Much like the ground squirrel of the American mid-west who – during the colder months – embarks on a sleep of a lifetime; come monsoon I prepare for a similar trajectory. Only instead of regulating my blood concentration and stacking up bodily glucose elsewhere as my pre-hibernation ritual, I start stacking up on my book reading recommendations.
Because honestly there is no other time in the whole year when I yearn for good books to read, like I do during the rains.
While the ground squirrel prepares for an 8-month-long sleep by lowering serum levels in its blood stream to prevent waking up due to thirst; my preparation pattern consists of scrounging the internet for book recommendations, to prevent any future boredom. This entails scrolling through numerous web pages for online book clubs and reading book review websites just to make sure I have an air-tight reading list.
Besides my website (what? It is good!) if you’re looking for good book recommendation sites, might I suggest The Oprah Magazine? I’ve found many lovely books through Oprah’s book recommendations.
Anyway, just as these tiny mammals curl up into nests of twigs and leaves for their prolonged sleep, I retreat into my nest of soft pillows and heavy blankets warmed by the soft glow of my bedside lamp for months of continuous reading.
Now that monsoon is here and even though the lock-down has been lifted – whether it is out of fear or by choice that you are actively choosing to stay in and want to catch up on some reading – here’s a list of book recommendations that I have chalked up for myself and for you.
Some books I have read, some books I want to read, but either way the choice is yours. Enjoy!
Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins
About the book: Told from the point of view of the Scottish nanny, Dee – this story follows the life of Felicity, the eight-year-old daughter of the newly hired Oxford College Master and his second wife – right from when they move into an old Victorian house within the Magpie Lane of Oxford, till one day when Felicity suddenly disappears in the middle of the night!
As Dee starts her job, everything seems okay at the start, but as the story commences, family secrets start to unravel and questions start to emerge. Why is Felicity selectively mute? What is her obsession with the Priest’s hole inside her bedroom? Can she really speak to her dead mum’s ghost? And most pressing of all, where and how did she disappear into the middle of the night?
Narrated by Dee, this whole story is told through a series of flashbacks as she’s being interrogated at the police station after Felicity’s disappearance.
Magpie Lane Book Review: Honestly, I found this book exactly when I needed it the most and for the two days it took me to read it I couldn’t sleep, eat or write. All I wanted was to read.
While the mystery itself is so intriguing, I loved how the flashbacks not only taught me about this dysfunctional family’s history, but rather they took me all the way back to Oxford’s rich history. It’s the kind of book that takes you on graveyard tours, makes you research Elizabethan history, google Gothic architecture and look up taxidermy – all while sitting on the edge of your bed.
I would highly recommend Magpie Lane as a chilly weekend read. Not only is it considered as one of the most gripping and twisty book of 2020, but it will give your mind that much needed dose of suspense.
Only don’t read it at night.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
About the Book: Bad Blood is a book that documents the rise and the fall of Theranos, the now defunct blood testing startup started by the then nineteen-year-old Stanford drop-out: Elizabeth Holmes. It’s a story that shook the whole of Silicon Valley, as Holmes scammed her investors of billions of dollars through a labyrinth of deceit, lies, manipulation, terror and threats.
As this book is written by a journalist, it is very easy to follow and understand. Moreover, not only does it cover every little factual detail of Theranos’ reign from its inception in 2003 to its downfall in 2018, but it also probes into Holmes’ past to give you better understanding of her character.
Bad Blood Book Review: I read 40% of Bad Blood during a car journey from Panchgani to Bombay and the remaining 60% over two-days after reaching home. I won’t delve into details of Theranos’ timeline and everything that went on inside its stone cold offices during its run. But here are some things that may interest you: Holmes’ obsession with Steve Jobs and why she only wore black turtlenecks; the reason behind her suspiciously high baritone and her scandalous relationship with the much older and much hated Sunny Balwani.
Agreed, it may not be the best book for everyone, but if you’re interested in journalistic biographical stuff that is rife with intrigue then this is a good book for you. I would 100% recommend it.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
About the Book: Normal People follows the lives of two high school classmates: Marianne Sheridan and Connell Waldron. While Marianne comes from a privileged background, – she is neither considered pretty or popular in school. Connell, on the other hand comes from a simple background, but is liked and considered popular by all. Finding a connection with each other – these two start a secret relationship.
But after a breakup, they find each other in same college, however this time their roles are reversed: Marianne being popular and Connell struggling to fit in.
As Marianne and Connell weave in and out of different relationships – it is apparent that they are drawn to each other. And even though they care deeply for each other – there are always deeper emotions at play: Marianne who believes in being abused and Connell who feels he doesn’t belong.
Normal People Book Review: I read this book as a part of a book club online – only so that I would have something to contribute, but when I started reading it, I couldn’t stop. For the many reasons I liked this book, one was Rooney’s straight forward language and tone; two: the realistic portrayal of relationships and three: the personal struggles each character faces.
I’ll admit, there were some parts of the story that didn’t make sense to me, considering how intelligent both the main characters are; but either way I really appreciated the gritty reality of how tough life can be and more importantly how it impacts the way in which you expect to be treated.
Really, do read it!
Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss
About the Book: Recommended to me by my mom, who read the first 170 pages in just a couple of hours early one morning. One of the simplest ways to explain what this book is about, as she puts it “You know those fears and inhibitions you have? The kind that cause you tremendous anxiety? This anxiety which stops you from being the best version of yourself? Well, this doctor helps you find the root-cause of all of it, through hypnotism and psychology.”
Many Lives, Many Masters Book Review: I haven’t read it yet, but given the excitement and tenacity with which my mom recommended this book to me, I can tell it is a good one. Also, she doesn’t impress easily – and this book impressed her A LOT!
Anyway, considering all of us are in some capacity utilizing this Covid_19 time towards some or the other form of self development (yoga, dieting, meditation etc.) why not plug into our deepest insecurities? Find out what’s holding us back? I’m guessing this book isn’t going to be instantly life changing, but still why not start the process?
Tonight I’m Someone Else by Chelsea Hodson
About the Book: Tonight I’m Someone Else is a book of essays drawn from what I can only assume are the author’s own life experiences. Now then, why on earth would I or anyone else for that matter be interested in her life? As it goes, having led a really colourful life herself, this book – these essays don’t just document the mundane through fancy sentences. Rather it covers deeper emotions such as the exploration of self worth, endurance, intimacy and privacy and what all of this means in the age social media and over sharing.
Tonight I’m Someone Else Book Review: Another book I haven’t read, but this one has been sitting quietly on my Amazon Wishlist for more than a few months now. Having read a number of reviews from various book review sites – what I gathered is that these essays and stories don’t just explore deeper questions of existence, but they do so in the most personal way possible. Being the biggest fan of personal writing, I know I have to read this book even if just means to feel something and find a connection.
I added this book to my monsoon reading recommendations, in case you’re in the same space as me and are desperately looking for a similar feeling.
In case you are dissatisfied with my suggestions of books to read in the rain, or thought my book recommendations were too passé (I said I am good! I didn’t say I am the best!) you can also check out my last book reading list: a list of book recommendations I had suggested for the Republic Day weekend.
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