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Booked for the season

Janhavi Acharekar | December 31, 2004


Found among souvenirs from far-off places, lost amid beachwear on the sandy bottom of a suitcase, or straining against the side pocket of a soiled backpack -- nothing marks the end of a good holiday better than a well-read, dog-eared book.

Read while sunbathing on the deck chairs of Goa, before a fireplace in the Darjeeling chill or, quite simply, for directions when lost or as respite from a boring party, every book has a tale to tell.


The book everyone seems to be talking about this season is an all-consuming 900 odd pages long real life thriller. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is an autobiographical novel -- the story of an escaped Australian convict who lands in Mumbai on a fake passport. The novel is an unbelievable, unputdownable saga of his life in the city slums and his brush with the Indian mafia. Rumours have it that there will soon be a film in the making with Johnny Depp as lead character. N Sriram, CEO of Crossword Bookstores, says the book is one of his favourites.

A person who reads seven to eight books at a time, for work and pleasure, Sriram's favourites find themselves on Crossword racks with a placard that says 'Sriram Recommends'. 

Having recently read Q & A by Vikas Swaroop, a novel based on the popular television programme Kaun Banega Crorepati, he has words of praise for its unique plot. "It makes for good holiday reading and will soon be out in bookstores," he says.

The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh is another interesting read.

Popular Reading

There's good news for Michael Crichton addicts – a new book from the author of Jurassic Park

State of Fear, a thriller on eco-terrorism, tells of manmade natural disasters, asking questions and expressing skepticism about the threat of global warming.

Meanwhile, Robert Ludlum's The Lazarus Vendetta: A Covert-One Novel by the bestselling author is the latest in his thrilling Covert-One series.


Come holiday season and travel guides such as the Rough Guides, Lonely Planet and Outlook Traveller books journey out of their bookshelves.

Coffee table books on India too are the rage as the NRI and tourist season sets in.

"The Outlook Traveller series is tremendously popular. There is also an increase in gifting of books during this season," says Sriram.

There are more readers of non-fiction it seems, as he confirms that fiction constitutes a mere 20 percent of their total sales while children's books and non-fiction account for the rest.

Non-fiction would include books on travel, management, self-improvement, biographies, art, philosophy, etc.

Evergreen Classics and Re-reads

There's nothing like Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol to evoke Christmas and New Year nostalgia.

The Seed And The Sower, a World War II Christmas trilogy by Laurens Van Der Post is also a worthwhile re-read.

Short Reads

For those not particularly inclined towards lengthy reads, there's a whole host of short works to choose from.

There's Jhumpa Lahiri's Pulitzer prize winning collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, while Manjula Padmanabhan's Kleptomania is ideal when stealing time to read in between flights and holiday activities.

Woody Allen's humorous Side Effects and Jeffrey Archer's A Twist in the Tale continue to be a favourite and the translated short stories published by Katha give you the best in regional writing.

If you like essays, Amitav Ghosh's The Imam and the Indian and Arundhathi Roy's political writings in The Algebra of Infinite Justice are must-reads.

And if you're stuck in the city this New Year's Eve, don't just sit there and twiddle your thumbs. Pick up a copy of Mumbai Meri Jaan, a kaleidoscope of writing on Mumbai (edited by Naresh Fernandes and Jerry Pinto) instead.

The Crossword List of Recommended Holiday Reading






Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Legacy

Eric Van Lustbader

Rs 275



Ken Follet

Rs 495


The Enemy

Lee Child

Rs 630


Northern Lights

Robert Nora

Rs 580



Danielle Steel

Rs 1,030



Gregory David Roberts

Rs 760


State Of Fear

Michael Crichton

Rs 225


Hour Game

David Baldacci

Rs 445


Playing With Fire

Peter Robinson

Rs 325


The Hanged Man's Song

John Sanford

Rs 491


Robert Ludlum's The Lazarus Vendetta: A Covert One Novel

Robert Ludlum

Rs 270


Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell

Susanna Clarke

Rs 805


Sunday Philosophy Club

Alexander McCall Smith

Rs 525


The Full Cupboard Of Life

Alexander McCall Smith

Rs 225


The Hungry Tide

Amitav Ghosh

Rs 250

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