The best books that merge genres and writing styles

Who am I?

I love reading history that is told in an experimental, interesting manner – history merged with travel, fiction, magical realism, etc. I began my writing career as a travel writer, bringing together history with travel but increasingly I have begun to experiment more. My book Walking with Nanak brings together 4 genres. One intellectual question that I have pursued through my writing is challenging modern notions of national, religious, and ethnic identities. I see my writing style as an extension of that pursuit, breaking away from the neat compartmentalization of genres. 


I wrote...

Walking with Nanak

By Haroon Khalid,

Book cover of Walking with Nanak

What is my book about?

Walking with Nanak is an experimental book that brings together different narratives, genres, and writing styles, including fiction, history, magical realism, and poetry. It is a book that traces the story of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, the story of the author and his discovery of Guru Nanak’s legacy, the story of Sikh Gurus, the evolution of Sikh history, and finally the poetry and hagiography of Guru Nanak.  

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi

Haroon Khalid Why did I love this book?

This book introduced a whole new way of travel and history writing for me. It beautifully merges the experiences of the author, his interactions with people, and the history of the city he is engaged with. I loved how he used everyday conversations and experiences to link it back to historical moments and told a chronological story of an amazing city. The book is important to me because it also taught me that travel writing can happen within one’s home and one’s own city. One doesn’t need to travel hundreds of miles, in a foreign country, to engage in travel writing. It helped me conceptualize travel writing in a new way.

By William Dalrymple,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked City of Djinns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Indraprastha is the Hindu name for the first, mythical Delhi. In this book the author peels back the successive encrusting layers of Delhi's history, using both the material and the human remains of each period as a touchstone with the present. With each of the six cities of Delhi being revealed in respective chapters, the climax, the final chapter, tells of the mythical first city, whose beginnings, told in the Mahamarata, form the principle Hindu creation myth. This book is a portrait of Delhi, the mother of all cities. Its dry plains are the fertile meeting point of all the…


Book cover of Shame On Me: A Memoir of Race And Belonging

Haroon Khalid Why did I love this book?

This book is also a fascinating and completely new way of telling history, merging travel writing with personal family history. The author in this remarkable book travels through her own body to talk about the history of her family, and her own story – a story that is connected with the broader stories of colonization, post-colonialism, racism, capitalism, and many other macro, structural issues.

By Tessa McWatt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shame On Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2020 OCM BOCAS PRIZE FOR CARIBBEAN LITERATURE

'What are you?'

Tessa McWatt knows first-hand that the answer to this question, often asked of people of colour by white people, is always more complicated than it seems. Is the answer English, Scottish, British, Caribbean, Portuguese, Indian, Amerindian, French, African, Chinese, Canadian? Like most families, hers is steeped in myth and the anecdotes of grandparents and parents who view their histories through the lens of desire, aspiration, loss, and shame.

In Shame On Me she unspools all the interwoven strands of her inheritance, and knits them back together using…


Book cover of Delhi: A Novel

Haroon Khalid Why did I love this book?

I loved this book because this was the first time I came across history in this way. Of course, historical fiction has a long history but this book moves away from that tradition and tells a story of a city in a manner that is somewhere between history and historical fiction, creating a genre of its own. The book is riveting and true to a lot of fascinating historical detail. 

By Khushwant Singh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Delhi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

I return to Delhi as I return to my mistress Bhagmati when I have had my fill of whoring in foreign lands...' Thus begins Khushwant Singh's vast, erotic, irrelevant magnum opus on the city of Delhi. The principal narrator of the saga, which extends over six hundred years, is a bawdy, ageing reprobate who loves Delhi as much as he does the hijda whore Bhagmati-half man, half woman with sexual inventiveness and energy of both the sexes. Travelling through time, space and history to 'discover' his beloved city, the narrator meets a myriad of people-poets and princes, saints and sultans,…


Book cover of In an Antique Land: History in the Guise of a Traveler's Tale

Haroon Khalid Why did I love this book?

While this may not be Amitav Ghosh’s best work, it is perhaps his most experimental writing in which he brings together his non-fiction travel writing with historical fiction of a subject he was researching as a PhD student. The book opened my eyes to the possibility that two genres can live together in one book, and if merged well can tell a beautiful, fascinating, and complete story.

By Amitav Ghosh,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked In an Antique Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Once upon a time an Indian writer named Amitav Ghosh set out an Indian slave, name unknown, who some seven hundred years before had traveled to the Middle East. The journey took him to a small village in Egypt, where medieval customs coexist with twentieth-century desires and discontents. But even as Ghosh sought to re-create the life of his Indian predecessor, he found himself immersed in those of his modern Egyptian neighbors.
   Combining shrewd observations with painstaking historical research, Ghosh serves up skeptics and holy men, merchants and sorcerers. Some of these figures are real, some only imagined, but all…


Book cover of Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Haroon Khalid Why did I love this book?

There is the genre of magical realism and then there is Salman Rushdie’s magical realism. Salman takes the ordinariness of reality and transforms it into magic, beautifully using his language. Haroun and the sea of stories is my favourite work of the author in which he uses language, to create a wonderful world of magic. I particularly enjoyed this work because it opened up a whole world of possibilities for me, showing me how to use language in a creative way, in which multiple meanings can be created. Reality and magic beautifully come together in this amazing book!

By Salman Rushdie,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Haroun and the Sea of Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A captivating fantasy novel for readers of all ages, by the author of Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses

"This is, simply put, a book for anyone who loves a good story. It's also a work of literary genius." -Stephen King

Set in an exotic Eastern landscape peopled by magicians and fantastic talking animals, Haroun and the Sea of Stories inhabits the same imaginative space as The Lord of the Rings, The Alchemist, The Arabian Nights, and The Wizard of Oz. Twelve-year-old Haroun sets out on an adventure to restore his father's gift of storytelling by reviving the poisoned Sea…


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Book cover of The Twenty: One Woman's Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail

Marianne C. Bohr Author Of The Twenty: One Woman's Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail

New book alert!

Who am I?

I married my high school sweetheart and travel partner, and followed my own advice to do graduate work, and started my career working for the French National Railroad in New York City, mapping itineraries for travelers to Europe. Travel means the world to me and if I don’t have a trip on the horizon, I feel aimless and untethered. I worked in book publishing for 30 years and dropped out of the corporate rat race to take a gap year abroad. I wrote about our “Senior year abroad” in my first book Gap Year Girl. I returned to the US to teach middle school French and organize student trips to France. 

Marianne's book list on by women about outdoor adventure

What is my book about?

Marianne Bohr and her husband, about to turn sixty, are restless for adventure. They decide on an extended, desolate trek across the French island of Corsica — the GR20, Europe’s toughest long-distance footpath — to challenge what it means to grow old. Part travelogue, part buddy story, part memoir, The Twenty is a journey across a rugged island of stunning beauty little known outside Europe.

From a chubby, non-athletic child, Bohr grew into a fit, athletic person with an “I’ll show them” attitude. But hiking GR20 forces her to transform a lifetime of hard-won achievements into acceptance of her body and its limitations.

The difficult journey across a remote island provides the crucible for exploring what it means to be an aging woman in a youth-focused culture, a physically fit person whose limitations are getting the best of her, and the partner of a husband who is growing old with her. More than a hiking tale, this is a moving story infused with humor about hiking, aging, accepting life’s finite journey, and the intimacy of a long-term marriage—set against the breathtaking beauty of Corsica’s rugged countryside.

By Marianne C. Bohr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Twenty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Great for fans of: Suzanne Roberts's Almost Somewhere, Juliana Buhring's This Road I Ride.


Marianne Bohr and her husband, about to turn sixty, are restless for adventure. They decide on an extended, desolate trek across the French island of Corsica-the GR20, Europe's toughest long-distance footpath-to challenge what it means to grow old. Part travelogue, part buddy story, part memoir, The Twenty is a journey across a rugged island of stunning beauty little known outside Europe.


From a chubby, non-athletic child, Bohr grew into a fit, athletic person with an "I'll show them" attitude. But hiking The Twenty forces her to…


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