Book Reflections of 2018

Note: This blogpost is a featured post on Indiblogger.in and has appeared on their homepage.
Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

I began this year by reading two books that were a gift from my mother. Knowing my obsessive compulsive need for books, she had selected these because they are about books and bookshops. To be precise, they are about the Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, which is also exactly what the book’s title is (that and More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops). With a start like that, it was evident 2018 had to grow into another awesome year of reading.

At the first BYOB (Bring Your Own Book) meet this year, I remember we were discussing reading targets for 2018 and I quoted mine at 108 books – same as the previous three years. Someone pointed out that like business targets, I needed to show a 20% growth rate in my reading potential. The comment, though made in jest, made me gasp, prompting me to think how that was even possible. Even so, I silently thought I could manage an official target of 108 and strive to read a few more books. Little did I know, then, that my annual reading target would have a friendly companion joining it this year.

By the time I finished reading those first two books, I was dying to share my experience. The books turned out to be absurdly hilarious in a way that book lovers everywhere would relate to. I thought a bookstagram would be ideal for this purpose, like the ones I had posted for a few books I reviewed in 2017. Well, the first bookstagram led to a second, then a third and before I knew it, I had resolved (something I resolutely avoid doing) to post an Insta-review of E.V.E.R.Y book I read in 2018.

I was clear I didn’t want to post generic pictures of books photographed in eye-catching locations. Instead, I wanted to continue from the craft and colouring experiments I had started in 2017. Thus began a journey of creativity during which I rediscovered a new-found passion for art and craft after nearly two decades. I added many more techniques to the basket, such as drawing, painting, paper-folding, Origami – both traditional as well as 3D Chinese Origami, paper-model building, and various other types of paper-craft. Feeding this passion also called for a substantial investment in art & craft supplies, as well as shelf space to store them. But the book and crafts partnership was a go.

And so, every book I have read this year, whether standalone or a series, is supplemented with a review – either in long form on the blog or in short on Instagram. For each of these posts, I have created an art project keeping to the book’s theme.

To know more about these 108 books, or to read their reviews and see the projects I paired them with, click here.

2018 Brunch Book Challenge Landscape Resized.jpg

Of course, if you have been following my reading, you would know how much I love collating reading statistics at the end of the year. These are also my way of taking stock of where I want my reading to go the next year. So, once again I am sharing a few figures from my 2018 reading challenge:

Total number of books read = 108
Total number of pages = Approx. 30,347 pages (big thanks to Goodreads’ My Year in Books for this). Almost the same number as last year, which is surprising since I read quite a lot of children’s fiction this year. Even then, an average book length works out to 281 pages which is very reasonable.
Longest book = Airport by Arthur Hailey at 522 pages. This was my introduction to Hailey and his best of the ones I’ve read so far.
Most popular book = Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. As far as I recall, I had never read a Roald Dahl before this year.
Number of Non-Fiction books = 21. Up 5% from last year. This genre has seen a steady growth in my reading list over the last four years.
Number of books by Indian/Indian Origin Authors = 41. A 7% drop from last year but still a comfortable number.
Number of books translated to English from other Indian or Foreign languages = 16. Up 7.5% from 2017. I also read a book in Hindi this year – something I haven’t done since college.
Number of books by debut authors = 21. Up by 5.5%.
Number of books by Women authors = 38. This makes 35% of my total reading and could definitely do with an increase.
Number of books reviewed = 108 (that’s 100%) with 15 detailed reviews on the blog or on Women’s Web and balance as Insta-reviews on Instagram. My Goodreads profile also carries reviews of all 108 books. I consider that a personal achievement.
Number of physical books read (paperback/hardcover) = 79. That is a massive 20.5% increase from last year. I do confess that I prefer to pick up titles by Indian authors as physical books.
Most books read in a month = 27 in April, of which 15 were Roald Dahl titles from a box set.
Least books read in a month = 2 in August. It was a time I was severely ill, catching one infection after another and was just not upto reading.

Now that the business side of reading is done, let’s move on to the side that offers pure joy – the act of reading itself.

In line with Aquamarine Flavours’ annual reading tradition, the start of the new year also means it is time to share with you a list of my favourite books from the ones I have read this past year. These are books that have sparked joy (how Marie Kondo of me!) and continue to remain close to my heart.

As before, I have categorised these favourites into Fiction and Non-Fiction, under Indian Authors and International Authors for easy reference.

If you want to know my review of the book, click on the book’s title or photo.

Note that this list is in no particular order.

Indian Fiction
1. IMG_20180409_132645_583Operation Jinnah – Shiv Aroor
Picking up a military thriller by an Indian author is not easy when it comes with expectations piled high after reading innumerable international thrillers over the years. But this one is an absolute treat and even has two women commandoes who go toe-to-toe with the best of the best. (Buy here)

IMG_-q1voxg
2. Koi Good News? – Zarreen Khan
An insanely hilarious peek into a couple’s mind-journal before and during pregnancy, taking you through the changes that a soon-to-arrive baby brings in their lives. (Buy here)

IMG_20180706_100545_415

3. Two – Gulzar
A translation by Gulzar of his novella originally written in Urdu – a painfully tragic story of many lives thrown about by the tornado that cut a sharp line dividing a land and its people – not once, not twice, but over and over again. (Buy here)

IMG_20181003_095527_019

4. The Girl in the Garden – Kamala Nair
A story within a story about a little girl desperate to unravel the messy tangle of secrets that plague her childhood. (Buy here)

International Fiction
IMG_20180109_135956_9731. ‎Bad Dad – David Walliams
This was my first children’s fiction of the year and of the many I read, I particularly loved this one. It is a heartwarming story of a father who does some bad things, only to save the good in his life. But when, suddenly, things begin to go awry, help comes most unexpected. (Buy here)

Fredrik Backman.jpg

2. Fredrik Backman – This year I finally read all his remaining books on my TBR which include:
Two novellas –
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer (Buy here)
The Deal of a Lifetime (Buy here)
A series – 
Beartown  (Buy here)
Us Against You (Sequel to Beartown) (Buy here)
He continues to remain a top favourite and I am waiting with bated breath for the 3rd book in the Beartown series.

IMG_20180426_115949_153
3. Still Me – Jojo Moyes
The third book in the Me Before You series that finally brings Lou full circle in her journey to discovering herself. I thought the end for this trilogy was most fitting. (Buy here)

IMG_20180615_102814_916

4. The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
A story exploring the complex mother-daughter relationships between these two sets of women born in two different worlds, along with their secrets and conflicts. This is Classic Asian-American Literature that will continue to be relevant for a long time to come. (Buy here)
A special shout-out to my friend who recommended it (you know who you are) 🙂

IMG_20181008_091836_388

5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
A young author stumbles upon a book club formed during WW2 for a few stolen moments of peace in their warn-torn lives. A tale told by way of letters that describe the simplistic beauty of Guernsey, and a love story that very nearly breaks your heart. (Buy here)

IMG_20180618_100335_872
6. Airport – Arthur Hailey
This was my first Arthur Hailey novel and while I’ve read others too, this is clearly my favourite – a nail-biting thriller set at a fictional Chicago airport in the middle of a raging blizzard that shows exactly how the aviation industry functions. (Buy here)

Thriller Favs.jpg7. Thrillers call for their very own list so I am listing my top picks here:
Hellbent – Gregg Hurwitz (Buy here)
War Shadows -Brian Andrews & Jeffrey Wilson (Buy here)
The Woman in the Window – A. J. Finn (Buy here)
Deep Down Dead – Steph Broadribb (Buy here)
The Trapped Girl – Robert Dugoni (Buy here)
The Terminal List – Jack Carr (Buy here)
Skyjack – K.J. Howe (Buy here)
The Word is Murder – Anthony Horowitz (Buy here)
Bloody Sunday – Ben Coes (Buy here)
After Anna – Lisa Scottoline (Buy here)
Button Man by Andrew Gross (Buy here)
Dark Sacred Night – Michael Connelly (Buy here)

Note: Check out my thriller reading challenge which I undertook as part of the #BookSpyChallenge2018, run by TheRealBookSpy, here.

Indian Non-Fiction
IMG_20180213_140309_7391. ‎In Hot Blood – Bachi Karkaria
A meticulously researched account of the Nanavati case from 1959 where the author has tracked down people and corroborated events to put together a comprehensive account of this true-crime. Not to be confused by the events of the movie which are largely fictional. (Buy here)

IMG_20180217_082953_785
2. ‎Mothering A Muslim – Nazia Erum
An eye-opener on how, in today’s political environment, children perceive religion and the segregation that adults have knowingly let creep into their young lives. This book forces one to look at themselves and start questioning what values they want to raise their children with because those values are what are becoming the changing face of our society. (Buy here)

IMG_20180329_090113_208
3. ‎Remnants of a Separation – Aanchal Malhotra
The author retraces the lives of 19 families from both sides of the border who hold their deepest, darkest memories of the partition in the objects they carried across with them as well as those they left behind. (Buy here)

IMG_20181019_142624_5734. Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan – Ruby Lal
A remarkable biography of the woman who was the twentieth and most cherished wife of Emperor Jahangir, and later co-sovereign and ruler of Mughal India. One who proved to be a feminist icon in the days of 17th century Mughal India and yet, accomplished what no other woman in the history of Mughal India, neither before or after her, would ever hope to. (Buy here)

International Non-Fiction
IMG_20180430_092803_9541. The Bookshop Book – Jen Campbell
This book is nothing short of magical where the author takes you around the world on a journey to discover rare and unique bookshops. From the oldest, to the smallest, to those in unused barns, disused factories, old run-down railway stations, in buses, on boats, undercover, and even booktowns – she tracks over three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents to learn what makes them so special. (Buy here)

IMG_20180606_104121_7732. Get Your Sh*t Together – Sarah Knight
Sarah Knight means business. And she does not care what anyone thinks of how she gets her work done. As long as it gets done. Here, she breaks down existing rules of time-management into smaller, more manageable chunks of information which make them easier to assimilate and incorporate into your daily routine thus helping you achieve Work Life Balance. (Buy here)

IMG_20181116_091223_4583. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges – Amy Cuddy
You’ve all heard of the phrase ‘Fake it till you make it’. Well, Amy Cuddy teaches you how to ‘Fake it till you become it’. A life altering book that shows how behaviour can be altered subconsciously by tweaking the mind and nudging your body language to power-pose and in turn creating a more honest and meaningful impact, or presence, on your audience. (Buy here)

I have often been asked why my target is always 108 books and not 100 (a nice round number) or 104 (52weeks x 2 books per week). To be honest, I don’t have an answer. It’s just something that happened once and carried on.

Then, a few weeks ago, a friend pointed out that reading 108 books was like chanting the 108 names of God and we both ended up laughing at the absurdity of that analogy. Since then, I’ve decided this will be my official explanation (let me clarify here that I am not overtly religious). So if you’re curious why 108 books, there’s your answer 😁

My reading target for 2019 is 52 books (one per week) even though Brunch Magazine upped their target for #BrunchBookChallenge to 60 books this year. But Week One of 2019 just went by and I am already two books down on my reading challenge, so I don’t trust myself to maintain it. Which direction the scale finally tips is something we will have to wait to find out at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, I am heading over to the New Delhi World Book Fair this week. I am on a strict budget and the bigger challenge at the moment is to make sure I stay within its constraints. Hopefully I will and my family won’t be compelled to throw me out of the house for bringing in more books. Besides, I do have a library membership now which doesn’t exactly justify new purchases and I intend to make good use of it.

Here’s wishing you all a bookishly happy 2019. I’d love to hear from you all about the wonderful books you found this year and the ones that found you. So if you’re reading this, do take a moment to jot down your favourites in the comments below.

IMG_20190101_081855_762.jpg

Happy Reading!

Picture Source: aquamarineflavours.wordpress.com
Advertisements

The 2018 Reading Challenge Part-2 | #BookSpyChallenge2018

Note: This blogpost is a featured post on Indiblogger.in and has appeared on their homepage.

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

I started a reading challenge back in 2015, primarily to make up for the lost decade of books, and set the number at a comfortable 36 books – three a month. Interestingly, that target was met sometime between April and May, prompting me to keep at it, reading whatever books I came across. By the end of that year, I had ended up reading over a hundred books – a tradition I have joyfully maintained for four years now.

It is no mystery that a considerable chunk of my reading is consciously comprised of thrillers – a genre I like to call my bread-and-butter reading 😀. Even within the larger category of thrillers, I enjoy indulging in all their sub-genres. Action, Spy, Military, Crime, Psychological, Legal, Mystery – these are just some, from a much longer list of thriller genres, that I’ve read this year.

A couple of years ago I stumbled upon the twitter profile of TheRealBookSpy, thanks to one of my favourite thriller authors – Joseph Finder. TheRealBookSpy is considered an authority on thrillers and is now also recognized by Amazon as an online influencer. He continues to be my go-to source for discovering new authors and getting the latest on existing favourites. In 2017 he started his own reading challenge which I undertook successfully and decided to take it up again in 2018.

How the challenge goes is that TheRealBookSpy releases a reading list every month, of the books being published. You have to read at least one book from each month’s list, covering a minimum of eight months, and tweet about it.

Given below is the selection of titles I read as part of this year’s challenge. To know more about my views on these books, click on the book title.

If you are curious to see the complete list of 108 books I read this year as part of my main reading challenge, including a total of 23 thrillers (of which only twelve are listed below), click here.

Also, per the Aquamarine Flavours annual tradition, I have selected my favourite books from these 108 and compiled them into a list segregated by Fiction and Non-Fiction for Indian and International releases. Click here for this curated list.

For now, here is my list of books from the #BookSpyChallenge2018:

2018 Real Book Spy Reading Challenge Resized.jpg

1. Hellbent – Gregg Hurwitz (January)
2. The Woman in the Window – A.J. Finn (January)
3. Sirens – Joseph Knox (February)
4. The Terminal List – Jack Carr (March)
5. Skyjack – K.J. Howe (April)
6. Reaper: Ghost Target – Nicholas Irving with A.J. Tata (May)
7. The Word is Murder – Anthony Horowitz (June)
8. Bloody Sunday – Ben Coes (July)
9. After Anna – Lisa Scottoline (April)
10. The Fallen – David Baldacci (April)
11. Button Man – Andrew Gross (September)
12. Dark Sacred Night – Michael Connelly (October)

Are you a thriller aficionado yourself, like me? Yes? I would love to know you and find out who your favourite authors or serial characters are. Drop me a message here so we can exchange notes. One can never have enough thrillers to read, right? 😃

The 2018 Reading Challenge Part 1 | #BrunchBookChallenge

Note: This blogpost is a top post on Indiblogger.in and has appeared on their homepage.

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

The year 2018 has bid goodbye and with that I have wrapped up my 2018 reading challenge in which I read 108 books. This makes 2018 my fourth consecutive year of One-Year-One-Hundred-Books which originally began from the Brunch Book Challenge, run by Hindustan Times’ Sunday Magazine HT Brunch.

If you’ve been following me on social media, you would have noticed that a large part of my reading activity this year was supplemented by writing a review for every single book I read. This was posted either in long form on the blog or in short on Instagram.

I also decided to take forward the creative streak I re-discovered last year and create bookstagrams to complement these reviews. However, instead of posting generic photos of these books, I used various art and craft techniques to pair with the book’s title or theme, some of which included drawing, colouring, painting, paper-folding (both traditional Origami as well as 3D Chinese Origami), paper-models, and various other types of papercraft.

So, as per tradition, I share below the list of of all 108 books that kept me busy in 2018. If any of these piques your curiosity, click on the name in the list below to read my review.

Also, as before, I have selected my favourite books from the ones I read this year and compiled them into a list segregated by Fiction and Non-Fiction for Indian and International releases. Click here for the curated list.

There is also a separate list of thrillers I read as part of the #BookSpyChallenge2018, run by TheRealBookSpy, which you will find here.

2018 Brunch Book Challenge Portrait Resized.jpg

1. Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops – Jen Campbell
2. ‎More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops – Jen Campbell
3. ‎Bad Dad – David Walliams
4. ‎House of Discord – Sadiqa Peerbhoy
5. ‎And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer – Fredrik Backman
6. ‎The Deal of a Lifetime – Fredrik Backman
7. ‎The Midnight Gang – David Walliams
8. ‎The World’s Worst Children – David Walliams
9. ‎The World’s Worst Children 2 – David Walliams
10. ‎The Doodler of Dimashq – Kirthi Jayakumar
11. ‎Tinted Glasses – Mansi Laus Deo
12. ‎The Perils of Being Moderately Famous – Soha Ali Khan
13. ‎Lovers Like You and I – Minakshi Thakur
14. ‎Marital Advice to my Grandson, Joel – Peter Davidson
15. ‎In Hot Blood – Bachi Karkaria
16. ‎Mothering A Muslim – Nazia Erum
17. ‎Hellbent – Gregg Hurwitz
18. ‎Little Maryam – Hamid Baig
19. ‎Some Mad Poems Some Sad Poems Some Bad Poems and A Short Story in Verse – Jayant Kripalani
20. ‎Gurgaon Diaries – Debeshi Gooptu
21. ‎Remnants of a Separation – Aanchal Malhotra
22. ‎Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? – Raymond Carver
23. ‎What We Talk About When We Talk About Love – Raymond Carver
24. ‎Grubbipus Maximus and the Magic Mirror – K.E. Priyamvada
25. ‎Operation Jinnah – Shiv Aroor
26. ‎The Epic City – Kushanava Choudhury
27. ‎Scene: 75 – Rahi Masoom Raza (Translated to the English by Poonam Saxena)
28. ‎Sanjay Dutt: The Crazy Untold Story of Bollywood’s Bad Boy – Yasser Usman
29. ‎War Shadows -Brian Andrews & Jeffrey Wilson
30. ‎Clear by Fire – Joshua Hood
31. ‎James and the Giant Peach – Roald Dahl
32. ‎Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
33. ‎The Magic Finger – Roald Dahl
34. ‎Fantastic Mr. Fox – Roald Dahl
35. ‎Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator – Roald Dahl
36. ‎Danny the Champion of the World – Roald Dahl
37. ‎The Twits – Roald Dahl
38. ‎George’s Marvellous Medicine – Roald Dahl
39. ‎The BFG – Roald Dahl
40. ‎The Witches – Roald Dahl
41. Boy – Roald Dahl
42. The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me – Roald Dahl
43. ‎Going Solo – Roald Dahl
44. ‎Matilda – Roald Dahl
45. ‎Esio Trot – Roald Dahl
46. Still Me – Jojo Moyes
47. The Woman in the Window – A. J. Finn
48. The Bookshop Book – Jen Campbell
49. How I Became a Farmer’s Wife – Yashodhara Lal
50. The Light We Lost – Jill Santopolo
51. To Hell and Back – Anurag Anand
52. Deep Down Dead – Steph Broadribb
53. The Trapped Girl – Robert Dugoni
54. Genuine Fraud – E. Lockhart
55. Great Textpectations – Ruchi Vadehra
56. Get Your Sh*t Together – Sarah Knight
57. Pieces of Me – Róisin Ingle
58. Uncommon Type – Tom Hanks
59. The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
60. Airport – Arthur Hailey
61. Calling Sehmat – Harinder Sikka
62. The Good Indian’s Guide to Queue-jumping – V. Raghunathan
63. Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty
64. Koi Good News? – Zarreen Khan
65. Hotel – Arthur Hailey
66. Wheels – Arthur Hailey
67. The Nine-Chambered Heart – Janice Pariat
68. Two – Gulzar
69. Spirits in a Spice Jar – Sarini Kamini
70. An Evening in Lucknow-Selected Stories – K. A. Abbas (edited by Suresh Kohli)
71. Beartown – Fredrik Backman
72. Us Against You – Fredrik Backman
73. The Boy Who Loved Trains – Deepak Sapra
74. The Girl in the Garden – Kamala Nair
75. Lessons in Forgetting – Anita Nair
76. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
77. Job Be Damned – Rishi Piparaiya
78. Out with Lanterns – Alisha ‘Priti’ Kirpalani
79. Seven Sixes are Forty Three – Kiran Nagarkar
80. Charlie Next Door – Debashish Irengbam
81. Khushwant Singh Selects Best Indian Short Stories-Volume I – Edited by Khushwant Singh
82. Khushwant Singh Selects Best Indian Short Stories-Volume II – Edited by Khushwant Singh
83. Who Stole My Memories – Maitrayee Sanyal De
84. Pyjamas are Forgiving – Twinkle Khanna
85. Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan – Ruby Lal
86. Ishq Mein Shahar Hona – Ravish Kumar
87. Those Children – Shahbano Bilgrami
88. The Pilgrimage – Paulo Coelho
89. The Valkyries – Paulo Coelho
90. By the River Piedra I Sat Down & Wept – Paulo Coelho
91. Veronika Decides to Die – Paulo Coelho
92. The Devil & Miss Prym – Paulo Coelho
93. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges – Amy Cuddy
94. The Fifth Mountain – Paulo Coelho
95. Eleven Minutes – Paulo Coelho
96. The Zahir – Paulo Coelho
97. The Witch of Portobello – Paulo Coelho
98. Sirens – Joseph Knox
99. The Terminal List – Jack Carr
100. Skyjack – K.J. Howe
101. Reaper: Ghost Target – Nicholas Irving with A.J. Tata
102. The Word is Murder – Anthony Horowitz
103. Bloody Sunday – Ben Coes
104. Daughters of Legacy – Rinku Paul & Puja Singhal
105. After Anna – Lisa Scottoline
106. The Fallen – David Baldacci
107. Button Man – Andrew Gross
108. Dark Sacred Night – Michael Connelly

What do you think? Did any of these titles tempt you to pick them up? Or have you read any of these which you absolutely love and can’t stop raving about? I’d love to share notes with you. Do drop me a line and let me know.

Oh, and Happy 2019 to you and yours! 🙂

2017: One Year One Hundred (108) Books

As 2017 draws to a close, I can’t help but wonder at how amazing this year has been for me in terms of books. Despite a more than erratic reading schedule, which was pushed back time and again to accommodate other things, I did meet my reading target of 108 books. But that’s not all. In addition to all the wonderful books I discovered and read, there are three things that happened for me, specifically around books, that call for special mention this year.

The first is how, by a genius stroke of luck, I won the Stacy Alesi & ITW International Book Giveaway which delivered seven new International thriller releases (translation – not yet released in India), all signed by the authors, at my doorstep. To know more about what it is and how it happened, click here.

Screenshot_20170909-172933

The second was the joy I discovered in adult coloring this year and how I was able to pair it with books. It all started with a book in which blue roses featured almost as prominently as a character in the story and I was so fascinated that I had to colour them. And almost suddenly, I turned into, what I call, a colouring addict.

If you’ve been following me on this blog and/or on Instagram, you would have seen that most of my posts on books are paired with a colored sketch of something that matches the book’s theme. Now, I’ve read enough posts and articles on the internet on how adult coloring is lame and if at all one wants to do something creative, Bullet Journaling is the trend. I, however, beg to differ. As much as I enjoy the beauty of BuJo, I love the therapeutic calm of colouring. I have also paired books with some papercrafts, but colouring is what I enjoy best. Do drop by for a visit here and let me know what you think.

Screenshot_20171227-132236 PhotoGrid_1496393241174

The third and most recent reason of joy was my experience at a books-by-weight sale. A friend convinced me to accompany her to one, even though I wasn’t too keen. But I decided to check it out anyways. Long story short – I went and bought a truckload of books. Yes, a truckload. No exaggeration. (If you remember my Instagram post: that number listed there was accompanied by another bigger number that was added later and not disclosed on Instagram).

So, while I now have a roomful of books that would fulfill at least the next three years of my reading requirements, I have also, sadly, blown away my entire book budget for these next three years. All I can hope now, for buying new books (because I can’t stop myself from doing that, no matter what), is the mercy of book gifts and gift vouchers. If you don’t know, my birthday is in March,  but I accept gifts all year through 😀

IMG_20171129_173812_741

With all this bookish amazing-ness, I am now ready to reveal the books that made it to my list of favourites this year. But before I do that, I do ask for your patience because there is one important thing I need to get out of the way. Statistics.

Of the 108 books I read in 2017 – I have collated some reading statistics from my list of books. Why, you ask? Well, because I love doing this. Naturally, I had help getting some of these figures from Goodreads’ Year in Books.

So here we go:
Total number of books read = 108
Total number of pages = Approx. 30,606 pages. It shows a drop by about 1,800 pages from last year.
Shortest book = Tit for Tat by Archana Sarat (an ebook of flash fiction) at 36 pages
Longest book = Holly’s Inbox by Holly Denham at 736 pages. Surprisingly, I read it in a few hours and it was amazing. An entire story told by way of emails only.
Most popular book = The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Number of Non-Fiction books = 16. Up 4% from last year.
Number of books by Indian/Indian Origin Authors = 48. Up 10% from last year. This is a conscious effort on my part to read more such books.
Number of books translated to English from other Indian or Foreign languages = 8. Down 1.8% from last year.
Number of books by debut authors (fiction novels) = 15. Of these, 4 feature in my list of favourites this year.
Number of books reviewed = 17 with detailed reviews on the blog. There were 19 others whose Instareviews were posted only on Instagram. But Goodreads carries short reviews of all 108 books.
Number of physical books read (paperback/hardcover) = 57
Most books read in a month = 18 in November. With only one month left, I was desperate to catch up.
Least books read in a month = 1 in February. I was too busy writing, I think.

Brunch Book Challenge 2017 Landscape Resized

And now, once again, for the third year in a row, I pick my favourite books of the ones I read in 2017. Here is the list, categorised by Indian and International authors, in Fiction and Non-Fiction:

Indian Fiction (in random order)
1-In the Light of Darkness.jpg1. In the Light of Darkness – Radhika Maira Tabrez
I loved how the author brought this heartening story of Susan and Meera to life . The struggles and sacrifices the characters endure should be a reminder to all women that they always have the strength inside them to fight their way towards a better life. That the struggle will only heal them and make them stronger.

28-Baaz - Anuja Chauhan

2. Baaz – Anuja Chauhan
She has been my favourite author ever since I read her first book and this time she wows with a story set during the ’71 war, starring a determined young woman, and a hero who, beside being deliciously swoon-worthy is an Indian Air Force pilot. Pulsating with love, laughter and courage, Baaz is Anuja Chauhan’s tribute to our men in uniform.

3. The Association of Small Bombs – Karan Mahajan32-The Association of Small Bombs - Karan Mahajan.jpg
The book begins with a bomb blast in a South Delhi marketplace in the late 1990’s, and in it’s aftermath, folds within itself the lives of various characters.
The author’s prose is captivating, despite the grief and agony his characters experience. He presents a perspective that is evident and yet so easy to disregard. The book makes you introspect about why things happen and how they impact an individual’s decisions.

34-Cantilevered Tales - Jayant Kripalani4. Cantilevered Tales – Jayant Kripalani
The author says, he overheard a group of people talking about saving a water body from some unscrupulous builder and started keeping tabs on them. This is not a Builder v. Helpless Citizen epic. In fact that is the least important part of the book. This is about the quirks of ordinary citizens and their response to situations around them, which in turn makes them the people they become. This, is a literary masterpiece, laid out with generous servings of wit and humour, as evident from the writing style that spotlights the sociopolitical theme chosen.

40-Revelations of an Imperfect Life - Sankhya Samhita5. Revelations of an Imperfect Life – Sankhya Samhita
A young woman finds herself stuck in a perfunctory marriage and in an impulsive moment, decides to leave her indifferent husband. The characters are delightful, written with such perfection, despite each of their flaws, that after a point you can feel them being a part of your life. The prose reads like a song – every note mellifluous with picturesque descriptions. The expressions captivate you with the gorgeous play of words.

63-I Quit Now What - Zarreen Khan6. I Quit! Now What? – Zarreen Khan
This story of a young, single woman, going on a sabbatical, is a fun read, with the perfect mix of dreams, fantasy and practicality. In addition to her overt subtlety, the author writes with a definite flair for humour. It comes naturally to her and she infuses it at the right places, often coupled with eye-rolling sarcasm that makes you roll on the floor from laughing so much it hurts.

65-‎The Windfall - Diksha Basu7. The Windfall – Diksha Basu
Diksha Basu presents a hilarious tale of a middle-class Delhi family struggling to fit into the mould that comes with their new-found wealth. A tug of war between values and aspirations. If you’re looking for a better-than-good book that will spread warmth in your heart after reading it, I recommend this one.

97-When I Hit You - Meena Kandasamy8. When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife – Meena Kandasamy
When I Hit You is seething with rage. It is painful and devastating. It is also powerful, courageous and inspiring. It is a lesson. Of the signs that should be identified. Of hope. Of strength. Of being the woman not the world wants you to be, but what you want to become.

International Fiction (in random order)

Thrillers Square Resized.jpg1. Gregg Hurwitz, K. J. Howe, Brad Parks, David Baldacci, Lisa Scottoline, Ben Coes, Joseph Finder, Michael Connelly, Nelson DeMille, David Lagercrantz, Reed Farrel Coleman, Andrew Gross, David Ignatius, Matthew Dunn
This selection of thrillers writers has been my favourite this year, some of which I have been following closely and others that I discovered thanks to TheRealBookSpy. (For more, read all about my #RealBookSpyReadingChallenge here.)

66-Britt-Marie was Here - Fredrik Backman
2. Britt-Marie was Here – Fredrik Backman
This Swedish author who first wrote A Man Called Ove has been another favourite for the eccentric, yet endearing, characters he writes. His books are my sunny stories, for they warm my heart.

David Walliams Resized.jpg3. Grandpa’s Great Escape, The Boy in the Dress, Gangsta Granny, Billionaire Boy – David Walliams
I came across this children’s author on Twitter and, out of curiosity, picked up Grandpa’s Great Escape. I loved it so much that I got seven more titles by him. But since I have to choose, these four are my favourite. And yes, I do occasionally read children’s fiction as well. We are, after all, only kids at heart.

73-‎The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
I read this for a book club meeting and found it to be immensely hilarious and surprisingly relevant for today’s time, despite having been published in 1979. With a dry and subtle sense of humour, this books takes its time but eventually grows on you when you realise it is not a book but a way of life.

102-‎The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson.jpg5. The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
I have come to realise, after reading all of Jonas Jonasson’s books (another new favourite Swedish writer on my list, that there is a world out there where things happen for a reason, or for no reason at all. His characters are charming and his plots are preposterous. But, you see, things are what they are, and whatever will be will be. And for that reason alone, I can’t help falling in love with his books. Do also check out The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden and Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All.

101-Holly's Inbox - Holly Denham6. Holly’s Inbox – Holly Denham
This is a one of a kind novel which I discovered in the non-fiction section of the books-by-weight sale I went to last month. It is a light hearted page turner with a narrative that is completely written by way of emails. It is an absolutely delightful read and I am now looking to get my hands on its sequel.

Indian Non-Fiction (in random order)
4-Kohinoor


1. Kohinoor: The Story of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond – William Dalrymple and Anita Anand

An intensively researched account of the story of the world’s most infamous diamond which has been shrouded in a fog of history and mythology for centuries.

27-Bag it All - Nina Lekhi.jpg2. Bag it All – Nina Lekhi (as told to Suman Chhabria Addepalli)
The journey of the woman behind Baggit, the famed eco-friendly handbag brand, who planted the seeds of a tiny project at the young age of 18 when she failed her First year of Commercial Art. What started in one half of the children’s bedroom in her parents’ house, only as a means to move forward from her failure and to prove herself, has today grown into a 100+ crore company.

52-Sonal Mansingh - Sujata Prasad
3. Sonal Mansingh: A Life Like No Other – Sujata Prasad
A mesmerising account of her passion to dance and to life, her worship and also her struggles, to achieve all that she has. Reading her biography makes you feel that hers is really a life like no other.

72-Kissing the Demon - Amrita Kumar
4. Kissing the Demon: The Creative Writer’s Handbook – Amrita Kumar
With the repertoire of her experiences spanning four decades, the author lays out a simple and effective method to traverse the seemingly arduous path of pursuing Creative Writing, either professionally or as a hobby.

International Non-Fiction (in random order)

55-Why Won't You Apologize - Harriet Lerner1. Why Won’t You Apologize? – Harriet Lerner
It explains how a wholehearted apology means valuing your relationship and accepting your as well as the other person’s responsibility without any hint of evasion, excuse or blame. It teaches you to lead with your heart, have the courage to apologize and the wisdom to do it meaningfully.

61-Rich Dad, Poor Dad - Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter.jpg
2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter
Using simple examples, the author explains the fundamentals in making money work for you, instead of you working for money.

76-‎The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love - Per J. Andersson3. The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love – Per J. Andersson
This is an inspiring account of PK’s journey through life, of overcoming obstacles that began with being born an untouchable in India, amidst hunger and poverty, to travel 7000 miles to find and marry a Swedish woman of noble descent whom he loved.

92-‎The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A Fck - Sarah Knight
4. ‎The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A F*ck – Sarah Knight
In this book, the author helps identify things we don’t care about (Step 1) and shows how not to spend time, energy and/or money on them so that we can use those finite resources in what we really do care about. (Step 2). A simple concept to separate Annoy from Joy.

If you want to check out the complete list of books I read in 2017, you will find it 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 140-280 characters allow. You can always find me writing about the latest book to catch my fancy at https://twitter.com/AshieJayn.

For books with detailed reviews published on the blog, check out the links in the above mentioned list carrying all 108 names.

As for 2018 – I am all set for a brand new year of joy and have my bedside TBR all set to begin reading at the start of the new year. But another, more important target I have this year is to start setting up our family library. All these books I have read or am yet to read (from the truckload collection) do not deserve to be put in storage. They need a proper home and that is what I intend to do. Hopefully, 2018 will be the year for it.

If you like the selection of books listed above, do share with your reader friends and write to me, in the comments below, about your favourites. Let’s share some book love!

Here’s hoping you have all had an amazing 2017 and I wish you a Bookish 2018, full of love, joy and some great books. Remember, read for yourself. Not to conform to other’s expectations. Most importantly, read books that make you happy!

Note: This blogpost was a top post on Indiblogger.in and appeared on their homepage.Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

My 2017 Reading Challenge Part-2 (RealBookSpyReadingChallenge)

In addition to my third round of reading one hundred books in a year, I decided to take up an additional reading challenge in 2017. One conducted by TheRealBookSpy – my go-to website for discovering all the latest international thrillers – because, let’s face it, I am a thriller novel junkie and no one does it better than TheRealBookSpy – Ryan Steck.

It so happened in early January, that one of the website’s followers tweeted in jest that he was taking the “Real Book Spy Reading Challenge”, following which it was introduced as a full-fledged, official challenge by the team at TheRealBookSpy.

The challenge meant that every month TheRealBookSpy would publish a monthly reading guide with a list of new releases in the thriller genre for that month. The challenge was to pick a title from each list, read the book and tweet about it.

In order to qualify, one had to read from a minimum of eight of the twelve months in 2017.

The real challenge for me, though, was to get my hands on these books when over 90% of the titles were international releases which means they are not released in India. So I would add them to my amazon wishlists and wait till the kindle prices dropped to affordable amounts.

With all of that, I managed to read fourteen books from eleven of those reading guides. If I count only the thrillers this year from the total list of 108, I read 26 thrillers in all. I was lucky to have won some of these titles in the Staci Alesi & ITW International Book Giveaway a few months ago, all of them signed by the authors.

For a complete list of the books I read as part of this challenge, see below (the month listed against each name is which reading guide it was picked from). To know which of these made it to my top reads of 2017 – click here.

Real Book Spy Reading Challenge 2017 Square - Resized

1. The Nowhere Man – Gregg Hurwitz (January)
2. The Freedom Broker – K. J. Howe (February)
3. Say Nothing – Brad Parks (March)
4. The Fix – David Baldacci (April)
5. One Perfect Lie – Lisa Scottoline (April)
6. Into the Water – Paula Hawkins (May)
7. Trap the Devil – Ben Coes (June)
8. The Switch – Joseph Finder (June)
9. The Late Show – Michael Connelly (July)
10. ‎The Cuban Affair – Nelson DeMille (September)
11. ‎What You Break – Reed Farrel Coleman (February)
12. The Saboteur – Andrew Gross (August)
13. The Quantum Spy – David Ignatius (November)
14. Act of Betrayal – Matthew Dunn (October)

Are you also one of those readers for whom thrillers are the bread and butter of reading? If yes, well, what are you waiting for? I would love to know which are your favourite thriller novels. And they don’t even have to be 2017 releases 🙂

Before you go, don’t forget to check out my complete list of 108 books that I read this year (if you haven’t already), by clicking here.

My 2017 Reading Challenge Part-1

Another year comes to an end and, though I struggled to keep up with my reading targets, I have successfully completed my challenge of reading over one hundred books for the third consecutive year.

I also reviewed some books on this blog during the course of reading, the links for which are in the list of titles below. Some of these reviews have been published on Writersmelon and Women’s Web as well.

So without further ado, here is a complete list of the 108 books I read as part of my 2017 Reading Challenge, which is an extension of the Brunch Book Challenge, run by the Hindustan Times’ Sunday Magazine HT Brunch from January to December, 2017.

To know more about the books that found a special place in my heart and made it to my top reads of the year – click here.

And. . . do checkout the second part of my 2017 reading challenge, here, which was all about thrillers!

Brunch Book Challenge 2017 Portrait Resized

1. In the Light of Darkness – Radhika Maira Tabrez
2. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper – Phaedra Patrick
3. Lanka’s Princess – Kavita Kané
4. Kohinoor: The Story of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond – William Dalrymple and Anita Anand
5. When Love Finds You – Yashodhara Lal
6. Finding Juliet – Toffee
7. The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad – Twinkle Khanna
8. White Collar Blackmail – Peter Ralph
9. The Nowhere Man – Gregg Hurwitz
10. An Unsuitable Boy – Karan Johar with Poonam Saxena
11. Cabbing All the Way – Jatin Kuberkar
12. Power Down – Ben Coes
13. Coup D’Etat – Ben Coes
14. The Last Refuge – Ben Coes
15. Eye for an Eye – Ben Coes
16. Independence Day – Ben Coes
17. Unns-The Captivation – Sapan Saxena
18. That’s News to Me – Manjula Lal
19. Chronicles of Urban Nomads (Anthology) – Edited by Sutapa Basu
20. Turtle Dove – Divya Dubey
21. First Strike – Ben Coes
22. Mock, Stalk & Quarrel: A Collection of Satirical Tales (Anthology) – Edited by Indrani Ganguly
23. The Freedom Broker – K. J. Howe
24. A Thousand Unspoken Words – Paulami DuttaGupta
25. The Dove’s Lament – Kirthi Jayakumar
26. Mission Overseas: Daring Operations by the Indian Military – Sushant Singh
27. Bag it All – Nina Lekhi (as told to Suman Chhabria Addepalli)
28. Baaz – Anuja Chauhan
29. Defiant Dreams: Tales of Everyday Divas – Edited by Rhiti Bose and Lopamudra Banerjee
30. Kunti’s Confessions and Other Short Stories – Compiled by Women’s Web (This is an anthology that includes a story I wrote)
31. Behind Bars: Prison Tales of India’s Most Famous – Sunetra Choudhury
32. The Association of Small Bombs – Karan Mahajan
33. Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored – Rishi Kapoor with Meena Iyer
34. Cantilevered Tales – Jayant Kripalani
35. Write India Stories – Edited by Vinita Dawra Nangia
36. The Tree with A Thousand Apples – Sanchit Gupta
37. Crossed & Knotted – Edited by Sutapa Basu
38. Confessions on an Island – Ayan Pal
39. In a Dark Dark Wood – Ruth Ware
40. Revelations of an Imperfect Life – Sankhya Samhita
41. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
42. Say Nothing – Brad Parks
43. The Fix – David Baldacci
44. One Perfect Lie – Lisa Scottoline
45. Into the Water – Paula Hawkins
46. Trap the Devil – Ben Coes
47. The Switch – Joseph Finder
48. New Market Tales – Jayant Kripalani
49. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – Marie Kondo
50. Em and The Big Hoom – Jerry Pinto
51. The Sellout – Paul Beatty
52. Sonal Mansingh: A Life Like No Other – Sujata Prasad
53. Shadow in the Mirror – Deepti Menon
54. Rain: A Survivor’s Tale – Sriram Subramanian
55. Why Won’t You Apologize? – Harriet Lerner
56. The Late Show – Michael Connelly
57. A Strange and Sublime Address – Amit Chaudhuri
58. Onaatah of the Earth – Paulami DuttaGupta
59. The Last One – Alexandra Oliva
60. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
61. Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter
62. The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat – Oliver Sacks
63. I Quit! Now What? – Zarreen Khan
64. ‎Jukebox (Anthology) – Edited by Priyanka Roy Banerjee
65. ‎The Windfall – Diksha Basu
66. ‎Britt-Marie was Here – Fredrik Backman
67. ‎The Alphabet Killer – Prachi Sharma
68. ‎The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden – Jonas Jonasson
69. ‎Tit for Tat: A Collection of Thriller Shorts – Archana Sarat
70. ‎Dark Entries – Ian Rankin
71. ‎Rich People Problems – Kevin Kwan
72. ‎Kissing the Demon: The Creative Writer’s Handbook – Amrita Kumar
73. ‎The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
74. ‎Museum of Memories – Amrita Mukherjee
75. ‎When They Spoke: Tales by Inanimates – Edited by Arpita Banerjee
76. ‎The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love – Per J. Andersson
77. ‎The Colours of Passion – Sourabh Mukherjee
78. ‎A Window To Her Dreams – Harshali Singh
79. ‎Grandpa’s Great Escape – David Walliams
80. ‎The Boy in the Dress – David Walliams
81. ‎Awful Auntie – David Walliams
82. ‎The Excoms – Brett Battles
83. ‎Into the Firestorm – Kat Martin
84. ‎Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All – Jonas Jonasson
85. ‎The Cuban Affair – Nelson DeMille
86. ‎Demon Dentist – David Walliams
87. ‎Gangsta Granny – David Walliams
88. ‎The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams
89. ‎Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
90. ‎So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish – Douglas Adams
91. ‎Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams
92. ‎The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A F*ck – Sarah Knight
93. ‎Leaving the Sea – Ben Marcus
94. ‎Billionaire Boy – David Walliams
95. ‎Mr. Stink – David Walliams
96. ‎Ratburger – David Walliams
97. When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife – Meena Kandasamy
98. ‎The Woman Who Saw the Future – Amit Sharma
99. ‎Dear Customer Services: Letters From the World’s Most Troublesome Shopper – Terry Ravenscroft
100. ‎Elixir – Sinjini Sengupta
101. ‎Holly’s Inbox – Holly Denham
102. ‎The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
103. ‎The Girl Who Takes An Eye for An Eye – David Lagercrantz
104. ‎A Beginner’s Guide to Acting English – Shappi Khorsandi
105. ‎What You Break – Reed Farrel Coleman
106. The Saboteur – Andrew Gross
107. The Quantum Spy – David Ignatius
108. Act of Betrayal – Matthew Dunn

Have you read any of these books that you also loved? What books have you read this past year? I would love to hear about your favourites. Do share in the comments below so I can build my TBR for 2018 🙂 .

A Bookish Love Story in 2016

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.

brunch-book-challenge-2016-landscape-resized

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)

12-chander-sudha

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.

 

 

35-the-private-life-of-mrs-sharma

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.

 

63-ghachar-ghochar3. 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.

73-0302

 

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.

 

108-birds-of-prey

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.

 

 

ashwin-sanghi-thrillers

 

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)
moni-mohsin

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.

 

intl-thrillers

 

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.

 

 

 

keigo-higashino

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.

 

kevin-kwan

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.

 

 

fredrik-backman

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.

 

11-the-martian

 

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.

 

14-to-kill-a-mockingbird

 

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.

 

37-me-before-you

 

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.

 

40-what-alice-forgot

 

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.

 

42-orphan-x

 

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.

 

60-most-wanted

 

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.

82-dying-for-christmas

 

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.

84-the-woman-in-cabin-10

 

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!

 

85-first-comes-love

 

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.

 

100-whered-you-go-bernadette

 

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.

 

104-the-chopin-manuscript106-the-copper-bracelet16. 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)
13-if-someone-says-you-complete-me-run

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.

 

31-leading

 

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.

 

39-the-perfection-of-the-paper-clip

 

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?

 

105-sully-my-search-for-what-really-matters

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!

My 2016 Reading Challenge

With the year coming to a close, I am finally bringing down the curtain on my reading for 2016.

Here is a complete list of the 108 books I read as part of the Brunch Book Challenge, run by the Hindustan Times’ Sunday Magazine HT Brunch from January to December, 2016.

To know more on the books that found a special place in my heart – click here.

brunch-book-challenge-2016-portrait-resized

1. The Diary of a Social Butterfly – Moni Mohsin
2. The Return of the Butterfly – Moni Mohsin
3. Tender Hooks – Moni Mohsin
4. The Forty Rules of Love – Elif Shafak
5. It’s Your Life – Vinita Dawra Nangia
6. The End of Innocence – Moni Mohsin
7. The Rozabal Line – Ashwin Sanghi
8. The Year of the Runaways – Sunjeev Sahota
9. Arranged Marriage: Stories – Chitra B. Divakaruni
10. The Room on the Roof – Ruskin Bond
11. The Martian – Andy Weir
12. Chander & Sudha – Dharamvir Bharati (Translated by Poonam Saxena)
13. If Someone Says “You Complete Me”, RUN! – Whoopi Goldberg
14. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
15. Go Set A Watchman – Harper Lee
16. Extraordinary Powers – Joseph Finder
17. Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan
18. China Rich Girlfriend – Kevin Kwan
19. One Amazing Thing – Chitra B. Divakaruni
20. Trigger Mortis – Anthony Horowitz
21. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
22. Tweenache in the Time of Hashtags – Judy Balan
23. An Evening in Calcutta and Other Stories – K A Abbas
24. Before and Then After Stories – Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan
25. How to be a Literary Sensation – Krishna Shastri Devulapalli
26. Suchitra Sen: The Legend and the Enigma – Shoma A.Chatterji
27. The Success Sutra: An Indian Approach to Wealth – Devdutt Pattanaik
28. Matchbox: Stories by Ashapurna Debi (Translated by Prasenjit Gupta)
29. In Search of Mary: The Mother of all Journeys – Bee Rowlatt
30. The Way Things Were – Aatish Taseer
31. Leading – Alex Ferguson (with Michael Moritz)
32. High Crimes – Joseph Finder
33. Vanished – Joseph Finder
34. Buried Secrets – Joseph Finder
34b. (Additional Bonus Read) Plan B: A Nick Heller Short Story – Joseph Finder
35. The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma – Ratika Kapur
36. Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
37. Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
38. After You – Jojo Moyes
39. The Perfection of the Paper Clip – James Ward
40. What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty
41. Brooklyn – Colm Toìbin
42. Orphan X – Gregg Hurwitz
43. Chanakya’s Chant – Ashwin Sanghi
44. One Fifth Avenue – Candace Bushnell
45. The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai
46. The Fool’s Run – John Sandford
47. The Empress File – John Sandford
48. The Devil’s Code – John Sandford
49. The Hanged Man’s Song – John Sandford
50. Knots & Crosses – Ian Rankin
51. Destiny of Shattered Dreams – Nilesh Rathod
52. Making It Up As I Go Along – Marian Keyes
53. The Devotion of Suspect X – Keigo Higashino
54. Salvation of a Saint – Keigo Higashino
55. A Midsummer’s Equation – Keigo Higashino
56. Shelter – Harlan Coben
57. Seconds Away – Harlan Coben
58. Found – Harlan Coben
59. Guilty Minds – Joseph Finder
60. Most Wanted – Lisa Scottoline
61. The Last Mile – David Baldacci
62. The Lively Library – Niranjan Navalgund
63. Ghachar Ghochar – Vivek Shanbhag (Translated by Srinath Perur)
64. Everyone Has a Story – Savi Sharma
65. A Broken Man – Akash Verma
66. Imagine Me Gone – Adam Haslett
67. The Krishna Key – Ashwin Sanghi
68. The Paradise Guest House – Ellen Sussman
69. The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George
70. Girls in White Dresses – Jennifer Close
71. Devil in Pinstripes – Ravi Subramanian
72. Tell Me A Story (Anthology) – Edited by Ravinder Singh
73. 03:02 – Mainak Dhar
74. A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
75. Hedon – Priyanka Mookerjee
76. Breaking Free – Neha Nayak
77. Graffiti – Joanie Pariera
78. The Accident Season – Moira Fowley-Doyle
79. #GirlBoss – Sophia Amoruso
80. Siracusa – Delia Ephron
81. The Singles Game – Lauren Weisberger
82. Dying for Christmas – Tammy Cohen
83. The Girls – Emma Cline
84. The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware
85. First Comes Love – Emily Giffin
86. The Pocket Wife – Susan Crawford
87. A Forgotten Affair – Kanchana Banerjee
88. Ms. Communications – Myra Kendrix
89. The Weekenders – Mary Kay Andrews
90. The Other Widow – Susan Crawford
91. Just Married, Please Excuse – Yashodhara Lal
92. The Ex – Alafair Burke
93. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry – Fredrik Backman
94. Dangle – Sutapa Basu
95. This One is Mine – Maria Semple
96. Desperate in Dubai – Ameera Al Hakawati
97. Nowhere Girl – Umera Ahmed
98. Dark Matter – Blake Crouch
99. Safe Haven – Nicholas Sparks
100. Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Maria Semple
101. More Than Just Friends – Faraaz Kazi
102. Nutshell – Ian McEwan
103. Rekha-The Untold Story – Yasser Usman
104. The Chopin Manuscript – Jeffery Deaver & Others
105. Sully: My Search for What Really Matters – Chesley B. Sullenberger
106. The Copper Bracelet – Jeffery Deaver & Others
107. The Sialkot Saga – Ashwin Sanghi
108. Birds of Prey – Archana Sarat

Have you read any of these books that you enjoyed? What other books have you read this past year? I would love to hear about your favourites. Do share in the comments below so I can start building my TBR for 2017 🙂 .