A book case of life stories, dramas and inspiration


New Delhi : The first couple of the Birla empire, a teasingly written handbook for ‘vague’ women, the tale of the most shocking first day at work, a candid autobiography of a politician… the bookshelf this week is full of surprises and information.

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1. “Basant Kumar & Sarala Birla: Life Has No Full Stops”; Written by Rashme Sehgal; Published by Amaryllis Manjul Publishing House; Priced at Rs.495

This is the story of the first couple of the Birla Empire; one who laid the foundation of the empire 71 years ago, from when Basant first set his eyes on Sarala.

Basant entered the world of business at the tender age of thirteen and made a tidy profit on his very first investment. This was the beginning of a journey that would make the Birlas a formidable business empire, spread across continents. Their special bonding for 70 years helped them in their triumphs and successes. The book has rare insights from the life of the couple and all that they achieved.

2. “The Vague Woman’s Handbook”; Written by Devapriya Roy, Jaishree Misra and Nirupama Subramanian; Published by Harper-Collins India; Priced at Rs.199

At 22, Sharmila Chatterjee has just married her sweetheart of a few years, Abhimanyu Mishra, a somewhat eccentric if handsome 23-and-a-half-year-old with obscure academic interests and a small fellowship that never arrives on time. They start a household in a tiny rented flat, learning to fend for themselves in the big, bad and snooty world of south Delhi, with penny-pinching landlords, some romance, and a lot of anxiety.

At fifty-two, Indira Sen is not sure just how she meandered to where she finds herself now. A senior government officer and single mother, she lives with her daughter and three opinionated old people in a rambling house, drives a battered car, and has a history of credit-card-induced shopaholicism. “The Vague Woman’s Handbook” is a story told with equal parts of humour, hysteria and tenderness, about the sparkling friendship between two women as they hurtle through life and its mini-crises while trading secrets in the art of survival.

3. “Office Shocks”; Written by Sumit Aggarwal; Published by Rupa & Co; Priced at Rs.71

First day at work – blue-eyed boy meets bleary-eyed corporate world. And as the day unfolds he discovers that although “surprise” is the quintessential adjective to describe day one; “shock” is an altogether different story.

The book is a comical account of a young, impatient and opinionated B-school graduate who enters the corporate world and discovers it in all its ‘backstage’ glory. He encounters a typical yet unusual ensemble — the fickle-minded boss, the girl who got fired, the flirtatious colleagues, the dreaded lunch-sharing saint, the erudite two-timing family man, and much more… on what turns out to be the most shocking first day at work.

4. Book: “At Last”; Written by Edward St Aubyn; Published by Picador (PanMacmillan); Priced at Rs.1,250

For Patrick Melrose, “family” is more than a double-edged sword. As friends and relations and foes trickle in to pay their final respects to his mother, Eleanor, an heiress who forsook the grandeur of her upbringing for “good works” freely bestowed upon everyone but her own child.

Patrick finds that his transition to orphanhood is not necessarily the liberation he has so long imagined. Yet as the service ends and the family gathers for a final party, as conversations are overheard – amid all the social niceties and horrors, Patrick begins to sense a new current. At the end of the day, alone in his rooftop bedsit, it offers some kind of promise.

5. “Matters of Discretion: An Autobiography”; Written by I.K. Gujral; Published by Penguin-India; Priced at Rs.795

The political veteran has penned his life story in as forthright and candid a manner as possible. He entered the political fray as a freedom fighter in the British era and, after the tumultuous events that rocked the Indian subcontinent in the wake of partition in August 1947, crossed over from Pakistan to India, where he had to begin life from scratch. Despite facing tremendous odds, on the basis of his perseverance, resilience and never-say-die attitude, Gujral achieved a remarkable track record, and, in the process, witnessed the making of modern India. He climbed the pinnacle when he became the prime minister April 21, 1997.