2016, in Books

So here it goes, my year, 2016, in books...
Few of the best books I read this year, in no particular order.

1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara - This one is fresh on my mind, being the most recent read one. Whatever I felt for this book is all documented here, but here is a bit more - I needed to watch mind-numbing TV (Thank you, How to get away with Murder and Suits!) for four full days to get over the effect this book had on me. I loved it so much, the plot and the literature, but its more than that... this is a heavy book, which I recommend taking up only if you are not feeling down or depressed. I also did not expect to enjoy a book built solely around male characters, none of which are strong in the Rand-esque way or Mc-Dreamy men that I generally tend to like in books. And thats why I am a fan of the writer now.

2. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - Set in WW II era, this book is a beauty. I am a fan of Hannah's prose, and this book is something I recommend if you are looking to read stories based on strong female leads.

3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - I recommend this book if you are a science nerd/geek, or have loved playing video games when you were younger. Full of 90's pop culture references, this book made me feel like I was on a treasure hunt myself.

4. Ghachar Chochar by Vivek Shanbhag - This book touched my heart and stayed there for reasons I am still not able to articulate. It could be the simple prose or the very true translation from the original or the story itself... this one is a beauty if you are looking for an easy read over a short time.

5. Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto - This was on my TBR list for a long time before I actually read this book. The story touches you, makes you chuckle, wipe a stray tear and still stay with you long after you read it. As someone who doesn't generally tend to read books by Indian authors willingly/readily, this book told me to get off that high-horse and start exploring this genre more.

6. Us by David Nicholls - I might be all for serious prose and great literature, but I noticed that I pick up easy chick-flick style books every now and then. This book is a combination of both. A very well written story based on the marriage of the narrator, I'd say pick up this book if you want your mind to wander into rarely visited places related to marriage. But trust me, this is a great read.

7. Cuckold by Kiran Nagarkar - I loved this book so much that I got myself a hard copy and also bought this book on Kindle to take with me wherever I went, so I am not far from this book when I want to read it. Read this book if you enjoy historic fiction, love to read about strong male characters, and enjoy brilliant prose. This book is forever on my Recommend-To-Read list for anyone who asks.

8. The first fifteen lives of Harry August by Claire North - Again, this book is for the geek in you, someone who loves the small details, and great stories. As I am writing this post, I feel like I should go back and read this book, to relive the story all over again!

9. Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup - What do I say about a story so well known. Every time I think about it, I feel a sad wave pass over my heart. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the slavery movement in the United States. This gives some background into how bad things were, back then

10. When Breath becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi - This book is for anyone who doesn't mind crying a bit to read about a very well lived life. The fact that the narration and literature in this are super are a plus.

11. The Storied life of A.J.Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin - I loved how adorable this book is, and I've been on the mental lookout for any indie bookstore that might be Fikry's.

12. Salt to the Sea - Ruta Sepetys - Am actually really done reading WW II stories. I tell this to myself a few times every year, but a few authors have gone into untold angles, that the war backdrop doesn't hurt the mind once in a while. I've enjoyed Sepetys' style from the first book of hers that I read, and something tells me I'll read all her books... sooner rather than later. 

Not bad, this is a decent year for books.
Considering the fact that I -
- Moved three houses this year, one of which was across the continent to a new place
- had to assimilate to a new country which included having to learn driving on the other side of the road, figuring out the dynamics of managing the home all by myself without any help which I had taken for granted for years till now and had to set up from scratch twice this year
- Went out almost once every week for a hike/outing for 4 months during the summer
- Was in India meeting friends and family for a full month
- Spent time in front of the TV like a sloth watching at least two TV series back to back, thus taking away ~100 hours of my time (which, conservatively is at least 8-10 books for me ;-) )
- Oh yes, have a full time demanding job :-)

... this is totally a great year for books.

I noticed that I am still buying books, in fact, shipping them from India, which I noticed is cheaper than buying off Amazon in US. But this buying is now only for books that I have already read, and am in love with. Any impulse buys (Gosh, I didn't expect I'd have so many!) are donated on a quarterly basis to the Community library, so I get to maintain the library at home to a manageable level - aligning to the growing minimalist in me.

I now also have a fair understanding of the kind of books I like to read and the genres that I enjoy. I also noticed that I do take up stuff I haven't read before, when it comes recommended.
The no. of books I am abandoning is going down by the year, thanks to the extra homework I put before I pick a book to my TBR list after browsing reading lists that I come across online thoroughly. My list of parameters include - the average rating on GoodReads for the book (I add the book to my TBR pile if it has more than 3.8 rating), the person who has recommended it, the genre the book is related to. This, and the fact that I add the books to my Hold list way ahead in time in my library ensure that I am never without a book I have to read, helping me to not have a reading slump through the year.
Also, I follow the speed dating model of reading - if I don't care for the book even after reading 20% of it, then I give it up. If there is even the slightest doubt, I continue reading, hoping for pleasant surprise.

Looking at the entire list of books, I noticed that there is a fair amount of fillers here...
- books that are really only one-time reads, good enough for an evening, definitely not something I would recommend. I guess this is required to keep the pace and momentum for reading. More than this, I think I enjoy a few of these, even if it is for the short evening.
- Graphic novels - a genre that I've discovered only a couple of years ago. The art in each of them is unique, and the story telling is always interesting. The variety of topics the stories are based on is also what keeps it interesting for me. Doesn't hurt that they are relatively faster to read, so I can devour each one over a weekend.

Reading Nook

But if I walk away with at least 10% books every year that will stay with me always, I think its a well spent year. No?

There is a nice little couch which can accommodate the entire frame of the reader, a soft blanket to cover up on those cold evenings, and a window right next to it, giving warmth - this is my reading corner, as of now. And yes, it's messy on purpose. :-)
[One of the perks of growing up and adulting is realizing you don't have to impress anyone but yourself ;-) ]

So yeah, am looking forward to 2017 with loads of reading in it.


  1. Loved everything about this post including the messy, cheery sofa! Happy Holidays and Cheers to a fabulous 2017 ahead of you guys! :-)



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