Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Books That Made My 2014

Throughout the latter part year, I had been of the impression that I was reading a lot of books this year. That impression was shattered when I just checked my Goodreads statistics and realized that in sheer numbers, my reading has been pretty ordinary. But in quality, I am proud of some of the books I read this year, and I believe their memories will stay with me for long. I decided to succumb to the December habit of creating unnecessary lists by mentioning the best ten of the lot.

10) The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson : This Swedish crime novel has two interlinking stories, one a darkly tragic murder mystery, and another a battle against corporate swindlers. Though the presence of an additional plot is off-putting for a few people, I was fine with it. What surprised me was to learn that women lead dangerous lives even in a country like Sweden. This book made me reconsider a lot of things about women equality. My short Goodreads review is here.

9) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak : Previously reviewed in my blog here.

8) I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak : Two books by a single modern writer in the list! I Am the Messenger is lesser known of the two. It is about unremarkable people leading mundane lives in Australia. It has logical loopholes and an ordinary ending. Fortunately, logic does not affect my choices (in all things) as much as it probably should. I loved this book because of its uniqueness in having an unexceptional guy as a protogonist : a misfit who reads novels and drives taxis. Like Churchill described Atlee, our hero is a "modest man with much to be modest about". He has Zusak's sense of humour though. Here is my Goodreads review of I Am the Messenger. I hope to write a complete post about it sometime.

7) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy : Leo Tolstoy's epic novel, Anna Karenina is not an easy read. But it is the sort of book that you read and ponder upon, and then realize its beauty. With two protagonists who are alike, yet totally different, Leo Tolstoy guides us through the Aristocratic Russian society. We witness a proposal, a marriage (the best literary marriage I have come across), a childbirth, a suicide, a few extra-marital affairs, and numerous intellectual dining room conversations. Another book I might write about some time. Here is my hastily written Goodreads review.

6) Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry : The setting is Bombay of 1972. Gustad Noble is a conservative, religious, yet an open minded Parsi man. His adolescent son is rebelling against him, his daughter is ill, his best friend who deserted him in the past wants him to take part in a clandestine mission for RAW, the Indira Gandhi government at the centre is rumoured to be corrupt, there is war brewing in East Bengal -- soon-to-be-Bangladesh, his new best friend is battling an ailment, a man from his colony creates nuisance in his life, the right-wing RSS is becoming hostile, and the compound wall of his colony has gradually taken the form of a public urinal. In Mistry's skillful hands, Gustad Noble's ordinary circumstances are coloured by Indian-ness. Who cares about the lack of a central plot when we have an engaging tale with a wonderful, warm-hearted hero? Goodreads review here.

5) All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque : The best war novel I have come across. This novel banned by Hitler depicts the brutality of war and its effect on soldiers. The detached tone multiplies its impact. A sad, sad book. Goodreads review here.

5) The Martian by Andy Weir : A science fiction involving an astronaut struck in Mars, narrated with unmatchable wit. The only book I was able to finish this year at a pace I am proud of. Unputdownable. Goodreads review here. Read the book before its movie adaptation is out.

4) The Stranger by Albert Camus :  Short and powerful. With an amoral protagonist, Camus questions everything we know about life. This books contains the essence of Camus's philosophy of existentialism. Also, this is the book that taught me my recent-favorite phrase : "tender indifference". 

2) The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph : Reviewed on my blog here.

1) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky : Reviewed on my blog here.

Outside books, it has been my most memorable year till date. Also, this happens to be the year where I inundated you all with a personal record number of blogposts. I will try not to repeat it :) Thanks for putting up with me. Wish you all a great year ahead!

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