The end of a calendar year is a time for retrospection, and it results in many year-end lists by journalists across the spectrum of fashion, movies, tech, music, political news and my favourite genre – books.
Reading a blog by Sunil Sethi and an article by Seema Goswami (both of whom I follow to get book recommendations) made me look back on my year in books. Technology and more specifically, apps in recent years have helped keep track of books that one has read, and in my case acquiring a Kindle as a New Year self-gift in 2015 re-kindled my love of reading. Reading and writing have become fashionable these days in the same way as wearing a sari!
The beginning of 2018 saw me going back to an old Mills & Boon author (yes, I read M&B!!), trigger for which was a story I think I read in very old Women’s Weekly mini books some of which have survived from 1960s when my mother read them and have travelled with me across homes. From there I moved to my go-to genre for the times when I stay away from serious books – Mystery novels. I had been planning to read Alexander McCall Smith’s famous characters Precious and Grace of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency ever since a reader friend (who also is an inspiration for reading and her recommendations) gave me couple of books from her collection few years back and I read almost the full series in 2018.
Continuing in the same genre, I re-read few books by the queen of mystery Agatha Christie, a new adaptation of the famous Mr Poirot, GK Chesterton’s Father Brown and a new author in my stable Anthony Horowitz’s Hawthorne #1.
Like binge-watching on Netflix, I binge-read books by authors and my Goodreads history over the years are proof to this habit. Two years back, in one of my blog articles Of Reading, I regretted on my inability to read few cult authors which could have been a factor of mindset, age or something else and wanted to conquer over this inhibition in 2018. Salman Rushdie’s latest The Golden House started that breakthrough and continued with two more of his more recent fictional books. And hopefully 2019 would see more writers being added in this journey.
Another book on the long list of to-be-read was The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee, and when you hear about someone’s suffering of Cancer almost every week, the urge to read and understand the genetics behind this dreaded disease was too great to be able to push this book behind any further. The book helps you understand not only the struggle people face but also the struggle of medical fraternity and researchers in finding the cure for this ever-changing disease.
The year was also about going back to classics and I read all hitherto un-read (or forgotten the storyline) novels by Jane Austen which I had never got around to reading before during my classics era of reading.
New book by Chetan Bhagat had to be read to satisfy the curiosity and for me, this probably has been the best he has written so far. Another much-loved author (from what I have heard) Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni was added to the experiment of discovering new authors.
I had read Aatish Taseer’s first book in 2017 and enjoyed it so much that read his two fictional novels based on India and its traditional literature and stories in 2018. I have to admit that though I really liked them, the subject matter was too intense and complicated for me to comprehend in toto. I also started few more books on India, about India but they never reached the finish line and I hope that I will be able to do them justice this year.
The year-end soiree was political thriller by Seema Goswami based on and as Race Course Road (again, very enjoyable) and a return to my old favourite author Ruskin Bond with compilation of his favourite stories.
So this was my 2018 year in Books and hopefully 2019 would be even more interesting. I would and should attempt to finish that huge pile of half-read books and also make dent on that ever-increasing tsundoku list.