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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

15 books you should have read by now

Nivedita Mishra, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 03, 2014
First Published: 17:17 IST(3/9/2014) | Last Updated: 17:40 IST(3/9/2014)

Between classics to best-sellers to contemporary classics, here's a comprehensive list of books you should have read by now. If you haven't, about time you did. 

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1 Merchant of Venice
Writer: William Shakespeare
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Publisher: IR for Thomas Heys
First Published: 1600 AD

Among the most read comedies by Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice is a popular romantic comedy set in Venice and Belmont in Italy. Between Shylock, the Jew and the Bard’s celebrated and off-quoted  ‘pound of flesh’ dialogue and Portia's spirited defence of Bassanio, we have some of the best lines in English literature.

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Gulliver’s Travels
Writer: Jonathan Swift
Genre: Satire
Publisher: Benjamin Motte
First Published: 1726 AD

One of the best-loved books in English literature, Gulliver’s Travels by the Irish clergyman and novelist Jonathan Swift, is a satire on human nature. It comes under the sub-genres of children’s literature and travel writing. The four books has Lemuel Gulliver going on four different voyages across seas to Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa and Houyhnhnms.

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Pride and Prejudice
Writer: Jane Austen
Genre: Drama, Romance
Publisher:  T Egerton, Whitehall
First Published: 1813 AD

A story set in England and unfolding in the family of country gentleman of the landed English gentry has captivated the audiences till date. The story follows the life of Elizabeth Bennett as she deals with marriage, manners and education in 19th century England. Who can forget Mr Darcy?

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Stories of Sherlock Holmes
Writer: Arthur Canon Doyle
Genre: Crime Fiction
Publisher: Serialised in dailies such as Beeton's Christmas Annual, Lippincott's Monthly Magazine and The Strand Magazine
First Published: 1887

A fictional character created by Scottish novelist Sir Arthur Canon Doyle, Sherlock Holmes is a London-based detective with an uncanny knack at solving crime cases, thanks to his logical reasoning, ability to adopt a disguise and use of forensic science. Doyle wrote 56 short stories and four novels with Sherlock Holmes as the hero. An eternal favourite.

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Fountain Head
Writer: Ayn Rand
Genre: Fiction (Philosophical novel)
Publisher: Bobbs Merrill
Published: 1943

An epic tale of clash between individualism and collectivism, Fountain Head details the life of young architect Howard Roark who broke convention by refusing to compromise on his artistic and personal vision. The novel follows his trajectory as he struggles to fight against traditions who oppose his notions of modern architecture.

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Harry Potter Series
Writer: JK Rowling
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (UK), Arthur A Levine Books (US)
Published: 1997

Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels chronicling the adventures of young wizard Harry Potter and his two friends, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom study at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. On young Harry is the onerous responsibility of tackling the nefarious designs of evil Lord Voldemort who wants to become immortal and subjugate all non-magical people.

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India After Gandhi
Writer: Ramchandra Guha
Genre: Non fiction, History
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: 2007

From the stable of one of India’s most respected modern historians, Ramchandra Guha, comes a book that traces the ebb and tide of the Indian narrative post 1947. It remains one of the best books of modern Indian history.

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City of Djinns
Writer: William Dalrymple
Genre: Non fiction, Travel
Publisher:  Penguin
Published:  1993

This book marks the first on the series of books William Dalrymple would go on to write on India. Set in Delhi, this is a travelogue on the many Delhis we live in. In diving deep into the many stories, Dalrymple touches upon tales of his Sikh landlady, 1984 sikh roits, survivors of the Raj, eunuchs, dervishes, Sufis and more.

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Midnight’s Children
Writer: Salman Rushdie
Genre: Magic Realism
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Published: 1980

One of the best examples of post-colonial literature and magic realism, it details the life of Saleem Sanai, set against actual historical events. Midnight's Children charts India’s transition from British colonialism to independence, partition of India leading up to Emergency. The book won Salman Rushdie the Booker Prize.

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10 A Farewell to Arms
Writer: Ernest Hemingway
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Scribner
Published: 1929

By far one of the best American War novels to be written, A Farewell to Arms has at its heart the love affair between two American expatriates in Italy with the backdrop of World War I. It is a first-person account of American Frederic Henry, employed with the Ambulance corps. At another level, the book deals with disillusionment with war, cynical soldiers and displacement of populations.

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11 The Grapes of Wrath
Writer: John Steinbuck
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: The Viking Press
Published: 1939

An epic tale of tenant farmers set in the great depression of 1930s, it chronicles the life of Joads, a poor family who must deal with economic hardship, changes in agricultural practices and banking woes. Here’s a family which is driven out of their Oklahoma home and must move west wards to California for work, dignity and a better future. The book won Steinbuck Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes.

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12 To Kill a Mockingbird
Writer: Harper Lee
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: NA
Published: 1960

A compassionate and warm tale of defence of a black man, wrongly implicated in rape charge and the death of innocence not only become an instant bestseller but went on win Pulitzer Prize. It remains one of the best works of Harper Lee.

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13 Life of Pi
Writer: Yann Martel
Genre: Fiction, Adventure
Publisher:  Knopf Canada
Published: 2001

Yann Martel’s fantasy adventure follows the journey of Pi, who is shipwrecked in the middle of the Pacific with a royal Bengal Tiger for company. What ensues is an engaging tale and lesson in explorations of spirituality and practicality. A best seller which has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, it also won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

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14 Interpreter of Maladies
Writer: Jhumpa Lahiri
Genre: Fiction, Short Stories
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Published: 1999

This collection of nine short stories by Indian American writer Jhumpa Lahiri spoke of the trials and tribulations of being Indian an America, caught between the world they had inherited and the New World they had made their own. The book won Lahiri the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

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15 The God of Small Things
Writer: Arundhati Roy
Genre: Drama
Publisher: IndiaInk
Published: 1997

Arundhati Roy’s debut novel created a flash when it first appeared. It charts the life of two fraternal twins and that of their mother as the story travels from Kerala to Calcutta and then back to Kerala. The story while giving insights into the world of Syrian Christians is replete with references to the cultural tensions, forbidden love and discrimination. The book won Booker Prize in 1997.


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