Recommended Books (English)

‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.’

When you read, you don’t just read a book or a story, you travel across times, spaces, thoughts and souls. Books are one of the greatest gifts humankind has gifted to itself. It is with the help of books that we can begin to understand human history better, not repeat the wrongs, learn from the good and value the present. Books are our greatest companions and also our mirrors, for the kind of books one reads is the greatest reflection of oneself.

At Nest Bharat, we regularly share with each other the new finds and the old classics that are must-read by nestlings. Just like our nestlings, these books are quite diverse, ranging from history to autobiography to spirituality and self-help books. 

Whether you are starting on your journey to reading or are an avid reader, we suggest you go through the below compilation of some of the top recommended books by nestlings. 

We hope through them you can understand not only Bharat or yourself better but everything that spans a human mind.

We start with the works of Sister Nivedita and Swami Vivekananda. Below are the books we recommend you read if you wish to know more about the life and work of Swami Vivekananda and his most famous disciple Margaret Noble who left England on a one-way ticket to Bharat and dedicated her life to serving this country as Sister Nivedita.

1. Web of Indian Life: Sister Nivedita
A collection of essays by Sister Nivedita where she discusses life in India and its various aspects, from the role of women to the Hindu religion and the advent of Islam, the caste system, and various Vedic philosophies. The introduction of the book was written by Rabindranath Tagore, and it was met with a lot of excitement and speculation when it was first published.

2. Religion and Dharma: Sister Nivedita
Generally, the Indian word Dharma is inappropriately translated to English as Religion, but, in this book, Sister Nivedita discusses how these two are different and how Dharma has a broader and more complex significance for humanity. This book, too, is a collection of essays, on various topics like Hindu culture, rituals, and certain concepts like Mukti that are unique to Hindu life.

3. Footfalls of Indian History: Sister Nivedita

This book was published (posthumously) in 1915. Having arrived in India in the year 1898; by this time, she had absorbed a lot about Indian culture and history, especially under the tutelage of Swami Vivekananda. This book discusses the major landmarks of Indian history and its glorious events as well as drawbacks.

4. The Master as I saw Him: Sister Nivedita

Having first met Swami Vivekananda in 1895 in London, and following him to India in 1898 to live out her spiritual destiny, Sister Nivedita had an extremely special and significant relationship with Swami Vivekananda. This book chronicles that relationship and the series of spiritual discourses and experiences she had with the Master.

 5. Nivedita of Ramakrishna Vivekananda: Sister Atmaprana

This book captures all the aspects of the life of Sister Nivedita, from her early years as Margaret Noble to her meeting with Swami Vivekananda, her years as a disciple and the rest of her life as a teacher, dedicated to following her path as a true Indian, and serving the Indian people. 

 6. Life of Vivekananda by his western and eastern disciples

It is a well-written book with several insightful anecdotes reflecting the teachings of Vivekananda. His inspirational life can set an example for today’s youth and his deep, spiritual yet dynamic teachings can influence them positively. This book covers the childhood and early life of Narendranath, his meeting with Ramakrishna, and his transformation into the saint Vivekananda, who paved way for Indian spirituality to reach the world.

7. Chicago and other addresses: Swami Vivekananda

The Chicago address by Swami Vivekananda at the first World Parliament of Religions in 1893 is considered iconic and path-breaking for its introduction and description of life as a Hindu in Bharat. It’s still celebrated for its message of inclusion and timeless relevance to humanity. 

8. From Colombo to Almora: Swami Vivekananda

This book chronicles the lectures given by Swami Vivekanand post his return from the west in 1897. The book is based on his lectures given at 12 locations as he travelled from Colombo to Almora. These lectures have been the subject of scholarly studies and a source of inspiration for generations.

Here are some of the recommended books for those who have an interest in both old and current history.

9. The Case for India: Will Durant

One of the most prolific works recording British atrocities and systematic drainage of India’s wealth during their 200-year rule, this book by celebrated American historian, Will Durant is a must-read for every Indian. Published in 1930, while he was on a visit to India as part of collecting data for The Story of Civilization, the author presents before us an unflinching account of what was taking place in India under British rule. He was so taken aback by the devastating poverty and starvation that he took time off from his stated goal and instead concentrated on his polemic fiercely advocating Indian independence.

 10. Confessions of an economic hitman: John Perkins

Known to be a semi-autobiographical book, first published in 2004, the book provides Perkins’s account of his career with an engineering consulting firm in Boston. According to Perkins, his job at the firm was to convince leaders of underdeveloped and developing countries to accept substantial loans for large construction and engineering projects. Ensuring that these projects were contracted to U.S. companies, such loans provided political influence for the US, besides access to natural resources for American companies. Suggesting a system of corporate red tape and greed, the book unravelled a big nexus between the various national agencies in the US. 

 11. Globalisation and its Discontents: Joseph Stiglitz

Published in 2002 by the 2001 Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, the book draws on the author’s personal experience as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Bill Clinton from 1993 and chief economist at the World Bank from 1997. During this period Stiglitz became disillusioned with the IMF and other such international institutions, which he came to believe acted against the interests of impoverished developing countries, following policies that are based on neoliberal assumptions that he found to be fundamentally unsound.

 12. How India sees the World: Shyam Saran

Using the prism of Kautilya’s Arthashastra and other ancient treatises on statecraft, Saran shows the historical sources of India’s worldview. He looks at India’s neighbourhood and the changing wider world through this lens and arrives at fascinating conclusions. This book also takes the reader behind the closed doors of the most nail-biting negotiations and top-level interactions.

If you are looking for some motivation or strategic intervention in navigating your personal or professional life, below are the all-time classic books that every youth must read once.

13. Who Moved my cheese: Spencer Johnson

Published on September 8, 1998, this motivational business fable went on to sell 26 million copies and continues as one of the all-time best-selling books in the genre. The text describes the change in one’s work and life, and four typical reactions to those changes by two mice and two “Little people”, during their hunt for the proverbial “cheese”. It broadly talks of how to deal with change, adapt to it quickly, and learn to constantly enjoy and grow with it. 

 14. Man’s Search for Meaning: Viktor E. Frankl

Based on his own experience and the stories of his patients, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. At the heart of his theory, known as logotherapy, is a conviction that the primary human drive is not pleasure but the pursuit of what we find meaningful. Man’s Search for Meaning has become one of the most influential books in America; it continues to inspire us all to find significance in the very act of living.

 15. Go Kiss the World: Subrato Bagchi

‘Go, kiss the world’ were Subroto Bagchi’s blind mother’s last words to him. These words

became the guiding principle of his life, helping him achieve massive professional success as well as leading a balanced personal life. This book is an inspiring read for young Indians, especially those hailing from small towns like Bagchi, helping them achieve their dreams.

 16. The Elephant Catchers: Subrato Bagchi

Through a combination of engaging anecdotes from his experiences as co-founder of the highly successful Mindtree and stories from our everyday world, Bagchi, in this insightful book, demonstrates a crucial point: Organizations with real ambition to get to the top need to embrace the idea of scale (as one catches Elephants through skill and expertise that goes beyond the usual rabbit-hunting enthusiasm) and then ensures that it systematically pervades every aspect of its functioning

 17. Whale Done: Ken Blanchard

Best-selling author and business consultant Ken Blanchard explain that both whales and people perform better when you accentuate the positive. It shows how using the techniques of animal trainers can supercharge your effectiveness at work and home. It explains the difference between GOTcha (catching people doing things wrong) and Whale Done! (catching people doing things right).

18. First Things First: Stephen Covey

Written in 1994, First Things First, is considered one of the bestselling self-help books of all time. Written by Stephen Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill, the book offers a time management approach that, if established as a habit, is intended to help readers achieve “effectiveness” by aligning themselves to “First Things”

19. 5 A. M. Club: Robin Sharma

the book discovers the early-rising habit that has helped so many accomplish epic results while upgrading their happiness, helpfulness and feelings of aliveness. Through an enchanting—and often amusing—story about two struggling strangers who meet an eccentric tycoon who becomes their secret mentor, teaching about the importance of waking up early to show how revolutionary it is for success.

20. Jonathan Livingston Seagull: Richard Bach

It is a fable in novella form about a seagull who is trying to learn about life and flight, and a homily about self-perfection. Jonathan Livingston Seagull is no ordinary bird. He believes it is every gull’s right to fly, to reach the ultimate freedom of challenge and discovery, finding his greatest reward in teaching younger gulls the joy of flight and the power of dreams. Jonathan befriends the wisest gull, Chiang, who takes him beyond his previous self-education, and teaches him how to move instantaneously to anywhere else in the Universe. The secret, Chiang says, is to “begin by knowing that you have already arrived.”

Happy Reading!

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