At the beginning of every year, I religiously set a target for myself – the number of books I’m going to read in the year. I’m proud to say till this year I’ve always managed to meet the target and had even surpassed it some years (oh yes!). But this year, I realised that I had not met the target; actually, I was way, way below the mark. My excuse – it’s been a crazy year. I know I used the excuse last year also but this year I’m admitting it. Feeling a little bad about it but no worries I have still managed to read some fantastic books and loved the time I spent with them. Here are the top 5 books of 2021 I super enjoyed.
#1 A Promised Land by Barack Obama
This is a no-brainer. I’ve always admired the power couple as they created history in their own graceful manner. The memoir is easy to read; almost feels like a conversation going on rather than reading a tome. The modest background, the deep-rooted sense of responsibility, the willingness to work hard and dedication is well explained making it look like an obvious progression from one phase of his life to the other. His personal growth and the meteoric rise no longer appear like a cakewalk. Instead, I found it amazingly inspiring. I took my time reading it (it’s a huge book with 768 pages!) but it was worth it.
#2 Becoming – Michelle Obama
Well, this was unavoidable. If the husband was a pathbreaker, his better half couldn’t be far behind. Michelle Obama’s story reads like a fairy-tale our young girls must be made to read: you don’t need a Prince to save you, you are the heroine of your story. It was her sheer grit and determination that saw her excel at every step, whether in college or at work. Her struggles as a young mother, juggling home and work and suffering fits of guilt are something most of us could connect with. It was so intense and personal at some places that I could almost feel the pressure. I strongly recommended it to my young all-knowing teenager and her friends hoping to make them also see some light and get inspired.
#3 The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books) – Ruiz Zafon Carlos
This was one book that really got me hooked like anything after a long time. At times fast, at times perceptive, the story was full of surprises. I loved the way the whole narrative was constructed, with its sudden twists and turns. The setting is in Barcelona and that itself lends a romantic aura to the story. The story launches itself from the old, narrow by-lanes of Barcelona, among the dusty bookshelves of an esoteric library of obscure and forgotten books which are no longer in publication. Sounds intriguing, right? One is allowed to pick just one book from the shelves. Our young protagonist picks up an innocuous title and there begins his life of adventure what with the Devil chasing him at every turn (was it really the Devil or….?). Absolutely loved it from the first page.
#4 Squeeze Me: The Ultimate Satire for 2021 – Carl Hiaasen
If you like satire and dry humour and can withstand curious looks from others as you are shaking with uncontrolled laughter, then this is the book for you. I had picked it randomly; the title looked cheesy and, but the blurb had an enticing ring to it, so I went ahead. And believe me, it was a good reprieve after the drudgery of the day and a far cry from the kinds of books I had been reading. And politics are always a perfect setting for anything that doesn’t make sense. The POTUSSIES, a group of offensively rich old women from Florida, hold a swanky gala for their POTUS (you-know-who!)! And when one of them disappears, the President promptly blames the invading immigrants for this and from then on, it’s one rollercoaster ride. I mean even the python in the story did not make the kind of moves this story did, and I’m not joking. Don’t miss it, you won’t regret it (I mean who regrets a good nonsensical laugh riot?)
#5 No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention – Reed Hastings
From my mailbox to the various advertisements, everywhere it was this book which was the reigning number one. I was not really that interested initially since I was over the reading management books phase and not much of a Netflix person but decided to give it a try after a fellow bibliophile swore by it. From page one, I was hooked. The language was easy, the thought process relatable and the format innovative. I guess that’s not a surprise since Reed Hastings couldn’t have reached where he has reached without some innovative thinking. Some of the processes are so out-of-the-box that they appear otherworldly; yet when you get to see the eventual result you realise it’s so obvious – I mean why didn’t someone think about it earlier? Yes, it’s industry-specific and may not apply to everyone yet there are important takeaways. Loved it. I had written a book review about this book.
Grace asked in all her naivety, “What do you like best about reading?”
Anderson replies, “…It’s going somewhere without ever taking a train or ship, an unveiling of new, incredible worlds. It’s living a life you weren’t born into and a chance to see everything coloured by someone else’s perspective. It’s learning without having to face consequences of failures, and how best to succeed….I think within all of us, there is a void, a gap waiting to be filled by something. For me, that something is books and all their proffered experiences.”
(Extract from The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin)
That sums up what I feel about books. Happy reading!
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