As co-host of the set your own rules Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge, it's no secret that I love to read about different countries and cultures. Reading is the easiest and most frugal way to travel the world until we save up the money and find the time to get there in person. Since my family is from India and my chronic illness prevents me from visiting, I have been immersing myself in books set in India. These books bring me a sense of comfort like only family can and growing up in America, a real sense of what living in India might be like. Today, I'm sharing with you my favorite books set in India so you can travel to this beautiful, vibrant and socially diverse country yourself.
If You Like Historical Fiction and Forbidden Love, Read Under the Jeweled Sky by Alison McQueen....
Under the Jeweled Sky is a breathtakingly beautiful story about Sophie, the daughter of an affluent British doctor, and Jag, an Indian servant to the Maharaja. From different social classes and different cultures, being seen together would be disastrous. Yet Sophie and Jag find ways to be together and the story that transpires is full of intense first love and drama. Set during India's independence from the British empire, I learned about what was a joyous time for many also that threw many into utter poverty, destitution or even death. I could not put this book down and it made me want to read more about this time during India's history. See my full review of Under the Jeweled Sky by Alison McQueen for more details on why I loved and learned so much from this magnificent book.
If You Like Indian Food and Strong Female Characters, Read The Forgotten Daughter by Renita D'Silva...
Be warned, don't read The Forgotten Daughter by Renita D'Silva on an empty stomach if you like Indian food. Each chapter from mom Shilpa's point of view starts with a mouth-watering recipe and food plays an integral part of the story. As Shilpa says in the book, "every food has a feeling, a memory. Every important milestone in my life has a food associated with it. That is why this diary couldn’t just be for recipes. That is why I am narrating the story of my life via food.”
Growing up, the kitchen was the heart of our home, where we spent the most time together enjoying good food, each other’s company and a whole lot of good times. Not only is The Forgotten Daughter delicious, it's an emotional journey and story about self-discovery, forgiveness and testing the limits of mothers’ love. A great pick for the foodie reader who enjoys a deep emotional drama. See my full review of The Forgotten Daughter by Renita D'Silva for how this book made me feel and what it made me remember.
If You Like Stories About International Adoption, Read The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda...
I credit The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda for kickstarting my obsession with reading 2 years ago. Never before had I encountered a book that made my heart ache for my grandparents in India and the last time I saw them so many years ago. A book I was so enamored with, I could not put it down and felt compelled to share it's greatness with my readers in my first book review. The Secret Daughter is about Kavita, a poor Indian woman who gave birth to a girl in a place where only sons were wanted. Kavita has no choice but to give her daughter away in order to save her life but she yearns for her everyday and feels guilty about the choice she made. Asha is adopted by an American wife and an Indian husband who live in the US. Asha's adopted mother, Somer, struggles with raising a daughter who wants to learn about her culture and find her birth mother. Somer wonders if her bond with her daughter is strong enough to overcome whatever it is Asha discovers in India. Another dramatic read that highlights the differences between growing up in America and India for a girl, the pain of infertility and loss, and the undying hope mothers have for their children. See my full review of The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda.
If You Like Nonfiction About Growing Up In India, Read First Darling of the Morning by Thrity Umrigar
Thirty Umrigar is one of my favorite Indian authors. She moved me with the story of 4 Indian friends reuniting after a terminal cancer diagnosis in The World We Found and brought the topic of suicide to the forefront in The Story Hour just when Robin Williams committed suicide. She's a talented writer who writes heartwrenching dramas but I was most intrigued by the story of her childhood, quite a drama in itself. In First Darling of the Morning, Thrity shows us how she is caught in the middle between an abusive mother and a doting father. Thrity's life was full of simple joys and difficult realizations about the culture and country where she lived. An India full of dichotomies, the oppressively poor living among the privileged; the squalor amidst the splendor; the forgotten among the revered. This book took me back to India the one trip I remember. To those hungry faces impossible to forget and the same feeling not understanding why we could not help the hungry children begging for food. See my full review of First Darling of the Morning by Thrity Umrigar for more about Thrity's life and what it made me remember and long for in my last trip to India.
Thanks Book Bloggers International for allowing me to share some of my favorite books set in India, a country dear to my heart. Don't forget to stop by and sign up for our Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge anytime and check out our book reviews by continent linkups to get great book recommendations from around the world.
What books have you enjoyed set in India? What books bring back wonderful childhood memories for you? Where would you like to travel to in real life or in books? I'd love to hear from you!
About Tanya from Mom's Small Victories
Writer and owner behind Mom's Small Victories. I'm a A SAHM of 3 crazy boys and wife to Superhubby. I cope with Rheumatoid Arthritis, by focusing on things I love and celebrating my small victories in everyday life. I am obsessed with reading, love to cook my family delicious meals, travel and share tips on staying positive with a chronic illness. Let me know what small victories you celebrate today, life is short, let's treasure it!