This is my 10th year of the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I’ve been challenging myself to read more books for the last ten years. Even when my son was born, I managed to read thanks to my Kindle Paperwhite.
I have been trying to diversify my reading shelf since 2018, and even though there’s a long way to go, I’ve done pretty well in reading books from around the world. I would get a lot of recommendations for books from lists made by users on Goodreads. I also followed the Goodreads Choice Awards and made sure I read as many books released in the year so I could vote for the awards in each category at the year’s end. So, it was disappointing to learn that Goodreads only lists books that have been published in the United States—not just for the Choice Awards but even other lists such as the Most Anticipated Books.
Goodreads, apart from being a super slow and glitchy site, is willfully leaving out so many well-deserving books because of this rule. Unfortunately, I am yet to find a suitable competitor for the site. It still has the most comprehensive book repository and reviews.
With this jaded feeling, and after getting interested in the Wheel of Time series, I decided to spend the year reading the entire series mixed with a bunch of random books I come across.
Usually, I would have a separate post for each category, but this year was dominated by Fantasy Fiction interspersed with some short stories and suspense thrillers. So here goes!
Fantasy Fiction: Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
The Wheel of Time series revolves around the adventures of four teenagers from a small town as they shape the world around them in ways not even they could’ve imagined. Rand, Perrin, Matt, and Egwene set out with Aes Sedai Moiraine, much like the Hobbits did with Gandalf. The series was exciting from beginning to end. Read my full review here: Wheel of Time
- Prequel: New Spring
- Book 1: The Eye of the World
- Book 2: The Great Hunt
- Book 3: The Dragon Reborn
- Book 4: The Shadow Rising
- Book 5: The Fires of Heaven
- Book 6: Lord of Chaos
- Book 7: A Crown of Swords
- Book 8: The Path of Daggers
- Book 9: Winter’s Heart
- Book 10: Crossroads of Twilight
- Book 11: Knife of Dreams
- Book 12: The Gathering Storm
- Book 13: Towers of Midnight
- Book 14: A Memory of Light
Amazon Originals Short Stories
These short stories were great as in-between palette cleaners while reading the WoT series. They are sorted based on a variety of themes. If you have Kindle Unlimited, then you can read most of them for free. They are only available as a Kindle ebook or an Audible. These are just a few of the collections. Look out for plenty more!
- Treasure by Oyinkan Braithwaite
- Buried by Jeffery Deaver
- Let Her Be by Lisa Unger
- Snowflakes by Ruth Ware
- Slow Burner by Laura Lippman
- The Gift by Alison Gaylin
- You Have Arrived at Your Destination by Amor Towles
- Summer Frost by Blake Crouch
- Ark by Veronica Roth
- Randomize by Andy Weir
- The Last Conversation by Paul Tremblay
- The Princess Game by Soman Chainani
- The Prince and the Troll by Rainbow Rowell
- The Wickeds by Gayle Forman
- Hazel and Gray by Nic Stone
- The Cleaners by Ken Liu
Out of Line is an inclusive collection of funny, enraging, and hopeful stories of women’s empowerment and escape. What happens when women step out of line and take control of their own lives? Read my reviews here: Out of Line Collection
- Halfway to Free by Emma Donoghue
- This Telling by Cheryl Strayed
- Bear Witness by Mary Gaitskill
- Sweet Virginia by Caroline Kepnes
- Shine Pamela! Shine! By Kate Atkinson
- The Contractors by Lisa Ko
I love a good mystery. Each one on this list brings a different kind of energy to the genre. And what’s more, is that they’re from different parts of the world.
- Blue Monday by Nicci French: The book deals with a child getting kidnapped and a psychologist trying to help the police after she suspects her client of the crime. There are a few twists and turns, as any good mystery novel should have, but the ending was unexpected for me. This is an interesting take on the nature vs nurture debate.
- The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir: The book starts off with a woman being murdered in a most gruesome way. We follow the team of investigators as they try to find the killer before he strikes again. But their only witness is a child of 7. So they bring in a child psychologist Freyja who tries to coax out as much information as possible from the child. It’s a fast-paced story and interesting enough that you’d want to race to the end.
- Second Sister by Chan Ho-Kei: Nga-Yee’s sister dies by suicide, but she suspects something more sinister than teenage depression and wants to know who made her take that drastic step. She contacts a hacker for help. There are plenty of twists in the tale. It sometimes felt as if everything fell right into place for the hacker N to prove how he was always a few steps ahead of the game.
- Framed by Surender Mohan Pathak: The story starts off as a typical Bollywood Mafia movie with a quick retelling of the gang wars that have led the characters to the present moment. The rest of the story follows the three main characters as their motives and past deeds are slowly revealed. The plot is clever enough and would work well as a play.
- All Yours by Claudia Piñeiro: Marriage is challenging and hilarious. For the most part, the narrator is Ines, who is more concerned about her standing in society than with actual events. Her matter-of-fact way of dealing with her husband’s infidelity and subsequent actions is hilarious. We get a little bit of an insight into Ernesto’s, the husband’s, mind as well. And in this power struggle between the two, their daughter is having a crisis that she’s had to deal with on her own.
- The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra: This is a soft mystery book that takes you on a journey while investigating a crime. The reader gets an inkling of the socio-political situation around the time, providing an interesting background for the story’s evolution. At a dinner party Kaveri attends with her husband Ramu, she witnesses an altercation that has led to a murder. When a poor, vulnerable woman becomes a suspect, she puts her inquisitiveness to good use to get her name cleared. Read my full review here: The Bangalore Detectives Club
- Lightseekers by Femi Kayode: The story starts when three young students are brutally and publically murdered in a Nigerian university town. It is obvious who murdered them, but no one knows why. One of the students’ father hires an investigative psychologist to make sense of his son’s murder. We follow Dr Philip Taiwo as he investigates the case in a remote part of the town of Port Harcourt. Read my full review here: Lightseekers
- Devil’s Peak by Deon Meyer: The main character, Detective Benny Griessel, seems to be straight from an 80s police drama, complete with alcoholism, family issues, and macho man syndrome but with a heart of gold. We follow him as he tries to solve the mysterious murders happening around the city. We also follow two other characters and see how their lives all interconnect at the end.
- Confessions by Kanae Minato: The book’s tone is very casual and simplified: A teacher talking to her students about her decision to quit teaching and that she knows which of her students killed her daughter! The other chapters are in the voices of the other characters, either talking about the incident or what happened after the teacher’s revelation. Each chapter reveals a new layer to the story. It’s brilliantly conceived and executed.
- Chats with the Dead by Shehan Karunatilaka: Also released as The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, it won the 2022 Booker Prize. This is not your typical murder mystery. It’s a unique experience from start to finish. We meet Malinda right after his death as he tries to understand what has happened to him. He refuses to go through the light before he finds out how he died. He meets familiar faces who are now part of the afterlife administrative process, and through these meetings and his quest to find the cause of his death, we gain an insight into the turmoil of his life.
- The Unusual Suspect: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Day Outlaw by Ben Machell: It is a true crime book which takes a more psychological and biographical look at the person who committed the crime rather than a book about the crime itself. The book details the life of Stephen Jackley, who decided to become a modern-day Robin Hood. He stole from banks and gave the money to the poor. His plan worked until a simple mistake put him behind bars. It also gives a peek at prison conditions and is a good reminder of how mental health needs to be taken more seriously by society as a whole.
- The Prisoner by Omar Shahid Hamid: Navigating the corrupt system, a police officer needs to find the kidnapped journalist before it’s too late. It’s loosely based on actual events. as the author served with the Karachi Police for 12 years and has a good insight into the way things work.
As I mentioned before, I did not pay much heed to book recommendation lists this year since almost all of them focus on western publications. This one I read as it was classified under suspense/thriller, but I didn’t find much of that element in the book. Nonetheless, it was a good read.
- The Blue Hour by Alonso Cueto: The book looks back on Peru’s history, exploring the aftermath of the Peruvian Civil War. It begins with Adrian, a lawyer well-placed in Lima’s high society with a picture-perfect wife and two daughters. The book progresses into a well-crafted psychological drama of a son coming to terms with the painful ghosts of his father’s past. The book details the horrors and crimes of war, poverty, and how people have to live with it decades after it is supposedly over. Read my full review here: The Blue Hour
Since my son has graduated to reading chapter books, I am reading so many interesting books with him. We usually read a few pages together at bedtime. Soon, he will be reading all by himself…what a bittersweet moment that will be!
- The Curse of the Bogle’s Beard by Siobhan Rowden: If you have a kid (or you are someone who loves all things disgusting), then this is for you. Learn the secret of pickling everything, from onions to toenails and other gruesome things. We navigate the family dynamics of a young boy called Barnaby. His dad has just mysteriously left their house, so he and his mom are forced to move in with their pickle-tycoon Grandmother. That’s when things start to get strange and smelly!
- Dragons at Crumbling Castle by Terry Pratchett: Terry is awesome. I love his books, and I was so glad to come across this collection of short stories that my son could read as well. We loved the imaginative stories, especially the Carpet People, and the hilarious narration. It’s perfect for kids just starting chapter books reading with you or independently.
What have been your best and worst books of the year?
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