"Once you have clarity that something does not deserve your time...

In the first of a three-part interview, Bharat Shah of ASK group talks about why reading is an essential ingredient for investing

Bharat Shah joined ASK Investments in 2002 after his stint at Birla Mutual Fund. Today, Shah along with his team manages close to ₹6,000 crore under five different schemes. His firm has compounded client money at close to 36% for the past three years and at 19.4% over the past five years. In comparison, the BSE-100 has returned 13.3% and 5.8% respectively during the same period. While his investing approach is a blend of value and growth, there is one thing that Bharatbhai swears by and that is reading.

Charlie Munger says his children laugh at him because they think he is a book with a couple of legs sticking out. What is the bare minimum one must read?

The bare minimum one should read is about 24 books in a year. If you do not read that much then you are not reading enough. To my mind, not reading is intellectual death. If you do not read, your mind will decay. The objective of reading could be to acquire knowledge in one area; it could be to develop professional competence in a particular subject, or for sheer pleasure. For me, all of it is important.

How do you allocate so much time to reading?

It’s just like brushing your teeth every day. You do not postpone brushing; otherwise your breath will stink. Equally, reading has to be a part of our daily life. It cannot be procrastinated. I typically spend 8-10 hours of time on work, and another five hours of reading. I have varied interest, so I devote about 2-2.5 hours to that which includes art, music, poetry etc. All of these are my interest


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