When you asked me for a list of books for your school library, I had lot of names in my mind. Hundreds and hundreds of names jumbled in my mind and I could not send you a list earlier only because I could not sort out only a few names out of them. I had the list of best 100 novels by Times in my mind. I had a lot of literary classics in my mind. I had many veteran names from the fictional world in my mind. Then what did I choose?
I preferred non-fiction to the fiction. I preferred not literature, but I preferred history, politics, social studies, and science. The list I have sent you mail contains only one or two names in fiction and all the others are just non-fiction.
It is not that I do not understand the importance of fiction in life. It is not that I underestimate the importance of literature. It is not that I am only a cold-hearted lover of science. I love literature as I love my life. Literature has helped me to move forward when I was in great worries in my personal life. You know it.
But, again it is a time to move forward. Literature gives you ‘nazariya’ to look at the things, but science and facts give you a ‘nazar’. They tell you exactly what the thing is.
Let’s move towards the list. The first name in my list is the biography of Rabindranath Tagore written by Robinson and Dutta. I have been strongly attracted towards Tagore over the period of last few years when I read his Gitanjali and some of his short stories. I want to know more and more about him. How as a human being he was? How he lived? How he loved? How he looked towards the life? This is the only reason that the list also contains complete work of Rabindranath Tagore, which is the only fictional list other than Midnight’s Children.
The next name is ‘Poverty and Famines’ by Amartya Sen. We know his authority on this subject, and after reading his ‘The Argumentative Indian’, I wanted to read him more and more for his completely logical attitude to see the basic problems in the Indian society.
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, as I told you, is the only fictional work except works of Tagore in this list. This book is one of the best 100 novels selected by Times and it was also selected as the best from those 100 at various occasions, so I eagerly want to read this one.
‘What the Buddha taught us?’ is the scholarly work about the teachings of Buddha by a SriLankan monk and scholar Walpola Rahula. It has been regarded as an important introductory work on Buddhism. The explanation of ‘suffering’ in Buddhism by him worth to be read in original.
The next number in the list is ‘Ten days that shook the world.’ This is the book written by John Reed, an American journalist that is based on October revolution in Russia in 1917.
The next one is ‘Discovery of India’ by Jawaharlal Nehru and this hardly needs any explanation. You have been reading his ‘Glimpses of world history’ over the last few days and you must be very keen to read this another work by him as I am.
From this point, the list takes a sharp turn and moves towards the field of basic sciences. The first book in this part is ‘Philip’s Atlas of the World.’ You are very much acquainted with my interest in the maps and this would be a great thing if I can have such an atlas of my own to be kept with me always.
The next number is ‘A history of India’ by Romila Thapar. As you know, Romila Thapar is a well-known historian and author of at least a score of books including great works such as ‘Asoka and the decline of Mauryan Empire’ published by Oxford University Press. This book covers the period from Mughal rule through the years of British control to the government of Nehru, with emphasis on the continuity of development from one era to the next.
The next three books—Thinking Chemistry, Explaining Physics, and Illustrated Biology published by Oxford University Press—are standard works of basics in these three branches of pure science. My love to the basic sciences urges me to read such kind of works again and again.
‘The evolution of Indian economy’ is published by NCERT and would be of great help in understanding this aspect of our society.
The last one that I forgot to mention in the list is the classic work by a notable scholar of Indian constitution. ‘Working on a democratic constitution’ by Granville Austin is an important work if you want to learn more about constitutional structure of our country.
You may get surprise on viewing this list. Study, study everywhere and no fiction to read. But let me tell you, this is the time to move forward. This is the time to know the things as they are. A long, long life is spread in front of us to have fun. This is study time.
You may get details, such as publisher and prices, of these books from net if you need them for technical needs.
I am keenly waiting for you reply.