Best Reads of 2020

It has been a concern to me that my reading capabilities actually diminished in 2020. While others have been gloating on how they had gained immense time during the pandemic to read, I hadn’t. And felt a little sad about it. I have read only 20 books in 2020. But then, I did a bit of embroidery too and that had eaten up quite a few hours. Overall, it is probably balanced, but I’d loved to have read more. The ones I loved are here:

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – By Stuart Turton

The first book I read in 2020 was amazingly hyped as one of the most interesting books of the previous year. Having won the Costa Book Awards 2018, it seemed endlessly intriguing. And I hadn’t been disappointed at all. There is quite a bit of convoluted plotting and organising the chapters according to the ‘lives.’ What amazed me was a few reviews that said they didn’t like the book because it was ‘too complicated.’ And here I am, looking around for more books like this! I loved the writing style – it had the elite 19th century touch, the characters that were as varied as chalk and cheese, and the surprise value in the plot. The only thing I didn’t like was the rushed climax. Nonetheless, this was one of the best and even better than Turton’s second book ‘The Devil And The Dark Water,’ which failed to be in this list. Detailed review here.

The Girl You Left Behind – By Jojo Moyes

Let’s admit that I love historical novels, especially ones with multiple timelines, also ones that dabble into art, more importantly, in world war art and their reclamation. Those are a lot of genres criss-crossed into a beautifully poignant novel – The Girl You Left Behind. The portrait of an extraordinary woman transcends decades and creates a powerful impact into another woman’s life from falling apart. There’s provenance that lead to dark secrets and unpleasant people, a fair bit of love and lots of grit and determination from all the women characters. It was a treat to read and I’ve found one of my favourite sub-sub-genre of historical-war-art-fiction. Detailed review here.

A Suitable Boy – By Vikram Seth

The talk of the town, the crème-de-la-crème of last year’s big budget blockbuster BBC-Netflix movie adaptation was my longest read of the year (obviously for it’s sheer volume of 1500+ pages). I love Vikram Seth. I have loved his poems and his delicately penned novel ‘An Equal Music.’ This was on my TBR since long and the fat book now lies in my bookshelf back in India. So, the Kindle version came to rescue and I wanted to read it before the tv series premiered. Not that it made any difference as I haven’t watched the series yet. I can only say that it takes some sensibility to grasp the equations between the characters and their relationships in this labyrinth of a book. It’s not easy and it’s lengthy – two factors deterrent for the current young generation to appreciate this beauty of a novel. I haven’t found many who have read it entirely, mostly because of lack of patience; the others have shelved it as they were bored by a few parts. And then, the tv/web series made it easier to DNF the voluminous book and just focus on the abridged, minified, dancing, colourful frames that you don’t have to visualise. It took me time too, since my attention span seems to falter these days, but it was worth. Detailed review coming soon.

Troubled Blood – By Robert Galbraith

It’s no longer a mystery that Robert Galbraith is J.K.Rowling’s pseudonym for the Cormoran Strike series. And I had written earlier about why I love this series. ‘Troubled Blood’ is #5 in the series and has evolved a lot from how it began. Strike and Robin have progressed in their lives in strange ways, mostly for the better, their cases have turned more complex, clients more eccentric, but the serial killer factor remains constant and is well portrayed in this novel. I should warn that if you’re looking for a racy thriller, this isn’t the one. Stretched over 40 years and quite a few characters, plots and sub-plots (including Strike and Robin’s personal lives), it’s a huge drama that unfolds in many acts. Yes, they do catch a serial killer but get into a lot of other things too. At times, I felt that Rowling has probably added too many elements in the soup – there are social issues, gender biases, domestic violence, generation gaps and a lot more. It turns a little overwhelming but if you love the main duo, you’ll love their stories as well. Detailed review coming soon.

Have you read any of these in 2020? Let me know your thoughts and we’ll share our views. Have a great 2021 and the decade ahead! 

Top 5 Reads of 2013

I had set a target of reviewing twenty books when I began a new inning at blogging this year. Surprisingly, at the end of the year I realized that I have achieved the target. It fills me with immense pleasure to share with you the five best books I had a scope to read for review this year.

Author: Sid Bahri Genre: Fiction/Romance Publisher: Srishti

Author: Sid Bahri
Genre: Fiction/Romance
Publisher: Srishti

Author: Aporva Kala Genre: Fiction/Philosophy Publisher: Srishti

Author: Aporva Kala
Genre: Fiction/Philosophy
Publisher: Srishti

Author: Michelle Cohen Corasanti Genre: Drama Publisher: Prakash Books/Fingerprint

Author: Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Genre: Drama
Publisher: Prakash Books/Fingerprint

Author: Somnath Batabyal Genre: Crime Publisher: Harper Collins

Author: Somnath Batabyal
Genre: Crime
Publisher: Harper Collins

Author: Devapriya Roy Genre: Contemporary/Women Publisher: Harper Collins

Author: Devapriya Roy
Genre: Contemporary/Women
Publisher: Harper Collins

What were your best reads? Hope you had a great reading year too. Happy reading in 2014!

First Reads Challenge 2014

Image Courtesy:

Image Courtesy:

I had participated in the Indian Quills Reading Challenge 2013 without giving it much of a thought. In fact, I had set a very modest target for myself as I knew I’m a slow reader. And, I didn’t review every book I read. With all the writing and editing targets to be fulfilled, reading debut authors had become cumbersome throughout the year. Most of them came to me for reviews, I approached some of them out of my own interest in their books, others were won by me in contests/giveaways. These books have clambered for space in my cramped up old bookshelf. I had no idea a year ago that I would be reviewing books and reading such a huge number of authors for the first time.

In the wee hours of December, I think I’m ready for the next challenge. DDS of b00kr3vi3ws has come up with her next edition of First Reads Challenge for 2014. I hadn’t participated last year as I wasn’t sure about reading too many Indian debut authors. This time I’m geared with review requests and scourging new authors for interesting books. DDS has set challenge levels which makes it all the more challenging. I know I’m nowhere near the biggies of book reviews, so I’d again set a minimal target for 2014.

Challenge Level:
Amateur : Choose to read 1 – 25 New Authors
Lover     : Choose to read 26 – 50 New Authors
Expert    : Choose to read 51 – 75 New Authors
Fanatic   : Choose to read 76 or above New Authors

I’m happy with being Amateur for now, though I might upgrade the level if there’s any chance in mid-2014.

If you like to read and review, join us in this journey of reading authors for the first time and writing about their work.

Reading by November

Well, I keep reading books every month, and loads of them. Some for pleasure, others for review. That doesn’t mean the books for review aren’t for pleasure. It is just that, the books for my own mental peace are the ones I don’t have to write reviews about.

A group of book lovers and bloggers decided to write a meme about the books they were reading that month. I had to join, for they are my friends. Here’s a (tentative) list of the books I am going to read this month. Most of them are by Debut Indian Authors as I have decided to participate in the Debut Indian Authors’ Month – Readathon 3 organized by the Tales Pensieve. The others are an addition to the list. I might add more, as they come. I’ll be updating links to the review as I keep posting them through November.

Image : Self

Image : Self

The Secret Proposal – Aniesha Brahma

The Vague Woman’s Handbook – Devapriya Roy

A Vision of Angels – Timothy J. Smith (Ebook)

The Storm in my Mind – Ayaan Basu

The Price You Pay – Somnath Batabyal

The Weight Loss Club – Devapriya Roy

Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai – Rishi Vohra

Caretaker – A.X. Ahmad

Love and Death in the Middle Kingdom – Nalini Rajan

Govinda – Krishna Udayasankar