Okay.. I promise this shall be the last of my introspection posts. I shall no more thechufy this space with no content. Also.. Long post ahead.

As far as reading is concerned, 2014 has been really really good. The other day, Tharani and I were discussing the number of books we’ve read and it came as a surprise that I’ve actually read a total of 22 books. Out of which Harry Potter was a series of 7 books and Udaiyar was a series of 6 books, which makes it more than 30. Honestly, I am really proud of myself. Also the fact that I didn’t restrict myself with one genre and read non-fiction with as much vigor and ease as fiction makes me really happy.

I thought I’d do a small reco list of books here in this post. I had already written about my fascination of Harry Potter and Udaiyar. Also my rant on religion stemmed from the brilliant Infidel. Now that those are out of the way, here are my short reviews of others.

Book thief by Marcus Zusak
If I had to classify the top few books that I read in 2014, this one will be right up there with a few others. This book is about a small girl Liesel stuck in the care of her foster parents in Nazi Germany and who has a love affair with books and words. Also about Max, a Jew who is stuck at the wrong time and wrong place. Also, about Liesel’s foster parents. Also, about Liesel’s friend Rudy. About war. About the savages of war. About goodness in war. I don’t think I can ever do justice to a ‘review’ of this book.

This book’s original recommendation came from TGND and then Tharani gushed over it like nothing else. And only after I read did I understand why they loved it so much. This book overwhelms you with all the goodness. Eloquently written beautiful book. This book is not a fast read; it needs to be assimilated, its words appreciated and read at a slow place. Must read.

House Rules by Jodi Picoult
This book is one that kept lying in my bookshelf for more than a couple of years and finally found its way into my reading table. It is about a single mother, Emma whose autistic (actually, Asperger’s) son, Jacob is accused of murder. And, how they both cope with it and come out of it. I remember picking up this book ‘cos I know of a friend who has a son diagnosed with Asperger’s.

Picoult has actually etched the character of Theo well. She explains in great detail what Aspie does and what he/she actually abhors. She also kind of touches upon the healthcare system in the US which gave birth to this epidemic called autism. The plot was gripping till about three-fourth’s and then kind of petered out in the end. I felt the knots were not tied right; there still remained some lose ends. Nevertheless, worth a read.

The Girl Next Door by Elizabeth Noble
It is obvious on whose reco I picked this book from, don’t you? TGND, obviously. This book is about the lives of various people in an apartment in New York. Eve and Ed Gallagher have just moved from London. He’s eager, but Eve is feeling really lonely and a bit adrift. Then, she meets her elderly English neighbour Violet, a whole new friendship blossoms. Kim and Jason are struggling with their marriage and boisterous child Avery. Rachael and David seem to have the perfect family with their 3 kids. Emily is a single sportswoman but fellow resident Jackson is determined to crack her tough exterior. Charlotte is a hopeless romantic and forever seeing the positive, and finally Todd and Greg are the apartment’s gay couple and probably the happiest of the lot. The Girl Next Door touches upon all their stories.

There are a lot of characters in the book but that doesn’t mean it is difficult to keep track of them. All their stories are beautifully told although some call it stereotyped. I particularly liked the story of Violet. Verdict – Worth a read.

The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
I was surprised at the size of this much appreciated book. It is such a small book but has won so many hearts. This book is about the story of Robert Kincaid, a photographer searching for the covered bridges of Madison County, and Francesca Johnson, the farm wife waiting for the fulfillment of a girlhood dream.

It is an emotional book although I must say that I wasn’t as enamored by this book as I thought I would be. Good book. Nice read. But I think the book is severely over rated.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hossieni
A long time after I was really overwhelmed by Kite Runner, I picked up another Khaled Hosseini book. This book is about how two different women Mariam and Laila are brought together by war, loss and fate. The fact that the book is set in Afghanistan provides enough scope for tragedy and heroism. It’s a good book with Hossieni’s trademark (appealing) writing style. But, for some reason this book was a little underwhelming  than the Kite Runner. Nevertheless, a good read.

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak
At one point in time last year, I was reading only books related to Islam. There were books which said Islam is good and then, there were books that enumerated reasons against the religion. (Infidel). This book, The forty rules of love, falls in the first category. This book is written with two parallel running stories, one contemporary and the other set in the thirteenth century, almost travelling in similar paths. The contemporary story is about Ella Rubenstein who leads a very unhappy married life but continues to remain in marriage. On an assignment, she reads a transcript by a man named Aziz Zahara. The transcript is about a whirling devrish called Shams and his search for the great poet Rumi. As she progresses, Ella realizes how Rumi’s life mirrors hers and how, like Shams, Zahara has come to set her free.

I believe no body can describe love the way Rumi has done. Me, being a great fan of Rumi already, hadn’t heard much about Shams and this book filled that vacuum. Generally, lyrical prose is something that I adore. This is one such book and how can I let go! Anyone interested in love and beauty needs to read this book.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Two terminally ill teenagers. Supportive parents. Video games. Wishes coming true. You can take any cliche in the world and it is all there in this book. Hazel, a teenager with cancer meets Augustus Waters, another teenager with cancer again in a support group meeting and instantly falls in love. How Augustus makes Hazel’s wish come true and what happens to the kids in the end forms the rest of the story.

Like I said, you can’t really read a more cliched story with a predictable ending. Yet, this book had an impact on me. Mostly ‘cos of the relationship between Hazel and her mother in particular. Also, the way the feelings (all!) have been expressed touches your heart. A short read but a good one.

Battle for Bittora by Anuja Chauhan
I think this world already knows what a great fan I am of Anuja. Do you guys remember me gushing about her Zoya Factor here? Sports and Politics are something that I love debating and what more can I ask for when my favourite author writes about these two with so many ROFL moments, huh? Jinni, short form for Sarojini belongs to a political family but has carved her niche in designing ‘kitaanus’, I mean, she is an animation specialist. One day, her grandma Pushpa Pandey, calls her and lures her into politics by making her the candidate of Pragati Party from Bittora. While she reluctantly agrees, she discovers that her opposition is ex-royal and her childhood sweetheart Zainab Aftab Khan aka Maruti Zain.

Over the top. Masalaish. Predictable. Yet, outright funny. I read through the night to complete this 600-page book and let me tell you it was totally worth it for the ROFL moments. I was actually guffawing loudly into the eerie silence of the night reading the book. The book kind of reminded me a little of Zoya factor, but that’s ‘cos of Anuja’s writing style and nothing else. I am willing to bet that Anuja is the most humourous author in India right now. Just go grab a copy. It will make you forget your troubles even though for a while.

Okay.. I have a few more recos to make in the non-fiction category but I’ll do another post later on on them. Not ‘cos this is a marathon month and I need stuff to write every day. But ‘cos those books deserve a separate post.

And, well.. my challenge for 2015 is to finish 40 books. Let me see how I fare there. So, what is your book goal, people?