Books dominated my 2020 in more than one way. With most of the year spent in an unprecedented lockdown, reading was an obvious choice. On the contrary, I saw my reading of books go down. Since I enrolled for various courses that were being offered online. I started studying astrology. That kept me engrossed in the fascinating world of the planets and their impact on us.
I was also writing. Three of my books got published this year.
Unusual Temples of India
Buy at Amazon India
Unusual Temples of India takes you across India for some fascinating stories of some absolutely unique temples. You may have heard of a rat temple in Rajasthan. But do you know how it came into being? Read the book and find out.
Bharat Ke Anokhe Mandir is the Hindi version of the book. I must thank IndiTales Hindi blog readers for nudging me to publish this book.
Lotus in the Stone – Sacred Journeys in Eternal India
Buy at Amazon India
Lotus in the Stone – Sacred Journeys in Eternal India published by Garuda Prakashan was my big project this year. I had finished writing the first draft of this book when lockdown hit our lives. So, a lot of time was spent in polishing the draft, editing the book and other production work before the book could reach you, the reader on Vijayadashmi day this year.
I have been enjoying talking about the book at various forums online. Listen to some of them here:
Reading Indian Scriptures
At the beginning of 2020, I was reading Devi Bhagwat Puran and intended to finish it by Navaratri 2020. Thanks to lockdown, I could finish it much earlier. I wanted to start the next Puran again during Navaratri, so in between, I picked up the Ayodhya Mahatmaya of Skand Puran to read.
As planned, during Navaratri, I started reading Brahmand Puran, which is again a voluminous two-volume text. I hope to complete it by Navaratri 2021.
Detours with Anuradha Goyal – is what my English Podcast is called.
Idhar Udhar – This is my Hindi Podcast. Though I have managed to publish just about two episodes on it.
Following are a list of the best fiction and non-fiction books that I read in the year 2020.
Best Books of 2020 – Non-Fiction
Flight of Deities and Rebirth of Temples by Meenakshi Jain – A fascinating history of the movement of deities from ancient temples and repeated rebuilding of some important temples like Kashi Vishwanath. Must read for those interested in the history of India.
Time Pieces: A Whistle Stop Tour of Ancient India By Nayanjot Lahiri – 10 windows through which one can see ancient history. But written in an entertaining way that would raise the curiosity of a lay reader about ancient history.
Guru Sutra By Hingori – Not many people understand the relationship between a Guru and Shishya. This book does a great job of explaining it to you in simple terms.
Caste as Social Capital by Prof. R. Vaidyanathan – If you thought Caste was all bad and something we inherited, read it to know how and when it was created. More importantly, how it was and continues to be used as social capital.
Sri Aurobindo and India’s Rebirth Edited by Michel Danino – This book was my introduction to Sri Aurobindo’s work with excerpts of his works. It has given me a long list of works that I need to read. I hope I am able to manage my time enough to read them.
The Greatness of Saturn By Dr. Robert E Svoboda – I read this book to understand the most misunderstood planet in astrology. A lovely book that helps you understand the nature of all planets, not just Saturn. People interested in astrology would find it interesting.
Maryada – Dharma in Ramayana By Arshia Sattar – A well-articulated view of Dharma as it was practiced by different characters of Ramayana. This is the first book by Arshia Sattar that I have read and I loved her writing.
Best Books of 2020 – Fiction
Gunahon Ka Devta By Dharamveer Bharti – This Hindi classic is a must-read for anyone who can read Hindi. The highly evocative love story that talks about love and loss at the deepest level.
Somnath By Acharya Chatursen – Hindi Book Review – A historical fiction in Hindi that tells you the story of Ghazni and his destruction of Somnath temple. The story is re-created from available sources. And some fictional characters introduced by the author. Sad story but something that should show us a mirror.
Chandimangal by Kavikankan Mukundaram Chakravarti – A 16th CE Bangla poem dedicated to Chandi. Translated into English it is a delight to read. Apart from the story, I loved the translation. It does not let any of the cultural nuances of the story to be lost in the translation.
The Legend of Kuldhara By Malathi Ramachandran – Kuldhara is the abandoned villages near Jaisalmer. I have visited it a few years ago. Always wondered what happened to them. The author has re-imagined the story of the young girl who was responsible as the protagonist. Lovely read.
Didda – The Warrior Queen of Kashmir By Ashish Kaul – A fictionalized biography of the 10th CE queen of Kashmir who defended India from invasions. A lovely insight into the beautiful past of the valley that we know only for the disturbance.
Read my reviews of above books here.
What were your favorite reads or the Best Books of 2020?