“I never really feel alone with a book.”
Ira Pradhan (Director Internal Communications, Diversity & Inclusion) knows everything about the delight of having her nose in a book. Books have helped her make the mundane memorable, traverse different lands, learn new things, have fun with nuances of language and context, develop communication skills, and make every trip worthwhile. In this email interview for Freshworks Book Circle, she lets us catch glimpses of her childhood—adorned with the lushness of books and supported by her mother, an avid reader herself. Now with an illustrious career spanning IT, healthcare, retail, automotive and consumer electronics, Ira swears by the importance of books. In her own words, ‘Writing is important today, in every field. Reading can help improve it.’ Going by her answers, we couldn’t agree more.
When did you develop a kinship with books?
From my childhood days. My mom, a doctor by profession, is an avid reader. She studied with a British teacher and had a father who was a Nepali writer. I was brought up in a place which was bang in the middle of a dense forest, with no motorable roads and we had to walk an hour and a half uphill to school every day. We made that trip worth our while with books. I studied in a very British convent, and we had a small library in every classroom. I religiously borrowed books and read them voraciously too.
I love reading; my first book was Noddy and the Bunkey. I can actually spend hours reading without needing to eat or sleep. It just takes me to different places, helps me learn new things. I never really feel alone with a book. My love for reading is captured in an article in Reputation Today
What draws you to a particular genre of books?
For a long time I loved classics – Tolstoy, Jane Austen, and the likes. Over time I took to contemporary classics like Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, Murakami, and Shashi Tharoor. Nowadays, due to time or maybe the lack of it, I like best sellers too like Keigo Higashino or Jodi Picoult. I’d say my deep love for difficult books at a young age has now made my taste genre-less. But it’s not just the books, I love reading magazines, articles, short stories and as a communications person lots of news reports as well.
Do you prefer physical books or e-books? How about audio books?
I prefer both physical and e-books. I haven’t yet started on audio books; I am not sure if I’d take that up, but never say never. I have been reading on my Kindle for years now. It allows me to carry all the classics as well as best sellers and self-help so that I am never short of something to read, especially when I am traveling. I also like the feature in Kindle where I get to highlight paras, or check meanings of words and the best part is trying to remember character names, you click on the name, and it shows where all that appears. Works very well for a Tolstoy or a Dostoevsky.
Would you call yourself a “bookworm”?
Can you name a few books that have had the most impact on you? What was it about these books that touched you deeply?
I love Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl. We don’t appreciate simple writing, but it’s an example of the simplest writing that had the most impact.
Mahatma Gandhi’s biography, My Experiments with Truth: This book excels not for the writing but for the actual experiment of being truthful.
The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cell Phone: Reflections on India, The Emerging 21st-Century Power: This gem is a really insightful book on India and its history by Shashi Tharoor and written very well, as is his style.
Some of my favorite books are John Irving’s Until I Find You, London by Edward Rutherfurd, John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult, and Orhan Pamuk’s My Name Is Red. And most of the time, I love the language, the context, the stories, the time—every book is delightfully unique.
Do you think the habit of reading can help in one’s profession?
To answer this, here’s an excerpt from my article:
“The benefits of reading are innumerable, mental stimulation, knowledge, improved thinking and comprehending skills, self-improvement and better writing skills, among others. I have understood over the years that reading has helped me adapt well when I travel, network better and especially helped me in my career as a Corporate Communications professional where conversations, story-telling, networking, and great writing skills are key to success.”
Writing is important, today, in every field. Reading can help improve it.
What’s next on your reading list?
Henry David Thoreau’s Walden.
Cover design: Vignesh Rajan
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