Happy New Year everyone! We are 21 days into 2020 as of now. I hope you all had a wonderful start to the year but more importantly, I hope you remember there is no timeline to improve yourself, start something new or read more books.
My start to this year has been interesting. I had a quiet new year’s. I finished my Goodreads goal of reading 100 books (yay!), reflected over 2019, wrote down the lessons I learned and the things I’m proud I did in 2019. For me, it really feels like I have a chance to start fresh. It’s a new year, a new decade (the second one in my life as I turn 20 this year in July) as well as new semester! I’ve got 3 semesters of my undergrad English degree left and I don’t plan on wasting a day. I realize that’s not realistic but I’m going to try my best and I’m excited.
My end of the year posts are not going to be a lot. I’m planning one more post after this and that’s it. I wrote down my 2019 reflections and 2020 goals in my journal and I’m okay with doing just that instead of posting them here. One of my goals is to post consistently here and on bookstagram and I have realized that to do that, it’s better to make a schedule that works for me instead of trying to post everyday and miserably failing.
Lastly, this post would be incomplete if I don’t mention my wonderful friend Nikki. Over the past few months, I have been thinking a lot about what writing means to be and about blogging, and just talking it out with her has helped. She recently started her own blog and I’m not exaggerating when I say that her posts are amazing and truly inspire me. So I really urge you all to check out her blog Creating Nikki. She also recently posted her 9 best reads of 2019.
Without any more delaying, here are my favorite reads from 2019 in no particular order!
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Sad, haunting and beautiful. A part of me wants every person to read this book but I know everyone shouldn’t read it. It is extremely depressing.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath is based on the author’s own struggles with mental illness. The protagonist is Esther Greenwood, a college student working in a magazine and staying in New York when the book begins. I felt like Esther was the personification of the darkest, most depressed and insecure part of all of us. She had a tendency on getting fixated on things. It was almost as if she was observing everything from outside her body. The narration is amazing. Beautifully written heartbreaking passages. The author talks about incredibly hard-hitting and relatable things. I had to stop several times in the book just to process it and take a breath. The ending was anticlimactic and i feel like it didn’t tie up with the first half of the book.The Bell Jar was even better than I expected. I have no doubt that I’m going to always remember it. This book is very sad and that should be taken into account before someone reads it.
Art Matters by Neil Gaiman
The moment I first heard about this book, I wanted to read it. I love audiobooks and I had been meaning to get a Storytel subscription. When I saw someone on Bookstagram post about how much they loved the audiobook of Art Matters on Storytel, and that it is only about half an hour long, I went ahead and got the subscription. Best decision I made in December. This book is based on a speech by Neil Gaiman and it talks about the importance of reading fiction, libraries and why you need to create art. This is a very short book but it is not a one-time read. You have to read it and again until you can soak up all the motivating wisdom that Mr. Gaiman gives us in this book.
Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices Book 2) by Cassandra Clare
Ah, my heart still hurts whenever I think of this book. Since this is the second book in a series, I won’t go into any details about this book. I highly recommend checking out the first book Lady Midnight if you don’t know what it’s about.
Forbidden romance is not my thing but the way Emma and Julian’s love for each other is shown in this series is heartbreaking and completely captivating. Besides these two, there are so many other characters I have grown to care for. I never want this series to end.
I have read more than two series and thirteen books by Cassandra Clare and so, I can say with certainty that the way she writes has developed beautifully throughout the years. I love fantasy and I love the Shadow World, but what I love even more are the characters in this world and how they and their relationships develop.
Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai takes place during the Sri Lankan riots. In the middle of this setting, the protagonist Arjie grows up and discovers his sexuality. This book flew by and I wish it was longer. While I liked learning more about the situation in Sri Lanka, I would have loved to read more of Arjie’s story. Still, I absolutely loved reading this. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a coming-of-age story.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
I did not know much about the history of slavery in America before reading this book as well as some other works that are a part of my course. Beloved is the kind of book that shakes you to your core. It is based on a woman named Margaret Garner who escaped from slavery and later killed her daughter to prevent her from being enslaved. I honestly don’t feel like I can do justice to this book if I try to describe it or review it in any way. The writing style of the author did make it difficult to understand what was going on at times but it is also an important aspect of the novel. I cannot wait to read more of Toni Morrison’s works.
The Gardener by Rabindranath Tagore
The Gardener by Rabindranath Tagore is a collection of eighty-five translated Bengali poems. It is one of the most beautiful collections of poetry I have ever read. I absolutely cannot wait to read more of Tagore. Here’s a snippet-
“Does the earth, like a harp, shiver into songs with the touch of my feet?
Is it true that the dewdrops fall from the eyes of, night when I am seen, and the morning light is glad when it wraps my body round?
It is true, is it true, that your love travelled alone through ages and world’s in search of me?
That when you found me at last, your age-long desire found utter peace in my gentle speech and my eyes and lips and flowing hair?”
Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies and Leslie Gold
Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies and Alison Leslie Gold is narrated by Miep, a young girl who helped the Frank family when they were in hiding during the Holocaust. I was 13 when I read Anne Frank’s diary for the first time, the same age she was when she started writing it. I could not only relate to Anne as a teenager but I came to know about the atrocities done during the second world war. I have re-read the book since then and it is still as comforting to me as when I was 13. I absolutely loved the way it was written. I was hooked to the book. I experienced the Frank family’s story through an outsiders perspective. But more than anything, I’m in awe of Miep’s courage and selflessness in helping the family.
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
The first thing you need to know about this book is that the title is slightly misleading. There are erotic stories in the book but that is just one of the many aspects of this book. This book is very cleverly written. The protagonist is Nikki, a British-Punjabi young woman in London. The character development in this book is amazing. It also touches on themes of immigration, sexism, self-discovery, and also has a mystery element. Being a Sikh woman, I found Nikki quite relatable and it was a nice and enlightening experience to see the Punjabi community represented in this book.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was the first book I read in 2019 and it was a great way to start the year. Since then, I have read Fitzgerald’s short story The Crack-Up and I recently bought Tender is the Night. This was a sad and beautiful book. I really enjoyed the narration and writing style of the author. There are still some things about this book I don’t quite understand but I loved the experience of reading it.
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
This book reminded me of an age-old advice that is usually given to artists. Learn to copy something first before creating new. I don’t know how much worth this holds but it’s a good place to start. Read this book if you feel creatively stuck, confused about your work, or feeling lazy.
What were your favorites books from 2019? Let me know down below!