India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont
We, at India Currents, have put together a list of books for summer time reading! From fiction to non-fiction, we have a range of titles to choose from.
Recommendations from Vandana Kumar, Publisher
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born from an Indian nun and a British surgeon. Recently orphaned because of their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, the two are brought together through a shared passion for medicine.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ifemelu and Obinze were in love in Nigeria, but things changed when Ifemelu travelled to the U.S. Obinze planned on going with her, but instead finds himself in London as an undocumented immigrant. After fifteen years, they end up reunited again in Nigeria and reignite their love for each other and their country.
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
A surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Atul Gawande explores the realities of old age in modern America. Many of Gawande’s previous books focuses on topics such as these and how they relate to doctors and their successes or failures.
Recommendations from Nirupama Vaidhyanathan, Managing Editor
Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag
Translated from Kannada into English by Srinath Perur, this novel focuses on the human interactions within a family. The outside world is evoked but rarely in this tale set within a home. Read review here.
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
This book is based on a true story. It chronicles the lives of Salva, a young refugee in Sudan who is searching for his family and that of a young girl Nya who walks a long way every single day in search of water. Brutal conflict is around them and the ways in which their lives intersect is both moving and unforgettable.
A must-read for adults and teenagers – will be especially suitable for teens fifteen and above!
An Osaka family is forced to confront a change in it’s fortunes as the country modernizes, and old money and prestige no longer hold sway.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The author looks at the impact of the Second World War on life in a French town and follows the trajectory taken by two sisters as they confront difficult choices.
Both this book and the book The Makioka Sisters have strong female characters who react to far reaching societal changes in different ways.
Recommendations from Jaya Padmanabhan, Columnist
Open City by Teju Cole
A young Nigerian doctor, Julius finds himself wandering the streets of Manhattan reflecting on his past. A spur-of-the-moment decision drives him to visit an old mentor, which sends him on a journey of self reflection and contemplation.
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
Solimar Castro-Valdez finally makes it across the Mexican border into Berkeley, California, and finds herself lost, pregnant, and undocumented. Struggling to survive with her son Ignacio, she ends up in an immigrant detention center and her son ends up with Kavya Reddy, who is incapable of having children. Kavya finds herself caring for Ignacio as if he were his own–but he isn’t.
What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera
As a young girl, Ganga grows up in the hills of Sri Lanka. An unforeseen tragedy marks the end of her idyllic childhood and marks the start of a new life for Ganga and her mother in the United States. Though she is able to thrive in America, the scars of her past continue to haunt her in adulthood.
Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
Anything is Possible gives readers a backstory for the character Lucy Barton from Strout’s previous book, My Name Is Lucy Barton. In this book, one sister trades her self respect for a wealthy husband and the other finds solace in the pages of a book that changed her life. Though Lucy Barton only makes one appearance, Anything is Possible is a must-read.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
A captivating memoir on women in science, Lab Girl is about acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren who has built three laboratories to complete her work, and chronicles how she achieves success. It tells a story of work and love, and the things that can be achieved if the two are put together.
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Chernow’s biography sets the record straight on one of the most misunderstood figures in American history. He depicts a man driven by patriotism and passion rather than self interest and self gain who “built the foundations of American prosperity and power”.
Recommendations from Sarita Sarvate, Columnist
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Fate and Furies tells the story of married couple Lotto and Mathilde, both with completely opposite personalities. The book is written alternatively in Lotto and Mathilde’s perspectives, which gives the reader a unique insight into the reality of the situation. While Lotto tends to romanticize things, Mathilde sees it in a more real and harsh way. By the end of the novel, it becomes clear that it’s not their truths that keep them together, but their secrets.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
A retired schoolteacher, Olive Kitteridge laments the changes in the town and world around her, but doesn’t see the changes in the people around her–a suicidal former student, a musician haunted by a past romance, and her own son. As the people in her town deal with their problems, Olive begins to have a deeper understanding of herself and of her life.
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
In a 20th century rewrite of Shakespeare’s King Lear, author Jane Smiley tells a tale of a farmer who decides to divide his farm between his three daughters. After his youngest daughter objects to this, she is promptly cut out of her father’s will, which sets off a chain of events that changes the family’s life forever.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (the book is far superior to the TV series)
Despite Madeline, Celeste, and Jane’s varying personalities, they all have one thing in common–they’re at a crossroads. Each at different stages of their lives, they bond together to help each other navigate the insanity that is motherhood.
Room by Emma Donoghue
Five-year-old Jack has only known one room in his entire life. After being held captive with his mother by “Old Nick,” Jack believes that everything he sees on the small television set in the Room is fake, and reality only exists inside the Room. The 2015 movie version of Room was nominated for 4 academy awards and won for Best Actress.
Recommendations from Jeanne E. Fredriksen, Book Reviewer
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah, recently-christened Daily Show Host and stand up comedian writes about his journey that began with a crime–his birth. Growing up biracial during apartheid in South Africa, Noah tells the story of his life and how he navigated poverty, violence, and racism.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
It all started when Bert Cousins shows up unannounced at Franny Keating’s christening party. This party sets many events in motion that are told throughout the novel–out of order. Filled with equal amounts of heartbreak and humor, Commonwealth is a must-read novel for many.
Leave Me by Gayle Forman
Working mother Maribeth Klein has such a busy life that she doesn’t even notice she’s had a heart attack. After realizing that her recovery places an unexpected burden on her family, she makes a spur-of-the-moment decision to pack her bags and leave. Leave Me has an interesting take on modern motherhood and the responsibilities that come with it.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
In today’s fast-paced world, most people don’t have the time to navigate through questions such as “What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us?” Neil deGrasse Tyson helps guide the reader through these questions in a witty and captivating read.
Same Beach, Next Year by Dorothea Benton Frank
After a chance encounter in the Isles of Palms, former lovers Adam Stanley and Eve Landers are brought together again. But as Adam and Eve get caught up in their own lives, their respective spouses come together as well. Each year they eagerly await their reunion that creates a bond of friendship that can withstand almost any tragedy.
Recommendations from Mona Shah, Events and Social Media Editor
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Saeed and Nadia, lovers in a violence-plagued city, are forced to seek refuge in a Greek island and later England and the United States when the tensions in their hometown reach an all time high.
What got you here, won’t get you there by Marshall Goldsmith
Executive coach Marshall Goldsmith teaches how to reach the “last few rungs of the ladder” in the corporate world, and how a few subtle nuances will make all the difference in one’s success.
Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
After Rachel Child’s on-air breakdown, she decides to take a break from journalism and lives as a virtual shut-in with her husband. During her isolation, she stumbles upon a complicated conspiracy and is forced to find the strength within her to find her way through the situation.
Recommendations from Vijay Rajvaidya, Managing Director
Tinderbox by M.J. Akbar
This book tells the story of the conflicts between Muslim and Hindu cultures in South Asia as well as the role that this struggle has played in the development of this country and region.
Recommendations from Katie Lindsay, Sales Associate
Revolution for Dummies: Laughing Through the Arab Spring by Bassem Youssef
Considered the “Jon Stewart of the Arabic World”, Bassem Youssef narrates his transformation from heart surgeon to political satirist and provides insight to the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and the Arab Spring in his new book.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
This dystopic novel follows Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead during a time that has a serious lacking of women’s rights. This classic novel is a satirical look on society and a dire warning of the problems that will occur if change is not initiated.
Recommendations from Aniruddh Chawda, Film Reviewer
Ivanhoe by Walter Scott
Though this book was published in 1820, it is set in a highly romanticized version of the 12th century and medieval times. After being banned from England for going against his father’s wishes, Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe joins Richard the Lion Heart on the Third Crusade to the Holy Land. Upon his return, he expects to claim his inheritance and his love, Rowena, but is instead drawn into a conflict between Richard the Lion Heart and his brother, John.
Recommendations from Priya Das
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
Set in the various neighborhoods of New Delhi all the way to the mountains of Kashmir, Arundhati Roy’s new book takes the reader on a journey through Anjum, a young transgender girl who’s charm draws in outcasts from society to join her, from Kashmiri freedom fighters and activists to orphans and low caste Hindus and Muslims.
Drop Dead by Swati Kaushal
After the body of Rak Mehta, President and CEO of a successful publishing company is found in the hills of Sonargam, a team of investigators lead by Shimla, the Superintendent of Police, must work quickly to solve the crime before Sonargam’s picturesque landscape is disrupted again.
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Narrated by Lin, an escaped convict from a prison in Australia, Shantaram is set in the underworld of present-day Bombay. Along with Prabaker, Lin’s guide and faithful friend, the two navigate the slums of Bombay in search of love and meaning while serving an apprenticeship for the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. Based on the author’s life, this novel keeps in mind his passionate love for India and the human experience.
The Fix by David Baldacci
After witnessing a murder/suicide on a crowded sidewalk, Amos Decker uses his exceptional powers of deduction and observation to find a connection between the killer and the victim. When that doesn’t seem to work, Harper Brown, agent of the Defense Intelligence Agency steps in and orders Decker to back off the case. A shaky alliance between Agent Brown and Decker allows Decker to focus on solving the case before it’s too late.
Recommendations from Isha Trivedi, Summer Intern
This book features the friendship and sacrifice between two women: Mariam, an older and less privileged women and Laila, a younger and more educated girl. Throughout the novel, these two try to navigate the chaos that is Kabul during the 1980s.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Ahead of its time, Brave New World depicts an utopian society in which people are controlled by the government even before birth. The book follows two characters who, despite all their mental conditioning, start to rebel against the society they live in.
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry divided into four sections, each dealing with a different kind of pain or heartache and how the author recovers from this. Trigger warning: this book discusses rape and sexual assault, and it is recommended primarily for those above the age of 15.
1984 by George Orwell
Inspired by Stalinist Russia and the events of WWII, the dystopian novel 1984 is also very reminiscent of modern society. Somewhat similar to Brave New World, it involves an almost completely brainwashed society that both fears and admires the Party and Big Brother (the leaders in this society). The main character, Winston Smith, is one of the few people to rebel against the leaders and is forced to face the consequences.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
After having 27 surgeries to fix 10-year old August Pullman’s mandibulofacial dysostosis, or cleft palate and Treacher Collins syndrome, Auggie is finally ready to attend a mainstream school: Beecher Prep. But is Beecher Prep ready for him? An inspiring book with a wonderful message, Wonder emphasizes the importance of not judging a book by its’ cover and learning from one’s mistakes.
Recommendations from Kanchan Naik, Summer Intern
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
A heartbreaking science fiction novel with very memorable characters. The plot focuses on the life of teenager Miranda, who is sixteen when the story begins. Her life changes entirely when an asteroid hits the moon and pushes it closer towards the Earth. In the midst of tsunamis, confusion, and death, Miranda struggles to find food and support for her ailing family.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
A meaningful, deep, and thoughtful book with narrator Melinda. She’s a freshman who faces severe bullying and depression, and struggles to come to terms with herself after calling the police during a party. The writing style of the book is really interesting; it’s fast-paced yet filled with perspective and detail.
Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan
One of the many novels that really highlight the problems in India today – a personal favorite, due to the fresh perspective of a young girl who gets married and deals with abuse and poverty. Her story of survival is inspiring and poetic, with quick snippets of Tagore’s work.
Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt
A hilarious book with narrator Doug who moves to a new town. Despite a bullying older brother, an angry father, and poverty, his eventual love for art and his friendship with a girl named Lily shapes his life for the better.