The Ultimate Lockdown Reading List

Books have always commanded pride of place (and storage!) in our home, with R.R.M.’s passion for reading manifesting in some of our greatest treasures.

From novels to autobiographies, business to philosophy, sports to spirituality – he’s penned his top picks for your lockdown bucket list, curated across genres. From our shelf to your’s, we hope it makes for afternoons blissfully well spent!‘s ares if you’re looking form a bucket list of books to read in lockdown. From novels to biographies, business t


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Novels

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Most people associate Fitzgerald with The Great Gatsby, but it is this debut novel of his, published when he was 24, that he became a voice of the generation of the decadent Jazz Age.  Set in three parts, it tells the story of young Amory Blaine in three parts: Part 1 set in his college years; an interlude when he goes to World War I; Part 2 about his love affair in New York.  A great last line that is for the keeps.

The Dog by Joseph O’Neill

A hilarious novel, and a quick read, set in Dubai.  O’Neill is not very prolific, but in his limited oeuvre this is the best by this contemporary Irish author.  The book follows the voice of its exasperated narrator, who is more an anti-hero as he navigates through Dubai after leaving New York.  His adventures, written wittily by O’Neill, have lessons about the condition of our urban lives.

Open City by Teju Cole

Cole, a Nigerian-American writer has written one of the best novels on the themes of urbanization as his protagonist explores New York City and meets different people.  The architectural description of the buildings and landmarks, including the AOL Time Warner Center, where the book opens, through the book are a great way of looking at our urban jungles.

Normal Friends by Sally Rooney

Rooney is still in her 20s.  This is her second novel which made the literary world turn and take notice of this young voice.  Set in Ireland where Rooney is from, it tells the story of Connell and Marianne during the previous recession of 2008/09 exposing the insecurities of growing up in Trinity College in a turbulent period.

The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw

A wonderful new voice to hear out for in the years to come.  I’m in awe of Tash Aw, an English-Malaysian author is a great voice of today’s contemporary global literature.  The book is divided into three parts – “Jasper,” “Snow” and “Peter.”  Through each of those three sections we come across a corroborating yet contrasting account of Johny Lim, a Malaysian who establishes the Harmony Silk Factory, the most conspicuous structure and building in the Malaysian town where the novel is set.


Biography

Becoming by Michele Obama

Michele Obama’s journey from Chicago to the White House make for a wonderful narrative, but it is her relationship with Barack – from when she me him to her behind-the-scenes support of his presidency that make this one of the better biographies published in recent years.


Autobiography

Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov

One of my very famous memoirs written by the author best known for Lolita. 


Letters

Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda by F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald

The best love-letters ever published!  Period.


Philosophy

At the Existentialist Café by Sarah Bakewell

A very readable take on philosophy by featuring some prominent 20th century philosophers – Sartre, Beauvoir, Camus, Heidegger – and their time in Paris.

The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus

Sticking with the theme of existentialism, this slim-volume, especially the title-chapter on the Greek figure of Sisyphus is more relevant today than ever before.


Spirituality

Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy by Sadhguru

A great read in these troubling times.  Serves as a timely reminder that one cannot be at peace with the world, unless they are at peace with themselves.  Sadhguru, mystic, visionary and spiritual leader, among other things, reminds us to turn inwards to re-engineer our insides to find the balance to lead a harmonious life full of wellbeing – physical, emotional and spiritual.


Psychology

Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Lives by Adam Phillips

Even if Freud has fallen out of fashion, Adam Phillips remains one of the world’s leading psychoanalysts.  This book is a must-read in the world of social media excess and the constant FOMO!  In fact the name of the book is the M.O. from FOMO.

The Happiness Track by Emma Seppala

A Professor of psychology at Stanford, Seppala touches upon three very timely topics of happiness, stress and anxiety in our world.  A slim volume at 200 pages, it must be read twice to absorb all its content!


Business

Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella

A superb book relevant not just to businessmen but to people in leadership positions.  Besides touching upon new concepts taking over our world, such as cloud computing, Nadella is humble enough to acknowledge his rivals like Amazon.  And superbly, talks about how he would rather be Mr. Learn it All than Mr. Know it All; and also how his job as CEO of Microsoft is that of Chief Empathy Officer!  Reading this, explains in part, how Nadella added a trillion dollars to Microsoft’s market capitalization in six-years.


Finance / Economics

The Mystery of Capital:  by Hernando deSoto

Written by a Peruvian developmental economist, this book shows how capitalism succeeds in the West but fails in much of the developing world. He introduces some wonderful concepts of rights and laws which enable the poor and the bottom-of-the-pyramid to access capital.

Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel

A best-seller, which turned out to be prophetic.  Malkiel’s take on how index funds outperform active funds is truer than ever, and now with the nascent passive investing / ETF industry picking up in India, this book is also relevant to the Indian readership.

The Age of Oversupply by Daniel Alpert

Books on the 20008 Global Financial Crisis had become a cottage industry, but this book stood out for explaining two of the main factors at play – the surfeit of capital & labor around the world and the effects it had on the world-economy.  A slim volume that packs a bigger punch than more verbose commentary on the topic.


Sports

The Amateurs by David Halberstam

My favourite book on sports, written by the Pulitzer-Prize winner Halberstam.  Shows the passion of rowers – amateurs, not professional athletes – who pursue the sport of rowing (and the Olympic Dream) for the love of the sport.  A timely reminder of what sports, at its purest, is meant to be.


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