7 Books Amitav Ghosh Recommends Everyone Should Read

Amitav Ghosh's book recommendations

Award-winning and acclaimed author Amitav Ghosh recommends books on climate change, history and other themes. Here’s a complete list.

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Amitav Ghosh is one of the most prolific writers of our times. 

Writing both fiction and non-fiction, all his books take you on a journey while dealing with varied themes. His latest book, The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables For A Planet In Crisis deals with climate change, one of the biggest issues that our planet is facing today. 

He won the 54th Jnanpith award, India’s oldest and highest literary honour, in 2018, for his ‘outstanding contribution towards literature’. He was also awarded the Padma Shri. 

Like his novels, Ghosh’s reading interests also vary.

Here are a few books recommended by the author, about climate change, history and other things:

1. The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow
The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow

This book offers a completely new perspective and understanding of human history, and the evolution of cities, democracy, and agriculture. The authors use archaeological and anthropological research to show us a new history.   

“The Dawn of Everything fundamentally transforms our understanding of the human past and offers a path toward imagining new forms of freedom, new ways of organising society. This is a monumental book of formidable intellectual range, animated by curiosity, moral vision, and faith in the power of direct action,” reads the book excerpt.

Ghosh calls it an ‘absolute marvel’. “#dawnofeverything completely overturns the usual story of the Enlightenment, puts paid to techno-determinist assumptions about social ‘evolution’, & comprehensively demolishes the narrative of history as a story of ‘progress’ and ever-increasing freedom,” tweeted the author.

Buy the book here.

2. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate

This book speaks about the climate crisis and the political change needed to combat the same. Klein says that the crisis is about capitalism. She says that the economic system needs to be changed to save the planet. She talks about changing the world before it goes too far. 

Ghosh writes about this book in his blog: “This is a work of such monumental significance that it is impossible to do justice to it in a few lines. Suffice it to say that Klein demolishes every argument for ‘market-based solutions’, exposes the carbon complicities of ‘Big Green’ organisations, demonstrates why geoengineering will not work, and after all that even succeeds in finding a silver lining in the clouds.”

Buy the book here.

3. The Swarm: A Novel by Frank Schatzing

The Swarm: A Novel by Frank Schatzing
The Swarm: A Novel by Frank Schatzing

Ghosh recommended this book in a Scroll.in article. This German thriller, translated around the world, is an ecological thriller that keeps the suspense till the end. In the book, the world suffers a series of natural disasters. The ocean begins its revenge and wreaks havoc against humans. Scientists discover a force called ‘Yrr’ which manifests in marine animals. It’s about the earth’s fight for survival.

Buy the book here.

4. Menagerie and other Byomkesh Bakshi Mysteries by Saradindu Bandyopadhyay 

Menagerie and other Byomkesh Bakshi Mysteries
Menagerie and other Byomkesh Bakshi Mysteries

One of India’s most famous detectives is Byomkesh Bakshi. In this series, the self-styled detective solves a difficult case that involves broken motor parts, what seems to be a natural death, residents of Golap colony, and three other mysteries. It is set in Kolkata in the fifties and sixties. Byomkesh was author Saradindu Bandyopadhyay’s creation.

Ghosh says that he loved reading Bandopadhyay’s work as a child. 

“The tales I liked best were about a character called Sadashiv, a Maratha boy-soldier in Chhatrapati Shivaji’s army (although Sharadindu wrote in Bangla, he lived most of his life in Pune). Fortunately, there are now some good English translations of Sharadindu’s work, for example, the story collections Band of soldiers and The Menagerie and Other Byomkesh Mysteries,” writes Ghosh in his blog.

Buy the book here.

5. The Overstory by Richard Powers

The Overstory
The Overstory by Richard Powers

In an interview with the Telegraph, Ghosh called this book ‘amazing’.

The Overstory is an environmental story about nine Americans who come together to address the destruction of forests. Their experiences with trees draw them together. It deals with our relationship with nature and how we deal with climate change.

“This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe,” reads the book’s excerpt.

Buy the book here.

6. Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni 

 Before We Visit the Goddess
Before We Visit the Goddess

This book takes place across the twentieth century and takes you from Bengal to Texas. It deals with three women: Sabitri, Bela, and Tara, their lives, and their dreams. It’s told in the voices of these women who are three generations of a family, and their lovers.

“Tender, bittersweet, beautifully wrought tales about love and longing, exile and loneliness. I was reminded of the songs of separation sung by Bhojpuri women: Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni discovers new nuances in the ‘biraha’ that creeps into the lives of migrants.” says Ghosh in his blog.

Buy the book here.

7. Breathing Here Is Injurious to Your Health by Jyoti Pande Lavakare

Breathing Here Is Injurious to Your Health
Breathing Here Is Injurious to Your Health

This book was born out of a personal incident in the author’s life. Her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017, and the author connects it to air pollution. She had been fighting for the quality of air in Delhi since 2013. Jyoti formed a group called Care for Air. This book is also a call for action and states that we must begin change and hold governments accountable.

Ghosh calls this “a compelling first-person account of the struggle to bring India’s air pollution crisis to the forefront of the country’s policy priorities”. He writes, “Packed with information, this well-written book also bears witness to the appalling personal losses caused by the subcontinent’s poisoned air.”

Buy the book here.

Edited by Yoshita Rao, Feature Image credit: Mathieu Génon

Sources

Amitav Ghosh’s blog on Jyoti Pande Lavakare’s Book

Amitav Ghosh’s blog- Some recent readings

‘Amitav Ghosh on his new book, Gun Island’ by Shrestha Saha for The Telegraph, Published on 19 January 2019

‘Amitav Ghosh recommends: Three terrifying novels (and a non-fiction book) on ecological disaster’ for Scroll, Published on 01 March, 2019

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