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7 Unputdownable Books We Got to Read in 2017

The year 2017 gave us some remarkable reads. From thriller to young adult, self-help to professional, we got ‘em all! So, if you are looking to round-up the year, here are 7 books out of those magnificent reads.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

The year 2017 saw the return of the Man Booker Prize Winner Arundhati Roy into the fiction genre with The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. This ravishing, magnificent book reinvents what a novel can do and can be. And it demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy’s storytelling gifts.

The House That Spoke

The House that Spoke marks the debut of fifteen-year-old author Zuni Chopra. It tells the story of Zoon Razdan and the fantastical house she lives in. She can talk to everything in it, but Zoon doesn’t know that her beloved house once contained a terrible force of darkness. When the dark force returns, more powerful than ever, it is up to her to take her rightful place as the Guardian of the house and subsequently, Kashmir.


With 1600 electrifying visuals for hot-hearted adults- Vyasa sets in motion the battlefield of Kurukshetra. From the birth of the Pandavas and Kauravas to the interpenetration of life instincts and death instincts, this first book in this graphic book series rolls out the beginning of interplay of lust and violence which gives to the tale of war, revenge and peace the unmatched regal look.

The Case That Shook India

On 12 June 1975, for the first time in independent India’s history, the election of a prime minister was set aside by a High Court judgment. The watershed case, Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narain, acted as the catalyst for the imposition of the Emergency. Prashant Bhushan in The Case That Shook India provides a blow-by-blow account and offers the reader a front-row seat to watch one of India’s most important legal dramas unfold.

Friend of my Youth

Amit Chaudhuri in Friend of My Youth tells the story of a writer in Bombay for a book-related visit and finds himself in search of the city he grew up in and barely knows. Friend of My Youth is at once an unexpected exploration and a concentrated reminiscence woven around a series of visits to a city that was never really home.

Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth

Aurangzeb reveals the untold side of a ruler who has been peddled as a Hindu-loathing bigot, murderer, and religious zealot. In this bold and captivating biography, Audrey Truschke enters the public debate with a fresh look at the controversial Mughal emperor.

Padmini: The Spirited Queen of Chittor

Mridula Behari’s Padmini is narrated from Padmini’s perspective and is a moving retelling of the famed legend that brings to life the atmosphere and intrigue of medieval Rajput courts. You cannot help but be engrossed as Padmini grapples with the matter of her own life and death, even as she attempts to figure out what it means to be a woman in a man’s world.
So, which was your favourite read of 2017?

5 Quotes that Show Indira Gandhi was the Iron Lady of India

Indira Gandhi is not only remembered as the only woman prime minister of the country but also as a political leader with nerves of steel. She broke the conventional, democratic ruling method that her family had been using and adopted a somewhat authoritarian way of ruling the nation.
Nayantara Sahgal in her book Indira Gandhi: Tryst with Power answers the questions everyone ponders upon about her rule.
Being Mrs Gandhi’s cousin, Sahgal articulately talks about her individualized style of functioning in politics and the changes the country went through during her rule.
Here are five quotes that show why Mrs Gandhi was called the Iron Lady of India:

Read more about Indira Gandhi’s political regime in Nayantara Sahgal’s Indira Gandhi: Tryst with Power.

A Glimpse Into the Emotional Side of Indira Gandhi, An Excerpt from ‘Indira Gandhi: A Biography’

Indira Gandhi was the first female Prime Minister of India. While most of her life was dominated by politics, only a few knew Indira’s non-political persona.
Pupul Jayakar’s ‘Indira Gandhi: A biography’ seeks to uncover the many personalities that lay within Mrs Gandhi. The book also reveals the complex personality of Indira Gandhi—her thoughts and feelings, her hates and prejudices, her insights and her faults, her loves and emotional entanglements.
Here’s an excerpt which gives a glimpse into the emotional side of the late prime minister.
Motilal Nehru died in Lucknow in the early hours of 6 February 1930. His son Jawaharlal Nehru, released from jail a week earlier, in view of his father’s deteriorating condition, had, in desperation, moved his father from Allahabad to Lucknow where the medical facilities were
better. Motilal had been like an elder brother to Gandhiji and it was as part of the family that Gandhiji, released from detention by the British Government, hastened to see Motilal and accompanied him to Lucknow. He found Motilal’s face swollen beyond recognition, his body racked by asthma and his kidneys failing. The old patriarch died cradled in the love of his family and friends. He remained a nonbeliever to the end of his life; scorning priests and the recitation of mantras, he had joked with Gandhiji, challenging him to a race to heaven. He said if they were to die at the same time, the Mahatma would probably walk alone across the river of death, while he, Motilal, would speed across it in a motor-boat and shoot past the gates of heaven. Whether he would be allowed into heaven or not was a totally different matter. In a more serious mood he told Gandhiji, ‘I am going soon and I shall not be here to see Swaraj, but I know you have won it and will soon have it.’
On the night of Motilal’s death Jawaharlal was with him till midnight. Jawaharlal later told Gandhiji:

A very strange thing happened to me. Papa told me last

night that he had been taught the Gayatri Mantra in his

childhood, but he never cared to repeat it and thought he

had forgotten it completely long ago, but that night as he

lay in bed it all came back to him and he found himself

repeating it.

Motilal’s body, wrapped in the Congress flag, was brought from Lucknow to Anand Bhawan. He was cremated at the Sangam in Allahabad, at the point where the three rivers met. His ashes were cast into the rivers, to journey to the oceans. Vast mourning crowds accompanied the cortège. Gandhiji was present, so were Swaroop Rani, Vijayalakshmi, Krishna, Kamala and Indira.
Jawaharlal cried out in grief at the loss of his father, a mountain had crumbled; he was now head of the family, responsible for his mother and sisters. He resolved to make them feel that nothing had changed in the old home. The bond between father and son had matured beyond love into mutual respect and pride; a relationship that united them in a commonality of work though, perhaps, not of mind. Jawaharlal was in those early years an austere man of few needs,
Motilal, a man whose laughter filled the vast house, who could gather his extended family and friends in his embrace, savour abundance and give with a generosity of heart. He had a razor-sharp intellect and a joie de vivre seldom seen amongst Indians in the third decade of the twentieth century.
Indira had loved her grandfather with the intensity of a child. He had protected her, come to her aid when her parents rebuked her, listened to her tiny problems and laughed them away. He was the anchor in her insecure, chaotic world; the foundation stone that was always there; a presence so total that there was no space left to be alone or insecure. Alone, almost forgotten in Anand Bhawan, Indira wept, hidden behind a pillar. It was her first introduction to sorrow; her body was racked by an emotion with which she was not familiar.
Referring to her grandfather Motilal five decades later, Indira said, ‘With his death Anand Bhawan was silent. His resounding voice no longer echoed in the rooms or along the verandahs.’ She described his warmth and his fierce short-lived anger. Smiling at her memories, she said:

He always seemed to fill a room, although I now realize

he wasn’t really that tall, but at that time I thought he was

very tall and broad . . . and when he laughed the whole

house sort of shook and laughed with him. He was a

biform human being, both man and woman, with strength,

intellect and an abundance of feeling.

With a twinkle in her eye she went on to say that she felt that she was like him. Jawaharlal felt depleted. After his father’s death, he felt the need to renew himself, to lay down the complex political problems that surrounded him, to relax, to look at trees, meet people, to have a holiday. So he sailed with Kamala and Indira on the S.S. Cracovia to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

Letters from a Father to his Daughter – An Excerpt

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India, was one of the prominent figures during the Indian freedom struggle. He started writing letters to his daughter Indira when she was ten years old. He wrote to her about diverse topics, ranging from the origin of the Earth to history of races and faith.
In  a collection of 30 letters, Pandit Nehru imparted wisdom to his growing up daughter, while steering the movement to Indian freedom.
Here’s an excerpt from the book.
We saw in our last letter that the chief difference between man and the other animals was the intelligence of man. This intelligence made him cleverer and stronger than enormous animals who would otherwise have destroyed him. As man’s intelligence grew, so also grew his power. 
To begin with, man had no special weapons to fight his enemies. He could only throw stones at them. Then he began to make out of stone: axes, spears and many other things, including fine stone needles. We saw many of these stone weapons in the South Kensington Museum and also in the museum in Geneva.
The Ice Age, about which I said something in my last letter, slowly ended and the glaciers disappeared from Central Europe and Asia. As it became warmer, men spread out.
In those days there were no houses or other buildings. People lived in caves. There was no cultivation, that is working in the fields. Men ate fruits and nuts and the animals they killed. They had no bread or rice because they did not grow anything in the fields. They did not know cooking but perhaps they just heated the meat on the big fires they had. They had no cooking vessels or pots and pans.
One thing is very curious. These savage men knew how to draw. Of course they had no paper or pens or pencils or brushes. They simply had their stone needles and pointed instruments. With these they scratched or drew animals on the walls of caves. Some of their drawings are quite good but they are almost all profiles. You know that it is easier to draw profiles, and children usually draw in this way. As the caves must have been dark it is probable that they used some kind of simple lamp.
These men that we have described are called Palaeolithic men, or the men of the old Stone Age. That period is called the Stone Age because men made all their tools with stone. They did not know how to use the metals. Today most of your things are made of metals, specially iron. But iron or bronze was not known then, and so stone, which is much more difficult to work with, was used.
Before the Stone Age came to an end, the climate of the world changed greatly and became much warmer. The glaciers had gone far back to the Arctic Ocean, and in Central Asia and Europe great forests arose. Among these forests we find a new race of men living. These people were cleverer in many ways than the Palaeolithic men whom we have just described. But they still made their tools out of stone. These men also belonged to the Stone Age but it was the later Stone Age. They are called Neolithic men or men of the new Stone Age.
We find when examining these Neolithic men that great progress has been made. The intelligence of man is making him go ahead fast compared to the other animals. These Neolithic men made the very great discovery of cultivation. They started tilling fields and growing their food there. This was a great thing for them. They could now get their food more easily instead of having to hunt animals all the time. They got more leisure, more time to rest and think. And the more leisure they had, the more progress they made in discovering new things and methods. They started making earthen pots, and with the help of these they began to cook their food. The stone tools were much better and were beautifully polished. They also knew how to tame animals like the cow, the dog, the sheep and the goat. They also knew how to weave.
They used to live in houses or huts. These huts were very often made in the middle of lakes as the wild animals or other men could not attack them easily there. These people are therefore called lake-dwellers.
You will wonder how we know so much about these people. They wrote no books of course. But I have already told you that the book where we read the story of these men is the great book of nature. It is not easy to read it. It requires great patience. Many people have spent their lives in trying to read this book and they have collected large numbers of fossils and other remains of old times. These fossils are collected together in the great museums, and we can see there the fine polished axes and the pots and stone arrows and needles and many other things which were made by the Neolithic man. You have seen many of these things yourself but perhaps you have forgotten them. If you see them again you will be able to understand them better.
There was, I remember, a very good model of a lake-dwelling in the Geneva museum. Wooden poles were stuck in the lake, and on top of these poles a wooden platform was made. On the platform the wooden huts were put up and the thing was connected by a little bridge to the land.
These Neolithic men clothed themselves with the skins of animals or sometimes with a rough cloth of flax. Flax is a plant which has a good fibre used for making cloth. Linen is now made out of flax. But in those days cloth of flax must have been very rough.
These men went on making progress. They started making tools of copper and of bronze. Bronze, as you know, is a mixture of copper and tin and is harder than either of these. They also used gold and were vain enough to make ornaments out of it!
These people must have lived about 10,000 years ago. Of course, we do not know the exact dates or periods. All this is largely guesswork. You will notice that so far we have been talking of millions of years. We are now gradually getting nearer and nearer to our present age. From the Neolithic man to the man today there is no break or sudden change. But still we are very different from him. The changes came slowly, as is nature’s way. Different races developed and each race went its own way and lived its own life. The climate being different in different parts of the world, people had to adapt themselves to it and changed greatly. But we shall talk about this later.
One thing more I want to tell you today. About the end of the Neolithic age a very great disaster happened to man. I have told you already that at that time the Mediterranean was not a sea at all. There were just some lakes there and in these lakes many people lived. Suddenly, the land near Gibraltar, between Europe and Africa, was washed away and the waters of the Atlantic Ocean poured into the low valley of the Mediterranean. The water went on pouring and filling it up, and large numbers of the men and women living near or over the lakes must have been drowned. They could not escape anywhere. There was water all over the place for hundreds of miles. The Atlantic Ocean continued to pour in till it had filled up the valley, and the Mediterranean Sea came into existence.
You have heard, of course, and perhaps read, about the great flood. The Bible speaks about it and some of our Sanskrit books also refer to it. It may be that this mighty flood was the filling up of the Mediterranean. It was such a terrible disaster that the few people who managed to escape must have told all about it to their children, and they to their own children, and so the story was handed down from generation to generation.

Why the Judiciary is Important and How the Legislative Can Take Advantage

Lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan’s The Case that Shook India is a blow-by-blow account of the watershed case that led to India’s Emergency in 1975.
The book also depicts how the judiciary can be misused by powerful members of the legislative body to their advantage, thereby emphasising on the increasing need of a stronger, robust judiciary.
Here are 5 instances from the book that the author highlights.

Grab your copy of India’s most thrilling courtroom drama today!

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