October 2021 Reading Wrap Up

So October was an excellent reading month for me. I ended up reading 15 books and I enjoyed most of them.

  1. A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende (3/5)
Buy A Long Petal of the Sea: The Sunday Times Bestseller (High/Low) Book  Online at Low Prices in India | A Long Petal of the Sea: The Sunday Times  Bestseller (High/Low) Reviews

This was the epic tale of two people fleeing the Spanish civil war by ship, to Chile. While I thought the premise was pretty cool, I think Isabel Allende is just not the writer for me. I had read one of her books earlier and I simply don’t get along with her writing style. I felt there was too much of info-dumping, and I also felt some of the plot points were predictable and tropey. Nevertheless most of the plot and the setting were interesting enough.

2. How to be a Refugee by Simon May (4/5)

How to Be a Refugee: The gripping true story of one family's experience of  exile and belonging in Nazi Germany eBook : May, Simon: Amazon.in: Books

This was a nonfiction read that followed May’s family, and their lives as people of Jewish heritage in Nazi Germany. Unlike most other Jews, many of them managed to survive by trying their hardest to erase their Jewish heritage. They converted to Christianity, married non-Jewish Germans and denied their heritage even to themselves. This book was an insightful look into the family and how the author dealt with the complexity of the legacy his family left him.

3. Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung (4/5)

Buy Cursed Bunny Book Online at Low Prices in India | Cursed Bunny Reviews  & Ratings - Amazon.in

This was a collection of short stories translated from the Korean by Anton Hur. The stories were really weird and some of them are meant to outright gross you out. Nevertheless, they hit on some very important themes and topics. Like with most short story collections, some stories were better than the others.

4. The Illuminated by Anindta Ghosh (5/5)

Buy The Illuminated Book Online at Low Prices in India | The Illuminated  Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.in

This was such a great book. It follows the lives of two Indian women-Tara and her mother Shashi as they navigate their lives. Tara is a Sanskrit scholar who gets into a relationship with a much older, rather controversial individual, while Shashi, who is a juvenile-home worker dealing with newly being a widow. In the background, there is a religious organization that threatens to take away the rights of women, and the women find themselves affected by that. One of the best books I read this year.

5. Sistersong by Lucy Holland (3.5/5)

Sistersong by Lucy Holland

This was historical fantasy, set in Britain during the 6th century, and it follows the lives of three siblings shortly before the invasion of the Saxons. I thought it was interesting enough but not quite as immersive as it should have been-in fact it read a lot like YA to me. That’s not a bad thing, but I went into it expecting an adult and not a YA read, so that was slightly disappointing.

6. Pathummayude Aadu (Pathumma’s Goat) by Vaikom Muhammed Basheer (4/5)

Buy PATHUMMAYUDE AADU Book Online at Low Prices in India | PATHUMMAYUDE AADU  Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.in

As I mentioned last month, I recently got into reading in Malayalam, my native language. Last month I had read Premalekhanam (Love Letter) by Basheer, and I decided to give this one a try. This was a semi-autobiographical tale following the author’s large family in his hometown and in particular his sister Pathumma, and her pet goat. It was a light-hearted read that nevertheless touched on serious topics, and I am glad I read it.

7. Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold (4.5/5)

Ethan of Athos - Wikipedia

Part of the Vorkosigan saga, this was a fun space opera. The titular Athos is a planet consisting only of men, who make use of uterine replicators to reproduce. The main character, Ethan, is a doctor who sets out to find the missing shipment of ovarian cultures they were supposed to receive. The story starts of from there to form a pretty interesting adventure.

8. Simple Passion by Annie Ernaux (5/5)

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Translated from the French by Tanya Leslie, this book is an account of Ernaux’s experience as she is embroiled in an all-consuming relationship with a married foreigner. In less than 100 pages, it quite poignantly captures the feeling of infatuation.

9. The Aleph and Other Stories by Jorge Luis Borges (4.5/5)

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Translated from the Spanish by Andrew Hurley, this was a collection of short stories by the famous Argentinian author. Many of the stories deal with really interesting and complex philosophical and ontological puzzles, which I thought were really clever and interesting!

10. Rock, Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney (3/5)

Buy Rock Paper Scissors: A Novel Book Online at Low Prices in India | Rock  Paper Scissors: A Novel Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.in

I might be in the minority in this one, but I did not love this psychological thriller. It follows a couple who travel to this remote chapel in Scotland hoping that the time they spend together would fix their marriage. However, things are not as it seems. This book had a really clever and unexpected twist-and that was it. It really had nothing besides the twist that appealed to me. I wasn’t invested in the lives of the couple at all, so I really did not care for what happened to them.

11. The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo (4/5)

The Honjin Murders : Yokomizo, Seishi: Amazon.in: Books

October was truly the month of translated works for me. The Honjin Murders, translated from the Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai was a classic Japanese murder mystery. Set in the countryside, it follows the murder of a newlywed couple. An interesting murder mystery.

12. The Mystic and the Lyric by Neerja Mattoo

Buy The Mystic and the Lyric: Four Women Poets from Kashmir Book Online at  Low Prices in India | The Mystic and the Lyric: Four Women Poets from  Kashmir Reviews & Ratings -

I recently got into reading more about interesting people from history. This book is about four female Kashmiri poets who lived from 14th to 18th centuries -Lalded, Habba Khatun, Arnimal and Rupa Bhavani. Was a pretty interesting read.

13. Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore (5/5)

The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore

This is a classic Bengali novel, translated by Surendranath Tagore. It is set in colonial India, and follows Bimala, who marries into an aristocratic Bengali family, and finds herself torn between two men-Nikhil, her idealistic, rational husband, and his Sandip, a freedom-fighter with a radical, almost machiavellian outlook towards life. Those two men represent two prospective paths for Indian anti-colonial nationalism. A great, poignant read.

14. Anandamath by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (3/5)

Buy Anandamath Book Online at Low Prices in India | Anandamath Reviews &  Ratings - Amazon.in

This is another Bengali novel I read in translation. I had to read this for class and it followed the ‘Sanyasi revolt’ in 17th century India. Though it is an acclaimed novel, unfortunately it did not quite work for me.

15. Lemon by Kwon Yeo-Sun (3.5/5)

Lemon eBook : Yeo-sun, Kwon, Hong, Janet: Amazon.in: Kindle Store

Translated from the Korean by Janet Hong, this follows the aftermath of the death of a girl, through the perspectives of different people, including her sister, and one of the people suspected of murdering her. It was an interesting enough read, but I did not like it as much as I expected to.


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