Books I read in 2020

Thats the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.

Jhumpa Lahiri

I ended the year 2020 with 45 books (books, ebooks, and audibles). Though I couldn’t read 52 which was the goal I set up for myself, I am super happy with what I achieved. It has been a hard year to say the least and a complete double whammy for me on various fronts and this book reading challenge sometimes kept me going. I laughed, traveled, cried and meditated with these books and they have been my constant companions.

***** Reading Challenge 2020 ******⠀

I have taken up a challenge for this year, to read a book a week – 52 books in total. I have missed reading just for fun for the last couple of years due to GMAT Prep and then my MBA, but now that all of that is done and dusted I want to get back to my love….

Book 1/52 : The Faery Queen’s Daughter⠀

I have always been fascinated by the touch of magic and enjoy reading such books that take me away on a journey to a different realm. It was fun quick read. ⠀

Book 2/52 : Keepers of Kalachakra

This a book that seamlessly blends facts with fiction and creates a beautiful fusion of modern science with age old Vedic concepts. It was an interesting read-only thoroughly enjoyed it. ⠀

Book 3/52 : The Price of Time⠀

A fascinating premise about life expectancy blended into a thriller with a few philosophical questions thrown in that will definitely make you think, a good read!

Book 4/52 : False Impressions⠀

A typical Jeffrey Archer page-turner. I have been a lifelong fan of Archer and this one doesn’t disappoint. Seamlessly blends the world of art and espionage.

Books 5/52 – 6/52: Skyward and Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

Mr. Sanderson is undoubtedly a great fantasy writer, of course after J.K.Rowling 😛…..I loved reading his Mistborn series and the Skyward series hooked me from the very start as well….. The character definition was great and the story captivating. I read two books of the series back to back and I m looking forward to the third one-day whenever it releases. 

Book 7/52: The Mastery of Love by Miguel Ruiz⠀
It’s a practical guide with interesting insights that will help with any relations in life not just romantic relations. It was an interesting read that can give you a different perspective.

Book 8/52: Nothing Ventured (William Warwick#1) by Jeffrey Archer

First book of the Warwick series written in Archer’s definitive style…. Loved the flow and the crispness of the story, can’t wait for the sequel to come out.

Book 9/52: The Mother I Never Knew by Sudha Murthy
This is a short book that consists of two novellas. This book is about two men on a quest to find the mother they never knew. Sudha Murthy’s prose is devoid of pretensions but sometimes it feels like she wrote the stories in her mother tongue and then just translated it to English. So though the stories are contemporary and interesting, there are parts that feel disjointed. But all in all a good read. 

Book 10/52: Three in Death ( in Death series) by J.D Robb

I am a prolific reader of the “In Death” series by J.D Robb. I love the “whodunit” suspense and the characters of Roarke and Dallas that she has created. So loved reading the short stories in the series. ⠀

Book 11/52: The Day I stopped Drinking Milk by Sudha Murthy⠀

A collection is short stories by Sudha Murthy. All these stories come from interesting lives and have lessons to reveal. Some of these stories are great and some are a tad bit more preachy that I would like, but all in all an okay read.

Book 12/52: You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks⠀

This is a psychological thriller about a woman who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. The protagonist is book smart but not people smart. The premise of the book is interesting and the book is written in a way that keeps you hooked. Though the climax falls a little flat for me. All in all an okay read. 

Book 13/52: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins⠀

It’s a book recommended by Oprah’s book club. This is a fictional novel about a Mexican bookseller who has to escape cartel-related violence with her young son, fleeing to US. I am not sure about the veracity of the so called facts mentioned in the book, but it is definitely a gripping read. It has the compulsive readable quality to it. The narration is tight and the flow great. Though there is a lot of controversy around the book for it’s veracity, I enjoyed reading this one.⠀

Book 14/52: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie⠀

This is an old book for sure, but I have always been a huge fan of Poirot. So it was good to re-read this old classic. Agatha Christie is a literary genius in my opinion and I love her for creating Poirot-the quirky little masterpiece! This book was one of her first books and the mystery instantly hooks you. The language is a bit different but kinda takes you back to that era and makes you dream of the English countryside. Loved revisiting this gem.⠀

Book 15/52: Vendetta in Death (In Death #49) by J.D. Robb

I love the “In Death” series by J.D.Robb and have read all the 48 books published so far in this series. This is the 49th book and it was a good read. This series is situated in the future (circa 2050) with technological advances not yet common at this time, but the human emotions n psychology remains the same. I love Eve Dallas’s character, her tenacity and her love for an equally mysterious Roarke (her hubby). And the books in this series are psychological thrillers which never disappoint. This book is no exception.

Book 16/52: How to Get Back Up: A Memoir of Failures & Resilience by Neil Pasricha

Neil is a good story teller and he talks about resilience through his life stories. This is a book about self-discovery, persistence and finding your own place in the world. The fact that he is a first generation son of an Indian immigrant, a major part of hos story was very relatable.
There are some valuable lessons in this book like the three B approach to tackle life – bucketing, batching and bridging and the three major questions to ask when faced with challenges:

  1. Would it matter on my death bed?
  2. Can I do something about it?
  3. Is it a story I want to tell.

There are some parts that I don’t agree with, but overall a good read/listen. I would definitely recommend this one.

Book 17/52: Golden in Death (In Death #50) by J.D. Robb

In the latest “in Death” series thriller, Eve Dallas investigates a murder with a mysterious motive and a terrifying weapon. This is the 50th book in this series and doesn’t disappoint like its predecessors, but it was a bit slower from me than the previous books. It was an okay read.

Book 18/52: The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Author Chitra Banerjee takes us back in time to this story that is half history and half myth. She gives a voice to Draupadi, also known as Panchali, the heroine who was responsible for the war of Mahabharata. I had always wanted to read this book and I must say that I struggled to complete it. This is a book about Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas and the one responsible for the Mahabharata war. I was expecting the author to have given it a feminist twist and showcase Draupadi as a strong woman, who was never recognized for who she was in her time. But in my opinion the author fell short in that and portrays her as this bitter, jealous and insecure women who was wholly consumed by vengeance, which was how she has been portrayed forever. I wish the author had taken her creative freedom and given us a different take on an age old story. Entirely disappointed with this read.

Book 19/52: We should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This a personal and eloquently-argued essay by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which was adapted from her much-viewed TEDc talk with the same name. It tackles the question – What does “feminism” mean today? With humor and levity, Adichie offers her readers a unique definition of feminism for the 21st century. This is a very relevant book and in my opinion this needs to be read by everybody alive.

Book 20/52: The American by Rajeshwari Nukala

How often do you get a chance to read a book written by a friend??? I did! This is a book written by a dear friend and I must say Rajeshwari did a wonderful job! The book is a light, funny, and sassy uptake on the life of an immigrant who comes to the US chasing the wonderful “American Dream” for success, comfort, and luxury! The book is written in a simple language and it is very relatable. I especially liked the internal dialogue of Sonam (the protagonist) that runs through the entire novel.

She tackles a lot of current issues in a lighter vein (gay rights, family entanglement, societal norms, cliches, etc), and sometimes I wished she didn’t every issue into this book. All in all I enjoyed reading this book thoroughly and it felt like I was having a conversation with Rajeshwari the whole time. I finished this book in 3 hours flat, it was unputdownable. Definitely recommend this to all who love sarcastic, dry wit and need a good laugh!

Book 21/52: Becoming by Michelle Obama

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. History has always shown time and again that women are almost always overshadowed by powerful men but Michelle has shown that women can be powerful on their own and not get overshadowed by men and most certainly not by her powerful husband. She had clearly shown that a woman can be her own person and be powerful in her own way and create her own path. In her memoir, Michelle invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her. She describes her triumphs and her disappointments (public and private), with honesty and wit, and tells her story as she lived it – in her own words and on her own terms. This book is very relatable and also inspires you to be your best and do your best at every step of the way! Listening to this book in her own voice gave it a lot more meaning and enjoyment. This should be required reading!

Book 22/52: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

This is a fantasy, science fiction novel by David Mitchell. This novel was called one of the best novels of 2014 by Stephen King and won the “World Fantasy Award” in 2015. The title refers to a derogatory term the immortal characters use for normal humans, who are doomed to mortality because of their aging bodies.

This book is divided into 6 parts, each set during different time’s of Holly Sykes’ life. It took almost three parts of the book to be done, before Mitchell gets to the meat of the plot line. At times it was a bit dragging and confusing (esp Crispin Hershey’s parts of the story), but all in all a decent read. If you are not a fan of science fiction/fantasy genre, I would steer clear of it.

Book 22/52: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

This was a candid and riveting memoir by Nike Founder and CEO Phil Night. He shares the story of how he got started on the idea and gives us detailed description all through the company’s early start-up days and how it evolved thru the years into one of world’s iconic, game-changing and profitable company.

There are many things to learn from this memoir, though I would take it with a pinch of salt. Knight details many risks and daunting setbacks that stood in his way, but the most important thing described in the book, are his formative relationships, his team of misfits as he describes who became a tight band of brothers. I enjoyed listening to this book on audible.

Book 23/52: Engaged in Death by Stephanie Blackmoore

I have a soft corner for whodunit mysteries, so I picked this book after reading the synopsis, but there was more drama in this book than a mystery so it was a bit of a disappointment. The border mystery feels like an afterthought to the author. She has a good writing style that flows well, but personally, I wished she focused more on the mystery rather than on the relationship drama. A time pass read if you are looking for one.

Book 25/52 – 29/52: Brew Ha Ha Series by Bria Quinlan

25. The Last Single Girl
26. Worth the Fall
27. The Catching Kind
28. The Proposing Kind
29. Things That Shine

I wanted to do some light reading just cause I wanted to read something different than what I have been. I stumbled upon the first book in this series and was hooked. All the books in the series are light and fun to read. Although the plot line was predictable, it was a good read. Loved how the characters were defined and enjoyed the banter and humor in these stories. Definitely recommended for fun reading if you enjoy chick-lit, contemporary romance, and short stories.

Book 30/52: Shadows in Death (In Death # 51) by J.D Robb

Robb has released yet another In Death book and as you all know I love this series and so started reading it immediately. The book has a good start and a good plot line to begin with, but somewhere along the middle it kinda felt that Robb was in a hurry to finish it and took the easy way out. A good read, but kind of a let down when compared to her other books.

Book 31/52: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

This is a memoir of one man’s coming of age, set during the time of apartheid and chaotic days of freedom in South Africa. Trevor Noah’s birth was a crime – born to a Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother. The book read by the author himself has his characteristic humor mingled in with the truth and horrors of his childhood and how he dealt with them. I loved loved loved listening to this and highly recommend it. It taught me a little bit about South Africa and it’s history and how it affects its people to this day. The biggest impact of this book for me was Noah’s mom and what an incredible and strong woman she is!

Book 31/52 to 36/52:

Please like me ( but keep away )
Kind of Hindu
Help is on the way
Once upon a time in Silverlake
Searching for Coach Taylor
Big Shot

By Mindy Kaling @mindykaling

These are all a collection of quick personal essays, that I wanted to write about in a single post.
Mindy writes in a very realistic and believable way. I was able to relate to everything she writes about whether it’s about Hindu rituals or about needing all the help after you had a baby. Her writing is about being a person and about different situations in her life that taught her something. These were good short reads and they are free for Amazon Prime members, so don’t miss out on reading these.

Book 37/52: Trials of Apollo ( The Tower of Nero) by Rick Riordan

I love Rick Riordan’s books because they are based on mythological stories with a modern twist. And I usually read these to proof-read for Poorvi’s sake, but here is a little secret, I enjoy reading them.
This book is the last one in the Apollo Trail series, which follows The Olympic Hero Series. It was funny and follows Rick’s typical quest and adventure formula. Easy to read and enjoyable.

Book 38/52: Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

This book is like a manual with steps that can be put to work immediately that help you start working on your goals. This book though is kinda geared towards Rachel’s followers who have been following her for years and so it fell a bit flat for me as this was by first book by this author. I also heard this book on audible as opposed to reading it. I did find Rachel’s voice a bit annoying sometimes coz it feels like she is whining which is ironic.

She has a few good points that can be used and if you find yourself completely demotivated, this is a good book to start off with. But there are parts of the book that seem forced.
All in all an average book in my opinion.

Book 40/52: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

This book was recommended by Amazon for being a good thriller. And it didn’t disappoint. It is a page-turner and keeps you hooked from the start. The island, the atmosphere, the characters, everything is moody and adds to the thriller aspect of it. Each character was defined perfectly and goes really well. Loved reading this one and highly recommend it.

Book 41/52: The Mahabharata Secret by Christopher Doyle

This is an Indian thriller novel that revolves around mythology, religion, science and terrorism. The story line takes the readers back to Emperor Ashoka’s time where he makes a great discovery that he wants to kept hidden forever and oscillates to present time where the protagonist Vijay is trying to piece together clues that will take him to this secret.
This one felt like it was inspired by Dan Brown’s style of working but fell short in execution.
The writing was mediocre and at times forced. It was an ok read. I will give it 2 stars for this one.

Book 42/52: Hidden in Plain Sight by Jeffrey Archer

This is book#2 in the Warwick series by Archer and is as brilliant as the first one. Jeffrey Archer is a great storyteller and this book eyesight disappoint. William Warwick is now a Detective Sergeant and is now tracking down a drug Baron and a cunning at thief and take them both out.
Can’t wait to read the next book in this series.

Book 43/52: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has driven people to be passionate, either passionately in love with this book, or passionately hate it but whether one loves it or hates it, this is a book that is widely read across the world and has been translated into multiple languages.
I fall into the love category for this book. I love this simple story and its soul-stirring wisdom.

I keep revisiting this book whenever I feel like I need to listen to this message again and reabsorb it. Absolutely love this book.

Book 44/52: The Archer by Paulo Coelho

The Archer is treasured as a follow up of The Alchemist, a book of practical lessons that impart wisdom. I read this book over a few weeks, reading a single page everyday day and letting it be an intentional lesson for that day. With this book Paulo Coelho provides a framework for a rewarding life: hard work, passion, purpose, thoughtfulness, willingness to fail and the urge to make a difference.
This book is structured in a different way than typical Paulo Coelho’s books, not everybody might like it, but I liked this different approach.

Book 45/52: Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho

This one is probably one of my least favorite books written by Paulo Coelho. This book felt like it was trying to be too analytical about the act of sex and the various way it can be a conduit to achieving spiritual ecstasy. It sometimes bordered on relationship counseling and sex education. It was an interesting read, but not really a great one in my opinion.