New Delhi: On an average, at least 40-50 books from leading publishers hit the stands every month. Add to this the vast number of self-published books and you will get an absolutely staggering total. How many books are you going to read in a month?
India is the world's sixth-largest book market, and currently the second-largest for books in English, behind the United States. India's print book market is estimated to be worth Rs 26,060 crore ($4 billion).
While these stunning figures offer a sense of optimism to bibliophiles, it also paves the way for relentless hype as many a reader falls prey to the marketing honchos behind these book covers, only to be left with a regret later.
Many of these books are never reprinted or reviewed and fade away as quickly as they gain prominence. One thing that will never fade though is literary excellence or for that matter, creative excellence. Unfortunately, this happens but rarely in any given year, but if there is a great book, it is guaranteed that it will be widely read and will establish itself in due course of time.
Here are the five books across genres that we can't wait to read in May:
"Why Gandhi Still Matters" by Rajmohan Gandhi (Aleph)
In "Why Gandhi Still Matters", the Mahatma's grandson and award-winning writer and scholar Rajmohan Gandhi, appraises Gandhi and his legacy by examining some of his most famous (and often most controversial) ideas, beliefs, actions, successes and failures. He analyses Gandhi's commitment to democracy, secularism, pluralism, equality and non-violence, his gift to the world of satyagraha, the key strategies in his fight for India's freedom, his opposition to caste discrimination, and his equations with Churchill, Jinnah and Ambedkar, as also his failings as a human being and family man.
Taken together, the author's insights present an unsentimental view of aspects of Gandhi's legacy that have endured and those that have been cast aside by power-hungry politicians, hate groups, casteist organisations, venal industrialists, terrorists, and other enemies of India's promise.
"Looking for the Rainbow: My years with Daddy" by Ruskin Bond (Puffin India)
Among the most anticipated books in May, it is a tribute from India's most loved author to his father. In Ruskin Bond's first ever memoir for children, we find him extensively reminiscing about the time he spent with his father. Gorgeously illustrated, the charming and poignant prose makes "Looking for the Rainbow" a collector's item for anybody touched by Ruskin Bond's illuminating writing. In the book, Bond travels to his past, recalling his favourite adventures (and misadventures) with extraordinary charm, sprinklings of wit, a pinch of poignance and not a trace of bitterness.
It is scheduled to release countrywide on the author's birthday, May 19. It will be formally launched by the author himself at Mussorie's Cambridge Book Depot.
"The Retreat of Western Liberalism" by Edward Luce (Hachette)
In "The Retreat of Western Liberalism," Luce makes a larger statement about the weakening of western hegemony and the crisis of democratic liberalism -- of which Donald Trump and his European counterparts are not the cause, but a symptom. Luce argues that we are on a menacing trajectory brought about by ignorance of what it took to build the West, arrogance towards society's losers, and complacency about our system's durability -- attitudes that have been emerging since the fall of the Berlin Wall, treated by the West as an absolute triumph over the East.
Combining on-the-ground reporting with intelligent synthesis of the vast literature already available, Luce offers a detailed projection of the consequences of the Trump administration and a forward-thinking analysis of what those who believe in enlightenment values must do to defend them from the multiple onslaughts they face in the coming years.
"Behold, I Shine" by Freny Manecksha (Rupa)
Set in the once-fabled land of Kashmir, "Behold, I Shine" moves beyond male voices and focuses, instead, on what the struggle means for the Valley's women and children -- those whose husbands remain untraceable; whose mothers are half-widows; those who have confronted the wrath of "Ikhwanis", or the scrutiny of men in uniform, and what it means to stand up to it all.
Stitching together their narratives, "Behold, I Shine" not only memorialises women's voices -- thus far forgotten, unwritten, suppressed or sidelined -- but also celebrates the mighty spirit of the Valley.
"Into the Water" by Paula Hawkins (Penguin)
A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.
Left behind is a lonely 15-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran away from -- a place to which she vowed she'd never return.