Every year, I spend a lot of time on choosing the books I want to read. I find my recommendations from a variety of sources - reading lists, Reddit, friends, popular culture, and mentions in books. And this end of year list is something I do to point out the brightest ones from a sea of innumerable beautiful stars. Let's jump right into it.
1. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
The first thought that came to my mind when I finished reading this book was, “What do I do with my life now?” It left me feeling like I have now read everything that I would ever want to read and nothing that I pick again is going to match its level. This is an incredible book, a masterpiece. Of course you don’t need me to say this about the sole recipient of The Best of the Booker award. I had never read a Rushdie before so I did not know what I was getting into. And his imagination and the richness of characters totally blew me away.
People adept at their craft are sometimes called magicians out of respect. In Rushdie’s case, this is a veritable truth and not just in a metaphorical sense. I never imagined that language and words could be used in this way; I was spell bound. Midnight's Children ranks right up there with the best books I have ever read. And I would urge you vehemently to make this your next book to read.
2. Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind - Yuval Noah Harari
Over the past few years, I have dramatically reduced my internet reading. Instead, I like to read books which offer in depth material on a certain topic. Knowledge empowers the mind to make informed choices. And with Sapiens, I found answers to a lot of questions which plague me as an individual and also as a member of our society.
When I picked this book, I imagined that I’d learn a lot about mankind’s history from the prehistoric times up to today. But it did a lot more than inform me - it changed my worldview. Instead of passive knowledge, I received active wisdom. It helped me look at the world around me and things that I care about in a different light. And I couldn’t help but recommend this to every person I met.
3. A Farewell To Arms - Ernest Hemingway
If you read a Hemingway, and it doesn’t feature in your Best-Of list, you probably didn’t read it right. He is one of my favorite authors and from whose writing style I try to take a lot. A Farewell of Arms is an intense World War 1 story and one of his best works. I want to leave you with the most famous quote from this book:
“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”
4. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupéry
It might come across as a children’s book. But it is much more than that. The best lessons are the ones which nudge you in the right direction from where you can travel on your own. And not the ones where you are pushed onto and you are not sure what you are supposed to do now. This book comes under the former category. Apart from the charming story and the illustrations, the author himself is quite a character. Its a cute, lovable, simple, deep book all at the same time. Read this with your partner or read it with your kids, and share laughter, happiness and timeless wisdom.
Other Notable Mentions:
I read a few Agatha Christies which never disappoint. Also read a couple of books from The Song of Ice and Fire series - I only wish I had experienced them before watching the TV show first. Non-fiction works like Deep Work, Predictably Irrational, Song Machine and As a Man Thinketh were interesting reads as well.
I hope you do get around to reading some of these. If you like these recommendations, check out the rest of my reading list here.
Lists from previous years: