In traditional fashion, here’s a list of books I read this year with the accepted 5-star social marker of what I thought of each. There’s a mix of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry in here and I have denoted them with as much detail as I could in a list such as this. Usually, I don’t add notes in such a post, but should you be interested, I’ve scribbled in some of my thoughts at the end of this list.
- Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu Popular Fiction ★★☆☆☆
- Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb Non-Fiction ★★★☆☆
- Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett Fantasy Fiction ★★★★☆
- Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson Literary Fiction ★★★★☆
- The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah Historical Fiction ★★★★☆
- Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett Fantasy Fiction ★★★☆☆
- Bombay Balchao by Jane Borges Popular Fiction ★★★★★
- The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert Historical Fiction ★★★★☆
- Autumn Light by Pico Iyer Non-Fiction/Memoir ★★☆☆☆
- Native: Dispatches from a Palestinian-Israeli Life by Sayed Kashua Non-Fiction/Memoir ★★★★★
- Louder Than Hearts by Zeina Hashem Beck Poetry ★★★★★
- Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett Fantasy Fiction ★★★★☆
- My Favourite Nature Stories by Ruskin Bond Non-Fiction ★★★☆☆
- The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden Fantasy Fiction (Book 3 in the Winternight Trilogy) ★★★★☆
- My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante Literary Fiction (Book 1 of the Neapolitan Quartet; translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein) ★★☆☆☆
- Burial Rites by Hannah Kent Historical Fiction ★★★☆☆
- Mr. Cogito by Zbigniew Herbert Poetry (translated from Polish by Bogdana Carpenter, John Carpenter) ★★★★☆
- Bluets by Maggie Nelson Literary Fiction ★★★★★
- Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller Popular Fiction ★★★☆☆
- A Murder on Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey Murder Mystery ★★★★☆
- Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar Fiction (translated from Marathi by Jerry Pinto) ★★★★☆
- The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune Fantasy Fiction ★★☆☆☆
- Dopehri by Pankaj Kapur Fiction (translated from Hindi by Rahul Soni) ★★★★☆
- Two Cures for Love by Wendy Cope Poetry ★★★★★
- Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett Fantasy Fiction ★★★★☆
- Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Short Story) Fiction ★★★☆☆
- Update: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers Science Fiction ★★★☆☆
- Update: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (Re-read) Non-Fiction ★★★★☆
Currently I am trying to finish the novel titled The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I was really enjoying this book about a multispecies crew who lives in space and their job is to create wormholes in the fabric of the universe. However, based on a lot of other reading and consuming ideas, something struck me about why I kept feeling that something about the novel was off. For a story set far out into the future when Earth has been destroyed and humans have found ways of co-existing with various other species, all the earthly problems still exist. Capitalism, othering, war, bigotry, biological warfare, money, and all of these ideas that are so non-sustainable still exist in this far out future. So, why is this novel worth my time? It’s the same story, just that the characters are of different species. You’re still forbidden to love someone who doesn’t look like you and you still have to go to work to make money. Just that your work is now fancy and involves a 4th dimension and you’re being tracked in ultra sophisticated ways using a mark on your wrist. Think about it, if I wanted to envision a far off future, why would I take all my current worldly problems and put it there? Ideas become words which become action. I don’t know much about science fiction, but I know that we have to imagine a different future if we are ever to make it.
You’ll see a lot of Terry Pratchett on my book list. That’s because his imagination and stories defy every idea we have of storytelling. For books written way back in the 80s and 90s he’s so forward-thinking. In a book about human versus a dragon, he finds a way to show us an ending where the human does not slay the dragon because by then you and the characters have realised that humans don’t need to encroach living spaces of other species. If they do, they deserve what comes next. However, no human is harmed in the making of this ending. This is what I would consider as re-building the world we live in. So I am not sure if I will finish Becky Chambers’ novel, but I’ll try. I’m going to read and re-read as much of Terry Pratchett as I can. He has saved my mental health during this pandemic. Even Shakespeare would be proud of his re-tellings of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth. The Witches series is knocking it out of the park.
Please read Zeina Hashem Beck if you want to learn how to write poetry in a beautiful and accurate fashion. Her book Louder than Hearts is education on how to write poetry. For those who don’t write, just read her work. It is sublime. Same goes for Wendy Cole.
I also need to finish reading Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Pérez but my Kindle reading is very slow. If someone wants to gift me a paperback, I won’t say no.
If you have some book recommendations for me, send them my way. I would love to know what you’ve been reading. ❦