Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 October 2018

My favourite reads: Rajesh Korde 

Growing up without television, I developed a habit of reading all sorts of books, in several languages

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Courtesy HarperCollins
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Courtesy HarperCollins

Once formed, a taste or a habit for reading books once formed cannot be easily given up. Devoid of television in my school days, I lapped up whatever was in our town library – from classics to short stories and detective/crime fiction. Being multilingual, I am fortunate to have read literature in four languages and it was very difficult to select just five reads.

To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee (1960)

Books, such as this, should be treated like a well-brewed coffee – relishing the flavour with slow sips. One of the many reasons to love this book is its simple language. Lee manages to evoke so much love and emotion in the story while dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. One starts seeing the main character Atticus Finch as the model of a great human being. No wonder the book has been translated in so many languages.

1984 by George Orwell (1949)

Yet another slow read, this political satire makes you think more about the society where we live in and how our thoughts are controlled. This book was a part of my curriculum at a college in India. Orwell "predicted" how the totalitarian nation would be in 1984, which is very much relevant today. As our technology evolves, we find our privacy seems to be shrinking. One can judge the book's influence by how the term "Orwellian" is often used to describe a situation, idea or societal condition even by people who may have only heard about the novel.

Inside the Kingdom by Robert Lacey (2009)

As a student of social sciences, I was always fascinated to read about history and political systems of different countries, and I happened to read this book after coming to the Arabian Gulf. Lacey's books (although I haven't read his earlier work The Kingdom) are considered one of the most accurate and balanced works on Saudi Arabia. His style is different, writing a history with a literary flavour. Many events are presented in a pleasant narrative based on real stories.

It Takes All Sorts by Peter Roebuck (2005)

One of my favourite pastimes is cricket, and I covered many matches in India, and in that context also read many books on the game. In this book, Roebuck meanders through his long career reporting cricket, to reveal the people and personalities who have touched his life. No one else combined such an intricate knowledge of the game with prose that was both lean and erudite. But with his untimely death in 2011, we lost a master wordsmith.

Aavarana: The Veil by SL Bhyrappa (2014) (original book in Kannada in 2007; translated by Sandeep Balakrishna)

History and religion is a sensitive and controversial topic, but Bhyrappa seamlessly knits both to narrate 1,000 years of Indian history in this classic fiction. I found it more relevant after my recent visit to Unesco World Heritage Site Hampi. Bhyrappa has made extensive and exhaustive research on this subject that raises pertinent questions about religion liberalism, and identity.

Rajesh Korde is a page editor for The National


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