Five Must Reads!

on Sunday, September 12, 2010

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.