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Reading books, visiting a better world

Reading, analyzing, sharing, discussing, and talking about the books that can change your outlook towards the world, and would be a great read for others as well.

Meetali Asiwal

@ English content writer | Posted 30 Jun, 2018 | Entertainment / Lifestyle

Posted By: Meetali Asiwal (Updated 02 Jul, 2018)

Ten fictional books that you must read before turning 20

“Reading gives you more time than not reading”, says Jeanette Winterson. Indeed, the time invested in reading a good book is the time saved, not wasted. You enter a new world when you pick up a book and start reading it. Writers are magicians, dreamers, believers. They believe in unearthly time zones and give you a reason to believe in them too. They take you to new adventures. They reflect in their works the world that you live in. Hence, reading makes you realize the inevitable, and imagine the unimaginable. Right now you may be in Utopia and the next minute you may find yourself in a dystopian surrounding. One book may take you in the magical world of Hogwarts and another may show you the cruelties of Zamindars on poor population in an Indian village. Books are a wonder, and as Jane Austen suggests, “A fondness for reading, properly directed, must be an education in itself.”

Reading around being an important part of education, everyone must try to indulge into it. While you are free to choose any genre of your interest and skip the others, there are some books which just cannot be missed. Here is the list of ten exceptional fictional books from all over the world which must be read by everyone before they enter the significant second decade of their lives. These books teach you, inform you, and help you evolve by asking certain questions to yourself and your society. All of the below mentioned books are available in English.

1. God of Small Things

“If you're happy in a dream, does that count?” - Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

Being Arundhati Roy’s first novel, it is a treat for all those who appreciate the linguistic intricacies and playfulness. It’s a subtle critique of caste system, very finely blended with the local life of a South Indian family, and a love story. Arundhati Roy enfolds the story giving it a realist, yet magical touch. The enfolding happens as if the god himself is unfolding the several of someone’s real life, unexpectedly, and shockingly. Various layers and perspectives that Roy creates for each single event, and the time she invests in every minute detail is exceptional.

2. Disgrace

“When all else fails, philosophize.” - Disgrace, J. M. Coetzee.

This is a novella written by the African author J. M. Coetzee, and again, is a must read for more than one reasons. Starting with the story of an old university professor and his failed affair with one of his young students, the focus of the novel shifts to the daughter of the professor. The novel familiarizes us with the African city life as well the countryside. It is also a psychological study of the protagonist as he loses his reputation and his job because of his affair, and finally also loses the ability of saving her own daughter from getting raped.

3. To Kill a Mocking Bird

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” - Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Written by a spectacular author, Harper Lee, the novel is a masterpiece. If you want to learn about a parent-child relationship, or a brother-sister relationship, no book can be better than this one. It is the story of a motherless pair of brother and sister and their father, Atticus. The story deals with the experiences of the family which involve Atticus’s profession as a lawyer, the filthiness of which he never hides from his children. You will fall in love with Atticus even before you reach halfway in the novel.

4. The Kite Runner

   “I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.” - Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

From the perspective of politics, third world history, diaspora, and even friendship, this novel is both perfect and heartbreaking. It is written by the Afghan writer Khaleid Hosseini. Set in the 20th century Afghanistan under the brutal rule of Russia and Taliban, the novel tells us about the country’s citizens by the story of two young boys Ameer and Hassan. It is a saga of friendship worth knowing.

5. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

  “The moment I saw her, a part of me walked out of my body and wrapped itself around her. And there it still remains.” - Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

Arundhati Roy is a gifted writer and that is evident from both of her novels. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness also talks about social issues like God of Small Things, again subtly blending it with local tastes of Kashmir and Old Delhi. Recently published, the novel criticizes almost everything happening in India, picking the real events from the timeline. She leaves nothing untouched, be it the Anshan of Anna Hazare at Jantar Mantar or the killing of militants in Kashmir valley. Roy captures the culture of Old Delhi and Kashmir quite picturesquely in her latest novel.

6. Raag Darbaari

“लेक्चर का मज़ा तो तब है जब सुननेवाले भी समझें कि यह बकवास कर रहा है और बोलनेवाला भी समझे कि मैं बकवास कर रहा हूँ।” - Shrilal Shukla, राग दरबारी

(The lecture is enjoyable only when the one who listens feels that what is being spoken is rubbish, and the one who speaks also knows that what he’s speaking is rubbish)

The quote above is enough to prove why this Hindi novel by Srilal Shukla is a must read. If you enjoy biting satire and sarcasm, then this book would be no less than Bible for you. Shrilal Shukla very shamelessly uses the sarcastic tone throughout the novel to ridicule the village administrations in post-Nehruvian era. Unlike other Hindi writers he does not lament over the failed administration and dirty politics in the earliest days of post-independence but makes fun of these issues. You can easily see the familiarity of the village described in the novel with the degrading standards of politics in the country today.  

7. Sexing the Cherry

“The Buddhists say there are 149 ways to god. I'm not looking for god, only for myself, and that is far more complicated.” Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry

Even by the name, you would think of this novel as queer. And indeed, it brought a major breakthrough in the postmodern world of gender studies. An important book from the shelf of queer literature, Jeanette Winterson’s Sexing the Cherry helps the young minds to have a better understanding of LGBTQ community. Apart from this, it is a perfect read if you want to learn how to break the stereotypes. The section which retells the stories of various traditional princesses like Cinderella and Rapunzel is a major attraction. So is the unconventional character of Dog-Woman.

8. Crime and Punishment

 “The darker the night, the brighter the stars,

The deeper the grief, the closer is God!” - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

Originally written in Russian by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, this nineteenth century novel was the first of its kind, and this accounts for its one of the many specialties. Dostoyevsky was probably the first to give us the concept of the “super-man” (which has nothing to do with the DC comic character), also used by Nietzsche in his philosophical theories. Dostoyevsky is the very first novelist who delves into the mind of a criminal and attempts to justify the murder committed by him. The novel is a realistic account of a crime committed and the redemption attained through suffering.

9. Harry Potter Series

  "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?" - J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

If you don’t believe in magic, you will never find it. It’s this philosophy with which J K Rowling has written all the seven Harry Potter novels. These books would encourage you to find magic in the most unexpected places. It just takes a swish and a flick. Apart from the magic and fantasy, Harry Potter series provides its readers a portrayal and stark criticism of various social evils like Racism, Institutionalism, and so on. It is a great read for the readers of psychological and detective novels as well.

10. Kafka on the Shore

“If you remember me, then I don't care if everyone else forgets.” - Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore.

Written by the Japanese author Haruki Murakami, Kafka of the Shore adopts its story line from the Greek classical myth of King Oedipus marrying his own mother and killing his father. The inherent philosophy of institutionalism and its effects on an individual is taken from the great German author Franz Kafka. Murakami combines both the fictional and philosophical elements to present to his readers the life of a Japanese teenage boy who flees from his home and ends up taking refuge in a library. Even if you aren’t familiar with the Greek literature or the philosophy of Kafka, the enjoyment and engagement is assured on many levels. It acquaints you with the Japanese culture and you may also start having a different and special view of various normal things like cats and old men.

The books enlisted above are not just great from the window of entertainment. They all have something to tell about life which is inevitable and non-ignorable. I believe that a good book is the one which changes you as a human after you close it and put it back on the shelf. If you are planning to follow this list, get ready to be changed in at least ten different ways.

Posted By: Meetali Asiwal (Posted 03 Jul, 2018)

10 Books that all Children should Read

“A childhood without books – that would be no childhood. That would be like being shut out from the enchanted place where you can go and find the rarest kind of joy.”

― Astrid Lindgren

Children literature is not like other forms of literature that only express and delight. Children literature comes with a responsibility, that is, to teach. And the two myths that are often associated with this genre are utterly incorrect. The one myth is that it is innocent, and the other is that it is only related to the bed time stories like that of Cinderella and Snow White.

The nature of the books who have children as their target audience is never singular. More than often they have very deep, dark, and political meanings veiled inside the cloak of fascinating allegory. This fact makes the books of children literature a good and informative read for adults as well.

Keeping the advantages and interests of adults aside for a while, below are enlisted ten books that don’t just entertain, but gives children some lessons and stories to cherish for lifetime.

1. James and the Giant Peach

“There are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven't started wondering about yet.” - Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach

Master of fantasy and adventure in the world of children books, Roald Dahl offers young readers the magic they are looking for through this book. It is the story of a young boy, fed up of living with her aunts after his parents got eaten up by an angry rhinoceros. The books takes you on an adventure on peach and is dripping with magical instances.

2. Ramona Quimby, Age 8

  “Ramona, I hear the mission bells above, Ramona, they’re ringing out our song of love.” Ramona stared at her book as she thought mean, dark thoughts about Uncle Hobart.” - Beveryly Cleary, Ramona Quimby, Age 8

This book by Beveryly Cleary is a part of Ramona series consisting of seven other books, with their protagonist as Ramona. If the book by Roald Dahl delights by the fantasy and adventures, this book by Cleary teaches to be good to our family by some real life situations weaved into a story. Ramona dislikes her school and forms a bad opinion of her mother and teacher because of the difficulties she faces as a young girl. But at the end, it is the love of her family and teacher that teaches her to respect her elders and love the people back.

3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid

 “The best person I know is Myself.” - Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid

A kid who loves to stay inside and play video games is on summer vacations! Video games and summer vacations – what else can a child of the same age as Greg would like to read about? Jeff Kinney writes the series of Diary of a Wimpy Kid books as an 11-13 year old boy filling a journal with all the misadventures he has had in his life. It’s hilarious, it’s adventurous, and it will teach children many new words, developing their vocabulary.

4. Animal Farm

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” - George Orwell, Animal Farm

It is a fantastic story about animals and their world living in a farm. Kids will love how they chase the humans out of their own farm and start living there on their own terms until the pig clan takes over ruling and exploiting other animals. Kids have to know just this much and enjoy the story on their level. Adults however, would read it on a very different level finding a lot of political criticism by George Orwell in the book.

5. Canterville Ghost

“You can have your secret as long as I have your heart[.]” - Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost

Ghost stories have always fascinated children and they will love this one because it is as funny as it is scary. To put it in a genre, it’s a gothic parody, but children can enjoy it for thekind of funny things a family experiences as it comes to live in a house which is haunted. The ghost which haunts the house is a joke in the name of typical ghosts and is easily scared himself. Written by the famous English author Oscar Wilde, it’s a beautiful blend of fantasy and laughter.

6. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“Always winter but never Christmas.” - C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Narnia, after Hogwarts, is the most coveted fantasy world by children. It has the most beloved lion of the world of literature, Aslan. It has the wicked witch, and four young children who fight their way to become kings and queens. C. S. Lewis has written it as if his sole was to gratify the imagination of children. It is entertaining and imparts great wisdom.

7. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

“I am the maker of music, the dreamer of dreams!” - Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Here’s another favorite of children, chocolate! And not just chocolate, a whole factory full of chocolates!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the story of a poor boy who gets a chance to visit the biggest chocolate factory, and the story ahead are some interesting events that are surely weaved by Dahl to excite children in all possible ways. Roald Dahl is one of the beast children books writer and it is evident from this book of his.

8. The Jungle Book

“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.” - Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book

Jungle is a concept which is forbidden and hence fascinates children the most. Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book -the story of young Mowgli, probably the most famous saga among children, is about this fascinating life in a jungle. It showcases the most ferocious of animals in the friendliest of ways. We have Ballu, the bear; Bagira, the Black Panther; Ka, the snake; and villain Sher Khan, the tiger. With such attractive names for dangerous animals, and with the way they raise a human baby in jungle, the story is bound to steal every child’s heart.

9. Alice in Wonderland

“Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle.” - Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

We all still remember the hare, the hatter, and the mad tea party we all attended with Alice, down the rabbit hole in Wonderland. A perfect example of how a child thinks and takes everything literally because of his innocence, the book is worth reading for both children and adults. Alice needs to escape the real world and the rules that society wants her to follow in order to find who she really is.

10. The Little Prince

“All grown-ups were once children... but only few of them remember it.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

It is an adventure story in the intergalactic universe. The explorations, discoveries, and realizations that are made in the journey of the little Prince are worth taking a lesson from, for both children and adults.

All the books mentioned are a real treat for the children. They must read some or all of these books for knowledge and pure delight.