Book, the best antidote

Book, the best antidote
Manu Pillai, PG Wodehouse for all times, Shreya Sen

This new feature introduced during quarantine times, brings to you some amazing reading lists specially compiled by authors. Going forward avid...

This new feature introduced during quarantine times, brings to you some amazing reading lists specially compiled by authors. Going forward avid readers will also get to share what is on their book shelf.The authors are going to recommend books that they have read and liked and will also tell you why. They will share books that they plan to read, new releases, old classics from every genre possible, opening an opportunity to discover new, unread books during the time and era when we are driven by what an algorithm on internet chooses for us.

Manu Pillai, historian, author who has written the much acclaimed and award winning book 'The Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore', 'Rebel Sultans: The Deccan from Khilji to Shivaji', and most recently 'The Courtesan, the Mahatma & the Italian Brahmin: Tales from Indian History', shares his list.

'Goat Days' by Benyamin: As many of us get restless during lockdown, the story of a man who survived a very different kind of isolation, as told in this extraordinary novel, may lend perspective.

'Milk Teeth' by Amrita Mahale, which is almost soothing in its focus on storytelling, and in recreating the world of 1990s Bombay, which feels like a lifetime ago compared to the world of today.

'Raya' by Srinivas Reddy, an excellent biography of Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara, because it is always fascinating to read about Indian monarchs in layered, well-written books.

Mathangi Subramanian's 'A People's History of Heaven' set in a Bengaluru slum in which she tells the stories of several compelling characters, without succumbing to sentimentalism, pity, or in anyway taking away their individuality.

'Anything' by PG Wodehouse, because laughter is the best antidote to strange, unfamiliar feelings in strange, unfamiliar times.

And I am just about to start Gitanjali Kolanad's 'Girl Made of Gold'.

Author Shreya Sen Handley is known to be a strong emerging voice for women. She penned the award winning book 'Memoirs of My Body. Her recently released book is 'Strange', a collection of twisted short stories, which the legendary Ruskin Bond has described as "masterful". She is also now the only Indian woman writer to have written an international opera. It is a Welsh National Opera production which will be staged at six of the biggest theatres in the UK in October and November 2020.

She shares her recommendations

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman: wonderfully well-written, touching, funny, gentle, identifiable, and dark at the same time. Never lecturing or pretentious, and ending in hope, so needed at this time!

My Sister the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite: a well-written, eventful, darkly funny book, because we need more such books that are good reads without a smidgeon of pretension.

The Corfu Trilogy, Gerald Durrell: which I'm reading with my ten and eleven-year-old children, a boy and a girl. These stories are lovely, funny and big-hearted. And so full of light it is always a delight to return to. Exactly what we need now and perfect for reading as a family.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows- I read it on holiday in India recently and loved it. It sucked me into its world and I found myself in war-time Guernsey much of the time I read it. It was warm and funny and uplifting and much better than its movie.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee: a book that means the world to me. It is so beautiful and moving, gently funny and relatable, and yet sadly reflective of our messed-up world, that I have been waiting to introduce this to my children, and now is the time.

She says she plans to read

The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel: one of my favourite authors, so not only do I want to read this new one, I'd like to revisit the whole trilogy while we have the time, because rarely has a character gripped me as much as her depiction of Thomas Cromwell. And no book on finishing (in recent years) has left me as bereft as Wolf Hall, because I could have stayed within its pages forever.

Silver Sparrow, Tayari Jones, because I enjoyed 'An American Marriage'; her Women's Prize for Fiction winning book, which came just before this one, and remains on my mind. It was beautifully-written with characters that were by no means perfect but easy to take to.

Indira, Devapriya Roy &PriyaKurian, because Devapriya's way with words will bring Indira's story alive to my ten-year-old daughter, who half-English as she is, lives far away from her Indian heritage and role models of the same hue.

The Gurkha's Daughter, Prajwal Parajuly, because now is exactly the right time for a book of arresting short stories with sharply etched characters, and recently published in French (though I will read it in its original English!)

The Secret Commonwealth, Philip Pullman, I have loved every book of Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' series and the first book of the prequels, 'La Belle Sauvage', was fantastic too. No other YA author does thinking, even philosophical, yet fabulously dramatic and inventive adventures like he does. 'La Belle Sauvage' was a great read by a master storyteller, and I know 'The Secret Commonwealth', second amongst the 'Book of Dust' prequels, will be the same.

Good Omens, Neil Gaiman (and Terry Pratchett too), because he's always so much fun and so very clever with it; makes you think while you are laughing out loud, or being carried along on the adventure. But I haven't read this one, only watched the recent BBC series which we adored, and now looking forward to starting the book (which we bought immediately).

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