Bookish talk

First five(ish) books I’d buy if I were building my personal library from scratch

I’ve always dreamed of a big, ceiling high library of my own, filled with books with beautiful bindings and soft pages filled with the most amazing tales. I have imagined sitting in this beautiful library on a comfortable chair, my TARDIS blanket wrapped cozily around me, traveling through all of time and space with my books. *sigh*

Recently I saw this discussion prompt on the Goodreads Twitter account. “If you had to rebuild your personal library from scratch, what  first three books you’d buy?” Needless to say, this got me thinking. Because in my imaginations, I have always pictured a room filled top to bottom with books, books on the shelves, books in piles on the ground, books on a table. This prompt got me thinking  – which books would do the auspicious beginning (Shubh Arambh, as we say in hindi) of my sweet haven?

Albeit the prompt asks for three books, I couldn’t manage to narrow down to just three even after long considerations. So here I have listed out five books that I would buy to inaugurate my personal library. (If in the end, the list exceeds five books, just know that I’m indecisive, okay? I tried my best but I’m sorry.)

The Room on the Roof by Ruskin Bond 

(Followed by every other book he has written)

This need to be the very first book that graces my library, to honour the man who made me fall in love with reading. Ruskin Bond is one of the most celebrated children’s authors in India. He has been actively writing since 1951. In his five decades of writing career Ruskin Bond has lost track of number of books he has written, and he is still active in the literary field enriching them with the tales from Himalayas where he has spent most of his life. Ruskin Bond’s books and writings are little bundles of joys that you just can’t help falling in love with. His writing is like a breath of fresh air. You cannot get enough of it.

“The light spring rain rode on the wind, into the trees, down the road; it brought an exhilarating freshness to the air, a smell of earth, a scent of flowers; it brought a smile to the eyes of the boy on the road.”

The Room on the Roof is Ruskin Bond’s first novel, written at the age of seventeen. A semi-autobiographical novel, it is about an Anglo-Indian 16 year old boy, Rusty, living in the hilly town of Dehradun in India. After the death of his parents, he is sent to live with his India-hating English guardian who wants to turn Rusty into a complete Englishmen, and is very Victorian when it came to discipline. Rusty on the other hand, fascinated by the colours and festivals of India, and the Bazaar near their home, decided to break free.

Along the way, Rusty falls in love, faces heartbreak and impotently watches his tight (and yet, loosely wound) circle of friends drift in and out of his life. He needs to explore what he himself expects from life and has to face the mental trials and financial tribulations that every insecure young adolescent goes through during those hellish years

Through his charming writing, Ruskin Bond ensures that the reader lives and breathes each moment with Rusty, be it in the crowded and disorderly bazaar, the hot and steamy chaat shop, the colored streets of the town during Holi, or the remote and dense forests, the myriad rivers, the vast mountains, the big maidans.


“I don’t want to rot like mangoes at the end of the season, or burnout like the sun at the and of the day. I cannot live like the gardener, the cook and water-carrier, doing the same task everyday of my life… I want to be either somebody or nobody. I don’t want to be anybody.”


The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Yes, all three books. Plus The Hobbit. You know what? Just give me all books by Tolkien. That’ll be best. Thank you very much. My precioussssssss :))))

I can’t say anything about this marvelous series, this outstanding author, his brilliant descriptions, his amazing characters, that hasn’t been said before. So I’ll just say, my library won’t be a library without the presence of Tolkien and Middle Earth in it.

Complete Works of William Shakespeare

I want to read Shakespeare. And reread. And rereread and so on and so forth. Again, Shakespeare’s presence in mandatory in my library. Thank you.

(Why are the length of my book descriptions gradually shortening after each book I’ve mentioned?)

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

This is a very widely read book with completely contrasting reviews. Some people absolutely loved it while others totally detested it. I’m part of the former group. Sure, it’s a long book and gets really tiresome to read. It took me a really long time to finish. I had to go back and read portions again and again because I had forgotten where I left off or what was talked about earlier. I abandoned this book over and over again. But I am glad I read it.

“The ability to speak about fictions is the most unique feature of Sapiens language…fiction has enabled us not merely to imagine things, but to do so collectively.”

Harari is a fantastic historian: he writes effortlessly and fascinatingly about historic trends, and has a great big picture perspective of the revolutions and contexts of historical progression.

P.S. – It is a beginner’s introduction to sociobiology. So there will be stuff that you already knew about, possibly watered down for readers who don’t. No reason to hate on it.

The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Oh I absolutely love Douglas Adams and his crazy humor!

This is a science fiction series (Trilogy of five books) and it has its share of outrageous technologies, alien races, space travel, time travel and whatnot! If you can see beyond the aliens and spaceships, then you would see the brilliance of the stories. The behavior and thoughts of the aliens actually portray the various human foibles.

A must own for me, this book.

So that brings us to the end of my list. I will refrain myself from writing about any further books. But for emotional reasons, here are a few honorary mentions:

  1. Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
  2. Our Moon has Blood Clots: Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits by Rahul Pandita
  3. Munnu: A Boy from Kashmir by Malik Sajad
  4.  The Bell Jar by Slyvia Plath
  5. In the Court of Ranee of Jhansi by John Lang
  6. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  7. Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi 



4 thoughts on “First five(ish) books I’d buy if I were building my personal library from scratch

  1. This is an intriguing question! I cry at the thought of having to start my library over, but we’re it not for the cost it could be fun. We have a few of the same choices- Tolkien, Adams, Plath. While I adore Shakespeare, if pressed, I believe I would replace his full works with the full works of Poe. I re-read his as you said you re-read Shakespeare. You have me very interested in Bond now! I’ve been wanting to read more diverse authors. Is this the book you’d recommend starting with?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes Poe is a brilliant choice too! I’d definitely want him in my library as well.
      I am glad you are interested in Ruskin Bond. You should definitely read him. The Room on the Roof would be a great place to start. It is the first book he wrote. You’ll fall in love with his writing and Dehradun. His descriptions would make you want to come visit India. But keep in mind, he writes for children. So there will be instances where you might dislike the story and get bored. But definitely give him a read, you won’t regret it!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooh I like this question – and what a tough one! Thanks for sharing your answers. I’ve only read The Hobbit and Shakespeare from your list; well, not ALL Shakespeare, but quite a bit. I’d have to say the full Harry Potter series – and I’m totally counting that as one! Also, The Rainbow Fish. It’s a picture book but one I’ve always loved.


    Liked by 1 person

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