The 10 best books we read this year
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T.Coronavirus may have had a brief hiatus in the book publishing industry in the first few months of 2020, but books got us through lockdown and an uncertain year. For many it was a habit lost and found again, and for others it was an opportunity to finally read the books that piled on their bookshelves and desktops.
Books also became newsmakers in 2020 – from Barack Obama’s memoir to Isabel Wilkerson’s book on the caste – which sparked debate and troubled news.
Here is a list of our top 10 nonfiction books in English this year.
1. Tyranny of merit by Michael J Sandel
The 2019 American college admissions scam, in which influential parents paid bribes and cheated to accept children, isn’t what kills merit. The myth of merit goes deeper. Economic and social data from students studying at Ivy League universities after SATs shows that merit is a charged concept.
2. Blood and oil by Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck
Mohammed Bin Salman is an enigmatic prince. He is prematurely celebrated by the West as a modernist, forward-looking social reformer and is now denounced for killing Khashoggi. Who is the real MBS? The book is valuable in providing an answer.
3.Visited Ramayana again by Anil Maheshwari and Vipul Maheshwari
What if the characters of India’s popular epic Ramayana were brought to justice under modern IPC laws? The book contains the trial of Manthara for conspiracy against the state, Lakshmana for harassment and violence against a woman, Dasharatha for the murder of Shravan Kumar and others.
4th isolationism by Charles A. Kupchan
Donald Trump was not the first US president to propose isolationism and “America First”. From George Washington to the country’s entry into World War II, the term America First has deep roots in the nation’s history and identity.
5. The sinking middle class by David R. Roediger
All of America’s youngest politicians stand up for the promise to work for the middle class. However, the historical data in this book shows that the myth of the great American middle class was carefully constructed and implemented.
6th Recording of institutional change by Himanshu Jha
Much ahead of the grassroots, rural origins of RTI law in Rajasthan, there were several institutional moves in the bureaucracy and parliament to dismantle the opaque legislation on official secrets. This book provides important research on the journey of information access in India.
7th pandemic by Sonia Shah
Long before Covid arrived, 90 percent of epidemiologists knew a deadly pandemic was on the way. Science journalist Sonia Shah tracks epidemics, including the deadly cholera, and tells how, when and why pandemics occur.
8th. The Deoli Wallahs by Joy Ma and Dilip D’Souza
The date November 18, 1962 is important for most “Deoliwalahs”. Most Indians do not know that the Nehru government imprisoned several thousand Chinese-Indians who have lived here for generations in a camp in Rajasthan shortly after the war with China. This book tells their story.
9. My son’s legacy by Aparna Vaidik
In this book, history professor Aparna Vaidik traces the history of the lynching in India. In doing so, she destroys several myths about the Hindu-Muslim heritage, cow worship in the country and violence.
10. Hamid: The story of my imprisonment, my survival and my freedom by Hamid Ansari and Geeta Mohan
Hamid Ansari, a 27-year-old tech freak from Mumbai, went to Pakistan illegally in 2012 and disappeared for years. In his own words, this is his exciting love story of being an Indian Muslim in Pakistan and seeking justice.
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