4 fiction, 1 anthology, 5 non-fiction books, and this mixed bag of books got some of the best reads of the year. Remember how in my last post I talked about how the books I picked up weren't that good? guess what this slot sufficed my hunger!
WITH LOVE by ttt-
Ah, Love! As much as the word itself is beautiful, it evokes one of the most beautiful feelings, a sense of completeness within us. Hides millions of gestures and thousands of untold stories within its sleeves we just try to express just a minuscule part of it. I can keep on writing about this yet still left with many left behind...
"With Love" is a bouquet of letters, filled with truest and raw emotions, so fierce to burn towers down, so tender to heal all the wounds... Different authors penned down their deepest feelings, it rekindles old memories in the mind of the reader. Each letter is like a window to another hidden tale. In a world where all of us are locked down, everything has slowed down, this book gives food for thought.
MEMORY POLICE by Yoko Ogawa-
In an unnamed surveillance island state where things slowly disappear and citizens forget about them, only reminiscent and hollowness are left behind. Trivial little things like rose, hats, ribbons, birds, are forced to disappear, and citizens are equally forced to forget them. Those who resisted manages to remember them, disappear into the headquarters of memory police. It's like making holes in the heart with bullets and getting hollow inside out.
The slow narrative develops this eerie atmosphere throughout the book. As typically seen in dystopian masterpieces the author takes her own sweet time to let that fear slowly sink into unconsciousness. Every time something is made to disappear it tired me down. It's like listening to a piece of long meditation music, although monotonous, the opiate nature kept me in the loop. It's a sad, dreamy book that stayed with me for a long time.
THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED by Vikrant Khanna-
Obsessed one-sided lover, Bollywood perfect love birds, creepy aspiring author, supernatural events, picture-perfect hill station, mysterious disappearance, this little more than 200 paged novella had all of them and some more. All of these got the high potential to give a psychological thriller had the book being double of its size. The writing is so fast-paced that you blink and puff gone an important event. The writer promised to give a twisty unpredictable end and which was there for sure and took me aback! It's one of those perfect weekend read, or kind of book I would opt for to get out of a reading slump.
LITTLE EYES by Samanta Schweblin-
Little, cute robotic toys following all day, trying to grab attention and like little babies trying got understand the world through its big eyes, except someone behind it is actually controlling it and watching every move of the owner and we don't even know an inch about them! divided into chapters based on different locations of the world like Antwerp, Oaxaca, Lyon, Beijing, Lima, so on Little eyes shares a unique relationship between the Keeper and Dweller, where the keeper shows every second of her life. It gives away eery narrative of digital surveillance and ripping up of privacy. The premise of the story is bold and weird and non-conventional and shares the deepest desires of us to share or talk about every moment of life. The narrative progresses slowly towards the animalistic behavior of fraud, cunningness, bullying. but, sadly halfway through the book, it becomes repetitive, monotonous, and predictable.
THE SHAPE OF THE RUINS by Juan Gabriel Vasquez-
This was an experimental read in a way since I haven’t read many books written by Latin American authors and since it’s historical, political fiction it was right up my alley. In the book, the author played the primary role of a narrator and takes us down the street of Bogota, Columbia, and shares the pollical events that were unraveling with a tinge of the storyline in it. The book blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction because it intertwines both real events and fictional ones. In this process, it almost takes the shape of a memoir. I read books like this before, namely Purba-Paschim by Sunil Gangopadhyay where the Liberation war of Bangladesh of 1971 holds a primary place, and often essays on wars, sharing cultural history are included in the novel. How I see this book is more like learning about foreign history than a novel. The way the story is told can be biased depending on the reader’s political inclination and also a history lesson on the politics of South America’s period of unrest and the USA during JFK, yet it’s a prolonged read. Also, I feel it loses some of its charms may be due to translation but if you are more into political non-fiction, you will love it.
FREEDOM FROM THE KNOWN by Jiddu Krishnamurti-
Inspiring, thought-provoking, actually it shakes up entire belief systems sometimes.
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr-
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and especially ww2 based ones. The event not only changed the future of the world and shifted the power dynamics it made a great impact in the world of literature. All the light we cannot see draws two parallel stories of a French blind girl, Marie Laure, and German orphan Werner Pfennig living in an extraordinary circumstance and trying to survive and escape death. It’s a very slow read yet got a beauty in the writing style. But what I miss here is the chemistry of the two central characters and it's more of individual stories and factual events on war tor nations.
6 SECRETS OF HEALTH FROM THE INDIAN KITCHEN by Ratna Rajaiah-
Everything got a story to tell, even the innocent-looking brinjal and mighty pumpkin. The fascinating gastronomic journey of spices and grains, from the books of Vedas to a traveler's journal, finally entering into the kitchens of mothers and grandmothers and their magical touch transforming them into a magical sumptuous food filled with qualities that do nothing other than enriching our life.
The sheer effort the author took while sharing stories of millets and dals and even satanic chilis are worth mentioning. The mastery in storytelling about something so common, so intertwined with life makes the reading far more interesting. The humble easy recipes shared over here urge me every time to cook something. Talking about the recipes which are not just simple and easy the author shared the dietary facts and how to maintain its nutritional values. In this fast-paced life where takeaways are more common than lighting the kitchen oven the hones effort to bring us back to the roots deserves a mention.
Now here is the thing, the book showcases traditional food and yet not a single non-vegetarian ingredients found its way in between the pages. I am unsure if "traditional", "Indian kitchen" is devoid of meats, fishes, and poultry. It's personal for me, I belong from a community where fish forms the staple diet, therefore I failed to associate myself fully with the book. As it happens, India has just a little less than 30% vegetarian population(2011 census report).
7 DREAM JOBS AND HOW TO FIND THEM by Chandan Deshmukh-
When we passed our 12th board, all of my friends were sure what they wanted to do in life. Straight away engineering, while I knew one thing "Anything but engineering", nothing bad about the stream but it wasn't for me even though I was good in maths (and pathetic in physics). The preface of the book is pretty simple. DO INTROSPECTION. Understand your circumstances, the future of the chosen path because we want to have a job that would provide us monetary security. The author wrote a road map to discover our traits, identifying the factors that influence our decisions, and choosing something and excelling in both work and personal life. I love that the author gave very strong importance to hobbies and converting it into a side hustle like book blogging. The lucidity in the writing makes it a perfect handbook for job seekers.
THE SPY CHRONICLES by A.S. Dulat Asad DURRANI Aditya Sinha-
A recommended book and I had very high expectations from it given two former spymasters with a lot of experience going to shed some light on the political relationship between India and Pakistan. When they say reading is an experience, they mean it. I first listened to the audiobook and then read recently from the physical copy and two different modes of reading(?) same book, same text gave different impact. The writing style of the book is dialogue more like an interview where the journalist Aditya Sinha asks the same question two the Ex-chiefs and both giving a completely different perspective through each answer (most of the time). Now since it’s a conversation style it's best suited for me to understand and enjoy while listening to it rather than reading. But when I read for the second time mainly to do annotations, I could get deeper into the material that I might have missed while listening to. Now coming to the crux, is this worth reading? Yes, it is. Although most of the things we know if we keep a tab on the political news and defense-related ones the insights provided by them are worth mentioning. The democratic structure of the nation has a certain impact both negative and positive on how armed forces or intelligence departments would work and not vice versa. There is slight remorse(?), hints of many missed opportunities to establish peace between two nations are very apparent. Then there are certain hypothetical solutions that actually look good only on pen and paper. Nevertheless, the book was worth reading and also this book marked the beginning of my journey to read more books on military history and international politics.
And with that, I am down with 30 books. It's an established fact that the reading experience is highly influenced by the reader's emotional state, perspective, and circumstances. Most of the books from here on I read during the intensive lockdown and it had a high impact on how we see the characters and the plot.