BOOKS I READ IN 2012:
I started the new year with a renewed resolution of reading more books. I hope to do this. Started with one book but, half way through, I decided to started another book as the raving reviews were having a heady effect!
The immortals of Meluha by Amish : recommended highly by many book lovers and also by my BIL, I started this with a whole lot of expectations. The trouble is when the narrative doesn’t keep up with what we expect. The book scores highly on the fertile imagination but first half cannot keep the reader captivated as it should have. The editing is a bit tardy. Once, the author takes us half way, the rest of the narrative is handled with ease. What surprises me most is that the difficult parts have been crafted beautifully but if only the magic were cast on the initial part of the book. Since the book is the first of the trilogy, I want to forgive the author for leaving me confused and with a bunch of questions lurking. But will definitely read the second book soon!
Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea : The title gives away the plot. Period. The story is predictable and like most people, I was also lured to this book by the title. The only thing it offers is a glimpse of life of women in KSA. Sometimes, the fiction borders on teen fantasy. The style is innovative but I would rate it as average.
Revolution 2020 by Chetan Bhagat : I have waited for a long time to read this book. My first reaction after I read the prologue is – why do people hate CB? The guy has a charm and definitely has an art to weave a story. I agree, the book is far too dramatised and also the editing could have been crispier. I really don’t like to see a typo or a grammatical error in a book. But then, who cares, because, the story pins you down – which is what a writer is aiming for and CB achieves it with ease.
The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho : What is with this author? He could have made his point in almost half the number of pages. The concept alone is good but sometimes, the plot is the only thing that is required. It needs a gripping narrative. Sadly, the book drags and sorry, I didn’t like it. I ended the book and heaved a big sigh of relief!
Can love happen twice by Ravinder Singh : My resolution to read many Indian authors dragged me to this book. The book was on best sellers list for many weeks! Wonder why! I finished the book in half a day with ample breaks. The narrative is sloppy, editing non-existent and I cannot imagine, why a prestigious publishing house will even come up with this book. Apparently, this is a sequel to Ravinder Singh’s earlier book – I too had a love story based on his life. Well, the story is bordering on bollywood(ism).
The Secret of the Nagas by Amish : I am happy I read this – the second in the trilogy. Definitely a saving grace from other authors I read. The narrative is better than the first one and it is reasonably good. The author suffers when the plot demands description but then, I think, Indian literature is coming of age in English writing. Although, the editing needs a bit of pruning, I would highly recommend this book. Waiting for the third book already!
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse : I bought this book simply because, the title has my son’s name on it. Little did I realise 9 years ago, that, it is a such a treasure. I tried reading it then, but could never really go beyond a few pages. Years later, I made another attempt but never quite managed. Two weeks ago, I finally wondered, I could go beyond the first chapter. Strangely, it was a breeze. I also finished the book – till the last page. What a read! It is written very differently but leaves you wondering about life long after you finish. So glad to have read it!
Life of Pi by Yann Martel – After a long time, I have read a book, that is really good. I love zoology (animals) and the novel was a sheer pleasure to read. It has layers and hard to believe facts. Most importantly, the story though absurd feels as real and true to life as can be. A must read for every person – to learn to love life. Life of Pi – truly recommended.
OPEN – An Autobiography by Andre Agassi : I am not an ardent tennis fan. I watch a game or two but not really someone who follows the ups and downs of the game. So, reading this book was an accident. I have to admit, I had my apprehensions about this book and was certain, I would begin to hate it in the first 10 pages. Surprise, surprise, not only did I read the book but was also inspired by it. Full marks here. A truly humble and earnest attempt to draw a tennis and a non tennis person to get hooked to the book. Simple and clear narrative that flows with ease. Enjoyed reading it and would recommend every one to read it – just to know, what goes on in the mind of some of the best people in the world.
Books I read in 2011:
The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh: To be frank, I was intrigued. The book picked up pace and I was smitten only to be faced by an opaque wall at the end. I didn’t like the way it ended or should I say – I just didn’t get it.
A R Rahman- A Musical Storm by Kamini Mathai : It is a decent book. A must for A R fans because, most of us don’t know much about him. The book thrives on a lot of trivia but tends to not hold the grip of the readers. Recommended for those who are curious to know how some geniuses work.
Michele Obama: First Lady of Hope – by Elizabeth Lightfoot : It is a light book. Recommended for those, who are striving to find a foothold in this world. Extremely inspiring to read how a black woman, became one of the most respected and powerful woman on the planet. Fantastic. But, the writing could have been a lot more gripping. It tends to get repetitive and monotonous at times. But, the book is worth a read.
Growing up Bin Laden – Jean Sasson, Najwa Bin Laden & Omar Bin Laden : Anybody who is intrigued by Osama should read this book. The book offers a sneek preview of the method behind the madness of Osama, the man/terrorist. A must read.
David Attenborough’s Life Stories – I cannot recall another book that is not fiction but such a joy to read and relish. Any nature lover will fall in love immediately with this book. A must read for an animal lover.
A prinsoner of Birth by Jeffery Archer : Ended the year with a rather easy and pleasure read. I had minimal expectation and the book did not fail to entertain. It had its moments and I think I should read a book or two like this once a while just to keep me entertained.
Books I read in 2010:
An inconvenient Truth by Al Gore – It should be a book recommended to every single human being on the planet.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – What an insightful little book. I wonder how many authors can write with such simplicity and strike a chord. Thought provoking, brilliantly written and gives a deeper meaning to the superficial lives we all lead. No wonder it is a classic.
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – The reading is tiresome. There are sparks of brilliance but not the book, I could recommend. Too many religious references and the book borders on spirituality. The book in some parts had me confused and wondered – so what is he trying to say? I would rate the book as – average.
The collected short stories of Roald Dahl – reading now. Stories read so far are eerie, creepy and some are almost revolting. Quite a contrast to what Sid, my son has read!
Books I read in 2009:
The Audaucity of Hope by Barack Obama
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini- ‘For you a thousand times over’- what a statement. It stays with you a long time even after you finish the book. Wonder how many books do that to you.
A thousand Splendid sons by Khaled Hosseini – Great but the Kite Runner is definitely better.
Hot, Flat and crowded by Thomas L Friedman – Typical Friedman. It is like a compilation of a lot of his columns put together.
Unaccostommed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri- A let down. Lives of Indian living outside of India – we have heard that and we read it here in this book. I felt this book of short stories was put together in a hurry. I am not impressed.
Like the Flowing River by Paulo Coelho – Very average. The problem is that every time, his writing is compared to The Alchemist and you start to expect something like what the The Alchemist did to you in all his books. The trouble is the best stories are written only once in a while.
How Starbucks saved my life by Michael Gates Gill – Like they say in India – Time Pass. Also, I thought it would be very inspiring. It is – but in parts only.
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown – Surely The Da Vinci Code is better. This is a bit of a Y-A-W-N!
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (intoxicatingly romantic! This is a book if you want to feel young!) and yes, I haven’t (and I also don’t intend to) read the other books in the series.
Yajnaseni by Prathiba Ray (Awesome read – The journey of Draupadi. A women’s journey. Every woman can identify.
Two States by Chethan Bhagath – Well, I may not have been a Chethan Bhagath fan but now, I am. Although the book is exaggerated in parts, it is a beautiful and simple book. He is the new age writer – a voice of the youth. Loved it.
The Wish Maker by Ali Sethi – For the first time author this is fine. But, I had thought better of this book. The book stands out in fragments and cannot hold you through and sometimes is a let down (or even a drag). In all, just average. But, some one liners stand out – ‘My Amitabh is coming’ or ‘My India is not coming’. But, for a reader and especially an Indian reader, it gives an insight into the lives of his neighbourhood!
The Digital Fotress by Dan Brown – I loved it. I think the ending was a bit prolonged. However, I would rate this book as his best after Da Vinci Code.