Blume Recommends: Our favourite books, movies, podcasts, and more from 2023!

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We asked our Blume colleagues what they read, watched, and listened to in 2023 that they would want others to enjoy as the Earth slowly spins away from 2023 into 2024. Here’s what they said. Open up your favorite note-taking app. You wouldn’t want to miss a thing!

Read

Text is a huge part of the creative commons at Blume. So, unsurprisingly, we have many great submissions here. We’ve divided this section into Books, Articles/Transcripts, and Reports. 

Books

The Ride of a Lifetime, a riveting account biography of Disney’s Bob Iger, was Vikram Gawande’s favorite book this year. He looks at Growth Investments at Blume. 

“It has good takeaways on people skills, reorganizations, and negotiations.”

Perhaps one of the most popular writers of our time, Morgan Housel’s second book, Same As Ever, ended up as a top-shelfer for Rohit Kaul, who leads Marketing at Blume. 

“The book talks about the things that do not change over years, decades and centuries. It has interesting mental models to process our environmental stimuli and how to keep the main thing, the main thing.” 

Nikhil Gulati and Jonathan Mark Kenoyer’s The People of the Indus was one of the most-loved books for Alok Mehta, who leads Investor Success at Blume. Why did he choose this? “There aren't too many graphic novels coming out of India, and that too on a subject such as the genesis and growth of the Indus Valley Civilization,” he explains. 

He’s not done yet. 1857, which is a translated account of Vishnu Bhatt's travels to North India during the first war of independence, “is a unique, in-person account of that era and the revolt itself,” which made it unputdownable for Alok.

History clearly seemed to rule the roost at Blume, as Mudit Narain, who is a part of the climate tech investment team, suggested Dethroned by John Zubrzycki “to anyone interested in the era of Indian independence, a catalytic and pivotal time in our country's history.” and especially advised economics students to go through Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. 

Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, which is quite the star on Instagram Stories and Twitter threads, became Nachammai’s book of the year. She is a part of the Consumer Investments team at Blume. 

“This warm book about a time-traveling cafe is the perfect winter read and goes great with a cup of hot coffee/ hot chocolate,” she says. She also recommended The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff as “a lovely light read” about rural Indian women with a game plan like no other.

Sajith Pai, Partner at Blume, spent time reading old fiction this year, and his favorite fiction book of 2023 is a tie between Vivek Shanbagh's 'Ghachar Ghochar' and 'Roman Stories' by Jhumpa Lahiri, one of his favorite writers. Sajith says, “Jhumpa Lahiri's book is a collection of stories set in Rome, featuring nameless immigrants and locals, but richly wrought out, each wrestling with unrooting, alienation, and the uncertainties of memory. Broadly similar themes to her earlier fiction but brought afresh in a new geography.”

His favorite non-fiction book is also a tie. He says, “a tie between 'Papyrus', a look at the origins of books and book culture by Irene Vallejo, and Pulak Prasad's 'What I learned about Investing from Darwin' on his rules for public market investing and how it resonates with ecology & biological principles (fascinating for the comparison and glimpse into public market investing).”

Here are some of the other books suggested by Blume team members (clearly, we read a lot).

  • Ria Shroff Desai: Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano and The Woman Who Climbed Trees by Smriti Ravindra.

  • Joseph Sebastian: Niall Fergusson's (somewhat apologetic) biography of Kissinger and Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari.

  • Arpit Agarwal: Prisoners of Geography, Why We Sleep, and Story of Your Life.

  • Dhagash Shah: Subscribed by Tien Tzou and Market Cycles by Howard Marks

Articles/Transcripts

“I’ve far too many podcast transcripts that I’ve consumed, so rather than picking a specific one, I will call out the shows themselves - The 'Dwarkesh Patel Podcast' is very good, Colossus's 'Invest Like The Best' is consistently good (as is 'Acquired') and 'Lenny's Podcast' features some really good guests. I’ve been learning a lot from different episodes of these podcasts.” remarked Sajith Pai, who prefers reading podcast transcripts over listening to podcasts. He says that podcasts have the highest signal-to-noise ratio of any business content!

Rohit gave a glowing review of This is Water by David Foster Wallace, which was actually a Commencement Speech at Kenyon College and was later repurposed as a transcript. 

“Rarely do I come across write-ups that I can interpret in a new way every time I read them, but this was one of them. The core thesis here is that, like fish in water who don't know that they are surrounded by water, we are becoming oblivious to things happening around us and how we should become more focused (David says that this means becoming well-adjusted). Sadly, David ended his life too soon; otherwise, we would have read many more such gems from him.” he said. 

Reports

Tesla Decade by Worm Capital seemed to be Dhagash Shah’s favorite read of the year. Unsurprisingly, he works at the Growth Investment team at Blume. Ankush Bhutra, who works in the finance team, had a good time reviewing the IPEV Valuation Guidelines.

Watch

We all love snuggling in our rajais (Sorry, Mumbaikars) and watching some comfort movies and shows. Here are a few of them:

Movies 

Everything Everywhere All At Once, Oppenheimer, and the recent Malayalam movie Kaathal were Joseph Sebastian’s 2023 standouts. He covers the fintech sector at Blume.

While Arpit Agarwal, Partner at Blume Ventures, dived into Minnal Murali, Arrival, and RRR, Ankush recommends watching OMG 2, Pursuit of Happyness, and The Intern as a great way to spend time with your loved ones during the year-end break.

TV Shows

“Succession’s last season was HBO at its best,” quipped Joseph. The writer of this article seems to concur. Dhagash recommended Billions, a distant cousin of Succession, as his show of the year. Of course, no offense intended to the fans of Billions.

King of Stonks, inspired by real-life events of corporate fraud in Germany, was Rohit's pick as it “brings to bear the undercurrents of human greed in the most visceral way.”

Sajith mentioned that Slow Horses on Apple TV Plus has been his standout English series for the year. Farzi (Vijay Sethupati is sooo good, he says), Guns and Gulaabs, and Class (a remake of the Spanish hit Elite) are his picks for his top series.

The Crown had significant takers, too. “The sixth season covers the death of Diana and its aftermath, and they’ve covered these sensitive topics quite carefully,” says Mudit Narain

Nachammai says “I will never not recommend this historical drama that offers an inside view into the life and pressures of the Royal Family of England.” She also suggested the ‘brilliant historical drama’ Rocket Boys and the feisty season two of The White Lotus.

Listen

Audio content has been having a bit of a dream run lately, and with good reason. Blumiers shared their favorite podcasts, audiobooks, and music. 

Podcasts

To start things off, Ria Shroff Desai, who leads People and Culture at Blume, suggested Friendship IRL, as it was very helpful for those of us millennials navigating friendships after moving countries/cities/geographies and trying to build communities.”

She also spoke highly of This is Uncomfortable as it was “a guide to discussing the gray areas, having important but uncomfortable discussions and posing questions to yourself.” 

Empire, known for its unparalleled depth and subject matter, which is incidentally a history podcast, too, was high up on the charts for Rohit and Joseph

Joseph added, “The brotopia that is the All-In Podcast is a guilty pleasure and so is its Indian offspring - Nikhil Kamath's WTF Is?” 

Fun fact: Blume’s co-founder and partner was a guest on one of the episodes on WTF Is? 

Here are some of the other podcast recommendations:

  • Arpit: Krishnamurthy Foundation podcast

  • Vikram: Acquired Podcase’s episode on Lockheed Martin

  • Mudit: Thomas Gladwell's Revisionist History

  • Nachammai: Acquired Podcast’s episodes on LVMH and Costco. Dissect Podcast, a serialized music podcast that will help you appreciate the music you love in more layers.

Audiobooks

The sole audiobook recommendation was A Promised Land by Barack Obama. “It's a lot easier to listen to than read, especially because he is narrating it.” admitted Joseph.

Music

The woozy genres of dream pop and shoegaze were something that Sajith discovered for the first time this year. 

Bloom by Beach House

Beach House was my most listened to band. Their album, 'Bloom' (yes!) and the song 'On the Sea' is my most listened to. In fact, Beach House was the background music for much of Indus Valley Annual Report work.” he quipped. 

Nachammai says, “Considering this is Taylor Swift’s year: Midnights/ 1989 (Taylor’s Version) - Taylor Swift. And since Deep Purple were in India this year - Child in Time - Deep Purple.