100 books like The Gift of a Cow

By Premchand,

Here are 100 books that The Gift of a Cow fans have personally recommended if you like The Gift of a Cow. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Everybody Loves a Good Drought

Leela Fernandes Author Of Governing Water in India: Inequality, Reform, and the State

From my list on to understand inequality in a world in crisis.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent close to thirty years researching and teaching about questions of inequality and change. Most of my focus has been on the Global South, with a particular focus on India. I've written about intersecting class, gender, and caste inequalities. I've pursued this research agenda through extensive field research on labor politics, democratization, and the politics of economic reform in India. My interest stems from my background. I am originally from India and have lived and travelled extensively in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. I'm an author, public speaker, and consultant and have been a professor for three decades at the University of Michigan, Rutgers University, The University of Washington, and Oberlin College.

Leela's book list on to understand inequality in a world in crisis

Leela Fernandes Why did Leela love this book?

It is often hard to get our minds around poverty and the scarcity of resources that affect people’s lives. This is especially true of rural life in the Global South. This is a highly accessible book written by an eminent journalist in India and is considered to be a classic text on rural poverty. It also illuminates the failures of governance including the programs and policies that seek to help poor and marginalized communities in countries like India.

By P. Sainath,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Everybody Loves a Good Drought as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Acclaimed across the world, prescribed in over 100 universities and colleges, and included in part in The Century's Greatest Reportage (Ordfront, 2000), alongside the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Studs Terkel and John Reed, Everybody Loves a Good Drought is the established classic on rural poverty in India. Twenty years after publication, it remains unsurpassed in the scope and depth of reportage, providing an intimate view of the daily struggles of the poor and the efforts, often ludicrous, made to uplift them.

An illuminating introduction accompanying this twentieth-anniversary edition reveals, alarmingly, how a large section of India continues to suffer…


Book cover of The White Tiger

Brian Klingborg Author Of Thief of Souls

From my list on international crime both fiction and nonfiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a small town in the days before the internet and cable television, so books were my escape, and through them, I traveled to faraway places and learned about different customs and cultures. Later, I studied Chinese cultural anthropology and lived and worked in Asia for many years. Now, I write a series about a Chinese police inspector in the brutally cold far north province of Heilongjiang and use mystery stories to unpack some of the more fascinating and essential aspects of Chinese society, politics, and religion.

Brian's book list on international crime both fiction and nonfiction

Brian Klingborg Why did Brian love this book?

The White Tiger is a witty and searing portrayal of a “self-made” man who has risen from the depths of abject poverty to a position of wealth and influence. 

The India portrayed is far from the glitz and romantic notions of Bollywood. It is a desperately poor place where the “haves” live like kings and the “have-nots" live like slaves.

In addition to shedding light on some of the harsh realities of class, economics, and corruption in India, The White Tiger somehow manages to subvert expectations and coax the reader into rooting for a murderer and thief who justifies his actions, not entirely convincingly, by describing himself as a sort of working-class hero.

In reality, he is more of a cautionary tale.

By Aravind Adiga,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2008

Balram Halwai is the White Tiger - the smartest boy in his village. His family is too poor for him to afford for him to finish school and he has to work in a teashop, breaking coals and wiping tables. But Balram gets his break when a rich man hires him as a chauffeur, and takes him to live in Delhi. The city is a revelation. As he drives his master to shopping malls and call centres, Balram becomes increasingly aware of immense wealth and opportunity all around him, while knowing that he…


Book cover of Coolie

Jeremy Seabrook Author Of People Without History: India's Muslim Ghettos

From my list on the daily lives of poor people in India.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child of a worker in the boot and shoe industry of the English Midlands, I have written for more than half a century about poverty in its many guises – from the want and misery of early industrialism in Britain to the modernised poverty of a form of affluence which mimics prosperity without providing either satisfaction or sufficiency. Writing about the landscapes of poverty in the 1980s, I went to India and Bangladesh, and saw there in patterns of urbanization familiar echoes of what we in Britain had experienced. It seems to me that poor people are always poor in the same way, although this may be hidden behind differences in culture, tradition, ethnicity, and faith.

Jeremy's book list on the daily lives of poor people in India

Jeremy Seabrook Why did Jeremy love this book?

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.

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.


Book cover of Walking with the Comrades

Jeremy Seabrook Author Of People Without History: India's Muslim Ghettos

From my list on the daily lives of poor people in India.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child of a worker in the boot and shoe industry of the English Midlands, I have written for more than half a century about poverty in its many guises – from the want and misery of early industrialism in Britain to the modernised poverty of a form of affluence which mimics prosperity without providing either satisfaction or sufficiency. Writing about the landscapes of poverty in the 1980s, I went to India and Bangladesh, and saw there in patterns of urbanization familiar echoes of what we in Britain had experienced. It seems to me that poor people are always poor in the same way, although this may be hidden behind differences in culture, tradition, ethnicity, and faith.

Jeremy's book list on the daily lives of poor people in India

Jeremy Seabrook Why did Jeremy love this book?

This book, part polemic, part reportage, is an account of Arundhati Roy’s journey into the forests of Chattisgarh, where groups of ‘Naxalites’ or Maoists have taken up arms against the Indian state, in defence of Adivasis, the indigenous inhabitants of India, for whom the forests, rivers, and hills are sacred. Unhappily these are cover vast deposits of minerals and precious resources required as ‘raw materials’ by a rapidly industrializing India. As a result, the State, which throughout the colonial period and in the early years of Independence, had, in turn, neglected and cheated the forest-dwellers, has now turned upon them with militaristic intensity to wrest resources from them. I found this narrative so powerful because Arundhati Roy makes us understand the violence of the despairing, without overtly supporting it.

By Arundhati Roy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Walking with the Comrades as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the award-winning author of The Ministry of Utmost Happiness and The God of Small Things comes a searing frontline exposé of brutal repression in India

In this fiercely reported work of nonfiction, internationally renowned author Arundhati Roy draws on her unprecedented access to a little-known rebel movement in India to pen a work full of earth-shattering revelations. Deep in the forests, under the pretense of battling Maoist guerillas, the Indian government is waging a vicious total war against its own citizens-a war undocumented by a weak domestic press and fostered by corporations eager to exploit the rare minerals buried…


Book cover of Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language

Kyoko Mori Author Of The Dream of Water: A Memoir

From my list on travel memoirs for those who love to wander.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although two of my nonfiction books—The Dream of Water and Polite Lies—are about traveling from the American Midwest to my native country of Japan, I'm not a traveler by temperament. I long to stay put in one place. Chimney swifts cover the distance between North America and the Amazon basin every fall and spring. I love to stand in the driveway of my brownstone to watch them. That was the last thing Katherine Russell Rich and I did together in what turned out to be the last autumn of her life before the cancer she’d been fighting came back. Her book, Dreaming in Hindi, along with the four other books I’m recommending, expresses an indomitable spirit of adventure. 

Kyoko's book list on travel memoirs for those who love to wander

Kyoko Mori Why did Kyoko love this book?

Katherine Russel Rich, who had spent 20 years as a magazine editor (and just as long as a cancer survivor: recounted brilliantly in her first book, The Red Devil: To Hell with Cancer—and Back), started studying Hindi because she needed a new language to describe her life during the messy process of remaking herself as an artistic rather than commercial writer. Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language is a memoir of the year she spent in the ancient city of Udaipur, where she lived with a local family and attended a Hindi language school. 

This personal story is combined with fascinating information about second-language acquisition, as well as the profiles of various Americans and Europeans who made a home in India as a teacher, aid-worker, scholar, spiritual seeker, or in the case of one memorable character, a fortune/husband seeker. At times hilarious, other times heartbreaking, this is…

By Katherine Russell Rich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An eye-opening and courageous memoir that explores what learning a new language can teach us about distant worlds and, ultimately, ourselves.

 

After miraculously surviving a serious illness, Katherine Rich found herself at an impasse in her career as a magazine editor. She spontaneously accepted a freelance writing assignment to go to India, where she found herself thunderstruck by the place and the language, and before she knew it she was on her way to Udaipur, a city in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, in order to learn Hindi. Rich documents her experiences—ranging from the bizarre to the frightening to the…


Book cover of Parva: A tale of war, Peace, Love, Death, God, and Man

Anand Neelakantan Author Of Asura: Tale of the Vanquished: The Story of Ravana and His People

From my list on Indian mythology.

Why am I passionate about this?

Anand Neelakantan is an Indian author, columnist, screenwriter, television personality, and motivational speaker. He has authored eight fiction books in English and one in Malayalam. His debut work Asura, The Tale of the Vanquished is based on the Indian epics of Ramayana. His next book series was Ajaya-Roll of the Dice, Ajaya – Rise of Kali based on the two books on the epic Mahabharata told from Kaurava perspective. Anand's books voice the suppressed party or the defeated party. In his fifth book Vanara, the legend of Baali, Sugreeva, and Tara also follow the same pattern of expressing the defeated side.

Anand's book list on Indian mythology

Anand Neelakantan Why did Anand love this book?

This Kannada classic written by S L Byrappa humanises each character of Mahabharata and turns the ancient epic into a modern novel. The book won the Kendra Sahitya Academy Award and is one of the greatest Indian books written in any Indian language. There is no magic, gods, or superhumans in this novel and this makes it poignant, deep, and moving. This is Mahabharata as raw as it can get and reads like historical fiction. If Bhima is lyrical, Parva is powerful fiction. It grabs you from the first page and shakes up many of our beliefs.

By S.L. Bhyrappa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The novel narrates the story of the Hindu epic Mahabharata mostly using monologue as a literary technique. Several principal characters found in the original Mahabharata reminisce almost their entire lives. Both the setting and the context for the reminiscence is the onset of the Kurukshetra War. Parva is acknowledged to be S.L.Bhyrappa's greatest work.Non-Kannadigas who have read it in it's Hindi and Marathi translations consider it one of the masterpieces of modern Indian literature.It is a transformation of an ancient legend into a modern novel.In this process,it has gained rational credibility and a human perspective.The main incident,the Bharata war,symbolic of…


Book cover of Tibetan Foothold

Patti Shales Lefkos Author Of Nepal One Day at a Time: One woman's quest to teach, trek and build a school in the remote Himalaya

From my list on inspiration to leap out of your comfort zone.

Why am I passionate about this?

Currently a journalist, author, and adventure traveller, I am a former inner-city educator from Vancouver, BC, Canada with a Masters of Environmental Education degree, a Wilderness Leadership certificate, and a post-graduate certificate in Journalism. Solo and with my husband I have completed several major treks in Europe, Tibet, and Nepal including Mount Kailash kora, Everest Base Camp north (Tibet), The Annapurna Circuit and Base Camp, Everest Base Camp south (Nepal), Upper Mustang, the Manaslu Circuit and Tsum Valley for a total of about 800 km. I am currently training to complete Nepal’s Great Himalayan Trail (low route), 1,500 km from one end of Nepal to the other.

Patti's book list on inspiration to leap out of your comfort zone

Patti Shales Lefkos Why did Patti love this book?

Dervla Murphy truly showed up as a voluntourist before the term even existed. Her 1966 account of volunteering in an orphanage in a Tibetan refugee camp in India inspired me to look for an opportunity to help children in need in a developing country. Her bravery in the face of incredible discomfort and profound sadness at the plight of children suffering from not only a lack of education but more urgently from hunger and disease influenced my future travel decisions. Dervla’s perseverance and tenacity against all odds in this desolate camp and support of Tibetan refugees warmed my heart and strengthened my resolve to make a difference in the lives of others. Her courage helped me overcome my fears of solo travel to remote areas.

By Dervla Murphy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The moving tale of Dervla Murphy's experiences working in the Tibetan refugee camps of Northern India in the sixties.


Book cover of The Lost Girl

Jennifer J. Lacelle Author Of Birdwhistle Estate

From my list on with emotions and colliding worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been in love with books and writing, but in high school I realized I wanted to touch people’s lives on an emotional level. A friend told me my writing had changed their perspective about an incident where their brother almost died. It made me think that if I could positively impact one person with a play, what else could I do (even for complete strangers). We all struggle with emotions, and it’s okay! We should be allowed to feel our emotions—regardless of our age or gender identity. Everyone should know that they’re not alone; emotions are universal. They are part of what connects us to each other. 

Jennifer's book list on with emotions and colliding worlds

Jennifer J. Lacelle Why did Jennifer love this book?

As you can probably see, I like books that are emotionally provocative. This book does just that! It’s just such a different kind of story where the protagonist was built to be exactly like someone else, including memories and life, just in case something happens to the original. It’s a raw look at who someone really is and how they become that person. 

By Sangu Mandanna,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lost Girl 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?

Eva's life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination - an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her 'other', if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it's like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.

But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.

Now she must abandon everything she's ever known - the guardians who raised her, the boy she's forbidden to love -…


Book cover of Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India

Leslie Karst Author Of Justice is Served: A Tale of Scallops, the Law, and Cooking for RBG

From my list on food memoirs about transformative personal journeys.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since childhood, when my best friend and I would experiment together with recipes from the Time-Life Foods of the World cookbook series and then gorge on the delectable results, I’ve been enamored of food and cooking, a love which eventually led me to pursue a degree in culinary arts (while simultaneously spending my days as a research and appellate attorney). In addition to Justice is Served, I also write the Sally Solari Mysteries, a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. 

Leslie's book list on food memoirs about transformative personal journeys

Leslie Karst Why did Leslie love this book?

Madhur Jaffrey—the actress/author/celebrity chef whose cookbooks opened up to an entire generation of Brits and Americans the wonders of Indian cuisine—taught me to cook Indian food. And then this beautiful memoir taught me to appreciate the history and culture from whence her recipes spring. A heartfelt and vivid tale of growing up in northern India under the shadow of the coming world war, Climbing the Mango Trees is the story of family, spicy cauliflower (and yes, mangos, too!), and the ability of food to evoke memory and unite us all. 

By Madhur Jaffrey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Climbing the Mango Trees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

'I was born in a sprawling house by the Yamuna River in Delhi. When I was a few minutes old, Grandmother welcomed me into the world by writing 'Om', which means 'I am' in Sanskrit, on my tongue with a little finger dipped in honey. When the family priest arrived to draw up my horoscope, he scribbled astrological symbols on a long scroll and set down a name for me, Indrani, or 'queen of the heavens'. My father ignored him completely and proclaimed my name was to be Madhur ('sweet as honey').' So begins Madhur Jaffrey's enchanting memoir of her…


Book cover of Artefacts as Categories: A Study of Ceramic Variability in Central India

Monica L. Smith Author Of Cities: The First 6,000 Years

From my list on why humans have so much stuff.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an archaeologist, which means that I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many places to dig and survey ancient remains. What I’ve realized in handling those dusty old objects is that all over the world, in both past and present, people are defined by their stuff: what they made, used, broke, and threw away. Most compelling are the things that people cherished despite being worn or flawed, just like we have objects in our house that are broken or old but that we keep anyway.

Monica's book list on why humans have so much stuff

Monica L. Smith Why did Monica love this book?

Miller’s work in village India – a world away from most of our experiences  – focuses on the way that people make things to be bought and used, cherished and given, and broken and discarded, all with a feedback loop from producer to consumer and back again. Through his conversations with artisans, he reveals that when high-status people buy certain shapes, lower-status people start to want them also, until those shapes become too “common” and high-status folks begin to show their distinction through the patronage of a new design. The cycle is never-ending, and Miller’s memorable words are always in the back of my mind whenever I’m looking through ancient artifacts and thinking about how their forms and decorations changed over time.

By Daniel Miller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The aim of Artefacts as Categories is to ask what we can learn about a society from the variability of the objects it produces. Dr Miller presents a comprehensive analysis of the pottery produced in a single village in central India, drawing together and analysing a whole range of aspects - technology, function, design, symbolism and ideology - that are usually studied separately. Using the concepts of 'pragmatics', 'framing' and 'ideology', the author points to the insufficiency of many ethnographic accounts of symbolism and underlines the need to consider both the social positioning of the interpreter and the context of…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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