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. Reasons to Stay Alive - Matt Haig
It is a memoir about the author's depressive disorders and the ways he copes with them. I found this book at a time when I was struggling with my own mental health. And reading about the author's account helped me in a way sharing your problems with a friend does. It also taught me a lot about what depression and anxiety feels like in severe cases. I would highly recommend this book if you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health issues. It may not solve all the problems, but it definitely eases the burden.
It had long been in my wishlist but I was never too keen to read it. I am not a runner, so I assumed that this wouldn't interest me too much. I was wrong. It is a captivating story, told beautifully. Although it speaks a lot about running, there was never a moment when I thought, 'this is boring'. It has inspired me to take up running (albeit short distances) and also showed me how we humans have expandable limits.
3. Walk Through Walls: A Memoir - Marina Abramovic
Marina Abramovic is a performance artist. If you don't know what performance art, check out this short clip of her explaining what it is.
To say I was intrigued by her work would be an understatement. She has been one of the flag bearers of this art form for which there have been few takers and a lot of skeptics. During this time, she kept creating, surviving (and thriving). And her memoir is an account of her eccentric, bohemian and utterly fascinating life.
A short clip to get you started on her work.
4. Peter Camenzind: A Novel - Hermann Hesse
Hermann Hesse is one of my favorite authors and I always look forward to reading one of his works. Peter Camenzind is a light, breezy coming of age story. Peter is every one of us, or at least a part of us. He is an innocent, young boy who loves the mountains and the river near his home. As he grows up, he moves to the city and deals with conflicts not uncommon to what we face in our lives.
If you haven't read a Hesse yet, start with this one. As soon as I finished reading it, I practically shoved it into my wife's hands. And she was not disappointed. Neither would you be.
Other Notable Mentions:
Daniel Pink's When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing was insightful. It provided me with small hacks that can improve my life considerably.
I also read Charles Bukowski. His stories reflected my somber mood and I would often be drinking while reading them. I'd recommend Post Office.
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson. If you like to follow debates on popular cultural issues like feminism, drug legalisation, gender identity etc., chances are you would have heard about him. The rules look simple, but have gravitas when you look deeper.
Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck was an interesting read.
And finally, The Complete MAUS by Art Spiegelman, one of the few graphic novels I have ever read was a moving real-life story.
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: