The 35 books I read in 2016

 

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(This is a hurriedly put together post that I just wanted to somehow get in before the year was over, so apologies for grammar, spelling and other errors if any!)

2016 has been an extremely rewarding year reading-wise for me.

I hadn’t done any significant reading for about 4 years and I had begun to worry that the once treasured habit had faded away. But I guess the habit of reading is something like knowing how to ride a bike or swim.

I read a few books at the end of 2015 and then, to get back into the swing of things, I decided to set myself a reading challenge for 2016 – to read 15 books that I already owned (or from my parents’ vast collection) at the end of 2015 but had never read.

I am happy to report that not only did I complete my challenge with 16 books, but I also ended up reading a further 19 books, bringing my grand total for the year up to 35! I did surprise myself, as I had thought I would struggle to complete even 10.

Below is the entire list of books I read, with links to the ones I have reviewed.

BOOKS READ IN 2016:

  1. My Sainted Aunts by Bulbul Sharma
  2. The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
  3. The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
  4. The Mousewife by Rumer Godden
  5. Words of Freedom (Bhagat Singh)
  6. Women of the Raj by Margaret MacMillan
  7. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  8. The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo
  9. Hindu Gods – Priya Hemenway
  10. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
  11. The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins
  12. Golden Rules by Wayne Dosick
  13. The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
  14. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
  15. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  16. The Kalahari Typing School for Men (The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency #4) by Alexander McCall Smith
  17. The Full Cupboard of Life (The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency #5) by Alexander McCall Smith
  18. Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
  19. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  20. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
  21. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  22. Villette by Charlotte Bronte
  23. Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons by Gerald Durrell
  24. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  25. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  26. Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss
  27. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  28. Kingfishers Catch Fire by Rumer Godden
  29. Shopaholic & Baby by Sophie Kinsella
  30. The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett
  31. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Gabraith
  32. The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner
  33. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  34. Nemesis (Miss Marple #12) by Agatha Christie
  35. In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency #6) by Alexander McCall Smith

And now a few trivia-style snippets:

A book I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I did: The Bridges of Madison County and The Call of the Wild

A book I didn’t enjoy as much as I thought I would: The Girl on The Train

A book that made me want to travel to a new country: Burial Rites

A genre I discovered wasn’t for me: Magical realism

Most rewarding genre: non-fiction, including Women of the Raj, Golden Rules and The Power of Habit.

Favourite series: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Favourite topic: The Raj, including Women of the Raj and Kingfishers Catch Fire and self-management, including Golden Rules, The Power of Habit and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (currently reading)

Favourite new genre (for me): – Crime/Detective/ Mystery, including Nemesis and The Cuckoo’s Calling

Most difficult book to get through: The Sound and The Fury

Books I admired for research, layout, writing, style and editing: Women of the Raj and Burial Rites

Favourite Classics: Villette and The Secret Garden

Christmas Read for 2016: Little Women

All round favourite read: How Green Was My Valley

That’s it for now. I shall return in the new year with the pending reviews.

Here’s to more reading in 2017! Happy New Year everyone!

2016 Reading Challenge – Completed!

Dear Reader,

I am very happy to report that I have completed my 2016 Reading Challenge, which, for those of you who don’t know, was to read 15 books that I owned at the end of 2015 but had never read. Many of these I have had for 10 or even 15 years!

After my son was born, my habit of reading had waned for a couple of years, but joyfully, around this time last year, the reading bug seemed to have caught up with me again. I thought 15 books might be a stretch, given that I hadn’t read anything in so long, but guess what, I actually completed the challenge at the end of August, 4 months in advance!

Not only have I read 15 ‘old’ books, but I have also read a number of books that I acquired over this year. (I’ll give you a re-cap of those at the end of this calendar year.) I thought I would struggle to finish 15, so as you can imagine, I am feeling rather chuffed with myself! And with 4 months to go till 2017, perhaps I’ll even be able to surpass the challenge by a book or two, who knows!

For now, here are links to the reviews I’ve written for the 15 books I read for my challenge:

  1. My Sainted Aunts by Bulbul Sharma
  2. The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
  3. The Mousewife by Rumer Godden
  4. Words of Freedom (Bhagat Singh)
  5. Hindu Gods: The Spirit of The Divine by Priya Hemenway
  6. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
  7. Golden Rules by Wayne Dosick
  8. The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith
  9. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
  10. The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith
  11. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  12. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  13. Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons by Gerald Durrell
  14. Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss
  15. Persuasion by Jane Austen

Happy reading to all you book lovers out there!

Reading Challenge 2016: Book 15 – Persuasion by Jane Austen

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(My Rating: 3/5)

I am disappointed that I am unable to give this a higher rating than 3 stars, because I thought I was really going to love this book. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood when I read it!

Anne Elliot, who was being courted by Captain Wentworth, was persuaded by a close family friend, Lady Russell, not to marry him, as she didn’t think it a suitable match, mainly because they came from different social backgrounds.

The book begins eight years later, when the two former lovers are brought into each other’s company once again. Now Captain Wentworth is courting someone else and Anne, wisened by the interim years, begins to examine the reasons that her relationship with him did not go any further. The reader now begins to wonder whether there is a chance that they will get back together again. Continue reading

Reading Challenge 2016: Book 9 – The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

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(My Rating: 3/5)

The Lost Symbol, which I picked up from my mother’s bookshelf as part of my 2016 Reading Challenge, is the third Dan Brown book featuring Robert Langdon (Yes, of course you know which the other two books are!) and it did feel quite like the method and plot were the same as with the other two – just different characters, a different city and some other details of the ‘mystery that must be solved in an unbelievably short period of time’. The Freemasons still feature of course and this time the plot revolves around an ancient pyramid shaped item that has been passed down through generations and holds the answer to something very, very important.

Dan Brown books are no works of great literature, but he does know how to entertain and keep you reading. This was thus perfect for the five-day holiday I was on at a remote coffee estate last month when I read the book. 500 pages. 5 days. Just perfect. Continue reading

Reading Challenge 2016 – Book 7: Golden Rules by Wayne Dosick

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(My Rating: 5/5)

My father bought me Golden Rules: The Ten Ethical Values Parents Need to Teach Their Children, when I must have been somewhere in the age group of 19 – 21 years. A few weeks ago, when I decided to properly read the book as part of my Reading Challenge 2016, I smiled to myself as I read what my father, with his usual dry humor, had written in it:

“Gitanjali,

Just in case we forgot some.

Love, Dad.”

Dosick begins the book by stressing the important role parents have to play today (the book was published in 1996) even more than before in imparting sound ethical values to their children, the adults of tomorrow. He then devotes the next 10 chapters to one ethical value each. Continue reading

Reading Challenge 2016 – Book 6: How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

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(My Rating: 5/5)

I picked up this book when I saw it at a book sale (according to the date I have written in the book, it was in 2003) because my mother had told me that it was my grandfather’s favourite book (and movie).

Thanks to my reading challenge for this year I am finally reading it, 13 years later!

The story is set in a mining town in South Wales and is told in the first person by Huw Morgan who is recounting the events of his life from the time he was a little boy. It speaks of a time when things like morals and values still counted for something  and doing things to the best of your ability and for the right reasons were something people took pride in.

There are so many things I loved about the book, but in a nutshell, it is a book about the importance of family, standing up for what is true and just, making sacrifices for the sake of loved ones, always choosing to do the right thing, staying strong and loyal in trying times and finally it is a book about what it means to be a real man and what it means to be a real woman. Continue reading

Reading Challenge 2016 – Book 5: Hindu Gods: The Spirit of The Divine by Priya Hemenway

(My Rating: 3 / 5)

At less than a hundred pages long, this small, beautifully illustrated hardbound book is a concise introduction to Hinduism and its main gods, thirteen of them to be precise, not counting the ten incarnations of Vishnu that Hemenway also covers. (The book states that by some accounts there are 330 millions gods in the Hindu pantheon!)

Hemenway explains how every aspect of life is represented through the many gods of Hinduism and she gives us examples of this with each of the gods she has written about in this book. Continue reading