4 book recommendations for when you don’t know what to read next

4 book recommendations for when you don't know what to read next

At the start of the year, I had a goal to read two books a month. Quite a modest goal, considering I have read much more than that each month in years past. However, with art taking more of my free time, reading time has been squeezed – a trade-off that I’ve been quite happy to make.

If I am being honest, though, art is not the only thing eating into my reading time, social media is too – and I’ll probably share some of my own insights and ahas in a separate post.

For today, I’m sharing 4 book recommendations from the 15 books I’ve read so far this year. None of these books are particularly new and some have already had their time in the limelight. But all of these are books I’ve read and enjoyed this year. So in no particular order, here are…

4 book recommendations for when you don’t know what to read next

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Released in 2013, this book created quite a stir for its mixed media approach to storytelling. The book is filled with pictures, screenshots, and case notes – all of which add to and drive the story forward.  The book revolves around disgraced investigative journalist Scott McGrath, who is drawn to the apparent suicide of 24-year-old Ashley Cordova, the daughter of the reclusive cult-horror film director Stanislaus Cordova. Convinced that things are not as they seem, McGrath probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death. As his investigation progresses, McGrath is drawn into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world. The last time he was drawn into the murky secrecy of Cordova’s world, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.

This was a pacy, gripping read, with an atmosphere of barely concealed horror and a smidgeon of the supernatural. The characters were fairly well drawn out, but more interesting was the sense of eerie hypnotism and barely concealed evil and horror that almost leaped out from the page. If you enjoy crime fiction you will love this book {even if you are not a fan of horror – there are no ghosts here, just….well, read it, if you haven’t already!}

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I think the whole world has already gushed over this book, and I can see why! The story of this socially awkward young lady who leads a carefully timetabled and frugal life, trying desperately to live up to the standards set by her Mummy, and feeling like an invisible failure at every turn is endearing, to say the least. Enter Raymond, “the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office” and an elderly gentleman, Sammy. And Eleanor’s carefully structured world is turned upside down. As these three form an unlikely friendship, “Raymond’s big heart ultimately helps Eleanor repair her own profoundly damaged one”.

Eleanor won me over with her complete lack of social graces and her strange and weird ways. And I fell in love with Raymond’s open hearted acceptance of Eleanor, with all her quirks and her occasional rudeness. Mummy was hard to pin down – a thoroughly malicious heart with mannerisms that changed and shifted depending on whom she was talking to. The characters were all beautifully drawn out, and the story line progressed flawlessly.

This book deserves all the rave reviews it has received. If you haven’t read it yet, grab a copy now! You can thank me later.

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Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Celebrated Harvard professor Alice Howland is at the height of her career when she starts to notice that she is starting to forget things. At first, she puts it down to stress, but when she fumbles through an important keynote speech – one that she has delivered numerous times before – she knows she needs to go in for some tests. Her results, however, are unexpected and devastating: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. As she comes to terms with this diagnosis, Alice does everything she can to maintain her independence and her former life, even as her sense of self is slowly stripped away.

The author herself holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University, and has taken great care to present a correct depiction of the disease – from the symptoms to the tests and the slow and inevitable progress of Alzheimer’s. Genova also gives us a front row view of the devastating effect that Alzheimer’s has not just on the patient – Alice – but also on their entire family.

This novel made me think about the ephemeral nature of this life that we take for granted. It inspired me, it broke my heart, and it terrified me. Most of all, it brought home the meaning of family…of the ties that bind…of the relationships that matter.

This is a compelling read, and I highly recommend it.

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The Last Queen of India by Michelle Moran

Moran’s The Last Queen of India is the story of the Rani of Jhansi, told from the point of view of Sita, her most favoured companion and trusted soldier in her all-female army. Set around mid-nineteenth century India, the novel offers a glimpse into the socio-cultural mores of the time, touches on the caste and class structures, and of course, on palace intrigue.

The novel starts with Sita’s life before she joins the Rani’s army, charts her initial stumbling efforts to navigate through the intrigue and politics in the Rani’s palace, and her eventual winning over of the Rani’s favour. Through this story are woven glimpses of the Rani’s life and thoughts, her friendship with Tantia Tope, and her unhappy marriage.

We get a portrait of a woman who was ahead of her times – independent and fierce within the parameters of the rules placed on women in that era; uncommonly intelligent; and with a backbone of steel.

But when the sepoy mutiny spreads and events tumble out of her control, the Rani uses all her cunning and strength to save her kingdom and stage an uprising with the support of her friends and allies.

Like all of Moran’s novels, The Last Queen of India blends facts and fiction into a vivid, gripping story with characters and locations that come alive. She’s hands-down my favourite author of historical fiction. Rebel Queen makes for a compelling read on India’s warrior queen, without falling into the jingoistic trope that has currently gripped our nation. Highly recommended!

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So there you have it! Four book recommendations from me to you.

Have you read any of these already? Do you plan to add any to your reading list? Do tell me in the comments!

I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s #MyFriendAlexa.

Posted in Book reviews.

48 Comments

  1. Unfortunately, I haven’t read aby of these yet. I have been reading a lot of books un the genre of thriller/mystery both by Indian and foreign authors. Keigo Higashino tops the list as I am reading his third book ‘Salvation of a Saint’ now. Have finished ‘The devotion of suspect X’ and ‘Malice’ till now.

  2. Well added all these to my TBR – thanks for increasing that list! I too had started the year with the hope of finishing 2 books a month but haven’t been able to follow it through. Been trying something new myself for reading – hopefully the streak will continue.

  3. Wow great list, still alice sounds most interesting to me, will surly try to read. thanks for sharing. #Surbhireads #MyfriendAlexa

  4. Awesome list covering such a broad range. Your summary about the books made it all the more inviting to go for them. Surely going to pick a couple of them, Eleanor Oliphant and Still Alice. Thanks for sharing this list 🙂

  5. I’ve read only Eleanor of the lot and. So the rest of the three go on my TBR. Still Alice would be my pick of the lot. Thanks Shinjini for the recos.

  6. I already have a long TBR list but after reading your recommendations, I am really tempted to check these pout especially Still Alice

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