7)Apocalypse after Apocalypse
My only Stephen King this year and it had me thoroughly engrossed from beginning till end. First there is a worldwide breakout of a killer flu (Which is of course a biological weapons experiment gone wrong. What else do you expect from the US military?) which turns our dearest planet into a graveyard. A handful survive and picking up the pieces split up into two rival camps led by the son of Satan (called the Dark Man) and Mother Abagail (an old Black lady with some supernatural powers) who take a stand against each other. Sounds clichemax right? But King is a writer who just knows how to draw his readers in irrespective of how unrealistic the premise sounds. This is your good-triumphs-over-evil tale but with a Stephen King-esque flavor.
Read my review here
6)That summer of her awakening
Doris Lessing passed away this year leaving behind a body of work touching upon diverse issues and nearly every genre out there. This one was published in 2009 and essentially encapsulates the thoughts and feelings of a middle-aged woman anticipating the onset of old age and her declining significance in the lives of her husband and children. I know this sounds very banal but Lessing's masterful writing unveils hitherto unknown dimensions of a woman's misgivings about growing old, about rendering selfless service to maintain her family's welfare making this an absolutely rivetting read. She didn't win the Nobel prize for nothing people!
5)A matter of sadness
A dark and brutal look at a man's coming to terms with his new identity of being a father to a brain-damaged son. And the 'man' in this case is none other than Kenzaburo Oe himself. Semi autobiographical, deeply moving, yet mercilessly realistic. This is a book which does not make one shed tears or become mawkishly sentimental anywhere but assaults the reader with the most hideous truths of our existence.
4)Book inside a book inside a book...
Well what to say about this one? Either you have heard of this book, read it already and have been won over by the deviously metafictive tricks that Calvino pulls on his readers. Or you haven't. In which case, do yourself a favor and read this without delay. This is a book within a book within a book. You are a character as well as the reader and the writer makes you go through a set of events. Don't understand what I am saying? Just read the book okay?
There's so much to say about July's People that I don't know where to start. It is a meditation on race relations, an acknowledgement of the humanity of the ones considered inferior. This is a highly atmospheric novel and Gordimer skilfully creates an environment taut with repressed violence and turbulent emotions threatening to boil up to the surface. An unforgettable read without a doubt.
What do we say about Jane Eyre that hasn't been said already and much better than I ever could? This is Charlotte Bronte's classic tale of a young woman who lived life on her own terms and never bowed before pressure be it from the might of the wealthy, be it from the tyranny of religious dogma, stubbornly remaining true to her own lofty worldviews. Brilliant book. Brilliant writer. Brilliant Jane.
1)To the lighthouse, towards salvation
My most favorite read of the year and most favorite Virginia Woolf novel till date. I believe everything there is to know about life lies ensconced within the pages of this gem. Read it and discover Virginia and her genius.
And this concludes the list of favorites for the year. I hope the new year has many more excellent reads in store for me and everyone.