Somewhere in our hearts, we always wish to re-read some of the best reads from the past. The TBR, however, keeps hoarding new releases and new recommendations. This means the re-read list is ignored and pushed much lower on the reading rack.
So, my New Year resolution…if it had to be anything then it surely is to ‘Re-Read’ the best from the past.
My ‘re-read’ list comes from two categories – the books I read while growing up, which were mostly English Classics, and the recent reads that I absolutely adore!
Here I go…
1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
‘Anna Karenina’ by Leo Tolstoy was on my intimidating long books to-read list and I was glad to read it. I think this was one of the best books I read in my life!
Anna Karenina is an iconic book, a fast read, and a beautiful story about a woman’s quest to find love and happiness without succumbing to the established societal norms. The Russian context and the time period of the 1800s just adds to the beauty of this Classic.
2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Not just ‘Great Expectations’ but probably every Dickens book I read so far needs to be on my re-read list. But then ‘Great Expectations’ is special. It is a book I read back in school, at that point under pressure to write for the exams. This time around, I want to read it for the love of Pip-Estella and Miss Havisham.
Great Expectations is like Hans Christian Andersen’s kind of fairytale with a sad ending, depending on your pick of the ending from the two on the offering.
A revisit to Pip’s story from being an orphan, poor, and honest child to his knock at the great expectations is surely on my wishlist!
3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Any list of favourites I make is incomplete without ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte. The plain Jane from Jane Eyre fighting the odds of poverty, lack of social skills and influence is simply heartening. And, I have always preferred Mr. Rochester to Heathcliff.
Jane Eyre made me believe in stories without a ‘transformation’. I would love to relive that feeling in 2021!
4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” is one of the most famous opening lines in literature.
Yet I couldn’t get myself to fall in love with this book. The whole premise of marriage, comedy of mannerisms, and romance somehow were not enticing enough. However, in the bookish world, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy have endured the test of time to become iconic characters. This inspires me to take leap once more to see if I can come to like the Bennet sisters, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley.
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a masterpiece of magical realism. I read this book during my early college years and probably got lost in the labyrinth of this amazing narrative.
This book is an epic tale of seven generations of the Buendia family parallel to the hundred years of Latin American history. Today, the fictional town of Macondo, city of mirrors and the ghosts haunt me to fill in the minute details that I have forgotten in time.
6. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
‘The Alchemist’ follows the journey of a shepherd boy named Santiago. Believing a recurring dream to be prophetic, he asks a Gypsy fortune teller in the nearby town about its meaning. The woman interprets the dream as a prophecy telling the boy that he will discover a treasure at the Egyptian pyramids.
This became one of the most popular books when it was translated into English and published in 1993.
7. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
‘Midnight’s Children’ showed me the power of magical realism in historiographic metafiction. There is only one book by Rushdie that I have read…what a shame, I know! I always make resolutions on reading more books written by him but then fail to accomplish. So this year, I pledge to at least re-read this masterpiece to relive Saleem Sinai’s story in parallel to India’s post-independence narrative.
8. Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
I picked up ‘Namesake’ by Jhumpa Lahiri from my college library and was instantly in love with the writing. The pristine prose and the outline of Ashoke-Ashima and Gogol’s life have remained with me ever since. This was also the first book that introduced me to the themes of immigration, cultural alienation, and identity. Back then, I loved Gogol’s character for disliking his name as I did and reading about Gogol’s relationship with his parents. I think this book would be completely different for me after these 17 years.
9. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The moment I closed ‘The Testaments’ by Margaret Atwood, the sequel to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, I wanted to go back to Offred’s story.
I can only imagine how pathbreaking ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ would have been for its time that it has only gained in popularity and stature over the years. I read this book in 2018 and it held me so close to the protagonist, the changed world after its publication in 1985 didn’t budge me from skipping past a single section. However, ‘The Testaments’ with a more contemporary appeal failed to create the same atmosphere. Gilead and Offred are perhaps inseparable, you remove Offred and it falls flat. So definitely holding on to the first version of Gilead and Offred and going for a re-read.
10. The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh
Amongst the contemporary writers, I absolutely adore Amitav Ghosh’s writing. I read ‘The Glass Palace’ in 2000, the same year it was published. I was looking for a historical fiction and the premise held so much for a reader like me – bringing together the little-known side of British invasion of Burma traversing through India and Burma during the Second World War period to the late 20th century and a beautiful love story.
Do share the book titles that you wish to have in your re-read list…looking forward to it!