2022: My Worst Year in Books

At least, since the past 8 years or so. It was a year of all time lows when it comes to reading. Remember how i mentioned here that this was the year of not growing? I think that is also reflected in my reading.

The primary reason for reading less is obviously phone addiction but I think it was stimulated majorly by entering a reading slump sometime around October because of a book I wasn’t enjoying. I might have mentioned this before, but I have a hard time DNF-ing books. I understand life is too short to read books you are not enjoying etc etc, but when I have picked a book, there’s usually some reason associated to it and I can’t let go. Funnily, that book is now getting interesting for me.

So, in what terms was the year bad for reading?

  1. I read less. I finished only 13 books this year, I know my last book opinion mentions 14 but that’s because I didn’t realise until now that I had left my 10th book midway. I only realised while randomly passing time on Goodreads.
  2. Also, Goodreads tells me that I only read an average of 143 pages per book. Honestly, since the past few years, I haven’t read huge books but this is specifically low I guess and it brings me to my next point.
  3. 3 out of the 13 books were essentially short stories. I have talked about them here.

What am i essentially doing to change things this year?

I purposely stay away from annual book challenges because i have participated a couple of times and I get too caught up without actually enjoying the book. Therefore, i am going to take certain approaches that work for me:

I am a slow reader and a forgetful one, so I am going to give my books enough time to savor them. Things that motivate me to read more are not going to be numbers but something else:

1. first of all, I’ll try to read at least 5 physical books that I have purchased since 2018. So, I have bought a lot of physical copies since 2018 (because I remember a particular book bought at that time). i hardly have read any of them since i mostly read on my Kindle, so this is one challenge that i am giving myself.

2. as last year and last-to-last one, I am going to read more books out of my comfort zone. I don’t want to put a count to this and get intimidated but this would be my number one goal books wise.

3. I’ll read with more intention. If you scroll through my book opinions from 2022, you will realise that I picked a lot of books randomly while browsing Kindle or Netgalley. While there’s nothing wrong with that and spontaneity in this department is good, I’ll intentionally do less of that this year. The reason is very basic actually – I want to read a lot of things and do not end up reading them. So, i shall plan a bit. Of course, spontaneity will be welcome when I pick up pace.

4. Most needed and most difficult – Spend less time on phone.

Book 12 of 2022 | Murder Mystery Book Club #1

Right after my 11th book turned out to be such an amazingly fun read, I went into the flow of reading another murder mystery because why not?

A short note on reading habit before the actual review: Remember this post? A lot of you appreciated it and while I barely continued this practice, at least it initiated me into reading articles more mindfully. As for books, I already used to savor what I read but I mostly forget what I read. Hence, going forward, you will see a structure to my book opinions. I also maintain a book journal for my notes now and I love doing that. You’ll also see me writing why I chose to read a book. It will sort of help me take a mental picture of the time I was reading that book in. I want to clarify here that I don’t read for ROI (not that that’s a bad thing) but the note-taking may sound like tedious to some of you and that’s totally understandable, but I do it to savor the book reading experience. Goes without saying that I only do it when I like to.

With that out of the way, let’s get to this book – Murder Mystery Book Club (Florida Keys Bed & Breakfast Cozy Mystery 1 – which is a first in a series of Florida Keys Bed & Breakfast Cozy Mystery books.

Why I chose this book?

Like I mentioned, I was in the flow of reading mystery books, more specifically murder mysteries.

What I liked:

I very much loved this book, just the cozy, sunny Florida setting got me going. I loved it a little less than the previous book, but fun nonetheless. Also, how fun does the idea of running a bed and breakfast sound?

What I didn’t like:

Overall, I liked this book but still there were some things that could have been better. First one being the OTT side characters. Now, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love side characters whose personas are well-defined and the ones who stand out. But, here it seemed forced and kind of trying too hard. Secondly, I didn’t like the encounters that led to the romance so much, it again looked a bit forced to me.

I do still recommend reading this one for a light, cozy read. Maybe on a holiday. 🙂

Book 13 of 2022 | The Girl from Venice

Its now time for a book opinion on my favorite read of this year. This is one book that I randomly picked on NetGalley, mostly because of the name of the book and like I mentioned in my older book posts, I have been reading and loving a lot of war fiction this year.

A short note on reading habit before the actual review: Remember this post? A lot of you appreciated it and while I barely continued this practice, at least it initiated me into reading articles more mindfully. As for books, I already used to savor what I read but I mostly forget what I read. Hence, going forward, you will see a structure to my book opinions. I also maintain a book journal for my notes now and I love doing that. You’ll also see me writing why I chose to read a book. It will sort of help me take a mental picture of the time I was reading that book in. I want to clarify here that I don’t read for ROI (not that that’s a bad thing) but the note-taking may sound like tedious to some of you and that’s totally understandable, but I do it to savor the book reading experience. Goes without saying that I only do it when I like to.

Onto my favorite read of the year now:

Why I chose this book?

The first line of this blog post is enough to tell.

What I Liked:

I loved everything about this book, perfection is the word – from characters to the setting to the storyline to the theme of the book, i.e. WWII.

A bit about the book – An Italian Jewish woman from Venice who is a regular medical student like any of us has to flee from Venice when the Nazi regime starts capturing Jews in Venice. I don’t want to give spoilers, even though the book blurb will mention more than what I am mentioning here. Basically, the story is about her granddaughter finding her roots by way of tracing back her grandmother’s (who never brought up her Venetian past).

I have also come to realize that I like books with two parallel perspectives where one of them is a flashback and the two kind of merge together eventually. I wish I could put down my love for this book in words, but I was essentially loved every page of it. I think it was also the right length, because even though I loved reading it, in such books, you come to a point where you want the protagonist to discover what they set out for.

The Venetian setting is a bonus and a girl on solo travel to Venice with a little bit of romance thrown in is just the stuff of dreams! Pretty sure this would make a great motion picture!

What I didn’t Like:

I really do not have anything here. If I had to nit pick, the sex scenes were definitely avoidable and seemed unnecessary.

Here is the link to the book and I highly, highly urge you to give this one a read. I am also thankful that I got the opportunity to read this one purely due to NetGalley.

Book 9 of 2022 | Gunahon ka Devta by Dharamvir Bharati (Hindi Novel) | Diwablog 2

Okay, you may have noticed that I am trying to do a Diwablog series for Diwali, just like loads end up doing Blogmas for Christmas (including me). I thought why not use this opportunity to also work in some long pending book opinions!

A short note on reading habit before the actual review: Remember this post? A lot of you appreciated it and while I barely continued this practice, at least it initiated me into reading articles more mindfully. As for books, I already used to savor what I read but I mostly forget what I read. Hence, going forward, you will see a structure to my book opinions. I also maintain a book journal for my notes now and I love doing that. You’ll also see me writing why I chose to read a book. It will sort of help me take a mental picture of the time I was reading that book in. I want to clarify here that I don’t read for ROI (not that that’s a bad thing) but the note-taking may sound like tedious to some of you and that’s totally understandable, but I do it to savor the book reading experience. Goes without saying that I only do it when I like to.

And now, here are my thoughts on Dharamvir Bharati’s famed novel, Gunahon ka Devta, which also recently got its English translation as Chander & Sudha (I’ll link all books at the end).

Why I chose this book?

Dharamvir Bharati had been an extremely revered Hindi novelist of his time, i.e. the 60s and the 70s. His romantic novel – Gunahon ka Devta – turned out to be a cult classic and I have been meaning to read something from him. So, i thought i’ll start with his most famed.

What I liked:

To be honest, I didn’t like most of it. I wanted to like it so badly because most of the Hindi literature that I like is from this period or slightly before. Not really from today. And i wanted to be known as someone who has read his stuff and loves it. Vain, I know. Still, if I had to pick a few things that I liked, they would be:

1. The old world charm of the Hindi hinterland since it’s based in that part of India.

2. I liked how all the women characters in the book had something strong and unique going on for them. I know many people think that the women characters were stereotypical but I don’t agree with this completely. They may be stereotypical but they all had a characteristic that stood out. Be it Binti, the side-kick cousin or her bitter & orthodox mom or even the super stereotypical Pammi, who is shown as the vamp character by showing her Anglo Indian and ‘easy’. Even the protagonist, she was unique in her own ways.

Oh wait, i should have mentioned what the book is about. It’s essentially a friendship turned love story turned sacrificial love between Chander and Sudha. Chander is a student prodigy of Sudha’s father who is a college professor. He trusts Chander blindly with anything in life and family matters (and that’s how Chander and his daughter are ‘allowed to’ be friends) but there’s not even a possibility of considering him as a perspective groom because of caste differences which was a pretty big deal back then and continues to be in many parts still, especially that area where this is based.

What I didn’t like:

A lot. First of all, I am not a big fan of the sacrificial kind of love stories. Most of the ones that I have read never seem to have a good enough reason for it, so I basically find it difficult to relate to protagonists’ problems. To top it off, I felt that both the protagonists, i.e. Chander and Sudha, had very annoying personalities. Chander is kind of self centred and despite being someone older and well-read in the equation, he exhibits really toxic man-child behavior around Sudha and when not ‘catered to’, he exhibits self-harming behavior. It’s really annoying and I could hardly garner any sympathy. If i was supposed to look for a deeper meaning in Chander’s personality, I failed. Sudha, while definitely seemed a better character than Chander, was just not good enough for me. I cannot place a finger on why I found her annoying, since I may have liked her character in another novel setting. I just didn’t like the fact that she caved in too quickly to Chander’s whims.

That’s really it. I actually really wanted to like it but i didn’t . Below are the links even though I haven’t made a good case for it:

Actual Book

English Translation

If you liked this, check out more of my latest posts:

Book 11 of 2022 | The Mountain View Murder: A Wintergreen Mystery by Patrick Kelly

Another day, another book post! Continuing with my streak of posting my views on all the books I read, here’s my 10th 11th one from this year. You can find more of such posts from me here.

A short note on reading habit before the actual review: Remember this post? A lot of you appreciated it and while I barely continued this practice, at least it initiated me into reading articles more mindfully. As for books, I already used to savor what I read but I mostly forget what I read. Hence, going forward, you will see a structure to my book opinions. I also maintain a book journal for my notes now and I love doing that. You’ll also see me writing why I chose to read a book. It will sort of help me take a mental picture of the time I was reading that book in. I want to clarify here that I don’t read for ROI (not that that’s a bad thing) but the note-taking may sound like tedious to some of you and that’s totally understandable, but I do it to savor the book reading experience. Goes without saying that I only do it when I like to.

And now, here are my thoughts on The Mountain View Murder:

Why I chose this book?

I was browsing Netgalley for the first time when I came across this book. Yes, it has been more than a year since Netgalley let me take this book. I think its fairly obvious why I chose this book, its name screams cozy, mountain murder mystery. That was it, then. That itself was the reason.

What I liked:

Everything. There, I completed the opinion before even saying anything! This book is about a retired detective Bill O’Shea who moves to Wintergreen, a mountain resort in North Carolina, to spend his life post retirement. The police chief there, Alex, is a temporary chief who doesn’t have a lot of experience with this sort of work when someone dies. So, he ropes in Bill to help him solve the case. Alex, rest of the team and almost everyone in the story believes that its an accident, but Bill wants to track every clue to figure out what it actually is – murder or accident. What then ensues is your typical whodunnit and all the characters are very enjoyable in the story. The suspects, of course, with their motives keep giving the book fun dimensions with every flashback into their lives. However, the main character, i.e., our detective Bill and his supporting characters add a lot to the experience. There’s Bill’s new love interest, Cindy, who approaches Bill right when he moves to his condo, Mitch, the young policeman who works with Bill, Krista, the policewoman who has a very fun, outgoing and charming side to her while being amazing at her job, Kim, the Wintergreen gossip journal who also adds to the whodunnit once giving it a fun twist!

To top it all, the setting of the book, i.e. a mountain resort from where multiple hiking trails pass through, make for a fun ride. I enjoyed reading this so much and after this I downloaded so many mystery books on my Kindle!

What I didn’t like:

I really don’t have anything, except I wish the book went on for longer! 😀

A huge thanks to Netgalley for giving me the chance to read this book!

Book 7 and 8 of 2022 | Two books I didn’t realise would be so related

Every year, I try to read at least one book from some literary prize shortlists and almost every time, I end up disliking the book. This year I picked the JCB 2021 winner – Delhi: A Soliloquy. I was in for a surprise. Before we get into that, something about my reading habit.

A short note on reading habit before the actual review: Remember this post? A lot of you appreciated it and while I barely continued this practice, at least it initiated me into reading articles more mindfully. As for books, I already used to savor what I read but I mostly forget what I read. Hence, going forward, you will see a structure to my book opinions. I also maintain a book journal for my notes now and I love doing that. You’ll also see me writing why I chose to read a book. It will sort of help me take a mental picture of the time I was reading that book in. I want to clarify here that I don’t read for ROI (not that that’s a bad thing) but the note-taking may sound like tedious to some of you and that’s totally understandable, but I do it to savor the book reading experience. Goes without saying that I only do it when I like to.

And, now, here it goes:

Book 7 of 2022:

Delhi: A Soliloquy

Why I chose this book? I pretty much mentioned the reason in the first paragraph.

What is it about? This book is a narrative on Delhi through the years from a Malayali person’s standpoint, with the backdrop of various wars that happened in modern day Delhi, starting from the war with China in 1960. Sahadevan, protagonist and also the narrator, is convinced to come for a job to Delhi by his known person from his native – Sreedharanunni, a communist person who loses his life when Delhi is attacked by China (yes, the irony). The book then has multiple characters who grow up and old in Delhi, all from Kerala and everything happens from Sahadevan’s point of view against wars like the 1965 one with Pakistan, 1970 one with Bangladesh and so on. The riots after the murder of Indira Gandhi were hair raising, and to know that this is not just a book, but rather something that actually happened, is something else.

What I liked? The book has so many characters but i found it in me to love most of them, they all held some place in my heart and i don’t even know how. Usually, books with multiple storylines get really annoying for me but, here, i waited for every character’s chapter to come up again. A lot of good work has gone into giving ample character building to each character. i think it also has to do with the fact that the narration is uniform, told from a single point of view. All the events were based on historical events (various wars in modern Delhi) but there were some that stood out for me. For example, reading about emergency riots was like watching a tragedy happening on screen. Very well written. i usually don’t enjoy the introspection kind of parts in any book, but Sahadevan’s monologues with himself were also worth looking forward to. the book is essentially a growing older of Sahadevan as Delhi grew up with him too.

What I didn’t like: I can’t think of anything honestly, because I went in with no expectations. Additionally, I have been reading a lot of war fiction these days, so it was a natural pick at the time.

Book 8 of 2022:

Prelude to a Riot

Why I chose this book? can’t say why i am going from one war book to another but I am and i am just into that right now.

What is it about? Coincidentally, this book was also based in Kerala, so the Malayali community basically. It’s about different perspectives of various characters as the Hindu Muslim divide begins to be “seen” in Kerala. primarily focusing on three friends and their respective perspectives, it also has many characters like the previous book and each one stood out. It’s a great thing that I don’t remember right now how this book ended but I do remember most of the characters. The most endearing part of the book is how the three friends one out of whom is Muslim start falling apart due to their changing perspectives and the ongoing events at that time.

What I liked: Obviously the fact that how relevant it is in current times. Also, how true to its name is the title of the book – it was really a prelude to what was to come, i.e. riots between two communities/religions. it highlighted the kind of differences or stigma that one starts associating with another community because of the propaganda. The book was scary, because it felt close to home.

What I didn’t like: Why was this book so short? I can totally see it to be intentional but can’t figure out why. It could have been so much more detailed and that would have made it all the more lovely. i hope a sequel is planned.