TOP TEN BOOKS EVERYONE SHOULD READ
What's better than watching an entire series you ask? Well well well, don't I have an answer for you. How do you feel about reading a book?
Yeah, I know most of you would rather watch a new Netflix series or a new rom com than reading a 300-page long ass book but, guys, just read this article till the end and let me change your mind about favoring Netflix over the precious, precious books (laughs in a nerdy The lord of the things ways).
Reading is one of the most exhilarating experiences, until you've read some of the best literature that is out there, there will be a void in your life and in your mind as well. And by the best kind of literature, I do not simply mean the classical Shakespearean stuff, I mean the literature that deserves to be read at this point in history.
So, let's not waste any more of your time by indulging into formalities and let's dive straight into it, shall we?
1. CIRCE BY MADELINE MILLER
The first book that comes into my mind when someone asks me to recommend them a book these days is Circe by our very own Madeline Miller. If you are a person who wants to know more about Greek mythology since it’s all the rage these days but do not have enough time to read about it through Homer and his Iliad or Odyssey, Circe is the book for you. I, personally, am a huge Greek mythology fan and I was initially doubtful about Circe because every other person on the internet was reading the book and I used to be a believer of the norm that if something appeals to then masses then it must not be artistically pleasing, but, guess who was proved wrong by Circe, yeah you guessed it right.
In Circe, Miller tells the story of Odysseus’s return to Ithaca after the Trojan war and everything (or shall I say every nymph *winks*) that he encounters during this journey. To be clear, Homer has depicted Circe in his version as a nymph who turns Odysseus’s men into pigs and then becomes a huge barrier in their return journey but Miller wins our hearts by telling the story from the perspective of Circe herself. And the best thing about Miller’s narrative technique is that like other prominent authors she does not make the mistake of assuming that the reader already knows about Greek myths and Gods, she keeps describing every new character in the novel in order to make the book more accessible to the readers who are new in the Greek mythology fandom.
2. THE FORTY RULES OF LOVE BY ELIF SHAFAK
The second book in this list is Elif Shafak’s The Forty Rules of Love. Normally I do not prefer reading books which have love as their basic theme but I decided to challenge myself by reading a book that was entirely about love and its different aspects experienced by people all over the world throughout different eras and centuries. The world that we are living in right now is a very bizarre one, we do not have any idea about what is coming and most of us are not able to cope up with all that has happened. A lot of people are losing their faith and are driven towards depression and existential crisis, the darkness seems unending and no amount of Netflix seems to restore our faith and fill that void within us, in times like this,
The Forty Rules of Love becomes one such book that fills our hearts with love and our minds with peace. The narrative of this book runs parallel through centuries apart. One narrative is that of Eli, a middle-aged housewife who does not know what she wants in her life and has started feeling the lack of love in her life. The other narrative takes us to the past, telling us the story of the renowned Persian poet Rumi and Shamz of Tabriz. This is a book which has the strength to pull us from our depressing present and throw us in a past where love still has meaning.
3. READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN: A MEMOIR IN BOOK BY AZAR NAFISI
Azar Nafisi is an Iranian-American writer and professor of English literature. Reading Lolita in Tehran is a memoir published in 2003 in which Nafisi recounts her days in Tehran during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. It tells us about the restrictions imposed on the citizens of Iran during and even after the revolution. Nafisi used to teach at the University of Tehran but in 1995, in disagreement with faculty authorities over her refusal to wear the veil, she stopped teaching at the university. The narration of the book is focused on how after leaving the university Nafisi started commencing ‘secret’ meetings in her house where she used to discuss the “banned” literature in Iran with a few of her selected students. Basically, the modern and furthermore problematic version (as it happened in reality and that too in a third world country) of Dead Poets Society. So, literature nerds, ASSEMBLE!
4. THE KITE RUNNER BY KHALED HOSSEINI
There are a few books breathing in this world out there, that I want every human being to read.The kite runner is one such book.A book that I've read twice in the past year, twice because I couldn't resist the innocence of Hassan, only twice because Amir's journey overwhelms my heart.
It takes you to a journey so pious and heart wrenching that you want to read ahead but are also scared of what might happen next. There comes a time while reading this book, when you just feel the need to put everything aside and cry your heart out like an infant because that's how exhausting and engaging The Kite Runner is.Hassan's innocence purifies you,You start admiring this kid and even before you know it, you start pitying him. Amir enrages you but then makes you understand that he, too, was just a kid, craving for love.
Khaled Hosseini is a diasporic writer and he paints a beautiful picture of his land in this book which makes you believe in Edward Said's concept of orientalism, but as soon as you start getting mesmerized by the beauty and rawness of Afghanistan, something happens. Something so cruel that you heart starts aching.But, then again,Zendagi Migzara.
5. MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN BY SALMAN RUSHDIE
Salman Rushdie's Midnight's children won both the Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1981. It was awarded the "Booker of Bookers" Prize and the best all-time prize winners in 1993 and 2008 to celebrate the Booker Prize 25th and 40th anniversary.
It is a book representing the journey of Saleem Sinai, or, the journey of new India.Never, in my life, have I read a book so exhausting, overpowering, overwhelming and beautiful (all at the same time)
It took me exactly 2 weeks to let this book engulf myself entirely. Every word of this book refuses to shake itself away from your head, the words get imprinted on your soul forever.
As you reach the end of the book, you realize that even though this book contains so many characters, you feel the need of all those characters, you feel it creeping inside your head, this need lurks around your body and then suddenly forces itself on your heart, mind and soul. Rushdie creates an irresistible craving for the essence of midnight's children.
This is one of those books, that have the power to slightly brush your fingers when you start reading it,but by the end, even before you know it eats you alive.While reading the book, something takes over you and you start to feel this insane urge to do everything around midnight because, after all, midnight is when things happen, midnight is when things SHOULD happen.
Hence, I completed this book at midnight (hoping Rushdie would be proud of me).
6. GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER BY BERNARDINE EVARISTO
‘Girl, Woman, Other’, Bernardine Evaristo’s eighth novel was the co-winner of the 2019 Booker prize alongside Margaret Atwood's 'The testaments. The book follows the lives of 12 characters in the United Kingdom over several decades. I vaguely remember, the first time I heard about this book, I started wondering, will a book with so many characters and with their different journeys be able hold my attention for long enough? And now, all I can say is that I have fallen in love with these 12 characters. The storyline of this book is so heartwarming yet so heartbreaking. And man, do I love a book where a lot of totally different characters just sort of get together in one place in the end! Phew!
I remember reading one of Richard Wright's essay where he said that after writing Uncle Tom's children, he wanted to write a book that would not only make people teary-eyed, but make them question themselves, a book which has so much strength in it that it would make the hearts of the readers wonder, and then he wrote the masterpiece that was Native son. This book does something similar for me. It deals with so many unconventional topics at the same time that it's almost overwhelming. It makes you stop and ask yourself questions that you know you won't be able to answer because this world was never ready to make those answers available to you. Girl, Woman, Other becomes a must read in the present scenario, as a lot of people are trying to figure out and come to terms with the different aspects of sexuality and gender.
7. A LIFE IN WORDS BY ISMAT CHUGHTAI
Those of you who are not aware of the legend that Chughtai is, let me tell you something about her, born in pre-partition India, Chughtai was one of the prominent Urdu writers. A great friend of the great Manto, Chughtai was fascinated by literature and the power that it held and just like her friend, she was not afraid of writing about some of the most controversial topics of all time during an era when everything you said or did somehow ended up offending someone (wait, why does this sentence seem so relevant). To give you an example, Chughtai made history by writing one of the most controversial stories ever written in Urdu literature with her short story Lihaaf, which was published in 1942 and which had, as its main theme, the theme of…. Wait for it……. female sexuality and lesbianism, yeah, in 1942.
Now, until you digest that piece of information let me tell you, A life in words (originally published in Urdu as Kaghazi Hai Pairahan), is a memoir filled with some of Ismat’s most revolutionary stories and everything that happened in her life which shaped her mentality and made her the legend that she is.
8. FUNNY BOY BY SHYAM SELVADURAI
Shyam Selvadurai is a Sri Lankan diaspora writer who currently resides in Canada. Funny boy is a coming-of-age story set in the backdrop of the Sri Lankan civil war. The protagonist of the novel starts developing questions regarding his sexual identity and the story of his discovery of his sexual identity runs parallelly with the Sinhala-Tamil tensions leading to the riots in 1983. The most interesting fact about this book is that through Selvadurai’s narration, we get a first-hand experience of how it must have felt like to live in middle of all the chaos that ensued after the riots. Funny Boy is the kind of book that should be read by all of us because it helps us come face to face with some of the most serious issues that are engulfing the world and it tells us how we, as the bystanders of all the violence play a major part in the chaos.
9.THE PALACE OF ILLUSIONS BY Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
It is a 2008 novel by award-winning novelist and poet Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. The Palace of Illusions is basically a retelling of Mahabharata from the perspective of the woman who was the most wronged in the epic, a woman who did not deserve what the gods had written in her fate, a woman who was never given a voice of her own in the Mahabharata, DRAUPADI. I read this book last year and it changed my entire perspective of the epic. Imagine, the story of how Draupadi was ravished and destroyed told by Draupadi herself. It is overwhelming, it is enticing and most importantly, it is everything that mot of us wanted the Mahabharata to be. Divakaruni manages to give Draupadi a voice of her own but she never crosses her limit by writing something just for the sake of it, even at her most vulnerable moment, Divakaruni manages to show a that even Draupadi was a human being who committed some mistakes. The Palace of Illusions is one of the most honest books I have ever read and would definitely recommend each and every one of you.
10. VERONIKA DECIDES TO DIE BY PAULO COELHO
The last book in this list is the one which inspired me a lot, and not in the wrong way. Veronika Decides to Die is the story of Veronika who is battling with her mental issues when the book opens and she tries to end her life by attempting suicide, but, fortunately somehow she is saved and end up entering an asylum where she slowly learns the importance of life and the beauty of every moment that we breathe in. But, as soon as she starts to love her life, something drastic happens. No, I’m not going to give you any spoilers because this is a book that should be read in its entirety with personal perspectives. Coelho is an immensely talented writer, he is famous for his epic book The Alchemist but I personally prefer Veronika Decides to Die to all his other works.
So, guys, I hope I have written enough to convince you to read these books instead of wasting your lives sitting in front of a screen, staring at it for hours on end. Now, don’t you disappoint me by not reading these books.
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