Book Ends

Who: James Suresh, 59, corporate trainer and humour writer.

He is a best-selling author and co- creator of iconic comics such as Mr Kiasu, On A Street In Singapore, and Kopi Tiam. He recently produced an SG50 illustrated book, Growing Up In The 60s, about life in the decade in which he grew up in a rented flat in Queenstown.

He and his homemaker wife, 56, have two sons, aged 26 and 19, and a daughter, 21.

What are you reading now?

As I am a corporate trainer, I tend to focus on motivational and inspirational books by Western authors such as Steven Covey, Dale Carnegie, Anthony Robbins and James Dobson.

I recently came across Anthony A. Rose's Daddy's Logic. It is an inspirational book based on advice given to the author by his father, as well as his experience with the everyday heroes he encountered in 21 years of corporate life.

Although the strategies for successful living described in the book are not new, I find them compelling as they are told through the life experiences of unique individuals such as Khoo Swee Chiow, the only South-east Asian to climb Mount Everest three times. I especially like this book's deviation from the norm, where it not only cites Western leaders as role models, but also shares the success stories of Asian CEOs, innovators and high achievers to bring home the message that we do not have to look too far for talent and inspiration.

I am also reading a book, How To Survive The Corporate Jungle by Sim Kay Wee, an ex-senior executive at Singapore Airlines. He uses simple analogies to describe the challenges faced by a person fresh out of school joining the corporate world and gives useful tips on how to successfully navigate the corporate jungle.

I would recommend this book to any student entering the workplace as it shortens one's learning curve.

What books would you save from a burning house?

I would save The Dancing Girl, a book presented to me by my friend Dr Ma Swan Hoo, written by her late husband Dr Balaji Sadasivan. I have gradually started to cultivate an interest in my Indian heritage and, upon my return from my first trip in India, I was keen to find out more about Indian history and civilisation.

He describes 4,000 years of history, from the early Indus valley civilisation to the period of Islamic influence under the Mughal empire, and describes the evolution of Indian religions and philosophical traditions. Despite his ailing health, Dr Balaji spent long hours researching to write the book and presented its rich history in a way that is easy to follow and exciting to read.

I would also save A Treasury Of Best Love Poems, which contains more than a hundred poems written by poets such as Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Dickinson, and Keats. One of my favourite poems from the anthology is Shakespeare's All The World's A Stage (a monologue from As You Like It). It expresses and explores many existential questions about life.

As Voltaire put it: "Poetry is the music of the soul." Poems manage to capture the essence of our thoughts and feelings in ineffable ways, which explains why I treasure this collection.

Daddy's Logic: Live A Life Of No Limits, No Excuses, No Regrets by Anthony A. Rose ($25.04, 2012, Mcgraw-hill Education - Europe (GB)) is available from Books Kinokuniya. The Dancing Girl: A History Of Early India by Dr Balaji Sadasivan ($62.24, 2011, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies) and A Treasury Of The World's Best Loved Poems ($38.66, 1961, Avenel Books, Crown Publishers, Inc) are available from Amazon.com.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 28, 2015, with the headline 'Book Ends'. Print Edition | Subscribe