There are always plenty of good books to read every year. However, there are some that are a cut above the rest and leave a lasting impression on us. Such books remain with us, as those are the ones that we come back to again and again, discuss and share with others or read and then re-read again. This year too has been no exception as we are left with a few such books that can add new life to anyone’s library.
The collection of poems is one of the finest works of the 23-year-old poet Amanda Gorman. The collection includes The Hill We Climb which is also the poem she recited during the inauguration of President Joe Biden, becoming the youngest inaugural poet in the process. The book can also be considered as a reflection of the times when the world is reeling under the pandemic, while there also is racism promoted as a political tool in various parts. Howsoever intimidating these might seem though there should be no reason not to hope for better times ahead. In short, the book is a must-read and there is a reason for it to top the list here.
The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story brings into focus the dark phase of American history that is believed to have laid the foundation of what it is at the moment. The book takes us back to the August of 1619 when a ship carrying 30 or so slaves from Africa reached the British colony of Virginia. This marks the beginning of a new order when men were subjected to systematic racial exploitation, something that continued for the next 250 years. The book by the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones makes for a fixating read.
If being a singer, songwriter, and guitarist wasn’t enough, Michelle Zauner has proved she is also a writer par excellence with her latest literary creation, Crying in H Mart. It’s the story of a girl who grows up into a woman, facing many a challenge in the process. It is also the story of the intricate relationship between a girl and her mother, how she grows, travels far for study and work, and makes her own identity. However, it is when her mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer that she is confronted with her roots in Korea, that of her food, the language, and everything else she had had from her mother. In short, a must-read for all, and particularly for mothers and daughters.
It’s the story of a 12-year-old boy by the name Silas who starts on an epic journey into the unknown just to reunite with his father. Silas only has the company of a pony and a mysterious ghost in his quest to rescue his father who, he knows has been taken away by three horsemen. In the process, Silas has to face his fear and come to terms with his past. Written by R. J. Palacio, the book is captivating not only for the kids but the grown-ups as well.
It is the story of a thirteen year old Anna who hits upon a book, the story of Aethon which is about a boy who wishes to be a bird just to fly to the utopian paradise located in the sky. Five hundred years later, an elderly man rehearses five children in a play based on the story of the Aethon. However, trouble brews when a teenager plans a bomb on the library shelves. Move over to the future, there is Konstance all alone in a vault on the interstellar ship Argos. As Goodreads stated, Konstance is copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon which she heard from her father.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author, Colson Whitehead cooks up another masterpiece with the Harlem Shuffle. The book takes you to the streets of New York when it’s still 1960 and into the life of a seemingly innocent and honest dealer of old furniture, Ray Carney. However, the real fact is Ray also has a dark side to him lying underneath his external facade of a hard-working family man. This is where the book takes on the form of a heist novel, a story of the internal tussle between the good and the bad. In all, a gripping tale that would be hard to let go of once you start.
The book marks a musical journey into the lives and times of Paul McCartney. There are 154 songs contained in the book all of which have been penned by McCartney. That includes lyrics from before the time he got associated with The Beatles, from the times with The Beatles, with Wings as well as songs that mark his solo singing career.
Also, it just isn’t the lyrics, the other aspects that make the book special include the commentaries penned by McCartney, the handwritten notes, art and ephemera present as well as a collection of photos never seen before. All of this makes The Lyrics a must-have for the fans of The Beatles, who love Paul McCartney or for any music lovers. The book comes in two volumes done up in a case that too is no less attractive.
It is a story of life after death, about how one Wallace Price is attended by the reaper who comes to take him to the afterlife. However, bemused as Wallace is with the suddenness of his death, the reaper also does not take him to the afterlife. Instead, he is taken to the outskirts of a village, where tucked in the mountains is a tea shop run by Hugo. With Hugo, Wallace tries to experience all that he missed in his life, till he is served an ultimatum by a powerful being that he has a weeks’ time to crossover. Wallace now has seven days to live a lifetime. In short, a masterpiece by author T. J. Klune that is definitely a must-read by all.
As the title implies, the book is all about the disasters one makes in the kitchen and ways to turn them back into culinary gems. So, whether it is food that has been burnt, overcooked, or anything gone horribly wrong, the book contains hacks to turn them all into delicious stuff. It would be like infusing new life into stuff that would otherwise be seen as useless and would have ended up in the waste bin.
That way, the book is a must-read for not only all wannabe cooks but even all those who spend time in the kitchen. It has taken all the experience gained by Cal Peternell during the two decades of life as a chef at Chez Panisse to come up with an outstanding piece such as this.
The Sentence is a mystery novel and a ghost story stitched together, with a fair sprinkling of humor thrown in as well. The story centers around a haunted bookstore in Minneapolis and the ghost is none other than one of its most annoying customers, Flora. She dies on All Souls’ Day in 2019 and takes refuge in the bookstore. Then there is Tookie who lands a job selling books after being in prison for years. She had spent most of those years reading books and now has taken it upon herself to solve this mystery. In short, The Sentence is another stunning piece from Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich.
Written by Daniel Howell with active inputs from renowned psychologists, You Will Get through This Night can be considered more of a self-help book than anything else. Here you are introduced to ways to not only deal with the tough moments of your life but to also thrive and live life to the fullest.
The book is divided into three broad sections to deal with three distinct phases of one’s life, the tough moments, small steps that can bring about a big change in one’s life, to make long-term adjustments to have a fruitful life. Also, no matter how serious the topics might seem, the book will let you have it all in a fun way.
Days after winning OASIS founder James Halliday’s contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes everything. Hidden within Halliday’s vaults, waiting for his heir to find, lies a technological advancement that will once again change the world and make the OASIS 1,000 times more wondrous – and addictive – than even Wade dreamed possible. With it comes a new riddle, and a new quest – a last Easter egg from Halliday, hinting at a mysterious prize. And an unexpected, impossibly powerful, and dangerous new rival awaits, one who’ll kill millions to get what he wants.
Wade’s life and the future of the OASIS are again at stake, but this time the fate of humanity also hangs in the balance. Lovingly nostalgic and wildly original as only Ernest Cline could conceive it, Ready Player Two takes us on another imaginative, fun, action-packed adventure through his beloved virtual universe, and jolts us thrillingly into the future once again.
As Ryland Grace awakens from a coma, he doesn’t know who he is or where he is, but a mix of calculations, deductions, and slowly returning memories enlightens him: He’s a junior high school science teacher on a small space ship. His mission? Save Earth. As in The Martian, Weir makes science and problem solving not only cool but absolutely essential to survival, delivering an electrifying space adventure that yanks at both the gut and the heart strings. Readers will absorb facts about gravity and heavy metals even as Grace races against the clock and builds an unexpected partnership while hurtling through the cold depths of space.
Almost 10 years ago, Bloomberg journalist Brad Stone captured the rise of Amazon in his best seller The Everything Store. Since then, Amazon has expanded exponentially, inventing novel products like Alexa and disrupting countless industries, while its workforce has quintupled in size and its valuation has soared to nearly two trillion dollars. It’s almost impossible to go a day without encountering the impact of Jeff Bezos’s Amazon, between services like Whole Foods, Prime Video, and Amazon’s cloud computing unit, AWS, plus Bezos’s ownership of The Washington Post. We live in a world run, supplied, and controlled by Amazon and its iconoclast founder.
In Amazon Unbound, Brad Stone presents an “excellent” (The New York Times), deeply reported, vividly drawn portrait of how a retail upstart became of the most powerful and feared entities in the global economy. Stone also probes the evolution of Bezos himself — who started as a geeky technologist totally devoted to building Amazon, but who transformed to become a fit, disciplined billionaire with global ambitions, who ruled Amazon with an iron fist, even as he found his personal life splashed over the tabloids.
What Strange Paradise is by turns tender and brutal in its truths. It is tremendously written, propulsive as it is expansive as it is granular in its specificities. Omar El Akkad writes with such emotional precision, power, and grace. Here we get the wondrousness of children set in sharp relief against a backdrop of the all too common dehumanization then dismissal of refugees everywhere. The book devastates and uplifts, somehow, and we are not left with hope—that isn’t the point—but asked to witness, to see what is here, with clarity, and with fullness of heart. I was a big fan of his first book, American War.
With a keen interest in tech, I make it a point to keep myself updated on the latest developments in the world of technology and gadgets. That includes smartphones or tablet devices but stretches to even AI and self-driven automobiles as well, the latter being my latest fad. Besides writing, I like watching videos, reading, listening to music, or experimenting with different recipes. Motion picture is another aspect that interests me a lot and maybe I’ll make a film sometime in the future.