Seven books I am tempted to read in 2017. Can you suggest some others?
According to a meme circulating on social media, readers of books represent less that a third of our population. Some dispute that number. Others hope that those who do not read books are reading more on social media. My thoughts: across the centuries since books became common, most people were not readers.
My parents were not bookies, but read newspapers and magazines long before there was an internet. I do not remember lots of books in our house as I was growing up. Nevertheless, I became a bookie. I always have one or two books working. Sometimes, three or four.
I read and read and read. I read actual hold-in-your hand books for escape and pleasure. Mainly, I read historical novels and mysteries. I read what many would consider trash as well as higher-brow stuff. Even the so-called trashy books teach me stuff I probably would not learn elsewhere.
I rarely read non-fiction. When I do it is most biography and history, but occasionally science or religious studies.
I used to buy books, now I rely on the library. I take out ten or twelve books at a time. I visit at least one library twice a month (I belong to three here in Colorado). Usually,I pull books written by authors who have proved amusing when I have read one or another of their books. Then, I pull other books at random. I also look at the best sellers and the library staff’s suggestion.
I am also a Social Media Junkie. I get most of my non-fiction reading done via articles on the internet.
This year I was tempted to plan some reading based on the suggestions of a long time blogger friend Pranav who blogs as Peace Restfulness. Here is his list of the 7 best books he read in 2016.
Journey under the Midnight Sun, Keigo Higashino
Translated from Japanese, this crime novel has a very different structure compared to the ones I have read before. It tracks the lives of the people related to a murder in Osaka, over 20 years. The murder remains unsolved but the detective assigned to the case keeps trying even after retiring from the police. Does he finally find the murderer and the motive?
Other books by Higashino that I would suggest are Malice and Salvation of a Saint. (I am yet to read his most popular work Devotion of Suspect X.)
Govinda, Krishna Udayasankar
I was nearly planning to ditch this slim book after finding the first few chapters very boring. Glad I didn’t! This historical-fictional story shows how Singapore became a trade hub in early 13th century, much before its current rise. But what I found inspiring is that in the process of making the island an international commercial power, the protagonist Nila Utama finds what it means to truly be a king.
The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair, Joel Dicker
This is perhaps one of the most gripping (and humorous) murder mysteries I have read. The dead body of a girl who disappeared 20 years ago in a small US town, suddenly resurfaces from the grounds of an author, Harry Quebert. The protagonist, who is a mentee of this author, sets out to solve the murder and writes a novel in the process. (Although it was a best-seller and critically acclaimed, there were some plagiarism concerns when it was released.)
The Valley of Masks, Tarun J Tejpal
Suggested by my cousin Harish, this engaging novel by Tejpal (yes, the Tehelka guy) is about a person who escapes from a cult-like isolated community in a Himalayan valley, and shares his life story to make everyone aware what it means to blindly follow some ideology. He is among the fastest rising and most devoted disciples of the cult, till he undergoes something disturbing and everything goes haywire. You find that out only in the last 15 pages or so. This is perhaps the best fiction I read in 2016. (His other book The Alchemy of Desire is good too.)
Antifragile, Nassim Taleb
I really liked Taleb’s earlier books – Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan, so was after this one for a pretty long time. Antifragile systems are those which benefit from chaos, i.e. uncertain outcomes make them stronger. The concept is especially true for all natural systems (like evolution), but doesn’t hold for most of the man-made ones. Which is why Taleb rings alarm bells – slight disorder somewhere can bring the entire system crashing down.
The Antidote, Oliver Burkeman
Picked this one up on Derek Sivers’ recommendation. The sensible anti-chocolaty approach of this book about happiness in life appealed to me, especially during difficult times. It focuses on the point that accepting things as they are can bring peace. It covers stoicism, Buddhism, death, meditation, etc.
Move your DNA, Katy Bowman
In this difficult-to-read but very insightful book, Bowman writes about ‘movement nutrition’. In case you have never heard of this term, it implies that when there is a lack of movement (just like nutritious food), various illnesses appear. She says that exercise is just a small subset of movement, and that continuous movement throughout the day is more important than spending 45 minutes exercising and then doing nothing! She also suggests flat soled shoes, squats, hanging from overhead rods and a variety of poses which seem to me like Yoga. This is a definite read. I only wish it was written in a simpler way.
The best novel I read in 2016 was Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone. The story of twin brothers born to in Ethopia to an Indian nun who died at their birth; their father was Thomas Stone, a British surgeon who disappeared the day the boys were born. One twin became a doctor, the other a Shamanistic healer. Ethopia overthrew their Emperor during the twins life span. Beautifully written and illuminating.
The best non-fiction? I read books for escape and do my non-fiction reading on-line and mostly via articles. However, I did re-read God According To God by
Emotional Fitness Thoughts
Reading serves as a self-soothing exercise for me. It also resonates with the following Emotional Fitness Exercises: Remembering What Matters, Honoring the Past, Laugh and Play.
Thank you for all you do
Remember to share all you find of value on the internet. All who post crave recognition. A like says “Thank You.” Comments say you have read and thought about the post. Sharing is a gift to three people: the blogger, the people you share with, and you for your kindness blesses you.
Add to my proposed list: Tell me the best fiction and non-fiction books you read this year.
Links of Interest
These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.
- Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
- The five components of emotional Intelligence (www.sonoma.edu)
- About Emotional Fitness Training (emotionalfitnesstraining.com)
- An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents (amazon.com)
Even the most learned researchers and therapists quarrel about much. Take their advice and mine carefully. Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart. Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others. As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.
Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors
If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here; I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what like me. Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability, Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense. If you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, stop reading, I will understand.