From fiction to memoirs, our literary diet looked quite substantial this year. Notable authors recommend their favourite book of the year, and why you should pick it up too.

CLOUD CUCKOO LAND

by Anthony Doerr

Recommended by: K. Hari Kumar, author of India’s Most Haunted

“I love stories that are set in multiple timelines, and that is one of the primary reasons for me to like this book. One book — The Story of Aethon — ties together the three sets of characters in their respective timelines. There is a little of everything in this 640-page book — romance, history, science fiction, drama, and fantasy. In the end, everything is connected well. The multiple PoVs might be a turnoff for some readers, but it is definitely one of the best reads of 2021.”

THE LOST FRAGRANCE OF INFINITY

by Moin Mir

Recommended by: Anuja Chandramouli, author of Yama’s Lieutenant

“Moin Mir’s The Lost Fragrance of Infinity is so lovingly and exquisitely crafted, it left me weak in the knees and breathless with wonder. Mir’s second book marks him as a towering talent with an extraordinary voice. It’s one of those rare books that compel the reader to read and re-read the umpteen delightful passages that are imbued with the mystical magnificence of Sufism to imbibe the sheer beauty and profound insights contained therein.”

MISSION SHENGZHAN

by Tuhin A. Sinha and Suraj Clark Prasad

Recommended by: Koral Dasgupta, author of Ahalya

“It is an inter-country political thriller set in the backdrop of the pandemic where the search is on for patient zero, and the leadership of allied countries are as dependent on each other as much as they are diplomatic. India, France, UK, Israel, China, USA, Turkey. All seemingly suffering targets; all are suspected offenders. It’s worth a read.”

THE INDIAN CONTINGENT

by Ghee Bowman

Recommended by: Aanchal Malhotra, author of Remnants of a Separation

“One of the books I have loved this year is Ghee Bowman’s The Indian Contingent, which is an incredibly moving and illuminating book about the Indian Contingent, particularly a group called the Force K6, who served in the Battle of Dunkirk during World War II. It is a book that reclaims the Indian contribution in the war, commonly overlooked through popular film and media, and makes the story of each soldier visible and essential.”

AN ISLAND

by Karen Jennings

Recommended by: Shuma Raha, author of The Swap

“One book I absolutely loved reading this year is An Island by Karen Jennings. Long-listed for the Booker Prize, it’s a short novel, almost allegorical in its feel, and it brings together the themes of alienation, identity, xenophobia, and violence in prose that’s at once evocative and spare. A deeply moving read.”

LEGAL FICTION BY CHANDAN PANDEY, TRANSLATED

by Bharatbooshan Tiwari

Recommended by: Kiran Manral, author of Saving Maya

“A dark, gripping work, Legal Fiction takes a hard, impassive look at the vagaries that plague the India of today, socially, politically, culturally. Searingly written, it begins with an innocuous phone call asking for help, and from there the narrator descends into a quagmire that encompasses the religious, socio-political, and more, in small town India. This is a novel of our times, for our times.”

WORLD TRAVEL: AN IRREVERENT GUIDE

by Anthony Bourdain, Laurie Woolever

Recommended by: Debeshi Gooptu Bakshi, author of Away from Home

“Imagine getting a chance to travel the world with Anthony Bourdain? Well, this book is a bit like that. A frank and entertaining travel guide by the late celebrity chef along with a collection of essays by his family, friends, and work associates. At a time when the pandemic has limited our opportunities for travel, this book is a must-have for readers and travellers to see the world through Bourdain’s unique vision.”

THE EVERYDAY HERO MANIFESTO

by Robin Sharma

Recommended by: Anuj Tiwari, author of Give Your Heart a Break

“The Everyday Hero Manifesto by Robin Sharma is not about positive thinking. It is about living positively with wisdom, conquering fear, and augmenting your prosperity.”