Every year in January, I like to spend some time contemplating the books I have read in the past year. It started with an exercise where I would keep a count of books I have read and challenge myself to improve in the upcoming year. The purpose was to develop a habit of reading, a hobby I admire the most. In a world that is evolving towards consuming shorter content, micro-blogging, reels etc., book reading is a way of preserving my attention span. In 2023, I thought of sharing some of my reads with brief thoughts to give my exercise a more permanent form. The purpose of the article could be a simple recommendation list or a peak through a slit into my psyche. Either way, it is just a note of admiration for the authors of books in this list.

The Finale Empire

In many years of my book reading expedition, I have read very few fantasy novels or, more honestly, avoided them. I wanted that to change last year, so I picked up the Mistborn series on Bhargav’s recommendation. The book’s title was fascinating, and so was the setup, a trilogy (later extended) which begins with the end of an empire. It was extraordinarily fast and a page-turner, which I couldn’t put down once I started. Later in the year, before I picked the second book of the series, I learned that Sanderson is known for its distinctive style in story development. Overall, I felt elated to have chosen a great book to start my growing interest in the fantasy genre.

The Fire Burns Blue: A History of Women’s Cricket in India

Long before I started admiring books, I would live for Cricket. But my passion for sport was limited to watching and playing it, out of which only one continues to be within me. I picked up this book in April from Avideep’s shelf when we met after a long covid break. That Sunday, while waiting for my laundry to finish, I realised how little I knew about this beautiful sport and more so about our Women’s team. Every sport has its fair share of struggle stories to share, but for it to make that mark, it needs gifted authors like Patnaik and Keshav. As my first sports history novel, I feel encouraged to explore this genre more in future.

Chitralekha (चित्रलेखा)

Kanpur Central has a bookstore on platform no 1 with an exquisite collection of Hindi novels. It was one of those times when I was gazing at various books on the floor-to-ceiling shelf when the owner offered help. I also enjoyed his last recommendation - Saara Aakash- and was not disappointed this time. Verma’s style of philosophising in the book is intricate, where a plot is woven to discuss life, virtue and sin beyond naive understanding. Chitralekha is one book that I could pick up for a literary discussion any day, as it has undoubtedly matured me as a person.

Titli (तितली)

Admittedly, Titli was the one novel I found challenging to follow, and it was much later that I realised that I was too young to relate to Prasad’s world depicted in the book. While the story kept me in cluches for the most part, occasionally I was lost imagining living through the struggles of life as narrated in the story. The book was the first among the countless I bought last year at a book fair organised at IIT Kanpur. Though in the coming future, I see myself re-reading this book again for deeper insight into the pre-fredom life of struggle, which was unrealated to the movement.

In hindsight, my 2022 could have been better in the number of books I read, which I want to improve this year. But I exposed myself to other forms of creative art, which include a carefully curated recommendation of cinema, art and documentaries. However, I don’t intend to list them here, primarily as I’m too naive to pick my recommendations from them. Let me know your thoughts @prateekdwv.