Editor’s Pick : 8 Books You Must Read This December

“December, being the last month of the year, cannot help but make us think of what is to come.” ― Fennel Hudson

While you reminisce the year that’s soon to pass by and plan along the next one of your life, here’s a few interesting books to read this December. Whether you are enjoying holidays, travelling or working like the rest of us, any of these books can keep you great company.

The Blue Lotus – Meena Arora Nayek

Do you remember the folk tales that your grandparents used to narrate in childhood? Or parents coming home from work with copies of Chanda Mama and Amar Chitra Katha for their children? Well, most of us, the older lot, have been enamoured with folk tales all our lives. India is a treasure trove of folk tales as there are so many communities and races with stories of their own.

Meena Arora Nayek has attempted re-telling a few of these amazing stories from India for the new generation. They teach us about kinship, desire, greed, conflict, friendship, treachery, compassion, arrogance, persecution, empowerment, secrecy, romance, suffering, courage, challenges, wisdom, sexuality and spirituality—and innumerable other things we might expect to experience in the course of our journey through life. The author has previously penned children’s books and a new take on Mahabharat.

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Requiem in Raga Janki – Neelum Saran Gour

I hadn’t heard of the singer Janki Bai Ilahabadi from the 19th century. She was a Hindustani classical singer and called Janki ‘Chhappan Chhuri’, Janki of the fifty-six knives-attacked in her youth, she survives miraculously. This is her story – of being brought up in a nautch house to rising and reaching the status of the best singer in Allahabad at those times. Not a biography but I think we need more such stories based on real characters who have had some influence in shaping up our cities in the previous century.

Neelum Saran Gour is the author of Grey Pigeon and Other StoriesSpeaking of ’62Winter Companions and Other StoriesVirtual RealitiesSikandar Chowk Park and Song without End and Other Stories. She is a professor of English at the University of Allahabad.

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The Runaways – Fatima Bhutto

‘Riveting and heartbreaking all at once. I read The Runaways in a blaze of surrender.’ – Tishani Doshi

Set across Karachi and Portsmouth, the story is based on three characters – Anita, Monty and Sunny. These three disparate lives will cross paths in the middle of a desert, a place where life and death walk hand-in-hand, and where their closely guarded secrets will force them to make a terrible choice. Well, that sounds very interesting, even bordering to bizarre, tumultuous. I’d love to read this for sure! Stories from Pakistan always fascinate me as they are so similar to ours and yet, there’s a geographical boundary differentiating us.

Fatima Bhutto was born in Kabul. She is the author of a book of poetry, two works of non-fiction, including her bestselling memoir Songs of Blood and Sword, and the highly acclaimed novel The Shadow Of The Crescent Moon, which was longlisted in 2014 for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction.

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The Big Reverse: How Demonetisation Knocked India Out – Meera Sanyal

If you were living in India in the recent past, 8th November 2016 is one day you wouldn’t forget anytime soon. Demonetisation happened and was probably the worst financial decision by the present Government. Most of us suffered, quite a few argued for the move, but majority bore the brunt of note wapasi. The return of 99.7 per cent of the banned 500 rupee and 1,000-rupee notes showed that the RBI’s idea of Demonetisation Dividend was nothing but a mirage. The Big Reverse presents unprecedented insights backed by data, history and research. It would be an intriguing read if you are interested in the Indian economy.
Meera Sanyal is one of India’s most highly respected bankers who stepped down from her role as CEO and Chairperson of RBS India in December 2013, to enter public service. She joined the Aam Aadmi Party and is a member of the National Committee on Economic Policy.
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Fire and Blood – George R R Martin

Game of Thrones, anyone? Based on A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin, the show has been a phenomenal hit. Set 300 years before the events in A Song of Ice and Fire, FIRE AND BLOOD is the definitive history of the Targaryens in Westeros as told by Archmaester Gyldayn and chronicles the conquest that united the Seven Kingdoms under Targaryen rule through to the Dance of the Dragons: the Targaryen civil war that nearly ended their dynasty forever. So, if you liked the tv show, or if you’ve read A Song of Ice and Fire, go ahead and pick up this prequel to be enthralled this holiday season.
George R.R. Martin is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of many novels, including those of the acclaimed series A Song of Ice and Fire – now adapted as the worldwide television phenomenon Game of thrones. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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Milk Teeth – Amrita Mahale

Ira, a journalist unearthing stories of corruption and Kartik, her childhood friend and a corporate employee now, meet after years in their residential complex in Mumbai to decide the fate of the residents. Sounds simple? But, it is not. There are ghosts of stories from the ’90s, from their childhood and their current hidden lives that affect the meeting. Milk Teeth is subtle, incisive, unputdownable. It’s the story of a throbbing and evergreen city like Mumbai and what goes on in the lives of urban residents there. Sounds like a damn good read.
Amrita Mahale was born in Mumbai. She was trained as an aerospace engineer at IIT Bombay and Stanford University. This is her first novel and is garnering a lot of attention and accolades already from critics.
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Ramayana vs Mahabharata – Devdutt Patnaik

It is a popular belief that the Ramayana is idealistic, while the Mahabharata is realistic. Yet these two epics have identical building blocks, identical themes, and identical history. Devdutt Patnaik, the most popular mythologist in India, writes about his take on a face-off between these two epics. Ideas in this book are distributed over 56 chapters. In temple ritual, Vishnu is offered 8 different meals daily, different on all seven days of the week—56 dishes in all. May each chapter serve as a mouth-watering offering to the Vishnu within you. Isn’t that beautiful?
Devdutt Pattanaik writes, illustrates and lectures on relevance of mythology in modern times. He has, since 1996, written over 30 books and 600 columns on how stories, symbols and rituals construct the subjective truth (myths) of ancient and modern cultures around the world. His books include My Gita and Business Sutra: A Very Indian Approach to Management. He consults corporations on leadership and governance and TV channels on mythological serials.
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From Another Land – Tanushree Ghosh

From An-Other Land is a reality check and an emotional guide for anyone who wants to understand modern-day immigration to USA. There are millions of immigrants and it is turning rather difficult each day for so many people with ever changing laws and leaders.
Tanushree Ghosh currently works at The Intel Corporation in The US, managing a senior team in supply chain. She has a Doctorate in Chemistry from The Cornell University, is an alumni of IIT Kanpur and The Presidency College Calcutta and is also a social activist and writer. She has served on several leadership panels (both corporate and non-profit) and is often an invited speaker or panellist speaking on gender roles, advancement in workplace for women, navigating biases and cultures and resilience through pursuing inner causes.
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Hope you have a good reading season ahead with all these beauties. Share your reviews with us here in the comments.

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Prb
Aspiring author, frequent blogger, freelance editor, book critic, movie buff, mihidana fanatic. Lives in Pune. Before the above titles, I was a PhD dropout in Soil Science from the US of A, which rather coerced me into switching gears and professions. I work in both English and my mother tongue Bengali.
https://oneandahalfminutes.com/

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