These titles from Tara Books are beautiful and compelling to read

Good design and good writing are two things we’re passionate about, so it’s spectacular when the two come together. We see this happen seamlessly with the illustrated books from independent publishing house Tara Books. This list—all of which, we’re happy to report, are now in store—includes retellings of the Ramayana and Mahabharatha. Needless to add, these titles make for thoughtful and good-looking gifts too!

Travels through South Indian Kitchens (2017)
By Nao Saito

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Japanese architect and designer Nao Saito spent three months in Chennai, during which time she decided to navigate Tamil Nadu through the heart of people’s homes: their kitchens. The result is this book—a rich repository of hand-drawn blueprints and illustrations, stories of the homes and people Saito visits, and a recipe from each household. Her journey to understand the locale, along with her beautiful illustrations, makes for a delightful read. | BUY

Best for: Food lovers, architecture appreciators

Metamorphosis (2008)
By Emanuele Scanziani and Jennifer Abel

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Artist Emanuele Scanziani turns yoga asanas into works of art in this book. Personifying the very animals and objects that inspire certain asanas—a downward facing dog, a tortoise, a plank—Scanziani’s drawings playfully bridge the body-mind connection that yogis strive for. The drawings are accompanied by text (by Jennifer Abel) that helps the reader contextualise the asanas and the art. | BUY

Best for: Yoga practitioners, art enthusiasts

The Mahabharatha: A Child’s View (second edition: 2017)
By Samhita Arni

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The relationships and plots in the Mahabharatha can be hard to keep track of, but fret not: you can brush up on your mythology with a child’s take on the epic (it’s a great first-time read of the story too). Arni wrote the book back when she was 12. Expect her own line drawings as well as a well-explained diagram of the family trees. This edition includes a foreword written by 25-year-old Arni, in which she proposes a reason for children growing distant from the epic. “Often we censor the more exciting bits of the epics, we gloss over the battles of the Mahabharatha and we focus on passages like the Bhagvad Gita – passages that appeal to adults but hold little interest for children,” she writes. | BUY

Best for: Young readers, culture vultures

Sita’s Ramayana (2018)
By Samhita Arni and Moyna Chitrakar

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This is a powerful retelling of the Ramayana (by a grown-up Arni this time). As the title suggests, this is Sita’s point of view. The New York Times bestseller re-examines the fate of the women in the epic—this time, Sita isn’t just a patient victim of events. The book comes to life with illustrations by Moyna Chitrakar, a Patua scroll artist from the village of Nirbhaypur in West Bengal. Plus, it’s an excellent time to engage with a perspective like this. | BUY

Best for: Fans of feminist reading, culture vultures, art enthusiasts

Frida Folk (2018)
By Gaby Franger

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With her face imprinted on memorabilia and the cult following she now has, Frida Kahlo drives an entire industry. This book deep dives into this industry around Kahlo, and tells stories of encounters with the legendary Mexican artist. It looks at Kahlo in the context of folk art, her role in the 1970s feminist movement, and ways in which she is glorified. From Frida fashion dolls to little clay Friditas, the artist’s impression on people has lingered, and Franger captures this feeling through text and photographs. | BUY

Best for: Art enthusiasts, fans of feminist reading