Best Books of 2015

Three novels and an investigation to remember the year for

Reputed authors returned and didn’t disappoint; nor did a study of a murder and a trial.

It’s hard to shortlist the best books of any given year, but in the interests of a curated, well-rounded list of wonderful Indian books published in English, here’s a closer look at what I enjoyed reading this past year. It’s a very subjective list, as any readers’ list is bound to be.

Indian publishing being what is, and our jobs being what they are in the media, I have also had the great good fortune of meeting all the writers on this list. Their work more than speaks for itself, and I am delighted to recount that the reading relationships also survived the real-life encounters intact. (It isn’t always the case, but that’s another story!)

She Will Build Him a City, Raj Kamal Jha
One of my favourite books this year. Many things about this book took my breath away, but what has really stayed with me is the story of a fundamental, powerful love – the mother towards her taciturn daughter, who has suffered beyond anything she can imagine. The giants that the daughter imagines being as a child – those giants aren’t just a comfort to the mother, but balm to the reader’s soul. I still find them comforting!

All of this is against the backdrop of a violent plot, which shines a mirror on a darker, more twisted urban reality than one we usually want to contemplate, morning news aside. The Metro plays a pivotal role in a story which tracks the changing face of a city that seems to be crumbling around us, its fabric rent by all kinds of brutalities. I may never take a Metro ride in quite the same way again… I plan to closely observe the brooding, quieter passengers, so consider this fair warning! The power of the story apart, there is so much beating heart in this one.

Flood of Fire, Amitav Ghosh
Like so many thousands of others, I’ve been reading Amitav Ghosh for years. My first Ghosh was not The Hungry Tide or The Shadow Lines, but In An Antique Land – a book I chose as a prize, as an admittedly nerdy undergraduate. I remember picking the book out at a Kamla Nagar bookstore, expecting an edifying read, and being duly gratified when I finished it.

About five years on, I delved into the carefully constructed world of the Ibis, her crew and an epic voyage with The Sea of Poppies. The Ibis Trilogy comes to a fitting and quite glorious end in Flood of Fire, which was released this year. It’s an epic in and of itself, though the trilogy is best enjoyed in chronological order.

Offering us a glimpse into a fractious history in the lead up to the Opium Wars through a multi-cultural voyage, Ghosh is equally evocative with the relationships and human stories that power the entire series. Readers have to put in a little effort, as he doesn’t pander or simplify the language, which becomes its own glorious sort of argot. All in all, an immersive – and educational – experience.

Wingless, Paro Anand
I bought Wingless, which is quite obviously a children’s book, after hearing Paro Anand’s phenomenal and dramatic enactment a few months ago at a writers’ festival in Landour, where she had kids sitting on a stage in absolute splits, not to mention the adults in the audience. A “fairly weird fairy tale” about a fairy princess born without wings, considered an abomination, almost certain to be murdered by hordes of angry fairies, it’s as strong an indictment of our fear of the Other as anything could be.

A delightful tale for all that, because this is a fairy tale, albeit one that is probably best read out aloud, for the names and words that will have you in giggles along the way. I was quite eager to see how it all plays out, and I think you will find the ending quite sublime, as well. Highly recommended for any of you with kids, or those who regularly sneak a dose of children’s fiction into their reading regimen as well.

Aarushi, Avirook Sen
Yes, it’s not fiction. This is a powerful and important, but ultimately distressing, book, because of its subject matter. I was initially hesitant to read it, given the wall-to-wall coverage of the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder investigation and ensuing courtroom drama, but I’m certainly glad that I did.

The book is important from the standpoint of narrative journalism, but also as a case history, revealing as it does glaring inconsistencies, and lapses in the investigation, as well as in the judgement. Sen was the first to find out and then reveal – through an off-the-cuff remark made by the son of the judge in question that he helped draft the judgement (an odd enough state of affairs) – that the court judgement was drafted even before the defence had begun its arguments. In how many ways can one spell travesty of justice?

Apart from what transpired in court, there is also fresh in the collective memory the media trial of Aarushi’s parents, the Talwars. Their character assassination and the dubious treatment of the Talwars prior to and after their arrests, “in the court of public opinion” as it were, is also given due attention. The fact that these are real lives – a truth that sometimes gets lost in the sensationalism and trials by media we are all too familiar with — is hammered home periodically and to great effect.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

The ordeal of choosing the right data pack for your connectivity needs

"Your data has been activated." <10 seconds later> "You have crossed your data limit."

The internet is an amazing space where you can watch a donkey playing football while simultaneously looking up whether the mole on your elbow is a symptom of a terminal diseases. It’s as busy as it’s big with at least 2.96 billion pages in the indexed web and over 40,000 Google search queries processed every second. If you have access to this vast expanse of information through your mobile, then you’re probably on something known as a data plan.

However, data plans or data packs are a lot like prescription pills. You need to go through a barrage of perplexing words to understand what they really do. Not to mention the call from the telecom company rattling on at 400 words per minute about a life-changing data pack which is as undecipherable as reading a doctor’s handwriting on the prescription. On top of it all, most data packs expect you to solve complex algorithms on permutations to figure out which one is the right one.


Even the most sophisticated and evolved beings of the digital era would agree that choosing a data pack is a lot like getting stuck on a seesaw, struggling to find the right balance between getting the most out of your data and not paying for more than you need. Running out of data is frustrating, but losing the data that you paid for but couldn’t use during a busy month is outright infuriating. Shouldn’t your unused data be rolled over to the next month?

You peruse the advice available online on how to go about choosing the right data pack, most of which talks about understanding your own data usage. Armed with wisdom, you escape to your mind palace, Sherlock style, and review your access to Wifi zones, the size of the websites you regularly visit, the number of emails you send and receive, even the number of cat videos you watch. You somehow manage to figure out your daily usage which you multiply by 30 and there it is. All you need to do now is find the appropriate data pack.

Promptly ignoring the above calculations, you fall for unlimited data plans with an “all you can eat” buffet style data offering. You immediately text a code to the telecom company to activate this portal to unlimited video calls, selfies, instastories, snapchats – sky is the limit. You tell all your friends and colleagues about the genius new plan you have and how you’ve been watching funny sloth videos on YouTube all day, well, because you CAN!


Alas, after a day of reign, you realise that your phone has run out of data. Anyone who has suffered the terms and conditions of unlimited data packs knows the importance of reading the fine print before committing yourself to one. Some plans place limits on video quality to 480p on mobile phones, some limit the speed after reaching a mark mentioned in the fine print. Is it too much to ask for a plan that lets us binge on our favourite shows on Amazon Prime, unconditionally?

You find yourself stuck in an endless loop of estimating your data usage, figuring out how you crossed your data limit and arguing with customer care about your sky-high phone bill. Exasperated, you somehow muster up the strength to do it all over again and decide to browse for more data packs. Regrettably, the website wont load on your mobile because of expired data.


Getting the right data plan shouldn’t be this complicated a decision. Instead of getting confused by the numerous offers, focus on your usage and guide yourself out of the maze by having a clear idea of what you want. And if all you want is to enjoy unlimited calls with friends and uninterrupted Snapchat, then you know exactly what to look for in a plan.


The Airtel Postpaid at Rs. 499 comes closest to a plan that is up front with its offerings, making it easy to choose exactly what you need. One of the best-selling Airtel Postpaid plans, the Rs. 499 pack offers 40 GB 3G/4G data that you can carry forward to the next bill cycle if unused. The pack also offers a one year subscription to Amazon Prime on the Airtel TV app.

So, next time, don’t let your frustration get the better of you. Click here to find a plan that’s right for you.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Airtel and not by the Scroll editorial team.