If you seek something beyond that fiction pile of yours, here is a list of non-fiction narratives to satisfy your reading urges. Not too heavy and yet with a depth of its own kind, these non-fiction books would make a great read this summer.
A Brief History of Humankind By Yuval Noah Harari
70,000 years of human existence- yes that’s how long we have been around. But wait, before you think, here is another history/sociology/ biology book, let me make it clear. Sapiens is a book that would get you thinking. It is a book that triggers imagination, piques curiosity. From the beginning of the human race, our life over the centuries, evolution of – society, religion and money, Harari takes you on a very interesting journey. The evolution of human history could be one exhilarating topic to write about. The whole subject is large, and a book on it would require a great deal of research and work. Yuval Noah Harari’s book- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind has managed to put together these very pieces of evolution in a little less than 500 odd pages. This book is no casual read. It may provoke you, shock you, depress you, convince you, and make you reject opinions- all at once in one single book.
Remnants of a Separation by Aanchal Malhotra
Post- independence from the British Raj, the country was divided into two separate entities- India and Pakistan. A major population exchange happened with over 25 million people relocating to new homes and a new country. The magnitude of horror and suffering that followed was unimaginable. There were killings and religious riots all along the border, making it the darkest period in the history of both the countries. Lakes of blood and tears flowed everywhere and the brutality was immense. Families traveled across the border to restart life into a new territory, unknown and foreign. The book is a first-hand testament of the surviving generation. As Malhotra visits and discusses what life was once across the border, the surviving generation brings out vivid descriptions through dialogues. Across the nineteen chapters in the book, the stories within it have been delicately strung together with material memories. Not your typical documentary style, the book is unique in its own way. “Remnants of a Separation: A History of the Partition through Material Memory” is a beautiful chronicle of memories and a gamut of emotions, as people try to relive what they left behind, holding onto what they have with them- tiny little relics, remnant of a separation. Definitively worth a read!!
Lone Fox Dancing-Autobiography by Ruskin Bond
Lone Fox Dancing– is Ruskin Bond’s brilliantly written autobiography in his usual style with oodles of wit and humor. The book would charm you all through as he begins narrating his life from day’s in Jamnagar as a little boy. His happiest days are the ones in Delhi, during the war-stricken years. However he soon witnesses the separation of his parents and the untimely death of his father. Turning into almost a loner, he recalls days in boarding school in Shimla. Friends and neighbors in Dehradun become his life. His years in England as a young adult as he struggles to establish himself as a writer, and finally he sees the birth of his first published novel- The Room on the Roof. But, the growing restlessness within, and his desire to be amidst the hills of Mussoorie, gets him back to what he calls his home- Dehra. It is here that he establishes himself as Ruskin Bond the author, living with the trees, mist and sunshine that he so dearly loves. The book contains over fifty photographs of the author. Enjoyable anecdotes about his friends, his eccentricities and passions, soak you in warmth. Parts of these have already been published earlier too. Yet, having them under this one magnum opus book surely makes this a great read.
Black Friday: The True Story Of The Bombay Bomb Blasts by S.Hussain Zaidi
The 1993 Bombay bombings on 12 March 1993, was a well-coordinated attack, and considered as one of the most destructive bomb explosions in India. This single day attack resulted in over 250 fatalities and over 700 injured. The mastermind behind these attacks is Dawood Ibrahim who controls the underworld syndicate D–Company. Two decades later, after a long judicial proceeding with over a hundred witnesses, the Supreme Court of India convicted those involved in the blasts. However, till date the two main accused Dawood Ibrahim and his associate Tiger Memon are still on the loose. Black Friday is Hussain Zaidi’s chilling account of these Bombay bombings. I consider it a one of a kind book that brings in the minutest of details- the blasts, the aftermath and the investigation that followed. Well-researched, it lays out authentic facts, woven into a gripping non-fiction piece to read. Zaidi has succeeded in pacing out the episodes, in order of occurrences, in a seamless fashion. Black Friday is definitely a book worth reading, for all those who love the genre of crime, mafia and investigation. Don’t expect any suspense elements; though the book does put you in an introspection mode post that last page!
Veerappan-Chasing the Brigand by K Vijay Kumar
He was the man who terrorized the two southern states for over a decade. Koose Muniasamy Veerapppan, or just Veerappan, holed up in the deep vastness of the Dhimbam forest that lay over Karnataka and Tamilnadu, was once the most dreaded bandit and smuggler. The book Veerappan: Chasing the Brigand by K Vijay Kumar is an account of who exactly this man was, his deeds from sandalwood smuggling to illegal poaching, the mammoth manhunt that saw the loss of several lives, the Special Task Force, and finally Operation Cocoon, in which the bandit finally is killed. Retired IPS officer K Vijay Kumar was the man who took over the STF to undertake the deadly operation. The book is a wonderfully pieced together account, containing anecdotes, statements and incidents over the years, when Veerappan and his men proved to be tough opponents to the Special Task Force. Indeed this book reads nothing less than a fast paced thriller. It begins with a call that was first made to K Vijay Kumar by the then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha in June 2001, inviting him to head the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force. Through a series of flashback, the book brings facets of Veerappan, his growing up, early poaching days, and what it took to make Veerappan the dreaded bandit that he was. Vijay Kumar marvels the life of Veerappan, as he unravels never before known facts about him. Veerappan’s had many a close brush with the law, yet the bandit gets lucky almost every time. Splendid narration, with loads of dramatic twists and turns, the book is nothing less than a perfect Bollywood pot boiler.