Ever since I started my BookTube channel, I’ve been pretty consistent with posting wrap up videos. But due to what’s been going on in my life this year, I missed out on posting wrap up videos and blog posts for the first three months. To make up for it, in today’s Recent Reads blog post, I will be talking (in short) about the books I read in the month of January, February, and March 2022 – a consolidated wrap up post of sorts.
While January was an okay month with 11 books read, February and March took a sharp nosedive. I read 3 books in February and 2 books in March, and all of them were review copies. I got the reviews up in time (sometimes late, but I did get them up) but I haven’t yet gotten my reading mojo back. Strange thing is, I don’t mind continuing in this vein, and this makes me question myself and everything I’ve been working for so far.
Anyway, enough of the long-winded introduction. Let’s dive into the list of my recent reads that I’ve been wanting to share with you. 🙂
Not all books mentioned here will have full descriptions.
P.S. If you’d like to support me by buying me a coffee or a book, here’s where you can: buymeacoffee.com/bookwormdrama. Thank you in advance. ❤
1. Honor by Thrity Umrigar
Excerpt from my review of the book:
Smita is called to Mumbai to cover the story of a burn victim because her colleague is unwell. Coming to Mumbai is going to open old wounds, but she figures Meena’s story is an important one to tell. Meena, who married a Muslim man, and was promptly disowned by her family. Meena, whose house was set on fire by her own brothers for tarnishing their family name and whose husband died in that fire. When Smita begins work on this story, little does she know how all of this is going to affect her.
Thrity Umrigar’s ‘Honor’ is a searing story of honor killings, religious fundamentalism and extremism, and the worst of humanity. It was my first book of 2022 and reading it has broken something inside of me. Every time I read a book like this, I lose faith in humanity because I know that the extent of these barbarisms isn’t fictionalized. And I gag on my own runaway thoughts, the what-ifs, the whys, the hows.
Read my full review here: Honor by Thrity Umrigar.
2. The Poppy War by RF Kuang
My first thought when I finished reading this book was – and I made a note of it in this list: “5/5 stars holy ho I need therapy after this”. What a fabulous book this is, replete with Chinese folklore, military strategy, war tactics, and more! Here’s a short ‘review’ I wrote on Goodreads:
This book has rendered me powerless and miserable and without processing power to what exactly happened in here. Finished this book on my second attempt because my brain couldn’t process the weight and heaviness of it the first time around. This time, I finished it and sat there staring into the distance, trying to comprehend the gravity of what had happened while fully understanding it. I am in utter awe of how admirably and unapologetically RF Kuang has written this story that fed my soul to the gods. There’s no coming back from this trilogy now!
I will take time to start the second book, even weeks after finishing this one.
3. The Broken Ones by Sarah A Denzil
Initial thoughts: 5/5 stars, wtf!
What a ride this one was! Finally a psychological thriller that actually sent thrills and chills down my spine. With its plot that centers around a shadowy stalker that the main character Sophie must figure out, it disgusted me, made me angry, kept me on the edge, and just burnt my brain with how many twists there were! And the Mum in this book is such a narcissistic b that you want to wring her scrawny neck!
Never had I imagined to enjoy a thriller like this, especially because I’d thought that my luck with thrillers had died a stony death. But this got my faith back on track! Loved it! I’m going to read more my Sarah Denzil soon. That’s for sure!
4. Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Café by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translated into English by Geoffrey Trousselot
A sequel to Before the Coffee Gets Cold, this book wasn’t as good as the first one, in my opinion. This premise is set in a café where you can revisit your past, according to certain terms and conditions, and it follows four people, who, for various reasons want to take this journey. It engulfs you in warmth and definitely touches a chord in you as it navigates memory and time. But the translation in this second book is rather rough and amateurish when compared to the first one. It still is a good one, although maybe not as good as the first.
5. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
I finally read this mainstay of feminist literature in January with a close friend and instantly fell in love with Woolf’s sometimes straightforward, sometimes sarcastic narration. She talks about how women are discriminated against and lays down the difference in the treatment of men and women. She makes it starkly clear, although her writing sometimes becomes difficult to digest and I had to read a paragraph twice for the essence to sink in.
Either way, this is progress because I had tried to read Woolf’s To The Lighthouse in March 2020 and ended up DNFing it. I’m glad I didn’t stick to my decision of never reading Woolf again because A Room of One’s Own is a masterpiece. I can’t wait to get started on Three Guineas, when my brain and my life decide that it’s time to get back on track, that is.
6. Room by Emma Donoghue
This story about Jack and his Ma, who live in a room and have a whole world inside that limited space. Jack knows nothing about the outside world and thinks that nothing he sees on TV is real. But when his Ma admits one day that there is, in fact, a whole world outside this ten by ten room, Jack’s life shifts and tilts a little.
Since it is written from the perspective of a five-year-old, the narrative can be a little jarring at times. But the emotions, the tough decisions, the maternal love – all of this makes for a heart-wrenching read. Raising a child in the open world is tough in itself. Imagine raising one in an environment where everything is cut off and where the child cannot fly. Loved reading this, even as my heart shattered into pieces.
7. Frankly in Love by David Yoon
Frank Li, a second-generation Korean-American teenager, can date only Korean girls, according to unwritten family rules. But he ends up falling for a white girl. One of his Korean friends, Joy Song, is in the same boat, having fallen for a Chinese American boy. So they decide to fake date so that they can each keep seeing whoever they want to see. But obviously things aren’t going to be that easy, for everything Frank thought he knew about love is about to be thrown upside down.
The book was funny and witty, but it somehow didn’t hold that wow factor for me, especially since the whole point of Frank being in love is depicted in a very rushed and fickle manner. But it did make me laugh out loud in a lot of places and it does point out a lot of incidents that we might ignore, but actually shouldn’t. It shows us how it’s not just white people who can be racist. Internal racism, casteism, classism also plays out in a lot of ways. And to see these unapologetically, irredeemably mentioned is a sore point for me, because I would have loved something to have come of it. That ending seemed rather too poetically incomplete. Otherwise, the humor and the points the book makes is epic.
8. The Stranger by Harlan Coben
Another thriller that worked for me! This one, oh my gosh, flush with details and with a quiet assuredness in every sentence written and every page turned just chilled me to the bone. Especially that ending!
Adam Price has a life that has been good so far. But the appearance of the Stranger is about to turn it on its head, for he is about to learn secrets about his wife Corinne that makes him question everything. Is the Stranger lying? What deception and conspiracies is the Stranger carrying?
This book had been on my TBR for close to 4 years and only now did I get to reading it. Kicking myself, but also applauding myself for finally picking it and finding a mystery/thriller writer whose other works, I’m hoping, will also be as fantastic as this one.
9. The Periodic Table of Feminism by Marisa Bate
This collection of short life stories of known and not-so well-known feminists from history is a quick but enlightening read, which is why I picked it up for the 24-hour readathon that I hosted towards the end of January. I learned of women who I hadn’t known about before, about their fights, about how they took those brave steps forward for the betterment of womanhood as a whole. Even though you won’t get their full stories in this book, it’s a good place to start reading about feminist icons.
10. The Music of Solitude by Krishna Sobti, translated by Vasudha Dalmia
I tried. I swear, I really tried to read this one, but I just couldn’t! Just a few pages in and the urge to DNF it got so bad, I ended up ditching the book. Still, I’m adding this to the list of books I read recently because I tried, didn’t I? I don’t know if it is the prose itself or if it is the translation, but it seemed to me a heavily pretentious account of two people connecting with each other, no offense to people who liked the book. I’ll probably try Krishna Sobti’s works in the original Hindi, but no more translations of her works for me, thank you very much.
11. A Taste of My Life by Chitrita Banerji
Chitrita Banerji is a well-known food writer and in this book, she shares her memories in association with food. She writes beautifully, there’s no doubt about it, and every recipe that she shares will give you an insight into how this association came to be. It warms you from the inside and helps you understand her better. It’s a raw, open, frank account of her life and memories. Something inside me hurt as I read it, for the empathy that Chitrita Banerji’s writing evokes within us is all-encompassing.
12. Yuktahaar by Munmun Ganeriwal
An excerpt from my Goodreads review:
Yuktahaar – yukt + ahaar, where yukt means the right quality, amount and timing, and ahaar means food.
In this book, nutritionist and lifestyle consultant Munmum Ganeriwal talks about the gut microbiome and how its health affects our well-being. She gives a detailed, much-needed, sensible explanation for this. So much so that I found myself furiously highlighting many parts of it! Munmun Ganeriwal also takes us through the Brain and Belly Diet, named thus because there’s a correlation between the two parts of our body and how this correlation affects our physical AND mental health. This diet spans 10 weeks, broken down into 3 phases, and every reasoning behind the process is carefully laid out. It’s not a crash diet or a fad diet as we see on social media. Instead, it focuses on sustaining good health while enabling us to achieve our physical and mental health goals. I’m glad to have added this to my recent reads list!
13. The Puffin Book of 100 Extraordinary Indians from Penguin India
An excerpt from my Goodreads review:
In the Puffin Book of 100 Extraordinary Indians, we meet 100 Indians – from oceanographer Aditi Pant and Pharma CEO Adar Poonawalla to India’s first woman teacher, Savitribai Phule, to chef Tarla Dalal, to music maestro Zubin Mehta – all of who changed the course of not just India, but of the world. These byte-sized introductions to these personalities, many historical, quite a few contemporary, make for quick reads to dip your toes into some history, and as a result, the present and the future. A well-compiled, well-explained, well-written collection, this book is a great place to start if you’re looking to learn more about 100 people that shaped India.
14. The Girl in the Glass Case by Devashish Sardana
An excerpt from my Goodreads review:
Simone Singh is just back at her role as ASP after a suspension and she seems perpetually pissed, with reason, too. What pisses her off even more is the emergence of a killer called the Doll Maker, who kills, dresses their victims up as Barbie dolls and leaves them in glass cases in “strategic” places. That’s not all. An old serial killer, used to media attention, is now coming back to reclaim the spotlight out of pure envy. There are now two criminals out in the open and Simone has to apprehend them before more lives are lost.
The book is fast-paced and keeps you on your toes throughout. The language flows well, sometimes becoming utterly poetic. But irrespective of how much it’s a part of the storyline and necessary, the casual misgendering of people never gets a redemption and it made me cringe quite a few times. But I still think that apart from this, the book has the power to hold your attention and thrill you, down to the very last page.
15. Tamarind by Akhila Mohan CG
Tamarind is a collection of poems that range from the personal to the societal and everything in between. If one poem talks about one’s relationship with one’s parents, then the other talks about how a woman’s beauty is not the only special thing about her. Every poem is almost colloquial, and the whole collection in itself won’t take you long to devour, even after giving yourself time to ruminate on what it talks about. I’m glad it was one of the books I read recently.
16. The Illusionists by Aashish Gupta
An excerpt from my Goodreads review:
Mahirasthan, a democratic Islamic state that was formed from another Islamic state, has two warring leaders: Azim and Azlan, both brothers, sons of the man to whom Mahirasthan owes its existence. But years later, the opposing sides are at loggerheads and are pitted against each other in the upcoming elections. People are set to riot and fight each other, irrespective of which brother is about to win. This is something that nobody can solve except for Azim and Azlan. So to decide the fate of the nation, they meet each other alone, with the goal of forcing the other to shoot himself. What happens when the brothers meet, unravel the past, unmask each other’s actions, work through the illusions that the other has placed over the years, forms the entire story.
Aashish Gupta succeeds to a large extent in playing around with the psychology of the reader while exploring and experimenting with the psychologies of the characters involved. But it does become tedious towards the end, with the back and forth between timelines and perspectives also confusing the reader. It’s still a bold attempt by the author to explore ideologies, the human thought process and motivations.
I did a full review of this book on YouTube.
Those were my recent reads – the books I read recently while I’ve been off social media. Which of these have you read? Which ones do you want to read? Which books have you been devouring and which have you loved? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you! ❤
If you’re wondering what’s been going on in my life, here’s an update post that I put up recently: Reading and Life Update – April 2022.
I’ll see you in the next blog post.
Until next time, keep reading and add melodrama to your life! 😀