While 2016 was not a good year for me for various reasons, it was a very good year from reading point of view. I read more than 100 books this year. This, according to me, is a great achievement as even reading can be a hard work sometimes. Several things were going on in my life and I often found it harder to focus on books. Sometimes, I was not even having energy to read. However, I kept reading as books kept my spirit up. Hopefully, next year will even be greater and I will be able to read a greater number of books than I read this year.
Now, it is that time of the year when we look back at some of the best reads of the year. And, here are my top 10 reads of 2016. Kindly keep in mind that some of these books were not published in 2016. On the other hand, these were the books that I read in 2016.
Coinman by Pawan Mishra
This book depicts the story of a junior level office worker in India. Known as Coinman due to his habit of never-ending tinkling of coins in his pocket, Kesar is the butt of all the jokes in his office. He even does not find solace in his home as his wife Imli (a passionate actress) completely dissolves herself into different characters on a regular basis. Something unexpected happens when his office colleagues (getting tired and irritated of the continuous jingling of the coins) come together to conspire against Coinman. This book thus illustrates the permanent plight of an office worker both in home and office due to his eccentricities in a humorous manner. The readers will certainly get impressed by novel’s comedy, its lyricism and its fine intelligence. While the novel will make you laugh, it will also bring a subtle but genuine tragic resonance in your heart. You can read my review of this book here.
The Guardians of the Halahala by Shatrujeet Nath
The Guardians of the Halahala is the first book of a series called Vikramaditya Veergataha. Combining elements of Indian mythology and history, and weaving these together in the form of an enthralling tale is not an easy task. The author of this book, however, accomplished this difficult task with ease. He knows how to tell a great story. The scenes are brilliantly crafted. In fact, you will be blown away by the manner in which the story has been woven. The plot is captivating, fascinating and totally nail biting in parts. I was on the edge of my seat at various points in the story. There are twists and turns throughout, and the story veered off a number of times from the path that I thought it was traveling on. While the book is a thick one, the story is fast paced and flows very nicely. You will be hooked to the pages once you start reading the book. You can read my review of this book here.
The Conspiracy at Meru by Shatrujeet Nath
The Conspiracy at Meru (Vikramaditya Veergatha #2) by Shatrujeet Nath gives you a chance to re-experience the same thrill and excitement The Guardians of the Halahala (Vikramaditya Veergatha #1) gave us. The second book of the series picks up the story from the first book and submerges the readers in action and adventure with ease. You enjoy the evolution of this multifaceted story-line. With heroes and villains conspiring new schemes against each other and all the new battles surfacing on the pages, I found myself completely hooked once I started this book. The book has everything that will delight readers and will have you on the edge of your seats from the word “go”. This was the most anticipated sequels of 2016 and the book unquestionably lived up to my expectations. In every follow-up book of any series, there lies the huge potential pitfall of disappointing the readers. Thankfully, that was not the case with this book. You can read my review of this book here.
The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino
This book will have you from the first page and you will never drop your attention till the very end. While the twist at the end will knock your socks off, the sad ending of the book will leave you agitated. This book is an astonishingly masterful piece of work and I absolutely loved it. Plot, beyond any question, is the lifeline of this book. In fact, this book is a ‘howdunit’ in the classic sense of the word. The focus here is not who committed the crime but how the crime was committed. There is a murder and you get to know the murderer in the beginning itself. That would be the end of the book for a number of readers. Isn’t it? However, what follows in this book is an enthralling game of ‘cat-and-mouse’ between the culprit and the investigating team. There is a continuous action that involves constant pursuits and repeated escapes. The plot keeps leaving questions and drawing the readers into the tale. In other words, the book teases you throughout its length and finally reaches a logical and satisfactory end. The book is full of clever details and a lot of surprises. You can read my review of this book here.
Abhaya by Saiswaroopa Iyer
Religious bigotry, hypocrisy and the degeneration of institutionalized religion into an instrument of exploitation are some of the important themes of this book. I think the very choice of these themes is a bold stroke of genius. Dealing with these subject matters derives its effectiveness from a total control of all aspect of these problems. The overall picture presented in this book is not only objective, but also balanced. There is no tear-mongering here, neither you find tearing of the hair over the questions raised in this book. The author’s value-judgments are mostly brought home through action and situation except in the concluding pages where the poet in her heart suddenly seems to become the mouthpiece of the author herself. Additionally, the book under review shows how the genre of historical fiction can be a very good medium for discussing some of the problems of contemporary present. This is what we generally find missing in a large number of historical fictions. You can read my review of this book here.
Lemon Girl by Jyoti Arora
This book touches your heartstrings all the way from the first page to the last. The story is imbued with a distinct poetic spirit. This book is not a simple love story. The book is also not about the struggle of a young woman who is trying to find her voice. On the other hand, this book is about the brutal reality of what it is like to be a young girl. It subtly details the minute nuances of sexual abuses. It is about how the voices of young girls are silenced, even by their own parents. It is one of those books that not only expertly capture the pain of those girls, but also their spirit, strength of mind, fear and hope too. The psychology of those girls is the main point of focus in this book. Stories like these needed to be told more frequently. The book not only has strikingly real characters, but also a number of strong statements. Both of these make this book an enlightening read. You can read my review of this book here.
The Murder of Sonia Raikkonen by Salil Desai
As is the case with all murder mysteries, the plot in this book centers around a murder. The dead body of Sonia Raikkonen, a Finish tourist, is found in a public garden in Pune. She appeared to have succumbed to severe assault and murder. Senior Inspector Saralkar gets the charge of this case and an investigation begins. The killing appeared to be a simple case of rape and murder in the beginning but things start to get murkier as the case progresses further. A number of people start appearing who may easily have had the motive for the killing. The mystery soon becomes a game of puzzle for the readers who try to solve the case themselves. Inspector Saralkar is the lifeline of this book. His charismatic character and his fair and intuitive ways to deal with the case make him a captivating lead. The author has paid equal attention in sketching out other characters also. I was glad that the story focused as much on other characters as it did on Inspector Saralkar. The book has a great balance of dialogue, narration and description. The story is also interesting. The book has everything a good murder mystery should have. You can read my review of this book here.
The Thirteenth Day by Aditya Iyengar
The Thirteenth Day: A Story of the Kurukshetra War by Aditya Iyengar is another retelling of Mahabharata. This book deals with the events that took place between the tenth night to the thirteenth day during the war between Pandavas and Kauravas in the field of Kurukshetra. While some of the background stories also find place in the main narrative, these stories are brief and added according to the need of the main story-line. The author’s main focus in this book was to deal with the events of only three days of Mahabharata war and he successfully accomplishes that. To give this book a realistic touch, the author has avoided the use of both divine weapons and heavenly intervention in the text. As a result, all the characters appear realistic and events believable. Krishna is not a God in this book. He has been simply depicted as a shrewd strategist and an excellent charioteer. The book also does not revolve around the concepts of good and evil. It does not show that the Pandavas were good and the Kauravas were evil. In other words, it does not make a fuss over the issue of morality. The characters in this book are hardened warriors who are fighting a war with the main aim of winning it. All this make this book a refreshing read. You can read my review of this book here.
jangshersingh.com by Vishal Bhatia
jangshersingh.com by Vishal Bhatia surprises you in a pleasant way. It is a sports-fiction and presents a cleverly woven tale with an interesting plot, fun-characters and a heart-warming message. The writing style is good and is laced with emotions and in-depth layering. The narrative is such that it will instantaneously arrest the minds of readers. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every page of it and found it really hard to put it down. One of the problems faced by authors writing sports fiction is pacing. This is especially true if the sport you are dealing with is lawn tennis. The authors cannot squander their ink in describing an entire tennis game as they are not writing a book on tennis. This is a work of fiction and, therefore, they have to accelerate and abridge the imperative minutes. At the same time, they also need to slow down, expand the action and let the game take up some more space in the book. The readers should be able to relate with the game described in the pages. They should be able to feel tension-filled moments. Most importantly, they should be able to cheer for the characters involved in the game. And, this is what we find in this book. You can read my review of this book here.
The Prince of Patliputra by Shreyas Bhave
Shreyas Bhave’s first book The Prince of Patliputra (Asoka Trilogy #1) offers an action-packed story-line to the lovers of historical fiction. Taking a well-known personality from Indian history and weaving a gripping tale on his life is not an easy task. The task becomes more difficult when the personality the author is choosing is a well-known name among his possible readers. The author of the book under review, however, skillfully accomplishes this challenging task with ease. He certainly knows how to tell a spellbinding story. I found the plot quite interesting and engrossing. The book is slow at the starting but progresses to become a page turner once you wade over the first 20 pages. From there onwards, the book keeps your attention till the last page of the book. While the book is a historical fiction, the characters are not dull (which happens to be the conventional belief). On the other hand, they are believable and leave a long lasting impression on your heart. Careful attention has been given to develop these characters and, as a result, these characters blend effortlessly with the engaging story-line. You can read my review of this book here.
So, how many of these have you read so far?