5 Books About India to have on your bookshelf

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Freedom at Midnight

by Larry Collins, Dominique Lapierre

For those interested in the partition.

The pair of Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre have written several books together which combine their investigative journalism techniques with historical research. They have written about Paris, New York & Israel and embarked on the Indian Independence together.

The leads of this story are Mountbatten, Jinnah, Nehru & Gandhi. The premise is the Independence of the nation. This book has had painstaking research and uncovered old documents which will make us go through the core people involved in partition. However, since the only major person alive during the writing of this book was Mountbatten, the book does portray him in a good light.

The partition & last few weeks to Independence from the eyes of the ones making decisions about it is a topic which will always be close to our hearts.

 

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The Discovery of India

by Jawaharlal Nehru

India from the eyes of the man who established its principles.

Today when the current PM does not even mention India’s first Prime Minister in his speeches, it is even more imperative that we read this book to know the man who led our nation through the most perilous times and made us a secular democracy when no major world leader of that time thought that we could survive.

Nehru was a brilliant writer and this book is a testament to that. True to the title, it is the discovery of India from the eyes of Nehru. The India that we see through his eyes is glorious, strong, independent, proud and a nation of a very rich cultural heritage.

The book is also a reflection of Nehru and the vision he had of India.

 

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India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy

by Ramachandra Guha

India’s lesser-known history.

This is the finest book on Indian history I have read. It is over 900 pages but totally unputdownable & very interesting. It takes us through a newly-independent India until the early 90s which was a period that not a lot of us know about.

The book is painstakingly and well researched and is very well-paced. It takes us through the nation’s journey and the major events that took us to this decade. It shows a nation which started low but has slowly & steadily climbed up & stands to be at the frontier in the coming decades.

 

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The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity

by Amartya Sen

India as a culture & society from the Nobel prize winning economist.

This is Amartya Sen’s most famous book and it explores India and it’s culture and history through sixteen of his essays. It tells us about India’s long argumentative tradition which is so important for remaining a secular democracy.

 

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India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age

by Gurcharan Das

Indian economy from the eyes of the man who saw it.

Gurcharan Das was the CEO of P&G India from 1985 to 1992. He grew up with the nation & was at the helm of one of the biggest FMCG companies during the high-growth transition phase.

While his other books are okay, this one was really good. It takes us through India’s economy, it’s challenges, the ’91 reforms and the people behind it. It is a breezy read & well-written which touches the periphery of Indian economy and how we have stumbled through to the era of high growth.

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5 Books About India to have on your bookshelf

From My Bookshelf

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy #1)

by Stieg Larsson, Reg Keeland (Translator)

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Goodreads Link

I have watched the movie starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara with the same name and wanted to read the book for a while simply to read a book in the genre of Nordic Noir. Crime and suspense genres really do not excite me and I feel like I am in a rush to finish the book and reach the end.

This book had the same effect on me and I do not intend to read more books in the Millenium series.

Now, this book is about Michael Bloomkvist, who is a once-respected journalist but a bad call lands him in trouble and in debt. The patriarch of a wealthy business family wants him to investigate a murder in the family which happened years back.

We follow Michael as he tries to unravel the mystery of the murder with the unlikely help of a private investigator Lisbeth Salander. Obviously I am not going to give away what happens but the book is okay really. I liked the movie.

Maybe it is because this genre does not really excite me. Either way, it is a decent crime and suspense novel.

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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

by Benjamin Franklin, Lewis Leary (Introduction)

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Goodreads Link

I had saved a link few months back had and this book was there in its “Top 100 books to read”. There were other books on the list too I have not read yet but the autobiography of a man who was one of America’s Founding Fathers, a scientist and an inventor, a writer and an editor and counted as a great philosopher seemed a good enough reason for me to pick it up.

This thin book is only 160 pages but it will take some time to read. It appears dull and boring and does not dwell deep into the man Benjamin Franklin was. The fact that it is written in the English of the olden days does not add to its case either.

I expected more out of it and I am quite surprised that it has become a literary classic. Maybe I missed out on something. Either way, I did not take away much from the book.

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Chasing the Monsoon

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This travelogue is the story of India’s monsoons. Alexander Frater is a journalist and a travel writer.

In this book he follows India’s monsoon when it hits the coast of Kerala and goes up north to Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and finally to Cherrapunji. Of course, this book was written when monsoons could be predicted in the June- September period and before we screwed up the weather patterns with our constant polluting.

The book is a joyous exploration and celebration of the monsoon in India and how the rich and poor deal with it. While wealthy Arabs come to spend a week in Mumbai to experience the monsoon, the taxi drivers lament the damage on their vehicles and the roads.

This is a delightful book in bits and pieces. I have been trying to get hold of more travelogues since many of my friends have told me that my travel blogs are a little long and boring.

This book is an interesting read as we explore stories and places via the monsoon. Historical and meteorological data snippets also show a different aspect to the story.

From My Bookshelf

From My Bookshelf

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The Discovery of India

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Goodreads Link

Jawarhalal Nehru wrote this book when he was imprisoned at Ahmednagar fort between 1942-46. As is evident in the title, Nehru has tried to discover India in this book right from the Indus Vallery Civilization to its present time (which is 1944).

The book dabbles in several topics and is very well-written. Nehru was known to be a good writer among other things and it reflects in this book. It takes you on a journey of India as we discover this great nation along with Nehru.

This book was written at a time when the British had ruled India for almost 200 years with World War II going on. The people of India had been subjugated and used as slaves while our country used as a dumping ground. This book was written to discover India before that, when we were one of the earliest civilizations and were leaders in science, industry and trade, among other things.

Nehru travels back to that time and tries to find the reasons for losing our superiority to the European nations and hence, the subjugation and slavery. He also speaks of the future of India when the British leave and it gives a glimpse of the challenges that India would have had to face post-independence. It also shows the ability of Nehru in understanding situations and requirements of India post-independence and gives a glimpse into the reasons for his policies like Socialism, faith in PSUs over corporates and the now-dissolved Planning Commission.

I recommend this book for everyone, as history is our best teacher. It makes me wonder where would India be if Nehru would not have been India’s PM.

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Isn’t It Obvious

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The author, Eliyahu Goldratt is considered a management guru and is the originator of several management theories like Optimized Production Technique, Theory of Constraints, Thinking Processes, Drum-Buffer-Rope, Critical Chain Project Management and several others.

He has written several books which look at Theory of Constraints for different industries. Isn’t it Obvious is his latest book which looks into this theory in the retail industry. His books, instead of the usual non-fiction way use fiction and story-setting to explain the theory in a more relatable environment.

This is a good book for MBAs and those involved in retail but is useless if one does not go ahead and study about Theory of Constraints and the concepts attached to it.

Go ahead, do some learning.

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The Palace of Illusions

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This book is a re-telling of The Mahabharata from the eyes of Panchaali, or whom we know as Draupadi.

The author, who was in the Economic Times 2015 list of the 20 most influential global Indian women has tried to bring the perspective of Draupadi at the forefront, who was married to five husbands and had to endure the shame of being disrobed after one of her husbands’ loses her in a gamble.

I think this book could have been more. The book does not take me to that period and sort of feels…short. Mahabharata is one of India’s greatest epics and this book is a retelling of the story from somebody else’s point of view. However, it fails to relive that epic and that is my one big problem with this book.

If you would like to revisit The Ramayana from the point of view of Sita, you can watch Sita Sings the Blues.

From My Bookshelf