100 books like Where the Gods Dwell

By Manu S. Pillai,

Here are 100 books that Where the Gods Dwell fans have personally recommended if you like Where the Gods Dwell. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India

Alan Mercel-Sanca Author Of Nepal - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

From my list on people learning about each other's cultures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an intercultural educationalist, having many years of direct Prime Ministers, Culture Ministers, Ambassador of Nepal to the UK/Ireland/Malta, experts, and grassroots community organizations relationships with Nepal and Nepali diasporas (UK and Ireland) regarding research, reports, and major intercultural projects, as well as a published writer on Nepali culture and editor and lead content contributor for internationally respected online Nepal culture information resources (see Nepali Cultural Heritage and Foods of Nepal). An active member of the decolonization movement, I have provided live BBC TV News interviews on the UK Government–Gurkha dispute and led the enablement of a historically important Nepal–England football match. 

Alan's book list on people learning about each other's cultures

Alan Mercel-Sanca Why did Alan love this book?

This book is among the most informative and inspiring books ever. The subject treats–the Indian subcontinent’s experience (comparable to that of Ireland) of profit-seeking ‘entrepreneurs’ [especially the predatory East India Company] backed by British governments and opportunistic Western/Christian evangelical forces [giving ‘religious/moral’ ‘justification’ to foreign invasion, occupation and related apartheid type instituted rule–provides need to know detail for those in the West [UK] in an age where those wilfully or through ignorance of the facts are attached to supremacist nostalgic ‘Brexit’ views of yesteryear colonialism as benign, are still poorly challenged.

I am honored to be recognized as a member of the decolonization movement. This book is compelling and deserves mandatory inclusion in world history curricula. 

By Shashi Tharoor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller on India's experience of British colonialism, by the internationally-acclaimed author and diplomat Shashi Tharoor

'Tharoor's impassioned polemic slices straight to the heart of the darkness that drives all empires ... laying bare the grim, and high, cost of the British Empire for its former subjects. An essential read' Financial Times

In the eighteenth century, India's share of the world economy was as large as Europe's. By 1947, after two centuries of British rule, it had decreased six-fold. The Empire blew rebels from cannon, massacred unarmed protesters, entrenched institutionalised racism, and caused millions to die…


Book cover of Ashoka, The Visionary

Sylvia Vetta Author Of Sculpting the Elephant

From my list on India recovering its past.

Why am I passionate about this?

Thanks to access to a good community library, I developed an interest in history from the age of seven. My interest in India grew when I married Indian-born Atam Vetta. After teaching, I set up a business and was director of Oxford Antiques Centre. In 1998, while chair of the Thames Valley Art and Antique Dealers Association, I was invited to become the art and antiques writer for The Oxford Times. That was how my freelance writing career began but since 2016 I have concentrated on writing fiction and poetry but make occasional contributions to The Madras Courier.

Sylvia's book list on India recovering its past

Sylvia Vetta Why did Sylvia love this book?

To understand India it is important to know that it was the birthplace of four great religions, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. The Buddha was a Vedic teacher with a following in North East India. The emperor Ashoka was responsible for spreading the religion we know as Buddhism. Ashok Khanna’s account of Ashoka, the ruler of the Indian subcontinent for 37 years from 269 BCE traces the important influences Greek and Persian philosophy had on Indian society and the origins of Buddhism. Khanna describes Ashoka’s carved edicts on pillars and rocks extolling justice based on equal treatment for all. Ashoka is a much-needed example of good governance and Khanna’s account is assessable. You don’t need to know anything about Ashoka to read this book.  

Book cover of Sea of Poppies

Kendall A. Johnson Author Of The New Middle Kingdom: China and the Early American Romance of Free Trade

From my list on the fog of Opium Wars in US-China relations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scholar of literature, literary history, and American Studies based at the University of Hong Kong where I landed thanks to a Fulbright Scholarship in 2008. Prior to this I was very happily in Philadelphia, researching authors and artists who alluded to lucrative trade in the Far East when rendering scenes of the Far West premised on the promotion or the protest of continental Manifest Destiny. Archival materials at the Library Company and Swarthmore College inspired me to visit the places about which I was writing. Travelling to places that feature in my scholarly projects keeps me busy studying languages and humbly amazed by the enduring cultural varieties of our shared humanity.

Kendall's book list on the fog of Opium Wars in US-China relations

Kendall A. Johnson Why did Kendall love this book?

Sea of Poppies is the first of Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis Trilogy—an epic of global opium trade that features Zachary Reid, a mixed-race American whose story unfolds as it connects Baltimore to Bengal to Canton across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.  

Filled with heartbreak and humor the trilogy invokes Herman Melville’s Moby Dick as Ghosh revives the primary sources of the Old China Trade and brings them into refreshing literary life. 

Ghosh’s novel complements another (very different) gem of historically based literary fiction featuring American involvement in opium smuggling and the ensuing First Opium War: Timothy Mo’s Insular Possession

By Amitav Ghosh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

At the heart of this epic saga, set just before the Opium Wars, is an old slaving-ship, The Ibis. Its destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean, its crew a motley array of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts. In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a truly diverse cast of Indians and Westerners, from a bankrupt Raja to a widowed villager, from an evangelical English opium trader to a mulatto American freedman. As their old family ties are washed away they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais or ship-brothers. An…


Book cover of The Panchatantra

Sylvia Vetta Author Of Sculpting the Elephant

From my list on India recovering its past.

Why am I passionate about this?

Thanks to access to a good community library, I developed an interest in history from the age of seven. My interest in India grew when I married Indian-born Atam Vetta. After teaching, I set up a business and was director of Oxford Antiques Centre. In 1998, while chair of the Thames Valley Art and Antique Dealers Association, I was invited to become the art and antiques writer for The Oxford Times. That was how my freelance writing career began but since 2016 I have concentrated on writing fiction and poetry but make occasional contributions to The Madras Courier.

Sylvia's book list on India recovering its past

Sylvia Vetta Why did Sylvia love this book?

It is possibly the oldest surviving collection of 84 Indian fables, written around 200BC by Vishnu Sharma. He became a tutor to a king’s children. He engaged their interest by telling stories of animals with a moral message at end of each story rather like Aesop’s Fables. The animals are somewhat different. e.g The Monkey and the Crocodile, the Hare and Lion. Many elements of Rudyard Kipling’s children’s books such as the Just So Stories were inspired by The Panchatantra. There are of course Hindi editions available too.

By Pandit Vishnu Sharma, G.L. Chandiramani (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Panchatantra is a collection of folktales and fables that were believed to have been originally written in Sanskrit by Vishnu Sharma more than 2500 years ago. This collection of stories features animal characters which are stereotyped to associate certain qualities with them. The origins of the Panchatantra lie in a tale of its own, when a King approached a learned pandit to ask him to teach the important lessons of life to his ignorant and unwise sons. This learned scholar knew that the royal princes could not understand complex principles in an ordinary way. So, he devised a method…


Book cover of The Forest Beneath the Mountains

Anjum Hasan Author Of The Cosmopolitans

From my list on contemporary Indian novels you have never heard of.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started writing fiction and writing about fiction at about the same time. My novels and stories tend to be about solitary characters pulled into the maelstrom that is contemporary Indian urban life and trying to make sense of it. I’ve always believed that to be an effective observer of your society you need to stay in tune with what your peers are doing and the last two decades in which I’ve been writing and publishing have been some of the most exciting for Indian fiction in general.  

Anjum's book list on contemporary Indian novels you have never heard of

Anjum Hasan Why did Anjum love this book?

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. 

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…


Book cover of Teatime for the Firefly

Janet MacLeod Trotter Author Of The Emerald Affair

From my list on the British in India.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a historical novelist, my passion is world history and the story of my own family. Having survived the First World War, my Scottish grandfather went to India as a forester and my granny followed him out there; they married in Lahore. I was fascinated by their stories of trekking and camping in the remote Himalayas. They lived through momentous times: world war, Indian Independence and Partition. Grandfather Bob stayed on to work for the new country of Pakistan. Long after they’d died, I discovered their letters, diaries, and cine films from that era – a treasure-trove for a novelist! – which have helped enrich my novels set during the British Raj.

Janet's book list on the British in India

Janet MacLeod Trotter Why did Janet love this book?

Set in 1940s India in the lead up to Independence, the backdrop is the rarely written about North-East India. The protagonists; Layla, (well-educated and independently-minded) and Manik (a free-thinker with a sense of adventure) are an unusual couple for the core romance but his work takes them to the remote tea plantations of Assam. I have written about the tea gardens in my India Tea Series, but largely from a British and Anglo-Indian point of view. Patel’s vivid depiction of this way of life is informed by her own upbringing, as the daughter of tea planters. It’s rich in detail with wonderful descriptions of Assam and keen observations of the British managers and Indian workers. As it builds towards Partition, the drama and tension are brilliantly evoked through Layla’s eyes.

By Shona Patel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Teatime for the Firefly as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For fans of Alka Joshi’s The Henna Artist, comes a compelling love story set against a culture grounded in tradition, about to be changed forever in the onslaught of WWII.

My name is Layla and I was born under an unlucky star. For a young girl growing up in India, this is bad news. But everything began to change for me one spring day in 1943, when three unconnected incidents, like tiny droplets on a lily leaf, tipped and rolled into one. It was that tiny shift in the cosmos, I believe, that tipped us together—me and Manik Deb.

Layla…


Book cover of All the Gear, No Idea: A woman's solo motorcycle journey around the Indian subcontinent

Susie Kelly Author Of The Valley of Heaven and Hell: Cycling in the Shadow of Marie Antoinette

From my list on travel adventures on two wheels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer, living in southwest France since 1995, and previously in Kenya for 20 years. Travel has always been my passion. I’ve written about hiking across France in Best Foot Forward, touring the perimeter by camping car in Travels with Tinkerbelle, cycling through the Marne Valley in The Valley of Heaven and Hell, and a Kenyan safari in Safari Ants, Baggy Pants and ElephantsRecently, due to COVID and with an elderly dog that suffers from separation anxiety, I couldn't leave for any length of time; I satisfy my wanderlust by reading other people’s adventures. My taste is for tales that include plenty of humour, and I’ve selected five which I have particularly enjoyed.

Susie's book list on travel adventures on two wheels

Susie Kelly Why did Susie love this book?

India has always fascinated me, so I was intrigued to read this account of a 30-year-old woman riding 17,000 miles through the sub-continent, alone, on a motorbike. Never having previously ridden a motorbike, she takes a 3-day crash course on how to do so. What could possibly go wrong?

Nonchalantly tackling muddy jungles, deserts, and virtually impassable terrain, frequently breaking down, she muddles through with a mixture of ingenuity, optimism, and the never-failing help of the local people. 

A satisfyingly honest and self-deprecating account of a remarkable achievement by a woman who believed she could, and so she did.

By Michèle Harrison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All the Gear, No Idea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The author quits her high-flying job in London, orders a classic Indian Enfield Bullet motorbike and goes off for a year on a 17,000 mile circuit of India. She wants adventures, and as a solo traveller, has plenty of them. Follow her on her travels discovering an unknown world of motorbiking, wanderlust and Indian life. Humorous and well-written, this refreshingly honest book recounts her numerous mishaps, both on and off the bike. This story shows how a can-do attitude can compensate for inexperience and will appeal to those with a « just do it » attitude to life. And for…


Book cover of Freedom at Midnight

Ram Gidoomal Author Of My Silk Road: The Adventures & Struggles of a British Asian Refugee

From my list on refugees, inclusion, diversity and equality.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a refugee myself, I was attracted to read about the lives and experiences of other refugees, not merely those from my own community or background, but especially those from other backgrounds–which is probably reflected in the books that I’ve chosen for my list.

Ram's book list on refugees, inclusion, diversity and equality

Ram Gidoomal Why did Ram love this book?

One of the very first books I read about the Indian freedom struggle, I found its narrative flow easy and swift, veering from the exciting and thrilling to shedding light on so much that went on behind the scenes.

I appreciated for the first time what my own family must have experienced during the partition of the Indian subcontinent, which resulted in one of the largest migrations of people, with millions forced to leave their homes and many more losing their lives.

I’m pretty sure that you will find it gripping.

By Dominique Lapierre, Larry Collins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A detailed narrative of the thirteen months leading to the independence of the Indian subcontinent in February 1948, centering on major and minor figures and on the social and personal upheavals attendant on independence and partition.


Book cover of Indian Railways: The Weaving of a National Tapestry

Rajendra B. Aklekar Author Of India’s Railway Man: A Biography of E. Sreedharan

From my list on railways and trains.

Why am I passionate about this?

Rajendra B. Aklekar (born 1974) is an Indian journalist with over 25 years of experience and author of best-selling books on India’s railway history and heritage. He is also the biographer of India’s legendary railway engineer Dr. E Sreedharan. With museology from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharasj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai, Aklekar is also a Google-certified Digital Marketer. Aklekar, associated with the Indian Railway Fans’ Club Association, Indian Steam Railway Society, Rail Enthusiasts Society, has contributed significantly while setting up the Rail Heritage Gallery at the UNESCO-listed Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station, formerly Victoria Terminus building, Bombay, and documentation of heritage relics of India’s first railway.

Rajendra's book list on railways and trains

Rajendra B. Aklekar Why did Rajendra love this book?

This is another book on the same subject written by an eminent historian and economist. I am recommending this book because of the clear and categorical historical decade-wise demarcations since the inception of railways in India since the 1830s. The 20th century is summarised in one entire chapter, bringing a contemporary context. One of the best parts of the book is a timeline of the government policies and committees on Indian Railways in a tabular form that gives a quick summary of how the organization progressed in its different forms, including the seamless transfer from old colonial railways to national railways adding the current reforms and policies. Another key feature of the book is that it gives a timeline of the various railway companies and railway lines spread across India.

I am also proud to mention that the book liberally quotes my first book when it mentions India’s railway…

By Bibek Debroy, Sanjay Chadha, Vidya Krishnamurthi

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The fascinating story of the network that made modern India The railways brought modernity to India. Its vast network connected the far corners of the subcontinent, making travel, communication and commerce simpler than ever before. Even more importantly, the railways played a large part in the making of the nation: by connecting historically and geographically disparate regions and people, it forever changed the way Indians lived and thought, and eventually made a national identity possible. This engagingly written, anecdotally told history captures the immense power of a business behemoth as well as the romance of train travel; tracing the growth…


Book cover of The Raj at War: A People's History of India's Second World War

Lucy Noakes Author Of Dying for the Nation: Death, Grief and Bereavement in Second World War Britain

From my list on civilians in war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by the Second World War since I was a child. I grew up with tales of London and Coventry in wartime, stories of family separation, rationing, and air raids. The stories that really gripped me included the streams of refugees passing my grandmother’s house in the suburbs of Coventry after that city was bombed, and the night my aunts and (infant) father spent waiting to be rescued from a bombed house in south London. As a historian I wanted to know more about stories like this, and about the ways that wars shape lives, and my books have returned again and again to the civilian experience of war.

Lucy's book list on civilians in war

Lucy Noakes Why did Lucy love this book?

It is all too easy to forget that when Britain went to war in 1939, it did so as the world’s largest imperial power. Khan’s book is a rich social history of India at war, telling us the stories of not only the soldiers, but the business owners, the peasants, the refugees, and the political activists whose lives were shaped by war in the Indian subcontinent. The flawed political settlement that brought independence and partition to India and Pakistan was born out of the Raj’s experience of war, and this book gives voice to those who experienced this most turbulent time in the region’s recent history.

By Yasmin Khan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Second World War was not fought by Britain alone. India produced the largest volunteer army in world history: over 2 million men. But, until now, there has never been a comprehensive account of India's turbulent home front and the nexus between warfare and India's society.

At the heart of The Raj at War are the many lives and voices of ordinary Indian people. From the first Indian to win the Victoria Cross in the war to the three soldiers imprisoned as 'traitors to the Raj' who returned to a hero's welcome, from the nurses in Indian General Hospitals to…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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