As much as I loved studying for my English degree, it completely destroyed my love of reading. There was a time when I read anything I could get my hands on. Not in the last few years. Recently I’ve been going through phases, and I hate that something I used to love, is now such an intermittent part of my life.
Throughout this year I shamelessly purchased about 20 books with the intention of reading them and now they’re sitting in the corner of my room, unopened, probably still with that stunning new book smell.
I thought if I published the list of books I brought, it would make me accountable for actually opening them. So here it is: my reading list for the next year, or two, or 10. (Synopses from Goodreads.com)
- The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on an intimate journey of many years across the Indian subcontinent – from the cramped neighborhoods of Old Delhi and the roads of the new city to the mountains and valleys of Kashmir and beyond, where war is peace and peace is war.
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
- The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak
The Bastard of Istanbul, acclaimed Turkish author Elif Shafak unfolds two tantalizing parallel narratives—one contemporary and the other set in the thirteenth century, when Rumi encountered his spiritual mentor, the whirling dervish known as Shams of Tabriz—that together incarnate the poet’s timeless message of love.
- Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all.
- The Return by Hisham Matar
From Man Booker Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Hisham Matar, a memoir of his journey home to his native Libya in search of answers to his father’s disappearance. In 2012, after the overthrow of Qaddafi, the acclaimed novelist Hisham Matar journeys to his native Libya after an absence of thirty years.
- Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang
From the young woman coming to terms with her grandmother’s role in the Cultural Revolution to the daughter struggling to understand where her family ends and she begins, to the girl discovering the power of her body to inspire and destroy, these seven stories illuminate the complex and messy inner lives of girls struggling to define themselves.
- Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist
On his first day at a new school, blind sixteen-year-old Will Porter accidentally groped a girl on the stairs, sat on another student in the cafeteria, and somehow drove a classmate to tears. High school can only go up from here, right?
- A History of God by Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong’s superbly readable exploration of how the three dominant monotheistic religions of the world – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – have shaped and altered the conception of God is a tour de force. One of Britain’s foremost commentators on religious affairs, Armstrong traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the present.
- Zen Under Fire by Marianne Elliot
Honest and vivid, her story reveals the shattering effect that the high-stress environment has on Marianne and her relationships. Redefining the question of what it really means to do good in a country that is under siege from within, Zen Under Fire is an honest, moving, at times terrifying true story of a women’s experience at peacekeeping in one of the most dangerous places on Earth.
- The Book of Gold Leaves by Mirza Waheed
‘The Book of Gold Leaves’ is a heartbreaking love story set in war-torn Kashmir. In an ancient house in the city of Srinagar, Faiz paints exquisite papier mache pencil boxes for tourists. Evening is beginning to slip into night when he sets off for the shrine. There he finds the woman with the long black hair. Roohi begs for the boy of her dreams to come and take her away. She wants a love story, an age-old tale of love, war, temptation, duty and choice.
- Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed no longer have a choice.
- American War by Omar El Akkad
Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, that unmanned drones fill the sky. And when her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she quickly begins to be shaped by her particular time and place until, finally, through the influence of a mysterious functionary, she is turned into a deadly instrument of war.
- Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.
- The Sun and her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.
- The Blue Between Sky and Water by Susan Abulhawa
Violently pushed from their ancient farming village of Beit Daras, a Palestinian family tries to reconstitute itself in a refugee camp in Gaza. The men here, those who have escaped prison or the battlefields, worry over making ends meet, tend their tattered pride, join the resistance. The women are left to be breadwinners and protectors, too.
- Quiet by Susan Cain
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so.
- Fighting Hislam by Susan Carland
The Muslim community that is portrayed to the West is a misogynist’s playground; within the Muslim community, feminism is often regarded with sneering hostility. Yet between those two views there is a group of Muslim women many do not believe exists: a diverse bunch who fight sexism from within, as committed to the fight as they are to their faith. Hemmed in by Islamophobia and sexism, they fight against sexism with their minds, words and bodies.
- Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother: his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.
- The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of immigration.
- Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Two brown girls dream of being dancers–but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, about what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either.