The best books that transport you across time and place

Why am I passionate about this?

Travel and writing are my two great passions. Since I was a child, I escaped reality by escaping into my own mind. I had relied on my stories of the warrior queens ever since I learned about them as a child. It was only a few years ago, when I lived in Geneva, that I had a memory flash at me of the statue of Queen Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi on a rearing horse with a curved sword held in one hand. I knew then that it was time to tell a story—my own story and that of my favorite warrior queens.

I wrote...

We are...Warrior Queens

By Jawahara Saidullah,

Book cover of We are...Warrior Queens

What is my book about?

As a girl growing up in India, I had no shortage of fierce female role models. The personal challenges and traumas of my childhood and years of growing up often drowned me in defeat. It was the stories and the legacies of India’s warrior queens that helped carry me through, that taught me how to fight, how to survive, and how to be the mother my daughter deserves. This non-fiction book weaves my personal memoir with historical anecdotes of my own personal heroines. Perhaps, by getting to know these incredible women, you, too, can discover your own path toward strength, survival, and triumph.

When childhood sexual abuse shattered my confidence, sense of self-worth, and safety, I retreated into myself. However, I have never been alone.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Love in the Time of Cholera

Jawahara Saidullah Why did I love this book?

Love in the Time of Cholera sets a moody yet magical vibe and brings the city of Cartegena to vivid life. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s writing is gorgeous even when not read in its original Spanish. While reading the book I could almost experience the languid, feverish haze one might dwell in, the delirium one might experience when struck by cholera.

 This is an unconventional romance that follows the doomed lovers through their respective lives before life finally brings them together in their old age. It’s not a particularly large book, but its depth and brooding quality is why I return once every couple of years to re-read it.

By Gabriel García Márquez,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Love in the Time of Cholera as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There are novels, like journeys, which you never want to end: this is one of them. One seventh of July at six in the afternoon, a woman of 71 and a man of 78 ascend a gangplank and begin one of the greatest adventures in modern literature. The man is Florentino Ariza, President of the Carribean River Boat Company; the woman is his childhood sweetheart, the recently widowed Fermina Daza. She has earache. He is bald and lame. Their journey up-river, at an age when they can expect 'nothing more in life', holds out a shimmering promise: the consummation of…

Book cover of The Handmaid's Tale

Jawahara Saidullah Why did I love this book?

Having read this book when I was 22, it helped shape my fear of the danger of complacent societies. Simply but powerfully written, its first-person narrative creates a sense of claustrophobia, a glimpse into the isolating and dehumanizing life of a handmaid. 

Through Offred, the traumas she experiences, and the people she interacts with the whole world of Gilead springs to scary life. While reading the book, it struck me that nothing was totally made up. Every incident in the book was derived from history. These things had already happened, and they could happen again. It showed me that victory is not always heroic and impressive. Sometimes, victory can be just surviving oppression.

By Margaret Atwood,

Why should I read it?

32 authors picked The Handmaid's Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Go back to where it all began with the dystopian novel behind the award-winning TV series.

'As relevant today as it was when Atwood wrote it' Guardian

I believe in the resistance as I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather, no shadow unless there is also light.

Offred is a Handmaid in The Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian state in what was formerly known as the United States. She is placed in the household of The Commander, Fred Waterford -…

Book cover of The God of Small Things

Jawahara Saidullah Why did I love this book?

As a sucker for beautiful writing, this book had me from the first page, and I couldn’t put it down. So many issues that had been part of my childhood culture resonated with me while it also showed me many others from a part of India that I had never even visited. 

Though sweeping in its scope, it drills down into a very human story with all its pain and love. It weaves myth, story, real life, love, loss, and the meaning of family. It was one of the first novels by an Indian woman that transcended cultures, gender, and any preconceived notions.

By Arundhati Roy,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The God of Small Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'They all broke the rules. They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much.'

This is the story of Rahel and Estha, twins growing up among the banana vats and peppercorns of their blind grandmother's factory, and amid scenes of political turbulence in Kerala. Armed only with the innocence of youth, they fashion a childhood in the shade of the wreck that is their family: their lonely, lovely mother, their beloved Uncle Chacko (pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher) and their sworn enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun,…

Book cover of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Jawahara Saidullah Why did I love this book?

This is a surprising book because while it is certainly macabre, it’s not morbid (at least not for me) and is strangely entertaining. It demystifies the human body and the process of death and dying. 

Even as the author delves into every aspect of dead bodies, she does so with compassion and humor. Rooted and backed up with science, this book held my interest from beginning to end, and I read it non-stop for over a day and a half. Despite its grave subject matter, this book is not dark or scary. It’s matter-of-fact and very educational.

By Mary Roach,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Stiff as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For two thousand years, cadavers - some willingly, some unwittingly - have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. They've tested France's first guillotines, ridden the NASA Space Shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. For every new surgical procedure, from heart transplants to gender confirmation surgery, cadavers have helped make history in their quiet way. "Delightful-though never disrespectful" (Les Simpson, Time Out New York), Stiff investigates the strange lives of our bodies postmortem and answers the question: What should…

Book cover of Jane Eyre

Jawahara Saidullah Why did I love this book?

This is one classic that everyone should read because it’s a pleasure to do so. I read this as a 13-year-old, and it quickly became the yardstick against which I measured every other love story. Yes, it’s a love story, and that is the heart of this book, but it’s not a sappy romantic tale. 

This book explores class structures, mental disorders, and a glimpse into another time. Intense yet leashed emotions form the backbone of the story. As a teen and even now, the brooding, dark quality of this tale really appeals to me.

By Charlotte Brontë,

Why should I read it?

36 authors picked Jane Eyre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Introduction and Notes by Dr Sally Minogue, Canterbury Christ Church University College.

Jane Eyre ranks as one of the greatest and most perennially popular works of English fiction. Although the poor but plucky heroine is outwardly of plain appearance, she possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage.

She is forced to battle against the exigencies of a cruel guardian, a harsh employer and a rigid social order. All of which circumscribe her life and position when she becomes governess to the daughter of the mysterious, sardonic and attractive Mr Rochester.

However, there is great kindness and warmth…

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Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

By Edward Benzel,

Book cover of Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

Edward Benzel Author Of Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Coming from the perspective of a neurosurgeon, I have witnessed many successes and failures over more than four decades. I recognized decades ago that communication with patients at a level that involves emotions is a necessary part of being a complete physician. This involves being empathetic and, henceforth, digging deep to find the strength to be transparent, vulnerable, compassionate, understanding, and, when needed, forceful (some would call this paternalism). Although the five books I have chosen to highlight vary widely in content, they have one common theme – finding within us the will and wherewithal to succeed.

Edward's book list on awakening of the strengths that are hidden deep inside each of us

What is my book about?

My book is a collection of monthly Editor-in-Chief letters to the readership of World Neurosurgery, a journal that I edit. Each essay is short and sweet. The letters were written for neurosurgeons but have been re-edited so that they apply to all human beings. They cover topics such as leadership, empathy, vulnerability, stress, burnout, and on and on…. These essays are relevant for all who strive to craft a better version of themselves.

Life lessons learned by the author during his 40+ year neurosurgery career are shared and translated into real-life scenarios. Between the covers are many lessons that are derived from the experiences of the author and then applied to all humans. The mastering of these lessons should translate into a sense of pride and satisfaction. In keeping with the theme of the book, this process should culminate in the feeling at the end of the day that ‘Today was, indeed, a good day.’

Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

By Edward Benzel,

What is this book about?

About the Book
Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon features many topics that pertain to how neurosurgeons interact with others and how each of us can use introspection to modify how we are using tools and strategies such as empathy, respect, stress management, and much more.
This book provides some insights into leadership, effective communication, and fulfillment from the perspective of a neurosurgeon, and it causes the reader to think about and consider many, many attributes of a leader.
We all want to have a good day. This book provides strategies…

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