Tired of binge-watching shows on Netflix during the lockdown?
Here is a list of book recommendations curated exclusively by Sudarshana Singh, an avid book reader who has been spending her lockdown amidst the beautiful ridges of Simla.
Upon a request by Rajputana Collective, she was very kind and forthcoming to put together a list of some of her favourite books that one can enjoy to beat the quarantine blues. What makes this list even more noteworthy is Sudarshana's summarisation of each book, which is followed by one of her favourite quotes from it. She hails from Amet, Rajasthan and is married into the house of Rampur Bushahr, Himachal Pradesh.
1. THE KITE RUNNER
There is nothing Khalid Hosseini could write and I wouldn’t love. His debut novel is a must
read. It’s a heart breaking story of father-son relationship, friendship, loyalty-betrayal, culpability- innocence, forgiveness and warfare set in Afghanistan. I found myself holding my breath at instances and it made me dewy eyed. This masterpiece will leave you re-evaluating your life.
‘I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering it’s things, packing up and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.’
2. DAUGHTERS OF ARABIA
It’s a sequel to the popular ‘Princess: A true story of life behind the veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson. The book explores Princess sultana’s bond with her children and sisters, more shocking stories of the inequalities faced by the Saudi Arabian women and the untold opulent and luxurious life of the royal families. These kind of stories leave you with a stream of emotions after reading.
‘I was to tell you that it is not shameful to bow to reality and that you should allow the lust for conflict to cool on your veins.’
3. THE FOREST OF ENCHANTMENTS
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Novel is a modern-day retelling of one of the world’s best epic, a story we know by heart ‘Ramayan’, retold in Sita’s Version ‘Sitayan’. The novel doesn’t only retell Sita’s story but also gives space and time to other female characters. “Write our story, too,” the women characters say in the novel. “For always we’ve been pushed into corners, trivialised, misunderstood, blamed, forgotten- or maligned and used as cautionary tales.” After I read ‘The Palace of illusions’ by the same author, I had to pick this up. I love Divakaruni’s style, the lightest touch in her sentences form into ideas, concepts and discoveries. Her language is pleasing to the senses, powerful and absolutely magical.
This was my first lesson on the nature of love: that in a moment it could fulfil the cravings of a lifetime, like a light that someone might shine into a cavern that has been dark for a million years.’
4. EROTIC STORIES FOR PUNJABI WIDOWS.
Balli Kaur Jaswal delivered a perfect combination of love, mystery, tragedy, humour, culture and a little action. The main character, Nikki, takes up a part time job at the gurudwara to teach a literacy class to the oppressed and imaginative punjabi widows and the story unfolds from there. This multi- generational novel is witty and charming. A book I purely purchased because I was intrigued by the title but no regrets whatsoever here.
‘You waste everything because you’ve always had everything.’
5. A PRINCESS REMEMBERS - The memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur.
Gayatri Devi tells the story of her extraordinary life and that of her family members from the early 1910s through her childhood, the various wars, life in Cooch Behar, her marriage, India’s democracy and abolition of privy purse. This is no ordinary princess. Said to be one of the most beautiful woman in the world, she indeed enjoyed a privileged life, but there was more to Gayatri Devi than her palatial lifestyle. She had a deep sense of responsibility and was socially and politically active in Rajasthan. In true sense, a people’s Princess.
‘Never wear emeralds with a green saree as I had, they look so much better with pink.’
- One of the three etiquettes Maharani Gayatri Devi’s grandmother told her.
Content courtesy: Sudarshana Singh
Image courtesy: Sudarshana Singh & Google