Book wise, 2016 has been a great year. I have discovered and read some marvellous books that have left a profound impact on me. Books that I will continue to revisit, to refresh my memory of the stories they tell and my experiences of reading them.
Those of you who know, I read many, many books. I consider it no less than a personal achievement to be able to cross a count of over one hundred books, for the second consecutive year.
I am often asked how I manage to do it. It’s simple, really. I make it a point to read a little every night before I sleep. 50-100 pages is more than enough for me. Unless a particular book has me in its clutches and refuses to let go. Of course, I also read whenever I can manage during the day. Which is why I always carry a few books on my tablet, phone, or as paperbacks, wherever I go.
Some may think that reading books at such an insane pace is not really reading. It is just a count. A statistic. Well, I beg to differ. For me, every book gives me an opportunity to travel into a world I may not otherwise be a part of. It makes me question myself how I would react were I thrown in a similar situation. It allows me to fall in love with some delightful characters and, at the same time, strategise my move (hypothetically, of course) when stuck in a difficult situation.
As someone once said, “It is not about how many books you read, but what you do after reading them”.
Every story has the power to make you dream and to teach you lessons you may not learn in real life. All you have to do is keep your eyes and ears open and enjoy the journey.
About the 100+ books I read in 2016 – Here is a quick overview of some interesting reading statistics upon completion of my reading challenge. (I pulled some of these off Goodreads’ Year in Books):
Total number of books = 108 (plus a short story that was a bonus read of sorts, to a thriller novel in series).
Total number of pages = Approx. 32,300 pages. An average of less than 85 pages a day. Quite workable.
Shortest book = The Lively Library and An Unlikely Romance by Niranjan Navalgund (Novella) at 96 pages
Longest book = The Sialkot Saga by Ashwin Sanghi at 588 pages
Most popular book = To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Need I say more?
Highest rated book on Goodreads = Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat. This also features in my list of top favourite books this year.
Number of Non-Fiction Books = 11. At only 10% of my total reading, I would like to read more non-fiction next year.
Number of books by Indian/Indian Origin Authors = 37. More or less, this was steady at the percentage of books read in 2016 as compared to 2015.
Number of books translated to English from other Indian or Foreign languages = 10. Definitely need to add more of these next year.
Most books read in a month = 17 in September. I was also reviewing quite a few books this month.
Least books read in a month = 3 in December. This month has mostly been taken up in meeting writing deadlines, which clearly ate into my reading time.
As last year, I again decided to pick my favourite books of the ones I read in 2016. So, without further ado, here are my top reads from this year – categorised by Indian and International authors, in Fiction and Non-Fiction:
Indian Fiction (in random order)
1. Chander & Sudha – Dharamvir Bharati (Translated by Poonam Saxena)
This was deeply moving and intense, especially considering the era it was written in. Also, Poonam Saxena’s translation of this novel, originally written in Hindi, is exquisite in the way it keeps to that old world charm.
2. The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma – Ratika Kapur
With a simple, realistic prose, it takes you through a woman’s mundane family life – her desires and actions, until suddenly everything gets out of hand. Then, it delivers a knockout punch that leaves you reeling with shock. I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams, that this is how it would all end.
3. Ghachar Ghochar – Vivek Shanbhag (Translated by Srinath Perur)
The most action you get to read here is about the ant infestation in an old home where dealing with it becomes a way of life. Yet the story seems to pull you into a knot with its simplicity as you continue to read, wondering where it is heading. Until it ends with a strong note of a deep sinister reality. Ghachar Ghochar is one those books that leave you mystified and spellbound at the same time.
4. 03:02 – Mainak Dhar
This is an action-packed thriller that starts off as compelling Sci-Fi. As you turn page after page, you forget it is written by an Indian Author. With a multi layered dimension to the unfolding mystery, it also deals with social hierarchy with respect to wealth, in the face of tragedy.
5. Birds of Prey – Archana Sarat
A Debut Author’s remarkable portrayal of a subject that plagues our society, handled with the tenderness and sensitivity it craves. Birds of Prey is as horrific in the crime it reveals, as it is subliminal about the state of our society.
6. The Bharat Series – Ashwin Sanghi
In a twitter chat, I once had the opportunity to ask the author – What brought the innovative idea of writing thrillers that travel & connect through centuries. He answered – Because historical patterns repeat themselves. And we are much more connected in the ancient than we imagine.
One has to have read his books to understand how he manifests this idea in his stories to create blockbuster mythological thrillers. Until I read his books, I couldn’t have imagined how much I would love them.
International Fiction (in random order)
1. The Butterfly Series & The End of Innocence – Moni Mohsin
Whether it a poignant reminder of The End of Innocence or the grammatically deprived adventures of Butterfly Khan, Moni Mohsin’s writing is bound to have you hooked.
2. David Baldacci, Harlan Coben, Joseph Finder, Ian Rankin and John Sandford
I need to read their books to satisfy the thriller junkie in me. They are my bread & butter of reading.
3. The Devotion of Suspect X, Salvation of a Saint & A Midsumer’s Qquation – Keigo Higashino
This Japanese Author starts off his novels with a murder that almost takes place in front of the reader. Then he goes about an investigation that beats any other murder mystery hands down.
4. Crazy Rich Asians & China Rich Girlfriend – Kevin Kwan
He proved that Crazy Rich Asians are the same everywhere. Be it China, India or anywhere else.
5. A Man Called Ove & My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry – Fredrik Backman
This Swedish Author had me going back to his books over and over again despite the heartache they put me through. These books shall remain with me forever.
6. The Martian – Andy Weir
If you really want to enjoy the story, read the book before you watch the movie. You’ll thank me later.
7. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
A classic. I don’t know how I managed to deprive myself of it all these years. I loved everything about this novel. Can’t say so about the sequel though.
8. Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
This one almost had me fooled at the blissfulness of love, before it ended with a heart-breaking reality. A truly beautiful love story.
9. What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty
I categorised this one as devastatingly beautiful & devilishly romantic. A friend suggested it to me, saying this was a book she wished she had written. After I read it, that was exactly how I felt too.
10. Orphan X – Gregg Hurwitz
Think Super Hero, think Orphan X. One man who is all your favourite superheroes combined. All I can say is that the sequel can’t come out soon enough.
11. Most Wanted – Lisa Scottoline
Another terrific book recommended by a friend, it unfolds an unimaginable possibility while a woman struggles to start a family. The author narrates both the pain, and the thrill of the plot with equal finesse.
12. Dying for Christmas – Tammy Cohen
At one point I thought I had made a huge mistake picking up this book. But once I got through the difficult part, it was an intense psycho-crime thriller that goes beyond the darkest you can imagine. Think way beyond Gone Girl and the Girl on the Train. Read only if you have the heart and stomach for it.
13. The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware
A pure murder mystery that, believe me when I say I am not exaggerating, almost gave me a heart attack. A heart-stopping thriller!
14. First Comes Love – Emily Giffin
Emily Giffin has this way of exploring relationships in her stories that make you look at your own life, and the people in it, in a new light. Another author I have come to love.
15. Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Maria Semple
This book is so hilarious that you don’t, not for a single moment, want to stop reading it. Told by a fifteen-year-old girl, it also reveals a poignant relationship between a family and the circumstances that lead to a mysteriously interesting turn of events.
16. The Chopin Manuscript & The Copper Bracelet – The collaborative writings of Jeffery Deaver & Others
This was my first time listening to an Audio book. I picked it up when I read a post on Joseph Finder’s Facebook wall, of this collaborative novel he had written. I started with the Chopin Manuscript and was hooked to it. Alfred Molina’s narration is stupendous. It led me to listen to the sequel, The Copper Bracelet, also narrated by Alfred Molina. Needless to say, I am looking into getting an Audible subscription next year.
International Non-Fiction (in random order)
1. If Someone Says “You Complete Me”, RUN! – Whoopi Goldberg
Now this a book I think should be mandatory reading for girls and young women. The legendary actress gives us a peek into her private life to teach some valuable lessons of life.
2. Leading – Alex Ferguson (with Michael Moritz)
A chronicle of the rise of Manchester United through the practices they embraced. It teaches Leadership and Management through football.
3. The Perfection of the Paper Clip – James Ward
A history of the invention, development and improvement of basic, everyday stationery items. How could a stationery aficionado like me pass up an opportunity to read this?
4. Sully: My Search for What Really Matters – Chesley B. Sullenberger
With all the hype surrounding Tom Hanks’ film, I wanted to read about Sully, the pilot who landed a plane on the Hudson without any loss of life. In his autobiography, he reveals the man behind the hero and the experiences that equipped him to avert one of the biggest disasters in aviation history. Again, book before film.
If you’re interested, you can find a complete list of all the books I read in 2016, here.
My review and rating for these books is available on my Goodreads account.
I also tweet about the books I read, in as much as 140 characters allow. You can always find me writing about the latest book to catch my fancy, at https://twitter.com/AshieJayn.
This year I started reviewing books, although occasionally. These reviews are published on this blog as well as on Amazon and Goodreads. I hope to keep at it next year as well.
I was recently approached by a published author to beta-read the manuscript of her next novel. It was a first for me and sounded extremely exciting so I accepted. It’s been a few days into the exercise and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
As for 2017, I am armed and ready with a fresh new set of books to start the year with. New paperbacks have arrived and the tablet has been loaded with eBooks.
If you like this post, do share with your reader friends. And tell me all about the books that you fell in love with, in the comments below.
I hope you have had a wonderful 2016 and I wish you a Bookish 2017. Read all the books that make you happy. They don’t necessarily have to be classics or award winners!