“Every book I’ve read has taken me to a new world”

“The world’s a hard place, Danny. It don’t care. It don’t hate you and me, but it don’t love us, either.” ― Stephen King, The Shining

For Anush Arvind, lead software engineer at Freshworks, books have been a source of happiness, learning, and freedom, making them his best friends from a young age. He has around 200 physical books and over 1000 e-books, a collection that he would keep expanding in the years to come. He has always been excited about the prospect of opening a new book and immersing himself into its world. 

What kinds of books do you read?

I mostly read fiction, but I’m really open to any kind of book.  I focus on other kinds too, ranging from comics and short stories to even programming books and encyclopaedias.

What are you currently reading?

I am reading “What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions”. Right from a young age, I’ve cooked up many hypothetical situations in my head and troubled my parents for answers. For example, “Do you think the heat would be lesser if the Earth was a bit farther from the sun than it currently is?” (I live in Chennai).  Recently I came across this gold mine—a huge list of such hypothetical situations curated and answered in detail by Randall Munroe, with scientific accuracy and a splash of humour. Going through the answers is just so satisfying to the inner geek!

I am also reading (not continuously)  “Mastering Blender” by Tony Mullen. I’ve been learning 3D modelling and designing in blender from YouTube videos, blogs and books since the lockdown was imposed. I pick a concept from this book, learn it, go browse for ideas and then try out a couple of designs in blender. Progress in this book is a little slow, as there’s so much you can do in blender and I’m taking my own time in mastering a concept.  

Physical books or e-books?

I own 2 Kindle e-readers, but I still prefer physical books. Nothing can beat the feeling of taking a book off the shelf, holding it in your hand, reading the cover, turning it over, opening it, getting the “book smell”, flipping the pages, etc. Kindle comes in handy when I travel. It’s a real space saver and you can read in the dark as well.  

What are some books that have inspired you? 

Mahabharatham, by various authors. The complete story covers almost every single aspect of life, even today! So many authors, so many interpretations and, really, so much to take away from this epic. It’s rightly called “Vyasar virundhu” (lit. Vyasar’s treat, Ved Vyasa being the original author of the Mahabharatham).

The Shining, by Stephen King. This is definitely not a happy read. But I’ve quoted this book above as well. I learned that life has negative experiences too, and that’s what makes the good times happier. It shows both the strong and weak sides of people, which taught me to be tough, not be put down and tackle whatever comes my way.  

What are your favorite books of all time?

It would be a tie between the following two:

The Harry Potter series. I grew up with Harry Potter. I started reading the book series only after the first movie was released and became quite popular. But it instantly became my favorite and I could not put the books down. It was a beautiful journey, waiting two years for the next book to release, catching up on the old books, taking off from school for a day or two to finish the new books as and when they release to avoid being at the receiving end of spoilers from other readers. 

Ponniyin Selvan. There are so many things I like about this series. Amazing storyline, great characters (both historical and fictional), but above everything is the brilliant visual picture Kalki Krishnamurthy paints, with just words. You don’t just read this book, you experience it. I literally found myself in the middle of the plot throughout the series. 

What’s next on your reading list?

HBR Guide to Office Politics, by Karen Dillon. The title says it all! Found this in my friend’s bookshelf and I added it to my list immediately.

A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking. Yes, I still haven’t read this book. To be honest, it’s a difficult read. I’ve tried starting a couple of times, but couldn’t get through. But the cosmos is something I’ve always been awed by and I definitely want to finish this book soon.

The Beginning and The End of Everything, by Paul Parsons. Again, for the love of the cosmos.