Books I Read in 2017

It was one of my New Year resolutions for 2017 to read at least three books per month. Only two more days till another year gets added into the gigantic pile labeled ‘Past’ and it is safe to say that I have failed to keep this resolution this time. Well, what’s so new about that though, eh? I fail. I always fail. I fail to keep promises. I fail to keep people in my life. I fail to achieve many things which people of my age have accomplished long back. So it’s no surprise that I would fail to keep a resolution I had made to myself. Should I now start giving excuses? Why not? Let’s just say 2017 had an ecstatic first half and a very messy, turbulent and rather busy second half for me. Extreme happiness and extreme turbulence both have a way for me to go completely unproductive and this time it’s my reading habit that took the bullet on my behalf. It’s safe to say that dressing up and giving pose was far easier for me than actually sit and finish a book. But even amidst all this I somehow managed to keep my geekhood intact by having finished some books. And it’s time to talk about them. Let’s begin, shall we?

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The Alienist by Caleb Carr
I wonder how this book made to the best whodunit list on many blogs. The author himself declared it to be a ‘whydunit’ rather than whodunit. The book is set in 1896 New York City where a lunatic serial killer is going about massacring teenage male prostitutes. It talks about a time when psychiatry was still a taboo, (It still is, I suppose, to some extent. Hence people get dumped for allegedly having mental disorder but garner shitload of sympathy for any physical ailment.) and forensics was an alien subject. Despite a promising start the book fails to keep up with the expectation. It is often slow and too boring. Almost on every page the author gave long description of the old NYC that I ended up skipping. And honestly speaking, Agatha Christie depicted and dissected criminal psychology in her stories much better than this yawn-inducing long tale of chasing a serial killer.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
This is the first ever book I read by Neil Gaiman and that led me to read two more by the same man within the same year. Norse Mythology starts with Odin and the creation of the universe and ends with Ragnarok. In between comes Thor, Loki, Hel, Fenrir, Frigg, Freya and many more gods and goddesses of the Viking land and their tale of love, loss, battle and betrayal. Long before falling irretrievably in love with Marvel and its superheroes I first came to know about Odin and his gang in the pages of Sukumar Roy Omnibus. And thanks to Stan Lee, I read the whole book picturing Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth. Not to mention, Gaiman mentioned Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as his motivation to start taking interest in Viking folktales.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
A friend sent the pdf of this book. That time I had no idea that it was being made into a TV series. To be very honest almost till a hundred pages into the book I was clueless about what the fuck was really going on. But thank god I did not stop reading. American Gods tells the tale of a land (the United States of America) where all different cultures immigrated from all over the globe (oh Trump) from time immemorial and how all those different gods are dying a slow death into oblivion owing to the godless, soulless nature of the nation. Because it’s us, the humans, that keep our gods alive. Without our prayers and sacrifices they all decay into absolute oblivion. The narrative is hauntingly beautiful and often blurs the line between reality and fantasy, leaving the reader in a daze. I was shit confused the whole time, and yet my little knowledge of world mythology came in handy while reading. Unless you have some idea of gods and goddesses and myths of several cultures American Gods will seem all gibberish, mind you. This book is simply brilliant.

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris
Do a double check before trusting a man who seems too perfect to be true. Who knows, he might be a violent psychopath plotting to entrap you. Chilling thought, eh? Especially when you are single and consistently suck at relationship. However Ms. Paris’s tale will not provide you much comfort and hope. Behind Closed Doors tells the story of a newly married woman and how her dreams turn into a fucking nightmare when she finds out her new husband is a murderous psychopath. Fuck you, universe. Last year I was reading Gillian Flynn and a love story that ended up in euthanasia and this year it is about psychopathic husband. If this is some kind of cosmic joke then it’s about time it ended.

Congo by Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton was the guy who wrote Jurassic Park, by the way. Congo is the story of a group of scientists and explorers who set out to probe the death of another group of scientists while exploring a previously unexplored region in Congo. Congo is written in a documentary narrative that often sounds like a true account of incidents.

Shiva Ultimate Outlaw by Sadhguru
I know right! Me and spiritual books? I mean what the actual fuck?! That too written by someone from the very clan I despise so fucking much. Guru? No thanks. I hate those hypocritical asses sitting on huge pile of money throwing patronising, pitiful glance at their ‘preys’. But somehow I ended up loving this book. This book explores the concept of Shiva. We often mistake this as some weed-smoking, nomadic deity who is apparently married to a goddess from Bengal. Sadhguru’s book tries to break through the barrier of several myths and goes beyond to unravel the deeper meaning hidden within this bisyllabic word – Shiva. Fan of Hindu philosophy? Give this book a try. Although I am not sure he could explain the entire meaning correctly.

Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
I had written an entire post on this book. And I am again saying, it’s a marvelous book.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
Well, this book too deserved a separate post. I am sorry I failed to do so. Wasn’t I making excuses for falling short of my resolution at the beginning of this post? Well, I finished this book in 48 hours, and that too because I was trying to stall through the ending. I wanted it to last for at least a week. It is THAT good. I had bought this book on my fuckall fucking fucked trip to Chennai this year. And buying this book was the best and the only good thing about that fuckall fucking fucked trip to hell. While coming home I was excited despite everything else because of this book. And during that 48 hours I had gone beyond all the turbulence and pain that life was slowly digging into my skin like a giant tattoo machine. I loved this book THAT much.

Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James
Sometimes I start reading a book, realise it is awful but then keep reading it anyway and somehow finish it too. Death Comes to Pemberley is one such book. This is a spinoff of Pride and Prejudice and hence quite naturally all the characters from the Jane Austen classic are present here, along with a few new ones. The story begins when a murder happens in the woods of Pemberley that disrupts the blissful (sinfully boring, yaak) marital life of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. Incredibly regressive, melodramatic, unnecessarily long and absolutely no character development will describe this book the best. And even though it’s apparently a murder mystery it has no mystery or suspense or tension at all. All female characters including Elizabeth are useless props here. It has no detective. And worst of all, nobody gives two fucks about the murderer even though it is a fucking whodunit book. You get the picture. I finished the book just so I could abuse it.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
A coming-of-age story of a boy struggling through his high school years. Sounds just like a million other books and movies made on this very same plot. And yet this is one of the most popular of them all. I read this book during the first half of 2017 (the ecstasy period) and I don’t quite remember it clearly. All I remember is that I liked it. However I did not find it to be anything extraordinary.

Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Lancelyn Green
A collection of various folktales of ancient Egypt. It has the story of all great gods and goddesses and Pharaohs of Egypt starting from Ra. Like Tibet, in Egypt also every great Pharaoh was considered to be the manifestation of some great god. My favourite part in this book is where the goddess of death Sekhmet will turn into the goddess of love, Hathor. Love is the pain that is worse than death, after all.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The third and the last book by Gaiman of 2017. Another fantasy genre novel where a child is raised by the ghosts in a graveyard and how he finds the man who killed his family many years back. The graveyard contains ghosts from various periods including even a vampire. Smooth narration, deadpan humour and signature Gaiman style of mixing modern with mythology make this one a joyful ride through life and beyond, literally.

The Agatha Christie books of this year
I discovered just a few months back that I hadn’t read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd yet. Honestly speaking I died a little inside out of sheer shame. And set out to rectify this horrendous crime immediately. Apart from that, I read six more Christie books this year. Dead Man’s Folly. Death Comes as the End. Towards Zero. The Listerdale Mystery. The Seven Dials Mystery. And, Ordeal by Innocence.

Unfinished ones:

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
The book tells the story of Hannah and the thirteen reasons why she killed herself. I can give you two reasons why you should give this sob fest a miss. One, its bad narrative. Two, it is sick depressing. I just don’t understand how I found this book and why I decided to read it when I was already wallowing in a pool of self pity and depression. I guess it’s the hoopla about its adapted TV series version that had made me curious. And god what a painful read it was. Somehow I finished about 70% of it and I have no intention to finish it, ever. Wanna feel creeped out and yet enjoy the journey? Go ahead and read a Gillian Flynn book. She will make you cringe and fall for her book at the same time. This one I just simply didn't like. Not to mention this book gave me an idea that cutting one’s hair might indicate suicidal tendency. Argh! Might be a good read for those self-proclaimed narcissistic psychiatrist morons.

Books I have started reading lately but will finish in next year:
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong by Gyalo Thondup.