It is rightly said, “When you open a book, you open a new world”. Reading is an inevitable part of our life and books are like those friends who would never walk away from us. Packed with knowledge, insights, sentiments, life lessons, and advice, books provide a plethora of opportunities under the sun.
My mantra ‘Reading is enriching, writing is liberating’ comes from the fact that books have been an important part of my life that introduced me to a whole new world of imagination, thoughts, understanding, the right attitude, ideas, and wisdom. All these become a guiding spirit in translating our thoughts through the art of effective expression as words.
These five books have impacted both my reading and writing and have imparted me a sense of enriching and ‘well-read’ feeling.
1. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri’s stirring collection of 9 short stories and a Pulitzer Prize winner, ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ is gracefully alluring, unmistakably captivating, and elegantly drawn tales that depict the diasporic struggle of people, the nightmares of homeless, and the dilemma of assimilating into a new world.
Through a delicate myriad of words, expressions, and sentiments, each story weaves a delicious melancholy, distinctly bound, and harmoniously beautiful. Whereas the characters of the stories aspire for love beyond the barriers of cultures and generations, the incidents transcend the ethnic aspects, cultural insights, humanistic approach, and common experiences of people. Reinforcing the admiration, the book is unflinchingly one of my favorite all-time reads.
2. Dear Life by Alice Munro
Most of the stories weaved through the home territory of Alice Munro, small Canadian towns around Lake Huron, ‘Dear Life’ is suffused with the endearing sentiments of homecomings, outbounds, departures, dangers, beginnings, and mishaps, all radiantly painted across the extraordinary element within the simplicity of life. A brilliant collection of 10 timeless stories and 4 autobiographical stories which emphasize various aspects- whether it is a chance encounter that alters life forever or a tweak of fate that deviates life from an accustomed path; whether it is a young poet rescued by a columnist, a soldier homebound post world war II, a wealthy woman whose life is entangled with a married lawyer, or other storylines and characters.
Munroe’s clear vision and gifted storytelling make these tales immensely gripping. Part of the book has been promoted by reading at ‘Toronto’s International Festival of Author’. The book is an inspiration for delivering life to the fullest and is most-certainly my all-time favorite pick.
3. Boats on Land by Janice Pariat
A collection of 15 stories journeying through North East India and infused with an element of mythology, the book ‘Boats on Land’ by Janice Pariat depicts the tales from over the 19th century to the present times. With central themes drawn from magical realism and aligning issues like that of inter-racial relationships, caste discrimination, charm from the mythical world of water fairies, etc., the stories beautifully weave the folklores of the region and the socio-political setups over the three centuries.
The book has won the Sahitya Akademi Young Writer Award for the English language. The book has also won the Crossword Book Award (Fiction) and was longlisted for the 2013 Uday Lakhanpal International Short Story Award and the Tata Literature Live 2013. The book definitely deserves to be a favorite read to indulge in a unique perspective of a part of India against a historical opus.
4. Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories by Vandana Singh
The book is a brilliant collection of 14 science fiction stories exploring the uncertainty of space and time and impactfully combining past, present, and future. The plots in the stories are wonderfully portrayed through an interplay of scientific and mythical narratives ruminating on a self-critical representation. the stories are gripping and are certain to keep you entertained through the unpredictability of complex systems and seemingly opposing influences of tradition and modernity. Navigating through the sentiments like grief, elements of relationships, musings of scientific philosophies, the stories surpass the space-time continuum. The book has been recommended in the reading list of Philip K Dick Award finalist. An all-time favorite, the book is a powerfully original and beautiful work of imagination.
5. All The Names They Used For God by Anjali Sachdeva
All The Names They Used For God is a collection of 9 short stories from genres like magical realism, science fiction, American Gothic, and Horror. Winner of the 2019 Chautauqua Prize, the book was listed as Best Book of 2018 by NPR, Refinery 29, and BookRiot. The book was also longlisted for the Story Prize and was chosen as the Fiction Book of the Year 2018 by the Reading Women Podcast.
The captivating storylines are abundantly filled with characters that grapple with antecedent resolves that traverse through the brutal clash of expectation and reality. A hauntingly eclectic set of stories explore the mysterious elements that span across centuries and continents. Subtle satirical components in the narration, maintain the rhythm of the fun and entertainment quotient of the stories. The standout collection of magnetic and delicately binding stories, makes the book, my all-time favorite pick.