2020 was a unique year for me. In the early stages of the year, I had to relocate from Hassan to Dehradun. I had planned to continue to my intermittent visits to the Himalayas, to wander in its majestic presence, and stifling my worries in the beautiful sceneries. However, it ended being confined to the campus, thanks to the lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19. Not to feel undone, I decided to read 100 books in the year. During this journey, I realised my urge for reading is best pursued when other things are equal or to say it simply, when life is hectic as ever. The lockdown got to me after a few weeks, and picking up a book again became a humongous task. I did not do too badly, having managed to read 55 books, and around 12,000 pages during the year. However, I can't control being querulous that this was the best year to read 100 books in a year. However, I started using Audible, which helps me feel good because I catch the technology bus more often than not.
The first book I want to discuss is `Republic of Rhetoric' by Abhinav Chandarchud. This book is for those to whom democracy matters. The book elicits the reason why restriction on Freedom of Speech was placed in India. Read this book to find out who was responsible for introducing a law against hate speech in India. The portion on obscenity is a good read.
Coming out As Dalit by Yashica Dutt was a book with which I could relate to a lot. I have written a blog on this, and you can click on this link to read it.
Mahabharata is not just an epic, it is the story of life. It is a lesson in management, strategies, and personal management. Shakuni is the most egregious of all the villains who come in it. I feel he is the pivotal character of Jaya beside Krishna, especially when it becomes Pandavas and Kauravas' story. I always yearned to read a version of Bharata from the perspective of Shakuni, and Mallar Chaterjee's `Shakuni & Dice of Doom' was an exciting read. The quagmire of the relationship between Kunti, Shakuni, and Vidhura was new to me. The relationship between Shakuni and his wife Arshi is on expected lines. The role of Devapi in shaping Mahabratha was another interesting revelation. Bheeshma it seems had his own reasons in letting Shakuni stay on in Hastinapur. This book is a must-read for all the aficionados of Mahabharatha
Chaturanga by Anand Neelakantan. He is a master storyteller. I couldn't put down this book till I finished it. The relevance of certain situations in this book cannot be missed.
Ants among Elephants by Sujatha Gidla – This is a must-read for all Dalits who can read and write English. The book exposes the underbelly of casteism and is a telling tale of the author herself.
Promised Land By Barack Obama is an autobiography of his tryst with politics. The Presidential years, the troubles he faced, and the obstacles he had to overcome as POTUS, especially in dealing with the sub-prime crisis, Health Care, etc. are well documented. A spoiler, the much-expected portion is at the end. I heard it on Audible, and in his booming voice, it was worth listening. This is the story of a politician told by himself, so take it with a pinch of salt.
The Hand of Destiny by Srividya Srinivasan is a heart-warming book. The author is known more for her revolutionary poetry and holds no bar views on politics. It has weaved a wonderful tale involving two youngsters, their death in a terror accident, and how their families are impacted. This book makes you laugh, cry, rage with anger, and generally gladdens your heart.
The Man from Mandu by Manoj V Jain is an amazingly well-written book. It portrays how marketing can apotheosis an ordinary person. This book touches many raw nerves without inflaming them.
Tharoorosaurus by Shashi Tharoor is a peek into his immense vocabulary. It is a great read, but I dare not use any of the words elicited in the book.
My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologies by Fredrik Backman. This book is written by the author of `A Man Called Ove'. If you liked that book, you would adore this one. It is lively, funny, and straightforward. The story is about Elisa, a seven-year-old girl and her crazy grandmother. It takes us through the land of almost awake; the kingdom of Miamas; and the letter of apologies that Elisa has to deliver after her grandmother dies.
Books that disappointed me.
The Sceptical Patriot by Sidin Vadukut is an excellent book. Still, somewhere the author seems to have taken the easy route.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I love dystopian novels, but this one went over my head.
Happy Reading in 2021