Bookish Stuff

Guest Post: 5 best reads of 2018

Today on the blog, I have something slightly different. The lovely Shalini from Shalzmojo Blog is sharing her top five reads of 2018. I was fortunate to meet Shalz during my trip to India – she visited Bombay all the way from Gurgaon up north and it was great to finally speak in person about all the things we talk online.

A little bit about Shalz:

An interior designer by profession, writing is a passion which coupled with travel love blossomed into this blog where I love to just “do my thing”! Be it recipes, food events, travel jaunts, fiction dreaming or even meditative musings; all of it’s taken up quite passionately on my blog. I am a serious wine guzzler and love to chase butterflies in my free time.

This post is part of the December bloghop #mymojo with Shalzmojo

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Hola folks. I am Shalini from Shalzmojo Blog and am delighted to be here on Sanchie’s blog. I am an avid book reader and when she requested me to write about my top 5 reads of 2018, I was delighted to do so. Every year I set out a reading goal to spur me on and sometimes in the zeal to read numbers, I end up reading some lemons.

This year has been different and I am happy to say there were tonnes of 4/5 star ratings given by me to the books I read. I will share the 5 best ones here. Do tell me if they match your favourites for the year too please!

Erotic Stories for Punjabi  Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

I have bonded with some true blue book aficionados over the years and most of them have been gifting me books to read. This book also was a gift by a fellow bookworm and how much I loved reading it. It’s a 5/5 rating from me to this book.

The tale is set in modern day England and our protagonist is a second generation Indian immigrant who is born and bred here. Nikki is unable to form an emotional bond with her heritage unlike her parents. Desperate to escape the dull road of holy matrimony with two kids in tow, she breaks free by working in a bar. Her true adventure begins when she takes up an additional part time job teaching a writing workshop for Punjabi women at the local Gurudwara. Her students are white haired and white robed widows who can barely speak English, let alone read or write it. Struggling to make the class interesting for them, Nikki discovers their penchant for telling tales about sexual experiences. Though they claimed to “make up” the stories, the tales echoed glimpses of themselves and proved to be very revealing. This story telling is noted down in English and then passed on around via emails and messages and soon garners a fan following. What happens next is not only unexpected but devious and dangerous too.

I loved the premise of this book a lot – it’s very modern and bold to envision elderly women being so feisty and flamboyant about their sexual history and how they view their bodies. The writer has done full justice to her Punjabi heritage in how it’s been portrayed in this book.

Man called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This is a book about a curmudgeon who has recently lost his wife and can’t imagine why he should go on living. He tries (hilariously) through meticulous planning to commit suicide but is foiled every time. His neighbours “forcefully” barge their way into his life and all his resistance to “not friend them” goes unnoticed.

On first inspection the book seems funny yet on a deeper reflection it’s kind of sad but warm. A lonely life can be heavy and oppressive for most. Often we choose not to see what’s plainly under our noses. But a kind word, some worry and also a whole lot of bother can go a whole way in cheering up someone’s life. This book is also a 5/5 for me.

Wonder by RJ Palacio

August Pullman is a 10 year old that has been home schooled – up until now. Our tale opens on to this devastating note where it’s been decided to enrol him into a regular school. August has a “weird” face and often wore a helmet to hide it from people on the streets and neighbourhood. Numerable surgeries later, he still has some bits of this deformity and feels he is a freak of nature. So going to school seems like the ultimate torture to his 10 year self. The story moves onto his introduction to the new school routine, making friends and handling the reactions of all those who see him for the first time.

You have to read this tear jerking heart-warming tale for yourself to see why I have rated it 5/5. I loved how the author has portrayed the anguish and insecurities of this child so realistically.

BTW there is a movie made on this book which I have heard rave reviews about.

Art of purring by David Michie

This book is a sequel to the Dalai Lama’s cat and is a fictional tale set in the life of someone very real and true. So His Holiness rescues a stray kitten and the book is a narration of her life in Dharamshala with him.

Rinpoche (as he calls her) loves to eat, meander and snooze. Perfect life! Hang on – she has regular woes like any other being. You try being chased uphill by a ferocious canine and then getting stuck on top of an impossibly high wall.

In this book, the Dalai Lama asks her to contemplate why cats purr; something the cat had till now taken for granted. Her journey on this thoughtful quest is what the tale is all about.

I love the narration style, the thought nuggets and the human-animal interaction in this book. The life of Zen and simplicity and what it offers is decoded so masterfully in this book, that I say do give it a read please. It’s a 4 star book for me as the previous one literally stole my heart!

Love Commandos by Tarquin Hall

This book was  gift from a book lover and I must say I have never read this author to date. Very remiss of me for the tale was set in India and the main protagonist is an Indian detective. Not your usual Sherlock Holmes but a man of the soil, very much in touch with his stomach 😉 He is a true blue Punjabi and a whiz detective, though not as great his mummyji ! The tale is about star crossed lovers, politics and religion hand in glove over vote bank plus some genetics thrown in to the mix.

Quite a pot boiler and I honestly thought I was reading a Hindi film script. At first I was taken aback by the sheer audacity of the author for taking such liberties with the plot. But then I realised it’s the perfect read for that boring commute journey. Trust me when I say this is fast paced and action packed. I have rated it a 4 star for its narration speed.

So there you have it peeps, hope you like my best 5 reads of the year 2018. You could also check out my review of this laugh-a-riot which I had read many moons ago – My Family & Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

If you are curious to see my top 5 reads of 2018, I shared them yesterday on Shalz’s blog. Do go check it out!

What were your top 5 reads this year?

Do share!

Until next time,

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  • Shilpa Gupte
    26 December 2018 at 5:55 pm

    WONDER was just wonderful! And, now I so so want to read the Erotic stories for Punjabi widows and also A man called Ove! am waiting to lay my hands on these two…..
    Thanks for this list, Shalz!
    I recently read The girl with the dragon tattoo, which was interesting. Now I wish to watch the movie version.
    Before that I read The art of racing in the rain, which had a huge impact on me and reminded me of my Chikoo.
    RIght now, I have taken up this huge project–reading Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s children! I hope I am able to finish it. 😛
    Shilpa Gupte recently posted…My chosen word for 2019My Profile

  • Nabanita Dhar
    28 December 2018 at 10:27 pm

    I have read and loved 3 out of the 5 books you mention here. I’m going to check out the other two. I have too many favourites for this year actually to list here. But Erotic Stories and Man called Over are definitely among them.
    Nabanita Dhar recently posted…Dear M, It’s Okay To Do What Doesn’t Make Sense SometimesMy Profile