2016 has been a bitter-sweet reading year with the usual mixed bag of disappointing books but also some very very good ones that I couldn’t recommend enough!
Surprisingly, I very comfortably finished my reading target of 31 books for the year (which is a tiny number compared to the many book bloggers here – and I wish I could read even half as much as they do!). The down side is that I haven’t been able to sit tight with a single book since that happened – and my last month this year has gone with me pining to read but making no progress with the annoying reader’s block that I can’t seem to shake off!
So! Since its that time of the year, here are the 7 best things I read in 2016!!!! (in no particular order coz they are all great). Click the title to read full reviews!
- The Blood Telegram – India’s Secret War in East Pakistan by Gary J. Bass
Ah, such a pleasure to think about this one again. A journalistic masterpiece. I read this book like the history student I never was, completely absorbed in the details, marking margins, watching interviews on YouTube as I read and constantly resisting the urge to underline complete paragraphs on nearly every page in the book. The 1971 Bangladesh War is an important, recent and probably much misunderstood / misinformed event in modern history. This is a must read. Cannot compliment Gary Bass enough for writing and researching this as well as he did.
2. Five Days in November by Clint Hill
If you’ve ever been obsessed by the the JFK assassination, then you will appreciate the very personal insider account of what happened immediately after the shots hit JFK. Written by the Kennedys’ secret service agent, Clint Hill, and published on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death, it is a sensitively written book that gives you a glimpse at the profound sense of grief that everyone close to JFK felt but had to keep in check as official procedures and protocol took precedence. This is easily a book you can finish in a couple of hours.
3. The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
I spent a beautiful month reading all four books in this series. Actually I tore through one book after the other until they were all done and each one was brilliant. If I had to summarize, I’d just say that Elena Ferrante’s writing captivates, engrosses, absorbs, consumes, devastates and satisfies. All the fuss and buzz around these books is completely authentic and well-founded. Being nominated for the Man Booker was well deserved. I only wish she hadn’t been harassed by that Italian journalist’s obsession to uncover her true identity – in the end it has nothing to do with who she is as an author and this all this reader cares about.
I reviewed each book in this series separately, so I’m leaving links to those here:
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante
The Story if the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante
4. The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie
Oh what an adorable, wonderfully written book on the basic tenets of Buddhism and its simple yet profound philosophy for a happy life narrated by the Dalai Lama’s cat Rinpoche! A happy book that must be read by everyone at least once.
5. The Short Drop by Matthew Fitzsimmons
Probably the only thriller that worked this year! Also, it breaks away from the usual ‘super hero’ typecasting of the main character, which is refreshing and realistic, and gives him a great back story too. Modern day fast paced, intense and exciting – its just the kind of book you can curl up with on a cold night this winter; with some hot tea or chocolate? whatever you prefer!
6. Belonging by Umi Sinha
I still consider this to be one of the most underrated and undiscovered books of the year. A well-crafted, elegantly written epistolary novel set in early 19th century India, spanning three generations and their struggle to understand their identity in colonial India.A definite must read.
7. One Child by Mei Fong
Wrapping up the list is another brilliant journalistic novel on China’s one-child-policy, that was enforced in 1980 as a drastic family planning initiative to arrest its exploding population. Reading about how this policy was implemented has impacted and will continue to impact the country’s people and economy was disturbing but also such an important story that needed telling. China never ceases to amaze and this social experiment from its modern history is a big lesson for the world to reflect upon.
And that wraps its up! If I wasn’t such a slow reader, I would have likely re-read nearly all these books again, but for now I’ll be glad for having read them at all.
Merry Xmas and Happy New Year everyone!!!!
Looking forward to a bookpacked 2017!!!!!!