Finding George Orwell in Burma – Emma Larkin - Retracing George Orwell’s time as an Imperial policeman in Burma in the 1920s. Larkin relates the current struggles of the Burmese people under a military regime to the writings of Orwell- 1984 and Animal Farm most prominently.
The Raj at War – Yasim Khan - A bottom up type history of the sometimes reluctant Indian participation in the second world war along-side the rest of the British Empire.
The Consolations of the Forest – Sylvain Tesson - A crazy Frenchman spends six months, more or less alone, in a cabin on the shore of Lake Baikal in Siberia. He reads a lot and drinks more while tramping around in the snow exploring the Taiga surrounding the world’s largest and oldest fresh body of water.
The Guide- A Novel – R.K. Narayan - An Indian Storekeeper/Guide falls in love with another man’s wife, goes to prison and likes it (!) and finally becomes a swami beside the river in which he ultimately dies after reluctantly fasting for 10 days. Though it doesn’t sound it, an often funny read about a more or less directionless man through his life.
1984 – George Orwell - The crushing of the individual by a parasitic state. A warning to a low information society.
Darkness at Noon – Arthur Koestler - A snap shot of the Show Trials in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Ideology triumphing over individuality. Highlighting weaknesses of intellectuals when confronted with simple brute force.
The Last Lion: Winston Spenser Churchill - William Manchester - Churchill certainly had failings, Indian policy for one, but a great leader/orator. Indicative of the heights to which a person can ascend when intelligence, perseverance and history align.
Mythology – Edith Hamilton
Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain - The only book I read more than twice as a child. I would often fall asleep imagining Jim and Huck rafting down the river, wishing I could do the same.
I Claudius – Robert Graves - Introduced me to adult literature at age 11.
Yertle the Turtle – Dr. Seuss - My first and only business management book.
Ella Frances recommends:
Stoner, John Williams - I cannot believe how this book detailing the life of just one imagined man manages to be both so ordinary, and so extraordinary. To this day, it is the only book that has made me cry.
My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell - My copy of this book is falling completely apart due to it having been read so many times; very few pages are still glued together. It shaped the way I thought as a child in a fantastical, knowledge-hungry way.
The Arrival, Shaun Tan - Technically a children’s publication, but in fact ageless, I found this in a dusty bookstore the week prior to leaving for a year in Morocco. For whatever reason the breathtaking, wordless images have been embedded into my mind, and I still dream of them often.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Judith Kerr - This was both slightly terrifying and very magical for a young mind, and combines two of my (still) favourite things: tea, and cats (albeit a large one).
The Promise, Nicola Davies & Laura Carlin - There have been some beautiful children’s books published in recent years, and I am a serious admirer of Laura Carlin’s work—the message is wonderful, the illustrations so softly beautiful.
Fashioned to Reign, Chris Vallotton
The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson
Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller
Pitch Anything, Oren Klaff
Where the Wild Things Are
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Left to Tell by Immaculée Illibagiza - Compelling story of the amazing survival of a woman in Rwanda during the genocide.
Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr - It is a time-proven little book on effective writing.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson - Historic Novel that shows the history of Chicago and a horrific crime during the time of the 1893 World’s Fair.
Valley Forge by Richard Ammon - Captivated me as a grade schooler because it told the story of heroism during a brutal winter of the Revolutionary War.
Aesop’s Fables - It let my imagination run wild.
Life of St Thomas Moore - Patron saint of a local Catholic parish who sacrificed his life for his faith.
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein - This book is groundbreaking in defining a class of simple and powerful ways to change human behavior, without limiting people's freedom.
Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby - An empowering -- and scientifically accurate -- guide to fat acceptance. Every living human should read it, no matter what they weigh.
Food Rules: An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan - Simple, commonsense rules for eating. Stop counting calories and worrying about vitamins. Follow these rules and everything will be ok.