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Books 2018 made popular

If you didn’t pick up these titles this year, add them to your list for 2019

By Shrestha Saha

  • Published 14.12.18, 3:55 PM
  • Updated 14.12.18, 3:55 PM
Lethal White; Sphere; Rs 699

Such is the universal desire for fame that those who achieve it accidentally or unwillingly will wait in vain for pity.

When J.K. Rowling writes another thriller, under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, it definitely makes it to the list of books to be read that year. The fourth book of her Cormoran Strike series, Lethal White is a complex play of thrill and emotions in 656 pages. The book opens with a troubled Billy walking into Cormoran Strike’s office to recount a horrific incident he claims to have witnessed at a young age. While it is clear that Billy is not of sound mind and the interaction is cut short with Billy running off midway, it still piques Cormoran’s interest enough to take him through the streets of London following a trail.

However, his personal relationship with his assistant Robin is strained and he has to ensure that it doesn’t jeopardise their near-perfect professional relationship. Added to that is Cormoran’s rise to fame as a detective which deters him from operating in the dark, like before.

What we love: Although the sheer size of the book may be daunting, it is a thrilling ride to say the least. 

The Shape of Water; Macmillan US; Rs 599

When he looks at me, the way he looks at me... He does not know, what I lack... Or — how — I am incomplete. He sees me, for what I — am, as I am. He’s happy — to see me. Every time. Every day.

The film The Shape of Water swept the awards season last year so much so that director Guillermo Del Toro decided to give it another identity by crafting a book of the same name. Written by Daniel Kraus and him, The Shape of Water did really well for movie lovers who wanted to explore another dimension of the story of a strange friendship between mute Elisa who works as a janitor in a secret science laboratory in Baltimore and a strange creature from the Amazon river who was captured for research purposes.

What we love: The perspective of the sea-man in the book lended greater depth to the love story between the two protagonists. 

Sea Prayer; Bloomsbury Publishing; Rs 499

But I hear your mother’s voice, 

over the tide.

and she whispers in my ear,

“Oh, but if they saw, my darling.

Even half of what you have.

If only they saw.

They would say kinder things, surely.”

One of our favourite authors decided to write about a cause that is affecting millions — the refugee crisis engulfing countries around the world . Illustrated by Dan Williams, Khaled Hosseini pens a small piece in Sea Prayer that reflects the innumerable instances of displacement leading to lives and families being destroyed. A monologue by a father to his sleeping son as they wait on the shore to find safer land for survival, Sea Prayer is a visual tale of pain, nostalgia and horror that is unfathomable to most sitting on safer lands, reading the book.

What we love: The water-colour illustrations take Hosseini’s prose to greater heights as they turn bright and dark along with the story’s various emotions.  

Still Me; Penguin UK; Rs 599

Know first who you are and then adore yourself accordingly.

Still Me, the third appearance of Jojo Moyes’ protagonist Louisa Clark, won the Best Fiction Book award on Goodreads.com this year — the online library that bookworms swear by. Voted by users around the world, the story of Lou navigating Fifth Avenue New York high society, when her heart is at home at a vintage shop in some other corner, is being considered the best instalment in the three-part series. Previously we have seen Louisa lose herself while trying to take care of the one she loves. In Still Me we see her finally coming in to her own — with a new job assisting a socialite who is disliked by everyone. There is deceit, glamour and overflow of emotions and in large quantities.

What we love: The author stresses upon the importance of taking control of one’s life and it couldn’t have been more poignantly portrayed than it was done in this final part of the series. 

My Year of Rest and Relaxation; Bloomsbury Publishing; Rs 599

It was lunacy, this idea, that I could sleep myself into a new life. Preposterous. But there I was, approaching the depths of my journey.

Ottessa Moshfegh’s debut novel Eileen took home awards, accolades and our hearts, so it is only fair that when she publishes her second novel, we sit up and take note. My Year of Rest and Relaxation is the tale of an unnamed protagonist in New York, who graduates from Columbia University and decides to slip into a year-long, drug-induced sleep. It is her sincere hope that she will perhaps fade away as a person and eventually wake up a new one in a year. She is aided in her experiment by one of the worst psychiatrists in New York tri-state area, a passive-aggressive relationship with a best friend and a Wall Street boyfriend who treats her with anything but respect. Her novel carefully contributes to the debate of creating a protagonist who is not likeable and also a woman. Set in 2000-2001 and building up to the moment of 9/11, here is a book that is relatable just as much as you don’t want it to be.

What we love: The idea that we are not alone in our thoughts of wanting to sleep through these troubled times around the world. 

The Fox; Corgi; Rs 399

In most town and city centres there is always a glimmer of light, even in deepest night, but this was the outer suburb of an English provincial town and all public lighting had ceased at one in the morning. This was the darkest hour, 2 a.m.

He says it is his last book but we will secretly hope that he changes his mind. Frederick Forsyth’s last novel The Fox is another spy thriller that takes us on a hot pursuit across nations in the world. Three of the most secure institution in the world — Pentagon, CIA and NSA — are facing hacker attacks so tremendous that the British and Americans have to join hands to locate and capture the perpetrator. Who they encounter is a

17-year-old boy with prodigious intelligence. As he faces a trial for having breached security of unfathomable scale, he is nicknamed ‘The Fox’ who is later used to wreak havoc on Russia, Iran and North Korea.

What we love: It is well-written, entertaining and thrilling with the right number of twists and turns.

Sacred Games; Penguin India; Rs 699

If you want to live in the city you have to think ahead three turns, and look behind a lie to see the truth and then behind that truth to see the lie.

After the release of Netflix Original series Sacred Games starring Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte, sales of Vikram Chandra’s original text on which it is based, of the same name, shot through the roof.

Narrating the story of inspector Sartaj Singh and the most wanted criminal in India Ganesh Gaitonde, this thriller provides a rich and in-depth look into the criminal underbelly of Mumbai. Violence, betrayal and friendships set against the city skyline, in search of justice makes this thriller one that deserved to be shot into a magnum opus that it was. Chandra’s research and eye for detail make this heavy read a wonderful one.

What we love: The visuals created by Chandra with words, and imagining how Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane may have picturised them.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century; Jonathan Cape; Rs 799

Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.

Yuval Noah Harari stumped the world with his observations in Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind in 2015. Needless to say, when he decided to come up with some lessons for the 21st century, people stopped to listen. From the relevance of nature and religion to the significance of fake news, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century throws light upon issues that we often find our conversations meandering towards but do not realise the full impact of.

What we love: How he seamlessly merges ideas and philosophies to provide a clearer picture of our present, to us.  

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