The reader in CEOs, top editors of publishing houses gorged on competitors’ books in 2017

When you ask CEOs, top editors and publishers whether they found time to read books published by their competitors in […]


When you ask CEOs, top editors and publishers whether they found time to read books published by their competitors in the year gone by, do not always expect a negative answer. For many of them managed to read a lot of books brought out by other publishers despite having a busy time in 2017.

According to HarperCollins India CEO Ananth Padmanabhan, the three books he enjoyed the most were Tom Hanks’ collection of short stories Uncommon Type (Penguin Random House), Tim Harford’s Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy (Hachette) and Dan Brown’s Origin (Penguin Random House). He also read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo Da Vinci published by Simon & Schuster, which he found purely fascinating.

The top three reads of Meru Gokhale, editor-in-chief of literary publishing at Penguin Random House India were Ants Among Elephants by Sujatha Gidla (HarperCollins India), Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury India) and Remnants of a Separation (HarperCollins) by Aanchal Malhotra.
When asked about his favourites, Bhaskar Roy, CEO of Palimpsest Publishers, said the book that cast a spell on him was George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo (Bloomsbury). “The master short story writer poignantly explores a state between death and rebirth. Soon after the end of the American Civil War, when President Lincoln is still grappling with the unsettled situation, he sees his 11-year-old son traipsing into the surreal state between life and death. In this first novel Saunders explores an area where fiction merges into philosophy,” he said.

“At the opposite end is Haruki Murakami’s irrepressibly irreverent Men Without Women (Random House), which brilliantly explores human relationships and inner crevices of doubts, dilemmas, follies and foibles that sum up an urban man’s life. This collection of short stories points to our vulnerabilities without leaving the reader sad or depressed,” he said.
“My non-fiction reads were overwhelmingly topped by Rana Dasgupta’s Notes on a Suicide, an incisive quest into the dysfunctionality and delirium of the 21st century urban life in Europe. Published in Granta, this essay is more thought-provoking than any number of treatises and theories published this year,” he added.

The favourite books of Hemali Sodhi, senior vice-president (marketing) and publisher (children’s books) at Penguin Random House India, in 2017 were Hunger by Roxane Gay (HarperCollins), Louise Penny’s Glass Houses (Minotaur) and History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (Atlantic).
Yogesh Sharma, vice-president (sales and marketing) at Bloomsbury Publishing India, too liked Lincoln in the Bardo besides My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (Europa), Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, We Were Liars by E Lockhart (Delacorte Press) and L S Hilton’s Domina (Penguin Random House).

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