16 books in 2016. Before I get dejected by that low number, I remind myself I just had a baby and I’m glad I could read even one. Fans of physical books will scoff at me but the Kindle got me through the long breast-feeding and rocking-to sleep sessions this year. I could hold it in one hand and read without disturbing my sleeping baby. I love technology.
I do miss the feel of paper, using bookmarks, and finding leaves and flowers between pages long forgotten; I don’t miss the wrist pain after reading large books, carrying a large book while waiting in a waiting room, or reading in uncomfortable places because everywhere else people need the lights off to sleep apparently.
Kindle ebooks are readily available for almost all titles, you can carry a bunch of them wherever you go, and read without hurting your wrist and neck. I have the Kindle Paperwhite which lets me adjust the screen brightness and it doesn’t strain your eyes like a tablet or phone does. I freely advertise this device because it has helped me keep reading.
The books I want to mention from this year’s short list are
- Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur: Rupi Kaur has gotten a lot of hate, and some of the criticisms are ridiculous. Some say what she writes is not poetry, they’re just a few random lines: Who made you the gatekeeper of poetry? If poetry, or any art, was only supposed to only be a certain way then where would we be really? It sounds like someone’s journal: Yes, it’s a deeply personal expression of feelings that the poet has been through. That’s what makes people connect with her. She writes as an immigrant, a woman, a daughter, and someone of South Asian heritage. I love her work. It’s raw, intimate, and passionate. I can understand it’s not for everybody..nothing is. Try it before you judge it is all I’m saying!
- Dilip Kumar The Substance And The Shadow Autobiography: It’s a good peek into the life of an icon in Indian Cinema. It’s much better written than most Indian biographies as it lets you get more personal but it also glides over some of the more ‘interesting’ bits citing privacy. For example he starts off talking about some woman who used to meet him often and the next thing you know he’s talking about how their marriage hurt his first wife! The second half of the book where others have written about their experiences with him could have been better curated. Most of them are very similar in content and take the opportunity to slip in some subtle praise about themselves.
- The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande: Great anecdotes and a simple concept beautifully told. He explains how checklists actually work to prompt striking and immediate improvements. Even with so much evidence of the power of checklists it’s surprising not many professions embrace it. I personally love checking off boxes in my To-Do lists. This just gave me a better insight on why I love it so, and if you don’t already do it then do read on how it can help you organise your mind and day.
- A Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende Llona: A slow-paced love story based around the time of the Japanese internment in the US after the Pearl Harbor attack. Talking about racial and status differences it takes us through a lifetime of love, yearning, guilt, and trauma.
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany: This is what happens when you outsource your ideas! The story is what you would expect if someone did a sequel of any Disney fairy tale on what happens after the happily ever after.The characters are not well formed, even the ones we have known so well seem very different. The storyline is not believable and just seems like an idea instead of something more thought out.
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: My first Gaiman. I loved the suspense and imagery between the pages. It is a fantasy/horror book for kids (I guess ages 10 and upwards) but adults will love it as well. It’s a relatively quick read but you can take some time to imagine the visuals presented and become immersed in the book even more.
- The Danish way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander, Iben Dissing Sandahl: It’s a very simplistic way to look at a very complex issue. These could be taken as guidelines to add to everything else that you are doing as a parent. There also needs to be a communal system where this method is accepted and practiced so that kids can thrive, otherwise it is very difficult to have a controlled environment to implement it and have it show expected results.
- What to expect: The First year by Heidi Murkoff: Very helpful. It gives suggestions from different parenting perspectives so you don’t feel your choices are wrong or something you need to feel guilty about. I would suggest reading this instead of the pregnancy book in the same series.
- Scientific Secrets of raising kids who thrive by Peter M. Vishton: This is a series of lectures available as an audiobook. I found a lot of the ideas and research very helpful in understanding how I want to parent my child. Again, this is not a how-to book, but a research-based look to understanding what works better and why.
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