One of my major goals this year has been to read more books. I’ve always been an avid reader but somehow in the last few years, I realised that I wasn’t reading as much as I would have liked to. Rather than go for a vague goal like “read more books”, I wanted to set a target for myself. After dilly-dallying on the number, I finally settled for 52. And just so you know, last year, I’d read about 16 books in all! Talk about being ambitious!
As things stand today, I have read some 25 odd books this year, most of them fiction. With just about four months to go till the end of the year, I am going to have to step up the reading game, but given how much I enjoy reading, I am looking forward to this one.
Here is a recap of some of the books that have made it to my reading list so far.
1| EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU – CELESTE NG
What a heartbreaking story. I couldn’t quite believe that this one was actually a debut novel. The characters are vividly painted, and the book does not shy away from addressing the tense realities of inter-racial marriages. The relationship dynamics between the characters is so skilfully written and you can feel almost the world of pain that all the characters carry on their shoulders. The story is a thriller all right and it’s definitely one of the best books that I’ve read this year.
2| A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING – RUTH OZEKI
This was a bit of a slow and complicated read. A fair bit of metaphysics, philosophy and quantum physics thrown in at rather frequent intervals. I liked that it delved deep into Japanese culture but it was painful to read about the extreme bullying situations.
The relationship between Nao and her great-grandmother Jiko is lovingly portrayed, and it seems that most of us could do well with the wisdom that Jiko imparts. I liked the whole time interplay here (almost like being in a time machine), and the possibilities of second chances.
3| THE SHINING – STEPHEN KING
I can’t watch horror movies. Even though I know it’s make believe (at least on screen), I’ve just never quite had the guts to really enjoy horror movies. But horror books I can do. After unsuccessfully trying to watch The Shining in the movie format, I decided to give the book a go. Oh my, what a delicious horror story.
I was scared out of my wits even as I read through the book. I could absolutely see the story playing out in my head. The suspense is superbly created right till the rather exciting ending. I don’t think I can ever look at a croquet mallet the same again.
4| STATION ELEVEN – EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL
Picked this up solely on Elise’s recommendation. Till before this book, I’d never read ANY science fiction / post apocalyptic fiction. So this was a brand new genre for me. And what a fantastic introduction it was… I loved how it was not so much about the apocalypse as it was about the people, and Shakespeare.
The writing was both poignant and clever. I couldn’t get myself to put down the book (okay, my Kindle). There is also a subtext about the endurance of art and story-telling in the book, and I found that particularly endearing.
5| THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN – PAULA HAWKINS
I’d read fabulous things about this book, how it was the next “Gone Girl” and all that. The story starts off slow, and the tone is sufficiently morose, in keeping with the compulsions of the main character. Thankfully, about a few chapters in, the pace picks up and on the whole, it was an engrossing read for sure.
I did want to find out what happens in the end (though I did find myself skimming through pages a few times), but couldn’t particularly relate to the characters. Pretty much a beach / flight read this one.
6| ONE DAY – DAVID NICHOLLS
I usually love stories that span across time, and this one certainly qualifies as one of my favourite ones ever! My copy of this book now carries just too many dog-eared pages. The writing by David Nicholls is fantastic and funny, and the conversations between Em & Dex is brilliant (and for a quick second can I talk about the perfection that was the letter that Dexter writes to her from India).
The evolution of Em & Dex’s relationship over 20 years seems so natural and realistic. At the heart of it, it’s a love story, but it’s also a story about growing up, dealing with the adult life and the random, harsh realities that come with it. And also a lesson in that a well-lived life is not always about things going exactly to plan.
7| THE ROSIE PROJECT – GRAEME SIMSION
I expected this one to be a super-breezy flight read, but was pleasantly surprised to find that while keeping all the lightness in place, the book offered some wonderful insights on relationships and human interactions. I mean – a book does not get on Bill Gates’ reading list without having some serious merit, right?
Don is a wonderfully written character, and I think his quirks made for some hilarious situations. And Jennifer Lawrence has Rosie written all over her, do you not agree?
8| THE ROSIE EFFECT – GRAEME SIMSION
I read this book almost immediately after finishing The Rosie Project. I think that was a mistake. By the end of Book 1, you’re quite familiar with how Don likes to solve problems. It’s almost as if the second book continues in the same fashion as the first one, only that the situations become increasingly improbable and forced (at least to me).
Probably the novelty of it all wore off for me, and while this book was moderately enjoyable, I just wanted to finish it for the sake of calling it done, not because I was truly invested in the story.
So what are you reading these days, and what’s been your favourite book this year?
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