Reshmy Pillai is a writer, editor and book critic, and founder of The Tales Pensieve, a website dedicated to new writing from India. An ex-healthcare professional, her true passion remains writing historical fiction. She chose her ten favourite reads of the month on the Juggernaut app. Here’s what she had to say about them:
Day’s End Stories: Life After Sundown in Small-town India (Edited by Subuhi Jiwani)
A compilation of essays by noted authors like Tabish Khair, Akshay Pathak, Amitava Kumar and Taran Khan on the topography of small-town India. Coming from a small town myself, the book is like diving into memories, mine as well as that of my fellow small-towners. Coming from stalwarts, it is insightful and a mind-opener.
Shah Muhammad’s Tonga (Ali Akbar Natiq)
While most of the review copies that find their way to me are set in urban India, this book, a collection of short stories based in the Punjab countryside, is a welcome change. Besides that, I am a huge fan of translations. Translated from Urdu, Shah Muhammad’s Tonga is written by Ali Akbar Natiq, one of the most promising Pakistani writers today. A different take and a new powerful voice is always a welcome change.
Defiant Dreams: Tales Of Everyday Divas (Edited by Rhiti Bose & Lopamudra Banerjee)
A collection of 24 stories of women who refused to bow down and dared to reach for their dreams. As a woman living in modern India, where patriarchy continues to exist, this book was just the inspiration I needed. In fact, every woman in this country who is shackled by her own chains needs to read this.
The Well (Perumal Murugan)
The first translation I read was One Part Woman by Perumal, and did I admire translations after that or what! The Well marks the return of Murugan to writing after the court case that nearly banished the writer in him. This was published earlier this month and undoubtedly had to make it to the list. It’s brilliant and potent!
The Sign of the Four (Arthur Conan Doyle)
A Sherlock Holmes mystery set in India! Can it get any better than this for an Indian mystery fan? Written by Arthur Conan Doyle, this masterpiece is set in the backdrop of another masterpiece. Juggernaut has brought out this classic read on the app and I could not resist.
A Spoke in the Wheel (Amita Kanekar)
A historical fiction by Amita Kanekar, A Spoke in the Wheel begins with emperor Ashoka asking a survivor of the famous battle of Kalinga – Upali – to write a chronicle on the Buddha 300 years after his death! What is intriguing in this book is that we see the Buddha as he was seen by his followers and critics. It is as interesting a perspective as it is important.
Indian Superfoods (Rujuta Diwekar)
My fitness journey began two years back with a book by Rujuta Diwekar called Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight. I love how the author explains the whys and the hows of eating and its impact on our bodies. In Indian Superfoods, she writes on how Indians can keep fit eating Indian food; why would I want to go looking for yoghurt and broccoli anymore? This is just the book for an Indian fitness freak.
Tiger: The Life of Tipu Sultan (Kate Brittlebank)
Written by Kate Brittlebank, this book takes us through the life of Tipu Sultan. Whatever I know of Tipu Sultan is from the TV series The Sword of Tipu Sultan, the antics in which were undoubtedly curated to suit the television audience. I love pre-British era Indian history and this read is a chance to understand the enigma that was the Tiger of Mysore.
How to Kill a Billionaire (Rajesh Talwar)
A crime fiction with an interesting narrative and a thrilling climax. Rajesh Talwar takes the reader on the journey of a lifetime in a day and narrates a tale of crime and perfect deceit almost perfectly. An unstoppable literary ride that I thoroughly enjoyed.
VCs Are from Venus, Entrepreneurs Are from Mars (Shubhankar Bhattacharya)
Today, everyone knows someone who is an entrepreneur or wants to be one. With news of venture capital funding and seed capital and all that jargon, this is the book of the hour. I choose this for the knowledge that it will impart to the reader. And why not? Isn’t that one of the goals of reading.