“A great book is a friend that never lets you down.” In times when we are left to our own devices, Ruskin Bond’s words ring truer than ever. Some of the most powerful works of literature have come out of the darkest hours of humanity, shining as a ray of hope for generations to come. April 23 is World Book Day and if you are curious to know where to start and which titles to read, here are some Bollywood celebrities with their all-time favourite books. Books that have seen them through times thick and thin; books they plan to read during quarantine; books of hope and humanity.
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
I read Deepa Anappara’s Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line a few weeks back. It’s a made-in-India book written unapologetically, followed by Kunal Basu’s Sarojini’s Daughter. Currently I am reading Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Books which I recommend in unexpected times are what channelise our energies into one direction, like Leo Babauta’s Power of Less, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra and Thich Nhat Hanh’s Fear. His words “The past is no longer a prison for me. The future is not a prison either. I am able to live here in now” fit in to our minds.
I am reading four books simultaneously as time allows. Aimless in Banaras by Bishwanath Ghosh, The Book of Nizamuddin Aulia by Mehru Jaffer, Nobody Can Love You More by Mayank Austen Soofi and The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna translated from Bengali by Swami Nikhilananda.
The books I am planning to read include The Tibetan Book of The Dead translated by Robert AF Thurman, South of the Border West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami, The Art of Happiness by HH The Dalai Lama, Translated from the Gibberish: Seven Stories and One Half Truth by Anosh Irani, and Against Method by Paul Feyerabend.
The books that I always have on me and keep revisiting are by authors Vinod Kumar Shukla and Nirmal Verma. Albert Camus’ Outsider is my all-time favourite. A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir is also something I liked reading. A new writer that I have discovered and I am currently reading is Samanta Schweblin. When I am about to go to bed, I read Jim Corbett’s Omnibus. Saul Bellow and Ruskin Bond are authors I keep going back to.
My top five books remain Malice by Keigo Higashino, A Challenge for the Actor by Uta Hagen, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, Poetry of Belonging by Ali Khan Mahmudabad, and Maus by Art Spiegelman
I’m reading two books at the moment: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and Ikigai. Inspirational reading and self-help books always have something that connects with you and that you can relate with. And with my son, I am reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Famous Five on a Treasure Island.”
The book I’m trying to finish is Margaret Atwood’s Writers and Writing and plan to finish Orhan Pamuk’s Red Haired Woman post this. As a teenager I read two writers that sort of shaped my approach to life and literature in general — George Orwell and Manto. Another writer that I consider my friend in need is Haruki Murakami. My top five books would be Animal Farm, 1984, Selected Short Stories by Manto.
Dancing, meditating and reading, Jacqueline Fernandez is making the most of self-isolation. She posted a series of photos where she can be seen reading Nick Hornby’s Funny Girl.
I am currently reading 1Q84 by Haruki Muraki. My other favourites are Inferior by Angela Saini, Hot Water Music by Charles Bukowski, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, Sapiens by Yuaval Noah Harari
Ikigai by Albert Liebermann and Hector Garcia, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***k by Mark Manson, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and Love for Imperfect Things by Haemin Sunim.
I am planning to read Why be Happy When you can be Normal by Jeanette Winterson, So long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell, Nonsense novels by Stephen Leacock, Anatomy of Restlessness by Bruce Chatwin, and Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal. I am most excited about the last one as it’s about an old man Hanta, who is a paper crusher and how he uses his job to save banned editions.
I’m finally reading a book that I started eons ago- Sapiens- A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s a compelling read that tackles the biggest question of human history and the modern world.
Kajol posted an update on her Instagram. The ‘bookfie’ has her reading Raavan: Enemy of Aryavarta by Amish Tripathi. She wrote: “Rereading my library. Sorry I’m working.”
Though she chose to refrain from posting her own photo with the book, Alia Bhatt gave a sneak peek into her current read — Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs. She posted the photo with a quote by American aphorist Mason Cooley that said: “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”
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