Tuesday, January 3, 2017

All of the 97 that I Read - Nano Reviews

While others do, I never like calling myself a manic reader. I am, if anything, a consistent reader. However little, I read each day. Long metro rides help. A marginally fast reading ability helps too. The need to savour words before I retire for the day definitely helps a lot. My world comprises others who read, inquire about and engage with the written word. All that I read, hence, finds convenient zones of sharing and reflection, which makes time spent with a book all the more special. A combination of all such favourable factors and my own undeterred commitment to the written word led me to reading 58 books last year (2015), and 97 this time around!

In a rare act of bravery, I am chronicling each book I read here in this post. If your views differ or converge, or if you'd like to lead me onto another track from these pages, do make use of the comment box!

(Caveat - I read very few current books. You'll find old, random, musty titles here.)

1. For One More Day by Mitch Albom

The last gift of 2015 became my first read of 2016, and it was a pretty tale themed on love, emotions, mortality, and perhaps redemption. However, I would not label this Albom's best - Tuesdays with Morrie and Five People You Meet in Heaven are far better reads. Average, not something I would shove into your hands.

2. The Broken Boat by Nitin Soni

Bias Alert - This is the debut book of a dear friend, Nitin, so I approached it with tinted eyes. And guess what, no surprises, I really liked what this boy had pulled off! I would make recommendations here, but, at the very least, his work deserves a look, for sure. And loads of good wishes given that his novel is around the corner.

3. इश्क़ में माटी सोना - गिरीन्द्र नाथ झा

रवीश कुमार का लप्रेक पढ़ने के बाद, मुझे इस किताब काफ़ी उम्मीद थी , पर 'इश्क़ में शहर होना'  के मुकाबले  बहुत कमज़ोर लगी। कहानियां सादा थीं, और ऐसे पल जो मन में घर कर जाएँ , उनका निर्माण  करने में असक्षम रहीं। ठीक ही थी।

4. The Japanese Wife by Kunal Basu

This is surreal prose. Slow, simple, nonchalant, but with strands of emotions and drama with easily envelops you. Each story of the book is an intense journey within human hearts, but the titular story takes the cake. There is also a movie starring Rahul Bose which has been made on the titular story - as beautiful as the story itself. Highly recommended. Here is your chance to dig and bury yourself in beautiful human sentiments.

5. Leela by Leela Naidu (with Jerry Pinto)

It is a book high on literary merit and very beautifully written, but where I lost myself a little was on the context. Or rather, the lack of it. Had I known Leela Naidu and her work, I am sure I would've enjoyed the narrative manifolds more. Still, however, I ended up with so much respect and admiration for the lady. It does make one curious about why I picked the book in the first place - the name of the co-author explains it. Jerry Pinto is easily a writer I can pick and devour blindly.

6. साये में धूप  - दुष्यन्त कुमार

दुष्यंत कुमार के बारे में काफ़ी सुना  था, पर यह इस ग़ज़लकार की पहली किताब है जो मैंने पूरी पढ़ने का साहस किया। कुछ कृतियाँ बहुत सुन्दर थीं, पर मोटे-तौर पर यह किताब मुझे निराशाजनक लगी। मुझे ग़ज़ल पढ़ने से ज़्यादा भूमिका पढ़ने में आनंद आया।

7. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

This is a horror novella by the author, which I had to read because of a theatre related project. A classic Gothic tale, it contains death and macabre aplenty, and since the genre is detached from what I naturally like reading, I had to drag myself through it. Having said that, I know the literary merit of the book is high, because of the way the plot leads the reader on - almost flawlessly constructing that macabre atmosphere in the reader's head.

8. A Twist in the Tale by Jeffrey Archer

Very disappointing - could guess the ends of most of the tales, thus rendering the 'twist' useless. My year began with rather disappointing reads.

9. उपसंहार - काशीनाथ सिंह

(Giving up the pretence that I can write in Hindi rather early) This was a great read, both, given to the imagination in its narrative, as well as my proclivity for stories constructed out of the Mahabharata. Here, Kashinath Singh tells the story of an ageing Krishna, who returned to Dwarka after winning the Kurukshetra war, but was rather defeated in the eyes of his own people and the city. From his return, to his dismal last days - a beautiful reconstruction of what might have been. Recommended!

10. Pulp by Charles Bukowski

Useless. I never thought I would say this, but toilet paper worthy.

11. Tales and Legends from India by Ruskin Bond

A pretty book for the young readers. I pick up and read a lot of children's books, because part of my work mandates interaction with students of all ages. India's treasure chest of folk stories is inexhaustible, and a few gems have been picked up and compiled here. An okay read.

12. Inferno by Dan Brown

Despite the high pitch of naysayers, I LOVED this book. Classic Dan Brown, he takes you on yet another quest, this time mixing some population sociology and economics along with his flair for conspiracies, myth, art and architecture. And the brilliant notebook this turned out to be on Dante Alighieri was a bonus! Absolutely recommended.

13. Confronting Love - edited by Arundhati Subramaniam and Jerry Pinto

The MOST beautiful poetry compendium I read the entire year. Here are some contemporary poems on love, the way you and I will recognise and cherish them. Do pick it up without a second thought if spotted.

14. Kaifi Azmi : Selected Poems (translated by Pavan K. Varma)

Kaifi Azmi's poems do not need me to endorse them; they only need time to be understood and absorbed. I am guilty of skipping most English translations, but that's because the language they were written in is so enamouring. Having said that, I have to mention that Pavan Varma is one of the better translators you'll read, basing my experience on the numerous Gulzar translations I have read.

15. The Night Train at Deoli and Other Stories by Ruskin Bond

Bias Alert - I think this, along with Time Stops at Shamli and Our Trees Still Grow at Dehra is absolutely the best work by Ruskin Bond. He writes like the dream I want to be the calligrapher of. How can anyone not love him!

16. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

You've not read the whole series yet? Are you kidding me? Stop reading this post and order the entire set NOW!

17. Bosky's Panchatantra by Gulzar

The sentiment behind the book is, admittedly, better than the book itself. My fingers sift through many such gems because once a week, I work out of a library. This book was written by Gulzar as a versified rendition of the Panchatantra for his daughter Meghna Gulzar, adoringly called Bosky. The name comes from Russian Silk, if I am not mistaken. It makes for an average read, the stories easily digestible and rememberable in this form.

18. Do You Know Any Good Boys by Meeti Shroff Shah

A single girl's tails and travails while on the journey of searching for a groom the arranged marriage way - this is a great take on what we call the marriage mart of India. Dipped in humour, I would often catch myself guffawing in the metro while reading this one. The humour, however, does not distract from how real this book is. A nice read.

19. मुक्तिबोध - प्रतिनिधि कविताएं

If poems which reflect the society, its hidden layers and stigma are your thing, pick this book up without a second thought. Take time to turn pages, read the poems aloud and in the hard hitting words of Muktibodh, you might be able to locate the song of your heart.

20. The Lost Flamingos of Bombay by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi

Bias Alert - I think Shanghvi is the best Indian English novelist as of today, and I base my conclusion on his debut book called 'The Last Song of Dusk'. This one, arguably, is much less spectacular than his first, but I still remember so many episodes in all their vivid details from the book, clasping my heart in their spell forever. The undercurrent of love and longing, and the fateful incompleteness of relationships is all too real to ever be able to ignore. Pick his first book first to know the genius of his writing, and then pick this one to remain attached to what his pen manages to accomplish.

21. The Ramayana in Pictures by Maya Dayal

This was a children's book, so it is improper that I judge it - but I am just a little disappointed with how simple we leave things for our children. Perhaps we should tell them simpler stories, not simplified versions of highly complex tales.

22. The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal

I have read 4 of her books till date, and my favourite remains a title called 'The Sari Shop Widow'. This one makes for a decent romance-drama. Readable, not extraordinarily so.

23. Gulzar : Selected Poems (translated by Pavan K. Varma)

Lovely selection, well translated.

24. The Sour Faced Moon by Rohini Lall

Either I did not get the book at all, or it was a genuinely dull, fragmented read. Skip it.

25. The Book of Ram by Devdutt Pattanaik

The most disappointing Pattanaik book I have read. Read Sita if you're looking for understanding the same subject, but you can skip this conveniently.

26. Historicity of the Mahabharata by B. B. Lal

A wonderful, wonderful book to understand archaeological procedures for determining the historicity of the Mahabharata (and other ancient texts). The book is very academic, does not make for an easy or engaging read, but for those who like the subject - this is gold. One must, however, bear the caveat in mind that many of B. B. Lal's arguments and postulates have been widely refuted too - but that does not take away from the rich mine of knowledge this one is on three counts - ancient literary texts, art and archaeology.

27. Birthday Stories - selected and introduced by Murakami

Did not like it at all. Murakami's name sold the book to me, but not many stories in there which I would carry with myself.

28. Pashu : Animal Tales from Indian Mythology by Devdutt Pattanaik

Highly recommended! Such a well structured and narrated book. You will not know what all to expect till you actually read about the diversity of animal tales and the symbols you can deconstruct therein. One of Pattanaik's best.

29. Hindu Rites and Rituals by K. V. Singh

Absolutely disappointing. It is a children's book, but does not even do justice to that age group. Over simplification and repetition mar the subject the book attempts to deal with completely.

30. Land of the Seven Rivers by Sanjeev Sanyal

My BEST read of the year. Or at least in my top 5. This book attempts to take you first on a geological journey to understanding how did the Indian landmass come into being, and then slowly unfolds India's story via its geography. In simple terms, the text of this book was a revelation!

31. Letters to a Young Poet by R. M. Rilke

So good that I have already gifted a couple of copies to friends. Rilke is a profound genius, and so is this book in which he delivers valuable advice to a poet for writing great poetry. A text-book for poetry lovers, let me put it that way. Highly recommended!

32. Meena Kumari, The Poet : A Life Beyond Cinema (translated by Noorul Hasan)

Her poems are simple, very basic, but so touching! The bonus is short biographies of the great actor both, at the beginning and at the end. Other than being an enjoyable read, the book is beautifully designed - a factor that matters greatly to me!

33. Delhi : Historical Glimpses by R. V. Smith

R. V. Smith's tales about Delhi are legendary! I've been attached to his writings through his weekly column in The Hindu, and the book only does well to enhance the flavour of his Delhi on my mind. Should read, if you're looking to discover a little more of the undiscovered city it continues to be.

34. Why I Write by Sa'adat Hasan Manto (translated by Aakar Patel)

Excellent read. The book contains essays which Manto had written about himself and his writings. As someone who has only very basic knowledge on the genius writer, this provided a good first glimpse into his world.

35. The Nightingales are Drunk by Hafez

Contrary to expectations, nothing profound in here. I invested a lot of time in these poems, but was left very disappointed.

36. The Mother I Never Knew by Sudha Murty

She's a weaver of simple tales, and that is what works for Sudha Murty. I open her books expecting to read some very simply worded stories and uncomplicated human emotions and I am always rewarded. This particular book has two stories about the search for an unknown mother, and both the stories left me warm. Should sample her writings at least once.

37. Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India by Akshaya Mukul

Oh my god what a book! Perhaps the most time consuming read of the year, but the way it opens your eyes to so much about the way the world around you gets constructed and influenced by a handful few. Other than that, a very well researched book. A must read if you want to understand how history religion and politics get intertwined.

38. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

Like I said, read Harry Potter on priority.

39.  उर्दू की आख़िरी किताब - इब्ने इंशा

Among the best things you will read in life. It is a satire on our education system, the coloured knowledge we receive, on our understanding of history, of language, of learning, of living. It will make you laugh loud, but will give so much to think and deconstruct in your head. The only limitation is very chaste Urdu - translations of certain words helps, but needs focus along with all that laughter.

40. प्लूटो - गुलज़ार

Not the most satisfying Gulzar. Not much I could simmer in my heart to make a part of myself.

41. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

Arre. Read it. Whoever you are. Wherever you are.

42. Civil Lines : New Writing from India

I do not clearly remember many stories from this compilation, but I do remember this as a dcent read. Short non-fiction prose pieces on many facets of contemporary India - written by well-established writers. Not great, but not bad either.

43. Friends in Small Places by Ruskin Bond

Warm. Pretty. Simple. Classic Ruskin Bond describing people he's met in life. Only the way he can,

44. I Hate and I Love by Catullus

A poet of the neoteric tradition from Ancient Greece, this one takes you quite by surprise. Half-read people like me, at least, confine Greek literature (and for good reason) to epic dramas and themes of grandeur and nobility. Common emotions like love and infatuation are not thought to be concerns of their society, till you stumble upon someone like Catullus. He writes for his beloved like anyone of us would, though that might also be a result of some very ordinary translations. Had fun reading this one.

45. Who Wrote the Bhagavad Gita by Meghnad Desai

This book scores in the way it problematizes the premise of the Bhagavad Gita, which is a topic I have been obsessed with since a while now. However, it quotes so heavily from a few other sources, that you want to leave this book midway and pick those other ones up. I'd still recommend this to those who like questioning the text itself, not just the contents of it.

46. How We Weep and Laugh at the Same Thing by Michel de Montaigne

Ordinary. The essays postulate interesting concepts, but the arguments behind them are loose and inept.

47. Poetry Please (100 Popular Poems from the BBC Radio 4 Programme)

Fabulous book! Randomly open it and read from whichever page you stumble upon. The fact that it is illustrated makes it that much more fun to read. (Advice - Read poems aloud. Always read poems aloud.)

48. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

Aah. Can the painful beauty of this book ever be surmised in words? Other than 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas', this constitutes my favourite piece of literature on Holocaust. A sizeable number of books have been inspired by this ghastly phase of history; yet very few communicate the deep gashes on ordinary psyche that such an event has the potential of leaving. The narrative is perhaps also unique because it goes beyond empathising for the Jews, and opens the prism of humanity a little more. Please read it! (and later, see it)

49. I Am An Emotional Creature by Eve Ensler

This is a book to be cherished and read and re-read. Eve Ensler is the master of monologues, and she continues the tradition as she takes a few steps into the lives of women from different cultural backgrounds and creates fictional monologues on their life. Written mostly as blank verses, and even rants at places, these poems ring in your mind till long later as sentiments you're at times afraid of, and at other times, unaware of.

50. Fairy Tales at Fifty by Upamanyu Chatterjee

A lot of this book went above my head. I have no idea why I lived through it. (Another chance, and I would skip it.)

51. Sufiana : Poems by Hoshang Merchant

A collection of some really beautiful poems, of the postcolonial strand. You'll find verses wrapped in history; from which subtly emerges the aroma of memory and personal experiences. My favourite from the collection is a short poem where Hoshang Merchant has used the devnaagri letter 'क' to convey a way of being. Good stuff in here.

52. Lectures on the Ancient History of India by D. R. Bhandarkar

For those of you with a research bent of mind, well documented and packaged book. My only conflict remains with seeing academic writing so exhaustively unimaginative.

53. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

If you like thrillers, Jo Nesbo should be your God. And this is his best work. You can put the two and two together.

54. Ambai : Two Novellas and a Story

She is beautiful for who she is and what she writes. Commonplace stories told from within the domestic sphere of sensitivity. Strong women laid wondrously well within stronger narratives. I'm so glad to have discovered her this year.

55. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling (and Jack Thorne and John Tiffany)

This book disappointed a lot of people, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I reckon, what helped me was to read it bearing the limitations of the stage script in mind. Once the hassles of the format got out of way, I could appreciate the storyline too - imaginative and fantastical; classic J. K. Rowling all the way!

56. Hindu Myths by Wendy Doniger

Requires effort to read, but this is the best and most comprehensive author on mythology I have ever stumbled upon. In this book, she takes you within the roots, the origins and the enduring philosophical foundations, patterns and symbols our mythological system is based upon. Worth every brain-cell which popped while I tried to understand the patterns in our entire corpus of mythological texts.

57. Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Contrary to popular opinion, I did not enjoy it. That, however, could easily be a side-effect of reading Wendy Doniger, Sukthankar and Irawati Karve in quick succession, alongside a consistent dose of Devdutt Pattanaik. This was an MnB take on the epic; and since I reek of literary elitism to myself, I'll just run away and hide in a corner.

58. The Incredible History of India's Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal

Brilliant book! This is the kid-version of Sanjeev Sanyal's Land of the Seven Rivers, but still took me same if not more time to finish. I'd say about this what I said about the earlier book. Place it on top of your priority list of books to read.

59. तीन सौ रामायणें एवं अन्य निबंध - ए. के. रामानुजन

Because of the controversy surrounding the essay, I had been looking forward to read this since long. When I finally did, I was disappointed by the the level to which we allow our brains to degrade. There is nothing scandalous/blasphemous in the essay(s). They're textual, analytical and literary. Your blind beliefs do not affect the word that has already been written! Let some keep their faith, let others keep these words - as well as the autonomy to read and construct their own meanings.

60. The Storytellers Tale by Omair Ahmad

A quick read which is as much the storyteller's tale, as it is storytelling's tale. Try it for a breezy walk into British era royalty of India.

61. Quakes and Flames by Ruskin Bond

Not the best Ruskin Bond, but what is astonishing is how he manages to warm the readers' hearts while telling tales based on earthquakes and forest fires. I was smiling the familiar Bond smile at the end of each story. (I think that is because he takes these events to be what they are - natural phenomena, and not disasters, which is what unscrupulous human interference makes them.)

62. The Right Kind of Dog by Adil Jussawalla

The poet is, and correctly so, among the best contemporary ones we have. He weaves into humour and satire everyday struggles and ordinary situations - some meaning within layers of hilarity. Worth reading, especially with the illustrations embellishing ample pages.

63. Krishna's Forgotten Poets by Harsha V. Dehejia and Ramanand Sharma

A repository of some great poems and artwork - this text reads like a literary history of all ever devotionally documented about Krishna. In verse and in paint. A huge book, edited and designed painstakingly, it makes you meditate on the approachable divinity which Krishna was - owned by women as one of the kinsfolk. A naughty son, a mischievous gwala, a hypnotic flute player and the secret love of so many - Krishna finds manifestation by what devotees and lovers made of him. The corpus is huge, and I think I am lucky that this book found me. I spent the entire Janmashtami reading this, and I plan on making it an annual ritual.

64. Why I Am An Athiest by Bhagat Singh

It is hailed as a historically important text, and it definitely is one. To read a young Bhagat Singh's thoughts, when he was younger than most of us, is eye-opening for the kind of depth and sombreness depicted in them. I still struggle to identify beliefs, but the greatest point of inspiration in this little book is the firmness and ease with which the beliefs of the revolutionary are articulated. And this makes you understand the persona was not as simple as the one who occupies our imagination.

65. Nawabs, Nudes and Noodles by Ambi Parmeswaran

Again, among the best reads of the year. It is simply a compilation of advertising trends in the Indian industry since the earliest days. At once, the book is insightful and nostalgic. I was particularly prone to googling alongside the advertisements mentioned in the text, and this used to last, on occasions as an unending string of ad after ad. There is much understanding of trends and issues in the Indian advertising industry which this book will help you build.

66. Walking Erect with an Unfaltering Gaze by Ambai

Because the stories of Ambai fascinated me so much (like mentioned in point 54), I wanted to know more about this author, hence this monologic-biographical piece by the author was picked up. And while it was rather concise, it still gave me enough to form great levels of respect and admiration for her. Her brand of feminism is subtle but firm, and her work in the domain of gender studies inspiring. Worth a read, anyday!

67. Munnu, A Boy from Kashmir by Malik Sajad

First graphic novel read in life and WHAT A GREAT EXPERIENCE. It is a satire, allegory, subaltern retelling - all together - of the Kashmiri people. Don't denounce this as just a perspective or a one-sided view - the thread of personal in perspectives is what makes literature far reaching and human. This is a treatise on the contemporary Kashmir and the roots of its contemporary issues. All of us as must try and, at least, once, understand Sajad's story and the brilliance of the symbols he uses to make it impactful.

68. My Favourite Nature Stories by Ruskin Bond

Ruskin Bond is always beautiful. Simple, nice. (but not among my favourites by him.)

69. What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

Couldn't keep up with the book.

70. दो खिड़कियाँ - अमृता प्रीतम

The first ever foray into Amrita Pritam's (translated) prose and I understood well the source of criticism on how audacious her stories are. Because they are. Strong female characters with wounds as large as entire universes. Fierce romantics, and individual thinkers, the women of these stories are so real that you'd end up admiring them. Not the melodrama you'd associate when stories smell of villages; quite the opposite. These stories wound your heart, so they can make a place there.

71. इश्क़ कोई न्यूज़ नहीं - विनीत कुमार

I'd suggest skipping this.

72. Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti

Beautiful! Rossetti's verses were a part of my subconscious when I was growing up for the elegance of nature and romance in them. A convergence of them all made for a pleasing journey.

73. A Thousand Unspoken Words by Paulami Duttagupta

It was a love story which surprised me for the calm intensity it maintained. A tale set in Bengal of tumultuous times, it not only speaks of romance and admiration, but also tries to bridge the gap between ideals and reality. A quick, satisfying read.

74. Rekha, the Untold Story by Yasser Usman

Bias alert! Since I had a tiny association with the book when it was being brought together, I do honestly think that it is the best Bollywood biography ever written! The fact that many writers, readers, tabloids, and journals think the same is such a 'yay' factor for 2016. On a personal note, you MUST read this book for the breezy style of writing and the honest attempt it makes at humanising a star whose only existed between extremes of controversies and glories. Put it on your reading list now!

75. Devlok by Devdutt Pattanaik

A good compilation, especially for those who like the TV avatar of the mythologist. I love the depth in Devdutt's arguments though, which the book glaringly lacks.

76. My Life had Stood a Loaded Gun by Emily Dickinson

It is Dickinson. She does not need validation. Go read!

77. Poems that Make Grown Women Cry by Anthony and Ben Holden

Oh. So. Beautiful. The editors go out asking a 100 women which poems make them cry and why. So here is a compilation, not only of 100 very evocative poems, but also personal anecdotes of why these poems matter in the lives of the respective readers. Added icing is the cultural and lingual diversity the poems are drawn from. The copy I read was borrowed from the library, so I'm definitely going out to buy one to include in my personal collection.

78. Amir Khusrau, the Man in Riddles by Ankit Chadha

This is a beautiful compilation of the fabled riddles of Hazrat Amir Khusrau, along with philosophical explanations of the answers and the symbolism in those answers. Why I call the book beautiful is not merely because of the textual content, but for the vivid illustrations the book is drenched in. You've got to see it to believe it!

79. The Tenth Rasa, an Anthology of Indian Nonsense (edited by Michael Heyman)

For the academically inclined, this book is a gold mine. It compiles nonsense literature - an oft ignored genre - from across languages, in different literary forms. Adequate attempt for cultural contextualisation has been made, lest meaning be entirely lost in translating nonsense - which, by the way, is among the most difficult tasks in translation practice and studies.

80. परवीन शाकिर - प्रतिनिधि कविताएं

I'm head over heels in love with her poetry. What else do I say. (Woh toh khushbu hai hawaaon mein bikhar jaaega / masla toh phool ka hai, phool kidhar jaaega)

81. Red Kite Adventure by Leela Gour Broome

Children's adventure story. Nicely written. Was a super-quick read for me, and while I deluded myself with predictions on the way the plot would unfold, the story took some intelligent turns to keep me hooked. At the end, it was about childhood friendship. All of us must read about those pure relationships once in a while.

82. Pandeymonium by Piyush Pandey

I have mixed feelings about this one. I immensely enjoyed going through it, but not because of the content. It was rather because of the national infatuation that our generation possesses towards this giant, legendary ad-filmmaker. Piyush Pandey is a cult in his own self. So, while it was nice to discover him and his beliefs, I wish the book was less Ogilvy and more advertising. I wish instances had been built into case studies before getting lost in personal triumphs and learnings. (Having said that, I will still go ahead and gift this one to a couple)

83. The Mahabharata, A Child's View by Samhita Arni

Mindblowing. You'd think because a 13 year old has written (and illustrated!) it, this will be a simple retelling of the Mahabharata. You'd be mistaken. It is as complex as the basic narrative demands, and it comes with a introduction where the prodigious author shares informed opinions on why she prefers Duryodhan's character over Yudhishthir's. She almost convinced me, which is difficult, since I stand on the threshold opposite to blind-worshipping the defeated, because we believe they were wronged. But this girl, she has lent us a wondrous version of the grandest epic of the world.

84. How Did the Harappans Say Hello (and 16 other Mysteries of History) by Anu Kumar
85. The World's Funniest Folk Tales by Rajee Raman

Chill books. Random facts in first and some nice stories in the second. Won't ask you to read them. Won't tell you not to.

86. On the Meaning of Mahabharata by V. S. Sukthankar

If there is one scholar I prostrate myself in front of insofar as Mahabharata studies are concerned, it is Sukthankar. This one requires a detailed analysis, for a later day. Superbook!

87. (A miss on the list. I know I have read something, but failed/forgot to document it.)

88. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCollough

Some books make me sad for not having discovered them sooner. This is one such. Read in detail about  my fascination with this one here.

89. Gulbadan by Rumer Godden

Strangely enough, very disappointing.

90. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This book is a MANDATORY reading for all humans alive. Please read, and we may later discuss.

91. By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho

Overrated, but beautiful nevertheless. Loving demands much of us, craze and submission at the least. Renunciation and tolerance, too. Combined with a doze of spiritually uplifting content, the romance of Coelho is unique and worth engaging with.

92. Death Under the Deodars : The Adventures of Miss Ripley Bean by Ruskin Bond

The best Rusking Bond I read the entire year.

93. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

No opinion.

94. In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

A wonderful book, the second half of it is pure gold. It is non-fiction based on Jhumpa Lahiri's journey from one language to another - the latter her diglossia not aiding her in. What is interesting is that you would never have thought you'll read this English author in English translation. Her romance with Italian, arguably the most romantic language in the world is engaging, endearing and even frustrating at places. 'Language is the principle metaphor' - remains the most profound line from the book for me.

95. Our Moon Has Blood Clots by Rahul Pandita

Again, one of those books all of us must read - first with empathy, and later, perhaps with objectivity. This was the year's second book on Kashmir, now dwelling on the plight of the Pandits from the valley. Sensitive, yet sensible all at once, the book has done well to maintain this balance of storytelling, while remaining fiercely personal. I did not cry at any of the tragedies mentioned in the book, except at the oscillations between persistence and denial of memory. It is a beautiful book, for the way it chronicles, with different voices, the painful period of Kashmiri history.

96. एक चुप्पे शख्स की डायरी

Little yellow diary, zero expectations, but some relatable, preciously worded sentiments in here. Loved reading it, again and again! This has vignettes from the life of an unknown, silent man.

97. Amrita-Imroz by Uma Trilok

It is not a very well written book, but I would still go ahead and recommend it to all, because the basic story is so strong. Amrita was an unconventional lady, as I discovered through her stories; and her love/companionship/relationship is more unconventional than any I have known. Her bond with Imroz is the kind which makes you want to believe in the ease and surrealism of love. In the inherent nurturing characteristic of love. In the innocence and fulfilment of love. The perfect end to my 2016, on the morning of the last day, as I wept reciting 'main tainu phir milaangi'.


Now I can get on to 2017's reading. Have a wonderful new year :)


  1. Hey, I was laughing at few of the descriptions. You woman, should be a certified critic, the one they quote behind best sellers.
    Books I would love to have for my 2017.
    Kept it to a few, because "Aukaaad"
    With Love

  2. I definitely comply with some points that you just have mentioned on this post. I appreciate that you just have shared some reliable recommendations on this review.

  3. Very informative, keep posting such sensible articles, it extremely helps to grasp regarding things.

  4. Very attention-grabbing diary. lots of blogs I see recently do not extremely give something that attract others, however i am most positively fascinated by this one. simply thought that i'd post and allow you to apprehend.