Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best and Worst Books Read in 2009

As the title suggests, this is my list of best and worst books, not necessarily published in 2009, but read in 2009. This year, especially in the latter half, I've focussed a lot on Indian writing and non-fiction. Because of that, I have missed out on the popular reads of 2009 like The Time Traveller's Wife, The Lost Symbol. But I don't mind it actually, since my non-fiction reading spree has gone on really well and I've enjoyed the books a lot. Without any further ado, here are my lists, not counting books I've re-read and enjoyed:

Best Books Read in 2009:

1. The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor 

I'm in love with the breathtaking wit, humour and ease with which the narrative flows in this political satire. Tharoor is a gifted writer and his take on the Mahabharata interwoven with the Indian freedom struggle and later political leaders is a one of its kind special, not to be missed out on.

2. Prison and Chocolate Cake by Nayantara Sahgal
It's the simplicity, personal feel and honesty of this book that captivates me. A non-fiction work by Nehru's niece Nayantara Sahgal, it is a beautiful tribute to her country, her family and the days of struggle for independence from the British. 

3. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Adiga's Booker Prize winning novel is a harsh, depressing but essential reminder of how there is just so much in India that needs to be changed. The negative tone put me off the book many times, angered me, saddened me, but it made me think. And the book never left me. Now that is something only a powerful book can do.

These books are tough to review, because they are just so very creative, so fascinating and unexplainable to someone who hasn't read them. Fforde is easily one of the best authors I've read this year. 

5. Kashmir: Behind The Vale by M.J.Akbar
This is a beautifully written book tracing the history and political scenario of a valley that has been torn by war and conflict. M.J.Akbar's writing is perfect proof of the fact that non-fiction can be more fascinating than fiction.

If you liked Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins' Freedom at Midnight, you are going to love this book. Chronicling the last days of the British Empire in India, Von Tunzelmann's well-paced narrative, laced with a lot of gossip, makes the book a surprisingly easy read.

7. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
I haven't read much of Picoult, but this book just haunted me with its message.  Sensitively handled, beautifully written, Nineteen Minutes is a grim, important reminder of how seemingly small mistakes have huge repercussions

I adored this sequel to another brilliant, hilarious book Bridget Jones' Diary. It's not as good as the first book, but Edge of Reason will guarantee you some unforgettable laugh-out-loud moments!

9. The Zoya Factor by Anuja Chauhan
Cricket is a nation-wide obsession and Chauhan uses it so well in this hilarious, well-written book. If Indian chick-lit was more like this, I'd certainly be reading more of it!

Worst Books Read in 2009:   ( In no particular order )

1. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Don't, don't, just don't. Days of my life spent reading this are days that I can't get back.

2. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
So very over-rated. This book stays with me in the worst way possible. In the sense, every time I see this book in a bookstore, I hurry and move away from it.

3. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
This book bored me a lot. I hated the book as much as I loved the movie!

4. One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell
Another book that makes me wonder why I ever picked it up in first place. 

5. The Associate by John Grisham
Re-hashed, self-admittedly, from his earlier book The Firm, this book stopped me from reading anything John Grisham for the rest of the year.


Shweta said...

Looks Like you beat up quite a few authors this year . LOL . Great list. I haven't read Memory Keepers Daughter but will never go for it after reading your review.

Sad to see you listed Nanny Returns , I actually liked that book, a bit more than the movie . But that's personal choice, right ?

Can I tell you something ? This blog template of yours takes a long time to load , please don't take it in a wrong way but I had to wait for it to get loaded for like more than 40 sec everytime.

Love your posts ..

Kals said...

LOL. The Memory Keeper's Daughter is indeed overrated!

Yep..that's entirely a personal choice. My liking for chick-lit has always been dodgy :)

No problem. In fact, thank you for letting me know about that! It works fine for me, actually. But I'll check it again and see if I can change it for the new year or something :)

Alyce said...

Wow! You read a lot of books about India this year! I loved Bridget Jones's Diary, and hope to read the sequel someday soon.

Kals said...

Yeah..I hadn't realized the number of India-related books I'd read this year before drawing up this list :)

I'm sure you'll enjoy it! Bridget Jones is chick-lit at its best, isn't it? :)

JoAnn said...

I love that you got focused on India and stayed with it! These books look fascinating - other than The White Tiger, I've not heard of them.
When I listened to Eat, Pray Love a year or two ago, the author and her attitudes/voice were very irritating.

Kals said...

I read Eat, Pray, Love quite early in the year and was annoyed by it. The India-reading got on better than I thought it would. I've still just barely scratched the surface of Indian writing though.

Hopefully, 2010 will help me continue reading more fascinating India-related books =)

Paperback Reader said...

Jasper Fforde is an amazing writer; his books are so creatively intelligent and I am very excited about his new series and it will be one of my first books in 2009 (whenever my copy arrives).

Interesting list!

Kals said...

'Creatively intelligent' sums up his books so well :)

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Nice list. I think we have similar taste in books :)

I read Nineteen Minutes last year and I also loved it. For chick-lit books, Zoya Factor and Bridget Jones are top of the heap for me. I can keep rereading them whenever I get down.

I haven't read any of the books in your worst list except for The Associate, which I quite liked. It was typical JG, but still somehow I didn't mind.

I had bad luck with chick-lit this year. None of the books I read really were really mind-blowing/fummy/romantic.

Wish you a happy and prosperous 2010 :)

Kals said...

Exactly. I had bad luck with chick-lit this year. I hope 2010 offers more fun rom-coms and laughs :)

I think I disliked The Associate because it was 'based'on The Firm. I lost patience reading a rehashed novel.

Same to you! Have a lovely 2010 :)

Alison said...

Totally agree with the sentiment that time reading a book you don't enjoy is time (annoyingly!) wasted that could have been spent reading something else! Also pleased to see both a best and worst list. I like to know what books to avoid, as much as which to rush out and read!
Happy New Year!

Kals said...

Thank you :) Yep..I like Worst Books lists. It sort of helps me let people know what not to waste their time with.

Happy New Year! :)

Veens said...

Darn Kals, I really need to read ALL those books from your Best book category :)

Kals said...

That's pretty understandable considering that my list is such a confusing combination of Indian writing, fiction and non-fiction LOL :) But they are all worth the read! :)


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