10 books like Climbing the Mango Trees

By Madhur Jaffrey,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Climbing the Mango Trees. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Crying in H Mart

By Michelle Zauner,

Book cover of Crying in H Mart: A Memoir

I loved Michelle Zauner’s essay by the same name when it came out in The New Yorker in 2018. I teach this essay in my Intro to Food Writing Class, and my students find it as moving and transporting as I do. Zauner’s new memoir—it came out in April—chronicles the decline of her mother's health and her own journey in finding her sense of self, often through the Korean dishes, ingredients, and flavors that connect her to her mom. The mother-daughter relationship is complex, full of love and pain, and the writing is gorgeous and sparkling.

Crying in H Mart

By Michelle Zauner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crying in H Mart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of 2021

The New York Times bestseller from the Grammy-nominated indie rockstar Japanese Breakfast, an unflinching, deeply moving memoir about growing up mixed-race, Korean food, losing her Korean mother, and forging her own identity in the wake of her loss.

'As good as everyone says it is and, yes, it will have you in tears. An essential read for anybody who has lost a loved one, as well as those who haven't' - Marie-Claire

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer,…


Blood, Bones & Butter

By Gabrielle Hamilton,

Book cover of Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

Gabrielle Hamilton isn’t just a ‘reluctant chef’ (in her own words), she’s also an absolutely exquisite writer (her MFA really paid off!). Her memoir traces her life and love of food from her New Jersey childhood, through her many professional ups and downs and international travels (I especially love the parts where she’s staying at her Italian mother-in-law’s home, describing the incredible produce she was able to get. Oh, the tomatoes!) Did I extra love this because she grew up in the same small town I was born in? Maybe, but it’s a wonderful book no matter where you’re from.

Blood, Bones & Butter

By Gabrielle Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Blood, Bones & Butter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Magnificent' Anthony Bourdain

A sharply crafted and unflinchingly honest memoir. This is a rollicking, passionate story of food, purpose and family.

Blood, Bones & Butter follows the chef Gabrielle Hamilton's extraordinary journey through the places she has inhabited over the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; and the kitchen of her beloved Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton's idyllic past and her…


Kitchen Confidential

By Anthony Bourdain,

Book cover of Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

This is a nonfiction book, but it’s the late Anthony Bourdain’s expose on what goes on in restaurants from the chef’s perspective. It was both fascinating and shocking to learn about the almost savage relationships between the members of the kitchen staff, from the chef to the line cooks to the dishwashers and servers. There is a tragic foreshadowing, since Bourdain is candid about his drinking and substance abuse during his time as a professional cook. After reading this book, I no longer used jarred garlic because I recall Anthony’s scathing criticism of those who don’t use the fresh kind. It definitely gave me a totally new appreciation for those involved in the restaurant business.

Kitchen Confidential

By Anthony Bourdain,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Kitchen Confidential as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE CLASSIC BESTSELLER: 'The greatest book about food ever written' 'A compelling book with its intriguing mix of clever writing and kitchen patois ... more horrifically gripping than a Stephen King novel' Sunday Times 'Extraordinary ... written with a clarity and a clear-eyed wit to put the professional food-writing fraternity to shame' Observer _____________________________ After twenty-five years of 'sex, drugs, bad behaviour and haute cuisine', chef and novelist Anthony Bourdain decided to tell all - and he meant all. From his first oyster in the Gironde to his lowly position as a dishwasher in a honky-tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown;…


Heavy

By Kiese Laymon,

Book cover of Heavy: An American Memoir

This wildly important book is about what it takes to become a fully realized black man in racist white America. On top of that already monumental struggle are more struggles: anorexia, sexual violence, abuse, obesity, gambling, the construction of identity, and excavating the self and others, to get at the truth. I’d say that this is perhaps one of the best books on trauma that I’ve read. The sentences themselves, the rhythmic syntax of their musicality, is just one emotional heartbeat of this stunning, painfully honest, and vulnerable work of art. 

Heavy

By Kiese Laymon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*Named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed (Nonfiction), The Undefeated, Library Journal (Biography/Memoirs), The Washington Post (Nonfiction), Southern Living (Southern), Entertainment Weekly, and The New York Times Critics*

In this powerful, provocative, and universally lauded memoir—winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and finalist for the Kirkus Prize—genre-bending essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon “provocatively meditates on his trauma growing up as a black man, and in turn crafts an essential polemic against American moral rot” (Entertainment Weekly).

In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son…


An Obedient Father

By Akhil Sharma,

Book cover of An Obedient Father

A dark story about a corrupt man, An Obedient Father unfolds in a closely observed world. From page one: “It was morning. The sky was blue from edge to edge. I had just bathed and was on my balcony hanging a towel over the ledge. The May heat was so intense that as soon as I stepped out of the flat, worms of sweat appeared on my bald scalp.” The close sensory detail makes a dark story shockingly intimate.

An Obedient Father

By Akhil Sharma,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ram Karan, a corrupt official in the Delhi school system, lives in one of the city's slums with his widowed daughter and his eight-year-old granddaughter. Bumbling, contradictory, sad, Ram is a man corroded by a guilty secret. An Obedient Father takes the reader to an India that is both far away and real - into the mind of a character as tormented, funny, and ambiguous as one of Dostoevsky's anti-heroes.


City of Djinns

By William Dalrymple,

Book cover of City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi

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.

City of Djinns

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…


Coolie

By Mulk Raj Anand,

Book cover of Coolie

This story of an orphan, brought up by an uncle and aunt and sent out to work as a house servant, moved me so much because, although written in the early years of the Independence struggle, nevertheless prefigures the fate of countless young Indians, little more than children who, beaten and mistreated, run away to the closest city and later, to the unforgiving metropolis of Mumbai or Delhi. His life of innocence destroyed and youth blighted, ends at the age of sixteen when he dies of TB. It is harrowing but uplifting.

Coolie

By Mulk Raj Anand,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Coolie portrays the picaresque adventures of Munoo, a young boy forced to leave his hill village to fend for himself and discover the world. His journey takes him far from home to towns and cities, to Bomboy and Simla, sweating as servant, factory-worker and rickshaw driver. It is a fight for survival that illuminates, with raw immediacy, the grim fate of the masses in pre-Partition India. Together with Untouchable, Coolie places Mulk Raj Anand among the twentieth century's finest Indian novelists writing in English.


Murder at the Mushaira

By Raza Mir,

Book cover of Murder at the Mushaira

Set in Delhi on the eve of the first battle for Indian independence in 1857 that would be so brutally put down by the British, ending with Delhi in flames and India coming under direct British rule, our detective, the poet laureate Mirza Ghalib investigates a murder. The investigation reveals the myriad of personalities, pressures, and allegiances from every corner of Indian and British society that led to the uprising and all that has come after. This finely wrought novel begins and ends with death at a Mushaira—a poetry recitation, public, private, or intimate for just two, that typically drew from every level of society—sounding the loss of India as it was before colonization, and then partition, when religious and social boundaries were not as starkly defined and policed as they are now.

Murder at the Mushaira

By Raza Mir,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder at the Mushaira as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

3 May 1857. India stands on the brink of war. Everywhere in its cities, towns, and villages, rebels and revolutionaries are massing to overthrow the ruthless and corrupt British East India Company which has taken over the country and laid it to waste. In Delhi, the capital, even as the plot to get rid of the hated foreigners gathers intensity, the busy social life of the city hums along. Nautch girls entertain clients, nawabs host mushairas or poetry soirees in which the finest poets of the realm congregate to recite their latest verse and intrigue, the wealthy roister in magnificent…


The Last Mughal

By William Dalrymple,

Book cover of The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857

Mixing deep archival scholarship with brilliant storytelling, Dalrymple transports the reader into the final days of the Mughal Empire and its last emperor. The story centers on Delhi during the mutiny against British rule in 1857, the last great attempt by the Indians to throw off their European overlords until Gandhi. What begins with hope ultimately ends in tragedy, for the Mughal poet-ruler who fails to grasp his chance to change history, and the brilliant civilization his empire had fostered.

The Last Mughal

By William Dalrymple,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

At 4pm on a dark, wet winter's evening in November 1862, a cheap coffin was buried in eerie silence: no lamentations, no panegyrics, for as the British Commissioner in charge of the funeral insisted, 'No vesting will remain to distinguish where the last of the Great Moghuls rests.' This Mughal was Bahadur Shah Zafar II, one of the most talented, tolerant and likeable of his remarkable dynasty who found himself leader of a violent uprising he knew from the start would lead to irreparable carnage. Zafar's frantic efforts to unite his forces proved tragically futile. The Siege of Delhi was…


The Forest Beneath the Mountains

By Ankush Saikia,

Book cover of The Forest Beneath the Mountains

This is a marvellous novel about an area in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas that is not far from where I grew up. It’s a story about people and nature, how the relationship is at once very elemental for those who live off the land, as well as very convoluted and destructive because it’s driven by greed, politics, and fear. The narrator is a visitor to the region, looking to solve a mystery from his past, and this device of the curious outsider looking in works really well to make the whole place come to life. 

The Forest Beneath the Mountains

By Ankush Saikia,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Description
Shaken by the news of his mother’s death, a man leaves his job in Delhi and
returns to Assam. Twenty-five years ago, his father, a forest officer here, was
found shot dead in his jeep. With the passing of his mother, the man learns new
and startling details of his father’s life, and trying to reclaim an entire life suddenly
made unfamiliar, he starts digging into events from far back in time, visiting
places where his father had served, in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas.
But the forests he had once roamed as a boy with his father…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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