That Tag

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?


8 thoughts on “That Tag

  1. 1. Looking forward to that blogpost.
    2. I tried reading it when I was abt 20 – I couldn’t finish it.
    3. You commie haters – Communism isn’t Stalin.
    4-7, 9, 10 Pass – I haven’t read any of them.
    8. On my list.

    Honorable mentions –
    1. Mmm – OK but overrated.
    Remaining I haven’t read any.
    PS: I hate Ayn Rand.

    My List.

  2. PS: How did I forget to list Stieg Larsson’s Trilogy – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

    Must read – highly recommended – at least the first of the trilogy.

    • Calling me a Commie hater is like calling Kim Jong Un a Democracy lover 🙂
      Two books from your List that will make it to my Other List : To Kill a mockingbird (!yeah ) and Harry Potter. I have no strong opinion on Ayn Rand yet. I’m reattempting Atlas Shrugged now, my fourth attempt. So verdict will be out if and when I finish it. Same with Fountainhead, will know if I love it or hate it after my second reattempt.
      The Stieg Larsson Trilogy is actually on my immediate To Read list.

  3. This is an interesting post – maybe you could expand it up as well. My guess is that this is a dynamic list – things will move in and out and orders can shuffle(there is usually some order, since it is a closed and shortish list)

    I am constantly on the lookout for good reads, and top-ten listings are great especially when each book has a some extra information about it.

    @The Visitor: Ditto for your listing, except that it would have been great if there was an accompaning line or two about the book.

    To kill a mocking bird is definitely up there in my list. Considering re-reading some books as well, especially those that were completed a decade ago or earlier.

      • Top ten lists are difficult when there is so much to choose from – maybe its got to be a 100 or a 50 or at least a 25. Ive decided to be biased and pull in books that changed things rather than have the usual big ones – pop/classics etc. Maybe books that helped graduate to another genre or indirectly helped shape things in life or perhaps surprised me. In no particular order(but do i see a pattern there?).

        – To kill a mocking bird .. will be found in most lists i guess.. i wonder how the author stayed a one-book wonder..
        – A way to dusty death .. kick-started serious reading with this book.. serious in the sense that it was the usual Hardy boys and stuff like that till then
        – Kane and abel.. moved up a notch with this book.. also helped shed the reluctance for big books.. a surefire case of how books can hook you if you have a gripping start
        – Sea of poppies.. relatively recent read.. well-researched.. the pigdin has its charm..
        – The old man and the sea.. helped move away from the usual thriller/adventure/horror/popular etc genre..
        – A stone for danny fisher.. very well fleshed out characterization.. got fixated with Robbins for a while after this..
        – The god of small things .. wasnt too keen initially but it was temporarily available at home and i had the time.. got me interested again in Indian writing(which took a whole long while till the sea of poppies)
        – The sum of all fears.. ensured that i began full-time cherry-picking books big on research, and Clancy always delivered
        – Grimus .. surprised why this book didnt have too many takers.. i enjoyed the fantastical worlds and elements.. agreed its in no way a Tolkien or Rowling work, but it was good..
        – A town like alice.. gets in here mainly because i saw this recently somewhere – a book that was at home for a very long time before i decided to read it one bored afternoon for want of better options.. a light feel-good book very different from the usual fare that i was on

        Ive missed out adding a lot more and from a range of genres as well. This post will be re-visited.

  4. What is it with everyone and To Kill a Mockingbird? I think I missed something in that book. Maybe I should read it again to see why it is on everyone’s list.
    I haven’t read many of the books on your list, but I’ve picked A Town Like Alice and that is on my To Read list now.
    Have you read River of Smoke? That wasn’t as good as Sea of Poppies. The problem with trilogies, you expect more and more.
    Yes. This list should be revisited often 🙂 Something will suddenly pop up and make you say ‘Oh god, how did I miss that one’

    • River of Smoke is on my Amazon cart for a while now. I read differing views about it, but i guess you are right. Depending on the scope of the narrative, some authors may have put all in for the first and the intensity tapers off as they continue on.

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