Books Read Lately: January 2016

2015 is now a closed chapter, but before moving onto my reading plans for 2016, I wanted to share about some of the books that I read last year as a part of my Project 52 Books. I didn’t quite get to 52 books, but I’ve read way more books last year than ever before.

Here’s a summary of some more books that I read last year.

  1. The Story Hour (fiction): This was the second Thrity Umrigar book that I’ve read, the first being the brilliant “The World We Found“. It’s essentially a story of two women – Maggie, a psychologist, and Lakshmi, a depressed Indian emigrant, who happens to be Maggie’s patient, and how in doing so their lives become interconnected when Lakshmi and Maggie’s relationship transitions from patient / doctor to friends. Both characters are flawed, their actions, while not always right, seem real, and you end up rooting for them to sort things out. I enjoyed reading this book, but not as much as “The World We Found”.
  2. If Today Be Sweet (fiction): Another Thrity Umrigar book, this one. The premise of the story is familiar enough – recently widowed Tehmina must decide how she wants to spend the next phase of her life without her husband. Uproot herself and her life as she knows it to live with her son and his family in the US of A, or learn to live by herself in Bombay, in the home that she’d built with her husband? I’ve seen a few older people around me struggle with similar decisions, and I know it’s not an easy decision to make. But the characters seemed to be acting in extremes mostly (especially the son’s boss – she almost seemed like a caricature!), and the setting, the conversations, it all felt rather convenient. Nope, didn’t floor me, this one.
  3. The Headmaster’s Wife (fiction): Boy, does this one start off weird! I mean, a headmaster having an inappropriate relationship – at many points I was on the verge of giving up. It makes for slightly uncomfortable reading, to say the very least. However, I was glad to have stuck with it, because the story completely changes direction about mid-way through, and takes on a completely different tone. The writing is great – not superfluous, effective, and meaningful. The characters are etched beautifully, but what is stellar about the book is the portrayal of grief and the many different ways that it impacts each person. Beautifully written book.
  4. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (non-fiction): What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said before? I get the hype – it seems like we are living in a world where material things and distractions are thrown at us at such a rapid pace, and our “material footprint” just keeps growing to the point where it becomes overwhelming! So for the kind of lives we lead, periodic de-cluttering, in my opinion, is absolutely essential. Which is why I get why most of us find the key message that the book delivers to be extremely powerful: “does this bring you joy?”. It’s a very simple question, but can lead to some profound realisations and has the potential to change your outlook towards your material possessions (and if you allow yourself the luxury, then just about every aspect of your life!). I enjoyed reading the book, and while some things seem like a stretch (packing and unpacking your daily use handbag every day??? Nope. Not for me.), on the whole, the message and the approach (de-clutter by category!!!) is all meaningful.
  5. Tiny Beautiful Things  (non-fiction): I’ll share what I wrote on Facebook once I about halfway through this book, which pretty much expresses all that I feel about it – “In the next couple of days, I am going to finish reading “Tiny Beautiful Things”, and I am in all likelihood going to post an update urging everyone to buy the book, because it is THAT good. It’s so good that it should be made compulsory reading in schools. Okay, maybe not in schools. In college probably. It’s so good because it has the potential to make you a more empathetic, open-minded and compassionate person (as most good books tend to), if you let it. It’s so good that I am not going to wait till I finish the book to post this message. Read it, please do. It’s a gem of a book. One that I will be gifting around. One where I will be scribbling notes on the margins. One where I will weep because there are kind of realities in other’s lives that I cannot even begin to fathom, yet. One where I will be glad that I allowed this book to come into my life. Anyway, long story short – read this book. It’s a good one. And for now, I will leave you with this – “Trust yourself. It’s Sugar’s golden rule. Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.”
  6. Finding Lily  (fiction): This is the first book by Rachel Del. I enjoy reading her blog, and I love that she’s taken her dreams and packaged them in the form of a novella. It was a quick, breezy read, perfect for the beach (in fact, I read it in a jiffy during our Bali vacation). Now I am waiting for Part II to come out.
  7. Mrs. Funnybones  (essays): In the last couple of year, Twinkle Khanna has emerged as a rather funny, tongue-in-cheek columnist. It’s only incidental that her parents and her husband are celebrated Bollywood actors, or that she has herself had a short-lived career as a leading lady. In the course of the essays in the book, you realise that there is so much more that lies beneath the surface. She may be surrounded by various riches and fancies, but with her concerns for her children, her relationship with her mother and in-laws, the challenges that she faces with domestic help and sexist clients, she comes across as being as “real” as any other woman. Her tone is light and her brand of humour self-effacing – her first book makes for a pleasant reading.
  8. Why Not Me? (essays) – (cue Chandler voice) Could Mindy Kaling BE any more fun? The Mindy Project is one of my favourite comedy shows, and reading her essays in “Why Not Me?†only furthers my belief that Mindy Kaling is one hell of a talented woman. I mean, she writes, acts and produces her own comedy show! Also, you realise that wearing all these hats in no mean feat! I loved the “Day In The Life”feature that she’s included in the book.
  9. In Order to Live (autobiography) – Eye opening. Sure, I knew that North Korea is a fairly closed country, but before reading the book, I had absolutely no clue about the extreme, concocted beliefs that are perpetuated among its citizens. It is difficult to read about young girls being treated as sex slaves just in order to live, but really, power to Yeonmi and others like her who’ve braved the system and had the courage to tell the tale.
  10. The Martian (fiction) – The book >>>>> the movie. Seriously. As much as I enjoy watching Matt Damon on screen, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that a) they actually did an Iron Man, and b) they left out the best line in the book from the movie. Anyway, since this is not about the movie, let me tell you that I absolutely enjoyed the book. Despite all the heavy, science jargon. Despite the detailed explanations. And here’s the part I love most of the book – the fact that the author talks about water on Mars four (!!!!) years before they actually discovered that there is water on Mars.

So what books have you read lately? Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts? 

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Project 52 Books is a documentation of my goal to read 52 books in 2015. To know more about the books I’ve read as a part of this project, click here. 

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