2022 started off really strong when it came to reading. I read 17 books this month, and here they are:
- Braised Pork by An Yu (3.5/5)
This book is set in China and follows the life of a woman whose husband just died, drowning in the bathtub. It also has an element of magical realism, with the woman being haunted by the image of a fish….an interesting read.
2. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (5/5)
This was the best sci-fi I’ve read in a long time. It follows an astronaut who wakes up in space to find out that the rest of his crew are dead and he has no memory of his mission. The story then goes in so many interesting directions, and it was so much fun to read.
3. The Grand Anicut by Veena Muthuraman (3.5/5)
One of my goals for the year was to read more Indian books and I’ve wanted to read this one for some time. This one follows a Roman merchant in the Chola kingdom in ancient South India, who gets embroiled in the mechanisms of the land. An immersive read.
4. Illness as Metaphor by Susan Sontag (4.5/5)
This was an interesting work of nonfiction where Susan Sontag explores how illness-particularly tuberculosis and cancer-has often been used as a metaphor. An insightful read.
5. Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao (4.5)
This book has been described as Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid’s Tale, and I thought that was a good description. Set a futuristic world inspired by Chinese history, it follows a girl who is chosen as a mecha-pilot in a world where male and female pilots work together, only for the female pilot to almost always die. But with the main character of this book, her male co-pilot ends up dying instead, making her an ‘Iron Widow’. An intriguing, tale with strong feminist themes set in a fascinating world.
6. Paro by Namita Gokhale (4/5)
This was a short, but satisfying read. Set among the wealthy and privileged circles in India, it follows Priya, an ordinary woman, who has a love-hate relationship with the enigmatic Paro, who is (in)famous for seducing a number of men, and using her sexuality to get ahead in life. Though the ending was a tad predictable, I really enjoyed the book.
7. If We were Villains by M.L Rio (4/5)
If We were Villains is a dark academia story following a rather insular group of obsessed students of Shakesperean theatre. I picked this up after hearing all the comparisons with The Secret History, one of my all time favourite books. While it did not quite measure up, I did like this one quite a bit.
8. Love in the Big City by Sang Young Park(4/5)
Another reading goal for this year was to read more books in translation. This book, translated from the Korean by Anton Hur, is about the life of a young, gay man in Korea. Young and his female best friend Jaehee used to lead a hedonistic life, getting drunk and sleeping around, but when Jaehee decides to ‘settle down’, and get married, Young has to decide what he wants as well. A tribute to being young and confused, it also touches on serious topics like homophobia, relationships, death etc.
9. Against the Double Blackmail by Slavoj Zizek (3.5/5)
This was a book of nonfiction where Slavoj Zizek talked about his ideas about the refugee issue. I thought he had some interesting perspectives.
10. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (4/5)
This was an interesting story, following Cal, who was born Calliope as they discover their identity as an intersex person. But that is not all this book is about-it also traces the history of Cal’s family as Greek immigrants to the united states. A grand, intergenerational family saga that also deals with matters of sex and gender identity.
11. My Story by Kamala Das (4/5)
This is an autobiography, translated from the Malayalam. It explores the inner life of the author, from her childhood in Kerala, to being married at the age of 15 to an indifferent husband, and the other troubles as well as triumphs of life. Not a very happy read to be honest, but an insightful one.
12. The Burning Girls by C.J Tudor (3/5)
This is a thriller, following a vicar and her daughter who move to a small town with a dark history after being involved in a tragedy. I thought it had a great setup, but unfortunately, I didn’t really care that much for the ending.
13. The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat (3/5)
This book, translated from the Persian by D.P Costello was beautifully written but i can’t for the life of me make out what it’s about.
14. In a Forest, a Deer by Ambai (4.5/5)
Translated from the Tamil by Lakshmi Holstrom, this is a collection of short stories revolving around the lives of women. Intricate and atmospheric, i thought it was a great collection.
15. Nightfall by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg
An expansion of one of Asimov’s short stories, this book is set on a planet which is in perpetual light due to its six suns. Its inhabitants are about to face darkness for the first time in thousands of years due to a complete eclipse. A solid sci-fi read.
16. When we cease to understand the world by Benjamin Labatut (4/5)
Translated from the Spanish by Adrian Nathan West, this book follows the lives of various scientists and mathematicians, straddling the boundary between fiction and non-fiction.
17. The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak (4.5/5)
Elif Shafak is one of my favourite writers and this book was pretty great. It follows Kostas and Defne who fall in love despite being on opposite sides of the conflict in Cyprus. They use a tavern as a meeting place, where they find a fig tree who is one of the narrators of the book. We also see the perspective of their daughter, Ada. While this book was not perfect, it’s characters stayed with me for long after i read it.