I don’t think it’s possible to have a definitive list of 10 books that “changed my life” or “everyone must read”. So I’m going to put down the 10 books that have captured my imagination in the last two years followed by a quick note why I love them. Since my reading is a 50-50 mix of fiction and non-fiction, my list is going to be split the same way.
1. Swami and Friends: The joys of childhood uncut, unadulterated, un-precocious. Swami and his friends struggle against everyday fears, fearsome arithmetic teachers, collect money for cricket clubs, and do so much more. R K Narayan is one of my favourite writers and pretty much any book could have made it to this list but Swami is a favourite I keep going back to.
2. Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen is another of my favourite writers and this book is one of my favourite reads when I’m low or when people tire me. It’s never the plot of her books that lifts me up but rather her gentle parody of that which is unchanging – human nature. And oh, picturing the suave Mr Darcy doesn’t hurt either!
3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Arthur Dent, Vogons, Towels, Ford Prefect, hyperspace, Slartibartfast, Marvin the Paranoid Android, and of course, The Guide itself. There’s no other place you can go when you need wisdom. Don’t Panic!
4. What Ho!: Well, anything with Jeeves or Blandings, really. Dim-witted aristocrats, stiff upper lips, smoking suits, dashing women. P G Wodehouse is said to have hung up sheets of paper with his writing along the wall at various heights symbolizing the level of humour on the page. Only when all pages reached the desired height did he consider the work complete. Those were the days when writers were real writers and real women wore corsets…
5. Small Gods: F.D. was the one who got me started reading Terry Pratchett’s work and for that I shall always be indebted to her. I could write dozens of posts about religion on this blog and barely understand myself. This work of genius not only makes you think about religion but also makes you laugh and cry in the process. In my opinon, this is a much better book to understand an atheist’s perspective than The God Delusion.
6. Animal Farm: This book is so iconic that I guess it’s presence doesn’t need to be justified. It’s an eerily realistic book that I almost consider non-fiction despite the taking animals.
7. The One Hundred: A guide to the pieces every stylish woman must own. This is a book I picked up with credits I had on Amazon’s Kindle store. I had been living in the US for a couple of years when I first read this book but I never really understood how one was expected to shop or dress there. I was looking for an extension of an article in a magazine but instead found an interesting, thoughtfully written book that covers everything from capes and animal prints to sneakers to vintage clothing. I am never going to own most of these pieces but this book made me start thinking about how to spend my money when I go shopping.
8. The Mythical Man Month: A book that many consider the bible of software project management, it’s the source of so many phrases we use today including “It’s no Silver Bullet”. Again, it’s such a classic in it’s field that most descriptions fall flat and it’s best to pick up the book and read it.
9. Bossypants: Tina Fey is a genius and I’ve had a girl crush on her since I watched my first episode of 30 Rock. She is talented, no-nonsense and incredibly funny. Tina can make you see how ridiculous it is for women to have to compete with each other all the time in everything – from weight and bra size to breastfeeding duration – without ever being preachy or self righteous. I would call this book Feminism 101. If you’re not a Tina Fey fan (what? Really?) I would recommend Lean In.
10. Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. Introverts are not quiet per se but we do need a lot of quiet. This book is a well researched piece of work that refutes many myths about introverts and helps us stop judging ourselves (or others) when we prefer quiet time with a book to a noisy party.
Posted in response to the IndiSpire topic of the week.