Whether you are a bookworm, an aspiring one or someone who has never cared / never found time to read a book, you are all welcome here.
We pick some interesting reads for all levels of interest. We keep topics 'kinda sorta general-ish' (as our desk volunteer informed us!) and we agree. We think reading is for everyone... here are our suggestions.
And, if you have suggestions, get in touch. We'd love to add your insight into this mix. Any language is welcome.
This is an incomplete list so keep checking back we will update it continuously.
THE BEST OF 2020...
We share some links here from various sources about the 'best books of 2020.
Now, is it really the best picks? We leave it to you to try and decide!
NPR (National Public Radio) compiled its list. In the same page, you can browse for bestsellers from previous years too.
New York Times Best of 2020
BBC's Best of 2020
WHAT SHOULD I READ?
PLACES TO FIND SUGGESTIONS...
Maybe you have a well informed, well read group of friends who curate books for you to read.
Let's assume you don't! Where would you go to find credible suggestions?
Simply browsing online or going to a bookstore can be overwhelming with too many suggestions... we compiled some suggestions you can browse through before deciding.
Please note these are all books in the English language (or translated). We would welcome suggestions from other languages too! Do not hesitate to reach out.
The New York Times Best Sellers List - This is a good a place to start! Bookmark this site and browse from time to time. They update it weekly so there is an exhaustive collection. Mind you, this only gives you the title and a brief description, not the entire book!
Amazon Best Sellers. Now, before you roll your eyes, remember, Amazon started off as a bookstore, so let's assume they know what they're talking about!
Goodreads Best Sellers. Now, there is debate on whether or not Goodreads is super reliable, but our impression is that they are not bad at all, especially for book lists. They have categorized it to boot!
The Gutenberg Project. A free library with over 60,000 books!! "You will find the world’s great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired. Thousands of volunteers digitized and diligently proofread the eBooks, for you to enjoy", says the website. Take a look, a terrific place to start!
From the days gone by to contemporary, we list here some women authors whose works are must reads, if nothing else, at least to know of how women's writings reflect the world and societies they lived/live in.
“I can promise you that women working together – linked, informed and educated – can bring peace and prosperity to this forsaken planet.”
A native of Chile in South America, Allende's books take you around the world- Haiti, India, Spain... there is a social message, a commentary of our times in her books but rendered in a flawless manner that keeps you reading. We highly recommend her books.
Some favorite picks are:
A Long Petal of the Sea,(2019), The Japanese Lover (2015) , The House of Spirits (1982).
Rich was and American poet and essayist. Starting of as a traditional poet, over her lifetime, her work became more of a free verse and explored things such as a woman's role in society, racism and war. She famously declined the national Medal of Arts in 1997, saying art and cynical politics do not mix. Her works are undoubtedly deep and thought provoking, awes and shocks you at the same time.
Ukraine born Brazil settled novelist and short story writer is among the most under read female authors. Despite the success of her first novel Near to the Wild Heart in 1942 at age 23, she struggled to find a publisher for her subsequent work Family Ties , a collection of short stories. Her masterpiece is considered to be Agua Viva (Stream of Life) that was published in 1972. Her short stories and novels explores life in its many forms, her characters range from teachers to monologues with the primary character/narrator being unnamed (addressed as just 'you'). If you are looking for some very different reading material, Lispector's books and stories are just the one!
English writer Shelley is probably best known for the horror novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus. Published in 1818, this book is considered one of the first works of science fiction. Her later works though never as famous as Frankenstein were considered just as god, including Valperga (the life and adventures of the Prince of Lucca) and The Last Man, another work of science fiction. Undoubtedly, her work influenced and inspired many women writers to pursue writing as a career, though maybe not quite the genre Shelley had so very much embraced!
Sontag was a 20th century American author, filmmaker and political activist. Her writing is critical of current systems (of her time). For example, in her seminal collection of essays "Against Interpretation" that came out in 1966. Sontag questions our approach to a number of issues and the over intellectualization and interpretations about the content of work, esp. art instead of developing a new approach to appreciate the sensuous impact of art. This would be particularly interesting to those in the design field, who are quite often torn between the beauty and understandability of design.
Her other works include Notes on Camp (1964), The Way We Live Now (1986) and In America (1999). Do not dismiss her writing as dated and last century 1960s rhetoric, her work still holds meaning, but more importantly, the questions she asks are still relevant!
A Room of One's Own. Just about everyone has heard about it haven't we? Considered by most to be the most influential piece in women's rights of the 20th century. British born Woolf was part of the famed Bloomsbury Group (a collective of artists and art lovers of the time). Struggling with mental health issues her whole life, Woolf's writing is often considered to have non linear approaches to the main narrative as well as pioneering in how she portrays the fast changing world, from cars and planes to gender roles. If you have not yet read any of Woolf's works, pick one up today. Start with the most famous one- A Room of One's Own and then decide how to proceed. Either way, you should know about her writing! (Other famous works include Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse among several more).
We have included a link from Britannica.com which is quite comprehensive, should help you decide better!
If you have not heard of her, irrespective of which part of the world you come from, do it now! Donning many hats- writer, storyteller, poet, activist- Dr. Angelou was a prominent American figure and continues to influence people with her works. Her most famous work is considered to be I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing, an autobiographical piece she wrote in 1969 (one of her 6 autobiographies!). Her works would interest budding authors for yet another reason and that while her works (autobiographies) are well narrated, they are not chronologically arranged, rather are thematically composed. They are complete by themselves and tie in with one another very well. This is a style of writing rarely attempted and definitely adds a further layer of intrigue in addition to the content itself.
Her other works include several for children (Life Doesn’t Frighten Me (1993), which also featured the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat; My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me (1994), and Kofi and His Magic (1996), poetry (The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994) and Phenomenal Woman (1995) and multiple essays.
The link takes you to her website which has more detailed information.
Indian American author Banerjee's works both introduces you to South Asian cultural systems and shatters stereotypes. Her books have won awards (The American Book Award for short story collection Arranged Marriage) and made into movies (Mistress of Spices). It is however her storytelling ability, like say in the Palace of Illusions, which gives us the tale of Draupadi, the mythological character in the Mahabharata one of the most well known Hindu mythology works. What is very arresting about this work is the tale is told from Draupadi's perspective, how she felt and thought about the proceedings of her life, her role in the shaping of Mahabharata, giving the reader an insight into how she (Draupadi) processed the world around her that makes this and other books of Banerjee's read-worthy. Irrespective of your own cultural outlook and where you live, the sheer storytelling ability of this author is worth lauding. Read one book for starters!
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. The book is a collection of essays from areas such as politics, criticism, and feminism. It is funny yet insightful, worth a read.
Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. Written quite simply, Brown talks about the importance of being vulnerable as a leader. And how being vulnerable is NOT a negative trait. Her website has some interesting stuff too, if you're more interested.
Nice Girls Don't get the Corner Office by Lois Frankel. The book lists some 100 mistakes we women make at work and practical ways to stop doing them. It is a quick read and something to do while traveling o rbefore bedtime.
How to win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This one never gets old. Some of it might be too simple but that is the beauty of it, it is simple and implementable! If you have not read it yet, buy a copy. It will be well worth what you spend.
Brief Answers to Big Questions by Stephen Hawking. Buy it. Read it. Again, this is such an amazing book where Hawking answers tough questions most simply. If science books are not your thing, then you MUST read this, Hawking explains things with a dry wit and great sense of humor. You can relax with this book on your vacation!
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. A self help book from 1989 that is still a best seller and of great value to the reader.
Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. An ambitious book that covers the journey of dominance of humankind and how our ability to tell stories and believe in the power of the collective is the key to it. It is a good read, a long read and while some bits are contentious and exaggerated, it is worth a read for his sheer ambition of covering entire humankind's history in one book!
Where Good Ideas Come From : The natural history of innovation by Steve Johnson. This book, again ambitious, covers just what the title says. 'From Darwin and Freud to the halls of Google and Apple, Johnson investigates the innovation hubs throughout modern time and pulls out the approaches and commonalities that seem to appear at moments of originality', says the description and the book lives up to it....sort of. OK, you be the judge of it.
Also, may we recommend Johnson's TED talk of the same name? The talk is quite fascinating.