A dip into the best of 2021 - Nonfiction

A dip into the best of 2021 - Nonfiction

They’re absorbing reads that craftily fashion breathtaking scenes from real-life events

Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo

As we close the door on 2021, we present ten of the year’s most interesting nonfiction books that stand out in both storytelling and significance. They’re absorbing reads that craftily fashion breathtaking scenes from real-life events and they concern people and issues we care about.

What’s A Lemon Squeezer Doing In My Vagina by Rohini S Rajagopal: A daring attempt to examine an issue that is rarely spoken about, even among women. Rohini has done a brilliant job of detailing the frustrations of conceiving a baby through medically assisted procedures, the uncertainties behind the science, the social stigma, and the pains a woman must endure to realise a seemingly ordinary dream of motherhood.

Also Read | Books to look forward to next year

Maverick Messiah by Ramesh Kandula: From prevaricating over forming a political party to capturing power in Andhra Pradesh in just eight months of forming the Telugu Desam Party, former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N T Rama Rao provided a template for superstars across the nation on how to turn popularity to voter loyalty. Kandula’s account clearly shows why his unique personality, strong beliefs, and vision for his state are much harder to emulate than one imagines, a reason why many who followed him bit the dust.

The Good Girls, An Ordinary Killing by Sonia Faleiro: Amidst changing accounts, possible aggressors passing off as eyewitnesses, a joke of a law-and-order machinery, and families caught in the political faultlines of an indifferent Indian state, justice for two starry-eyed teens never gets delivered. Pictures of their bodies hanging from the tree at the village orchard endure, but not the cruelty of the way their lives had been cut short. This book is a heartrending tale of two Indian girls sacrificed on the altar of family honour and political correctness.

Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh Khan: India’s Lonely Young Women And The Search For Intimacy And Independence by Shrayana Bhattacharya: Going beyond the 'Bollywood Baadshah', this book puts the spotlight on his admirers, their flights of fantasies, and how lonely they feel irrespective of their social position. A fresh and unique perspective of Indian women and the extent to which they fight to keep their inner flame on.

The Light Of Asia by Jairam Ramesh: The poem by an English polyglot orientalist in the late 19th century not only revived the legend of Buddha, but also stirred social reforms springing from his teachings whose impact stretches forward into the 21st century. A seminal work that captures the central role of Buddhism in shaping modern India.

Frankly, We Did Win This Election by Michael C Bender: Bender pieces together Trump, the billionaire’s unlikely victory in November 2016, and the presidency best described as chaotic and uncertain even to the staunchest of loyalists. This riveting account follows Trump through the early years of his presidency and how it sleepwalked into a pandemic.

Kamala Harris: The Phenomenal Woman by Chidanand Rajghatta: Being the first-ever woman to hold the second most important position and a person of Indian and Jamaican descent meant Harris attracted plenty of interest from political commentators and pundits. Washington journalist Rajghatta traces the Harris story from India and how it shaped her.

The Contrarian: Peter Thiel And Silicon Valley’s Pursuit Of Power by Max Chafkin: If you look for characters that merit an absorbing study, you should first up consider Thiel, described as enigmatic and secretive. Chafkin recounts how Thiel was bullied as a child, his awkwardness and penchant for chess, and how he started the conservative Stanford Review during his varsity days. In the end, you understand that Thiel is a canny player who tried using his proximity to those in power to get back at his rivals.

Back To Earth: What Life In Space Taught Me About Our Home Planet And Our Mission To Protect It by Nicole Stott: Nothing she learnt on earth had prepared Stott for the view of the planet from outer space. While the 'Overview Effect' left many astronauts like her gasping, Stott uses it as an inspiration to value the earth and our lives. She offers several lessons for readers that help them maximise the output of their action and the relevance of space research on earth such as space-based solar power that would end our dependency on fossil fuel.

Shuttler's Flick: Making Every Match Count by Pullela Gopichand and Priya Kumar: In a cricket-crazy country, Gopichand carved a niche for badminton, touching the summit as a player in 2001 by winning the All-England title and producing top shuttlers and Olympic medal winners from his academy that started in 2008. This book details the methods that produced several world number one players, laying bare Gopichand’s approach which anyone seeking excellence can apply in their lives.

The curator is a journalist with Deccan Herald and a book buff.

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