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! 🙂

3 Things All Lazy Travelers Should do at Mcleodganj

Lazy or not, this became a trip worth sharing. Do read and share your experiences too!

Mcleodganj became an immersive and life-changing experience for us, simply because my friend and I were too lazy. Ironically, I feel like I should proactively talk about this, because it’s turned out to be such a good thing!

  1. Stay at a Monastery Guesthouse

After a steady 30-minute uphill climb from the bus stand, we found our way to the backside of our hotel. The entrance was blocked by huge hoardings all over the floor, that said ‘welcome’. Not very welcoming, to be honest.

With not a single person in sight to ask for directions, and not knowing what else to do, our first idea was to move some of the hoardings out of the way, and try getting in. But quickly, it became quite obvious, when we saw a few uprooted plant pots and unmanned doors, that the hotel had actually been ghosted. Had OYO conned us?

We then did something more sensible and called the hotel’s reception. So apparently, the actual hotel was another 20 minutes away and Google Maps had played a prank on us. This was a relief, as you can imagine. And so, we began to walk some more.

On the way upwards, we noticed an elderly Buddhist nun trekking down from a monastery. She looked at us with a huge, angelic smile and blew a flying kiss as well. As a stronger believer of ‘signs’, we figured that we’re meant to visit the monastery.

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Nyingma Monastery, en-route Mcleodganj to Bhagsunag

As soon as we reached the road that led up to our hotel, we knew it was going to be impossible. A car had just barely managed to climb that dirt road, its engine desperately vroom-vrooming its way up. We turned around and rushed back to the monastery. And they gladly took us in!

Our stay at the monastery guesthouse was actually quite humbling. The room compromised simply of two twin beds, and a wooden chair. The bathroom was to be shared between all the other rooms on that floor.

We were also blessed with a perfect view of sunrise, sunset and stargazing from a giant window in our room, that looked into the world. The monastery itself was minimalistic and gorgeous. Not to forget, it was unbelievably inexpensive. Just 200 INR!

TAKEAWAY : Book a hotel that allows free-cancellation, because it may not be located where the map says so, and you might find something more soulful, like staying with the monks.

  1. Ignore the ‘Lists’

We went with a list of 5 ‘Must-Try’ Cafes, and we happened to visit all ZERO of them. I have no clue if Shiva Café is overrated or not, simply because we never made it that far up!

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Other Lazy Travelers on the way to Shiva Cafe

Also, again thanks to Google Maps, we never reached Namgyal Café because the cafe has been relocated, but hasn’t been ‘mapped’ yet. Also, none of the locales seemed to know its exact whereabouts, and we ofcourse were too lazy to try finding it out on our own.

TAKEAWAY : Mcleodganj cafes serve better food than Zomato reviewers claim. All 6 of our meals ended up at underrated and sometimes non-digitally-existant places. Because these places are so good, I decided to talk more about them in another blog. Stay tuned!

  1. Visit When His Holiness, Dalai Lama is in Town

We happened to visit the Dalai Lama Monastery when his Holiness was visiting. The streets outside the complex were packed with anticipating travelers and monks, beautiful decorations and chatter. You might have guessed by now how lazy we are, and after about 90 seconds of sincerity and patience, we decided to enter the premise anyway.

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Tibetan Monks waiting with flower bouquets awaiting the arrival of his Holiness, Dalai Lama

What we found then, was a completely quiet and empty monastery! Almost everyone was outdoors, waiting for his Holiness to arrive; save a few security personnel and monks on duty inside.

We were thus able to stroll around at our leisure pace, taking our time to soak in the monastery’s vibe and chuckle at the Choco-Pies and Real Juice bottles offered to the Buddha deities within the temple. How times have changed!

Did we finally get a glimpse of his Holiness? Nope. People were still waiting for him when we came back outside. Not as a sign of disrespect, but sheer laziness, we slowly walked ourselves away from the golden opportunity.

TAKEAWAY : I admit that we probably missed a lot of things that Mcleodganj is most known for. But we discovered a lot of underrated things that you won’t, unless you’re lazy too!

One thing we did do quite enthusiastically, was reach out to the locales and understand their lives. What we found out through these discussions was life-changing, and might be worth your time too. Watch this space for that post!