Last year for the first time I kept a list of all the books that I read. Until then, my reading had been untracked and I would sometimes forget what I had read. I read 70 books in 2010 and I thought I would pick out the ones that made me laugh, the ones that I disliked and the ones that kept me on the edge of my seat. I also thought it would be good to revisit the books of the year and refresh my memory of them.
I believe in ending on a sweet note, so let me list out the not-so-good books first.
I never took a fancy to any of these titles. So much that I didn’t even bother writing a review for Beijing Doll and Midnight’s Children. Looking at it this way in a list, I can see that I haven’t ended up liking a few classics. Apart from Rushdie, French, Spark and Monica Ali (Brick Lane), have all touched a chord with millions around the world. But they only disappointed and in some cases made me lose my patience a bit.
Book that I liked the least – Midnight’s Children
Book that I thought was overhyped – Brick Lane and The Other Hand
Book that disappointed most after high expectations – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Book that surprisingly fell flat - Chowringhee
Next is a list of those books that fall in the middle range.
These books were the ones that I enjoyed reading and yet I wouldn’t call them as exhilarating, nailbiting reads. They were good. They had a story to tell and they were written well. They did not make me restless with their slow pace or frustrated with rambling plots. If you ask me whether you should read them, yes. Again, The Fountainhead and Stone Diaries are both highly hailed classics that failed to entirely grip me. Yet, as I said, they weren’t so bad either.
And now, for the stars. The books that, I would shout out from the rooftops for all of you to read.
I know that’s rather a long list. But I did read some fantastic books last year and I am happy for that. I read my first graphic novel, a wonderful out-of-print classic and a travel book with a difference. All of these books stand out for the same reasons – they were all engaging and lively. They had various perspectives to offer and their plots were beautifully wrought. They moved me, made me laugh, made me think and even shed a tear. And some of them lingered in my mind long after. I will end this post with some special mentions including the winner of Birdy’s Most Notable Book of the Year 2010.
While I was absolutely gripped by I Am Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti, Go Ask Alice and Into Thin Air I couldn’t stop laughing with A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle. I adored Are You There God? It's Me Margaret and Bonjour Tristesse for their amazing portrayal of teen voices. I went on a magical journey with One Last Look, while The Remains of the Day, Go Ask Alice, Persepolis and Haweswater lingered in my thoughts for a long time. Each book in this list has its own merits, which captivated me and these are only a few that I thought I must specially mention.
And now for Birdy’s Most Notable Book of the Year 2010. It was a difficult choice since I read so many lovely books. But I had to choose and there is a tie between Go Ask Alice and Persepolis. Go Ask Alice left me shaken with its brutal honesty and portrayal of the life of a teen drug addict. I chose it for its sheer power to absorb you into itself. Though it’s not suitable for all moods, it's a dark, dark book, once you pick it up you will not keep it down. An absolutely riveting read.
The same goes for Persepolis but it’s riveting in a different way. It’s not easy to portray an entire era, the changes at the end of it and how those changes affect an entire people through illustrations. The best part is that reality is not all sadness, it’s also conveyed with much humor. Fantastic evocation of a range of emotions and amazing portrayal of a society in total makes this book my top choice.
So all in all I had a pretty good year for reading and I look forward to another book filled year!