Following are the list of the books which have had a deep influence on my formative years and have given me the love of good stories and rich life experience. These are in the choronological order as I read over the years.
- Noddy and his adventures by Enid Blyton – was the first one which opened the world of imagination for me. I would quickly read the story once. Then would try to match the words with pictures. If the cap was written ‘red’, was it of red colour or not 🙂 The green colour fence or the rainbow and of course his car.
- Nancy Drew series under the pen name Carolyn Keene – ‘The Mystery of 99 steps’ was the first one. I can still feel the thrill of solving the mystery along with Nancy Drew. The library at the junior school seemed very small for me. I went on to Hardy Boys after finishing all of Nancy Drews’.
- Amar Chitra Katha and Jatak Kathayein– These comics were very popular and made very affordable gift on birthdays. By the time I moved to senior school I knew most of Indian mythology.
- The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer – I found this one book in the senior library and for the first time I was in love at the age of fourteen. I drooled over Edward Carlyon. To my acute disappointment the library didn’t have any other Heyer’s books.
- ‘The Glass Blowers’ by Daphne du Maurier – This was from my father’s collection, the hardship of people in glass trade still lingers. Though later I read Rebecca and The Frenchman’s Creek, but Glass blowers was the first one.
- Akhand Mahabharat in Hindi- This was during 10th and 12th summer vacations at my Nani’s place, read it twice for lack of doing anything else. Amazing depth of each character made it an interesting read.
- Chandrakanta Santati in Hindi by Devkinandan Khatrri – again from my Father’s collections. The first fantasy novel series for me, too good. What I really liked was that the author had put all the female spies at par with the male ones. No gender discrimination.
- The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth – This was when I went into thrillers and have never been able to resist them. Read all Forsyth one after the other.
- The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough– Oh… what a saga spanning two generations, weaving the story of unrequited love, that the emotions seem still fresh in my mind or shall I say heart.
- Roots by Alex Haley – The saga of slaves in an American plantation, based on the author’s family history. Haley’s work on the novel involved ten years of research, intercontinental travel and writing. Amazing.
These were the books which I had read before I turned twenty and they have given me immense pleasure and insight to understand the world as I see today. After these there have been many books literary and commercial. All of them have entertained and enriched my life and continue to do so.