Sunday, June 17, 2007

Three Books…....

Thanks to my recently acquired weird reading habits, I have somehow managed to complete reading three books in about the same time. All three of them belong to different genre. While one is about the story of a phenomenon called Google, the other two are kind of memoirs.

The Google Story is a story detailing the spectacular rise of Google as a company. It entails from the first meeting of its cofounders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, as Ph.D. candidates at Stanford to their company's latest projects like building a genetic database and creating a virtual library. I've always been fascinated by Google's success. Its immense rise at the time of the dot com crash makes you wonder how these guys pulled it off. And this book does answer that question. The book gives fascinating insights to the company such as all of its employees have to spend 20% of their company time, or one day per week, working on any project they want or from the vibrant young culture with minimum managerial intervention. The book talks about various other offerings apart from search such as news, print and email and how some of them were conceived as a result of 20% rule. If you haven't read anything about one of today's most influential companies, I would surely recommend this book.

The second book is from Sudha Murthy (Infosys Foundation Trustee and wife of Infosys Technologies Chairman N R Narayana Murthy) titled Wise and Other Wise – A Salute to Life. I didn’t know about Sudha until I read her article on how she met Murthy and her seed contribution of Rs.10, 000 which paved way for Infosys. My respect for her grew twofold when I happen to read on how she managed to get her first job in a male dominated profile at Telco (now Tata Motors). Now you know my motivation behind picking up this book. Sudha Murty shares her experiences she has gained both as a teacher and as a social worker in form of short stories. Filled with humor and homespun wisdom, this book gives a vivid account of Sudha's work and her philosophy.

All the stories in this book are based on real-life experiences. The author has only changed the names and added some narration. Sometimes, simple people, who have had fewer opportunities, have taught her many lessons. In many of her stories, the characters have a situation with which they react differently - Wise and otherWise. I liked the language used by Sudha; it’s very simple and cut off from esoteric words and convoluted sentences. All in all a good read.

The third book is amusingly titled “How to Placate an Angry Naga”. While someone might rubbish it off as another “How to do…” self help books, but wait. This one is actually about life in the civil services. I might have never discovered this book until I read the review. I have always been fascinated by Civil Services but never quite got any insight. So I thought this book might just quench my thirst. As I went through the introductions and initial chapters, I was quite disappointed. I expected the authors to tell a story but instead they have just noted down experiences they have had at different stages of their career.

The book gives a peek in to a civil servant’s life with some very interesting topics about transfers, handling seniors & entertaining juniors and managing huge events such as the kumbh mela ( and that’s where the title come from!). I particularly liked the last chapter where authors categorize officers in three slots. One kind of officer who has high regards for his ethics and will not compromise at any level. Another kind being the practical one, who is indifferent to the system, but has his integrity intact. And lastly, the compromising one who crave for power. You might not find this book entertaining but it surely is interesting.

3 different books. 3 different stories.

Read”y for more,