Best Books About India

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With your India trip still months off, what better way to indulge your love for a country and learn a little more about it than by getting lost in a great book. Travel books are a wonderful way to prepare for a trip or to learn more about a country without ever leaving your armchair. Learn about Indian culture, history and traditions with these amazing books about India. India and books about India are a particular love of mine. Here are some of my favourites, high-brow, funny, factual and fantasy, I hope you enjoy them too.

If you need our full India content archive, it’s here.

Best Books About India

Lonely Planet India (Travel Guide)

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Yes, people read Lonely Planets for fun. I do. Buy the best guide book for India here.

I’ll read them from cover to cover before a trip, starting with the food, progressing to the pictures then reading in depth to plan where I want to go. These guides are pure escapism.

You can start learning the language, check out health requirements and get an idea of costs before you leave home. This is probably the most comprehensive book about India you could buy. We would always recommend taking on of these with you to India, but be warned, it’s a brick.

Are You Experienced?

This is one of those rare books that once started, I had to finish all in one go. I stayed up most of the night, pulled along by laughs and the adventures of backpackers making their way around India. Some want to find their spiritual selves, some are barely getting by and would really rather just go home. It’s fun, modern, a true reflection of the trials of Indian travel and a glorious caricature of the types of travellers you’ll meet on the road. It’s by William Sutcliffe and you can find it here.

Travels on my Elephant

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 Travels on my elephant is a wonderful insight into the relationship between mahout and elephant.  Buy it here.

If you’ve read this book, you’ll want to read the sequel Queen of the Elephants

Midnight’s Children: A Novel

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Midnight’s Children is a controversial modern classic, part historical novel, part allegory, it deals with India’s transition from British rule to independence post partition. Buy it here.

City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi

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By William Dalrymple

Dalrymple’s classic travelogue City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi, the characters this couple meet during their time in Delhi make fascinating reading.

Shantaram: A Novel

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I must admit, I didn’t love this one and lost interest towards the end, but everyone else seems to love this book so I’m including Shantaram. It’s a look at the darker side of Indian city life, slums, crime, prison, jails, drugs and Mumbai. Written by an Australian man about his life in India after escaping prison in his home country.

The parts of the book dealing with life in Mumbai’s slums were fascinating. Take a look here.

Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire

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Another book about the end of British rule in India and partition.

This book set in India ells us what went on behind the scenes with the Nehrus and Mountbattens. They were very interesting and controversial families. This one really is an eye opening book. Buy it online here.

Autobiography of a Sadhu: A Journey into Mystic India

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How a white westerner, became a holy man, a sadhu. A glimpse of mystical India. I loved this book! Get it here.

Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi

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A biography of this fascinating woman, sometimes described as India’s Maggie Thatcher.

 This biography gives us an insight into the extraordinary Nehru dynasty and growing up with Gandhi. Buy it here.

Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure

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Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure

This one has the best cover and is another fun read. A young woman returns to India, against her better judgement, almost dies and searches for the meaning of life and death through nightclubs, Bollywood and spirituality.

There are many more fabulous books on India, fiction and factual, these are just a few favourites. We hope you enjoy them and hope that one day you make it to India, it’s our favourite country to travel. Visit our India Travel Homepage here, to find all our India posts along with plenty of tips and information.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

2 thoughts on “Best Books About India”

  1. I totally agreed with you on Shanturam and I was so surprised to hear you say you didn’t devour it all the way through. I didn’t even finish the book. There were parts very interesting for sure. I did question whether or not it was the whole truth. Maybe it is the cynic in me or maybe it was a little embellished??


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