Thought Box



by Editorial Desk December 25 2023, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 8 mins, 18 secs

This week-long series begins today and brings to you the best of 2023 through the eyes of the most influential among us. Author and writer Nandita Puri gives to The Daily Eye her list of favourite books, which she recommends that you too must read!

Nandita Puri worked as a writer and journalist with several newspapers like The Telegraph, The Statesman, The Times Of India, The Reader’s Digest. For nearly a decade she wrote one of the most popular weekly film columns on cinema for Mid-Day (Potpuri) and India’s largest circulated daily, Dainik Bhaskar (Khaas Chehre). She has also worked as a broadcast journalist for All India Radio and Radio Network (with former BBC Chief Mark Tully) in Calcutta. She has written for television and feature films, having penned a typical Bollywood commercial film called Mera Dil Leke Dekho (2006) apart from a number of documentaries and shorts films.

Her collection of short stories, Nine On Nine (published by Rupa & 2005) has been critically acclaimed. It has gone into its more than 30th edition and has also been translated in German at the 2006 Frankfurt Book Fair. Besides, one of the stories has been included in the Sahitya Akademi Anthology of Indian writers. Filmmaker, Mike Nichols (Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, Graduate, Catch 22) wrote about Nine On Nine, “Nine On Nine is fascinating because it is funny and full of life, the writing is a mixture of compassion and toughness, it is really political writing in the highest sense. The closest I can compare this book is to Edith Wharton’s House Of Mirth.”

In 2010 Nandita published the biography, Unlikely Hero: Om Puri, (Roli Books), which has been on the bestsellers’ list and translated in several Indian languages including, Hindi, Malayalam, Punjabi and Marathi. The following year Nandita published her debut novel, Two Worlds (Rupa & Co), a historical romance spanning two centuries and several continents. The book was launched at the Jaipur Lit Fest in the presence of Orhan Pahmuk. It was on the bestsellers’ list for several weeks.

Nandita researched on the sensitive subject of “International child trafficking” and “Inter country adoption” for years before her book based on the personal story of Jennifer Haynes, Jennifer’s Story, was published by Harper Collins. She has also written the screenplay, Homeless/Jenny Hoover (working title) based on her book.

She’s a Ted X Speaker and Chairperson of Om Puri Foundation. Over to her list then…

Author Gaur Gopal Das’s Life's Amazing Secret

Stop going through life, Start growing through life!

While navigating their way through Mumbai's horrendous traffic, Gaur Gopal Das and his wealthy young friend Harry get talking, delving into concepts ranging from the human condition to finding one's purpose in life and the key to lasting happiness.

Whether you are looking at strengthening your relationships, discovering your true potential, understanding how to do well at work or even how you can give back to the world, Gaur Gopal Das takes us on an unforgettable journey with his precious insights on these areas of life.

Das is one of the most popular and sought-after monks and life coaches in the world, having shared his wisdom with millions. His debut book, Life's Amazing Secrets, distils his experiences and lessons about life into a light-hearted, thought-provoking book that will help you align yourself with the life you want to live.

Author Prince Harry’s Spare

It was one of the most searing images of the twentieth century: two young boys, two princes, walking behind their mother's coffin as the world watched in sorrow-and horror. As Princess Diana was laid to rest, billions wondered what Prince William and Prince Harry must be thinking and feeling - and how their lives would play out from that point on.

For Harry, this is that story at last.

Before losing his mother, twelve-year-old Prince Harry was known as the carefree one, the happy-go-lucky Spare to the more serious Heir. Grief changed everything. He struggled at school, struggled with anger, with loneliness-and, because he blamed the press for his mother's death, he struggled to accept life in the spotlight. 

At twenty-one, he joined the British Army. The discipline gave him structure, and two combat tours made him a hero at home. But he soon felt more lost than ever, suffering from post-traumatic stress and prone to crippling panic attacks. Above all, he couldn't find true love.

Then he met Meghan. The world was swept away by the couple's cinematic romance and rejoiced in their fairy-tale wedding. But from the beginning, Harry and Meghan were preyed upon by the press, subjected to waves of abuse, racism, and lies. Watching his wife suffer, their safety and mental health at risk, Harry saw no other way to prevent the tragedy of history repeating itself but to flee his mother country. Over the centuries, leaving the Royal Family was an act few had dared. The last to try, in fact, had been his mother.

For the first time, Prince Harry tells his own story, chronicling his journey with raw, unflinching honesty. A landmark publication, Spare is full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief.

Martin Amis’s Visiting Mrs Nabokov

Fuelled by innumerable cigarettes, Martin Amis provides dazzling portraits of contemporaries and mentors alike: Larkin and Rushdie, Greene and Pritchett, Ballard and Burgess and Nicholson Baker, John Updike - warts and all. Vigorously zipping across to Washington, he exposes the double-think of nuke-speak; in New Orleans the Republican Convention gets a going over. And then there's sport: he visits the world of darts and its disastrous attempt to clean itself up, dirty tricks in the world of chess, and some brisk but vicious poker with Al Alvarez and David Mamet.

Sex without Madonna, expulsion from school, a Stones gig that should have been gagged, on set with Robocop, or on court with Gabriela Sabatini, this is Martin Amis at his electric best.  

Jahnavi Samant’s Faaltugiri and other flashbacks: How I survived childhood in the 80's

A long, long time ago, much before Hindi films were called Bollywood and Bombay was called Mumbai, before cell phones and Internet - there were kids who had no gadgets and were left most to their own devices.
What was the world like for children in the ’80s? Full of faaltugiri for sure!
Traverse a bustling gully in Dadar with a Mumbaichi mulgi and witness her worthless attempts at cutting-edge socio-scientific experiments like collecting soap choora, pencil shavings, talcum powder, mastering the Bambaiya language and her dreams of becoming a heroine.

Javed Akhtar’s Jadunama

Jadunama is about a writer, poet, lyricist, and political activist. It is also about this one man’s struggle since childhood to become what he is today and to create a hallmark of success in everything he does. Named Jadu at birth, it was Javed sahab’s father, Jan Nisar Akhtar’s poem, ‘Lamha, lamha kisi jadoo ka fasana hoga (Every moment will be the story of a certain magic)’ that was the inspiration behind the name.

When the little boy was in kindergarten, everyone realised that Jadu was not a serious name and to have a word as close to Jadu as possible, he was renamed Javed (meaning ‘eternal’), Akhtar (meaning ‘star’) - Eternal star! Not only has he remained in the limelight ever since, he continues to shine brightly like the eternal star! The recipient of several awards during his lifetime, notable among those being the Padma Shri (1999), Awadh Samman Uttar Pradesh (2001), the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Ekta Puraskar (2005), and the Padma Bhushan (2007), Javed Akhtar, through his work, be it in the cultural milieu, or when it comes to fighting to give the writer his due, has always put his best foot forward.

Full of rarely known information and delightful anecdotes, Jadunama opens a wide window into Javed Akhtar’s life journey, as it steadfastly refuses to follow a timeworn narrative, or take any well-trodden path. Propelled by the winds of humanism, Javed sahab is like that ship sailing in the sea that has cast its anchor in the many ports of Time. Having reached far in life and even though he has achieved whatever there is to achieve, Javed Akhtar firmly believes that where one has reached cannot be one’s destination. The destination is always a little further ahead and as long as it is further ahead, one is alive, one is moving forward, as aptly summed up in this sher: Hamarey shauq ki inteha thi, Qadam rakha kii manzil raasta thi. This ship, as is evident, continues to sail.

Siddharth Kak’s Love, Exile, Redemption: The Saga of Kashmir’s last Pandit Prime Minister and his English wife

Ram Chandra Kak, the Kashmiri Pandit prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was ousted by Maharaja Hari Singh, and was put behind bars on the eve of India and Pakistan’s independence. Over the decades, the blame for Maharaja Hari Singh’s indecision regarding Kashmir’s position is laid at the feet of the previous Prime Minister.

For the first time in history, witness the truth of Ram Chandra Kak’s career and life. Consisting of letters and diary entries by his wife Margaret Kak, as well as sections from Kak’s unpublished memoir that looks at his career in state administration. This book reveals a side to the family and Kashmir that has never been seen before. Written by their grandson Siddhartha Kak and their daughter Lila Kak Bhan, this book is a glimpse of a couple that was present at the precipice of history, facing all obstacles thrown their way with grace and courage.  

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.

Series Web Series Films Political Leaders People Author Writer Nandita Puri The Daily Eye Books Reading Journalist The Telegraph The Statesman The Times Of India The Reader’s Digest Newspapers Mid-Day Potpuri Weekly Column Dainik Bhaskar Khaas Chehre India All India Radio Broadcasting Radio Network. BBC Mark Tully Calcutta Television Feature Films Bollywood Mera Dil Leke Dekho (2006) Documentary Films Short Films Nine On Nine Rupa & Co. German Frankfurt Book Fair Sahitya Akademi Anthology Indian writers Filmmaker Mike Nichols Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf Graduate Catch 22 Edith Wharton House Of Mirth Biography Unlikely Hero: Om Puri Roli Books Bestseller Hindi Malayalam Punjabi Marathi Two Worlds Debut Novel Romance Jaipur Lit Fest Orhan Pahmuk Child Trafficking Story Storyteller Jennifer Haynes Jennifer’s Story Harper Collins Screenplay Ted X Speaker Om Puri Foundation Gaur Gopal Das Life's Amazing Secret Mumbai Prince Harry Spare Princess Diana Prince William Grief Spotlight Meghan Markle Martin Amis Visiting Mrs Nabokov Nicholson Baker John Updike Salman Rushdie Washington New Orleans Al Alvarez David Mamet Madonna Robocop Gabriela Sabatini Jahnavi Samant Faaltugiri and other flashbacks: How I survived childhood in the 80's Hindi films Bombay Gadgets Dadar Mumbaichi Mulgi Bambaiya Heroine Javed Akhtar Jadunama Poet Lyricist Activist Jan Nisar Akhtar Poem Padma Shri Awadh Samman Uttar Pradesh Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Ekta Puraskar Padma Bhushan Humanism Siddharth Kak Love Exile Redemption Ram Chandra Kak Kashmiri Pandit Jammu and Kashmir Maharaja Hari Singh Pakistan Kashmir Margaret Kak Lila Kak Bhan