It took me three years to write my debut book, ‘Hridaya’Acclaimed cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Bhagawan Koirala talks about his experience writing his first-ever book, the genres he likes to read, and how reading has helped him in his professional life.
Dr Bhagawan Koirala, one of Nepal's most renowned cardiothoracic surgeons, is credited by many as the doctor responsible for pioneering open heart surgery in Nepal. The famed doctor has added a new feather to his cap after publishing his first book, 'Hridaya', last month.
In this interview with the Post, Dr Koirala talks about his experience writing his first book and what the book is about, the kind of reader he is, and why he thinks developing a reading habit is essential to one's personal and professional growth.
Did you grow up in an environment that encouraged reading?
Until high school, what I read was limited to academic books and newspapers. I also read dictionaries. Doing these helped me improve my vocabulary.
What was working on 'Hridaya' like?
It was an arduous process. It took me three years to write 'Hridaya'. I first started by writing my thoughts and ideas daily. But because of my busy schedule, I could only continue it for a short time. I then designed my schedule to allow me to spend a few hours every Saturday dictating my story. I would then go through the transcribed document and make changes where necessary.
What can we expect from your 'Hridaya'?
It is a book that emphasises that if you are willing to put in the hard work, your background won't become an impediment to success. Though it is an autobiography, you get a lot of stories that have intersected with my journey in different stages of life—stories of my patients, people who have influenced me, the journey of establishing medical institutions, corrupt practices in the medical field, and fundamentals of hospital management and medical education.
The book, however, may feel outdated because I finished it right before the pandemic and thus doesn't feature experiences of the past three years. Because of the pandemic, the book's release had to be delayed.
Which genres do you enjoy reading the most? And which do you avoid?
Since I spend most of my time reading scientific proposals, reviewing them and going through research articles, I hardly get the time to read other books. But I do make time to read selective books on philosophy, economics, politics, and world affairs. I also prefer reading management skills, leadership, and personality development books.
A genre that I don't read much about is fiction. I think that's because, as a doctor, I have seen a fair share of reality and hence do not enjoy getting lost in the fictional world.
Why is developing a reading habit important for someone in your position?
The management books I read have helped me immensely in my role. I'll go as far as to say that management books helped me in hospital management more than the courses I took on the subject. Apart from this, reading helps people to gain a deeper understanding of the world and the things that are part of our reality. People who don't read have very limited knowledge of the world and thus are more vulnerable to becoming radicalised.
What are the three books that you never tire of recommending and why?
'When Breath Becomes Air' by Paul Kalanithi
'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen R Covey
'How to Stop Worrying and Start Living' by Dale Carnegie
The autobiographical book by Paul Kalinthi tells a story of a doctor who becomes a patient. The other two books are about personality development and pragmatic formulas for making the right decisions.