Sunday, September 12, 2010

Five Must Reads!

I am no connoisseur of literature. I am just an hapless addict, who is forever beguiled by the rich, commanding, resplendent world that books (novels in particular) offer. My own cute way of referring to the books is not to call them 'my best friends', rather, 'my intoxicants', the only ones capable of elevating me above my surroundings, and drawing me into another galaxy. Mentioned below are five books from my own mini library, which according to me are a must read for every single person belonging to my environment. A curious fact about these books is that they are all authored by Indians, but then, that is how I am prejudiced as far as literature is concerned.

1. 'My Experiments With Truth' by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi Every Indian, irrespective of caste, creed, age, religion must read this book. It is, for me, one of those books which can be termed as a life changer (and has proven to be for a few people I know). The lesser said about this book, the better, but I would advise everyone to at least attempt to take a peek into the life of that man, who has veritably contributed the most in the making of modern, Independent India.

2. 'Train To Pakistan' by Khushwant Singh
 In my view, Khushwant Singh is the greatest storyteller ever to have been born on the soil of India. His first novel, the Train to Pakistan makes nothing short of an compelling, invigorating, and satisfying read. With one of the most vivid and poignant portrayals of India's bloodbath during partition, this book is written such that at no point will the reader feel detached from the narrative; rather, if the reader is like me, he would end up crying more than once, for the pangs of partition would be too much to bear even for him.

3. 'The Broken Nest'/ 'The Home and The World' by Rabindranath TagoreI've always rued the fact that I can't read Bengali, for Bengali literature is touted as one of the finest and richest in India; but thanks to the translations, I've been able to go through the writings of someone who should ideally be called the Father of Modern Indian Literature - Rabindranath Tagore. These two books make for an excellent starter if you want to delve into the wealth of Bangla literature

4. 'Our Trees Still Grow In Dehra and other stories' by Ruskin Bond         
He is an author for all seasons, for all ages. He looks at India the way no Indian can. He can make you feel attached to the Indian soil the way you yourself might never be able to. The magic of this collection of short stories can be felt only if you read them; my only guarantee would be that Mr. Ruskin Bond absolutely does not know how to leave his readers dissatisfied.

5. 'Ramayana'/ 'Mahabharata' by C. Rajagopalachari
 Although attributed to their original authors, Valmiki and Ved Vyasa respectively, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have many versions in different languages of India. This version, published by Bhavan's books, has been penned down by Rajaji, the first Indian Governor General of independent India, and has been written in a style that despite assimilating the facts of all the different versions, is striking in its originality and beauty.


  1. I had read the first one as a part of school curriculum and I must admit it did not seem as fascinating at that time. Have been meaning to read it again for a long time. Have bookmarked all of them. I recently read Jaya by Devdutt Pattanaik and ever since have wanted to read more on Indian Mythology..

  2. Hey!
    The first one is not a fascinating read. It is in fact one of the most dryly written books I have ever come across. I love it for the content thought, something as Indian all of us should at least read, whether or not we agree is another thing.

    And I have made a study into Sanksrit classics recently. Have read a lot on Indian myth and folklore. Ask me if you need any help with selecting books on mythology. The above mentioned ones are few of the best you will get to read.

  3. I will try to sum everything up for two books here:

    1st- Train to Pakistan
    How good can someone be in first novel? Only a few sustain so well. A novel really down to Indian soil to prove there's one thing that lies beyond patriotism- brotherhood. Though, the novel went a little partial towards Sikh-Indians yet it was a shocker to know how less sometimes freedom can mean to someone as long as they have family.

    2nd- Ghare Baire
    The novel is filled with all types of hues and colors which brings it to life at every page-turn. The best thing is that each protagonist has been given space and equality to conquer anyone's mind. Almost a century-ago-written-novel still has urges to see the women of India come out of insides of houses and experience the world to fight for their worth (which am still craving to see in all parts of India, maybe another century would do). No point of criticism for Tagore and with eccentric words used by the translator only made it even better for me.

    1. Thank you so much!

      I only left behind a meek request, did not know you will take it seriously. I like hearing about books from people, especially the ones I have read. So, I want you to know that this response was read with full concentration and enthusiasm by me.

      I am a blind fan of Khushwant Singh, and Tagore is much above praise and adulation. For now, this is all that is coming to mind about the two great authors.