My last post listed the books and short stories I’ve read in 2015. This is about the ones that will stay with me for whatever reason (in no particular order), as well as some of my reading goals for 2016.
The Silkworm – Robert Galbraith
Tight, fast-paced, intricate plot that keeps you guessing till the end, detailed writing and a flair for storytelling that is so intrinsic to any Rowling book, and very interesting main character developments – I want more! Career of Evil, the next book in the series, has been patiently waiting for me to read it. Maybe it will be my first book for 2016.
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
This was only my second book by this author (Stardust was the first). It was longer and different in content and tone than the former, but I was not disappointed. I quite enjoy slow-paced narratives too, especially when there is plenty to chew on, the scope and idea is eccentric and ambitious, and there is a nice twist at the end. 2016 will definitely see me read more of Mr. Gaiman!
Reckless and Fearless – Cornelia Funke
Cornelia Funke is one of my favourite fantasy writers for a reason. I re-read Reckless and Fearless in anticipation of the English translation of Heartless, the next in the Mirrorworld series, and I enjoyed them as much, if not more, than the first time around. Pacy, tightly-plotted, deliciously dark, with a very layered fantasy universe in its Mirrorworld, and endearingly flawed central characters. I prefer this series to her Inkworld series for its adult and crisper tones, though those still rank among my favourites. I’m super excited to hear and hopefully meet her next month, fingers crossed.
The Fault in our Stars – John Green
This was my first experience with John Green. While not the earth-shattering, life-affirming book a lot of readers are making it out to be, there is enough warmth, humour and insight about life, struggles, existence and purpose for it to be a fairly compulsive read. Most importantly, the characters are very likeable (despite the writing being nothing too extraordinary) and this makes you root for them until the inevitable, heartbreaking end.
Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi
This the kind of book you need to give time and undivided attention to, while leaving enough room for introspection and pause between readings. It is eloquent, unflinchingly heartrending about the subject matter and throws up questions and insights about the complexity of existence, power, dreams, freedom. But ultimately it is about the healing power and vitality of literature, the importance of keeping it alive wherever you are and whatever you are going through.
The Bridges of Madison County – Robert James Waller
I have grown up hearing about the book and film and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. I finished it in 2 days flat even with full days at work and that says a lot about how potent it is. A beautiful, warm, yet heartbreaking story about chance meetings and destiny, and characters you won’t forget in a hurry. The writing is poetic, simple, with vivid imagery. Bring on Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep!
Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer – Rick Riordan
I became a Rick Riordan fan the moment I picked up his debut book in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief all those years ago. He’s not disappointed since, whether it’s the rest of that series, his “Heroes of Olympus” series or his “Kane Chronicles” series. So I was thrilled to find out that he was coming out with a new series based on Norse mythology (and one that is more linked with his original world than we think). Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer has all the hallmarks of the writer’s style – tight plot, engaging characters, wit and sarcasm, an effortless blend of old and new, mythology and modern times, heroes and their quest/adventure and of course the delightful prospect of the end of the world hanging in the balance (in this case, Ragnarok). There are demi-gods or einherji, elfs, dwarves, valkyries and a whole bunch of dysfunctional gods among others. Bring on next fall!
Make Me – Lee Child
Lee Child begins writing the new Reacher on the first of September every year, just after the previous one is released. Which means that for the last many years, come the fall, I look forward to devouring the latter. Sometimes, like this year, I don’t allow myself to read it until I’ve achieved some mini-goals on my to-do list. Make Me, the 20th book in the series, was every bit worth the wait. Reacher’s been evolving as he ages, as has his strategy of dealing with no-good ruffians. In this book, Child continues this evolution and the result is a plot that deals with fascinatingly different content. The end also marks a shift in the world of Jack-none-Reacher so I’m officially intrigued for number 21.
Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the making of Make Me – Andy Martin
Andy Martin shadows Lee Child throughout the process of the writing of Make Me. Funny, insightful, illuminating. It is an ideal “companion book” for Reacher number 20. A unique idea executed to perfection.
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe – Fannie Flagg
I bought this book after reading a recommendation and summary of it online. It’s not something I would normally have picked up, but I’m glad I did! The story begins with a random conversation between 86 year old Ninny Threadgoode (who is in a nursing home) and 48 year old Evelyn (who is visiting the home with her husband for her mother-in-law). Ninny rambles on about the now-defunct Whistle Stop, Alabama where she grew up and lived for her whole life. Despite her initial misgivings, Evelyn (and the reader) finds herself being pulled into the lives of a large, varied cast of colourful characters (that are sometimes hard to keep track of) from a small-knit community in the 1930s. There is no real plot to speak of, more of extremely non-linear and overlapping but engaging stories that are unapologetically sentimental, with vivid storytelling that brings all of it to life. It was only after I’d finished the book that I found out about the movie version. Guess I know what I’m doing soon!