Archana Pai Kulkarni, SheThePeople.TV Books Editor, writes on 50 best books by women authors from the year 2019, which need to be on your to-be-read list.

Fiction

1) The Testaments: The Sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This much-awaited, Booker Prize winner novel brings the iconic dystopian masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale, to a dramatic conclusion in this riveting sequel. More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results. As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.

2) Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evarist

Winner of the Booker Prize 2019, teeming with life and crackling with energy, Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years. Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible. The tales marry down-to-earth characters with engrossing story lines about identity.

3) Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

An extraordinary new novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Olive, Again follows the blunt, contradictory yet deeply loveable Olive Kitteridge as she grows older, navigating the second half of her life as she comes to terms with the changes – sometimes welcome, sometimes not – in her own existence and in those around her. Olive adjusts to her new life with her second husband, challenges her estranged son and his family to accept him, experiences loss and loneliness, witnesses the triumphs and heartbreaks of her friends and neighbours, and finally, opens herself to new lessons about life. Here’s a powerful story immersed in the nuances of human relationships.

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4) The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay

In the wake of her mother’s death, Shalini, a privileged, naive and restless young woman from Bangalore, sets out for a remote village in Kashmir. Certain that the loss of her mother is somehow connected to the decade-old disappearance of Bashir Ahmed, a charming Kashmiri salesman who frequented her childhood home, she is determined to track him down. But as soon as Shalini arrives, she is confronted with the region’s politics, and she finds herself forced to make a series of choices that could have dangerous repercussions. With rare acumen and evocative prose, the author gives a potent critique of Indian politics and class prejudice through the lens of a guileless outsider.

5) Prelude to a Riot: A Novel by Annie Zaidi

In a peaceful southern town, amidst lush spice plantations, trouble is brewing. In the town live three generations of two families, one Hindu and the other Muslim, whose lives will be changed forever by the coming violence. Quietly but surely, the spectre of religious intolerance is beginning to haunt the community in the guise of the Self-Respect Forum whose mission is to divide the town and destroy the delicate balance of respect and cooperation that has existed for hundreds of years. Told with brilliance, restraint and extraordinary power, Annie Zaidi’s book is destined to become a classic.

6) An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma

From the author of the Booker-shortlisted novel, The Fishermen, comes a profoundly humane epic love story. A young farmer named Chinonso prevents a woman from falling to her death. Bonded by this strange night on the bridge, he and Ndali fall in love, but it is a mismatch according to her family who reject him because of his lowly status. Set across Nigeria and Cyprus, the book written in the mythic style of the Igbo tradition, weaves a heart-wrenching tale about fate versus free will.

7) Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi

The story is set in the village of al-Awafi in Oman, where we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries Abdallah after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla who rejects all offers while waiting for her beloved, who has emigrated to Canada. These three women and their families witness Oman evolve from a traditional, slave-owning society slowly redefining itself after the colonial era, to the crossroads of its complex present. Elegantly structured and taut, Celestial Bodies is a coiled spring of a novel, telling of Oman’s coming-of-age through the prism of one family’s losses and loves.

8) Vetaal and Vikram: Riddles of the Undead by Gayathri Prabhu

‘This riddle can end in two ways: speech and defeat, or silence and death.’ Vetaal and Vikram is a playful retelling of one of India’s most celebrated cycles of stories. The narrative of King Vikram and the Vetaal is located within the Kathasaritsagara, an eleventh-century Sanskrit text. The Vetaal who is neither living nor dead is a consummate storyteller, and Vikram is a listener who can neither speak nor stay silent. Together they are destined to walk a labyrinth of stories in the course of a moonless night in a cremation ground. Fantastical and delightful, this retelling dissolves the lines between speaker and listener, desire and duty, life and death.

9) The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Danny Conroy grows up in the Dutch House, a lavish folly in small-town Pennsylvania taken on by his property developer father. Though his father is distant and his mother is absent, Danny has his beloved sister Maeve. Life is comfortable and coherent till one day their father brings Andrea home, and her advent sows the seed of the defining loss of Danny and Maeve’s lives. Told with Ann Patchett’s inimitable blend of wit and heartbreak, The Dutch House is a story of family, betrayal, love, responsibility and sacrifice; of the powerful bonds of place and time that magnetize and repel us for our whole lives, and the lives of those who survive us.

10) Normal People by Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the West of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation – awkward but electrifying – something life-changing begins. Normal People is a story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find they can’t.

11) Grand Union by Zadie Smith

Interleaving ten completely new and unpublished stories with some of her best-loved pieces from the New Yorker and elsewhere, Zadie Smith presents a sharply alert and slyly prescient collection about time and place, identity and rebirth, the persistent legacies that haunt our present selves and the uncanny futures that rush up to meet us. There is autofiction here, along with formal experimentation, dystopian sci-fi, surrealism, social satire, parable and a story from the point of view of God that reads like a droll reflection on creative restlessness. There are 19 stories here, most set in the US and many of which ruminate on the conditions and attitudes that will best inspire creativity.

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12) Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane

At forty, May Attaway is more at home with plants than people. Over the years, she’s turned inward, finding pleasure in language, her work as a gardener, and keeping her neighbours at arm’s length while keenly observing them. But when she is unexpectedly granted some leave from her job, May is inspired to reconnect with four once close friends. Ultimately, May learns that a best friend is someone who knows your story—and she inspires us all to master the art of visiting. Rules For Visiting is a woman’s exploration of friendship in the digital age.

13) The Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

In her return to fiction, the prolific Indian-American author, poet, and professor revisits the Ramayana from the perspective of Sita. A welcome Indian addition to the recent publishing trend where female authors (including Kamila Shamsie and Madeline Miller) have rewritten Greek myths, here, Sita is centred as a character a wife, daughter, mother alongside other women who were previously on the peripheries of the epic.

14) The Fate of Butterflies by Nayantara Sahgal

The new novel by the writer, journalist, and activist—who returned her Sahitya Akademi Award in 2015 in protest—speaks to the contemporary moment in India: a telling comment on what may happen when a country’s rulers attempt to wipe out sections of its history and marginalize a community. Writer, journalist, and activist, Nayantara Sahgal in this new novel shares her thoughts on what may happen if a country’s rulers try to wipe out selected portions of the country’s history and side-line a specific community.

15) A Gujarat Here, A Gujarat There by Krishna Sobti

A “powerful, majestic feminist novel of the aftermath of the Partition” from the canonical Hindi writer, A Gujarat Here, A Gujarat There opens in 1947 Delhi—a city overflowing with refugees. While young Krishna attempts to make a home for herself in the princely state of Sirohi, the opportunity to become a governess to the child Maharaja Tej Singh Bahadur presents itself. “How long will this idyll last?” the story asks.

16) Small Days & Nights by Tishani Doshi

Doshi’s last work, the poetry collection Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, was much loved by readers in India and elsewhere. The author returns to fiction with the story of “the ties we bind and the secrets we bury” and a woman “caught in a moment of transformation”—set on the coast of Madras. The novel is “luminous, funny, surprising and heartbreaking” all at once.

17) Magical Women by Sukanya Venkatraghavan (Editor)

A weaver is initiated into the ancient art of bringing a universe into existence. A demon hunter encounters an unlikely opponent. Four goddesses engage in a cosmic brawl. A graphic designer duels with a dark secret involving a mysterious tattoo. A defiant chudail makes a shocking announcement at a kitty party. A compelling collection of stories that speak of love, rage, rebellion, choices and chances, Magical Women brings together some of the strongest female voices in contemporary Indian writing. Combining astounding imagination with superlative craft, these tales will intrigue and delight readers in equal measure.

18) Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris

From the author of Chocolat, comes a fourth novel following the life of chocolatier Vianne Rocher, where the author revisits her heroine’s French village where a mysterious tattooist is getting under everyone’s skin. The novel shares much with the original in terms of theme and setting, and focuses on the conflicts within families. Vianne holds the secret as to why her 16-year-old daughter, Rosette, cannot speak and is tormented by the absence of her older daughter, Anouk, now living with her boyfriend in Paris. Harris writes sensitively about the precarious bond between mothers and children. Skilfully crafted and atmospheric, this return to Lansquenet sous Tannes finds well-loved characters vying with some new ones to find the answers to their most haunting questions.

19) The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi Laskar

When a woman―known only as Mother―moves her family from Atlanta to its wealthy suburbs, she discovers that neither the times nor the people have changed. Mother is met with the same questions: Where are you from? The American-born daughter of Bengali immigrants, she finds that her answer―Here―is never enough. Mother’s anger breaks through one morning, when, during a violent, police raid on her home, she refuses to be complacent. As she lies bleeding from a gunshot wound, thoughts race through her mind.

Devi S. Laskar’s debut novel grapples with the complexities of the second-generation American experience and what it means to be a woman of colour in today’s America.

20) City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

In her third full-length novel, Gilbert puts female desire quite literally centre stage. It is the summer of 1940. Nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris arrives in New York with her suitcase and sewing machine, exiled by her despairing parents. She soon finds gainful employment as the self-appointed seamstress at the Lily Playhouse, her unconventional Aunt Peg’s charmingly disreputable Manhattan revue theatre. There, Vivian realises that to live the life she wants, she must live many lives, ceaselessly and ingeniously making them new. But there are hard lessons to be learned, and bitterly regrettable mistakes to be made. The Eat, Pray, Love author’s romp through 1940s Manhattan is a glorious, multilayered celebration of womanhood.

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21) Inland by Téa Obreht

Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman awaiting the return of the men in her life, biding her time with her youngest son – who is convinced that a mysterious beast is stalking the land around their home – and her husband’s seventeen-year-old cousin, who communes with spirits. Lurie is a former outlaw and a man haunted by ghosts. He finds reprieve in an unexpected relationship that inspires a momentous expedition across the West. Mythical, lyrical, and sweeping in scope, Inland is grounded in true but little-known history Téa Obreht’s subverts and reimagines the myths of the American West, making them entirely – and unforgettably – her own.

22) Akin by Emma Donoghue

Noah Selvaggio is a retired chemistry professor and widower living on the Upper West Side, who is days away from his first visit back to Nice since he was a child. But he receives a call from social services: Noah is the closest available relative of an eleven-year-old great-nephew he’s never met, who urgently needs someone to look after him. Noah agrees to take Michael along on his trip, where the duo bicker about everything, but come to grasp the risks people in all eras have run for their loved ones. Written with tenderness, Akin is a funny, heart-wrenching tale of an old man and a boy, who start to write a new story together.

23) The Women at Hitler’s Table by Rosella Postorino (Author), Leah Janeczko (Translator)

East Prussia, 1943. Hitler hides away in the Wolfsshanze – his hidden headquarters. The tide is turning in the war and his enemies circle ever closer. Ten women are chosen to taste his food and protect him from poison. The author has crafted a novel around the life of fictional twenty-six-year-old Rosa who has lost everything to this war, whose parents are dead and whose husband is fighting on the front line. Alone and scared, she faces the SS with nothing but the knowledge every bite might be her last. Here’s a beautiful story of love, hunger, survival and remorse. Thought-provoking and disturbing.

24) The Angel’s Beauty Spots: Three Novellas by K. R. Meera

Award-winning Malayalam writer K. R. Meera’s new book is a collection of three acclaimed novellas— ‘Slowly Forgetting’, ‘The Deepest Blue’ and ‘The Angel’s Beauty Spots’. Translated by J. Devika and edited by Mini Krishnan, in these three stunningly original, lush and provocative novellas, award-winning writer K. R. Meera explores the tragedy, betrayal and violence that rise out of the dark heart of love. Esteemed as one of the country’s finest storytellers, K. R. Meera’s The Angel’s Beauty Spots: Three Novellas will serve to embellish her already considerable reputation as a writer of strikingly original fiction.

25) Bhaunri by Anukrti Upadhyay

Can too much love be dangerous? Bhaunri is still a child when she is married off as is the custom in her tribe of nomadic blacksmiths. When she is finally sent away to her husband’s home as a young woman, she finds herself drawn deeply and powerfully towards the gruff and handsome Bheema, who is far from the ideal husband. When he strays, Bhaunri’s love for him festers and grows into something dark and fearsome. Set in Rajasthan, this story of obsessive love and the destructive power of desire is half real and half fable, and announces the arrival of a powerful new literary talent.

Also by the author: Daura

26) I Have Become the Tide by Githa Hariharan

Hundreds of years ago, Chikka, son of a cattle Skinner, finds a home in Anandagrama, among people who believe everyone is equal. But the anandagrama movement against caste is torn apart. In the present day, Professor Krishna discovers that the saint-singer Kannada is none other than the son of Chikkiah, and he reconstructs many lives of resistance from his findings. Three Dalit students dream of a future that will let them and their families live with dignity. Three distinctive narratives intertwine past and present in compelling ways to raise an urgent voice against the cruelties of caste and other destructive forces. Deeply political, and tender, this is a powerful, beautifully imagined novel.

27) Aranyaka: Book of the Forest by Amruta Patil (Concept: Devdutt Patnaik)

Braiding the stories of three spirited rishikas—Katyayani the Large, Maitreyi the Fig and Gargi the Weaver, and told in Patil’s inimitable style, this book is about the great forests within us, and without. It is about food, feeding and love. From gender politics to appropriation of forest land, issues that have brought people out on India’s streets in recent times run through its page, while also harking back to the Vedic Age (1500-500 BC). Patil uses watercolour and soft pencils in Aranyaka to create a gentle on the eye, dark and dreamy effect. A feast for graphic novel fans.

28) 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elie Shafak

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019, this novel has an extraordinary cast of characters who capture the diversity of modern Turkey. In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila’s consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son . . . Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life – friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . .

29) Draupadi by Saiswaroopa Iyer

Being born a princess, and raised by a loving father and three doting brothers would make life seem like a bed of roses to any woman. Born out of the sacred fire, Draupadi is no ordinary woman, and her destiny cannot be to walk the beaten path. Witnessing estrangement and betrayal, dealing with complicated marital relationships, a meteoric rise and a fateful loss, humiliation unheard of, and a bloody war—her ordeal seemed never-ending. Yet she stands up to it all—never succumbing, never breaking. Told with great sensitivity and passion, this book brings alive a character of epic proportions—one that resonates with every reader across space and time.

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30) The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

From the author of the much-loved Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, chosen for Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club, comes this “delightful, moving and life-affirming” new novel about three sisters who have been instructed by their dying mother to visit the Golden Temple and carry out her last rites. This is your literary dose of laughter.

31) Exquisite Cadavers by Meena Kandasamy

Karim, a young film-maker, carries with him the starry-eyed dreams of the Arab Revolution. Maya carries her own pressing concerns: an errant father, an unstable job, a chain-smoking habit, a sudden pregnancy. When Karim’s brother disappears in Tunis, and Karim wants to go after him, Maya must choose between her partner and her home city, her future and her history . . . In conversation between forms, fictions and truths, Exquisite Cadavers is a story about a young couple navigating love in London, and a literary hall of mirrors about an author navigating the inspirations behind her work.

32) The Radiance of a Thousand Suns by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar

Niki’s determination to complete her dead father’s unfinished book, his life’s work, takes her from India to New York City where her pursuit of a mysterious immigrant woman turns into an obsession that begins to imperil her daughter, her marriage, and, eventually, Niki herself. When a blizzard blankets NYC, Niki finds herself on a path where the present and past collide violently. Propulsive and poetic, this elegant literary thriller melds the fervour of Punjab with the frenzy of New York, and explores the impossible choices women are forced to make in the face of violence, the ties that connect them across ages, and the secrets they store.

Poetry

33) Terrarium by Urvashi Bahuguna

Winner of the Emerging Poets Prize, this is a richly layered and deeply felt poetry debut, at the epicentre of this collection is our very own “bruised and bumpy earth,” our fragile planet. Deft at scene setting and a skilled storyteller, the poet writes the sort of family history that also manages to become a micro-history of places and things. Everything is examined through the lens of an extraordinary awareness and deep attention. The poet yokes together yokes together things not often imagined in proximity — love and mosquitoes. A direct but subtle vice that is necessary for these times when the world seems irredeemable.

34) Love Without a Story by Arundhathi Subramaniam

In this masterful work, one of the finest poets writing in India today asks questions about morality and integrity that many poets simply refuse to take on. Uninhibitedly sensual while still yearning for transcendence, here are poems that celebrate an expanding kinship: of passion and friendship, mythic quest and modern-day longing, in a world animated by dialogue and dissent, delirium and silence. At the heart of the collection is a deeper preoccupation, with those blurry places where humans might walk with gods, where the body might touch the beyond, where the enchanted might intersect effortlessly with the everyday. Where one stumbles upon what the poet simply calls ‘love without a story’.

35) Out of Syllabus: Poems by Sumana Roy

“Every relationship is a long-distance relationship,” we read in one of Roy’s intriguing new poems. One of the most original writers in Indian English today, whose writing easily slides out of the clutches of genres, this collection of poems brilliantly anatomizes those relationships, viewing them from every disciplinary perspective: chemistry, physics, biology, geography, history, botany—and finally art. Out of Syllabus The result is a dazzling dissection of love, longing, and loss in all their conflicting moods and moments. Roy’s images and metaphors are as enigmatic as they are precise. However private and personal her subjects, Roy maintains an aesthetic distance, wit and verbal control. A unique poetic experience.

Non-Fiction

36) She Said by Jodi Kantor

On 5 October 2017, the New York Times published an article by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey that helped change the world. Hollywood was talking as never before. For months, the journalists meticulously picked their way through a web of decades-old secret payouts and outmanoeuvred Harvey Weinstein, convincing some of the most famous women in the world – and some unknown ones – to go on the record. In She Said, Kantor and Twohey relive in real-time what it took to break the story. They describe the experiences of the women who spoke up – for the sake of other women, for future generations, and for themselves.

37) One Foot on the Ground: A Life Told Through the Body by Shanta Gokhale

In one of the finest and most unusual and extraordinary autobiographies written in contemporary India, Shanta Gokhale—writer, translator and one of India’s most illuminating cultural commentators—traces the arc of her life over eight decades through the progress of her body, as it grows, matures and begins to wind down. Starting with her birth in 1939, she recounts her childhood, youth and middle and old age in chapters built around the many elements of the physical self, including surviving cancer, and writing her second novel through the recovery. Told with effortless humour and candour, it is the story of a life full of happiness, heartbreak, wonder and acceptance.

38) Valmiki’s Ramayana by Arshia Sattar

Valmiki’s Ramayana, composed as early as 500 BCE, remains a story that speaks to every generation and continues to enthral millions of people in the Subcontinent and beyond. Apart from exploring the fundamental human question of how to be good, the Ramayana is also the story of a god who comes to earth to establish righteousness. The tension between Rama’s essentially divine nature and his all too human trials makes this one of the most compelling epics in world literature. Arshia Sattar’s reading of the text is sensitively interpretive, her retelling accurate, true to the spirit of the original text, and the language contemporary. A rewarding read.

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39) A Mouth Full of Blood by Toni Morrison

This vital non-fiction collection from one of the most celebrated and revered writers of our time is a collection of essays, speeches and meditations written by Toni Morrison. The writings interrogate the world that we live in, and discuss race, gender and globalisation. Spanning four decades, these essays, speeches and meditations interrogate the world around us, the sweep of American history and the current state of politics, the duty of the press and the role of the artist. Throughout, our search for truth, moral integrity and expertise is met by Toni Morrison with controlled anger, elegance and literary excellence.

40) The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

For the last twenty years, Melinda Gates has been on a mission to find solutions for people with the most urgent needs, wherever they live. Throughout this journey, one thing has become increasingly clear to her: If you want to lift a society up, you need to stop keeping women down. In this moving and compelling book, Melinda shares the stories of the inspiring people she’s met during her work and travels around the world and the lessons she’s learned from them. Writing with emotion, candour, and grace, she introduces us to remarkable women and shows the power of connecting with one another. When we lift others up, they lift us up, too.

41) My Seditious Heart by Arundhati Roy

Two decades. 20,000 pages. These collected non-fiction works span the writing space between Roy’s Booker-winner and her latest novel. In conversation with the themes and settings of both her novels, these essays form a “near-unbroken memoir” of her journey as “both a writer and a citizen, of both India and the world, from ‘The End of Imagination’, which begins this book, to ‘Azadi’, with which it ends.” A sure-shot classic and a collectible.

42) The Apology by Eve Ensler

Like millions of women, Eve Ensler has been waiting much of her lifetime for an apology. Sexually and physically abused by her father, Eve has struggled her whole life from this betrayal, longing for an honest reckoning from a man who is long dead. After years of work as an anti-violence activist, she decided she would wait no longer; an apology could be imagined, by her, for her, to her. The Apology, written by Eve from her father’s point of view in the words she longed to hear, attempts to transform the abuse she suffered with unflinching truthfulness, compassion and an expansive vision for the future.

43) Spring (Seasonal Quartet) by Ali Smith

Infectious in its energy and warmth, generous, hope-filled Smith’s book unites the past and present with a chorus of voices. It is an extraordinary embodiment of the ways in which storytelling connects us, expounding on the importance of hope to move us beyond the darkest of times. Spring weaves a story around the most pressing issues of our time, combining brainy playfulness with depth, and topicality with timelessness, while delivering an impassioned defence of human decency and art.

44) Incidental Inventions by Elena Ferrante Andrea (Author) Ucini (Illustrator)Ann Goldstein (Translator)

Elena Ferrante, the best-selling author of My Brilliant Friend was asked by The Guardian to pen a weekly column. For a full year, Elena wrote short pieces – a completely different process to writing a novel – based on questions she asked the editors at The Guardian to send her. The questions prompted Elena to write about mothers, friends, romance, movies, climate change and all manner of subjects with unsettling candour. A collection of these pieces, bound together complete with stunning illustrations by Andrea Ucini give a fantastic insight into both the life of the author and your own life.

45) No Regrets: The Guilt-Free Woman’s Guide to a Good Life by Kaveree Bamzai

This is not a self-help book. It’s a book that tells us what not to do, what to remember and what to forget. From being a mother to lessons learnt from our own mothers; managing money to marriage; coping with pain and anger to taking ownership of our health and growing old, the author tells us how to live a guilt-free life, with a little help from a host of highly accomplished women. With sparkling advice from Naina Lal Kidwai, Arianna Huffington, Sudha Murty, Smriti Irani, Twinkle Khanna and Sania Mirza, among others, No Regrets is the go-to book as we fumble and stumble through life.

46) We are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai

In her new book ‘We are Displaced’, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai talks about her experience of travelling across the world and meeting refugees in camps which makes her ponder her own displacement. Part memoir, part communal storytelling, Malala not only explores her own story of adjusting to a new life while longing for home, but she also shares the personal stories of some of the incredible girls she has met on her various journeys, “girls who have lost their community, relatives and often the only world they’ve ever known.”

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47) The Extraordinary Life and Death of Sunanda Pushkar by Sunanda Mehta

Sunanda Pushkar, businesswoman and wife of writer and politician Shashi Tharoor, was found dead in her hotel suite in New Delhi. Who really was Sunanda Pushkar? Was she a social climber hankering after power and fame? Or was she bold and unconventional? Was she a villain or a victim? In search of these answers, Sunanda Mehta, journalist and Pushkar’s former schoolmate, traces her subject’s life from her early days in cantonment towns, to her rise as a Dubai businesswoman, and finally her much-publicised years with Tharoor until her controversial death shook the nation.

48) Close to the Bone by Lisa Ray

How fortunate it is when life alters you without warning. One of India’s first supermodels. Actor. Cancer survivor. Mother of twins through surrogacy. Woman of no fixed address. This is the story of Lisa Ray. An unflinching, deeply moving account of her nomadic existence: her entry into the Indian entertainment industry at sixteen; her relationship with her Bengali father and Polish mother; life on the movie sets and her brush with the Oscars; her battle with eating disorders; being diagnosed with multiple myeloma at thirty-seven; It is also about Lisa’s quest for love. Funny, charming, and gut-wrenchingly honest all at once, this book is Lisa Ray’s brave and inspiring story of a life lived on her terms.

49) How to Get Published in India by Meghna Pant

As a new writer, the process of making your dream into a reality feels incredibly daunting given the lack of information out there. This book filled is with the advice the author wishes someone had given her when she was starting out. Including never-before collected essays from experts in their field including Jeffrey Archer, Shobhaa De, Ashwin Sanghi, Meena Kandasamy and many more, it busts myths and answers questions as varied as which publisher would be best for your work, where to find inspiration for a short story, how to manage your finances if you plan to write fulltime, how to write a cover letter and how to successfully promote your book.

50) Come Home to Yourself by Sadhvi Bhagavati Saraswati

There is no woo-woo here nor is there rabid propaganda or religious hard sell. Written in a beautiful, simple and conversational style, the author covers the most pertinent issues affecting all of us-how to discover inner peace, find love, let go of anger, know your purpose, and connect with God, regardless of your religion. Born and educated in the US, Sadhvi has a PhD in psychology. This book emerged from the satsangs held each evening after the sacred Ganga aarti at the Ashram where she resides. It will touch you deeply, and connect you to your true self, allowing you to become the best version you can be.

More enjoyable books

Rudrakshi Bhattacharjee, This is How it Took Place

Jane Borges, Bombay Balchao

Rehana Munir, Paper Moon

Nighat Gandhi, Waiting

Himanjali Sankar, The Lies We Tell

Jigna Vora, Behind Bars In Byculla: My Days in Prison

Susan Choi, Trust Exercise

Lisa Taddeo, Three Women

Miriam Toews, Women Talking

Julia Phillips, Disappearing Earth

Deborah Levy, The Man Who Saw Everything

Avni Doshi, Girl in White Cotton

Image Credit: freestocks.org on Unsplash

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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