Reading Corner – 10 Top Reads of 2017
- Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
I cannot recommend this enough. Doesn’t matter if you follow Trevor Noah’s comedy or not, this biography is a must read. Even when he is narrating the extreme poverty experiences, there is no ask for sympathy. The hero of his story is Trevor’s mother and in every section, she never fails to impress. A biography cannot get any more real than this without losing its aura of positivity at any point. A full review can be read here.
- Rumi’s Secret: The Life of the Sufi Poet of Love by Brad Gooch
What we know about Rumi’s life has been for the most part been stuff of legend rather than actual knowledge. In this biography, Brad Gooch has been successful in filling that gap and colouring in the facts that enable the reader to put a face to the legend. He maps Rumi’s life from Central Asia, where Rumi was born in 1207, traveling with his family, displaced by Mongol terror, to settle in Konya, Turkey. The book beautifully cover all the events in the sufi’s life that can be seen as molding his journey to becoming one of the most revered individuals across the globe.
- Lahore in the time of the Raj by Ian Talbot and Tahir Kamran
Lahore, known as the cultural hub of Pakistan has a rich history that has enjoyed the prosperity of a cosmopolitan place during the Raj. The diversity of communities that called it home and the resultant flow of people and ideas built a culture that is fondly remembered, even after partition. The book documents all the shades of Lahore and its people and is a highly recommended reading for history buffs.
- Intimate Nature: The Bond between Women and Animals by Linda Hogan, Brenda Peterson and Deena Metzger
Intimate Nature is a compilation of real life stories documenting experiences of women from very diverse backgrounds. From scientists to indigenous women. The stories are as diverse as the women who are sharing it. No matter which story you read, the one take away that you are going away with will be the need to develop respect for all creations as a balanced relationship with our nature is a necessity not a choice.
- Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand
Koh-I-Noor, is indeed the world’s most infamous diamond and its history is quite overwhelming to say the least. The symbolism of power and what our specie is capable of doing to preserve it no matter how real or cosmetic the reality behind it; is a trait shared globally. This is a must read for anyone interested in the sub-continent history.
- The Party Worker by Omar Shahid Hamid
A nicely placed crime fiction coming out of Pakistan was a treat. Omar Hamid’s plot has a touch of reality and is capable of transporting you to the 90’s Karachi that was in the news. The female characters could have been developed better, other than that The Party Worker will keep you hooked from the get go. A detailed review is available here.
- The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
This has been the most awaited book given that Roy was coming out with a fiction book after some two decades. Unlike what many of the reviewers said, this was one of my best reads of the year. There are multiple storylines that braid the characters’ lives together in a very humane and complicated manner. Roy’s ability to create magic with words continues.
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
This posthumous biography of Paul Kalanithi is his attempt to answer one of the most popular question of human history, ‘what makes a life worth living?’ At the age of 36 after completing a decade of training in the field of neurosurgeon and making big future professional plans he is suddenly diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Answering this grand question while staring at his own mortality, Paul ended up creating a poetic prose that is going to touch the right chords for many.
- Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood
Stone Mattress is a compilation of nine short takes and Margaret Atwood is at the top of her dark humor game. Her ability to create complex characters portraying the various shades of human psyche is reflected in this collection as well.
- Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh
This short novel by Khushwant Singh is set in the partition period and explores the shades of humanity. The best thing for me was the unpredictability of the characters and their shades of grey. In its own way this story took a major stab at stereotypes of what a hero needs to look like and a person’s entire persona is defined by what people know or perceive about him/her. Train to Pakistan ends abruptly. The ending of the story is a bit abrupt, not that it is a flaw but you will be left wanting more.
By Fatima Arif