Given the fact that I am a voracious reader and try and read almost anything and everything I can get my hands on, I often encounter a question from fellow readers “Suggest some good books to read”. When you have read so much it’s both difficult and easy to dole out suggestions extempore, easy because you can easily list out books which are worth reading as a suggestion and difficult because no matter what, you tend to miss an awesome recommendation.
So I decided to compile a list of some of the best reads which have an Indian connection i.e. the author is an Indian or the book is written on India. These are the books I have read over the years, have cherished the writing, the content and have recommended to people around me at one point or the other. The blurbs are not the reviews of the said books but just a broad indication on the subject of the book.
As with all lists, the disclaimer: This list is entirely based on personal judgment and preference and is not indicative of any other merit or demerit. There might be some very good books which I might have missed because I haven’t read them yet or for some other reasons. Also the Indian in the title is very loosely used term, the books or the authors would have some Indian connection. If you feel that a book that should have been a part of the list please feel free to add it in the comments section.
So here is the list of books-
1- A Suitable Boy By Vikram Seth – One of the most voluminous fiction novels I have ever read. A Story of four families in the post 1947 India, with the plot revolving around a mother searching a suitable boy for her daughter.
2- City of Djinns By William Dalrymple– One of the best books ever written on the city of Delhi, A book that will make you fall in love with the city and its history.
3- English, August: An Indian Story By Upamanyu Chatterjee – A fictional story of a civil servant which spans across his training and first posting in a small town.
4- Everybody Loves a Good Drought By P Sainath – A collection or reports from tour of author is some of the most poor parts of India. The author portrays a real picture of poverty and backwardness in the interior India.
5- Five Point Someone: What Not to Do at IIT By Chetan Bhagat – A fast paced read about the youngsters studying at one of the most prestigious institute. One of the books which hooked the India’s new generation back to reading.
6- Gitanjali By Pt. Rabindranath Tagore – A collection of poem by the Nobel Laureate must read.
7- In Spite of Gods By Edward Luce – A picture of the modern India through the eyes of a foreign journalist travelling all across.
8- India Unbound By Gurcharan Das – A book on the changes in India during the era of 1991 and the pre and post liberalization of policy of India.
9- Indian Controversies: Essays in Religion & Politics By Arun Shourie – A deep insight on the religion in India and politics played over it. The book covers a deep insight on the mistakes done during the time of Babri Masjid demolition and the political aspects of it.
10- Inheritance of Loss By Kiran Desai – The book is a fictional story of the retired Judge who is living alone in North East close to the Nepal border. The story progresses when his grand-daughter comes to live with him. The story covers how their life is intertwined between insurgencies, immigration and a lot more.
11- Interpreter of Maladies By Jhumpa Lahiri – A collection of nine short stories by the Indian American author. The stories are linked through a common thread of the immigration and tryst to protect the culture, religion and the identity.
12- Malgudi Days By R K Narayan – The book of tales from the fictional town of Malgudi, beautifully created and crafted by the author. Every story and character reflects a tale which would keep Malgudi in reader’s heart forever.
13- Maximum City: Bombay, Lost and Found By Suketu Mehta – One of the best, apt and most engaging account of the wonders of Mumbai. Suketu Mehta almost charts the moving portrait of the city of Bombay.
14- Midnight’s Children By Salman Rushdie – A brilliant tale set up in India around the time of independence and partition. The story is about the protagonist who has special powers because he was born right at the midnight hour and unites all other children born at midnight who are blessed with special power too.
15- My Experiments with Truth By Mahatma Gandhi – The autobiography of the father of the Nation.
16- Prince of Ayodhya By Ashok K Banker – This is the first part of the six book series where he depicts the tale of Ramayana. A modern version of the epic in which the tales of Rama, Laxman and Sita were told as a more humane characters, highlighting their emotional sides too.
17- Q & A By Vikas Swarup – A brilliant tale of a waiter winning the top prize in the general knowledge quiz show, the story of how he wins the show and finds love in his life.
18- Sea of Poppies By Amitav Ghosh – A fictional tale based in the era of Opium trade; and the opium wars on the banks of river ganges.
19- Shantaram By David Gregory Roberts – An account of the journey of an Australian prisoner who arrives in Mumbai. Gets involved with underworld, the war in Afghanistan and a lot more goes in the entire adventure.
20- Spouse: The Truth About Marriage By Shobha De – The Indian version of the Men are from Mars and Woman are from Venus. A very good book to read for some practical and insightful advice on how to sustain an Indian marriage.
21- Such a Long Journey By Rohinton Mistry – A novel set in Bombay of 1971 where the protagonist is a government clerk. Struggling against the poverty, and the hope diminishes when the eldest son of the family refuses to join the prestigious IIT.
22- Tales of the Open Road By Ruskin Bond – A travelogue of India by Ruskin Bond covering which has not been covered by any author.
23- The Argumentative Indian By Amartya Sen – A series of essays by the Nobel Laureate which depicts the rise of the contemporary India as a tradition and history of the argumentative aspect of our culture.
24- The Great Indian Novel By Shashi Tharoor – A satirical and fictional take on the Independence movement of India and the couple decades following it, casting the shadow of The Mahabharata.
25- The High Performance Entrepreneur By Subroto Bagchi – Tenets from a successful entrepreneur for identifying and developing the entrepreneur in oneself.
26- The Japanese Wife By Kunal Basu – A collection of Short stories of varying themes and interests but a treat to read
27- The Palace of Illusions By Chitra Banerjee Divakurni – A book setup in the backdrop of Mahabharata bringing out the feminine point of view.
28- Train To Pakistan By Khushwant Singh – An account of the horror and torture that was inflicted on the common man during the partition.
29- We The People By Nani A Palkhivala – A back to reality read touching the realms of what has happened in India and how the people and constitution have contributed to it
30- The White Tiger By Arvind Adiga – A satirical novel based on a theme which provides a contrast between the contemporary India rising as a global economic superpower and a harsh reality working class struggling with poverty.