The Essential Winter Booklist
“Let us love winter, for it’s the spring of genius.” – Pietro Aretino
Imagine it’s a Saturday and your social skills have succumbed to winter, ensuring that you’re cozy at home, wearing warm mittens and socks, with your blanket and coffee eagerly awaiting you! But you don’t know what you should read to make your date with yourself better. Do not fret – we’ve got the perfect book list to make your winter reading marathon a million times better!
A Book of Simple Living: Brief Notes from the Hills by Ruskin Bond
Fondly called the Indian William Wordsworth, Ruskin Bond’s stories have always been synonymous with hill stations and the adventures which pepper their residents’ lives. A Book of Simple Living, chronicles an interlude in Bond’s life in the Himalayas within its breezy 160 pages. But don’t let the size of the book fool you. In his trademark understated way, Bond uses poems and passages to articulate his love for nature, its influence on his life, and his life’s stories. Reading the book is sure to make you feel the cool mountain air as it swirls past tall deodars, catch a glimpse of a timid herd of deer, and smell the tinge of fir – all through the wonderfully eloquent prose of one of India’s warhorse novelists.
4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster
Under the layers of well-crafted science fiction, intense realism, and complex construction, Paul Auster’s 4 3 2 1 is at heart a love story about young Archibald Isaac Ferguson and his one true darling, Amy Schneiderman. However, the reason you should read this 2017 Man Booker shortlisted novel goes beyond just the obvious. You see, what Aster has constructed in this 866 page novel is a slice of four alternate universes, all containing Archibald, as he lives explicitly different lives. He is born to the same parents in the same hospital on the same date in 1947, but the four boys can’t be more different from each other. From their individual perspectives, we also get to re-experience the historical incidents that have gone on to shape America and the world as we know it – the American Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, JFK’s assassination et al.
Kari by Amruta Patil
Kari is Indian author Amruta Patil’s debut graphic novel. This 120 pager looks at life from the POV of Kari, a copywriter, and her first-hand recounting of being a lesbian in a predominantly heterosexual society. Throughout the book, Patil deals with stark themes such as alienation, self-harm, and the trials and tribulations the protagonist faces in a very straightforward manner. Kari is pathbreaking for being the first Indian graphic novel to deal directly with homosexuality in the public and private space. For connoisseurs of art, keep an eye out for quiet homages to greats like Kahlo and Wyeth in the illustrations!
The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
A fantasy tome that melts different religions from our own world, figments of Khorana’s own imagination, and historical symbolism from across cultures, The Library of Fates is one of the best Young Adult novels we’ve come across in quite some time. The story deals with the power struggle between the kingdoms of Shalingar and Macedon, personified by Princess Amrita and her one-time fiancee, the evil Emperor Sikander, respectively. Amrita is aided in her journey against Sikander by Thala, who used to be the Emperor’s slave and is also a seer. While it may sound like a generic good vs evil story, The Library of Fates is filled to its brim with imaginative historical fiction and fresh twists and turns.
An Era of Darkness by Shashi Tharoor
Tharoor’s 360-page retelling of the nearly 347-years of British influence in India — An Era of Darkness — is a commentary on the “greatest crime in all of history”, as the American historian Will Durant put it. The book, which was inspired by a speech Tharoor gave at an Oxfordian debate, seeks to put forth the truth of British rule in India, one not espoused by the Raj’s Indian or foreign apologists. In his impeccable style, Tharoor argues as to why ‘the empire on which the sun never sets’ was a bane to India’s financial power and global influence, while destroying her sense of identity for the foreseeable future. If you would like to get an alternate view of an accepted narrative, grab a copy of An Era of Darkness today.
Fond of hoarding books, playing rugby, exploring music, and saving puns for future use, Varun is a “lover and a fighter”. Find him on Facebook to discuss why Carnatic music is so much like heavy metal or why Tyrion actually sits on the Iron Throne!