Birthday Reading Goals – Travel Around India Through Books

Today is my birthday. As part of my birthday reading goals for the year ahead, this year I decided to read regional books from around India – to travel across the country through books, and also get acquainted with lesser-known regional authors. I set about on this project some time in August, knowing how exhaustive the research and compilation would be. India is a very large country, with varied cultures and languages. There are 29 states and 7 union territories – I have compiled literature from each of these, making up 36 categories. So in a year I can manage one (at least) from each state, reading at the rate of three books a month. Each book had to fulfill one among these criteria for gaining entry into the list: 1) The book has to be set in that particular state, 2)  Any city within that state, 3) The author is native to that place though the book is not set there, 4) The author is writing about his/her native place or a character belonging to that place. Some of the books in the list I have already read; they have been added in case others would be interested in reading them. I have included recommendations from reader groups, book clubs, friends and family, in addition to my own research. I look for literary value in whatever I read, and have selected these titles accordingly. I would love to have readers join me on this bookish trip around the country.

12th nov 2017 (5)
A trip across the length and breadth of a country through books – From Mussorie (Uttarakhand), to Coonoor (Tamil Nadu), and Mumbai (Maharashtra) to Darjeeling (West Bengal). 

There’s a map and table inserted into this blog post to assist international readers. (Those familiar with the country can scroll down directly to the lists). The map is in case some of you want to read according to the geography of the country – North, South, East, West or Central India. The table shows the corresponding language for each state and union territory – to give you a glimpse of how vast the country is. The list is a mix of fiction and non-fiction – novels, short stories, memoirs, poems, even books to try out local cuisines. The languages that I know from the country (Hindi, Marathi) will be read in the original writings. For the rest I will read translated versions. The list is arranged alphabetically for ease of searching for any particular place. If I come across any more interesting pieces of literature in the course of the year, I’ll keep adding to the blog, so this list stays as a constant source of reference.

india_states_and_capitals
Map of India featuring its 29 states and 7 union territories

reg blog 1

reg blog 2

The books are listed below according to alphabetical order of the states. The books from each of the union territories follow the states.

STATES

1) ASSAM

Chocolate Guitar Momos – Kenny Deori Basumatary

Revelations of an Imperfect Life – Sankhya Samhita

The House with a Thousand Stories – Aruni Kashyap

The Man From Chinnamastathe – Indira Goswami (translation by Prashant Goswami)

Pages Stained with Blood – Indira Goswami (translation by Pradeep Acharya)

The Hour Before Dawn – Bhabendra Nath Saikia (translation by Maitreyee S.C.)

A Full Night’s Thievery – Mitra Phukan

A Monsoon of Music – Mitra Phukan

The Story of Felanee – Arupa Patangia Kalita (translation by Deepika Phukan)

2) ARUNACHAL PRADESH

Land of the Dawn-lit Mountains – Antonia Bolingbroke Kent

Mountain Harvest – Mamang Dai

The Black Hill – Mamang Dai

The Legends of Pensam – Mamang Dai

3) ANDHRA PRADESH

Vemana Satakam – C P Brown

Short Stories from Andhra Pradesh – Malathi Nidadavolu

Stories from Andhra – J Ramakanth

4) BIHAR

Urvashi – Ramdhari SinghDinkar

Rashmi Rathi – Ramdhari Singh Dinkar

Maila Aanchal – Phanishwarnath Renu

The Patna Manual of Style – Siddharth Chowdhury

Bihar is in the Eyes of the Beholder – Vijay Nambisan

Bhansaghar – Shakesh Singh

Bihar Breakthrough – Rajesh Chkrabarti

The New Bihar – N K Singh and Nicholas Stern

5) CHHATISGARH

Let’s Call Him Vasu – Subharanshu Choudhary

Inside Chhatisgarh – Ilina Sen

Hello Bastar – Rahul Pandita

6) GOA

Age of Frenzy – Mahabaleshwar Sail (translation by Vidya Pai)

Teresa’s Man – Damodar Mauzo (translation by Xavier Cota)

Goa Travels – Manohar Shetty

Ferry Crossing – Manohar Shetty

Goa : A Daughter’s Story – Maria Aurora Couto

7) GUJARAT

Rainbow at Noon – Dhiruben Patel

Gujarat Files – Rana Ayyub

Karan Ghelo – Nandshankar Mehta and Tulsi Vatsal

Saraswatichandra – Gowardhanram Tripathi (translation by Tridip Suhrud)

8) HARYANA

Daughter by Court Order – Ratna Vira

Folktales and Legends of Haryana – Ram B Yadav

Come, Before Evening Falls – Manjul Bajaj

No Man’s Land – Nilesh Shrivastava

9) HIMACHAL PRADESH

Himalayan Wonderland : Travels in Lahaul and Spiti – Manohar Singh Gill

A Year in Himachal – Humera Ahmed

10) JAMMU KASHMIR

One Life to Ride – Ajit Harisinghani

Curfewed Nights – Basharat Peer

Our Moon Has Blood Clots – Rahul Pandita

Munnu a Boy from Kashmir – Malik Sajad

Frozen Turbulence – Jagmohan

I, Lalla – Lal Ded

11) JHARKHAND

The Sound of Water – Sanjay Bahadur

The Mystery Ailment of Rupi Baskey – Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar

The Adivasi Will Not Dance – Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar

The Eternal Mystery – Santosh Kiro

12) KARNATAKA

Wise and Otherwise – Sudha Murty

Three Thousand Stitches – Sudha Murty

Aavarana : The Veil – S L Bhyrappa (translation by Sandeep Balakrishna)

Tantu : The Loom of Life – S L Bhyrappa

The Smoke is Rising – Mahesh Rao

Three Plays – Girish Karnad

Gulabi Talkies – Janaki Vaidehi

Ghachar Ghochar – Vivek Shanbhag (translation by Srinath Perur)

Samskara – U R Ananthamurthy (translation by A. K. Ramanujan)

Government Brahmana – Aravind Malagatti

House of Kanooru – Kuvempu

13) KERALA

Chemmeen – T S Pillai (translation by Anita Nair)

Mistress – Anita Nair

God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy

A Preface to Man – Subhash Chandran (translation by Fathima E. V.)

Where The Rain Is Born – Anita Nair

Hangwoman – K R Meera

My Story – Kamala Das

Othappu : The Scent Of The Other Side – Sarah Joseph (translation by Valson Thampu)

Legends of Khasak – O V Vijayan

Agnisakshi : Fire, My Witness – Lalithambika Antharjanam (translation by Vasanthi Sankaranarayanan)

Naaluketta – M. T. Vasudevan Nair (translation by Gita Krishnankutty)

Poovam Banana – Vaikom Muhammad Basheer

Goat Days – Benyamin (translation by Joseph)

On The Banks Of The Mayyazhi – M Mukundan (translation by Gita Krishnankutty)

14) MADHYA PRADESH

It Was Five Past Midnight in Bhopal – Dominique Lapierre

Ujjain : The City of Temples – Dr. M.K.Pal

Meghadootam – Kalidasa (translation by Revathi and Yadugiri)

Aashad Ka Ek Din – Mohan Rakesh

A Breath of Fresh Air – Amulya Malladi

15) MAHARASHTRA

Bombay, Meri Jaan – Jerry Pinto and Naresh Fernandes

Batatyachi Chaal – Purushottam Laxman Deshpande

Aghal Paghal – Purushottam Laxman Deshpande

Breathless in Bombay – Murzban F. Shroff

The Making of Mumbai – Fr. Benny Aguiar

A City of Sungazers – Queenie Sukhadia

When Home is an Idea – Rochelle D’Silva

Maximum City – Suketu Mehta

Ravan and Eddie – Kiran Nagarkar

Pathways to Light – Prakash Amte (translation by Sumedha Raikar)

Chronicles of a Corpse Bearer – Cyrus Mistry

Deliverance (Nirgati) – Gauri Deshpande

The Weave of my Life ( Aaydaan) – Urmila Pawar

Cocoon (Kosla) – Balachandra Nemade

Behind The Beautiful Forevers – Katherine Boo

Family Matters – Rohinton Mistry

Tales From Firozsha Baag – Rohinton Mistry

Sacred Games – Vikram Chandra

Cobalt Blue – Sachin Kundalkar

I, The Salt Doll – Vandana Mishra

Half Open Windows – Ganesh Matkari

The East Indian Kitchen – Michael Swamy

16) MANIPUR

The Peripheral Centre – Preeti Gill

Che In Paona Bazaar – Kishalaya Bhattacharjee

Mother, Where is my Country – Anubha Bhonsale

The Maharaja’s Household – M.K.Binodini

17) MEGHALAYA

Around the Hearth Khasi Legends – Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih

Boats on Land – Janice Pariat

Onaatah of the Earth – Paulami Dutta Gupta

A Thousand Unspoken Words – Paulami Dutta Gupta

Lunatic in my Head – Anjum Hasan

18) MIZORAM

Mizo Songs and Folk Tales – Laltluangliana Khiangte

Zorami – Malsawmi Jacob

19) NAGALAND

Bitter Wormwood – Easterine Kire

Laburnum For My Head – Temsula Ao

A Girl Swallowed by a Tree – Nzanmongi Jasmine Patton

Literary Cultures of India’s Northeast : Naga Writings in English – K B V Pou

When the River Sleeps – Easterine Kire

These Hills Called Home – Temesula Ao

Writings on the Wall – Sanjoy Hazarika

20) ODISHA

Selected Fiction – Manoj Das

The Tiger at Twilight – Manoj Das

Yajnaseni – Pratibha Ray

Chasing the Rainbow – Manoj Das

The Dark Abode – Sarojini Sahoo (translation by Mahendra Kumar Dash)

Dreamer – Sarojini Sahoo (translation by Gopa Nayak)

Paraja – Gopinath Mohanty

Six Acres and a Third – Fakir Mohan Senapati

21) PUNJAB

The Last Flicker – Gurdial Singh (translation by Ajmer S. Rode)

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows – Balli Kaur Jaswal

The Case of the Missing Servant – Tarquin Hall

Mitro Marjaani – Krishna Sobti

Pinjar – Amrita Pritam

Ek Chadar Maili Si – Rajinder Singh Bedi

Miles to Run Before I Sleep – Sumedha Mahajan

22) RAJASTHAN

A Princess Remembers – Gayatri Devi

Cuckold – Kiran Nagarkar

Annals of Mewar – James Tod

Once Upon A Time – Saurav Chhawchharia

23) SIKKIM

Don’t Ask Any Old Bloke For Directions – P. G. Tenzing

Requiem for a Himalayan Kingdom – Andrew Duff

Legends of the Lepchas – Yishey Doma

24) TAMIL NADU

A Moral Murder – Sangeeta Shinde Tee

3 Lives – Srini Chandra

Pyre – Perumal Murugan

The Goat Thief – Perumal Murugan

Songs of a Coward – Perumal Murugan

Gypsy Goddess – Meena Kandaswamy

When I Hit You – Meena Kandaswamy

25) TELANGANA

Father May Be An Elephant and Mother Only A Small Basket, But – Gogu Shyamala

The Rise And Fall of Telangana – Gautam Pingle

26) TRIPURA

History of Tripura – Satyadeo Poddar

27) UTTAR PRADESH

Sunlight on a Broken Column – Attia Hosain

Kafan – Premchand

Premchand Ki Sarvashrestha Kahaniyan – Premchand

Bisrampur Ka Sant – Shrilal Shukla

Rag Darbari – Shrilal Shukla

Hariya Hercules Ki Hairani – Manohar Shyam Joshi

Vimal Series – Surendra Mohan Pathak

28) UTTARAKHAND

Maneaters of Kumaon – Jim Corbett

The Jim Corbett Omnibus – Jim Corbett

My India – Jim Corbett

Carpet Sahib – Martin Booth

Rain in the Mountains – Ruskin Bond

The Night Train at Deoli – Ruskin Bond

Lone Fox Dancing : My Autobiography – Ruskin Bond

A Face in the Dark and Other Hauntings – Ruskin Bond

The Valley of Flowers – Frank S Smythe

Fire On The Mountain – Anita Desai

29) WEST BENGAL

Kathputli – Ushasi Sen Basu

Walking Calcutta – Keith Humphrey

Chowringhee – Mani Sankar Mukherji (translation by Arunava Sinha)

No Path in Darjeeling is Straight – Parimal Bhattacharya

From the Mountain to the Ocean – Roshni Rai

The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri

Pather Panchali – Bibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay

Choker Bali – Rabindranath Tagore (translation by Sukhendu Ray)

The Complete Adventures of Feluda Vol. 1 & 2 – Satyajit Ray

Shesher Kobita (The Last Poem) – Rabindranath Tagore

 

UNION TERRITORIES

1) ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLANDS

The Last Wave – Pankaj Sekhsaria

Islands in Flux – Pankaj Sekhsaria

Death in the Andamans – M.M.Kaye

2) CHANDIGARH

Crossroads – Preeti Singh

My Thousand Sons – Dr. Rajesh Bhola

One Word – Anuradha Bhattacharya

The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai

3) DADRA NAGAR HAVELI

Not found any yet

4) DAMAN AND DIU

Not found any yet

5) DELHI

Staring at the Square Moon – Atima Mankotia

India On My Platter – Saransh Goila

City of Djinns – William Dalrymple

Running & Living – Rahul Verghese

6) LAKSHADWEEP

Not found any yet

7) PUDUCHERRY

In the Light of Darkness – Radhika Tabrez

A House in Pondicherry – Lee Langley

Life of Pi – Yann Martel

Admittedly, the number of titles within each state/union territory is imbalanced. Some places have more works of literature than others. I found very few regional authors who write in their native language as well as English. And many popular vernacular books do not have English translations. I have not included children’s books and picture books here. The purpose of this project is that I actually read the books, not just fill up the list. I will keep posting reviews as I read. If you happen to read any from here, drop in a few words of what you thought of the book. Happy reading! And happy travelling! And Happy Birthday to me. 🙂

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15 thoughts on “Birthday Reading Goals – Travel Around India Through Books”

  1. This is precisely what I was looking for so long! I am going to save the list and try to read as many as I can from the different states! Thank you! 😀
    P.S I have read all four Ruskin Bond’s books listed here besides a couple of others 🙂 Night train at Deoli is my favourite of the lot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I ultimately settled on Corbett for Uttarakhand. The list has more books – some of which I’ve read and some new ones, in case any aren’t good and I need to switch to another one. Plus I’m adding on newly released books. Will keep this list for future reference.

      Liked by 1 person

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