Cough, cough, may I draw your attention to book number 13 on the list.
1. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Genre: Non-fiction/ Feminism
What we love: Feminism is a term that catches many people off-guard these days. Some women profess to espouse it freely while others are dubious at the label and wonder if it is something they should acquire. In this short, yet powerful book, based on Adichie’s TED talk on the same subject, she clearly, proudly and elegantly explains why we should all be feminists, irrespective of gender, nationality or background. This is a book we should all read.
2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Genre: Speculative Fiction
What we love: The Canadian writer and novelist, Atwood, is hailed for her scintillating word play and her focus on strong female characters. This particular book is especially relevant because it speaks of a dystopian near-future where women are subjugated and oppressed. How the women overthrow the chains of patriarchy forms the central premise and it’s something women everywhere can understand.
3. Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai
What we love: Reviewers of this book unanimously agree that what makes this book stand apart is the hysterical attention to satire and humour. If you’re in the market for a light-hearted read about a young boy, Sampath, caught between a band of alcoholic monkeys and a group of annoyed villagers, then this one’s for you.
4. The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
What we love: Draupadi is one of the strongest characters in the Mahabharata but very few writers have done justice to that role the way Divakaruni does in this splendid book. With every page, every turn and every agonising moment of indecision and strength, we stand with Draupadi in solidarity. The author breathes magic into the reader’s soul with writing that is flawless, vivid and so stunning that you will be left breathless at the end.
5. Bossypants by Tina Fey
Genre: Memoir/ Humour
What we love: Fans of the show ’30 Rock’ will be familiar with the sarcastic wit and off-the-cuff humour that is Tina Fey’s trademark style. That’s precisely what she brings to her first book and boy, does she do a fabulous job of it too! Fey is completely comfortable in her skin and it’s the classic case of ‘What you see is what you get’. That always strikes a chord with the reader. Pick up this book. You won’t regret it.
6. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
What we love: Crime, deception, betrayal, marriage- this book is about all of this and more. But the true strength lies in the writing. Fast-paced, ingenious and so skillful in execution that the reader is left gasping at the twists and turns. Flynn manages to hook the reader from the get go. If you’re a fan of crime thrillers replete with dysfunctional characters and a devious plot line, this one’s for you.
7. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Genre: Writing/ Self help
What we love: Most people know Elizabeth Gilbert by her iconic bestseller, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, which was turned into a Hollywood film. But it is Big Magic, written a decade after that book, that gives us a clear insight into the immersive fount that propels this writer forward. Consider it a self-help book on how to reach into the recesses of your creative self and move forward motivated by curiosity and not fear.
8. Chocolat by Joanne Harris
What we love: The delicious tale of a chocolatier, Vianne Rocher, who arrives in a sleepy French village is layered with the theme of temptation struggling against societal strictures. A gently stirred romance gives readers a taste of Harris’ brilliant storytelling prowess. By literally teasing their taste buds with chocolate, the protagonist helps the other characters explore feelings that they’ve kept hidden for far too long. Culinary fans and those who enjoy chocolate with a touch of intensity, this is a book you’d adore.
9. Mrs. Funnybones by Twinkle Khanna
What we love: Twinkle Khanna has taken the parenting space by storm with her witty, tongue-in-cheek columns on the frank and rather trying experiences of being a mum. The thing that clicks with the readers is how she bridges the gap between the A-listers and the regular parent, through honest portrayals of daily life. Somewhere, a mum feels comforted knowing that she isn’t the only one who feels this way. If you’re looking for a light-hearted page turner, this book should be on your shelf.
10. The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey
Genre: Parenting/ Education
What we love: Failure is a word that is anathema to parents everywhere, because it apparently signifies that we’ve not fulfilled our parenting duties. In this eye-opening book, Lahey, an educator and writer, speaks from personal experience, using little anecdotes and actual incidents to teach us that failure is, in fact, a good thing. Letting our kids fail is the best thing we can do for them. Don’t miss this one!
11. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Genre: Fiction, short stories
What we love: Jhumpa Lahiri blazed onto the literary stage with this stunning debut of short stories. A couple with a troubled marriage who find themselves talking inadvertently when there is a power outage, a young man who goes to America with his new bride, a little Indian girl in New England who forms an unlikely friend in a Pakistani visitor to her house, a Caucasian woman who has an affair with an older Indian man, these stories are perfectly crafted. As women, we are forever curious about our identities and our personal growth, which is why this book asks interesting questions of this journey.
12. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
Genre: Mental Health
What we love: Have you ever seen someone battling depression and mental illness? Jenny has, and does everyday when she looks into the mirror. You’d think a book about mental illness would be depressing but the Bloggess, as she is known, takes depression and anxiety, turns them inside out, on their head and laughs uproariously at them. You’ll find yourself awed and humbled by the resilience of this woman.
13. The Face At The Window by Kiran Manral
What we love: Known for her romance novels, Kiran Manral broke form with her foray into the horror genre with this book. Horror isn’t easy to write, no matter how easy Stephen King makes it sound. It takes a certain talent to make the reader’s skin crawl, cause goosebumps to erupt and make the hair stand on end. Manral does a wonderful job of this with her descriptive prose. You may be forgiven for never keeping the drapes open at your window again, after you’ve read this book.
14. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Genre: Suspense/ Thriller
What we love: Currentlt a leading HBO television series, Big Little Lies is one of Moriarty’s most-loved dark comedies. It speaks of the bond among three mothers Jane, Madeline and Celeste. The thread that ties them together is the fragile one of domestic abuse survivors peppered with a sprinkling of humour that the author manages to pull off without seeming flippant. From ex-husbands to second wives, infidelity to abuse, this book tells us how it’s the little lies that can grow slowly to become truly lethal.
15. Chain of Custody by Anita Nair
Genre: Mystery/ Crime fiction
What we love: In the second of the Inspector Gowda novels, Anita Nair taker the readers into the dark underbelly of the child trafficking ring that is the cosmopolitan city of Bengaluru. In a world where everyone from the uber rich to the pimps on the street have each other in their pockets, Gowda appears as a breath of fresh air. His detective skills are noteworthy while his human side is brought to the fore in the rekindling of passion with his college sweetheart. The book’s strength lies in the unflinching way Nair explores a difficult theme while maintaining the dignity of the protagonist amidst the grime.
16. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Genre: Fantasy/ Fiction
What we love: If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’d have heard of the boy wizard, Harry Potter and his life at Hogwarts. Contrary to belief, this isn’t just a series for children. Rowling’s prose is at once splendid and evocative, letting the readers drown themselves in a world of magic, mysticisim, witches, wizards and muggles. Get the entire box set of 7 novels. It’s worth it!
17. Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg
Genre: Non-Fiction/ Leadership
What we love: In what can only be described as a global movement, the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, wrote a powerful manifesto on the need to bridge the gender gap in the workplace. Drawing from her own life as an example and speaking of the support she had from her husband and partner, Dave, Sandberg makes a powerful case for ‘leaning in’ and how we must all do our bit to make this happen all the time.
What we love: This award-winning novel is not for the faint-hearted. Shriver dives deep into the psyche of a mother who must come to terms with the fact that her son, Kevin, has killed nine of his classmates in a school massacre. The letter-writing format of the book makes for a unique reading experience while exploring the themes of maternal guilt and the adversarial nature of the mother-son relationship. Proceed with caution.
19. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
What we love: This book holds the distinction of being in the TIME 100 best English novels from 1923 to 2005. Anyone who has ever been an immigrant or felt the pain of being in a country different from your origin, would relate to this one. Focusing on the lives of two old wartime friends- Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal- the book traces the themes of race, immigration and assimilation with effortless ease. What works for the book is the gentle satire mixed with the pathos of displacement.
20. When She Went Away by Andaleeb Wajid
Genre: Young Adult
What we love: A simple story of a family waking up to find that their mother has left them turns into an exploration of meaning and relationships. The beauty of this author’s writing is the instant connect that she manages to build through her simple but elegant prose. Author of over 9 novels, Wajid brings a certain flair to the YA category of fiction, at once elevating it to serious reading without taking away from the relatable nature of the story.
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