12 Books that will inspire you to visit India
Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre
A well research account of the end of the British rule in the subcontinent and the partition of British India into independent India and Pakistan in 1947 and 1948. The book begins with the appointment of the last Viceroy of India: Lord Mountbatten and finishes with passing and funeral of Mahatma Gandhi.
India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha
A comprehensive modern history of India after it gained independence from the British Empire on 15 August 1947. Good choice for anyone who wants to know more about one of the world’s largest and most diverse nations.
Empire of the Soul by Paul William Roberts
In this travel book Roberts recounts several journeys he made to India during the seventies and eighties, his growing understanding of the country, its people and diversity.
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Partly an autobiography, partly a fiction novel, Shantaram tells an entertaining story of a former heroin addict and convicted bank robber who escapes an Australian prison and flees to India where he becomes a resident doctor in one of Mumbai largest illegal slums.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
An award winning novel by a young Indian journalist. It is a story of an extraordinary man, Balaram Halwai, a son of a rickshaw puller, born in the dark heart of India, who does not agree for his life to be determined by the caste from which he comes from. Through Blaram’s tale we see modern India as a country of many contradictions, struggling with poverty and torn between traditional caste system and the new globalized world.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
The Pulitzer Prize winner Kathrine Boo describes life of the poor in Annawadi, one of Mumbai’s slums located near the modern international airport. The book follows the lives and struggles of several Annawadi residents: a garbage collector, college student and a “slumlady.”
Eat Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
A bestseller travel memoir by American author Elizabeth Gilbert, who after her divorce and unsuccessful rebound relationship decides to spend a year traveling in Italy, India and Indonesia.
The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love
A true story about PK, a young boy, from a poor, untouchable family in a small village in eastern India. An astrologer foretold that PK will marry a foreign woman. Many years later he meets Lotta, a Swedish girl who was traveling through India with her friends. When Lotta returns home, PK remembering the prophecy, buys an old bike and sets out on a 7000 km trip to reunite with his love.
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
One of the longest novels ever published in a single volume, A Suitable Boy is set in a newly independent India and follows over a period of 18 months the lives of four large families intertwined by marriage and friendship. The story focuses on Mrs. Rupa Mehra’s effort to find a husband for her young daughter Lata.
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
This 1922 novel tells a story of Siddhartha, a son of a wealthy Indian Brahmin, who in search for enlightenment decides to abandon his privileged life and family.
Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India by William Dalrymple
Collection of stories about the spiritual lives of nine very different people from a Buddhist monk, to Jain nun and prison warder. All these characters follow rituals of a different religions in present day India.
A Search in Secret India by Paul Brunton
A 1934 book by a British theosophist and spiritualist, about his journey around India in search for spiritual Master. Initially skeptical Brunton refuses to accept any of the Gurus he encounters until he meets the most famous sage of the twentieth century Sri Ramana Maharshi.