius Failed- When I was reading Too Big To Fail there were references to hedge fund crisis in the 90's, especially Long Term Capital Management and the role Goldman Sachs played (fact or fiction) and it piqued my interest to read about the financial crises in the past. I'm glad I read this book. While it gave me a sense of history and how this was the first time major wall street players got together (may be they had no choice) to solve a crisis/rescue themselves and the system I also learned a decent bit about hedge funds and their strategies etc. It took me a while to finish this as I went on vacations and sometimes I also had to read other online material to understand better what was being discussed. Very interesting to note how quickly one could make money and how quickly one could lose it. That says something about the industry I guess.

Liar's Poker- Now I am further back in times, in the 1980s. I'm enjoying this one a lot and it is giving me some good insight on the sales & trading aspect of IB. I'm already done with the first half since I started reading this couple of days ago. Looking forward to the rest. I also read that thesis a Harvard undergrad wrote on how the whole mess with CDS happened, it was recommended by the author in his latest book. I learned a lot from that thesis, but some of it I couldn't understand. May be after I wrap up the first semester at CBS, I'd go back and read the thesis again and it would all make sense then. Hope so!

More books are being queued up in my mind like The End of Wall Street (already bought this one using my IPad, my first ebook!) and I want to finish as much as possible before school starts. I will have to plan for this reading habit while in school, I might just end up overwhelmed with the class reading materials. I don't want that to happen.

My love affair continues to blossom and my wife ain't jealous about it, ha!


  1. very inspirational ! i feel that, one day you'll become a top ceo, top analyst, top think tank.. what not.. thats the vibe i get!

  2. @JV- :-) yours is the first comment!! thanks pal.

  3. I agreed to marry you knowing your 2 big love of life - Books and DVD's .

    I am happy that you read and I dont.
    I hope it runs in ur genes too ..