Top 5 books to read in India

These are some of the books I read while in India which I would recommend to fellow travellers. Whether you read them before, during or after your time in India I’m sure you’ll enjoy and relate to them. I found it was a great way to get additional insights into my experience in India, and found explanations for things I would otherwise remain clueless about. Even if you have no plans to visit India I’d say they’re all books worth a read regardless.


Holy Cow
This book gave me great comfort during stressful times in India. It’s a wonderfully accurate account of what it is like to be a western woman in India, and the frustrations you will face. It also gives some insight into the lives of Indian women, which was rather informative. I would actually suggest any female travellers planning to head to India read this prior to going. It’ll help you prepare yourself and decide whether you really want to put yourself through it all!

I feel it truly captures India as a country of extremes. As well as giving a good explanation about the various spiritual aspects to India. Additionally you’ll chuckle along to the explanations of the road hierarchy, missing supermarkets and the impossibility of exercise. A great read – my boyfriend enjoyed it too, so it’s not just for the girls!

This is the book the film Slumdog Millionaire is inspired by. However the plot line is completely different and the twist at the end is totally unexpected. This was probably my favourite fiction book about India, as the story is captivating. You’ll follow the main character through various twists and turns, and become enticed by the details described about life in India. I would definitely recommend giving it a read.

Are You Experienced?
A humorous account of a backpacker experience in India. Granted it’s not a classic but it’s a lighthearted read and will give you a feeling of relief – “so it’s not just me that feels this way!” You’ll empathise with him during his food poisoning, and relate to his frustrations about other backpackers trying to “find themselves”. Hopefully after giving this a read you’ll steer clear of any dog burgers!

White Tiger
This book is rather odd at times, but a good read nonetheless. It gives a good insight into the caste system, a prominent construct of the Hindu faith, which remains influential in India today. The book describes a young man who dwells on his resentment towards his wealthy employer, leading to extreme actions.

A cliche suggestion, but I would still recommend giving it a read. Supposedly a true story of a man who escaped from prison and went into hiding in India (I suspect it is somewhat embellished). My favourite character has to be Prabaker as he comes out with some corkers, which kept me amused throughout. If possible I would suggest reading it while in Mumbai, or shortly before arriving. You’ll find you identify areas described in the book such as Colaba, and riding in those black and yellow cabs will feel all the more special!

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13 thoughts on “Top 5 books to read in India

  1. FOMOist says:

    Shantaram is a great book! Has to be one of my favourites. I read it before going to India and then re-read it while backpacking around Mumbai and Goa.Are you Experienced? sounds great! Thanks for the list.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ζ”ΗΖœΙ…Ζš ΖΎ says:

    If you’re up for something a little more intense with a great plot you could try A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. It’s based in the 70’s, so no real relevance to the present, but its charm lies in its unpretentious realism.

    Liked by 1 person

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