There’s this tag doing the rounds on Facebook. Top ten books that changed your life. I’m too cool to participate in Facebook tags. Also, most of my real life Facebook friends are more Like-and-Facebook-will-donate-one-dollar or Share-in-2-seconds-to -avoid-bad-luck or the Profound Quotes by Rumi and Gandhi sharing types. And on the other extreme I’m intimidated by some of the lists that I see. What if my top ten books are too plebeian for the book bourgeois and they judge me. Someone listed Dante’s Inferno on her list. I tried ten pages of that book after I read the more common-man Dan Brown’s Inferno and gave up in frustration. There’s a lot of Shakspeare also being listed. I wonder if they are being pretentious or they’ve read more Shakespeare than what was prescribed in school. Or maybe abridged versions are allowed on the List. Yes, they should be. I don’t know the rules. Anyway. I wanted to list mine. This is in no particular order.
( Warning: Too many old blogposts linked here. Kindly adjust)
1. The God of Small Things- Arundhati Roy
People seem to either hate the book or love it. But I’m tampering with the laws that lay down which book should be loved, and how. And how much. This gets its own blogpost soon. And so does She.
2. Gone with the Wind- Margaret Mitchell
The book has grown up with me. I read it from the perspective of someone new every time I read it. And it is like reading a whole new book each time
3. Animal Farm- George Orwell
This should be the prescribed textbook in Commie School and should be read even before The Communist Manifesto. Absolute brilliance. And there’s no better way than this to have called Stalin a pig.
4. Nancy Drew- Carolyn Keene
A part of my childhood died when I learnt that Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym for a group of authors. But then there were some books that kept me up all night with a torch under the pillow and some books that were returned to VK Library, unread. Explains. But Nancy Drew made me write Detective against Ambition when everyone else was writing Doctor or Teacher, and prepare fingerprint kits with cellotape and talcum powder. Again, this gets a separate blogpost soon.
5. Dark Places- Gillian Flynn
It was a tie between this and Gone Girl, but Dark Places was deliciously dark cranberry flavoured bitter chocolate and it pipped the mind games of Gone Girl by one point. Protagonists who are nothing are really something.
6. The Mahabarata- By Anyone
From the ACK comic books to Prem Panicker’s tweets as @epicretold. Jaya, Palace of Illusions, Ajaya, Karna’s Wife. I’ve read almost every non-serious version of this book and still can’t get enough of it. And Karna. Sigh. Oh Karna. Why isn’t someone writing Karna’s version of it? The closest we’ve got from Karna’s point of view is Dhalapathi. I want a book.
7. Little Women- Louisa May Alcott
The chapter with Jo getting her story published was in my fifth standard English textbook. And I’ve been hooked since then. I’ve read the book right from the baby version when I was ten to the actual unabridged version very recently. Beth doesn’t die in the baby version. And when she did, I felt exactly like Joey . This too deserves a separate blogpost.
8. A Fine Balance- Rohinton Mistry
Read it very recently. I can’t imagine that I lost out on all that darkness and depression for so many years of my life.
9. The Illicit Happiness of Other People- Manu Joseph
This is popping up on a lot of lists. I’m still recovering from this book . I continue to pick up random passages every now and then and just relish them again
10. The Cuckold- Kiran Nagarkar
Strange how Krishna who spoke so much about Duty in the Gita encourages Meera to not do her duty as a wife. Ok, that’s my interpretation. But this book tells the tale from the Prince of Mewar’s point of view. The husband who lost his wife to a god.
Honourable Mentions. I thought I’ll have a difficult time listing my Books, but there are some more.
1. The Kite Runner- Khaled Hosseni. He killed it with that Bollywood ending though.
2. The Diary of Anne Frank- Anne Frank. Because it is actually a happy book. Just set during a horrible time.
3. City of Joy- Dominique Lapierre. Priests, poverty, foreign doctors. Lepers, more lepers and even a leper wedding. Reality. What’s there not to like in this book.
4. Half of a Yellow Sun- Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. I have no clue if the Nigerians still want it, but I wish for a Biafra someday. That’s the secessionist in me talking. Yeah. I’m like that.
5. The Ring and Message from Nam- Danielle Steel- Ouch. Danielle Steel. But yes, I romanticize wars. Or maybe I should read these two books again to see if I still feel the same way about them
6. As The Crow Flies- Jeffrey Archer. Such a pity that the guy who wrote this story of Charlie Trumper is now torturing us with The Clifton Chronicles
10. The Seige and The Betrayal- Helen Dunmore. Because Soviet Russia. Because World War II. Because dark, cold and depressing.
8. Crosswinds- Keepsake. My first series of books with the boy-girl covers. Clean American High School fun. Good old days when sex, booze and cigarettes were not a thing in young adult fiction.
9. Master of the Game- Sidney Sheldon. He’s not called a master storyteller for nothing. Maybe I was too young for it when I read it first. But it only kept getting better and better the second and the third time I read it. A book that keeps you reading through the night whenever you read it even though you know what is going to happen next.
10. Anthem- Ayn Rand. Dystopian as dystopian can get.
Waah. I want to list some more now. But maybe I’ll do a list of popular books that I just don’t get.
What’s on your list?