Happy New Year! Sharing list of best books of 2019 for you to explore.
Another year just passed by and it is time to share my best reads of the year. I must admit I read far less this year. It seems the total number of books I read in a year may keep going down as I am focusing on reading some scriptures. Indian scriptures are not just huge but layered so much that you need to spend a lot of time and effort to understand them. Not to undermine the fact that not many teachers are available to help you read them.
As I embark on this path, the normal trade books I read is bound to go down. But hopefully, I will be able to share some of my learnings from these readings with you. I did a beginning this year with my reading of Goswami Tulsidas’s Ramcharit Manas. I was amazed at the number of lessons it had and the ease with which I could read it. Believe me, once you read the original, you would not need to read any of the million interpretations.
I also read Devi Mahatmay – the original text in Sanskrit with the help of a few commentaries on it. The best one that helped me to understand it in a structured way is this book by Devdatt Kali. It was the toughest read of this year but the most satisfying too. I ended up taking a beginner’s workshop on this text.
It has a very beautiful commentary on Shakta texts including the Devi Mahatmay and Devi Bhagwat. This book was in my library for a good 10 years now, but I guess this was the right time to read it. Read my review here.
Right now I am reading Devi Bhagwat Puran, but it would be a good 2-year project to read it with everything else on my plate.
Best Books I Read in 2019 – Fiction & Non-Fiction
Moving on to the regular year beginning book list.
Best Books of 2019 – Non-fiction
Non-fiction is my genre. I love reading almost all genres in this. This is also a genre that gets deeper and deeper as you keep reading, as you age and as you understand the world from different dimensions. Here are some of my recommendations from all that I read this year in non-fiction.
A beautifully written biography of Srila Prabhupad, the founder of ISKCON. While you get introduced to the incredible journey of a Swami in the faraway land with little support, you also admire the writer’s craft in putting it together so beautifully. Do read it to know what a single man can create in one lifetime. Read my review here.
This is a book at the edge of science and existence. It lets you zoom in to the world beyond the microscopic world, and zoom out to the world beyond the universe as we know. It makes you realize the limits of what we can know. To me, it brought back to the many of the concepts in my religion that says exactly the same. Do read. Read my review here.
This well-written book was my introduction to the world of Antarctica, and especially the research that is going on there. Again, the book takes you from past to future, from the microscopic world to astronomical all the while introducing you to the cold dry land Antarctica is. Read my review here.
Ponds are Still Relevant or Aaj Bhi Khare Hain Talab by Anupam Mishra
This is a book that everyone in India and the world needs to read if we are serious about ensuring that the next world war is not fought for water. It is a modern Puran written on water management with deep cultural roots it has in India. Must Read. Read my review here.
Dip into the old-world charm of a generation that saw the Independence Day, their need to be a part of the elite western world but at the same time holding the Indian values tightly at home. The highlight of this book is its fluid language and the personal story of the author. Read my review here.
This book opens up a world to be explored through the lens of nature in Indian culture. It takes you to various rituals that involve nature. It takes you through descriptions of nature in different scriptures. I would say it opens up a window for you and rest is up to you to explore. Read my review here.
Wonder Words by Rituparna Sarkar
This little illustrated book is a delight to read. Words and their cultural nuances that are so difficult to translate from around the world. A fun yet insightful read. Read my review here.
Kumbha – The traditionally modern Mela by Nityananda Misra
This was my companion on my journey to Kumbh Mela. It gives you a perspective on the history of Kumbh Mela, its logistics, its scale, its management, and its practices. Do read it before you visit the Kumbh Mela anytime in your life, you will enjoy it more. Read my review here.
This debut satire by Saket, who I follow on twitter for his Hindi and his satire is a good beginning. I hope the author builds on his strengths and gives us many more such books. Read my review here.
Best books of 2019 – Fiction
I read a lot less fiction this year. I hope to correct that in the coming year as reading fiction is far easier and more entertaining than reading non-fiction, that literally consumes you.
Aavarana – The Veil by S. L. Bhyrappa – a Kannada Classic
This book originally written in Kannada is available in almost all Indian languages and English. I picked up the Hindi version but I am told the Marathi one is the best translation. A must-read to understand how history continues to live inside us and will come back to haunt us at some point in time. Read my review here. Buy this book on Amazon in English Hindi and Marathi.
This little novella was probably my most enjoyable read, a book that takes you to the hinterlands of India and introduces you to the feminism the way it lives there. A very well written book. Read my review here.
I have always enjoyed reading Vishwas. With this book, he takes you to a science-fiction-like world and tries to solve problems through artificial intelligence that is rooted in Indian history. Read my review here.
Again, Manjul is a favorite author. She does her research well and has a way with the words. In this book, she recreates the Punjab of 5 rivers for you, she takes you through the ecstasies and pains of the lead characters while giving the nuances that the new age reader is looking for. Love stories are always endearing to read. Read my review here.
It’s an old classic that you enjoy both for the period setting, the language and the art of storytelling. Read my review here.
Last year I wanted to write a few listicles on some of the genres that I have explored a bit more than the others. However, I managed to do just one in the series: Best Self Help Books To Read.
Why don’t you tell me what would you like me to do a listicle on?
Tell me what were your best books of 2019 & what do you plan to read in 2020!