This year has been an absolute joy for my reading glasses. I feel very satisfied with how diverse I’ve been with my reading lists and also how inspired life feels with all these books. The need to stay close to the library has changed my life most certainly in 2016. I plan to keep things going briskly in the next year too, but let’s see how that plan goes. With a snowstorm and 11 inches of snow upon us, I thought it is as good a time as any to share my winter reading list on the blog. What have you been reading that I need to get on my list for next year?
2016 Winter Reading List
Books in red are for children (varying ages), so if you’re an adult into only adult books skip to the darker black titles instead.
1. Family Planning, Karan Mahajan
It’s Karan’s first novel set in Delhi and I picked it up because I really enjoyed his essay on immigrant experiences in the United States. What I liked best was the throwback into how we did talk in the 90s in Delhi. The novel weaves the picture of Delhi’s kids from the 90s through their emails in the most interesting fashion. It’s a quick, one time read.
2. I am Malala, Malala & Christina Lamb
Maybe it’s me, but I am not the biggest proponent of books that start with “I know you’d probably be thinking I have a great life, but…” It’s written to impress and educate a very Western audience and as someone who was displaced within her own country, it failed to inspire me. It also doesn’t help that Malala comes from a region not very far from Gilgit (my grandmother was born here) and Kashmir. Overall verdict- meh. This is naturally despite my feminism. I just don’t think it is about one person.
3. Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes
The premise of the book is extremely positive. I’m the person who has been known to finish entire packets of almonds before heading to a party alone. I feel stressed in gatherings with too many people because I’m a one-to-one friend and definitely not gregarious. This book allows you to look through a lot of your own habits (or comfort zones) and push the envelope a bit. It may feel a bit stretched as it goes on and on, but it’s a quick read and that makes it easy on an airplane. A good piece of casual reading that can have profound consequences, if you let it impact you so.
4. Wired to Care, Devdutt Patnaik
Skip. After the first two chapters, it keeps on going on and on. I went through the whole book imagining it will redeem itself, but it just doesn’t. I did not enjoy it, although I fully agreed with it. We need more empathy at work and home. But we also need better writers and storytellers to make us realize that.
5. The Second Shift, Arlie Hochschild
Please read this- if you’re a working woman, a parent, married or anyone interested in gender/ feminism. It’s a fantastic piece of literature to go through because no matter how “modern” you may think you are, this makes you look at your own ideas again. I was traveling with a couple of moms as I was reading this book. They basically behaved exactly how the research in this book suggested they would. I didn’t prompt any responses or color them. This research is very significant even in 2016.
6. Pablo Neruda : poet of the people, Monica Brown & Julie Paschkis
It’s beautifully illustrated and you may think it’s for kids, but it’s just as inspiring for adults. Neruda explores his negative capability and makes peace with uncertainty and ambiguity. The book leaves you with a smile and a need to create.
7. My Favorite Things, Maira Kalman
I am obsessed. No, really. I need Kalman in my life. Being able to see beauty in simple things in life isn’t easy and often questionable. Kalman sweeps me with extreme love for the mundane in ways that I look at my packet of safety pins and imagine art. It’s possibly the most beautiful book I’ve read all year (either this or #9 below).
8. In Other Words, Jhumpa Lahiri
Her own admission says that this is her only (or most?) personal work so far. I’ve been critical of the sadness her stories portray but you can’t not pay attention to her writing. Even if, in this case, it’s in Italian. I read the translated version and I wished I could read Italian to see how raw her writing felt. How does someone feel so relatable yet so overwhelmingly talented? In other words, especially if you’ve moved around a bit, you need to read this.
9. Maira Kalman : various illuminations (of a crazy world), Ingrid Schaffnar
So beautiful that it does feel like you’re in a museum of soulful or pop culture pretty. If you ever wondered what’s going on inside an artist’s mind, this book comes with amazing notes on the process and mind space. I feel this rush to keep looking at it and spend hours gaping at them all. You’ll want to slow read this one.
10. Dairy of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney
I wish someone had recommended Jeff Kinney to me in my growing up years. I am catching up now but it’s delightful to read when you’re a child struggling with the world and what it really means. Not that my world meaning is fully clear now but I’d have enjoyed it more as a kid.
11. Snoopy and the Red Baron, Charles Schulz
Great illustrations, complex plot (world war) and a quick, easy read. There’s nothing not to like.
12. Poorly Drawn Lines, Reza Farazmand
I didn’t read up the webcomic before I picked up the book. It was okay but did not draw me in too much. If you’re a fan of the comic, this will perhaps work better for you.
13. A Glance Backward, Pierre Paquet & Tony Sandoval
Very intriguing and great illustrations. It reminded me of Spirited Away (the movie). Highly imaginative plot and you’ll feel sucked in too.
14. The Dairy of a Teenage Girl, Phoebe Gloeckner
Did not enjoy anything about this book. So left it half way almost and then again realized that I just did not like it.
Currently Reading: Art and Visual Perception; Why we broke up; Alone Together; How to have a good day; Dear Data; Stoned: jewelry, obsession and how desire shapes the world; Yes Prime minister
Book that I could not finish: Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Rich promises to be a great read, but I need more time for it. The initial pages put me to sleep (like books do) but did not excite me enough. I love the premise though and may come back to it.