Book Chronicles – TBR 2017

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Every year I sign up quite eagerly for the Goodreads and HT Brunch ‘s reading challenges and nominate a number of books to read in the year. Its more to egg myself on than anything else. Last years reading score was pretty dismal as somehow I lost steam midway in the year and ended with a total of 17/40 books.

So yes my 2018 reading challenges are bolstered with a greater number now to make up for the unread ones as I have piles to read before I buy new ones. I had imposed a ban on buying last september till I read all the unread ones in my bookshelves. (P.S: already brought 6 books before the end of first month of the year )

I just want to talk about the best reads out of the 17 books I read last year – many first time authors and each surprised/overwhelmed me with their impeccable narration, character sketches and writing styles.

The 5 * club

Vivek Shanbhag’s Ghachar Ghochar was the biggest surprise in the bag for me. A rustic tale layered with several colloquial/regional allegories, this book had me hooked till the end. Translated from Kannada,  the book is set in Bangalore and the tale is about a simple family, their fortunes and how a relocation/change of plans unhinges the entire family scene. I recommend this book as a must read for Indian Literature fans.

Nilanjana Roy is another Indian author who mesmerised me with her awe-inspiring character sketches of the cats of Nizammudin. Each and every character in her story comes alive via intriguing quirks, further underlined by their unique names that lends essence to their persona. The Wildings  and The Hundred Names of darkness were loved to death by me and I wish the author would continue the tale and write more about this world.

Short stories by Aimee Bender were an amazing find to read, with each tale more fantastic than the other. Imagine weavers who could repair tiger skins and of course the tigers who split their skins – this is one of the best stories in this collection aptly titled The Color Master . Pick this one up to understand word play and how it can tease your imagination in the most fantastic manner ever. The particular sadness of lemon cake talks about a little girl who can feel emotions of the cook/baker by simply tasting their food. She can gauge their mood and the story behind it so perfectly that you wish you had the gift too.

The acclaimed Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath was simply beatific for the prosaic writing; there are such amazing lilt in her phrases that they elevate ordinary/mundane happenstance to something exotic and coveted. Her thought process and writing style is crisp and left me quite an ache at the end for the pathos is palpable in her questions and doubts. If you havent read this, please please do yourselves a favour and do it now.

The 4 * club

I had picked Caraval by Stephanie Garber as I am a big time fantasy fan and the blurb enticed me; but it wasnt as great as the anticipated promise of a stellar fantasy. I still rated it a 4* as I am hoping the sequel is better.

Seahorse by Janice Pariat was again a revelation into writings by Indian authors of recent times ( I am far from impressed from the current set) and had me read the book in quite a short time. I loved the interplay of relationships via suggestive notes, leaving a lot to my imagination. I would recommend reading this author for sure.

The dark days Club by Alison Goodman was a gift from a fellow book addict and I found it a heady mix of magical lore and Victorian era with a dash of Sherlock Holmes added in for a good measure. I loved the mystery set in the book and the unraveling of it via some interesting characters.

The let down

Most disliked book of the lot was Finding Juliet and this was read purely for a book club review, which was a paid one. I think this book just didn’t appeal to my sensibilities at all and might be a hit with a much younger generation (perhaps)

Another one which in my opinion is over hyped was the Kabul beauty school by Deborah Rodriguez for the writing is very bland and plain and the plot meanders with meaningless chatter at several places.

Ingo by Helen Dunmore held promised wonder of a delicious fantasy mystery but disappointed in its narration; its a series and I havent picked up the next one yet.

End Note

I am reserving judgement of Ghostwritten by David Mitchell as I am unsure if I have understood the book and perhaps need another read of it. Though I must say the writing is surreal as it flicks from one location to another and then connects them all together.

Rupi Kaur’s Milk & Honey came a lot under the fire for plagiarism; my verdict is par excellence on it as the prose and illustrations simply blew my mind on the topic it was written on. I do recommend a read of it minus the prejudice.

I don’t have to heap praise on the writings of Gulzar saheb or Satyajit Ray – they are an evergreen pleasure and I enjoy going through them every time I pick an unread collection.

So how was your reading in 2017? What goals for 2018? Do you take part in reading challenges or find them lame?

Read about my 2017 #TBR goals here

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20 thoughts on “Book Chronicles – TBR 2017

    1. Thanks Shruti – hardly anything there. But yes Ghachar Ghochar do do read it- its awesome; simple but awesome!!

  1. I must say this was an impressive round up. Not only did I not fulfill my challenge but I don’t even remember the titles and authors of the books that I did read ! This year I am not challenging myself in any way. Hopefully that will make me read more because I’ll be stress free

    1. Thanks SUnita. I just fell off the wagon last year but am on it this year and hope to read many many books. I hope you get to read as many as you want to too.

  2. Last year even I had a dismal performance in terms of reading books. I am reading a lot of positive reviews about Gachar Gochar and wish to read it soon. I finished reading Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey in record 45 minutes. I quite liked it. I am glad to see Bell Jar in your list. I read Bell Jar as part of my postgrad curriculum and eversince fell in love with Plath. Her life is equally intriguing like her verses. Happy reading to you for 2018..keep us posted on the books.

    1. Bell Jar is quite a revelation – both in terms of her writing proweress and the topic chosen. I was quite enamoured by the book and wanted it to go on forever. Ghachar Ghochar is amazing and do pick it up for a simple rustic read. I plan to keep writing about the books I read every month from this year and next post on it coming up soonest!! Cheers

  3. I haven’t read most of those books except Bell Jar (which I loved too) and Milk and Honey ( which I enjoyed but didn’t know about the plagiarism stuff). I completed my goal of 40 books in 2017 along with the Aussie Author Challenge and the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge. This year, I’ve got the same challenges and Erin’s one

    1. Whoa- thats some achievement from my POV and I hope to be on target with mine too this year! I have been following your book reviews and love to read them; you seem to be reading a very diverse range of books Sanch

  4. That’s a great list of books you read, Shalz! But, among all those the one that caught my eye, and my fancy, was ‘The particular sadness of lemon cake’. Years ago, I saw a film – can’t remember the name – it starred Pooja Bhat, Rahul Bose and others, where the barber of a particular salon can read the thoughts of his clients as they sit in his chair to get their hair done. The above book reminded me of that film, and I too felt how wonderful it might be having such powers!

    1. Yeah I remember that film too; the barber was called zen and it also starred Koel Purie and Bomam Irani in the daughter- father role where he was abusing her. Dont remember Pooja Bhatt or rahul bose in that film but that was one zany film. This book though is just incredible for its writing and the way it unfolds.

  5. I like the eclectic variety in your reading list, Shalini! For one thing I see a willingness to explore new genres and authors. That’s always a sign of a good reader, in my opinion. I also admired the precise way in which you dissected the books by star rating.

    Although, forgive me if I can’t relate to Rupi Kaur. Perhaps it’s the language or the sensibilities of another generation but I just cannot make myself read her. A poet who did what she did and miles better, in my opinion, was e.e.cummings. I did my M.A. Thesis on his life and works and trust me, you would love the elegance in his verse like nothing else. If you haven’t do try and read some of his work. Rupi Kaur will be eclipsed, I promise you 🙂

  6. Noted your point for E E Cumming and yes I kind of liked the visceral note in Rupi’s poetry esp the topic it covered.
    Thank you for liking my reading variety – I do sort of go mad with reccos and blurbs and end up reading loads of different stuff. I am planning to write a monthly snyopsis of the books I have read and hope that will be liked too.

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