'The Office' actor Mukul Chadda talks about his love for non-fiction, e-books and more

When did you get into reading? School.

Share with us an exhaustive list of your favourites…

It’s always hard to pick a favourite book, but right now l go with A Case of Exploding Mangoes. I thought it was beautiful in so many ways: The visually descriptive language, the dark humour laced through the novel, the political-historical setting behind and the tension of the plot. Just a masterclass by Mohammad Hanif!

My favourite author right now is Michael Lewis. I have read almost all his books. All non-fiction, but then, I’ve been reading non-fiction predominantly over the last few years. Michael Lewis’s topics are often areas of interest to me: Wall Street’s shenanigans, high speed trading, sport team drafts, etc. Of course, he also has written about topics I had no interest in, but he has managed to get me excited about them through his books. That’s his real talent. He takes hard-to-explain topics, and not only explains things so clearly but his writing style also makes the books so readable, riveting and often humorous.

If I had to pick one topic from the non-fiction collection, I’d pick pop economics. Books like Freakonomics, The Undercover Economist, The Logic of Life, etc. In fiction, I like thrillers/ detective novels. I’d put The Hound of The Baskervilles, A Study in Scarlet, The Cuckoo's Calling, Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe in this category.

A time to read

It’s hard in one way, we are so distracted all the time these days. But it’s also not so hard if you dedicate time to it. But yes, one has to push oneself to dedicate time to it. And so I oscillate between weeks of reading regularly, and several weeks of just not reading at all! I really want to work on this more.

Sources of recommendations

Sometimes from friends. Sometimes you read a book, really like it and look up other books by the same author. Social media and podcasts tend to suggest a lot of books too. Since I read e-books mainly, it’s so easy to download a sample of a book to figure if it’s something I want to read.

E-book or physical book?

E-books. Just the convenience of being able to download a sample immediately, read it, and possibly buy the whole book right then if I like it... And since I always have my phone with me, I’m carrying an entire library wherever I am. The downside of it, is of course, that it’s so easy to get distracted by another book, that I find I often leave e-books halfway and switch to another, and then another before finishing anything. That isn’t good. The other downside is I spend even more time on my phone, which has a treasure chest of distractions.

Currently reading

I’m re-reading Thinking, Fast and Slow right now. Alongside The Undoing Project and Fire and Fury.

Bookish memory

As a child I used to often sit in my favourite bookshop, pretending to look for books to buy, but actually trying to read them entirely without having to buy them!

Book adaptations I loved

Mostly, the film adaptations of books have disappointed. And that’s just because it’s hard for a film to entirely recreate the world created by a novel. Even a great film like The Godfather doesn’t match the richness and depth of the world of the book! I think an adaptation that might have impressed me the most is the recent rendition of Sherlock Holmes by Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s a different take on a lot of well-known Sherlock stories, with nostalgia for the original, as well as surprise twists that the series writers have thrown in to keep it fresh.

A book I want to see being made into a film

A Case of Exploding Mangoes. It’s such a wonderful world created by Mohammad Hanif.

A classic I haven’t read but have claimed to

In school I read a lot of abridged versions of some classics like Moby Dick, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Treasure Island, Gulliver’s Travels and claimed to have read these classics. In fact, at the time, I thought I had!

Keepers in my bookshelf

The Golden Gate, The Big Short, The Mahabharat. I’d be loathe to give these books away; I still go back and re-read certain sections from them, and be delighted. That’s the power of physical books, I guess.

Books I recommend

The World According to Garp, The Kite Runner, Into Thin Air, Ghost Wars, The Happiness Hypothesis — a good mix of fiction and non-fiction.