The most recommended books on India

Who picked these books? Meet our 444 experts.

444 authors created a book list connected to India, and here are their favorite India books.
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What type of India book?


Book cover of The Home and the World

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Author Of Independence

From my list on the many mysteries of India.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer and a professor, I love sharing knowledge of my birth country (India) and the experiences of Indian immigrants in America. My first book, Arranged Marriage, is about the transformed lives of immigrant women and won an American Book Award. Mistress of Spices is about a spice-shop owner who knows magic, was a national bestseller, and became a film. One Amazing Thing is a multicultural novel about nine people trapped by an earthquake, was a Citywide Read in over 25 US cities. Recently, fascinated by the richness of Indian history, I have delved into it in novels like The Last Queen, set in the 1800s, and Independence, set in the 1940s. 

Chitra's book list on the many mysteries of India

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Why did Chitra love this book?

Tagore’s novel, though set in the same time period as Forster’s, invited me into a very different India—the interior of a great, mysterious mansion and the minds and hearts of the women who live there, especially Bimala, the heroine. It helped me understand the freedom movement that was taking shape against the British, the desire of women to be part of this adventure, and the corruption and greed that crept in among the patriots. It’s a coming-of-age story and a love story, too.  

By Rabindranath Tagore, William Radice (editor), Surendranath Tagore (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set on a Bengali noble's estate in 1908, this is both a love story and a novel of political awakening. The central character, Bimala, is torn between the duties owed to her husband, Nikhil, and the demands made on her by the radical leader, Sandip. Her attempts to resolve the irreconciliable pressures of the home and world reflect the conflict in India itself, and the tragic outcome foreshadows the unrest that accompanied Partition in 1947.

Book cover of Even Now

Steven Nightingale Author Of The Hot Climate of Promises and Grace: 64 Stories

From my list on by or about world-changing women.

Why am I passionate about this?

The first person I ever trusted in the world was a high-school English teacher, a woman named Margaret Muth. She plucked me out of a trash-can, literally and figuratively. When I was seventeen years old, she told me: “Books will teach you. They will help you. Choose books the way you choose the risks you take in life: do it patiently, thoughtfully. Then give yourself to them with a whole heart. This is how you learn.” This is one sentence, from one teacher, given to a teenager of decidedly crude and primitive material—one sentence that changed his whole life for the better. Bless her. 

Steven's book list on by or about world-changing women

Steven Nightingale Why did Steven love this book?

This rare book is a collaboration between Ms. Sabella, an artist, and Rosemerry Trommer, a poet. A series of drawings, all distinct and all of three lines only, are given corresponding three-line poems, and the result is enlivening, mischievous, moving, full of insight and subtlety, and graced with declarations of love and startling bolts of beauty. It’s a short book and it’s a most excellent companion and a gentle powerhouse.

By Jill Sabella, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Poetry. Art. Illustrated by Jill Sabella. EVEN NOW pares Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer's expansive work down to three lines, each paired with a spare 'japanese-style' brush-stroke drawings by artist Jill Sabella. The image-poem pairs float on the page and evoke fundamental thoughts, feelings of long ago, bonfires burning out of control, tough hope, and the possibility of Spring.

"I like this book a lot, EVEN NOW, by Rosemerry Trommer & Jill Sabella. It shows some of their wonderful talent. And the title- poem brings to mind a Rumi translation that I feel is of such worth it may someday appear in…

Book cover of Masked: The Life of Anna Leonowens, Schoolmistress at the Court of Siam

Wendy Bashant Author Of The Same Bright Moon: Teaching China's New Generation During Covid

From my list on teaching abroad.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a teacher for over 30 years and a traveler for longer. As a child, I lived in Germany and Japan. When I grew up, I continued to travel, teaching and living in Thailand, London, and China. I’ve written book chapters, poetry, travel pieces, and won a number of writing prizes: the 2023 New York Book Festival prize and a finalist for both the Peter Taylor Prize for Literature and the Gival Press Novel Award. A graduate of Middlebury College (BA) and University of Rochester (PhD), I now live in San Diego with my husband and two cats, teach adult literacy, and work as a volunteer at the San Diego Zoo.

Wendy's book list on teaching abroad

Wendy Bashant Why did Wendy love this book?

Perhaps the most famous teacher abroad is Anna Leonowens, who was immortalized in the musical The King and I. A lowly Victorian woman single-handedly reshapes the history of Thailand. If you want to read that story you can read Margaret Landon’s Anna and the King of Siam.

Far more interesting is Anna’s true story: a con artist, who lies about everything that happened to her. Habegger’s biography Masked sorts through the lies and fiction. He offers a complicated narrative of a biracial woman who told exaggerated tales of enslavement, romance, and her imagined role in democratizing Thailand. Her life becomes one of fancy and self-invention. Both sadly are traps too often seen in myths crafted by self-absorbed travelers living abroad.

By Alfred Habegger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A brave British widow goes to Siam and-by dint of her principled and indomitable character-inspires that despotic nation to abolish slavery and absolute rule: this appealing legend first took shape after the Civil War when Anna Leonowens came to America from Bangkok and succeeded in becoming a celebrity author and lecturer. Three decades after her death, in the 1940s and 1950s, the story would be transformed into a powerful Western myth by Margaret Landon's best-selling book Anna and the King of Siam and Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical The King and I.

But who was Leonowens and why did her story…

Book cover of Take a Chance on Me

Saz Vora Author Of My Heart Sings Your Song

From my list on Asian and South Asian cultures.

Why am I passionate about this?

My debut duet came out of necessity to handle the grief of losing our first child almost thirty years ago. As part of my writing journey, I searched for stories by people like me, migrants who draw on their upbringing and living with their heritage in their adopted country. One thing I came across was the use of the language, the food, and the many family gatherings and music. I enjoyed reading of people from all communities and liked exploring new cultures and these books do just that for me. They take me to families who embrace the joy of their life in a foreign land.

Saz's book list on Asian and South Asian cultures

Saz Vora Why did Saz love this book?

Bhog’s Sehgal saga takes you to the world of India’s mega-rich. Kabier Sehgal returns to India to take over the running of Sehgal Systems from his grandfather, Janak Sehgal. Janak is a loveable grandfather figure, who keeps a close eye on his grandchildren and is a mentor to many of their friends too. Keya Karia is one of the trio known as Janak’s Angels, the other being Sheena Sehgal and Raashi Dewan. In this enemy-to-lover romance, Kabier suspects Keya of selling company secrets, but their instant chemistry plays havoc with their lives. As Sheena’s wedding nears, they admit their feelings. Bhog’s books take you to the world of found families and the joy of lifelong friendships and to the world of crazy rich South Asians.

By Sapna Bhog,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Take a Chance on Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A must reader for all the romantic people out there." - Amazon Reader

Enter a world of glamour, wealth and beautiful people. Enter the world of the Sehgals!

He made a mistake and now he will pay the price for it...with his heart.
KABIER SEHGAL, scion of the Sehgal empire, has returned to India to take over the helm of his companies from his grandfather. His first mission is to find out who is selling his company's secrets. When the suspicion falls on KEYA KARIA, he decides to work closely with her to expose her fraud. He accuses her of…

Book cover of Maria Murder and Suicide

Martin Daly Author Of Killing the Competition: Economic Inequality and Homicide

From my list on why people sometimes kill one another.

Why am I passionate about this?

When my late wife Margo Wilson suggested, over 40 years ago, that we should study homicides for what they might reveal about human motives and emotions, her idea seemed zany. But when we plunged into police investigative files and homicide databases, we quickly realized that we had struck gold, and homicide research became our passion. Our innovation was to approach the topic like epidemiologists, asking who is likely to kill whom and identifying the risk factors that are peculiar to particular victim-killer relationships. What do people really care about? Surveys and interviews elicit cheap talk; killing someone is drastic action.  

Martin's book list on why people sometimes kill one another

Martin Daly Why did Martin love this book?

People share a complex core of humanity that transcends cultural differences. Rather than being incomprehensibly strange, the passions that move people in "exotic" societies are all too familiar. Compendia of homicide cases in tribal societies that are in many ways different from the one we inhabit support this claim, and my 5th pick is a particularly readable example. Anthropologist Verrier Elwin amassed court records on 107 homicides among the "Bison-Horn Maria" of central India in the first half of the 20th century. The Maria then lived as slash-and-burn horticulturalists and part-time hunter-gatherers, and were, like other "tribals," left to their own devices by the British Raj unless a violent death provoked state intervention. The killings described here are tragic, and the protagonists, though sparsely introduced, fully human.     

By Verrier Elwin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After providing a brief sketch of Maria life and custom, Elwin goes on to examine the records of one hundred cases of murder and fifty cases of suicide, and finally makes valuable suggestions for improving the treatment of aboriginal in jail. The commonest motives for crime among the Bison-horn Maria were found to be sexual jealousy and resentment or shame caused by public rebuke; fatigue and the use of alcohol were also found to be factors.

Book cover of Analog/Virtual: And Other Simulations of Our Future

Samit Basu Author Of The City Inside

From my list on real-world cities in SF and fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing and publishing novels across speculative genres for almost two decades now. In my most recent book, The City Inside, the city of Delhi was perhaps the second most important character, and it was quite a struggle attempting to capture its challenges and delights, its people across its many divides, and the experience of living in this constantly turbulent megapolis. So I’ve spent the last few years thinking a lot about reimagining real megacities, capturing their essences without exotifying or demonising them, and about where the borders of speculation and reality lie in a world where it’s already difficult to trust any single point of view or even source of data.

Samit's book list on real-world cities in SF and fantasy

Samit Basu Why did Samit love this book?

Bangalore, or Bengaluru, is a city I’m very familiar with in real life, and Lavanya Lakshminarayan’s Analog/Virtual, to be published in the West next year by Rebellion as The Ten-Percent Thief, does a splendid job of moving it to the future, using an intricately interconnected mosaic structure to take a wide-ranging look across the social and technological divides that present-day India will carry into the future, giving her readers bleakness, clarity, wonder, humour, and hope as she tells the multifaceted story of a revolution. Analog/Virtual was published in India the same year as Chosen Spirits (the Indian edition of The City Inside), and it was personally fascinating to me to see how similarly and differently we approached present-day social and political concerns in our future-real cities. Definitely a book (along with SB Divya’s Machinehood) that would have deeply influenced mine if I’d read it before writing.

By Lavanya Lakshminarayan,

Why should I read it?

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

Book cover of The Divide: Global Inequality from Conquest to Free Markets

Francis J. Teal Author Of The Poor and the Plutocrats

From my list on inequality and the disagreements over the cause.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked on the problems of poverty, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, for much of my professional life. I worked at the Centre for the Study of African Economies, which is part of the Department of Economics at Oxford University, from 1991 until my retirement in 2012. I continue to work both with the Centre and the Department as a Managing Editor of Oxford Economic Papers and Chief Editor of the Journal of African Economies. My recent book The Poor and the Plutocrats grew out of this background where I wanted to understand the links between very poor countries and those of much richer ones.

Francis' book list on inequality and the disagreements over the cause

Francis J. Teal Why did Francis love this book?

The divide here is not within a country but across countries, in particular between rich and poor countries, which are often referred to as ‘The Global South’.

Hickel argues that the activities by those in rich countries designed to ‘help’ poorer countries have exactly the opposite of their claimed effect. Rather than being the mechanism by which poverty is alleviated the policies they advocate for these poor countries are really the causes of their continuing poverty.

He writes: "Today British apologists defend colonialism in India and interventions in China on the basis that it brought ‘development’ to these regions. But the evidence we have suggests exactly the opposite story. It was the colonial period that forced market integration that inaugurated the ‘development gap’ between Britain and Asia."

By Jason Hickel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

More than four billion people-some 60 percent of humanity-live in debilitating poverty, on less than $5 per day. The standard narrative tells us this crisis is a natural phenomenon, having to do with things like climate and geography and culture. It tells us that all we have to do is give a bit of aid here and there to help poor countries up the development ladder. It insists that if poor countries would only adopt the right institutions and economic policies, they could overcome their disadvantages and join the ranks of the rich world.

Anthropologist Jason Hickel argues that this…

Book cover of Indian Cooking

Frances Kuffel Author Of Passing for Thin: Losing Half My Weight and Finding My Self

From my list on cookbooks for weight loss and maintenance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love to cook and it’s difficult to find something beyond chicken and salad when you’re trying to lose weight.  Over the years I’ve assembled a cookbook library that covers many topics (interested in how the Georgians ate green beans? I can help you out!), many of them as off-topic from weight-loss as my cookie cookbook collection. But I still return to what I call “abstinent” favorites, simply because they are so tasty.

Frances' book list on cookbooks for weight loss and maintenance

Frances Kuffel Why did Frances love this book?

If you discount Northern Europe and North America, it’s amazing that most of the world has such clean food. I love Indian food and Madhur Jaffrey knows how to make it accessible and easy for the rest of us.  You’ll find dishes here that are not part of your local Indian spot: Dry Moong Dal, Goan-style Hot and Spicy Pork, Cold Yogurt Soup with Mint.

By Madhur Jaffrey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Chef magazine called this book�s author �the best-known ambassador of Indian food in the United States� . . . and the Boston Herald referred to her as �the renowned author and actress [who] teaches home cooks about the sophistication and infinite diversity of Indian fare.� The New York Times described her simply and succinctly as �the Indian cuisine authority.� For many years a best-selling cookbook, Madhur Jaffrey�s seminal title on Indian cuisine now has been totally revised, redesigned, enlarged, and enhanced with 70 brand-new full-color photos. With chapters on meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables, as well as pulses, relishes, chutneys,…

Book cover of When She Comes Back

Alle C. Hall Author Of As Far as You Can Go Before You Have to Come Back

From my list on girls with traumatic backgrounds.

Why am I passionate about this?

Alle C. Hall lived in Asia, traveled there extensively, and speaks what she calls, “clunky Japanese.” She lives in Seattle with a family whose love astounds her. She is proud of a note from The Kavanagh Sisters, Joyce, June, and Paula, founders of Ireland’s Count Me In! Survivors of Sexual Abuse Standing Together for Change, who write: “Alle may never know how many people she will help with this novel. Her ability to portray the hidden damage of the crime of sexual abuse shows that every decision a survivor makes is born out of deep self-hatred. Her storytelling is a frontal attack on those lies.”

Alle's book list on girls with traumatic backgrounds

Alle C. Hall Why did Alle love this book?

This memoir is not merely the tale of a woman—married, a mother—who ditches her family to follow the abusive guru, the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. That alone would have made for quite the saga. Instead, that woman’s daughter tells her own story, the one about the child abandoned again and again, as her mother can’t find the whatever-it-takes to leave the cult behind her. Ronit Plank writes without an ounce of self-pity. She lets the data speak for itself. 

Plant also goes into her relationship with her father, who played such a critical role in the neglect, showing the very real effect on a child of emotional abuse through negligence.

As a trauma survivor, I didn’t find the memoir triggering. Plank hits a great balance between necessary detail and consideration for her reader.

By Ronit Plank,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When She Comes Back as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Abandoned By Her Mother

Ronit was six years old when her mother left her and her four year old sister for India to follow a cult guru. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose commune was responsible for the largest biological attack on U.S. soil, preached that children were hindrances and encouraged sterilizations among his followers. Luckily Ronit's father, who'd left the family the previous year, stepped up and brought the girls to live with him first in Newark, New Jersey, and later in Flushing, Queens. On the surface, his nurturing was the balm Ronit sought, but she soon paid a second emotional…

Book cover of A Simple Path

Divneet Kaur Lall Author Of Mastering Creation Using the Law of Unification: How To Create New Creations For A New World

From my list on living a life of purpose.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an author, speaker, and consciousness expert. I have been studying spiritual texts and practicing meditation techniques since I was a child. Affinity for spiritual texts developed in me at an early age that helped me gain spiritual knowledge. In addition, it brought with it an unquenchable desire to know the truth of creation. As a result, I discovered a new law called: Law of Unification that can be used by anyone to create a conscious life of meaning and purpose. Let's share it with the world and make lives better.

Divneet's book list on living a life of purpose

Divneet Kaur Lall Why did Divneet love this book?

The book is easy to read and features Mother Teresa’s thoughts and words along with the thoughts of the members of Missionaries of Charity, the order established by Mother Teresa in India. Mother Teresa’s life philosophy and purpose were simple, yet powerful - loving and serving each other. It is amazing to see how a simple life lived with purpose can perform great deeds in the world and become a source of inspiration to all.

By Mother Teresa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In A Simple Path, Saint Teresa, senior members of the Missionaries of Charity and volunteers at their homes around the world offer their advice and long experience of how we can practise a fuller love for each other, help those less fortunate than ourselves and find peace in doing so. They discuss such fundamental issues as happiness, fear, compassion, the family and death - all themes of direct relevance to those seeking the deeper meaning of life today.

This inspiring work is a unique spiritual guide, for Catholics and non-Catholics alike: full of wisdom and hope, from the one person…