All posts tagged: Fiction

Reading Challenge: 2020 (Fiction) Part 2

How’s your reading habit? Are you in a reading slump where you want to read but are not able to for whatever reason? I had been there for a very long time. When I decided to get back to reading, I had to schedule it, like I would do any other work. Can you read a book a week? It is possible if you set a goal to read 25 pages every day. If you read fifteen minutes daily, you will finish a 250-page novel in just over one week. Make a start. Pick up books you know are going to be easy to read or are about topics you love to read about. Here are some more fiction books I read this year. These are all long books, mostly dealing with difficult life situations. Each of these books takes you on a journey over years of the lives of the people involved. A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende: How do you begin to tell the story of a friendship that has …

Reading Challenge: 2020 (Fiction) Part 1

Read more fiction. It truly broadens your mind. There’s no better way to get a deeper understanding of the human condition than through stories. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: This is a story about mental health. It’s about how people with similar experiences, feelings and emotions can make each other better just by being together. It’s also a story about loneliness, and overcoming challenges, and learning to become comfortable with yourself. It is a bit long and the author’s writing style almost reads like a journal. The story is good, but it felt too simplistic.  Grown Ups by Marian Keyes: She tackles the everyday challenges faced by ordinary people like you and me. From faulty brain wiring, siblings, friendship, family and love. Just some of these struggles are addressed by her lively and entertaining characters. Living in Dublin, they are responsible adults that sometimes make bad decisions and turn their lives upside down. It was a fun and thoughtful read. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes: The Giver of Stars is …

Reading Challenge: 2020 (Indian Authors)

I’ve been trying to read more books by Indian authors. What I am trying to do is create a quintessential reading list of Indian authors that can provide a mental road map for Indian literature and can be used as a reference for anyone seeking stories that are rich in Indian culture. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie: This book is a great example of magical realism, which is a style of writing that shows something almost unreal yet seems very real at the same time. Magic and other unnatural forces are part of reality in this story. It provides an account of the partition of India and Pakistan, a story of love across the religious divides during and after 1940s. The story weaves around a group of kids born at the exact moment and share a bond. It’s a unique concept but it feels grounded in reality. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth: It is a panoramic and insightful treatise on twentieth century India, an adventure that embraces myriad family conflicts and political intrigues. Arranged …

kindle paperwhite with the cover of Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance

Book Review: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

A Fine Balance is a book by Rohinton Mistry. It is a story about India against the backdrop of its political disintegration and decay. The action takes place during the Emergency declared by Indira Gandhi, around 1975-77.  The story involves the lives of four people: Ishvar and Om, tailors; Dina Dalal, an embroideress; and Maneck, a college student. It depicts the lives of these characters in a rapidly changing modern India against the background of social, political and economic tumult. Within this broad canvas, it focuses on the struggles of ordinary people in extraordinary times. We learn of each of their difficult present circumstances and precarious future. The author then flashes back to the past, gradually filling out these characters’ stories and the socio-economic issues. ‘I’m still waiting to meet one who will treat me as his equal. As a fellow human being – that’s all I want, nothing more.’ The central characters: Dina comes from a wealthy Parsi family where she’s reduced to the status of a house help by her brother after their …

book banner with The forest of enchantment and The Dragonfly Sea

Reading Challenge: 2019 (Fiction)

This year was a good year for books for me. I had started to diversify my reading list to books by authors in different countries, and even looked into some contemporary Indian authors. My goal was to read 40 books this year but I upgraded it to 50 by August. I had given up reading books by Indian authors after being disappointed countless times (looking at you Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi). In college I’d read the likes of Anita Desai and found the subject matter morose and the writing high-brow; meant for submission to book awards and discussed in literary societies, not something you’d want to cuddle up with. Then last year I discovered the books of Manto, Perumal Murugan, and Arundhati Roy’s new work of fiction. Not to mention Amitav Ghosh. This year my journey continued. It’s a good mix of popular and hidden gems, classics and contemporary.  Once again, I divide my list into three different posts of fiction, fantasy fiction, and non-fiction. Here goes the first list: Fiction. The Namesake by …

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 …

Reading Challenge: 2017

I finally am getting back to my stride and making time to read more. This year I jumped to 41 books. There were a few hits and a few misses as with every year. So without further delay let’s dive in. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult: It is a more holistic approach to racism than I’ve read before and tries to approach the story from different angles. The neat way it’s all wrapped up in the end seems far fetched but it’s known to happen. The courtroom drama is not as dramatic as novels of the genre and there’s not much of it. It’s basically a book on the racial divide in the US and feelings that it brings up in different people A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman: Beautifully written. Reminded me of the movie Up in some ways. Makes you smile through the grumpiness. A simple feel good book especially in these troubling times. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, M.D.: It is a story of living life when death …

Reading Challenge: 2015

With a heavy heart I had to downgrade my challenge to just 25 books this year because of a life re-shuffle, but I aimed for quality instead of quantity and knocked off a few books from my to-read list. Here are some of my favourites… Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson: This was a good book to start the year with. What a laugh riot this was. If it was fictional, I probably wouldn’t have believed a word of it happened. Seems to be a collection of events that seem hilarious only in retrospect because really – using a shovel to keep away vultures from eating your dead and buried dog, and burning down houses (almost) couldn’t have been funny when it happened but is ROFL funny when retold! Malice by Keigo Higashino: Another gem by this author that will keep you on the edge till you finish the whole book in one sitting. A good insight into the mind of someone who holds a grudge. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee: I was looking forward to the book’s release but …

Reading Challenge: 2014

It was such a joy last year to get back to reading after having survived on just two or three books a year for the lack of time. Now when I look at my reading list, I am filled with anxiety because I feel I have so much to catch up on. I calm down after I realise that everyone’s ‘to be read’ pile is probably longer than their ‘read’ pile. This year I reduced the number of books for the challenge because I felt a bit rushed last year and I knew that I was going to have a busier 2014. I managed to complete the challenge well in time so that I could go on my break without feeling the pressure to read – that’s no way to enjoy a book. Here are some of the books from this year that I think deserve a mention – for better or for worse. Non-fiction Zealot by Reza Aslan: It gave a good historical background into Jesus’ life and how he became a man of legendary …

Reading Challenge: 2013

This year I discovered the Goodreads Reading Challenge. You set your reading goal for the year and try to achieve it. This came at a great time for me because since I had stopped working last year, I had been planning to catch up on my reading. I have always loved to read but with all of life getting in the way, it had been difficult to make time for it. I started with a simple goal of 50 books for the year, but within a few days changed it to 100 – it’s a challenge after all. Although each book I read has its review on the site, I wanted to highlight some of them I read this year that kept me thinking about them long after I had devoured the stories. 1. A Dog’s Tale by Mark Twain – It’s only a few pages long but manages to squeeze in so much heartbreak that it was difficult to read the whole thing without pausing and reflecting on it. Especially if you love dogs and animals, …