My Best Reads of first six months of 2019

And, here comes 30th June and this is half of 2019…already. In my head, I feel as if I am just two months into this New Year.

My goodreads account tells me that I have read 28 books in these six months. So, based on this tiny little collection of my books, comes my list of favourite five readings.

In January, my TBR was prim and precise but then I kept discovering new books to make me wander. I cannot believe I have ‘Milkman’ by Anna Burns and ‘The Lost Symbol’ by Dan Brown lying on my book shelf for more than six months now, and I have kept bumping into other books. The most unlikely of me was reading ‘Neverwhere’ by Neil Gaiman. Urban Fantasy seriously is out of my zone but this book kind of sapped me in.

  1. Soul Mountain by Gao Xinjiang

I can continue to hoot for this book for the rest of my life and still not be satisfied. I stumbled upon this book while on a search for a book to write under alphabet ‘X’ for the AtoZ challenge.

Soul Mountain is written by the Chinese Author, Gao Xinjiang which was published in 1990. The book was translated to English by Mabel Lee in 2000. Xinjiang won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2000.

The pure eccentricity of narrating flow will definitely capture you. The book is divided into two stories of ‘I’ and ‘You’ that you read in alternate chapters. Both are on a journey to the interiors of China, an unforeseen landscape in English literature. The book is philosophical quest, historical fiction, an account of mythology and folklore. There is bit of romance when ‘You’ meets ‘She’. Stories are spun within the story and you get such an enriching experience reading this book.   

  • The Trial by Franz Kafka

Kafka’s world can never fail to put you in awe. This unfinished book by Kafka is a pure delight as we follow the protagonist ‘K’ through his judicial trial. One day, K wakes up to find that he is under trial but within a realm that is incomprehensible. You understand the corruption within the investigative authorities, Judiciary and the people who pose to help but only increase your problems.

For a book, published in 1925, the concepts and the narrative turf remains so relatable. Something on lines of ‘Metamorphosis’ by Kafka, ‘The Trial’ also concentrates on K and his deteriorating state within the ambit of proceedings beyond his control.

  • Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively
Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

I discovered Penelope Lively while getting hold of ‘A House Unlocked’ at a book sale. And, I knew I had to read all her writings. ‘A House Unlocked’ is the author’s memoir and ‘Moon Tiger’ is the book that won her the Booker Prize.

Moon Tiger is the story of Claudia Hampton, a 76-year-old woman in the hospital reminiscing her past and getting in and out of an unconscious state. Within this past is the substantial portion of her presence as a war correspondent during the Second World War in Egypt.

  • Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes

Yeah, I should probably hide behind the curtains for not knowing the legend of ‘Don Quixote’ up until 2018. And, then I finally read this feat in 2019.

Don Quixote is a Spanish novel by Miguel De Cervantes, published in two parts in 1605 and 1615. The English translation was published in 1612 and 1620. The book at best can be called a satire on romantic chivalry.

This is the story of a man called Alonso Quixada who believes he is the Knight-errant Don Quixote after reading too many books on chivalry. And, as any Knight-errant, he deploys a local, Sancho Panza as his side kick and finds a damsel in distress in girl from the neighbourhood. Now, it isn’t as simple as Don Quixote and Sancho head out in the real world to pursue adventures. The book goes on for about 1500 pages with stories within this story and many pursuits of chivalry entwined together.

  • Pastoralia by George Saunders

I thought whether I should mention another book or this short story by George Saunders. But, I think if I clearly remember any story to have such a profound impact on me then it was this. I should admit when I read ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ about a year back, I was not happy with it. And, then what a book couldn’t achieve was done by this short story.

It is an award winning story, the prestigious O’Henry Award for short stories in 2001.

Pastoralia’ is a theme park modeled on primitive man’s living. So, our modern day protagonists are pretending to live in a cave without amenities to earn money. It is a sarcastic take on privileged people’s perspective on labour and poverty and the employer’s treatment of the employees. I think the more you try to interpret, the story yields you more.

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