India is a land of vast diversity. It is one of the few surviving ancient civilizations and has a long history with a multitude of characters.
You can easily be lost in its charm or be repulsed by it but you can never deny the fact that there is no other country like her.
Many excellent books have been written on India in form of historical texts, commentaries, critiques, novels, poems, dramas – which reflect its rich & colourful history, its people, diverse culture, traditions and ethos.
You could live your entire life here or read thousands of books and still not know India well.
But we attempt to compile a list of 15 books on this amazing country called India which defines her as a nation. So here it is! The bookGeek’s list of 15 best books on India.
“India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great-grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.” – Mark Twain.
“India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s languages: she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.” – Will Durant, American Historian
“We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.” – Albert Einstein
Iconic Books On India
|1. India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha
This book by the well-known historian captures the history of the Indian Nation after it gained independence from the British in 1947.
|2. A Passage to India by EM Forster
A fiction set in the 1920s, first released in 1924 which features the racial tensions between the British Colonials and the Indigenous Indians and beautifully presents the sentiments of a troubled nation.
|3. The Discovery of India by Jawahar Lal Nehru
Written by independent India’s first prime minister during his years in the prison (1942-1946) at Ahmednagar fort in Maharashtra. It captures the essence of the Indian heritage, philosophy and history and is considered as one of the finest works on India.
|4. India’s Unending Journey by Mark Tully
In this book, Mark Tully documents his experiences with India. From his travels across the nation to how the nation has impacted him, he describes it all while giving the readers something to learn from India’s unending journey.
|5. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Written by the Australian author, this book is about an escaped convict who flees to India and lands up in the chaotic and confusing city of Mumbai. The novel is acclaimed for the beautiful portrayal of life in the Indian city of Mumbai.
|6. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
This Booker Prize-winning novel is a story of Saleem Sinai who was born at the exact moment of India’s Independence. The book through the story of Saleem captures India’s transition from the Colonial rule to Independence.
|7. Butter Chicken in Ludhiana by Pankaj Mishra
Captures the travels of the author across the small towns of India. It captures the lives in these towns and their people along with their fear, aspirations and expectations from growing India.
|8. The Age of Kali by William Dalrymple
This book is the result of the author’s incessant love for India and his extensive travels across the nation. The book documents the author’s view about how the country is gradually moving towards the most dreaded age in the Hindu belief – The Age of Kali or the Kali Yug which reflects corruption, darkness and disintegration.
|9. India Unbound by Gurcharan Das
This book very systematically and meticulously captures the economical journey of India divided into three phases “Spring of Hope (1942-1965)”, “The Lost Generation (1966-1991)” and the “Rebirth of Dream (1991-1999) from the erstwhile post-independence years to the millennium year of 2000.
|10. Everybody Loves a Good Drought by P. Sainath
This book brings to you the stories from India’s poorest districts capturing the essence of the lives of these below poverty line villagers and their constant struggle for economic sustenance and survival.
|11. India: A Portrait by Patrick French
Portrays a uniquely dynamic and vibrant nation and its culture from the eyes of a foreign traveller who challenges many pre-conceived notions and through his narrative, attempts to change the way the world looks at this nation.
|12. India: A Wounded Civilization by V.S. Naipaul
V.S. Naipaul having returned to the country of his ancestors in 1975 journeys India and comes across a multitude of people from all walks of life. This book documents his encounters with India and its people especially a generation caught in between a glorious past and an uncertain but hopefully bright future.
|13. In Spite of the Gods by Edward Luce
This book talks about the economic force that is India and how it will be competing with the United States in the coming future. India’s growth and economic rivalry are, however, quite different from the rivalry which China has with the United States and the author seems to bring out the difference beautifully.
|14. The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor
This highly acclaimed satirical novel by the famous writer and politician Shashi Tharoor borrows the story of India’s epic Mahabharata and the casts its characters and setting in the backdrop of India’s freedom movement.
|15. India: A History by John Keay
A fully comprehensive account of India’s history right from the age of the Indus valley civilization to the happenings of the current day. The book provides a very vivid and extensive portrait of the history of the world’s oldest civilization.
We hope you enjoyed this list of 15 Best Books on India. Do let us know in the comments below.