1. Lihaaf by Ismat Chugtai-
Starting with something heavy but relevant and iconic, Lihaaf (The Quilt) is a 1942 Urdu short story. The story led to controversy and a court case won by Ismat. Her lawyer debated that the story neither suggests an act of sex nor contains any obscene words, as the narrative, though bold and far ahead for its time, is told from the perspective of a small girl. The story explores homosexuality with extreme subtlety. The protagonist of this book “Begum Jan” is depressed after her marriage to a very old but respected man. The respect comes from his reputation of being a monogamist, but the same is shattered when his homosexuality comes to surface. The narrator is left to unravel the secrets that Begum Jan holds, traumatizing her further when her relationship with her masseuse, a girl servant, comes to light. This book unsettles you and has nothing conventional in its making. But it leaves a mark, questions some of your beliefs and truly opens your mind. I would have included Masooma, another great novel from the same author. But then if you really are fond of reading, you should go ahead and get your hands on all her writing. Its something we will never come across again. It belonged to an era. And it came from a legend. Such pieces are works of art and you would be missing out if you haven't read them.
2. Malgudi Days by R.K. Narayan-
Malgudi Days is a short story collection published in 1943, set in a fictional town called ‘Malgudi’ located in South India. Each story portrays the protagonist as a different person in different profession. From an astrologer, a postman of the town to a prestigious Doctor, the author takes us through all the variations and facets of life in quaint, adorable town. For everyone who probably read this book during their school days, pick it up again and it will bring back those days you had not a single worry in the world. Nostalgia will hit and it will remind you of your childhood. Summer vacations at your grandparent’s house or in the village. And if you haven’t read this already, make sure you bring it home. It could be a light and easy read but the book gives you much more to cherish than you could possibly think of. It will leave you with a ton of memories, a beautiful set of characters and a warm feeling inside your body.
3. Mrs. FunnyBones by Twinkle Khanna-
Twinkle Khanna is a woman known for her quick wit and humour and she delivers with this collection of anecdotes turned into a book. The book looks into a modern woman’s world of dilemma at the work place or with the catty neighbours along with managing a family and the social pressures that surround any generic family in an urban neighbourhood. Uproariously funny, the protagonist is a constant victim of time famine. Twinkle Khanna delves deeply into her life and yet does not make the reader feel like an outsider, considering the fact that the author herself comes from a prestigious and wealthy family of movie star parents. Casual observations and easy writing with every sentence being able to put a smile on your face, is something she does very well with this book. I would recommend it as a coffee table read, something light and fun, which can go well with your evening coffee or chai.