Looking Back and Ahead: 2019 Highlights!

Doesn’t 2020 sound exciting? Just the sense of symmetry and the roundness of the number makes me believe that it would be a great year! Pretty odd huh? Turns out I do show favouritism to even numbers!

Though of course Climate Change is truly upon us and we do stare at a bleak future, which many politicians refuse to see. The Oxford Word of the Year for 2019 was also Climate Emergency. I think I will also remember 2019 for its freak weather show, particularly rain and snow in India along with some strange, contradictory decisions I made.

Yet I do think we all can do out bits even though our politicians and policymakers let us down.

For starters, let us reduce our plastic usage and be conscientious about it. Why use something for just 15 minutes, that which is going to last on this planet for about 50 more years?

But there are many more things one can do as well!

But on to books for now!

So what was new on The Book Cafe in 2019?

Several new series!

  • This included the very cool: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly which is a great way to clearly recommend books.
  • The very cool The Reading Spree series where I showcase the books that I read in a particular month!
  • Another nascent one was the Pick it Up, which I plan to do monthly on the books recommended by The Book Cafe!
  • The blog also started two very ambitious series, Poem and Short Short Story of the Month. Poem of the Month is my way to share some of my favourite poems to increase a love for poetry. Short Story of the Month is for those hard pressed on time and money but still want to read. Short stories are here to rescue you. I will only pick those that one can read online. This way it helps you read without spending too much time and money. Hopefully can continue Short Story of the Month and Poem of the Month diligently.

Books I did read from 2018’s wish list:

  • I did manage to read A Strangeness in My Mind from my wish list last year! It was biggest book I have read this year and after a long time had enough time on my hands to commit to a lengthy book! Yay to me!
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  • I also did strike off Touching Earth by Rani Manicka and The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter from my to read list that I made in December 2018. Though to be honest, I do need to reread The Bloody Chamber as I did not fully absorb it that well, except the hilariously retold, Puss in the Boots.

My Favourite Reads of 2019:
The Oscars 2019 for my Favourite Books go to:

The Best Character: Aliya in The Women’s Courtyard by Khadija Mastur.

The Best Setting: Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna. The novel is set in the beautiful Coorg. It was my first book of the year 2019!

The Best Book to Make you Emotional/Cry: Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin.

The Best Parallel Time Lines: The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht.

The Best Style: Daura by Anukriti Upadhyay concocts a mesmerising tale within the form of a utterly disparate and mundane government report.

The Best Poetry: It is a tie between The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy, The Narrow Road to the Interior by Basho and Selected Poems by Anna Akhmatova.

The Best YA novel: Talking of Muskaan by Himanjali Sankar.

The Best Bildungsroman: The Patiala Quartet by Neel Kamal Puri.

The Best Children’s Novel: It is again a tie between Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach and Vinod Kumar Shukla’s fantastical, Hari Ghaas ki Chhappar Waali Jhopdi Aur Bona Pahad.

Bookish expectations I carry as I go into 2020:

  • To read more and buy less (Let me see how this works out this year: It did not work out last year as I bought more books in 2019 than I did in the last three years!!!!
  • Read more translations which is a new found love and interest! Cannot wait for August when I get to celebrate Women in Translation Month.
  • Perhaps read books based on a monthly theme. I have been doing this since August. August was devoted to reading women translated authors as part of the Women in Translation Month. September was National Translation Month and I simply continued reading translated female authors.IMG_20190831_173641433.jpg
    In October 2019, I did the very colour coded theme of reading books with yellow book covers. In November I focused on the theme of Indian women writing in English. I was happy to have read more female authors in the second half of the year. I have also already planned themes till February 2020 and for April 2020.
  • To read more LGBTQ novels: Any unique suggestions would be great!
  • To read more Hindi novels.
  • Join a Library!

So books I would love to read and explore are:

  • Korean graphic novels such as Ancco’s Bad Friends and The Colour of the Earth trilogy.
  • Read more thought provoking manga. I did read a lot of manga online in 2018 but somehow I was unable to do that this year. I suspect my laptop’s frequent old age problems and it’s consequent slow functioning was the reason! I will hopefully get down to reading My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame. This was also there on the wish list last year!
  • Get down to reading Kari by Amruta Patil. I always hesitate to buy this because so far I have refrained from buying manga or graphic novels as it would open up another area of never ending spending (oh look that rhymes!). But perhaps I should just go to a nice bookstore and read the graphic novel, no? That would indeed solve my dilemma!
  • A Promised Land by Khadija Mastur. Her other novel, The Women’s Courtyard, featured one of the most progressive women protagonists, Aliya, and I love Daisy Rockwell for translating this novel and making us know the value of Mastur’s writing and feminist characters. Reading, A Promised Land, might actually come true because I did receive a copy from the awesomely organised bookish secret Santa of the Facebook group, Senior Reading Raccoons.
  • Qurratlain Hyder’s novels such as Chandni Begum.
  • Geetanjali Shree’s The Roof Beneath Their Feet.
  • Read contemporary Indian female poets.
Here is wishing everyone a Happy New Year and looking forward to another wonderful year of reading!!!!