The year 2018 was a fairly interesting one exploring books, right from nail-biting fictions, mushy rom-com, political and historical books that stood out, making a melange of reading. What worked for me is that I read and still flipping through pages at my own pace! Reason, why I have stopped taking part in this overdone and cliche Reading challenge since it whittles down to joy and pleasure unlike competition where a huge number of books read, has become something to boast on social media. This year, I’ve wrapped up 32 books and still counting! Getting straight to the favorite books read this year.
1. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson (2016)
Blogger Mark Manson’s USP is that he doesn’t trudge on the same route as the so-called and self-claimed Gurus promising to change your life where he advocates that making small changes in inching closer to the real us is a process. The book is not only pragmatic and down-to-earth but Manson tells us the significance of tackling our unique situation in rising above challenges or minuses in the way we approach life or reacts to things after the big screw-ups. In other words, it’s all about not giving a big F for Fuck and you can’t afford to miss this book.
2. Why I am a Hindu? by Shashi Tharoor (2018)
There is a thin line between Hinduism and Hindutva, one of the burning topics that Shashi Tharoor approaches in the book. Why I am a Hindu is one book that no scholar keen to understand the basic tenets of Hinduism and its significance can stay away from for the author opens up a vista of learning on what being a Hindu means, the Vedas and in an age where religious bigots among Hindus extremism are distorting facts. Tharoor calls on the need to take our culture, the Indian constitution back from extremist forces and resisting Hindutva politics. Hinduism is a culture and not religion is what makes the book one of the top reads of the year for it goes places in educating us the right way about the significance of being a Hindu.
3. Miss Malini-How I blogged my way to Bollywood (2017)
Miss Malini, Malini Agrawal can be rightfully be called the pioneer of blogging in India and particularly in the business of entertainment. The book is one of the best glossy, fun-filled entertainment and breezy stuff I’ve read in recent years where she advocates what blogging truly means, offers MMProtips and the world of cinema and its stars, coming from one of the most respected names. Malini is truly a superstar in every sense and her book doesn’t just limit itself to B-Town but offers fun facts, relevance of social media, Bombay of those days and the relationships that we make. There is not a single, boring moment in Miss M’s book.
4. A Cage of Desire-Shuchi Singh Kalra (2018)
A Cage of Desire whipped by Shuchi Singh Kalra offers a unique, erotic tale while addressing female sexuality about longing and desire. The book is honest, bold and daring on women issues that don’t content itself by sugar coating and making it one of the best erotic tale in recent years. Kalra drives a very important point on the position of women in society and exploitation at the hands of patriarchy.
5. The Zoya Factor-Anuja Chauhan (2008)
Anuja Chauhan’s Zoya Factor was released in 2008 but is a timeless tale of romance that finds an echo in today’s times and true to the author’s style, the one-liners make it a terrific story told in an effortless manner. The true-to-life characters stay with the readers for they are grounded and anchored to everyday reality. One book that I can read over and over again that shows that Anuja Chauhan is one of the best, if not the best we have today in romance.
6. Ultimate Grandmother Hacks-Kavita Devgan (2018)
The Ultimate Grandmother Hacks by Kavita Devgan, an acclaimed and celebrity nutritionist pays a fitting tribute to the age-old grannies methods of traditional Indian recipe owing to our glorious culture, in curbing the fats and goes a long way to make us healthy. Kavita Devgan doesn’t get preachy or advocate to remove added fats completely but recommend small changes in making us healthy. It’s the handbook to bring the proper balance, reduce the dependence on medicines but eating clean.
7. Love a little Longer-Preeti Shenoy (2018)
Preeti Shenoy is counted among the most talented writers we have today and Love a little Longer draws a lot on the author’s personal experience on how love can empower us as human beings. The book is something that everyone must have on their personal shelf and offers a slice of life tale making it easily one of the best reads in 2018.
8. Behind Bars-Sunetra Choudhury (2017)
Sunetra Choudhury doesn’t need an introduction. The NDTV award-winning journalist offers an insider’s view of what happens Behind Bars where she interviews several high profile personalities from jailed Amar Singh to JP the American Mallu, Tandoor Murderer Sushil Sharma, the blonde Anca Neacsu who led the journalist on the track of what happens inside Indian jails, Peter Mukherjea, commoners Rehmana, and Wahid. It pretty sums up an India of extreme with the rich and poor, the inhumane torture and life of luxury in jail at the same time. Behind Bars is a revelation in itself and brazenly honest showing the might and unbiased skills of Sunetra, who never puts value judgment, a rare journalism trait coupled with investigative journalism at its best.
9. I’ve never been ( Un)happier by Shaheen Bhatt (2018)
Shaheen’s Bhatt I’ve never been (Un) Happier is a short and easy to read book about her constant struggle with depression which is a must-read, recounting her suffering which she accepts as an intrinsic part of life. Acceptance is key and she advocates the need for therapy which everyone should seek from time-to-time. There are very few rare books on depression which is disturbingly honest, but Shaheen’s book is one of them.
10. 1984-George Orwell (1949)
George Orwell’s 1984 is one of the most powerful books that came into the world of literature making a huge impact in understanding a society forever in flux, communism vs capitalism how the commoners’ thoughts are controlled by an elite, political or economic, that will never stop at anything, starting from the education system to teach us what they want to teach through overt propaganda, war victims and surveillance or snooping, what we call in today’s world. Released in 1949, Orwell’s book is relevant in the modern days where freedom is facing numerous challenges and the return of hate politics across the globe.
11. Lokmanya Tilak-A biography (2008)
The biography of Lokmanya Tilak penned by AK Bhagwat and GP Pradhan set against the background of India’s Independence period narrates the story of this freedom fighter who was among the architects of Fergusson College and his strained relationship with friend, Agarkar set under the undercurrent of freedom and an India in turmoil. The book narrates the story of a man who underwent jail several times in his quest for India’s independence, fighting the British, his newspaper Kesari in depicting a man who was more a traditionalist at heart rather than a modernist. Tilak echoes the independence movement brewing in Pune, a city that could best be understood through this biography of Lokmanya Tilak. The man has several flaws, one can argue and was quite a complex character but also a very fine orator, hailing from the Marathi ranks in the city.
12. Khullam Khulla-Rishi Kapoor (2017)
The biography of lover boy of the 80s Khullam Khulla, Rishi Kapoor co-written with Meena Iyer is an in-your-face and candid tale where the superstar doesn’t shy in offering insights right from a difficult relations with father and thespian Raj Kapoor, the latter’s many affairs particularly with Vijayanti Mala, confessions of buying an award for Bobby and of course, the uneasiness with the angry young man Amitabh Bachchan. Khullam Khulla truly lives up to its name, is brutal and full of spark.
There are some very notable books that I read this year, right from Sonali Bendre’s The Modern Gurukul, a must-read on education the Indian traditional way, Before we Visit the Goddesses by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, White Tears by Hari Kunzru, Usha Rani by T Gopichand on sensuality, women and sex, Ranna Ayub’s Gujrat Files on the massacre where innocent Muslims were brutally murdered, In the Name of God by Ravi Subramanian and Colours of Shadow by Adwaita Das or The Boy who Loved by Durjoy Datta who showed if there is someone who knows the Indian pulse it’s him and not Chetan Bhagat.