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Reading Challenge: 2018 (Fiction)

Fiction has been the first type of books I enjoyed reading. Sweeping me into another world, full of possibilities. There are many types of fiction – suspense, science, historical, pulp, fantasy, to name a few – and I love them all. As I’ve grown older and read more of these books, I am amazed at how similar we all are in all corners of the world; wanting similar things, dreaming similar dreams. 

These are just some of the books in this category I read in 2018 that stood out among the rest. For a full list, do visit my Goodreads profile. 

  • The House of Clay and Water by Faiqa Mansab: Everything from the covers to the words in between them are beautifully expressed. It was a breeze to read through although there were times when you need to stop and face the harsh realities she talks about. The status of women, the unsafe children, the segregation, and the claim for the moral high ground. It is all relatable and is our thoughts put into words
  • The Golden Legend by Nadeem Aslam: A story of two military states…Pakistan and Kashmir, and how it makes people do what they do and still find a way for themselves despite the pain. The author tries to understand the life of religious minorities and the growing trend of nationalism and how it shapes the thinking and actions of people. it was an interesting read to get closer to the reality of injustice especially since a lot of us tend to ignore many of the small injustices that the minorities have to endure on a daily basis.
  • The Night of Broken Glass by Feroz Rather: It was a little difficult to keep track of all the characters mentioned. Apart from that, the book has stories of different families suffering similar fates. Kashmir, where people live in terror and many are forced to anger. Although the stories in the book are fictional, it may very well be non-fiction. A generation now that has never known peace, children and young men tortured and killed for no reason. It’s a difficult book to read because you know this and worse is still happening with very little hope of it ending soon
  • The Guide by R.K. Narayan: A story with some twists and turns written with the simple graceful style of the author. How a man finds his way, then loses it, then finds a different path by chance. The book had been in my to-read list for a while now and I’m glad I finally got to it.
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee: It is a story that spans generations. A look into how culture and society pressures dictate our lives and the racism faced by Koreans in Japan. You get invested in the story of the family and want things to turn out well for them. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. It’s well written and takes time leaps in places but you catch up soon enough.
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: The writing and storyline were engaging enough for me to finish it in two sittings. Some quotes, especially describing the bond between parent and child, are very touching. It starts off as seemingly mundane but as you dig deeper into lives, it gets more interesting, with subtle sub-plots and statements.
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro: This somehow reminded me of the butler from Downton Abbey and I read the book in his voice! It was a nice slow read but that doesn’t mean not much was happening. It was some history (world and personal) as observed by a butler in a prominent household. There’s some nostalgia, some stunning imagery of the countryside, and a hint of heartbreak.
  • The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy: This is a beautiful and heartbreakingly sad story about a whole section of society that no one wants to talk about. The Hijra community. The book takes you on a journey of the struggles and relationships that build over years.
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: It takes a few chapters to understand what’s happening. The dystopian world imagined here could be happening in reality on a smaller scale. The story though is more about relationships and how they develop over the years under different circumstances and chances for a lost love to revive itself. The ending of the book leaves you plenty to think about not only about the ethics of what’s been described here but also about human nature that ignores so much.
  • The Last Train to Istanbul by Ayşe Kulin: This was my first world war 2 story from a Turkish perspective. The author has etched the characters well and even the secondary characters are made familiar. The last chapter of the train ride is thrilling as well as chilling… Imagining the stress actual people have had to go through. It seemed long at the start when the background was being established but it became a page turner soon into a few chapters.
  • Selected Stories by Saadat Hasan Manto: I am not a big fan of short stories and the only ones I’ve read are by O Henry and Poe. I am so glad that I came across this book because the stories were riveting. He has a twist at the end that leaves you in wonder. His views are progressive and many of his thoughts are relevant even today. 
  • Poonachi by Perumal Murugan: It starts off as an innocuous story about a baby goat but evolves into a commentary about life, humanity, and government. The story is weaved expertly so you don’t even realise that things have taken a turn for the worse. There are some events that are described that could be connected to the present political climate, but most of all it speaks about how we adapt and change to survive. The part that stood out for me was when the male kid screams in agony and the other goats raise their heads to see what’s happening. But when the next kid screams they’ve gotten used to the noise so they ignore it and go about their grazing. Aren’t we guilty of doing that in our lives?
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: When I read the book blurb, I thought I might not be able to identify with the characters or what they’re going through. I was mistaken. The raw emotions of marriage, an unjust system, and life, in general, are very relatable. The ending was heartfelt and gave a good closure but still left you thinking about the many others who don’t get that chance at life again
  • Circe by Madeline Miller: Even if you have the most basic idea about Greek (Roman?) Mythology you can still enjoy this book. The best part is that it’s a standalone and not part of a series you have to wait for. An empowered woman protagonist and the story of how she becomes one with the right mix of magic and fantasy

Note: The links are part of an affiliate program, which means that if you click on a link and buy something, I might receive a percentage of the sale, at no extra cost to you. 

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