After the success of last year’s reading challenge, here’s Why I Did Not Sign Up For a Reading Challenge in 2016. Nevertheless, I read extensively and like I did the year before, I’ve put together a selection of the ten best books I read during the year. Since the post I wrote ran rather long, I’m splitting this article in two parts.
Let’s start with my first five recommendations.
My Sister’s Keeper is an incredibly sad book. It is the story of a 13 year old genetically engineered child, born to save her sister who suffers from cancer. It is the story of three kids who grew up in very unusual circumstances. It is the story of two parents who’ve had to take difficult decisions, where one child of theirs will benefit, while another will be put at risk. Jodi Picoult does a great job of laying out the story through a series of first person narratives, so that by the end, you can relate to almost every character, from the teenager to the parent to the lawyer, and you realize that while no one is right, no one is wrong either.
A book that will make you question morals vs ethics, a book that will make you wonder about right vs wrong, a book that will make you treasure your relationships, and yet a book that will break your heart.
I would not suggest that you read Flood of Fire alone. I would strongly suggest, instead, that you read the entire series in continuation, because the third book, Flood of Fire, brings all the characters and situations of the first two books to closure. Though I had already read the first two books in the series a couple of years ago, I re-read them in order to better appreciate Flood of Fire and I’m glad I did so.
Amitav Ghosh’s characters, story-line, shifting narration and language are at their best in this book. He has undoubtedly undertaken extensive research to bring to life China and the opium trade in the 1830s and 1840s. Through characters that vary from Parsi merchants to American mercenaries, Bengal sepoys to British officers, Chinese scholars to French botanists, he portrays the story from many different perspectives.
Wonderful narration, terrific characters and a story that keeps you gripped, Flood of Fire and in fact, the Ibis Trilogy, comes strongly recommended.
A fascinating book that was difficult to put down right from the start. Based in 16th century England, this novel takes us into the heart of King Henry VIII’s court and personal life. Told from the perspective of Mary Boleyn, a lady in the Queen’s entourage, we get a close-up view of the plots, rivalries and affairs that took place in Henry’s life. While it is based on true historical events, Philippa Gregory, weaves in her own share of drama and fiction, making the story of Henry, Mary and Anne come alive. A good book and a satisfying read.
4. The Passage
This book I would recommend to you with caution. About one-third of the way through this book, it suddenly seems like a whole new book is starting. There is no connect whatsoever to what you’ve read so far and one almost feels like giving up. It is only towards the end that the stories link and come together. Yet, the ending was a little too vague and hence, leaves the reader feeling kind of cheated. Why do I recommend it then?
Well, it is, no doubt, a gripping novel- replete with scientific experiments gone wrong, blood-sucking vampires, a post apocalyptic dystopian world, characters that become your friends and scenes that leave you on the edge of your seat. Worth a read.
I would suggest this series only if you like historical fiction. I read the first two books in the series and started the third when my baby was born. So I didn’t get around to reading more. But I was fascinated with how Cornwell brings alive 9th and 10th century England through this series.
He captures the events of this period through the eyes of a young boy, Uthred. This helps turn what could have been dry history into an interesting plot of events. Uthred grows from an under-confident orphan to a fiery warrior against the backdrop of Danish invasion, Anglo-Saxon resistance and the rise and fall of Alfred, the Great. The pace, action and fluidity of Cornwell’s narration kept me hooked.
I hope you enjoyed the list. Do stay on the look out for The 10 Best Books I Read in 2016- Part II next week.
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Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.