100 Books To Make Us Wise

A CEREBRAL AFFAIR…

They say “a Reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only once!”

Our dean at IIM Lucknow, Prof. Rajeev Srivastava (Rocky for us), introduced us to a list of ‘must-read’ books: not part of regular curriculum, but very helpful in our eternal quest to be ‘wise’. Impressed with his advice, I have tried to read at least one book every week. Naturally, over two decades, this has added up to more than a thousand books.

Some of my friends suggested I compile a list of recommendations, so here is a humble first attempt. [To make sure my readers do not suffer due to my ignorance, I have referred to other Top book lists (Time magazine, Guardian, greatestbooks.org, goodreads, esquire etc.) and made sure I have read the missing ones there to form a personal opinion.]

But the list below is entirely mine, with all my biases and limitations. These cover wide ranging subjects like Management, Philosophy, High Science, Literature, History etc. Classics (Odyssey) are here, and so is controversy (Lolita). Seek Spirituality (Vedanta Treatise) or God (The Case For God). Wonder what gives Happiness (The Happiness Project) or whether we are alone in Universe (Physics of the Impossible).

Choosing few is not easy (±130 million books have been written!), so let’s decide how we will choose:

  • Life-changing: Will make us wiser. That can bring fundamental changes in our thinking and attitude, answer the big Why questions.
  • Engaging and Fun: We want to grow, but also enjoy the journey. We may not have the patience (yet!) to go through deep but boring books.

There will hardly be a universal set of Top books, since part of what makes a book memorable is our own life experiences that can relate to it. So, to give us well rounded wisdom, here are 15 genres with 5-10 options in each. Choose your chalice! A short summary/review, done by yours truly, is included too.

The younger audience may want to start with the Easy section – good insights and simple reading. You can then choose to go to the Heavy Reads at your pace.

So let’s go on and explore the different shades this little life has to offer…