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Koushik Banerjee wants you to read these books

The Assistant General Manager (Marine Division) at Keppel Offshore & Marine talks about the five books that have changed the way he sees life. By Shweta Gandhi

Several years ago, when he got his hands on the Bengali classic Pather Panchali, Koushik Banerjee was hooked. The book also set him on a lifelong journey of reading. His ancestral home has close to 5,000 books, and his secret to finding time to read is by “stealing time and always carrying books”. Even though his current read is Pradipta Mohapatra’s Are You Ready For The Corner Office, Koushik’s interest spans from Hemingway to Sun Tzu and beyond. “Certain books have to be read again and again, because you keep forgetting their teachings,” says Koushik. “Don’t borrow books. Make your books personal and turn them into your diary. Over time you will see your thoughts refining. You will have different meanings for the same sentences. You’ll be able to track your own evolution.”

Here he lists out out his favourite books.

Many Lives, Many Masters, Same Soul, Many Bodies and Messages From The Masters by Dr Brian Weiss
“One of the biggest learnings from Dr Weiss’ books is that winning isn’t evening. His books make us realise that our soul is on a journey and our body is just one stop in its eternal wanderings. Reading his books make you realise the most important truth of life: desire is the root cause of unhappiness. Many Lives, Many Masters is one of my favourites; I found it so interesting, I took the day off from work to complete it!”

Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemmingway
“This book taught me not to get too excited or too upset because life is like a pendulum and we’re always moving back to the same position. It taught me to learn to be happy in all conditions and to try to maintain balance. Reading, introspecting, talking to others, keeping your eyes and ears open is how you gain more knowledge. It is an ongoing process. Everyone should meditate at least for a minute to reach such a realisation.”

Corporate Chanakya by Radhakrishnan Pillai
“The book draws wisdom from Chanakya’s Arthashashtra and makes it relevant to our times. It covers everything from M&A and aggressive takeovers to leadership, team behaviour and pro-activity. This is a must-read for every corporate leader. Implementing these insights in your life requires a lot of discipline.”

The Art Of War by Sun Tzu
Corporate Chanakya can be supplemented by this book. In war between you and me there are three possibilities. One, I win and you lose. Two, you win and I lose. Three, we both lose, which means we fight till the death and both are devastated. The Art of War speaks of a new possibility—that I don’t fight. I take all your resources and you surrender. So the war never happens, and our resources are united, which is the best option. This book is 70 per cent about battlefield strategy and 30 per cent about statecraft. But life is also a battlefield. And it cannot be led with your mind. It has to be led with your heart. So listen to it. All major decisions that I have taken were guided by my heart. Life is not always about ups, it is about downs as well. And the person who behaves well during the down moments is very mature, and the happiest person.”

Panchatantra
“Reading Panchatantra as an adult offers a new perspective to the stories we’ve read as children. The stories remind us that there is always more to life than money and fame. They not only help us stay rooted but also help us rejuvenate. And sometimes you need to introspect in a secluded place. I recently carried PanchatantraCorporate Chanakya and Many Lives, Many Masters on my vacation to the Himalayas. There was nothing more relaxing than revisiting these old favourites while sipping green tea and looking at the mighty mountains.” 

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