Reading Challenge 2019

This year has been by far, the best year ever since i touched my twenties, in terms of the amount of reading i got done.

1. I started the year with Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. What it tweaked in my grey cells, I’m not sure, but i realised that I’ve been right about most things including Buddhism, all along.

2. I had no idea that Rahul Sanskrutyayan had published a book in 1943 that might be burnt in the streets today for suggesting an alternative history.
Volga to Ganga took me on a breathtaking journey of self-discovery. This book made me feel spiritually connected to humanity as never before, and believe me, I’m about as spiritual as a rotten turnip.

3. Slaughterhouse- Five by Kurt Vonnegut, i started reading it happily thinking it would be like Catch 22. Anushrees fault, this book was her suggestion. This little book was nothing like Catch 22 or anything I’ve ever read. It was gut wrenching, and i recommend it should only be read when one is NOT anywhere near a psychic collapse or civilizational collapse.

4. I started Meditations by Marcus Aurelius with grave reservations. Meditation makes me think of ungodly things. And so is this book, quite ungodly, just a fellow writing how tough it is to be king. To judge people correctly and fight the demons of past mistakes, this book left me with a feeling of peace.

5. Ants Among Elephants, by Sujatha Gidla, my friend Parul made me read. The nuances of class vs caste in the backdrop of a communist movement, it’s a never ending maze that leads to the Telengana Armed Revolt, the Naxalite movement of Bengal and all the Maoist movements in other parts of the country. How little I know of history!
A student of science in India in plus 2 can narrate all of indian history in about 5 words – Mughal, British, Gandhi, Nehru, Bjp. I am hoping to correct my knowledge in the coming year.

6. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie opened my eyes to the cultures of the indigenous peoples of Nigeria, and the experience of being coloured in a white supremacist world.
Sadly, the trans exclusivist comments being attributed to the author made me realise all the more the need for INTERSECTIONAL feminism.

7. One of my favourite discoveries was The Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hasek. It is a hilarious take on the territorial animal called man, and how civilizations fall to the folly of racial, ethnic and communal divides.

8. My affinity for irreverence in all walks of life led me to Good Omens by Terri Pratchett, Neil Gaiman. Though not in the same league as The Hitchhiker’s Guide of Douglas Adams, it is one of the most politically correct but hilarious books I’ve read.

9. Wendy Donigers book The Hindus almost got banned in India. That was the reason i picked it up. It was a revelation. I realised the vastness of the blind spot we have for ourselves and our own kind. It was difficult to read for me, because i had no idea about the tools of the Historian. I strongly recommend it even if, like me, you have to google something on every page, to cross check or to understand.

10. Amrita Shergill by Yashodhara Dalmia left me thirsting for more on women artists of the world. For every Pablo Picasso, there are innumerable Amrita Shergills who lost the gender lottery. This book also made me think of all the unsung artists who could have been, had they been born to the privilege of Shergill herself.

11. Because i couldn’t watch it, and i was feeling like a kid left out from the party, i read The Game of Thrones. In bits and parts, it’s interesting. But fantasy is not my genre. Towards the end of it, i felt like i have been cheated and would have demanded all those hours I’ve wasted on it, back, so I can read some real realism. I’m a freak of nature, i didn’t even like Harry Potter.

12. Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey, was my first Rohinton Mistry and is certainly not going to be the last. I’m going to read up everything else he’s written, hoping to find at least one strong and central female character.

13. In an Antique Land by Amitava Ghosh, takes one on an extremely well researched journey as is expected from Amitava Ghosh. One makes Harrison Fordesque swashbuckling discoveries while sitting in old and decaying libraries. The only regret one is left with at the end of any Amitava Ghosh book is that he lays the facts before you without making a statement. It’s on my frail shoulders to make a moral out of the story, whether we be reading about Marichjhapi or Morocco.

14. A History of God by Karen Armstrong I started reading as part of my self education project on world religions. In particular, i wanted to know about the religion that’s always in news – Islam. Religion has always been a tool of politics, history has proved several times over. And the opiate of the masses cannot be done away with either. So here we are, still warring over who’s imaginary friend is the best.

15. Seeing Like a Feminist, Nivedita Menon, a book that every woman should read. I can’t believe that I’ve lived so many years of my life not knowing my own home. Exactly why the personal is political was answered to me in the language i understand- the language of logic and justice.

16. Buffalo Nationalism by Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd. It’s not very healthy to discuss the creature, certainly not it’s fair cousin. This book is not an easy read for those who haven’t read Mr Shepherd before. It is a compilation of essays and definitely worth a read.

17. Daughters of the Sun, Ira Mukhoty, a feminist read of Mughal history. The more we ‘otherize’ via whatsapp, there will always be the ones who will humanise.

18. The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van der Kolk, the psychopathology of trauma, the most challenging and intriguing field in modern Psychiatry. I have so much to say about this book that I’ve lingered on over so many sentences and researches, it will end up being another 500 word post to review this one.

19. The easiest read of the year was Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt. It was roll on floor laughing funny and poignant. Strongly recommended read for doctors everywhere.So finally I come to the books i couldn’t finish.
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham and Dale Carnegie’s How to win friends….
Both books were making my grey cells commit mass suicide. But even the books i couldn’t read, told me so much about myself. I am no investor, perhaps I’m not even intelligent. I am certainly not out to make friends. These books were profound statements in what i would never want to be or do.

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