Okazaki fragments, Plasmodium falciparum and phagocytosis. After three years of being engulfed (see what I did there?!), by scientific books, I realised I missed diving into another world temporarily. The end of further education and the start of employment, marked a return to a world of fiction. Folks, I’ve succumbed to becoming the ‘commute reader.’ I suppose staring aimlessly at fellow passengers or the tube windows, floor and ceiling is hardly going to get your brain cells working. At the beginning of the year, I decided to read award-winning books (we’re talking Man Booker, Pulitzer) and international bestsellers, so I wouldn’t be wasting my time on passages of text that were written incoherently and did little for me intellectually. So far, it’s been a good decision. Here is my list of recommendations in no particular order:
1) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Every page is littered with beautiful writing and there are moments that leave you so overwhelmed, that turning the page requires a few seconds more for those words to sink in. Read this masterpiece for the way in which Hosseini conveys the friendship between two friends.
2) A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
A female oriented book, following the lives of two Afghan women and how their paths cross. There’s a lot of emphasis on the struggles and tribulations which is captured in words superbly.
3) The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Simple and short with a philosophical message. Those who have read this, have claimed to have had their outlook on life changed forever. I can perhaps see why. It tells the story of a shepherd boy, who embarks on a journey following a recurring dream that may lead him to treasure. With an underlying message of ‘keep faith and keep believing’ I can see why it’s an international bestseller. Sometimes, the simplest things have the biggest effect.
4) The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
Based in 17th century Iran, it follows the story of a young girl into adulthood, as a gifted carpet maker. It was a sensual tale surprisingly, which ends up taking centre stage. Apart from that, the descriptions of the craft of exquisite rug making, mixed with the plot, makes it a decent read.
5) The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
I liked this novel for Gyan and Sai’s blossoming relationship and how the lives of the characters are intermingled with each other during the Gorkhaland movement. It’s heavy on historical content which brought the book to a sluggish pace, however Desai transports you to the beautiful hill station Kalimpong of Darjeeling, through her words.
6) The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
An amalgamation of humour and the struggle of India’s lower class, you’ll be guffawing your way through it in bits and pieces. I was mostly hooked in the blunt but naïve manner in which protagonist Balram Halwai narrates the novel in a letter from, explaining how he becomes an accomplished businessman.
An absolute classic set in Nazi Germany, it’s narrated by death which is a complete attention grabber in itself. It follows the story of Liesel’s relationship with her foster parents, their hiding of a Jewish fist fighter in the basement and how Liesel’s act of stealing books and learning how to read and write, becomes a powerful tool in a time where fear and chaos strikes during the war.
In a year so far where Fifty Shades of Dross has become an international bestseller, I consider myself lucky to have stumbled upon the above books and not followed a trend.