This New Year, give yourself the gift of reading
Stephen King once called books “uniquely portable magic”, and rightly so. What are books if not beauty, and thought, and emotion all wrapped in one — passed from one stranger to another, sometimes across centuries. It’s a time machine, an escape device, sometimes a love letter; it is two minds speaking through the paper. As a new year unfolds, I’m confident that now more than ever we need, yes need, this portable magic. This new year, give yourself, and others, the gift of reading.
Here are 10 must-haves for your TBR pile. Whether you’re looking for no-nonsense non-fiction or want to immerse yourself in a work of literary fiction, this list has something for everyone.
First up we have The Little Book of Comfort from India’s favourite author, Ruskin Bond. A tiny pastel-pink hardback, this book is the equivalent of a warm cup of coffee (or chai, if you swing that way) in the harsh cold of a winter morning. Full of heart-touching quotations done in beautiful illustrations, this book is the perfect companion for every reader.
If the holidays have got you experimenting in the kitchen, consider getting a copy of Uparwali Chai: The Indian Art of High Tea by Pamela Timms. It features recipes of mouth-watering dishes like the Rooh Afza Layer Cake, Saffron and Chocolate Macarons, and Chai Spiced Cake. (Seriously, are you drooling yet?) Offering a scrumptious blend of traditional Scottish taste with the warm Indian palate, this cookbook will unleash the baker in you!
If you’re less sugar and more spice — or, well, your choice of food is — Lathika George’s The Suriani Kitchen will be right up your alley. Featuring savoury delights like the Meen Vevichathu (fish curry cooked in a clay pot), Paalappam (lace-rimmed pancakes) and Thiyal (shallots with tamarind and roasted coconut), this book brings together the 150 most delectable recipes from the Syrian Christians of Kerala.
Tired of being cooped up in your room? Missing the lush green outdoors? Bring nature to your bedside with Trees of Delhi: A Field Guide by environmentalist and naturalist Pradip Krishen. For absolutely anyone who is fond of trees, this book offers insight into over 250 species of trees found in Delhi, and the history of their growth and vegetation in the city.
Bonus: You get bragging rights; this book, full of stunning photographs, will allow you to identify these trees just by looking at them!
Another must-have for nature lovers is The Hidden Life of Trees by New York Times bestselling author Peter Wohlleben. Did you know, parent trees support and nurture their young ones much like humans do, that trees have special mechanisms that allow them to communicate with each other? Apparently, trees are not very different from humans! Drawing on ground-breaking new scientific discoveries, the book offers readers the opportunity to deep-dive into the rich inner life of trees.
For the curious-minded, who’d love to blend their love for science and history, Indica: A Deep Natural History of the Indian Subcontinent by bestselling author and biochemist Pranay Lal is a great choice. A compelling narrative that traces the origins and evolution of the Indian subcontinent, the book brings together amazing facts and discoveries, researched across wide-ranging scientific disciplines. It also includes a rare collection of images, illustrations and maps, and is truly a collector’s item!
If your heart’s set on fiction, fret not! We have something for you too. The Complete Short Stories by Premchand is an ideal choice, bringing together Munshi Premchand’s entire short-fiction oeuvre for lovers of Indian literature and short fiction. Romance, satire, politics, humour and tragedy — Premchand’s stories capture the pastoral simplicity of the rural countryside and will keep you engrossed for hours.
If you’d like to challenge the reader in you and venture into reading something longer, consider Bibek Debroy’s 10-volume translation of one of the most legendary works of classical literature, The Mahabharata. Embark on an epic journey of deceit, treachery and valour with the gorgeous box set of all 10 volumes! The text has been masterfully translated from Sanskrit, is unabridged, and is extremely accessible. Another great option is Bibek Debroy’s three-volume set of The Valmiki Ramayana.
The last book on our list is very special, and the perfect companion for anyone aiming to start 2021 with hope and courage in their heart (so, basically, all of us) — Daily Inspirations from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, edited by Renuka Singh. Give yourself and your loved ones a daily dose of inspiration with this book. Available as a stunning hardback, it has 365 quotations full of wisdom and compassion for every day of the year to come.