2021 marked the second consecutive year to the ruthless and inconvenient times imposed by COVID-19. In January 2021 the storm appeared to have gone, but only to reappear in an extremely devastating form by March. Countries and states imposed restrictions on the movement of the common public yet again. But soon staying safe yet caged inside our respective homes started to make many claustrophobic. The urge to breathe those salty winds of beaches, the desire to have a cup of coffee at one of the cafes of New York, the craving of traveling into the past by visiting monuments, forts, castles, and palaces invoked amongst many. In such times when stepping out is neither allowed nor safe, books can come to one’s rescue. With stories one can be a bystander to the discussions between women working in a vineyard, feel the gush of wind coming in through the window of a historic train, taste and smell the lovely dishes at a wedding in Scotland, or even live the lives of people in our own cities.
In 2021, I had set a reasonable goal to read 12 books by the end of December. I started the year by reading The Book Thief. Even as I type these words now, I am filled with the warmth of innocence this book carried. It is undoubtedly one of the best books I have read on the Holocaust so far. Next, I started reading some more fiction, such as A Man Called Ove, The Call of The Wild, The Hungry Tide, The Guest List, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Finding Junie Kim, The Gate. I also read few historical fictions such as Before We Were Yours, Shuggie Bain, The Elephant of Belfast, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. I read two classics, namely The Little Women, and Pride and Prejudice. I was thrilled to read two enchanting books by Shashi Tharoor, Tharoorosaurus, and The Great Indian Novel. It was an exciting time to read and review these two books especially as I had the honor to have my review read and shared by Dr. Tharoor himself.
Amongst the non-fiction, I read the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi i.e. My Experiments with Truth. For the first time, I came across the character and virtue of Gandhi. Today people inundating with hate can be seen shouting ill names for Mahatma Gandhi. They think people may get incited by their crass words. Maybe they are right too, as we are ordinary people with virtues nowhere close to those of the Mahatma. But had Gandhi been alive and witnessed these hateful lectures, lauding his killer, he would have embraced even them. He believed in hate the sin and not the sinner. Probably these people too would have become blinded by the light of his virtues. But Alas! Gandhi is no more, and people hardly read anymore too.
The best book though that I read in 2021 has to be The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. When you are scared of the future, and start judging the past that landed you to the present you are living, there are very few things that can bring a smile, a laugh, and a ray of real hope in you. This book just hits the right notes to set the music flowing within you yet again. Saying that I loved the book is an understatement to what this book means to me.
The sky grows dark
The black over blue
Yet the stars still dare
To shine for you
It was a well-read year. I learned many things and lived many lives. Looking forward to continuing and living even more characters this year and the year to come. Below is a short video journey of the books I read in 2021.