2021 was relatively a healthy reading year compared to 2020, where I was more engrossed reading about Covid only. The books that I read clearly fell into two broad genres. Books on human conditions and memoirs. A quick look at the ones that touched my heart.
Books about Human conditions
While browsing through Amazon early last year, I landed upon books by Heather Morris.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz particularly attracted me, and I bought it. What was a random whimsical purchase, got me completely involved, in fact emotionally in the story and conditions of the characters; Times of WW II, the Nazi concentration camps, heart wrenching stories of the lucky survivors; visual narratives of the ticking moments of life; these books can transport you into a world you will never want to be in but want to learn so much more about. After reading this book I went on to read Cilka’s Journey also by Heather Morris, a bestseller which is a sequel to Tattooist of Auschwitz. This is the story of a brave Slovakian girl Cilka who appears in both the books. Her journey from a young captive in Auschwitz to decades in Russian gulag which will bring those lumps in your throat several times as you read through. The last book in this trilogy is left for me to read this year.
Other than these two, I also read The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri. The story of Nuri, the beekeeper in Aleppo, Syria and his artist wife Afra who lose their only son in a bombing and their perilous journey from their cosy homes to being refugees migrating to the UK via Greece and Turkey.
Books about war torn parts of the world also tear something inside me. I feel deeply pained that human vs human is the biggest game, the ugliest one. We are the predators of our own kind. I also feel that here I am comfortably tucked in my warm couch reading these stories while there is a world out there where home is a distant memory. Part of me says a prayer often, being so fortunate and thankful for the life and the blessings I have.
Memoirs: Biographies and Autobiographies
The second genre of the books I read which rather occupied most of my reading time were memoirs of two personal favourites: inspirational and extraordinary individuals.
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, I was longing to read this for a while, it was on my radar, finally I did it. And I cant stop talking about it.
Shoe Dog is an exceptional book. Everyone should read it. For the uninitiated Phil Knight is the founder of Nike. Yes the shoe brand almost everyone loves. How Phil started Nike, the days of dreaming in his garage to selling Tiger to building one of the largest brands of the world. The journey is incredible; the narrative of Phil will make you feel as if it’s you is narrating it, the humour is outstanding, the humility and connect with the reader will leave you loving Phil Knight. There is so much to learn from Shoe Dog, I would rather write a separate post to contain my admiration and learnings.
The other book I read is a biography The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone. Biography of the Italian maestro of art Michelangelo, this book is some 700+ pages long. And with the small font, it took me months to complete it. But trust me, you will be a time warp back to the 14th century. The story warms your heart and somewhere agonises you to read the struggle of an honest artist in a disillusioned and dystopian society with rife papal plutocratic regime. There are times while reading the book, I would think had such and such incident not occured, we would have had another masterpiece to cherish by Michelangelo. The book needs patience but it’s a masterpiece for those who would love to read biographies and also if you love Italian art and Michelangelo.
Reading line up for 2022?
Well, my learning from 2021 has been not to plan a reading line up, I have hardly followed it. Having said that I do have few books which I am almost sure I will read, either I have them with me or I am trusting my determination.
Will by Will Smith: This was my Secret Santa gift in December’21 and I am already 200 pages through it. Autobiography of Will Smith, straight from the heart, a very humble narrative so far from a world class artist.
Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle: One of the books I have been longing to read for a while, comes with a long list of recommendations too; and from an author who has been a favourite.
Netflix No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer: Lots of praise for this account of reinvention of the culture of one of the fastest growing companies of the world. Truth be told, it’s said to be the new bible for the start-ups.
Three Sisters: A triumphant story of love and survival: This is the third book by Heather Morris in the trilogy of Tattooist of Auschwitz. Since I have read the other two and loved them, this one must complete the family.
More than this, I will leave it to the fluidity of my choices as the year progresses. What I would want to commit to (like Reese Witherspoon) is to read a definite number of pages each day, not only to finish books but to consistently feed myself on a nutritious diet of different perspectives, experiences and storytelling.
So, do you have a 2022 reading line up or a reading challenge you are up for? Would love to hear, do share in comments. Wish you an enlightened and curious 2022.