Alongside your research of the best hotels in India, the must-see places in Southern India and information about travel visas, one of the most important processes before any trip is deciding which books to pack.
For inspiration, here is a list of some of our top picks of books set in India.
The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
How could we forget Arundhati Roy’s 1998 Booker Prize Winner? This beautifully told story about twins growing up in Kerala in the late ‘60s allows you to sink into the culture and background of this majestic state. Roy’s command of language and imagery allow her to explore some of the more complex and contradictory elements of Indian life.
Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
A little shaky on the human history of India post-independence? This could be the perfect read for you. Narrated by a man born at the stroke of midnight on 15th August 1947 and set between India and Pakistan, the intricate writing plunges you into the world of the people growing up alongside the new India. There’s also a feature film adaptation of this novel if Salman Rushdie’s writing is not your cup of tea.
Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri
If short stories are your jam, we recommend grabbing a copy of Indian American Jhumpa Lahiri’s collection. The characters all battle with their own challenges of finding a sense of belonging and varieties of culture shock, whether the story is set in Calcutta or Boston.
The Love Detective - Alexandra Potter
This is definitely a lighter choice; some reviewers might even disparagingly call it chick-lit, but we know a good holiday beach read when we see one. Weaving together themes of romance and magical realism, Potter brings to life the sense of wonder every tourist has when visiting India for the first time.
The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling
It’s time to dust off your copy of Rudyard Kipling’s most famous stories. It may have been a while since you last dipped your toe into the jungle and joined Mowgli and his friends, but these stories are as gorgeous and fluid as ever.
Orientalism – Edward Said
If fiction’s not your thing and you’re keen to further examine the lens through which Western European and American discourse views India (and Asia more generally, as well as the Middle East), we recommend Edward Said’s seminal collection of essays. It would make a perfect accompaniment to re-reading your childhood favourites from Frances Hodgson Burnett, or indeed Rudyard Kipling.
India after Gandhi - Ramachandra Guha
A comprehensive and clear guide to the modern history of India, this is a must-read for anyone wanting to gain more insight into the contemporary culture and politics of Indian life.
The Steradian Trail - M. N. Krish
If you’re seeking a Dan Brown-esque thriller set in India, written by an Indian author, look no further than this recent novel set in Chennai following an American computer scientist embroiled in the aftermath of the murder of one of his former students.
A House in Pondicherry - Lee Langley
You won’t be the first person to fall in love with Pondicherry when you visit and this novel encapsulates so much of the magic union between French and Indian style in the town. Spanning the lifetime of a French woman born in India, allow this story of love and opposing politics to sweep you off your feet.
What did you think of our list? Let us know if you have any favourites we haven’t included!