I guess now we are well into 2019 and have totally forgotten about making lists of the best and worst of 2018. That’s why I’ve chosen this moment in January to talk about the 100 books I read in 2018… yes only 100, I’ll try better next time!
I had a very hectic 2018 with a lot of teaching, correction of tests, corrections in general, writing books, publishing them, editing them et al, but I did somehow make time to keep up to my Goodreads challenge and managed to read 100 amazing books in 2018.
People usually blog about the ‘best’ and the ‘worst’ books they have read, but to me, a book can never not teach you something new or fascinating, and so I’ll just say that I read very inspiring books in 2018. Let’s check them out.
So, the stats go like this – I read 20,683 pages in 100 books; my shortest book read was the beautiful ‘My Purple Scented Novel’ by Ian McEwan which was a cute 34 pages. My longest book read was ‘Sacred Games’ by Vikram Chandra but the old edition of the book before the Netflix series adaptation which divided the book into two novels in a series. That was 992 pages and it was an awesome thrilling and epic read.
I started out the January of 2018 by reading a book of reflections and short sketches by one of my top five favorite writers, Ruskin Bond. It was ‘Landour Days’ one of his best books and though I’ve read it a hundred times in the past, I just wanted to read it all over again. Ruskin Bond is one of the best things that has ever happened to a reclusive reader and writer like me and I just love the way he handles his craft.
The last book of 2018 was read on the very last day of the year, 31st December and yet again I chose a Ruskin Bond book of short stories on his notorious but lazy uncle called ‘Life with Uncle Ken’. It’s part of his ‘Rusty’ fiction which just keeps on getting funnier with every reading; my students love Uncle Ken and his crazy antics.
In the middle of these two books were 98 books that made up my recreational reading as well as research reading for 2018.
I read books as different from each other as Benazir Bhutto’s ‘Daughter of the East’ to Harsh Mander’s ‘Fatal Accidents of Birth’. I read more non-fiction books this year than fiction. That’s scary, because I always have believed that I am more a fiction person.
As a writer, I love writing fiction and love telling a story. But yes, I am more comfortable writing non-fiction and my editors seem to feel that my non-fiction flows much better than my fiction… who knows, I’m just crazy reclusive book lady!
I read books by a range of writers who really educated me as well as inspired me through their books.
Mridula Garg, Rajdeep Sardesai, Teresa Rehman, Sigrid Nunez, Gilbert Adair, Sally Rooney, Han Kang, Imre Kertész, Aubrey Menen, Volga, Pamela Paul, Theodora Goss, William Rosen, Lucy Mangan, Jeff Goins and so many more.
Even though I had a very—very hectic work schedule as well as family responsibilities last year, I still managed to read some great stuff which I think you should check out at some point of time this year around.
Ashok Banker’s ‘Ten Kings’ is what I really enjoyed at the beginning of the year as a historical based fiction thriller. I read it in one go as it was so gripping, especially for a reader like me who enjoys Indian mythology and history.
‘Ten Kings’ was being read side by side with David Seltzer’s ‘The Omen’ and that proves how corny I can get!
‘The Omen’ was one of the best horror books I’ve come across in a long while. I know… what was I doing with my life if I hadn’t read ‘The Omen’ yet?! But on a serious note, it scared me, I couldn’t get enough of it and I loved the end even though I had already seen the early eighties flick based on the book. If you are a horror fiction fan like me and haven’t read a really spine chiller in a while, just order ‘The Omen’ by David Seltzer and get to work.
I really admire these 1970-80’s writers. They wrote thrillers that stayed with you.
So I read ‘Ten Kings’ and ‘The Omen’ side by side and tried to finish the literature portion of the ninth- graders I tutor. It was a mess of a time, but I kept on reading no matter what.
How did I make time for ‘Sacred Games’? When all else fails, the May Summer vacation never does!
That’s when I finished reading the epic book of the year in Mumbai ‘Sacred Games’ by Vikram Chandra. I loved the book and was so moved by the book that I bought a copy of it to gift to a friend living abroad.
Along with ‘Sacred Games’ during the summer vacations, I penned prose notes, tended to my garden, typed a lot of articles for the upcoming blog and read indiscriminately. I practiced aromatherapy and forest bathing to refresh myself for a new school year.
I read ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ by Peter Wohlleben and ‘In Search of Lost Books’ by Giorgio Van Straten at the same time as I was reading ‘Sacred Games’.
The summer was hot and long. Our air conditioners went bust and we had to buy a new model to cool me off back at home. I do most of my reading on my recliners in the house and office-cum-writing hut respectively as well as on the bed surrounded by shelves of books and books and more— books!
I read on my Kindle and especially was educated by the books by Jeff Goins. His books helped me in my work where writing, marketing and publishing was concerned. His books were persuasive and stood out because of their cool analogies and the distinctive voice of an experienced self-published writer in this field. I do recommend his books to other writers who want to start out with self-publishing their books and are wondering how to start marketing their books.
If you want to really preserve our forest heritage and our trees, do read ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ by Peter Wohlleben. He is scientific, to the point and it’s an easy read to comprehend. You will never look at your trees the same way as you used to again. I guarantee it.
I was so taken up last year with ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ that I actually planted and grew a heck of a lot of trees myself. I grew seven neem trees and one drumstick tree. They are my babies and I’m very protective of them.
When I’m tired or totally stressed out, I go to my trees and forest bathe. If you want to know more about the good affects of forest bathing and aromatherapy then read ‘Shinrin-Yoku’ by Dr. Qing Li which I too read in 2018. I’ve been practicing it for over a year and a half and it’s really helped me a lot especially with my sleep apnea and stress levels.
When I am not reading or working, I spend some quality time with my cats in my modest garden. My cats are my only friends, especially my bestie ‘Trotskyna’ who is a sex goddess and who loves me to madness.
It’s because of my love for my feline friends like Trotskyna that I also picked up and read a book last year called ‘If Cats Disappeared from the World’ by Genki Kawamura. It was an awesome read but with an excellent twist to it, like Trotskyna’s little white tail with grey and brown spots.
I was reading that one during the fag end of the year when I was also reading ‘The White Book’ by Han Kang.
Han Kang was my author discovery of the year and I read two of her books last year 2018: ‘The Vegetarian’ at the beginning of the year and ‘The White Book’ towards the end of the year.
I love both these books so much that Han Kang has become one of my favorite writers of my adult life and I even reread ‘The Vegetarian’ this year as well. She has a way of writing and describing stuff in books in a haunting manner that has an unnatural quality to it. It’s totally out of this world and I recommend both ‘The White Book’ and ‘The Vegetarian’ to anyone who likes to read really meaningful and worthwhile books.
A Bollywood movie came out last year about actor Sanjay Dutt’s life which I really wanted to see. It was supposed to be a biopic so before the movie released, I read his biography by Yasser Usman called ‘Bollywood’s Bad Boy Sanjay Dutt’. Then I carried the book with me and went for the movie totally excited.
I came out worse than disappointed. The biopic was nothing like his real life. It was all a gimmick and that really got me angry. I didn’t play with my cats that day.
But that won’t stop me from reading more books by Yasser Usman because he writes well, is authentic and has a way of making you feel at ease within his realm of superstar demystification and investigation.
Jhumpa Lahiri, Balzac, Aldous Huxley, Meghna Gulzar, Sarvat Hasin, A. Revathi, Wendell Berry, Ambrose Ibsen, Wendy Webb, Marti Green and more authors I rained down upon myself last year that I was getting really intellectually stimulated.
I reread after a long time my all-time favorite author’s table-talk book, ‘Salt and Sawdust’ by R.K.Narayan. It took me back to a time when I was just a student at college knowing not what the future held in store for me. Yet, at the same time, I was imbibing all of Narayan’s writing style into my system. I predominantly use the same writing style as R.K.Narayan in my fiction.
While reading ‘Salt and Sawdust’, I was also reading Albert Cohen ‘Book of My Mother’.
That was a tear-jerker if there ever was one. If you love or miss your mother a lot then tackle this book carefully because it’s hundred percent going to make you cry. The lucid words, the descriptions of Cohen’s mother’s ways and her love will get you in the ribs – your ribs will feel the ache of you tears.
If you are a mother to someone then too handle the book with care. It’s emotional dynamite.
I’m glad I read the book along with ‘Salt and Sawdust’ because I really get emotional about my mama. I owe a lot to her.
I owe a lot to the books I read last year too, for educating me, even a tiny bit towards a fuller and better understanding of myself and my surroundings.
One such book like that was ‘Newsman’ by Rajdeep Sardesai. With the 2019 Lok Sabha General election coming up, I really wanted to take stock of what has happened in our country over the last five years before I could decide what my next move as a citizen of India should be. If you want to know the current political situation to a certain extent in India through the eyes of a newsman, this is the book for you to read – and to read quickly before the next elections which will be taking place really soon.
So, it’s 2019. I’ve not got used to writing that year in the date margins of my diary. Time sure flies by when you’ve got some awesome books by your side to read. One of them was ‘Miracle Cure’ by William Rosen.
The book is about antibiotics and the people behind the small and big miracle cures we use in the form of allopathic medicines in our day to day lives. It was a fascinating and revelatory read. It took me a while to go through, because I was really sick at that time; in and out of hospital because of weight issues and sleep apnea.
I loved the book and recommend it to everyone to read and educate themselves about the medicines they use without even realizing the effort put into it all, and what’s even more shocking – how recently we’ve just got all of these medicines and how we need so much more to save the rest of a very ailing humanity.
After I read this book, I was by then using my sleep-ap machine. I was reading fun books like my all-time favorite classic ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker and ‘Fantastic Mr. Dahl’ by Michael Rosen. I used to park myself in my office-cum- writing hut and read to the sound of the water fountain creating the rushing sound of clean water.
I am addicted to this office. It’s my little corner where I can be who I am and no one need bother about me. I’ve written many a story, novel, novella, essay, article etcetera here, just the way Roald Dahl used to write his stories in his own writing hut with the bright yellow door.
Christmas came and Santa gifted me books yet again this year. I was rereading ‘The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad’ by Twinkle Khanna, the Bollywood actress turned bestselling writer of India. I love her books and am always in awe of her writing style. Sarvat Hasin, Michael Dirda, Helene Hanff, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, M.R. James, Robin Cook, Mary Higgins Clark, Manto and more authors have these eyes of mine have paid reverence to by reading and entering their worlds of prose and non-fiction.
The year ended with Ruskin Bond and I scored a 100/100 – I had completed my challenge.
I will reread and review some if not all of the books at a later date but now, back to work, I’ve got another class to teach.
Adieu for now, and happy reading for a new year 2019!
Copyright ©2019 Fiza Pathan