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  • Mariam Madany

    A thousand splendid suns, The kite runner both written by Khaled hosseini.
    Room- Emma donoghue
    Psychopath's test- Jon ronson (not as creepy as it seems, it is a non fiction about the industry of mental illness, really interesting)

    The gift, If you could see me now both by Cecelia ahern

  • Adam Cushman

    Driven by James Sallis. It's the sequel to Drive. It's awesome.

  • Marcus Kielly

    Lot of good books already - but if you fancy something left field you could try Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny, classic sci-fi in which the crew of a ship land on a planet, give themselves superpowers to survive and effectively become Hindu Gods

  • Milo Coello

    The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, by Sogyal Rinpoche. I think it's a must read for humanity, I read it while I traveling in India, Nepal and Bhutan and it's by far my favorite book!

  • k593

    Try Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil - Bombay through the opium daze ;)

  • Jeff Nelder

    This is an awesome overview to some of the spirituality and culture in India and how it connects internationally:
    Spiritual Tourist: A Personal Odyssey Through the Outer Reaches of Belief by Mick Brown

  • pfcreigh

    Shantaram! Midnight's Children! I haven't read it yet but I hear good things about the book that Slumdog Millionare was adapted from. I still vote Shantaram the most

  • Rose Vl


  • vipinpr

    You can read this book of American Swami ! Who hitchhiked from Europe to Afghanistan to India through Kyber Pass finally ending up in the Himalayas
    Very interesting book - The Journey Home

  • B. Bulent Curry

    Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

  • kylechristopher

    I just got back from India. I read a lot of the books people suggested here, and they were all pretty good (I liked Midnight's Children the most). If you wanted something a little more "dry", but informative, I would suggest reading Amartya Sen and Vandana Shiva. I'm not sure anything can really prepare you though... and that's half the fun.

  • Neosteve

    I liked "Catfish & Mandala" by Andrew Pham

    • Hillary Newman

      Great! I'll look it up. Thank you!

  • kjlamberto

    The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy - it's a wonderful story, very well written and full of the vibrancy and sensuousness of India!

    • Aubrey Byron

      ^ This was my suggestion! It creates the most gorgeous images in my mind.

    • Hillary Newman

      Yes, I've heard great things about it. Many thanks!

  • Vidit Jain

    The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi.

    • Hillary Newman

      I'll have you check it out. Thanks for your suggestion.

    • Hillary Newman

      Such a fantastic read! Worth another read!

  • Priscilla Villa

    The Buddha Walks Into a Bar by Lodro Rinzler
    A more modern take on Buddhism. Great read!

    • Hillary Newman

      That sounds great. Really wanting to get a better grasp on Buddhism.

    • Hillary Newman

      Thanks, John. Really looking forward to the trip.

  • Rahul Jani

    buy this book because once your there you will want to know how the place functions. 3rd world solutions for a globalising world.

    • Hillary Newman

      Thanks, Will. A few people have suggested Shantaram. Sound like a great read!

  • Nidhi Makhija

    Shantaram and Maximum City are good reads if you're coming to Bombay. If you're traveling to rural India, William Dalrymple's books are very insightful into what different small communities around India believe.

    Don't read Chetan Bhagat, he's not a good accurate of 'what the youth think.' I'm a 'youth', and none of my circle feels represented by him.

    • Hillary Newman

      I'm traveling around Northern India. Thanks for your suggestions. Really looking forward to the trip!

  • Rachel Roberts

    I traveled to India last year and while I mostly worked with Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala, I did do some "Indian culture" preparation. I found The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga to be really helpful and interesting.

    If you'd like a few books on Tibetan culture, I've got a good list going! Safe travels!

    • Lindsey Smith

      Rachel, I recently studied Tibetan buddhist in a class last semester. What was your perception on the life in Dharamsala? I'm confused why the media have posted monks with guns when violence is the opposite of the main Buddhist belief, compassion.

      • Rachel Roberts

        Lindsey, I have never seen a monk with a gun. You are right- they are all about compassion and encouragement. The most violent thing I've known a monk to do is to set himself on fire but I think that even in the Tibetan buddhist world that's somewhat frowned upon. I have some amazing stories- wish everyone could have the experience I did. If you get a chance to go visit, you definitely should. It will change your life.

        • Lindsey Smith

          I wish I could have experience your journey. I want to visit and volunteer ASAP :)

    • Hillary Newman

      Wow, your trip sounds amazing. A few people have suggested White Tiger. I'll check it out. Thank you!

  • Steven Chiang

    Oh sorry, I didn't know you were just looking for cultural reference points. Monsoon Wedding is an entertaining movie that rings true. Also Hotel Marigold movie (title is something like that). These aren't books. Siddhartha is but doesn't feel like the India that I know.

    • Hillary Newman

      Thanks for the suggestions! It's a lonnnnnng plane ride over, so I appreciate the movie suggestions.

  • Steven Chiang

    Books on traveling within India? I've been a couple times and know some folks there that might be of use to you. Deputy Chief of Police in Delhi and a bunch of folks at ICRISAT (agricultural research center in Hyderabad).

  • Angela Cross

    An end to Suffering: The Buddha in the world. Currently traveling through South America myself and have been enjoying the read immensely - the Buddha was a traveler too, and the book gives a lot of background of old India and India's industrialization ;) I'd give you the author's name, but the book is far away from where I am currently bundled up enferma :/

    • Hillary Newman

      Oh no, hope you feel better. Thanks for the rec!

  • Krishanu Ghosh

    You could read the book "Revolutions 2020" by Chetan Bhagat, it is a fiction set in the backdrop of contemporary Varanasi and will give you a decent idea of current Indian youth psyche too.

  • Darielle Dannen

    The Jewel in the Crown. A fascinating read about India under British rule. The whole series is long and the plot moves slowly, but was a fascinating exploration of racism, colonial rule and the first days of a self-ruled India.

  • Darielle Dannen

    Midnight's Children. Partially about partition as well. Beautifully written by the iconic Salman Rushdie.

    • Hillary Newman

      Thanks for all of the suggestions!

  • Darielle Dannen

    A Fine Balance. Great book. When I lived in India I tried to only read Indian literature.

  • Darielle Dannen

    Cracking India. A great book that deals with partition.

  • Darielle Dannen

    The God of Small Things. Beautiful book.

  • Maria Redin

    Second Shantaram... perfect book for India. :)

  • Casey Caplowe

    Oh, and Siddartha by Herman Hesse is a classic. I feel like i should find that and read it again.

  • Casey Caplowe

    Shantaram by Gregory Roberts is super fun.

  • Barbara Soalheiro

    Twilight in Delhi (by Ahmed Ali) is a classic in India literature. A book people read at school. It's a quite short novel portraying the twilight of a high class Muslim Indian family, as mogul culture gives way to colonial British culture. It's not the greatest book you'll ever read but I enjoyed the descriptions and details of life in old Delhi.

    White Tiger (by Aravind Adiga) is brilliant. A great portrait of contemporary India. Totally worth reading even if you were not going to India.

    The God of Small Things (by Arundhati Roy). If you are heading south, to Kerala (which you definitely should!), you've gotta read it.

    • Barbara Soalheiro

      ah! and there is Behind the Beautiful Forevers (by Katherine Boo), if you are in for non-fiction. I haven't read it yet but apparently it's an outstanding account of a slum in Mumbai

      • Shannon Yarbrough

        Yes, this one sounds fantastic! I also enjoyed Clear Light of Day by Anita Desai. I found it to be a slow read because each passage is just saturated with imagery–very beautiful, and worth the time.

      • Hillary Newman

        I've heard great things about this book.