After going through a bit of a difficult time in the last few months, I am back with the last post of 2016, on the 7 best books I read this year and would recommend to you.
Journey under the Midnight Sun, Keigo Higashino
Translated from Japanese, this crime novel has a very different structure compared to the ones I have read before. It tracks the lives of the people related to a murder in Osaka, over 20 years. The murder remains unsolved but the detective assigned to the case keeps trying even after retiring from the police. Does he finally find the murderer and the motive?
Other books by Higashino that I would suggest are Malice and Salvation of a Saint. (I am yet to read his most popular work Devotion of Suspect X.)
3, Krishna Udayasankar
I was nearly planning to ditch this slim book after finding the first few chapters very boring. Glad I didn’t! This historical-fictional story shows how Singapore became a trade hub in early 13th century, much before its current rise. But what I found inspiring is that in the process of making the island an international commercial power, the protagonist Nila Utama finds what it means to truly be a king.
The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair, Joel Dicker
This is perhaps one of the most gripping (and humorous) murder mysteries I have read. The dead body of a girl who disappeared 20 years ago in a small US town, suddenly resurfaces from the grounds of an author, Harry Quebert. The protagonist, who is a mentee of this author, sets out to solve the murder and writes a novel in the process. (Although it was a best-seller and critically acclaimed, there were some plagiarism concerns when it was released.)
The Valley of Masks, Tarun J Tejpal
Suggested by my cousin Harish, this engaging novel by Tejpal (yes, the Tehelka guy) is about a person who escapes from a cult-like isolated community in a Himalayan valley, and shares his life story to make everyone aware what it means to blindly follow some ideology. He is among the fastest rising and most devoted disciples of the cult, till he undergoes something disturbing and everything goes haywire. You find that out only in the last 15 pages or so. This is perhaps the best fiction I read in 2016. (His other book The Alchemy of Desire is good too.)
Antifragile, Nassim Taleb
I really liked Taleb’s earlier books – Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan, so was after this one for a pretty long time. Antifragile systems are those which benefit from chaos, i.e. uncertain outcomes make them stronger. The concept is especially true for all natural systems (like evolution), but doesn’t hold for most of the man-made ones. Which is why Taleb rings alarm bells – slight disorder somewhere can bring the entire system crashing down.
The Antidote, Oliver Burkeman
Picked this one up on Derek Sivers’ recommendation. The sensible anti-chocolaty approach of this book about happiness in life appealed to me, especially during difficult times. It focuses on the point that accepting things as they are can bring peace. It covers stoicism, Buddhism, death, meditation, etc.
Move your DNA, Katy Bowman
In this difficult-to-read but very insightful book, Bowman writes about ‘movement nutrition’. In case you have never heard of this term, it implies that when there is a lack of movement (just like nutritious food), various illnesses appear. She says that exercise is just a small subset of movement, and that continuous movement throughout the day is more important than spending 45 minutes exercising and then doing nothing!
She also suggests flat soled shoes, squats, hanging from overhead rods and a variety of poses which seem to me like Yoga. This is a definite read. I only wish it was written in a simpler way.
Wishing you all a very Happy 2017. 🙂