Mohandas: A True Story of a Man, His People and an Empire
This is one book I thoroughly enjoyed reading this year. There's much
that I learnt about Gandhiji from his grandson's book on him and many
of the anecdotes the author recounts came as a revelation.
The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World
This is the autobiography of Alan Greenspan, the man who headed
the Federal Reserve Bank of the US for many years. I knew him when I
was finance minister, and there are 4-5 pages about India in his book.
The Music Room
I especially enjoyed this because I've always liked classical
vocal music, and this book gives us a unique insight into the
guru-shishya tradition, and what eventually goes into the making of
The Cry of the Dove
This novel is in a sense the story of women living in
oppression anywhere. Through the protagonist, Salma, it tells of the
travails caused by both external circumstances and inner conditioning
which women often have to face and overcome all their lives.
This is the autobiography of a South African freedom fighter
who spent 26 years in jail, much of the time in Robben Island with
Nelson Mandela and others. It brings to life their inspiring struggle
against apartheid. I have never ceased to wonder at their heroism and
Lal Krishna Advani
Leader of Opposition
Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India
There have been many books on or about the Partition. But
Stanley Wolpert's recent book is from a new and unique perspective.
British scholars may not be happy with it. It severely criticises Lord
Mountbatten, and affirms that while partition had become inevitable,
the terrible cost paid by both sides in terms of human lives and the
uprooting of millions could have been considerably reduced if
Mountbatten had shown greater patience.
For One More Day
I liked this novel about what happens if you had one more day
with someone you lost. I read it because I had immensely enjoyed
Albom's earlier book, Tuesdays With Morrie. Albom is essentially a
sports scribe, but these two books of his are "inspirational stories
set at the juncture of life and death", and have the readers
emotionally shaken up.
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
The "People's President"
Daniel J. Boorstin
The Discoverers is indeed a history of man in search of his
world and himself. Of the many important aspects of discovery, what
impressed me were the study of time and the discovery of devices to
measure time.All the early scientific pioneers, including Copernicus,
Galileo, Kepler and Newton, on whose shoulders scientists of the 20th
and 21st centuries stand, are here. This book will appeal to many
scientific and thinking minds.
Everyday Greatness: Inspiration for a Meaningful Life
Stephen R. Covey & David K. Hatch
This book has a beautiful message for every day. Each page is
unique and provides a new meaning for humanity. I especially liked the
chapter on unity, which contains a story about a mentally challenged
boy of three years who is nurtured by his family till he becomes near
normal, an example for parents with mentally challenged children.
Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World
This book is about the importance of giving and how each of us can
change the world through an attitude of giving. As Mother Teresa once
said, "Keep giving till it hurts." This book can definitely kindle each
one of us to give and be happier.
Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States
Rajya Sabha at Work
Edited by Yogendra Narain
Ex-prime minister, Pakistan
In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind
Eric R. Kandel
I met the Nobel Prize-winning author in Colorado, US, recently. It's
the story of Kandel's life in Vienna as Nazism spread and his family
was persecuted. His book is about the brain, how it works and how the
memories we form and what we recall make for one's perception of life.
Although I've only managed to read three chapters so far because I'm in
the middle of campaigning in interior Sindh, I find the book
interesting because life is a collection of memories and identity is
formed by our self-image and others' memories of us.
Ex-prime minister, Pakistan
I am reading and re-reading
the 1973 Constitution, from which I've quoted chapter and verse at my
election rallies in the Punjab and the Frontier.
Nandan M. Nilekani
India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy
I thoroughly enjoyed it.
We Are Like That Only
This is a book about the Indian consumer market and its marketing
implications by one of India's most respected thought leaders on market
When A Tree Shook Delhi: The 1984 Carnage And Its Aftermath
Manoj Mitta and H.S.Phoolka
This is probably the first serious study of the anti-Sikh riots and
beautifully exposes how a regime can use not only the state machinery
but also the judicial process to subvert justice. It is almost a handy
guide on how to organise a communal riot and then escape the
Home And Exile
A charming little statement on colonialism and what it does to
a person and a culture. Written very lucidly, this book is the
intellectual kernel of all Achebe's novels. I believe this book will
The Indians: Portrait of a People
Sudhir Kakar & Katharina Kakar
I think very well of anything that Sudhir Kakar writes because
he is not only highly readable but says what nobody has said before.
After psycho-analysing Gandhi and Mira, he now focuses on Indian
people. He has really gone for the fundoos, both Hindus and Muslims.
The Oxford India Gandhi: Essential Writings
When you thought there was nothing else to know about Gandhi, this book
tells you new things about him, including concrete proof of Gandhi
being against Partition. It brings out unknown aspects about his life
such as the day Gandhi threw Kasturba out of their home.
Filming: A Love Story
I liked this book because it deals with the growing differences
between Hindus and Muslims and the people who fell victim to this
hatred. It ends with Gandhi's assassination.
The Assassin's Song
It deals roughly with the same subject as Khair's book and more
or less gives you an explanation of what happened in Gujarat, where the
book is based. It is even-handed in its condemnation of fundamentalism.
The author has done a lot of work on a very important aspect of
India's recent history, giving the whole background before the 1857
rebellion. Misra mixes history with fiction very deftly.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
I found her story of emergence from a poverty-stricken part of Somalia
and her transformation into a strong woman breaking away from her
traditional Muslim upbringing very inspiring. In a sense, it's the
journey of every woman breaking out of male-imposed shackles.
This is not a book about sex, but a radical feminist's reading
of how sex is used in a male-dominated society as a last resort to keep
women subjugated. Dworkin died two years ago and there's a new edition
The Lost World of Hindustani Music
Kumar Prasad Mukherji
The greatest of Indian cultural traditions is finally beginning
to get the literature it deserves. Kumar Mukherji's book is a
wide-ranging anecdotal history of many singers and gharanas.
The Music Room
An evocative memoir of a single singer and gharana.
The Passing of an Illusion: The Idea of Communism in the 20th Century
This classic is highly recommended, especially (in the wake of Nandigram) for Indian Communists and their Left-wing critics.
A fabulous book, Pamuk is an insighful and perceptive human
being, who has the gift of presenting the most complex thoughts with
great clarity. In this collection of his essays he reveals himself as a
The Music Room
It's not only about Hindustani music, and the manner in which
it imbibed influences like Islam, but it's also, in a sense, about
Darlingji—The True Love Story of Nargis and Sunil Dutt
I liked parts of this book very much.
India After Gandhi
Nobody has attempted to write such a book about post-Independence history. It's very well-researched.
The Tree of Smoke
This is that increasingly rare thing which American creative writing
schools are incapable of producing: a novel that is sprawling, slightly
crazy, but original and always interesting.
China's Brave New World: And Other Tales For Global Times
Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
In this book Jeffrey Wasserstrom shows why he is one of the
most sensible writers on a subject that most Western writers spoil with
either paranoia or excessive awe.
Forgotten Wars: The End of Britain's Empire
Christopher Harper & Tim Bayley
It's a dazzling book of history, an eloquent account of the historical
accidents and traumas that went into the making of modern Asia.
The Clay Sanskrit Library
These translations that I have been reading for a review promise to
revolutionise our sense of the Indian past: it is the greatest
publishing project of recent years.
India After Gandhi
Accurate, comprehensive and consistently engrossing, this wonderful
account showcases not only Guha's prowess as a historian but also as a
writer. I only wish that the book had come out a few years earlier—it
would have been such a valuable resource for the background historical
research I needed for my own new novel, The Age of Shiva, which takes
place in the same period.
Measuring the World
Perhaps the biggest bestseller ever in German publishing
history, this wry, ironic and irrepressibly hilarious story tracks the
crisscrossing paths of the mathematician Gauss and the explorer Von
Humboldt. Everything about this book, from its unlikely characters to
its quirky construction and plotline, is completely original—it is a
true joy to read.
iCon: Steve Jobs, the Greatest Second Act in the History of Business
Jeffrey Young & William Simon
A very interesting book about how the inventor of the Macintosh and iPod revived his business when it was practically dead.
The Fall of the Intellect
I picked up this book from a friend's bookshelf because I was
attracted to Parthasarathy's theory of how intellect and intelligence
are two different things, and how the more we fill ourselves with
knowledge, the less wisdom we seem to have.
Actress, Censor Board chief
The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes
I found myself reaching for this wonderful book though it's hardly new.
This is more travelogue than novel, and I liked the way he writes.
The Insanity Defense: The Complete Prose
I liked his sense of humour and insight.
The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture and Power in Premodern India
The best book I've read, not just this year but in the last
decade. With a scholarship dazzling in its range and detail, the
Ransford Professor of Sanskrit at Columbia University recounts the
fascinating saga of how, with no military might pushing it, Sanskrit
got transformed, over a thousand years, from a primarily ritual
language into a medium of poetry, and then into a symbol of political
power and hegemony, not just within the Indian subcontinent but across
the whole of South Asia.
India After Gandhi
A riveting and utterly lucid account of India's development
since independence. The scholarship is staggering, but the feel always
human, as Guha charts how seemingly minor figures, such as the
now-forgotten Potti Sriramulu, altered the map of India literally
overnight and helped put together the intricate mosaic of our
A Life Less Ordinary
A memoir by a Bengali maidservant with a violent childhood and
an even more abusive married life, who fled her miserable existence
taking her three children along with her. She discovers new powers
within herself when a sympathetic employer encourages her to read
books—thus stumbling on, who else but, Taslima!—and to write her
experiences down. An astonishing, moving document of the triumph of the
Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of the Empire
Alex Von Tunzlemann
The best overview I've ever read on Independence and Partition, and
pretty close to a flat-out masterpiece. It is also by a long way the
most amusing, and balanced, account of the Mountbattens and their
strange menage a trois with Nehru.
Gandhi: A Political and Spiritual Life
Very different and almost as good, Tidrick's iconoclastic book
locates the roots of Gandhi's thought in the lunatic spiritualist
fringe of late Victorian England among the occultists, high fibreists,
mediums and the ectoplasm-seekers who flourished in late 19th century
London. It is almost too good to be true that the huge, pompous
Curzonian edifice of the Raj was undermined by ideas emanating from
such wonderfully dotty sources, yet Tidrick makes her case very
The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman In World History
It didn't get the attention it deserved. This stunningly
revisionist study of Britain's imperial vulnerability is seen through
the lens of one woman's strange odyssey through the surprisingly
globalised world of the 18th century. It follows its heroine's journey
from Jamaica to Bengal via Portsmouth, Minorca and a period of
captivity in Morocco. It is beautifully written, superbly researched
and reads a little like the adventures of a non-fiction Becky Sharpe.
A beautifully controlled, gripping and superbly well-written look at the process of radicalisation.
I re-read this 1943 novel and found it even more relevant today
than I did years ago. I think it's a must for all good people who
believe that finding your own path is the most important job of our
A Brief History of Nearly Everything
I enjoyed this book; it was funny and knowledgable.
A follow-up of the film, this book tells you how to achieve everything you want in your life. It's very inspirational.
The Making of Om Shanti Om
It's a book to remember the film by, and the film is very
important to me for obvious reasons. Since Om Shanti Om was my debut
film, the book brought back memories of the shoot and I see it as a
book I can look back upon and show my kids!