Saturday, August 14, 2010

India - Book Recommendations (Updated- May 2012)


On August 15, India celebrates 63 years of freedom.

Those who've followed my blog for a while would know that I read a lot of books about India and several books written by Indian authors. Here's my list of India-related books, fiction, poetry and non-fiction, recommended for you. Most of these are books I've read and some are books that have been recommended to me. This is by no means a complete list, but a compilation of books that I remember right now.

Epics:

1. The Mahabharata - C.Rajagopalachari's abridged version and P.Lal's English translation are ones I've been recommended.
2. The Ramayana - English translation by Romesh C Dutt is available online

Poetry:

3. Gitanjali - Rabindranath Tagore
4. The Golden Threshold - Sarojini Naidu
5.  I Won't Let You Go: Selected Poems - Rabindranath Tagore


Memoirs/Letters:

7. Prison and Chocolate Cake - Nayantara Sahgal
9. Freedom's Daughter - Letters Between Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru
10. The Music Room: A Memoir - Namita Devidayal
11. Begums, Thugs and White Mughals - Fanny Parkes
12. In the Shadow of Freedom - Anis Kidwai


Non-fiction:

13. India After Gandhi - Ramachandra Guha
14. Freedom At Midnight - Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins
16. City of Djinns - William Dalrymple
17. The Discovery of India - Jawaharlal Nehru
20. The Men Who Ruled India - Philip Mason
22. The Last Mughal - William Dalrymple
23. Curfewed Night - Basharat Peer
24. Nine Lives : In Search of the Sacred in Modern India - William Dalrymple **
25. Nationalism - Rabindranath Tagore
26. The Argumentative Indian - Amartya Sen
27. Mumbai Fables - Gyan Prakash
28. India: A Wounded Civilization - V.S Naipaul
29. The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan - Yasmin Khan
30. The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India - Urvashi Butalia
31. The Idea of India - Sunil Khilnani 
32. Beyond Belief: India and the Politics of Postcolonial Nationalism - Srirupa Roy
33. The Romance of the State: And the Fate of Dissent in the Tropics - Ashis Nandy
34. Beyond Appearances? Visual Practices and Ideologies in Modern India - Sumathi Ramaswamy (ed)
35. Remembering Partition - Gyanendra Pandey
36. Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World - Partha Chatterjee
37. Pleasure and the Nation: The History, Politics and Consumption of Public Culture in India - Rachel Dwyer, Christopher Pinney (eds)
38. Makers of Modern India - Ramachandra Guha
39. White Mughals - William Dalrymple
40. War and Peace in Modern India - Srinath Raghavan


Autobiographies:

42. The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian - Nirad C Chaudhari
43. An Autobiography - Jawaharlal Nehru

Biographies:

45. Nehru: The Making of India - M.J.Akbar
46. Nehru - Benjamin Zachariah
47. Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi - Katherine Frank

Fiction:


48. The Great Indian Novel - Shashi Tharoor
49. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People - Farahad Zama  
50. Interpreter of Maladies - Jhumpa Lahiri
51. The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga
52. The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy
53. The Twentieth Wife - Indu Sundaresan
54. A Passage to India - E.M.Forster
55. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
56. The Siege of Krishnapur - J.G.Farrell
57. The Far Pavilions - M.M.Kaye
58. Train to Pakistan - Khushwant Singh
59. Malgudi Days - R.K.Narayan
60. A Bend In The Ganges - Manohar Malgonkar
61. Two Leaves and A Bud - Mulk Raj Anand
62. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
63. Swami and Friends - R.K.Narayan
64. Cracking India - Bapsi Sidhwa *
65. Q & A - Vikas Swarup *
66. Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts **
67. Rich Like Us - Nayantara Sahgal
68. Sea of Poppies - Amitav Ghosh
69. Serious Men - Manu Joseph
70. Fasting, Feasting - Anita Desai

If you have any India-related books to recommend, please leave a comment. I'd love to add them in here! Happy Independence Day in advance to all Indians living across the world.


* Recommended by Tanu 
** Recommended by Priya Iyer


UPDATE: I have updated the list with some of the books I've been reading recently (the new books are marked in green). I've found them all fascinating and thought-provoking and hope you will too.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Two Quick Reviews

I'm still not finding enough time to get back to normal blogging but I can't bear leaving my blog stranded. So here's me sneaking in to write mini-reviews of the last two books I've read and not reviewed =)

The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan - 8/10


This book is a luxury, a pleasure to read. I'm a huge fan of just about anything to do with the Mughal era and this fictional take on the love story between Emperor Jahangir and Mehrunnisa is beautiful, romantic, rich and engrossing. Sundaresan's gorgeous descriptions transport you back to the Mughal age of India and you're in no hurry to leave it. Mehrunnisa's character is smoothly developed and she is an interesting mix of cunning, passion, love and strength and is unforgettable by the time you're done reading the book. The history that the book is based on was also well-explained by Sundaresan and kept me looking forward to the next book that chronicles Mehrunnisa and Jahangir's lives. I have Feast of Roses, the second book of the series with me now and I can't wait to read it! I definitely recommend this book for fans of historical fiction and books related to India. Don't miss out on this beautifully written tale about a love of epic proportions. 

Airhead by Meg Cabot - 2/10


I picked this book up for two reasons. One, I was doing a lot of serious reading and I wanted something easy to read, light and fun. Two, I had heard a lot of good things about it and I generally love Cabot's writing. I hated the book, to put it simply. Either I've outgrown reading teen books or the book is over-hyped and average at best. What is given in the description of the book - of Em Watts, the 'geek', taking on Nikki Howard's supermodel life - is what Cabot sets up for more than one hundred pages. When it's already explained in the blurb and there's no surprise, why go on about it? Even afterwards, I felt nothing much happened. Ultimately, I cared little about any of the characters and I missed Cabot's amazing wit and humour. Airhead, I'm afraid,  just didn't work for me.

I miss catching up with all of your blogs and I hope you guys are doing fine! Happy reading and do keep track of my 'Currently Reading' side bar if you want to know what books I'm reading. Cheers =) 

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