Looking for suggestions for summer reading. Below is a list of sixty books I read in One Year. The list is grouped in various categories like Fiction, Non Fiction, Self Improvement and a special section dedicated to Haruki Murakami (Read this guy if you haven’t yet – he blows your mind away !!)
- Dark Places 3/5 [Mystery]- by Gyllian Flynn, of Gone Girl fame.
- The Girl on the Train 3.5/5 – A psychological thriller that is already being made into a Hollywood Movie.
- A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2) 4/5- Part 2 of the popularly known as Game of Throne Series.
- A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3) 5/5 – The 1100 pages novel kept me hooked till the end.
- The Short Drop (Gibson Vaughn, #1) 3/5 – Fast paced, like Dan Brown Novels.
- Casino Royale (James Bond #1) 4/5
- The Man Who Folded Himself 4/5- An excellent read for anybody interested in Time Travel. Must read in the recommended list of books.
- Mile 81 1/5- Poor start to Stephen King novels.
- The Big Sleep (Philip Marlowe #1) 4/5– This was the first noir crime fiction book that I ever read and I don’t think I could have found a much better place to start.
- The Reluctant Fundamentalist 3.5/5- Quick read about the life of a man from Pakistan, living in USA. How he perceives the event of 9/11, and its effect on his thinking. A light read.
- The Lathe of Heaven – 2.5/5
- The Story of a Suicide – 1/5
- Karma isn’t such a Bitch – 2/5
- The House on Mango Street – 1/5
- Speak – 2/5
- War & Peace 4/5 – 1400 pages long. Covers entire period of Napoleonic wars and the French invasion of Russia. Not used to reading such long books, so got weary by the end. But Masterpiece nonetheless. Leo Tolstory captures every possible human emotion, and captures them very well.
- The Metamorphosis 4.5/5-Kafka’s classic tale written in 1912 is about the changes that can come about in our lives, and how people react to them. The protagonist wakes up and finds himself transformed into an insect. Short read, but pretty dense philosophical stuff.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, #1) 3/5 – Science Fiction.
- The Stranger 5/5- Loved it. The book questions what truly defines humanity or makes someone human? Does not showing remorse, or being detached is a sign of being cold and inhumanity? This raises the question of whether one should be expected to exhibit certain characteristics in certain situations to “keep their humanity”. Short read, but deep philosophical undercurrents.
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s 2.5/5 – Pretty stylishly written. Suave and elegant. Though the subject wasn’t much to my liking. It is classic nonetheless and is highly rated.
- The Death of Ivan Ilych 4/5- Along with 2 & 4 above, this book is a must read for those who want to read philosophy. Book is a short read, only 86 pages, so makes it easy to grasp and follow.. Hailed as one of the world’s supreme masterpieces on the subject of death and dying, it is the story of a high court judge who has never given the inevitability of his dying so much as a passing thought. But one day, death announces itself to him, and to his shocked surprise, he is brought face to face with his own mortality.
- A Tale of Two Cities 3/5 – Charles Dickens Classic. A difficult read though
- The Picture of Dorian Gray 5/5 – One of the best books I’ve ever read. I read it twice, so much I liked it.
- Godan (Prem Chand) 5/5 hindi– A work of literature par excellence. The rustic life of village and the hypocrisy of elite is very well captured. A work to be proud of for all the Indians.
FICTION (HARUKI MURAKAMI)
I’m biased toward Murkami. I just love his work. That’s why read eight of his books this year. He is both widely admired and criticized. His books do not follow the rules and boundaries of ‘how plot should be written.’ There are recurring themes in his books. He leaves many of the threads unresolved. Still, he manages to captivates reader attention like not many contemporary authors can do. Reading his books is like being in a dream, and anything can happen there. Kafka on the shore and Norwegian Wood are the two from the recommended list of books.
- Kafka on the Shore 5/5 – Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom.
- Norwegian Wood 5/5 – A poignant story of one college student’s romantic coming-of-age, Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man’s first, hopeless, and heroic love.
- Hear the Wind Sing (The Rat, #1) 3/5
- After Dark 3/5 – A short, sleek novel of encounters set in Tokyo during the witching hours between midnight and dawn, and every bit as gripping as Haruki Murakami’s masterworks The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore
- After the Quake 4/5 – The six stories in Haruki Murakami’s mesmerizing collection are set at the time of the catastrophic 1995 Kobe earthquake, when Japan became brutally aware of the fragility of its daily existence. But the upheavals that afflict Murakami’s characters are even deeper and more mysterious, emanating from a place where the human meets the inhuman.
- The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle 3.5/5 – Gripping, prophetic, suffused with comedy and menace, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a tour de force equal in scope to the masterpieces of Mishima and Pynchon.
- A Wild Sheep Chase 3.5/5 – A marvelous hybrid of mythology and mystery, A Wild Sheep Chase is the extraordinary literary thriller that launched Haruki Murakami’s international reputation.
- 1Q84 4/5 – A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s — 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.
- The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable 3/5 – Why do we not acknowledge the phenomenon of black swans until after they occur? Part of the answer, according to Taleb, is that humans are hardwired to learn specifics when they should be focused on generalities. . Talks about the nature of improbable events, and the consequences of how we deal with them. Finance guys will like it.
- In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality 4/5 – If you want to know what is happening in latest cutting edge physics, then you should read about Quantum Physics. It defies logic, and intuition, and puts to dust all the laws of physics – be it Newton’s or Einstein’s.
- The Theory of Everything 3/5 – Stephan Hawking’s classic. A must read for anyone even mildly interested in cosmos.
- The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine 4.5/5 – Excellent book. Explains the credit and housing bubble collapse from the point of view of four outsiders who not only predicted the event but bet against the market to beat it and make a hell lot of money. Anybody with even a minor interest in finance should read this. Must read in the recommended list of books
- Numbers Guide: The Essentials of Business Numeracy 4.5/5 – Very good if you want to brush up your mathematical concepts. Cover everything from averages, to probability, forecasting and quantitative decision making
- The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry 3.5/5 – This is a good read and gives you a sneak peak into the exciting yet daunting world of psychopaths. It was fun reading the journey to find out the truth of people who were presented as psychopaths and the people who just don’t want to accept that such a thing exists.
- Rework 4/5 – With its straightforward language and easy-is-better approach, Rework is the perfect book for anyone who’s thinking of starting up something on their own.
- Do the Work 4.5/5 – Best book to get you out of your inertia, and start delivering. Must read in the recommended list of books.
- The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles 4/5 – Good read clubbing with #2 in this category. The Art of War meets “The Artist’s Way” in this no-nonsense, profoundly inspiring guide to overcoming creative blocks of every kind.
- Sit Like a Buddha: A Pocket Guide to Meditation 3.5/5 – Very good read. But I didn’t put to practice its learning. Will read it again though.
- Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son 4.5/5 – Hilarious, and full of wisdom. Written in forms of letters, each chapter is full of tons of worth of wisdom. MUST READ.
- Lifeboat No. 8: An Untold Tale of Love, Loss, and Surviving the Titanic 4/5 – Excellent read if you want to know about the documented experience of Titanic survivors.
- A Room of One’s Own 2/5 – Women might like it more. It’s about the history of women in science. More so, the lack of them in science.
- H is for Hawk 4/5 – An unusual subject for me. It is a memoir about a woman who takes on a precarious task of training a Goshwak -a fierce and temperamental breed of bird. Prose is excellent. So that kept me hooked till the end.
- Pilgrim at Tinker Creek 4/5 – Artistic. Read it if you like beautiful prose about nature. An exhilarating meditation on nature and its seasons—a personal narrative highlighting one year’s exploration on foot in the author’s own neighborhood in Tinker Creek, Virginia.
- The Writing Life 4/5 – Good read for people curious about the writing lives of writers.
- I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban 2.5/5 – Not as good as I per my expectation. Though you get a glance at the life of this amazing girl.
SHORT STORIES / COLLECTION
- Selected Stories (Anton Chekov) 4/5 – Must read along with short stories of Rabindra Nath Tagore. Often cited in the recommended list of books.
- A Perfect Day for Bananafish (J D Salinger) 5/5 –
- Nine Stories (J D Salinger) 4/5 After finishing this book, I searched for more of J D Salinger’s writing. Found out that he had written only one other book of note which I’ve already read. So wish he wrote more.
- The Huntsman (Anton Chekov) 5/5
- The Darling (Anton Chekov) 3/5
- The Ravine (Anton Chekov) 3/5
- Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know about Writing 3/5
- Ernest Hemingway on Writing 4/5
- Dirty Pretty Things 1/5 – So much hype, so less substance.
. . .
Supplement below with my all time favorite post on the life-learning I got from reading sixty books in a year.
Read more Book-lists and related stories HERE.
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