Top 11 Books for First Time Readers

This lockdown period may have become a tough time for those who aren’t used to staying at home. It would be a good time to start something positive especially when your external distractions have been reduced considerably.

For ‘book virgins’, those who haven’t read anything apart from a pamphlet, and now planning to start reading, we’re here to give you a list of books that you should start with. There’s no need to start reading heavy-duty books or titles at the first go. Start small, so you gradually enjoy the process of reading, which you will find extremely relaxing, enjoyable, therapeutic and inspirational. Most of the time it all begins with the book you choose. Though personally, I feel, it’s a book that chooses you.

Off late, I have started reading a lot of children’s literature. What I like about this genre is that it is so straight forward, uncomplicated and gives a whole new perspective of life that we grown-ups fail to see.

It also allows you to connect with your children too! This list also consists of some children’s titles from my daughter’s and my personal collection that I recommend you should read along with your children, just for the sheer joy of it!

Here’s our list of books that you should try and get your hands-on once things get into normalcy.

Top 11 Books to read for first time readers. Photo courtesy: Tanya Munshi
Top 11 Books to read for first time readers. Photo courtesy: Tanya Munshi

1. The Five People You Meet in Heaven – by Mitch Albom

This is by far one of the best books I have read in a while, it’ll make you retrospect about your life of all the things that have happened with you so far. Remember, nothing happens in your life without a reason, the people you meet, the events that unfold in your life and your experiences. When Eddie dies, he meets five people in heaven who reveal why they came into his life. There’s a reason why we meet people in our lives, and these five people explain just that to Eddie and what unfolds in the story is pure magic. It will change your perspective for the better.

2. A Little Princess – by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A fantastic children’s classic which I recommend even adults to read. When Sara Crew’s father suddenly passes away, her life is transformed from a luxurious boarder at a hostel to that of a poor servant girl. I simply loved the way she dealt with the adversaries with sheer dignity, large-heartedness and the power of visualisation and stories. I have narrated many of the paragraphs to my daughter, who loved the character of Sara Crew and how life changed for her unexpectedly, just because she believed things would get better.

3. Flute in the Forest – by Leela Gour Broome

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book about a differently-abled Atiya who lives with her father a forest officer. Despite being afflicted by polio, this girl learns to play the flute and unravels a little adventure of her own and unfolds new friendships and experiences. Certainly, a refreshing story to add to your booklist.

4. Raising Mumma – by Lalitha Iyer

A book written on behalf of her little son Mo, it’s a wonderful narrative of this little boy and his wonderful antics with his mum, granny, his pet cats, and school. A favourite bedtime book that I read out to my daughter and we laugh at his one-liners and Mo’s food for thought. It’s a wonderful perspective offering both a child and a mother’s perspective, that makes you rethink about your relationship dimension with you and your children.

5. Something Happened on the Way to Heaven: 20 Inspiring Real-Life Stories Paperback – by Sudha Murty

Sudha Murty has been one of my favourite Indian authors. She writes so lucidly, from the heart and is so unpretentious that it puts the reader to ease. I am very fond of short stories especially the ones written by Sudha Murty. This is a collection of true stories that will shake your soul and make you realise that nothing is impossible if you have the will power and determination to overcome all odds.

6. The Girl Who Chose: A New Way of Narrating the Ramayana – by Devdutt Pattanaik

Whenever I buy books for my daughter, I make it a point to read them. I loved this brilliant new perspective of the Ramayana, based on the five choices made by Sita. Interspersed with beautiful illustrations, this book is a must-read for people of all ages and children to understand the choices we make, the repercussions and standing by what we choose.

Personal favourites! Photo courtesy: Tanya Munshi
Personal favourites! Photo courtesy: Tanya Munshi

7. Himalayan Gods – Journeys to Kinner Kailash, Kullu and Dodra Kwar – by Abhinav Kaushal

This the first time I read a travel diary and I really liked the pace at which the first time author Abhinav narrates his personal experiences traveling through Kinner Kailash, Kullu and Dodra Kwar. Packed with unique photographs from his trips, this travel diary talks about the myths and legends of the gods, the cuisine and culture and the life of this stunning Himalayan state. For those who are fond of the mountains and are pining to go back, this book should do the trick of virtually transporting you there.

8. Words of Wonder – by Amit Suri

This is a collector’s item, that I am so glad to have it in my book collection. 26 alphabets from English each representing one value word, something that the world has been missing out on. Maybe now is a good time to read one of these simple, soulful stories from this soothing book that’s also been gifted with 26 unique illustrations from artists across the globe. Make yourself a hot cup of tea or coffee as you relax and read one little snippet of goodwill and hope.

9. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

This has been my daughter and my favourite bedtime book. My seven-year-old would read out one inspirational story every night (she always wanted to read more), and would ask me in wonder how someone could overcome an obstacle? You could get Good Night Stories for Rebel Boys (which I may eventually as I want my daughter to understand that both boys and girls are equal and both face challenges in real life), but this book has fascinating stories of women from across the world who have broken the barriers, glass ceilings and come out strong in the field of art, medicine, science, warfare and more.

10. The Puffin Treasury of Modern Indian Stories – edited by Maya Dalal

This book has been a gem of a book. A fabulous collection of short stories from renowned authors such as Satyajit Ray, RK Narayan, Vikram Seth, Sulman Rushdie to name a few. What makes this book unique is that each short story is complemented with an illustration made by famous artists. It is truly a collector’s item and a book for all ages. This too is one of my daughter’s and my favourite bedtime books.

11. Girl Power – Indian Women Who Broke the Rules – by Neha J Hiranandani

It is a fantastic compilation of Indian women from all walks of life breaking the glass ceiling. When we were reading ‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls’, my daughter asked me why there are so few women from India. At that time, I could only tell her that since it was an international edition, they couldn’t mention more Indian women. As luck would have it, I chanced upon ‘Girl Power’ in a book fair and presented it to my daughter and she was thrilled to read about so many inspirational Indian women. When she saw the film ‘Saand ki Aankh’, she sat with this book and was amazed to see how two elderly women are brilliant sharpshooters despite their rural background and age! At school, when she had to present a talk on freedom fighters, she spoke about Usha Mehta, the Secret Radio Operator (that she read in Girl Power) and took home the third prize!

Getting the right literature for yourself and your children makes a world of a difference. If you can’t get your children to read, you start reading first. Enjoy it, share some snippets from the book, read it out to them at bedtime and subtly plant the seeds of reading. The habit of reading begins very early and thankfully I could inculcate the same in my daughter from a very young age. It’s extremely therapeutic, relaxing and enjoyable. Do try it if you haven’t done it yet!

Share your top five favourite books:

Have a personal collection of books that you love? Why not share your list of personal favourites and we’ll publish it. Email us your original write-up on your favourite book titles that you own to along with pictures clicked by you and we’ll be happy to publish it!

The Lifestyle Portal

Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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