Women Spies and Army Officers
Audio books and business books
Hello and welcome to 2021.
Last year, there was a Twitter controversy over journalist Barkha Dutt opposing first day of period leave. She said that the concept doesn’t hold value, citing her own experience reporting in the Kargil war. I’ve been editing a book about lady officers who join the Indian Army’s Officer’s Training Academy, and I also read Alice Network by Kate Quinn which is about women spies in WW1, and both these reading experiences made me think a lot about women’s physical capabilities and limitations, with what we can and cannot do with our bodies. So first my take, then the books.
My take: I am always in awe of women who fight, swim, run, work, trek, bike through the first day of their periods, and so these books were doubly fascinating for me. It’s something I don’t think I could do. But I think we have to respect all bodies as unique. Many women are capable of putting themselves in harsh situations and those avenues should hundred per cent be available to them - with the adequate facilities- proper sanitation and the like. For others, who may suffer from endometriosis or painful periods in general, they many not choose to go into these professions in the first place, and may need provisions like first day of period leave in their work environments. Someone with bad eyesight won’t choose to be a pilot, someone with a painful condition may not choose to go into a particular profession- I don’t think this should be a gender issue and so I don’t think giving period leave ghettoizes women, but instead gives them an option. Those availing of it should be respected. As for some taking advantage of it - any leave policy comes with that risk.
In The Alice Network, the protagonist Eva gets commissioned to a small French village (occupied by the Germans). She is to work as a waitress in a restaurant that serves German officers and collect tips for the other side. The conditions she lives in are not ideal, she barely has enough to eat, and to make matters worse she has caught the attention of the greedy and - in my opinion - evil proprietor of the restaurant. The book is full of adventures. Eva takes many many gut-wrenching risks - crossing borders, almost getting caught but managing to lie her way smoothly out of situations.
If you liked the movie Raazi, you will love this novel. Being a woman makes it easier to be a spy - as one doesn’t expect women to engage in spy-work. But being a single woman in general is not easy and especially a hundred years ago.
In the book I am editing, the lady officers execute hundreds of push-ups, sit-ups, drill exercises, weapons trainings and more. I will tell you more about it when it is out!
Similar books : Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and The Book Thief
Business Books are far from boring: here are some that read like fiction
A friend put me on to A Ride of a Lifetime by Disney CEO and Chairman Bob Iger. It reads like fiction. We see how Bob rose up the ranks at ABC and then joined Disney. At Disney, he resurrected the company’s flailing animation studios by executing a deal to buy Pixar. Pixar had had a fraught relationship with Disney, before Iger became CEO. And so the deal seemed impossible. His first day in the office, Iger called Steve Jobs who founded Pixar, and proposed a mutually beneficial joint project which had nothing to do with Pixar, but instead with Apple. Over the months, they became close friends and developed a great relationship.
It was only then that Iger took the plunge and broached the Pixar deal. Iger went about acquiring Marvel and Star Wars franchises in much the same way - the emphasis was on finding out what motivated the person he was dealing with and catering his strategy accordingly.
It had some really great insights written in an easy, honest and approachable way. I’ve always been fascinated with Disney and now every time I watch something I am able to think more deeply about the ecosystem behind how it was mind.
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight is another biography that I read and loved. It’s the autobiography of the founder of Nike and full of interesting twists and turns. I also tried ‘hearing’ it.
It was my first time listening to an audio book, and I have to say - it is not for me. I read so fast that I find listening to a book very frustrating.
To end, here is a tour of my (one of four) bookshelf: I explain what informs my book-choices!
Fun Facts I Learnt Recently:
School of American Ballet follows the Ballanchine method - watch the Disney Hot Star documentary On Pointe
Sans serif font can be used to convey more serious content. Rounder fonts are for more fun content.
At home podcast recordings are best done after 8 pm - less noise.
Chess players often memorise hundreds and hundreds of games- watch The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix.
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About me: I am an entrepreneur, book editor and podcaster. Here is my editing and content consulting website: http://tarakhandelwal.com/. Here is my company’s website: https://boundindia.com/ We provide skill-building to creatives in the form of classes, mentoring and retreats. And here’s the link to my podcast Books and Beyond With Bound, India’s no 1 author interview podcast :
What is this newsletter: A fortnightly letter about the books I have read and how the ideas they give me filter into my life, career and opinions.
If you have read any of the books mentioned or have thoughts on any of the things I have written - do write in! Would love to hear from you.