5 Fiction Books To Read & Re-read

Self-Help books may have taken over our generation massively but the charm of literature is something we all ultimately succumb to. The experience of reading fiction is something that can’t be replaced: it is diving into someone else’s world and seeing your own through someone else’s eyes. But with the amount of books available, it’s difficult to figure out what to read. Here are five must-reads that can be read, re-read, learnt from and ultimately applied to our lives :

 

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Gist :

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This is a retelling of the Mahabharata through the eyes of Draupadi, the wife of all five Pandavas. It covers her whole life, showing how she begins as a fiery-spirited princess who wants to create history in a society dominated by men, but becomes consumed by the desire for revenge after being humiliated and achieves wisdom and an understanding of the world through the battle at Kurukshetra.

Why Should You Read It? :

In this book, Draupadi is portrayed as the quintessential woman who wants more than society allows her to have. She refuses to confine herself to the knowledge that is permitted to women and eavesdrops on her brother’s lessons. She actively participates in strategic decision-making for the family along with her five husbands. When she is insulted or hurt, she does not ignore it and remain passive, she gives herself importance and demands revenge. She is flawed and doesn’t always make the right decisions. But the important thing is that she has the confidence to make her own decisions. In a world that encourages us to be impossibly perfect, the imperfect but self-confident Draupadi is a role model that we need.

 

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

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Gist :

Set in a small town in the 1960s American South, this book depicts the coming together of an unlikely trio of women who are fed up with the status quo. Two of the three, Aibileen and Minny, are black women who work as ‘help’ or domestic workers at the houses of white women, and constantly bear with discrimination from their employers in order to keep things together financially. The third, Skeeter, is a white woman who has just returned from college and is shocked to find that the maid who played a crucial role in her upbringing has left, and that no one will tell her why. The novel is about the journey of these three women, as they try to write a book of interviews of black women working as maids, in order to put their untold stories out into the world.

Why Should You Read It? :

Have you ever wanted to do something that is off-the-beaten-path, something that goes against the norm, and been completely and utterly terrified? We often hear stories implying that people rebel without a speck of fear or doubt. The people who can do this are truly amazing, but, the truth is that most of us, including the characters in this novel, are faced with doubt when trying to do something bold. This book is an amazing read because it shows the personal ups and downs of the process of standing up for what you believe in while the characters keep double questioning their thoughts and actions before ultimately managing to steer through.

This book shows that it’s normal to have doubts and fears while going against established norms, and that what really matters is overcoming these so that you can stand up for what you truly believe in.

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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Gist :

This book, which is so popular that it has been adapted to TV and film and made into modern-day versions again and again, is set in England in the early 1800s. Mrs. Bennet desperately wants her five daughters to get married to rich men, so that they will be financially stable for life. When one of her daughters, Elizabeth, meets the wealthy and handsome Fitzwilliam Darcy, she finds him extremely arrogant and immediately takes a dislike to him. Darcy, on the other hand, begins to fall in love with Elizabeth and tries to show Elizabeth that he is not what she thinks he is. This is difficult because the strict gender segregations of society don’t allow them to meet much and because Elizabeth is firm about her initial judgment of him. The book is about the evolution of their feelings for each other as their paths cross again and again.

Why Should You Read It? :

On the surface, this looks like a book which is not really relevant to our online dating times. In a world where more and more women are becoming financially independent, and men and women are freer to meet each other than they ever were before, lack of communication isn’t an issue, so the problem of Elizabeth misjudging Darcy doesn’t really apply, right? Actually, that’s wrong- it applies to us too. In a world where we get to know people via social media, where Tinder, Bumble, Grindr etc. encourage us to make snap judgments based on a few pictures and (sometimes) a few words, we are very prone to judging too quickly and inaccurately. This book encourages us not to impulsively categorise people (regardless of gender!) according to our preconceived notions (not just in our dating lives but in every aspect), because it will make things a lot simpler.

 

Pervez by Meher Pestonji

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Gist :

This book is about a woman in her thirties named Pervez, who is confused about what to do next when she breaks off her marriage and returns to her wealthy brother’s house in Mumbai. When she reunites with a friend who is a social worker and activist, she is confronted with beliefs that are very different from the ones that she has been exposed to in her privileged and wealthy Parsi family, where activists are seen as people who make an unnecessary nuisance. The book follows her as she works at the Dharavi slums and joins to activist movement against religious violence.

Why Should You Read It? :

This is a very important book that every upper-middle class millennial needs to read because a lot of us may not actually be aware of our privilege. It isn’t always easy to join the activist movements because they often attack people who come from similar backgrounds as us. There is a lot of confusion as we try to come to terms with our own privilege and figure out what we believe in. The novel does a remarkable job of depicting Pervez’s confusion of coming to terms with her privilege as she asks questions like: ‘Are these issues that activists are focusing on valid?’, ‘Am I culpable in these social problems because of my privilege?’, ‘Should I be blamed?’, ‘Do I have to give up my quality of life in order to be an activist?’, ‘Does being an activist mean that I have to be aggressive?’ The book won’t conclude the answers for you, but will definitely inspire the right dialogue around social activism, a much needed initiative in this modern age havoc that we live in.

This Interview will Activate the Activist in You

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Gist :

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This is another book set in the American South. In the 1930s, when racial discrimination is still blatant, an innocent black man, Tom Robinson, is accused of raping a white girl. A white lawyer named Atticus Finch defends Tom in court, even though it is very unlikely that the jury will rule in favour of a black man when the plaintiff is white. The story is told from the point of view of Atticus’ young daughter, Scout, and depicts her journey of growing up as she understands truths about race and society.

Why Should You Read It? :

This book shows how, in a racist society, black people were not identified as individual human beings: their identity was equated only with their race. Through Atticus’ defense of a person from a completely different background than him, Scout learns to be open-minded and to respect each person as a human being. Today, there are still so many instances of people being identified only with the social category that they belong to, an example of which is the way in which many countries have refused to allow refugees to enter because they have branded all Muslims as terrorists. Reading this book will help to break those barriers down, which is needed create a just and equal world.


IN SERVICE OF SISTERHOOD, BY RHEA KAIKOBAD