The BookWag List 1: 10 Books to Buy / Beg / Borrow and Read This Week

March 1, 2013


Wondering what to read? Allow the weekly BookWag List to help you out. It is a compilation of some of the greatest books ever written – carefully curated by our editors. Go, take your pick. And watch out for a new list every Friday.

1. Team of Rivals By Doris Kearns Goodwin

The book that inspired Barack Obama and also the recently-released Lincoln. Do not get taken in by the size of the book. This is brilliant writing about the men who controlled the destiny of the US during the Civil War, and the compromises and sacrifices each made to ensure the nation did not disintegrate. Towering above them all is Abe Lincoln. This is not a book dedicated to him but if there is one book that defines his role best, it is this.


2. Phantom by Jo Nesbo

Yes, he may be on a self-imposed exile in Hong Kong but trouble always finds detective Harry Hole. This time it is the son of his former girlfriend who is in trouble and as Harry steps in to help out, things get messy. Well, that should comfort his fans. Harry LIKES things that way. A thrill a minute ride this, for all those who love Scandinavian mysteries.


3. Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success by Ken Segall

There has been no corporate story quite like Apple’s in recent times. The company that was on the verge of downing shutters in 1997 is today one of the world’s most valuable organisations and if Ken Segall is to believed, what made it tick was an accent – or call it craze – for sheer simplicity. You will find here the stories behind a number of Apple products: the processes, the nitpicking, the decisions, and a whole lot more. And of course, a whole lot of THAT man–Steve Jobs. Well written with a lot of learning inside.


4. Wisden India

The book many call the “Bible of cricket” now has an Indian edition, with a focus mainly on India’s buzzing cricket schedule. There are details of every significant match played in India, along with some very analytical writing and a plethora of statistics – there are summaries of every Test Match played by India, for instance, and detailed records against different teams. Pretty much a must-have for every literate Indian cricket fan.


5. Chris Bonington’s Everest by Chris Bonington

The greatest mountaineer alive writing about his four expeditions to the world’s tallest peak. That in essence is this brilliant book. And while Bonington’s fiercely frank prose itself would have made these tales of triumph and tragedy (no, not all of them have happy endings) worth the price, the excellent photographs add a whole new dimension to the experience. One of those rare books that re a joy to display as well as read.


 6.The Racketeer by John Grisham

Yes it is another book from him. Grisham has been in a particularly prolific vein of late but thankfully this has not affected his status as the master of the legal thriller. The Racketeer revolves around the murder of a judge.  A former marine who is in prison in connection with a racketeering case in real estate might know what really happened. Malcolm Bannister is as compelling a protagonist as any Grisham has created and this is one exciting ride for all those seeking thrills.


7. The Sanjay Story by Vinod Mehta

In the history of independent India, there has perhaps been no character as fascinating as Mrs Indira Gandhi’s younger son. Brilliant and charming at one moment, obstinate and aggressive at another. He was never the Prime Minister but most pundits agree that he was one of the biggest powers behind the throne in the turbulent seventies in India. And one of India’s best authors tells the tale of this multi-faceted character brilliantly. And without pulling any punches.


8. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller

You thought Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series of films was dark and gritty? It will seem like a romcom romp by the time you have finished Frank Miller’s (he of 300 and Sin City fame) on Batman. Placed in a futuristic world in which the Caped Crusader has been missing for a while and politics run riot and all superheroes (barring Superman) have been banned. Of course, Batman returns, but the question is – does anyone believe in him any more? Compelling stuff from a graphic novel maestro.


9. The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

Sherlock Holmes might have been the creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but he was by no means the only author to write about him. A number of other authors have tried their hand at keeping the Holmes legacy alive and now it is the turn of Anthony Horowitz, of Alex Rider fame, to breathe new life into 221B Baker Street, with the full approval of the Conan Doyle estate to boot. And  he does so by almost perfectly replicating the master story teller. If you love Sherlock Holmes (and we do not know many who do not), this is a book you have to read.


10. Return of a King by William Dalrymple

After forging a reputation mainly as a travel writer, William Dalrymple has since moved to history, bringing the same narrative fluidity that marked his earlier efforts. Return of a King is his look at the failed attempt of the British to place Shah Shuja on the throne of Afghanistan in 1839 to offset a perceived threat from Russia. This is the story of how an invasion went wrong with terrible consequences. Studded with analytical insights and information provided by recently unveiled documents, Return of a King is perhaps the best book written about Afghanistan and the perils of invading it. History buffs will love it.


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