Books of 2018

The Chinese Zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao, is based on a twelve-year cycle, each year in that cycle related to an animal sign. These signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

If I had to define 2018 for me, it would be Year of Books. In the beginning of the year, I had resolved to read 200 books. By the end of the year, I finished reading 209. This does not include any half reads (DNF ) ones.

Reviewing Books of 2018 is going to be a humongous task given that I have read 200 books and liked most of them! You can find detailed review of these books (I have posted some & will be posting more) on my Instagram account @bookdragonhaven

I am posting the best reads genre wise (it was difficult to choose one genre for some of the books)

Drama: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry & The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (sequel to the former) – It’s a story about friendship, love, commitments and loss. Nanny McPhee & the Big Bang – The book alternates between the script of the movie and real-life anecdotes while filming the movie. Interesting style, I think. I also read Nayak, which is of a similar style. Nayak is a movie made by Satyajit Ray turned into a book. Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy – content wise the book is not much, but the architecture, clothes and lifestyle of the riches are detailed in a very interesting manner! Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows – Balli Kaur Jaiswal – Not a fan of Erotica but this one is written very well. (It is not only erotica btw, it is more about the stories of Punjabi Widows who live in London, specially Southall) Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood – Rebecca Wells – A moving tale of friendship and sisterhood. Wonder – a story about a boy with a deformed face (If you love books, read. If you love movies, watch the one with Owen Wilson & Julia Roberts), Godan – Premchand (Hindi)

Dystopia: All the novels I read of this genre were too good! Be it the Hunger Games Trilogy, Flawed & Perfect by Cecilia Ahern and the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood!

Fantasy: Artemis Fowl series – Eoin Colfer, The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern, The magical moonlight flower & enchanting stories – Satyajit Ray, The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock – Imogen Hermes Gowar, How to make time stop – Matt Haig (one of my most favourite authors now), Poonachi – Perumal Murugan (Story from a point of view of the goat – It was simply fantastic to know what goes in a goat’s world), The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin, The Bear and the Nightingle – Katherine Arden, Fire & Blood – George RR Martin, Father Christmas series – Matt Haig

History (History, Historical Fiction & Historical Romances): The last train to Istanbul – Ayse Kulin, Lincoln in the Bardo (More like the Abstract, Experimental category), The Rose of Sarajevo – Ayse Kulin, Barygaza (History of Bharuch, an important port for trading with Greece), The Guernsey literary and potato peel society – Mary Ann Shafer, The Colour Purple – Alice Walker, The little coffee shop of Kabul – Deborah Rodriguez, Love in Exile – Ayse Kulin (Was a bit disappointing, lots of questions unanswered), A Suitable Boy (Never ending saga of post-independence India), Good Things I Wish You – A Manette Mansay (Romance in romance, a writer writing book about 19th century pianists Robert & Clara Schumann & their relationship with each other & Johannes Brahms & also exploring a relationship herself), Lajja – Taslima Nasreen, Jinnah often came to our house – Kiran Doshi, Beneath a Scarlet Sky – Mark Sullivan, The name of the Rose – Umberto Eco, The boy in the striped pajamas – John Boyne, The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje, Lioness of Morocco – Henrietta Meire and Julia Drosten, The Architect’s Apprentice – Elif Shafak, The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah, The Good Earth trilogy – Pearl S Buck

Humour: The 100 year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared & The accidental further adventures of the hundred-year-old man – Jonas Jonasson, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews (It’s actually about cancer & death, but in a humorous way), Batatya chi chawl – Pu La Deshpande (Marathi)

Memoirs: Smrutichitre – Laxmi Tilak, Don’t Disturb the Dead – Shamya Dasgupta, Shashi Kapoor, The householder, the star – Aseem Chhabra, The Good, The Bad & The Ridiculous – Khushwant Singh, The one & lonely Kidar Sharma – Kidar Sharma, Romancing with life – Dev Anand, In Other Words – Jhumpa Lahiri, Shoe Dog – Phil Knight, This is me – Chrissy Metz, #GirlBoss – Sophia Amoruso

Mystery & Thrillers: The girl with the dragon tattoo trilogy – Steig Larsson, 13 Reasons why – Jay Asher, Ghachar Ghochar (sort of absurd), The Widows of Malabar Hill – Sujata Massey, Frog Music – Emma Donoghue, Seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton, Sacred Games – Vikram Chandra, I let you go – Clare Makintosh, We need to talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver, We were liars – E Lockhart, Good Girl – Mary Kubica, Inspector Singh Investigates – Shamini Flint

Love / Romance / Feel Good: Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine – Gail Honeyman, Me Before You trilogy – Jojo Moyes, The art of hearing heartbeats – Jan-Philipp Sendker, Words in Blue – Cath Crowley, The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang, The History of Love – Nicole Krauss, To all the boys I have loved before – Jenny Han, I see London, I see France – Sarah Mlynowski, Less – Andrew Greer, PS from Paris – Mark Levy, One Man Guy – Michael Barakiva, Love & Gelato – Jenna Evans Welch, November 9 – Colleen Hoover, The Hating Game – Sally Thorne, Boy meets Boy – David Levithan, Cobalt Blue – Sachin Kundalkar, Dumplin – Julie Murphy

That’s it folks!!

Top 10 Books of 2015

In the beginning of 2015 couple of people gave me the Reading Challenge.

Reading_Challenge

Quite daunting eh? It has approximate 52 categories I think. Initially I thought I wouldn’t follow it as it would make reading a task and not the joy it is. In between the year, I thought maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea. It would give me an opportunity to explore genres / authors which I haven’t read yet. I listed the categories in a spreadsheet dutifully and marked books I already read. Also plotted out books that I would like to read. It would have worked fine except that I discovered the joy of e books. All the books I wanted to read, my favourite books of all time, all available in the mobi or epub format. The advantage of e books for me is they are space saving, can be read at night without lights and can be read during breaks too! But this doesn’t mean I have abandoned paper backs / hard covers 😉

Overall I have read plenty of books this year. Most of them good but couple of Duhs too (Aarushi & Anusual). I read most books of Jeffrey Archer, Agatha Christie and Nicholas Sparks, the Harry Potter series, The Godfather, entire Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella, Memoirs of Naseeruddin Shah, Novels by Rabindranath Tagore, Short stories of Tagore, Bhisham Sahni’s stories and some more! Phew! 😀

To select top 10 books is a difficult task! Though I will attempt it 🙂

✎ The Pregnant King – Written by Devdutt Patnaik. He describes the emotions of both mother and father beautifully!

✎ The Mysterious Stranger – Written by Mark Twain. Each and everyone should read this book. It raises serious questions on morality and superior complex of human beings

✎ Comedy of marriage and other things – Written by Maupassant. It is a fine compilation of short stories resembling society of his times.

✎ Short stories of Bhisham Sahni – Bhisham Sahni is a wonderful writer and this collection is simply enchanting! I wish I had read it in Hindi though. Would have been more joyful!

✎ The Descendants – Written by Kaui Hemmings. It is heart touching and set in a different location for a change, i.e. Hawaii and it showcases the reality of Hawaii rather than focussing on the superficially touristy thing!

✎ The Fan Girl – Written by Rainbow Rowell. It’s teenage romance genre and it still is interesting to read because the way Rowell writes. Rowell gives depth to her characters even without describing what makes them who they are. That’s why you feel one with them.

✎ Chokher Bali – A beautiful tragic novel by Rabindranath Tagore. I could totally relate to Binodini and the climax broke my heart. Damn the sense of morality in those times :-/

✎ The Godfather – Mario Puzo has created a masterpiece! Though this was a re-read but it was after many years and it was like reading it for the first time. The detailing is so beautiful! This is a must read for everyone!

✎ To Kill a Mocking Bird – Written by Harper Lee. It talks about America of a different era. The racism, the cruelty and the subtle heroics of ordinary people is depicted wonderfully!

✎ Rag Darbari – Written by Srilal Shukla. My dad says this is supposed to be the best novel written in Hindi and he isn’t wrong. The writing is gripping and the content seems relevant even today. The detailing of characters is just fabulous!

If you read, I would love to know which books touched your heart this year 🙂

Eleanor & Park

One day out of the blue Shriti said read Eleanor & Park. You will like it.

And I take this kind of recommendations very seriously. Just like Aditi’s recco to read The Missing Rose.

I searched the online bookstore & the price was almost 1400 bucks. I usually do not look at the price while purchasing books but I do set certain limits. Else I would go bankrupt in no time. I so wanted to purchase the book but thought to wait for certain time to see if there is a sale / the price is marked down a bit.

Meanwhile I kept reading from the e books collection I have got thanks to Nirav. After Bossy Pants I was looking out for some interesting title. Though I love Dan Brown, was not in the mood for Deception Point, which I stopped reading after couple of pages. While browsing, my eyes stuck on one title. No points for guessing. I just wanted to jump with joy! Here I was holding a treasure & wasn’t even aware about it. Just like real life, isn’t it?

Anyway, I started reading the book. I had no clue what was it about. Just couple of pages & I was hooked. Hooked to Eleanor, hooked to Park & hooked to both of them. A part of the reason was that my life resembled Eleanor’s at some level. A misfit, who was made fun of, who stayed aloof coz she knew she could never be like others & had no place in their lives. And who dreams of someone like Park. Who will hold her hand & make everything ok.

I got carried away in their world & just like they didn’t want to part with each other, I didn’t want to be apart from the book. I wanted to stay with them. To know they were safe. Half way through the book I was scared. Scared that the author would not give them a happy ending. What if the end isn’t happy? What if they have to part forever? At one point I was so sure about it that I contemplated leaving the book incomplete.

It has been a long time that a book has enchanted me so much that I can’t put it down. Yes it is teenage romance. Not my genre. But then life is unusual. We find love in places we never ever imagine. Yes, we can find love in fiction. In fictional characters.

I am glad that the author has not given it a cliched ending. The last line of the book made me so happy that I cried a little. Eleanor & Park. I love you. I know those were the three words Eleanor sent on the post card. And I am happy that she didn’t stop. :’)

eleanor & park

Falling in love, one book at a time..

I fell in love with books when I was a little kid. I don’t know which was the first book I read. But I do know which ones I love more than others. Yes, I have favourites. They are not my kids after all but friends 😉 Friends who give me company in happiness & sadness, in sickness & health.

Some of my favorite books:

1. Pride & Prejudice: I am a fan of the Victorian Era & love books written in that period. This one is my most favourite. I have been in love with Elizabeth Bennet & Mr Darcy ever since I read this book. This is equivalent to a cup of coffee to me. 🙂 Another favorite from Jane Austen is Emma.

2. Autobiography of a Yogi: Usually am not a fan of autobiographies / biographies / Non Fiction. But this one captivated me. Such simplicity & such humility in one person which was so inspiring!

3. The Fountainhead: This has to be the cliched universal favourite. I love this book for the ideology it presents & also the character of Howard Roark. Also in my to read list is Atlas Shrugged. The start is awesome & gripping & I don’t want to read in bits & pieces. I need a mini vacation to read it from start to end.

4. Empress of Blandings: I am a huge huge fan of P G Wodehouse. I love his sarcasm on the ridiculous English customs of those time. However, this is his best work, according to me. Closely followed by the Mulliners.

5. Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less: This is the book which made me fall in love with Jeffrey Archer’s style. All his short storeis collection are second in the list.

6. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: This one was the toughest to select. Agatha Christie is another most favourite & I have loved almost all her books, specially Poirot ones. This however took the cake.

7. Shyamchi Aai: This is my most favourite book in Marathi. It has innocence, nostalgia & whole gamut of emotions. My most favorite thing is the beauty of Konkan area described in the book.

8. Peela Rumal Ni Gaath: A three book series by Harkisan Mehta is the most thrilling fiction in Gujrati. It depicts the era when Thugs were prevalent in India.

9. Shrikant: Out of all the books written by Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, this one is my most favourite. I think this & Devdas, Charitraheen, etc had a similar base, where the hero was weak, needy & totally dependent on love from the women in his life. However, Shrikant has left more of a impact on me. Maybe because of Farooq Sheikh’s portrayal of the lead character.

10. Godaan: The best from the pen of Premchand, my most favourite author in Hindi language. Although it’s a tragic one, it is the most realistic representation of the pre independence era. This would make even the hardest of hearts to melt.

Hope you all enjoy these gems as much as I do 🙂