The Raj Quartet [The Jewel in the Crown (1966); The Day of the Scorpion (1968); The Towers of Silence (1971); A Division of the Spoils (1975)] by Paul Scott: The fascination I felt when I discovered the first novel of the quartet many years ago remains with me. The novels are a masterly recreation of life in colonial India during the period when WWII was raging around the world and the Raj was winding to an end.
The Golden Gate (1986) by Vikram Seth: This is a famous novel in verse, a long poem in a metre menacingly called an ‘iambic tetrameter’! Extraordinary as it sounds, the novel gives us an authentic picture of the US, particularly San Francisco, in terms of the social and political concerns of people there in the 1970 and 80s.
The Winds of War (1971) and War & Remembrance (1978) by Herman Wouk: The Winds of War as the title suggests begins with emerging signs of the coming war and the developments in Germany, more particularly in Berlin where the protagonist, an American naval officer, is stationed. It and its sequel follow him and his family as they get caught up in various aspects of the war.
Eats, Shoots and Leaves (2003) by Lynn Truss: I don’t know whether there is any other book on a subject like punctuation that you can chuckle all the way through. In that sense, this book is simply unbelievable. The author has such a droll sense of humour, and at the same time, is so accurate in her explanations, she has really done all users of the English language favour by writing her wonderful book.