PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 June, 2008, 12:00am

What the movers and shakers are reading

Geoff Rankin

Chief executive, CPA Australia

I believe reading books gives you an insight that is a bit like having a conversation. You reflect on what is said and that develops a relationship with the author and the characters in the book. I also believe reading books helps to provide new and often different insights into how I think, and why I might think the way I do. Reading books certainly adds new perspectives to the mix, but does not have to produce a perfect answer.

I tend to read quite a lot on planes, and when television seems too shallow, but more recently I have found a new reason for reading: the opportunity to read to my grandson. Fairy Tales and Fantastic Stories, by former Monty Python team member Terry Jones, is chockfull of fun stories that are also thoughtful, sensitive and, at times, conversation starters. My grandson especially loves looking at the colourful illustrations while listening to the stories.

I take the view that every day you learn something, or have the potential to learn something worthwhile and, as far as I am concerned, reading Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth fits into that category. In his book the author presents readers with a no-holds-barred look at the state of humanity. He also provides suggestions that there is hope and now, perhaps more than in any previous time in history, there is an opportunity to create a new, more open and more caring world, although it would call for some significant changes.

A book I read recently that also made me stop and think was The Perfectionist - Life and Death in Haute Cuisine by Rudolph Chelminski. The book takes a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the world of three-star French haute cuisine, and the competition and egos of those who strive to achieve impossibly high standards.

The book documents the life of chef Bernard Loiseau, who was one of only 25 chefs to earn the coveted three stars from the Michelin Red Guide. The author, a friend of Mr Loiseau for more than 30 years, writes about his friend's rise to culinary greatness before he took his own life, soon after rumours that his restaurant would lose one of its stars. Sadly, he died before the rumour proved to be unfounded. The book is a must for anyone interested in food and cooking.

Another book I enjoyed and I happily recommend to friends, is Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down, which poses deep questions about suffering, evil, spirituality and the possibility of redemption. The book is written with lots of dry wit and balanced intelligence. I like the way the author tells his story through four very believable characters that made me laugh out loud about aspects of life that are generally not very funny. First impressions imply the book is about sadness and death, but it turns out to have much more to do with life. Next on my list of books to read are the Inspector Rebus novels, set in Edinburgh, Scotland, written by my surname namesake Ian Rankin.