I was into reading books since my school days. The selection of books involved all types spanning over fiction, biographies, auto-biographies and many others. However, when I moved to my chartered accountancy days, it took a back seat. Instead, my reading took a different direction and more of accounting books started adorning my book shelves and tables. Back in 2005, somehow the reading habit got re-kindled and started reading books once again with a bingo. I still remember the first book which I had picked up was Alchemist by Paulo Coelho wherein the protagonist of the story, a shepherd boy named Santiago, was into reading books which probably ignited my infatuation with books once again.
Next book which I picked was The Rainmaker by John Grisham which led me to read another 9 books of his in next 1-2 months. His books can be described as legal fiction wherein the plots were mainly around law firms and lawyers which involved courtroom battles inside and outside of the courtrooms. After finishing these novels, I was looking to read more of those authors who had a unique style or genre. One of my friends suggested me to pick up Arthur Hailey and recommended me to start with Hotel which had been written by him.
Arthur Hailey was a British / Canadian novelist who died in 2004 at the age of 84. His books sold more than 170 million copies and were translated in at least 40 different languages. He had a unique flair of writing wherein he would pick up an industry and then weave his fictional story around that industry. During his 10 novels, he covered the banking, power distribution, automobile, pharmaceutical, hospital, hotel, television and other industries.
Though his books are work of fiction but many say that the stories are inspired with real life examples of companies as well as few of the characters.
Once I started reading Hotel, there was no looking back. After finishing Hotel, I went on to read another 9 of his novels in next 2-3 months. The fact which hooked me to his books was that though all his books were set-up in different & diverse contexts, they were in extreme depth on the topic aka industry he wrote on. As the names of his novels suggest, for each of his books he picked up an industry. He would then research in detail about that particular industry before starting to write the novel weaving his story & characters around the various facets of that industry. Having said that, I would not say that his novels are encyclopedias or business chronicles but nothing less than that as well in case you happen to be interested in knowing a little bit about a particular industry albeit in a fictional way.
After finishing Hotel, I happened to be talking to one of my friends who had done his masters in hotel management. He told me that he indeed had read that book while he was doing his studies and the book taught him about so many of the intricate aspects of the hotel industry which no one and no other book had taught him about in such a lucid manner.
Coincidentally, while I was finishing Hotel and was looking to pick up the next book, there was shuffle in my job role at my office. As I work with a service provider wherein we support various clients, my roles involve working for different clients. My new role involved supporting one of the leading pharmaceutical companies. Due to this, I had all the more reasons to pick Strong Medicine. As the name suggests, the story revolves around a pharmaceutical company and in a way takes you around a journey from search of molecules to medicine. The primary characters in the story work in a pharmaceutical company which is into research and manufacturing of medicines. After finishing the novel, I could very well connect the dots of various things that myself or my team would be working on during our day-to-day operations. Later on we included this book as one of the recommended readings for new joiners as a part of induction process.
This personal experience prompted me to read all of his books over next couple of months. The other books written by Arthur Hailey are:
Airport Industry - This book is set-up at a Chicago airport with characters working at the airport. While the story meanders along an interesting but suspenseful plot, the readers get to know about the working of typical airport operations. This novel was later adapted for making of a extremely successful movie that was subsequently followed by 3 sequels. The original movie stands as the 42nd highest grossing film of all time.
The Money Changers
Banking Industry - The novel revolves around a bank and the primary characters work in one of the major bank. The existing CEO is on the verge of retirement and 2 probable candidates. Some of the things which have been discussed in the novel were non-existent at the time of writing of this novel but very much part banking industry now. This novel was later made into a TV series.
The Evening News
Television Industry - This is an interesting and captivating story which revolves around television media company. The main characters work in the television company and work around gathering stories. The television part has always fascinated me and this novel gives a 360 degree roller-coaster ride.
Automobile Industry - The novel revolves around a automobile company and its day-to-day operations. The plot touches upon many issues which a company could face in the regular working like worker-management relationships, ethical dilemmas, decision making and many more. This novel was later made into a TV series.
The Final Diagnosis
Hospital Industry - The story meanders along various departments of a hospital and its operations. The best part which shook me was the detailed description of an autopsy. The way it has been described at length especially the extreme intricate parts of the procedure, I am sure Mr. Hailey would have himself watched it before writing about it.
Power Industry - The novel is plotted around an electricity production and distribution industry. The story zigzags around various sub-functions and day-to-day issues faced by an electricity companies. As we all are end-users of at least one electricity company, a read through the book will definitely help us appreciate the problems faced by the company while ensuring we get the power 24/7.
If you plan to be working in any of the industry on which Arthur Hailey has written a book, you shall grab a copy of one of the relevant book and read it. I am sure you will not regret it. On the other hand, if you have interest in following business world, these books shall be in your bucket list.