Friday, December 29, 2017

BLAH BOOK AWARDS 2017



(This is just a list. Separate post coming up reviews of all 44 books I read this year)

Fiction Top 3:

1) The Last Temptation - Nikos Kazantzakis. This is a book that makes an atheist like me understand the power and compassion of religion at its best. 

2) What We Talk About When We Talk About Love - Raymond Carver. Short stories as good or better than any written by Hemingway and Munro. Unsparing and hard. 

3) The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje. A love poem, a song, masquerading as prose. 

Honourable mentions:

- Dear Life - Alice Munro. The one that I really feel should have been in my Top 3, maybe over The English Patient. 

- Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell. Worthy of all the hype.

- Underworld - Don Dellillo. Now this is an American masterpiece 

- A Fraction of the Whole - Steve Tolz. The great Australian novel.. hilarious, irreverent and profound. 

- The Neapolitan Quartet - Elena Ferrente. I have never read a better portrayal of women and their lives and friendships. 

- East of Eden - John Steinbeck. Far easier to read than I expected, a literary precursor to the pulp of Jeffrey Archer 

Most overrated: 

- The Sellout by Paul Beatty. This modern American style of endless digressions where the author showcases his intellectual prowess (Exhibit a: David Foster Wallace) just doesn’t work for me 



Non Fiction Top 3:

1) Second Hand Time - Svetlana Alexeivich. One of the most harrowing, powerful non fiction books I’ve ever read. Makes you despair at man’s capacity for cruelty and evil.

2) Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performers - Tim Ferris. Life changing. 

3) Being Mortal : Medicine and What Matters in the End - Atul Gawande. As we grow older and confront the mortality of the generation before us, I strongly believe this is a must read to help us make better choices.

Honourable mentions:

- The Fiction of Fact Finding: Modi and Godhra - Manoj Mitta. Eye opening and disturbing.

- Fatal Accidents of Birth: Stories of Suffering, Oppression and Resistance - Harsh Mander. I feel Harsh Mander should be compulsory reading for every school kid, in fact every Indian, if we are to have a more empathetic Society.

- Mao: The Unknown Story - Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. A little polemical but it really makes me really question people who look at China as a social and human model for Economic growth 

The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence - Martin Meredith. The definitive history of post colonial Africa 


Most overrated:

- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari. Reductive, simplistic, unoriginal and repetitive. It’s success only demonstrates what an unintellectual time we live in, where college level writing with good marketing passes for genius. 

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