Best books (I read) in 2018

“Books may well be the only true magic.” ~ Alice Hoffman

This year, I took it a bit slow with reading. A quick roundup of the 7 best books I read in 2018. πŸ™‚

NON-FICTION

Ashoka, Charles Allen
This splendid book goes on 2 tracks – the life of the great emperor Ashoka, and the discovery of Ashoka’s forgotten history during the 18-19th centuries. Some call it one of the finest books ever written on Ashoka.
Lots of interesting nuggets of info too – Chandragupta Maurya getting trained under the Greeks; Ashoka initially forcing Buddhism on his kingdom, but later becoming more tolerant; Ashoka marrying his wife’s maid after she dies, who doesn’t like him following Buddhism and tries to harm the Bodh Gaya tree.

Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari
Harari, an Israeli history professor who has become very popular these days with his strong views, tells the story of humans from the beginning. Harari says that the ability to cooperate on a large scale by telling stories and creating myths is the edge that humans have over other living beings. This is a must read.

The Courage to be Disliked, Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
This Japanese hit is presented as a dialogue between a student and his teacher, and is based on the principles of the psychologist Alfred Adler (a rival of Freud). I couldn’t agree to some of the points, but there was one which I liked – what others think of you is their responsibility, not yours.

The Art of the Good Life, Rolf Dobelli
I really liked this slim book. Presented in form of short articles, Dobelli puts forward 52 ideas which he thinks make for a truly good life – like accepting limitations in both ourselves and others, being content, and seeing through misconceptions.

FICTION

The Last Girl, Nick Twist
There are 3 parallel story lines running in this thriller. A woman finds herself on a military-occupied island and tries to escape. There is a man waiting for his wife to recover from coma, and then there is a rescue team member searching for people lost in an airplane crash. All 3 story lines keep intersecting and confuse the reader, till the very end, when all is revealed.

The Devotion of Suspect X, Keigo Higashino
This Japanese cult hit is about a guy who helps kill a woman’s abusive ex-husband. What I love about his novels is that you know 2 aspects, and the entire novel will be about finding the 3rd aspect. For e.g., here, the killer and the motive are known, but the alibis are so strong that it is impossible for him to commit the murder.

The Breakdown, B A Paris
After really liking (and getting fully scared by) her first book Behind Closed Doors, I wanted to read more from her. This is a bit of a let down compared to her earlier work, but definitely worth reading once.
On a rainy night, the protagonist takes a shortcut and encounters a woman crying for help. She gets scared and doesn’t stop. The guilt gets to her when she realizes that the woman is found murdered. She tries to make sense of what happened throughout. The true killer turns out to be a complete surprise.

Wish you a very Happy 2019. πŸ™‚

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