10 Underrated Books Everyone MUST Read

My underrated favorites highly recommended for 2019.

Here’s my list of books that people aren’t talking about enough, have just a few-thousand ratings or even less on Goodreads, but you should definitely add to your shelves (and also read, don’t just keep them sitting there!).

1. Unthink by Chris Paley

(Goodreads average: 3.55, but it deserves at least 4/5 stars)

Genre? Psychology. Without the boring, scientific details, this short, quick book covers dozens of interesting studies on the human mind (and how it’s being heavily manipulated). Easy to read, keeps you hooked on every page, and will leave you thinking for a long time.

2. An Atheist’s History of Belief by Matthew Kneale

(Goodreads average: 3.82, Me: atleast a 4/5)

I’ll go so far as saying it’s (almost) as fascinating and resourceful as Yuval Noah’s Sapiens. But don’t take my word on it – read it for yourself.

This is an essential book to believers and non-believers alike, as this uncovers questions like, where did the idea of God really originate from? How did idol-worship begin? Why are there strange practices like sacrifices, martyrdom and witchcraft? The conception of polygamy and abstinence, and a LOT more.

Value for money, and a well utilization of 240 pages! No fluke. And you might be surprised by what you discover about your own religion. Brace yourselves, there are some bold revelations!

3. Hypnotherapy by Dave Elman

(Goodreads average: 4.4, Me: 5/5!)

What is hypnosis? Can we be hypnotized without consent? Is it possible that we are often hypnotized even without knowing it? Can hypnosis actually be beneficial? And how can we do it (if at all)?

This is one of the finest books written on the subject, and will surprise you with a ton of information. Mind-blowing!

Disclaimer – the book is rarely published anymore and will be an expensive buy. But most certainly worth it, I assure you!

4. Anam Cara by John O’Donohue

(Goodreads average: 4.31, I’d say 5/5)

Celtic wisdom. Philosophy. Mystical.

If these words intrigue you, pick this book without a second thought. In a world where you get a hundred new quotes per hour on Instagram, the thoughts and ideas in this book still remain widely untouched and uncirculated.

5. Invisible Acts of Power by Caroline Myss

(Goodreads average: 4.06, Me: definitely a 5/5)

“Faith in humanity restored!”
That was my reaction atleast after every 2 pages.

Its a feel-good yet emotion-stirring read. Thought-provoking, yet gentle. An ideal book if you’re finding yourself questioning the ‘purpose in life’, or wondering if there’s any hope left for humanity.

This is written as a series of stories with a deep message and a lot of happy endings (happy new beginnings, rather).

6. Old Path White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh

(Goodreads average: 4.49, Me: 5/5 undoubtedly!)

Written by an Enlightened Buddhist Monk himself, this book is such an easy way to understand the Buddhist Way.

Even if not with the intention to become a Monk, or a Buddhist, read this extraordinary piece of work to gain invaluable knowledge about Buddhism, Meditation practices, spiritual discourses, and even a bit of historic recounting (disputes between the monks, rivalries, the Buddha’s passing into Nirvana etc).

7. No Good Men Among the Living by Anand Gopal

(Goodreads average: 4.45, Me: 5/5)

If you see the word ‘UNPUTDOWNABLE’ describing for a book about world history, you know this is a book really, well-written. Narrated with three, poles-apart perspectives – one from a Mujaheddin leader, second from a Taliban member and third from a local citizen of Afghanistan, this book is a personal and immersive experience of what happened to the country, and why it is suffering. Even if you know nothing about Afghanistan (as I didn’t when I read this), this is the only book you’ll need to read.

8. The Terrorist’s Son by Zak Ebrahim

(Goodreads average: 4.09, Me: 5/5 brilliant!)

Haven’t we all wondered how such families are impacted? And what happens to the kids – do they follow their father’s footsteps? This is a (very) quick but brave memoir about the story of a Terrorist’s son. Written by a TED talk speaker, this one is sure to leave a mark on your heart.

9. Return to Life by Jim B Tucker

(Goodreads average: 3.7, Me: 5/5 phenomenal!)

If you want to be challenged into reading something outside your comfort zone, try this. It will question (almost) everything you’ve believed in about life. The major theme is around cases where children’s memories of past lives could be PROVEN, and there are other compelling evidences such as famous people being reborn, animals being reborn as humans (WTF?), psychic powers, near death experiences, and more.

As eerie as this book sounds, it was a breeze to get through and really shook me to the core. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

10. The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer

(Goodreads average: 4.27, Me: 5/5, favorite book ever!)

If there is one book you need to understand how the mind works against us, how to meditate, the concepts of detachment, ego, surrendering, and a vast sea of other spiritual concepts, pick this and you will not have to look further.

This is a beautiful, meaningful and short book that merges psychology and spirituality. I know I’ve brought this one up before, in my list of spiritual favorites, but I think it’s worth mentioning again!

Happy Reading! 🙂

Aruna Nagar : A Kin to Buddhism

Here’s everything you can look forward to exploring at Delhi’s Tibetan colony, located in Aruna Nagar.

The Aruna Nagar colony in New Delhi is home to Tibetan Refugees, and might be the closest you can get to experiencing the vibe of Buddhism in our country’s capital.

Here, it is not uncommon to find monks peacefully walking about the gullies, and locals chanting on their beads as they sit outside their houses. In general, the people here seem more humble, and much more slowed down than the contrasting roads running parallel to the colony.

My friend and I paid a visit on a hot summer day, and the first thing I can tell you is – the temperature levels of the colony drops down significantly as soon as you enter!

Getting There

There’s no point going by your own vehicle because you’ll have to walk a long way from wherever you get parking space.

A tried and tested way is take the Yellow Line Metro till Vidhan Sabha Station. And then, take an e-rikshaw, which will drop you at the entry point of the main market gully. You will need to walk inwards to reach the main market, so it’s better that you ask for directions from here, because the GPS doesn’t really help in the tight gullies.

Things to do

The major highlights of a visit here would comprise of exploring the Korean and Tibetan teas and cuisines at various Cafes (which are by the way, REALLY good); shopping at the cultural stalls and stores; visiting the Monastery; and checking out the bookstore which specializes in books on Buddhism.

‘Shubh Arambh’ with Food

The Buddhist Monastery is built in a small, undisturbed corner without much tourist movement. It didn’t feel proper to be clicking pictures, so taking a quick look from the outside, we proceeded into the main market.

And by the time we reached, it was well into lunch-time, so we headed straight for food!

  1. Kori’s Café

A quaint little café, with a Korean menu and a large selection of herbal teas. Compared to the other cafés, it looked like this place was more frequented by the locals, perhaps because of the different cuisine type. Being vegetarians, my friend and I were surprised that the options were still decent – they had a veg alternative to almost everything on the menu! Here’s what we tried :

  • Bibimbap Hot Stone Pot – Full points for presentation! The Bibimbap sauce is the key flavor in this concoction of rice and steamed vegetables. I’ll admit – it does take a bit to get used to the taste. You’ll either love it, or will have to brave through it. I personally enjoyed it.
  • Veg Shin Ramen Noodles – Very light on flavors and a hearty bowl of ramen and veggies. You can ask for something more dense on spices, if you’d prefer.
  • Solomon’s Seal Tea – Very, very subtle flavor. If you didn’t drink it with some focused attention on the taste, you’d probably mistake it as drinking warm water.
  1. AMA’s Café

This place is famous for its desserts. And by the looks of the tables around us, pizza too! We tried out (from most to least favorite) :

  • Affogato
    Why this is delicious – one, they serve a generous serving of ice cream. And two, they serve the coffee base on the side. Pour at your convenience! It’s not a pre-prepared concoction.
  • Mud Pie
    Surprisingly lighter than the usual mud pies! A safe-side kind of option.
  • AMA Café’s Special Tibetan Cake (savory)
    Warning : This is not for the faint-hearted. With a very strong flavor, it was difficult to swallow even one bite of it. The waiters warned us but we dared try anyway.

My Shopping Haul (sort of)

There are stalls lined up, as well as permanent shops. From the stalls, you can expect to get clothes, beads, souvenirs and a tad bit of stuff here and there. I’d recommend stepping into the shops instead, which aren’t that expensive either.

Here are the key things I explored and learned about:

  1. Singing Bowls – These are great for meditation, and the shop owners are polite enough to teach you how to use them. It can be quite fascinating, as a very small bowl is capable of producing an amazing resonance! I had no luck working the bowls on my own, so I resolved to come back next time and try again.
  2. Incense Sticks – Quite different (and better) from the commercial ones in various areas. The entire stick is flammable, and quite thick. I’ve tried a few from the pack, and they have a mild, natural scent in contrast to the artificial, overbearing commercial ones. Also – the smoke isn’t as overpowering either. I got the whole gift box for only Rs. 80!
  3. Prayer Flags – inscribed with the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum”, their vibrant colors add great personality to bed headboards and car backseats.
  4. Tibetan Bells – You could go for the hanging type, used like a wind-chime, or the dorje kind, that you can use during prayer.
  5. Prayer Wheel – it’s believed that spinning the wheel, which too is inscribed with the “Om Mani Padme Hum” mantra is as good as chanting the mantra out-loud.

Books

While the bookstore was closed by the time we walked over, there are three timeless books that are highly recommended for anyone who’s been seeking the Buddhist Way:

prayer-flags-669327_1920

The Tibetan colony is rather unfrequented, and while I rejoice in sharing this place with you, I hope that any of us that visit respect the culture and maintain a kind attitude to help preserve this place’s uniqueness. 🙂

5 Spiritual Books Everyone Should Read!

The Spiritual world has a lot to offer, and these are 5 enthralling books that give you a first taste of a ‘soul experience’.

There’s a difference between religion and spirituality. You are the boss of your soul, and spirituality will bring you to your full glory! And this liberating realization came from the books I’ve been reading. Independent of any one God, open to criticism, giving readers goosebumps and hopefully answering some questions about the ‘soul’… that’s what you should expect. Here goes!

  1. Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr Brian Weiss 

This was where my journey began. I picked this book up at the airport on a whim. By the time I reached home from the flight, my life had changed. This is perfect because it’s written by a psychiatrist who’s just as skeptical about writing it, as the reader reading it.

Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr Brian Weiss
Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr Brian Weiss

What does he talk about? Past lives! This book will answer some questions like – do we really reincarnate? Why do we have unexplained fears or likings towards places and people? How does hypnosis work, and is it safe to undergo such therapy? It also reveals fascinating information from the souls that are guiding us from above. The author calls them Masters.

This is a compelling read, because you get a good mixture of psychological therapies, healing and some respite on the countless questions we ask about life, and why things are the way they are.

NOTE: I was so fascinated and inspired, I went for a past life regression too! Stay tuned for more on that.

  1. Illusions by Richard Bach

The disclaimer on this book by the author was, it’s upto you, if you want to believe this is a true story or not. It’s an account of a “Master”, except he isn’t walking around like the Buddha, enlightening other people. He’s actually quite mischievous and low-key. He’s mystical indeed, and he has a book of spiritual secrets, which he slowly reveals to the author through the course of this book. Book-ception, ha!

IMG_20180704_131102
Illusions by Richard Bach

Short but influential writing. There are many hidden truths in this one. If you’ve enjoyed a book such as the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, you’ll surely love this one.

  1. Journey of Souls by Michael Newton

Another psychiatrist set out to explore what happens between lives, or after-death. This is complimentary yet distinct from Dr Brian’s book. You will find heavy introspection (at times, intimidating) for profound questions like – what happens after we die, what happens before we’re born, why we have challenging lives and how we actually opt for them, how soulmates find their way back to each other, what ‘heaven’ looks like, the truth about spirit guides, etc.

Journey of Souls by Michael Newton
Journey of Souls by Michael Newton

The fascinating thing is, the book is a collection of case studies from dozens of patients who all in superconscious state began to talk about similar experiences of the afterlife. This validation is HUGE and one of a kind. This is an important book for someone who wants metaphysical and spiritual understanding. It’s a lot to accept, but if it resonates with you, it can single-handedly bring you a lot of clarity!

  1. Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch (Part 1)

Okay, so we’ve discussed past lives and between lives. What about this life? One day, the author began automatic-writing. The conversation was literally, with God!

Conversations with God : Book One by Neale Donald Walsch
Conversations with God : Book One by Neale Donald Walsch

I thoroughly enjoyed this book for its humorous and impartial perspective. One thing this book taught me is – God doesn’t get offended! Mock him, or love him, he’s all the same. It will shake your core religious beliefs, and if you’re an atheist, it might even convert you to a fan of the Universe.

The book works beautifully to move you from a God-fearing and Karma-fearing to a God-loving and Karma-appreciating person. It also makes you stop resenting God, and take up responsibility for your actions in life. Empowering, funny and revolutionary! Though this is a series, I’d recommend the first part, for maximum impact.

  1. Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

What I enjoyed the most about this book is the analogies! This guy knows how to break things down for you. He also gives you a lot of things to try. How to push your own buttons, how to accelerate your spiritual understanding, how to truly heal. This isn’t meant to be finished in one-go. But if you give it time to sink in, it will transform your life.

Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer
Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer

While the previous books are research-based and take longer to accept, this one is grounding, and might stir your soul to Awaken through daily, practical outlook-changes.

While there are many great books out there, these books have set the foundation of my own journey and much of the understanding I have today. There’s a lot more where this came from, so be sure to keep up with me for more reading ideas!